There are two completely opposing answers you are likely to get if you ask the question,”Should a freedom lover work for the government?” Those who believe government protects our freedoms will say, “yes,” often equating such employment to religious commitment. Those who observe that any government other than self-government is using force to ensure compliance and coercion, will lean strongly toward a “no.” They think government restricts freedom in the word’s truest sense of meaning.
The meaning of freedom is oddly an issue in such discussions, because too many people think freedom from concern or risk or hardship is what true freedom is about. It isn’t. True freedom means each person gets to choose what to do. There will likely be unexpected events and issues beyond each person’s control, because such is life. The beauty of freedom is being able to make the best informed decision possible or to the extent you are willing to work to discover things. The underlying assumption in this is that no force is applied to others unless defense of life and property is needed. If only select groups or individuals can do what they want, there is not freedom, there is tyranny.
Those who believe the government protects our freedom give examples of aggression from other governments as examples, all of which are ironically protecting their “own” people. Since “our” government has big weapons and soldiers to fight other governments, it is taken for granted that there is no other possible scenario, such as the common people using consensual cooperative defense. I say “consensual” because some people think government militaries are cooperative for everyone within the same borders, but they are really forced on everyone by taxation and claimed boundaries, whether all persons therein agree or not.
The idea that common people could not afford or produce necessary weapons is also an assumption. In the days gone by, farmers had their own cannons, the best technology of the day. These days, the government monopolizes such tools in their effort to make us both dependent on them and unable to stand against them.
Once such definitions are clarified, the question of working for someone who restricts other people’s freedom might get clearer. Given equally available options of
- earning a living by helping others to impose tyranny or,
- having a job that offers your products or services to others,
the answer seems obvious. Presented in a historical context, very few people have sympathy for those who worked for dictators or oppressed others for their own personal gain. Unfortunately, it can be harder to see through the poetic propaganda of the dictators of our own time.
We live in a world where the government has its tentacles in so many aspects of our lives that it can become difficult to draw a line about when you work for the government and when you don’t. Do you ever in your dealings with people require them to do things a certain way so that you won’t get in trouble with the government regulators? Do you ever use any government services? It is very hard to get through life without doing either of those things, because the government threatens force against us all if we don’t comply. And they love making examples of low level dissidents.
The government monopolizes some industries, some overtly and some subvertly. The education system is monopolized by the government, and not just the public schools. If a person wants to work as a teacher, most of these jobs are through the government. Private schools are subject to government regulation. Parents are required by law to provide an education for their children that the government approves of.
Banks are an open book to government officials to spy on everyone’s transactions and accounts. Health care workers must abide by protocols and also report people according to government stipulation. Grocery stores and restaurants must submit themselves to examination by government agencies. All of these types of things affect how people can and are willing to do business, if they want to retain what remaining freedom of movement they have. The government has no qualms about imprisoning someone who attempts to thwart its imposition of power.
Some freedom lovers would draw the line at government jobs that are very specifically existing to use force. The police and airport security, for example, are distinctly enforcers, whose recognized role it is to have “authority” over the common man. They have sanction to shoot or detain at their discretion, which is also based on laws the government uses to take away basic freedoms from others. If you run afoul of what the ruling class has decided is acceptable, you are not allowed to argue. You must submit. Even if you haven’t done anything “wrong,” even if you have not harmed anyone nor threatened to do so, you must submit or be seen as “uncooperative” and a risk that is justifiably subdued. Probably cause is whatever they want it to be, because by virtue of their role in representing the government, they are almost always given more benefit of the doubt than the average non-governmental person. Submitting means anything from being physically examined to having your property ransacked. Claims that it is being done for our security are explanation enough for some people, but others see is as an infringement of privacy based on the idea that we are guilty until proven innocent. The guilty are never free.
The military exists to perform violence. We are told it is for our freedom, but there are myriad examples of questionable deployment. At what point is “offense” really aggression? Does offensive military strategy have a morally acceptable basis? Can you go beat someone up because he is related to someone who beat up your brother?
With our government run education, many people think they are doing good by engaging in these inherently violent branches of the government. We are supposed to be thankful for this work, since we are told it is for our own good. The part about our real freedoms that are lost is conveniently glossed over or ignored. Still, not everyone in these roles is equally abusive. Some even seem embarrassed or change their minds about such jobs, but are stuck in them for now, to avoid things like court martial or until they figure out other employment. However, the authoritative role appeals to many and it shows. They treat their fellow man with disdain and enjoy every moment of it with a sense of superiority. Between being humiliated by the whole process and being treated as cattle by so many performing “their duty,” it is no wonder that people are angry at their slave masters. The wonder is that some of the slaves expect others to be grateful.
But what if you are not directly hurting anyone, and you just need a job? What if you need to support your family? Sadly, the government manipulation of the economy combined with its monopolies have made it increasingly hard for people to honestly support themselves. The more the government takes control of things, the more this will be a problem. If you can’t take care of your children, the government will be happy to take them from you. They are always looking for excuses to run people’s lives. And if you have studied a certain subject or been trained in a field where the government is the overlord, you have fewer options.
The ideal answer to the question seems to be that freedom lovers would not work for the government. In the real world, it is not always that simple. The government is, and is growing. To make matters worse, governments cooperate with each other in an effort to maintain power in their own territories. People have to cooperate with governments in many aspects of life or their whole family can be at risk. The best we can do is to deal with government forces in a way that hampers other people’s freedom as little as possible. Because if you really care about other people’s freedom, you let them have it.