Democracy and Freedom are different

First Published: 2001-07-01

While democracy has existed here for over 250 years and the PLP brought majority rule, they kept true freedom to themselves. Unfortunately they made us believe that government had all the answers and that they could ensure we were taken care of. They did not give us the tools to support ourselves; and they made us more and more dependent upon them.

Majority rule may have enhanced democracy from the perspective of feeling more a part of the process, but did it bring freedom? I think not, and John Wenders said it best back in 1990:

“Freedom and democracy are different. Democracy addresses how affairs in the public sector will be conducted. Democracy is greater when individuals vote on those matters assigned to the public sector. On the other hand, freedom is concerned with the relationships among people in the private sector. Freedom means individuals may choose how to interact on a voluntary basis outside the purview of the state.

In short, democracy means you get to vote in the public sector; freedom means you get to determine the terms of your interactions with others in the private sector”.


Government Expansion.

When the FNM was elected it appeared they had the political will to join the worldwide trend toward civil and market freedom, and the present economic boom proves some of the policies first implemented supported this. Privatisation of the hotels and the liberalisation of the airwaves are excellent examples. While private broadcasting has allowed more civil freedom, market liberalisation has only just begun to take place, and this effort now appears to have begun to stall.

Somewhere between 1992 and 1997 we went off track. I think our leaders did not have the courage of their convictions like Margaret Thatcher in Britain or Ronald Reagan in America. Thatcher and Reagan took the political fall-out as part of the process to get their countries economic house in order.

It has been proven throughout the world that when the political process tries to address economic activity, only a tiny minority manipulates the system to their own advantage. When politicians control economic activity, they do so to meet political needs. The failure of communist countries to provide basic necessities, that we take for granted, is proof that state organisation – or the centralised organisation of resources does not contribute to higher standards of living. The market economy is the opposite in that resources are widely dispersed, and is constantly being altered by individuals making decisions in their own interest.

But Markets Take Advantage You Say.

While there are instances where the market might not work ideally, government controlled environments are proven to be much worse. Beside, governments should have their hands full with Law & Order, Education, and Infrastructure.

I believe in the resolve of our people to make a difference, to turn from government intervention into every aspect of our lives and economy, to work hard and leave government dependency behind like many countries in the rest of the world are attempting to do.

Yes there will be some difficult times and some politicians and bureaucrats might have to enter the competitive world when government is downsized, but the free market will eventually absorb them, like it does for the rest of us.

While we have democracy, we are still waiting for economic freedom.

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