Don’t let me make the mistake of implying that there’s only ONE area where conservatives and liberals mutually err. All of us could point out many, and both sides can make valid arguments. But there’s one that’s just been bugging me so much lately.

It’s election year, and political campaigns hone in on particular issues to differentiate themselves from their opponents. This time around it seems particularly difficult to do this, inasmuch as both (presumptive) presidential nominees have little to distinguish each other by.

One difference between the two is that Republican Mitt Romney has promised many times to repeal (and replace, whatever that means) Obamacare, whereas Democratic President Obama naturally wants to keep the legislation. On the other hand, whatever differences there may be between the two, they both seem to argue, as do many liberal and otherwise conservative talking heads, with one particular goal in mind – to create jobs, or to improve the economy.

It’s a good goal, in theory. In fact, we might expand this goal to include “helping the middle class.” Don’t you want a job? And isn’t that what every bill under consideration has been about for the past three years? Jobs bills?

A Con Job

Everybody wants a job. I want a job. I have a job, or two, or three, depending on how you look at it. I get paid for one of them, at least. I’ve been out of a job due to a layoff before, and I’ve never been far enough ahead of the game to have more than a couple of months in reserves, so I definitely understand the importance of a good job market in this country. But not at any expense.

For example, would you consider it a good trade-off, in order to find stable employment, to become the property of another person? I should hope the answer would be absolutely not. That’s no trade-off, that’s slavery. Okay, so we’re in agreement. Now how about this one: would you trade your liberty for national security? That is, in order to secure our nation from foreign threats, you would have to allow US soldiers into your home at any time. They could sleep there, eat your food, or require service from you as a condition of living as a “free” citizen. All right, now if you know anything about American history and the American Revolution, you know this is ridiculous and we fought a war over this kind of thing (or two wars for that matter – wait, make it 3 – 1776, 1812, and 1861).

So if that seems so unreasonable, as a means of security or job creation, can we expand this logic? Where do you, as a US citizen, by birth or by immigration, draw the line? How much freedom are you willing to give up in order to live comfortably, or find a job? Some draw the line at health insurance, or Obamacare, or Ronmeycare, where the government can force its subjects citizens to purchase some form of health insurance. Others don’t see that as a big issue.

The Bottom Line – Liberty

What I’m getting at through all this is simple. Both conservatives and liberals seem preoccupied with the premise, if it creates jobs, it’s the right thing to do for America. Congressmen and congresswomen say things like, “This bill is bad. It will kill jobs.” Does that mean that if the bill created jobs that it would be good? Is a bill automatically good if it creates jobs? It seems that job creation that can be  credited to legislation is good for incumbents. Concerned many times with their own reelection, officials default to voting for jobs instead of voting for liberty.

Now let me ask you two questions. If liberty eliminates jobs, is liberty still good? If slavery creates stable employment, does that make it a good thing? I hope the answer to the second question is an easy “no.”

Mitt Romney seems to be campaigning on the economy. He says that President Obama is out of ideas, as if to say, that his ideas did not work, and that’s why they are bad. So, Mr. Romney, does that mean if his ideas DID work, or DO work, then they’re okay? If his health insurance reform bill and stimulus bill brought unemployment down to 4.2%, then would they be good bills?

The Patriot Act, a Bush era policy, restricts liberty in the name of security. The Affordable Healthcare Act, an Obama era policy, also restricts liberty in that it decides for you what you must do with a portion of your money. Neither policy turns you into a slave, but both bring you closer thereto.

I submit that both are bad, and part of the solution is to stop focusing on whether or not legislation creates jobs, even as important as jobs are. Instead we should focus on whether or not legislation protects liberty. We have to stop choosing between conservative tyranny and liberal tyranny. We will always debate and have different perspectives, but let’s have these debates as free men, rather than as employed servants.