I was over at Philosophy et cetera and found an interesting post on Wealth and Liberty, which was a response post to a Richard A. Epstein post at Cato Unbound. They were discussing viewpoints on whether a person becomes more free because he has more wealth. Before I dive into this more deeply, I want to say that this immediately reminded me of something I learned about Aristotle. Aristotle says that although just because one is wealthy does not mean he is happy, but it is easier for on to be happy if he is wealthy. I realize that this has little or nothing to do with wealth and freedom, but I just thought of it when I was reading this post. Anyways, on to the topic at hand, if a person is wealthy, is he more free? Richard Epstein’s argument is that, “A person does not become more free because he has more wealth; he becomes wealthier, which confers on him more opportunities to use the liberty that he has.” Richard at Philosophy et Cetera is taking the viewpoint that, “no individual lacks the physical or material capacity to meet their needs.” Richards point is that all people are always free do to what they want, but money or wealth will change how their actions are dealt with in society. As an example of this he uses resources, if something is in a store window, everyone has the same freedom to take it, but a security guard is paid to stop him, and money is then restricting that resource. If you don’t have money than you may not be able to stop your liberties from being taken away, whereas if you just bought the thing, you would be fine. These are interesting points and I agree that if a person has more wealth, that does not make him more free, just more wealthy. I think people who are wealthier have more opportunities, but are not necessarily more free. Stemming from the Aristotle point that wealth does not equal happiness, but it is easier to become happy if one is wealthy; I think that a person is not more free if he is wealthier, but it is easier for a wealthier person to live freely.
If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself ~ Martin Heidegger