Individual freedoms core of U.S.

By Tibor Machan: Freedom New Mexico columnist

On Jan. 3, just after “Meet the Press,” NBC-TV broadcast a radio address by President Obama.

While I have become nearly pessimistic, even cynical, about expecting anything uplifting from politicians these days, I think there could be some reasons for hope, and there have been a few.

I never quite foreclose the possibility that people will change course, improve, gain new insights and otherwise depart from their bad habits.

Yes, the governmental habit is so pervasive that this expectation does appear Pollyannaish to many of my friends. Still I never quite give up hope in human beings.

And there were a few elements in the president’s talk that I found somewhat agreeable. It was probably accidental, I admit, but even that is better than nothing.

In particular, President Obama called for unity among Americans in their commitment to fight terrorism and to weather hard economic times. Moreover, the call sounded like he meant for us to stand up against the bad guys of our own accord, to volunteer to do so, to come together as free men and women.

Yes, it sounded like he meant for us to thwart terrorist efforts with courage, tenacity and attentiveness of our own. And to come up with ways to meet the current economic challenges as a matter of our own initiative, to figure out ways to cope and overcome.

This kind of call makes room for individual and special efforts, the kind that cannot easily be generalized except for one thing — all are efforts in the right direction but using possibly quite different approaches.

That is quite fitting in a free country. Trust people to figure out what they need to do to get ahead instead of regimenting them to follow a one-size-fits-all method.

For some this may mean saving, for others spending more, as an example. For some it may mean staying around the house, for others getting out. And so forth.

Urging Americans this way amounts to the sort of leadership that’s fitting for free men and women.

Unfortunately, so many of Obama’s policies are quite different in spirit and substance from such appreciation of human diversity. In this country perhaps more than in any other, acknowledging the enormous differences among us is absolutely indispensable to forging proper public policy.

The American Founders showed this by their example when they identified the public good in America as the principled adherence to and protection of every individual’s basic rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Beyond this very general idea of the public good there is very little that is really good for everyone the same way, in the same measure, at the same time.