Sunday, February 21, 2010


From the tone of the federal rhetoric on the Fairness Doctrine, the opinion in our government seems to be that the right to free speech means someone is obligated to give you a radio station. Over the years there has been a consistent refrain that private ownership “… of the airways…” is antithetical to free speech.

As usual with federal, statist ideas, this one is utter idiocy. (I wish we could figure out how to apply it to the right to keep and bear arms: “Springfield Armory, I have a right to that own a gun, so you are morally required to give me a new XD45.”)

First of all, we aren’t talking about control of “the airways.” The airways are just that – air. We are talking about controlling a transmitted signal, not the air through which it passes.

When the statists talk about controlling what is transmitted, they are talking about seizing control of the transmitters and the intellectual property that comprises the message being transmitted. They are saying that it is unfair to allow one person – the owner of the equipment – to do with his property as he pleases. They say we must make a law that forces the owner of the station to give other individuals unrestricted and uncompensated use of his property. This is fundamentally a property rights issue, which means it is fundamentally an issue of a human being’s right to live as a human being.

No one finds radio stations lying around. Someone has to build them, equip them, write the material to be broadcast, and operate them. Without the freedom to act in his own perceived best interests, no one would ever get into the radio business. When you turn your radio on, you are experiencing the end result of what could be years of hard work, education, investment, negotiation, invention, hard work, risk, commitment, and hard work. The music or the voices that you hear belong to other human beings – it is their property – their creation – and they are letting you use it. You also get to listen to the messages of their advertisers, who actually pay the bills in hope you will buy their products.

That radio signal is just as much private property as your car or your house. Does the freedom to live where we want mean that anyone else has a right to move in to your house? Of course not. It means that anyone can go anywhere and attempt to get his own house.

When a man makes something, be it a shoe or a radio signal, he puts his time and creativity into it. We all have only so much time; it’s called life. So the thing he made is what he traded that portion of his life for; it stands for that part of his life, just as a check isn’t real money, but stands for money that’s in a bank. (Ideally speaking.) To take that thing from him without compensation is to deprive him of that part of his life, which, in some places, is called murder or, at best, slavery. To say that another person has a superior right to that thing is obscene. Upon what is such a claim based?

It is based on a negative factor – inability or inadequacy. If Lucy Looter were capable and adequate, she’d have her own radio station. The only reason she needs control of one she didn’t build is because she is not capable of building one. This theme permeates all statist philosophy: the rights of the poor, the inadequate, the unable are superior to those of the wealthy, adequate, and able. And there is no attempt at justifying it morally! They claim this is so precisely because of the inability of the former. In their view, weakness is morality.

The right to own property does not mean someone is required to give you his property. The right to keep and bear arms does not mean someone is required to give you a gun. The right to freedom of speech does not mean that someone is required to give you a radio station. The right to assemble peaceably does not mean that someone is required to give you an auditorium. The right to an education does not mean that someone should be forced, against his will, to educate you at no cost to yourself. The right to health care does not mean you have the right to enslave the doctor and force him to care for you against his will and without compensation.

In reality, all of these rights consist of freedom from restraint. No one can stop you from getting property, a gun, a radio station, etc. No one can stop you from finding a doctor who will care for you according to his own wishes. The time, the knowledge, the equipment, the medicines – all of these belong to the man who worked his butt off to buy them. They aren’t yours, and you have no right to claim them as your own.

Those who support statist candidates have no idea what a dangerous game they are playing. If Joe’s rights can be usurped for the benefit of Lucy, tomorrow it could be Lucy’s turn on the rack. They always see the government screwing someone else, but once that lion has been freed in the streets, no one is safe.

Sic Semper Tyrannis,

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