2017 : Freedom at last ?
7th Freedom Weekend, From 23rd September 2016 at 6 pm to 25th September 2016 at luncheon.
2017 : Freedom at last ?
Everyone will have noticed the question mark at the end of the title. I should have liked to put an exclamation mark instead. Unfortunately, it will probably not be the case. Everything leads one to believe that the next presidential elections in France will be yet another step along "the road to serfdom". State control still has a bright future.
This Freedom Weekend is a homage to Jacques de Guenin, founder of the Cercle Frédéric Bastiat, who fought for Freedom all his life. In 2012, all libertarians were dismayed that no one had borne the banner of Freedom against state interventionists from the Right and the Left. Having five years ahead of one made it possible to nourish some hopes. There arose in Jacques’ mind the project of Bastiat 2017 : "2017 : Freedom at last ! For a civilisation of individuals who are free, responsible and brotherly" (Hence the title of this article). The aim was to create a fundamental movement of opinion within our country, so that a huge wave in favour of Freedom should rise in 2017 and bring to power someone anxious to defend the Universal Natural Rights of the Individual, which are Freedom, Property and Individuality.
That Bastiat 2017 project was only one initiative amongst many others. None bore any fruit, but we must not give up. That is why, aware of the turmoil that France is experiencing, and even if it does not go in for politics, the Cercle is joining in the debate with this 7th Freedom Weekend, which is taking place in the year preceding that of the presidential election. It firmly intends to present and defend the ideas of Frédéric Bastiat, whence its theme :
France, getting out of state control in order to get out of the deadlock : the libertarian solution. "What is seen and what is unseen."
The great question that has never been answered in order to reform our country is this : what is the role of the State, what is the role of individuals ?
Because that question remains outstanding, the State expands continually in an underhand manner, without coming up against any resistance. The pretext is always to construct a better society, to build a new man, if necessary by destroying the old one, and to ensure people’s happiness in spite of themselves, against them if necessary. Since people are considered by State officials to be infantile, immature, incapable of managing their lives and of ensuring their own happiness. By so doing, State officials legally despoil the French of their lives. The Law is perverted.
How does one determine whether a mission is to be accomplished by the State or by individuals ? The simplest way would be to find out :
who would spontaneously pay to have a minister or secretary of State for the Civil Service, for Work, for Education, for Health, for the Interior etc. and for the services that go with them.
who would spontaneously pay to have several administrative levels : commune, group of communes, county, region etc.
who would spontaneously pay to have a multitude of Councils, Committees, more or less High Authorities etc.
In order to find out, people should be left to choose between Sate Services and private services. In order to do so, services should be opened up to competition, which is freedom to choose, and the French should recover their material and legal means of assuming their choice. Through their choice without any legal constraint, they will decide between what falls to their charge and what they leave to the State.
Alas, in our social organisation, the free market no longer exists. Individuals can no longer choose. Public expenditure amounting to 57% of GDP, 300 compulsory tax levies and 72 codes have put an end to it. So politicians make them believe that they choose by proxy. The French therefore abandon their freedom and entrust it to their representatives. That is what is known as representative democracy. Accordingly, the only market that works is the electoral market. The nation’s expenditure and revenue are subject to that market, which consists in buying votes and selling privileges.
It is obvious that under such conditions, that is to say without reliable information, nobody can really know whether money, in whatever sector, is spent judiciously, nor whether the means are excessive or sufficient, nor whether the choices made are relevant. But everyone can howl about the lack of means ! Which is a call for fresh expenditure …in order to get votes.
Under those circumstances, an election can only be a race for State intervention. That is why all the candidates for the job are in favour of legal spoliation. Admittedly, to varying degrees, but none of them questions it. If they did, they would lose their power.
It is a vicious circle. Because of the above, France will not get out of State control or out of the fix it is in.
None of the candidates is in favour of the "laissez-faire" principle…that which enables individuals to make mistakes, thus to progress and to innovate.
"For my part, I believe that when the powers that be have guaranteed to each and everyone the free use and the product of his or her faculties, repressed any possible misuse, maintained order, secured national independence, and carried out certain tasks in the public interest which are beyond the power of the individual, then they have fulfilled just about all their duty.
Beyond this sphere, religion, education, association, work, exchanges, everything belongs to the field of private activity, under the eye of public authority, whose role should only be one of supervision and of repression" Frédéric Bastiat Electoral Profession of Faith (1846)
The above could be an excellent profession of faith for an independent candidate, stemming from "civil society".
It could be expressed today by free choice, free trade, economic freedom, but also respect for others and assistance out of free charity, that is, individual responsibility. It will be noted that libertarianism goes well beyond economics and constitutes a real moral philosophy of life.
In order to get out of state control, the ideas of Frédéric Bastiat are there to help.
"So what is to be done ?
This is my opinion. I shall express it in all its naiveness , at the risk of making all the financiers’ and specialists’ hair stand on end.
Reduce taxes.- Reduce expenditure to an even greater degree.
And, in order to clothe that financial opinion in its political garb, I would add :
Freedom at home.- Peace abroad" Peace and freedom, the republican budget
Put into form, those ideas could make up a veritable programme :
Full salary and untaxed pension schemes to enable people to take out insurance with the company of their choice against illness and to prepare their retirement.
A safety net for people in difficulty. A health voucher for the destitute. A school voucher to give parents the freedom to choose what sort of education their children receive. A housing voucher etc. A single personal benefit replacing all the above
Autonomy for educational establishments.
No state intervention in the life of businesses.
Freedom in owner-tenant relationships.
Since building permits are based on property rights, the only criterion should be the absence of nuisance for the neighbourhood.
A simple taxation system strictly proportionate to income (Flat tax)
Freedom to practise one’s religion as long as one respects others.
Popular referendum initiative, which should also respect the natural rights of the individual.
The reduction of the State’s field of action to its primary functions. It represses attacks on freedom, on property and on persons. The State does not dissipate its efforts, thanks to which internal and external security are ensured with powerful means. Justice, relieved of false offences engendered by false rights, has sufficient means to protect possessions and persons.
Clearly, all the above measures should result in a considerable simplification of legislation and consequently in greater freedom and greater justice in our country.
Naturally, the different speakers at our Freedom Weekend will not present an electoral programme. Each of them, in his or her particular field, will shed light on the subject, contribute elements of information and original ideas that you will not find in the media. Each in his or her own field will contribute elements necessary to comprehension, and will demonstrate the soundness of the libertarian outlook in all those sectors. The necessity of implementing them in order to get France out of the situation in which it finds itself will be flagrant.
Form your own opinion ! Come and attend the 7th Freedom Weekend !
Patrick de Casanove
President of the Cercle Frédéric Bastiat