Ron Paul, freedom, and Joseph Smith
Now there’s three topics you never see together! The Libertarian in me is fairly sympathetic to Ron Paul in his candidacy. I do disagree with his stance on Iraq – as I understand, he wants to pull out, which I think would probably be a big mistake at this point – but I can understand his strong stance in this matter, having been one of the very few Republicans to oppose our direct intervention there in the first place. In hindsight, I think he may have been right to oppose invasion. Iraq aside, though, I agree with him that our government ought to more closely abide by the powers actually granted by the Constitution (that ol’ thing), and furthermore that it ought to do less regulating of the private lives of its citizens; make no mistake, our lives are highly regulated (in all likelihood, of course, this is still probably the most free and very best nation in which to live, perhaps in part because of certain of these regulations)! Among the various institutions which Paul hopes to abolish is the IRS, which I admit seems a bit strange. Granted, it IS a big mess, no thanks to rich people and their rich lawyers, as my lawyer brother tells me, but I imagine Paul must have some better system for collecting taxes.
Would this other system be a different system of compulsion? Most likely “yes”, i would expect, because granting citizens complete freedom over whether to pay taxes would probably be a darn ineffective way of collecting revenue. Assuming that personal freedom is the ideal and compulsion is its antithesis, how, then, can a society achieve its goals for the benefit of the whole by the free cooperation of the people? The short answer: I don’t know! It’s probably a whole lot more complex of an issue than I realize. However, I do believe that the great Prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith, presented an important principle that is key to solving this problem, if we can just figure out how best to apply it. He once said, in answer to how the people of Nauvoo, Ill. were so well-governed, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” How awesome is that! The Book of Mormon, The Bible, the words of modern day prophets, and other scriptures all defend and declare the principle of liberty, and the BoM is particularly clear about the fundamental importance of our freedom to live and especially to worship. Furthermore, the scriptures teach us that we ought not force others on any behavior, even those acts that are righteous (although they heartily endorse kindness, long-suffering, and persuasion). Of course, on the matter of whether or not we ought to forcibly prevent people from acting unrighteously, the scriptures are not quite so clear. But that’s a discussion for another time 🙂