Freedom can only be meaningfully defined in terms of a restriction on something else. A freedom for person A is necessarily a limitation on person B. For instance, if A is free from being shot, B is not free to shoot A. This is so simple to understand, that it is hard to explain.
This also means that instead of talking about freedom, we could simply talk about it’s anti-image: limitations. Talking about freedom is pointless if we do not consider the other side of the coin.
Freedom fries, anyone?
Once this is understood, it becomes clear that my financial freedom is essentially a limitation on someone else. There can only be a class of financially free people if there is another class of people who are financially bound, for instance by equity or debt or various real or perceived needs. I think the elites, or to maintain a non-elite outlook, the class of financially free people, realized this long ago and I think they have done an effective job of keeping everybody else from realizing it by substituting freedom for other things, like shiny new iPhones or plushy sofas. Freedom is something free people teach their children or people discover by themselves if they pay attention or maybe rather, are lucky enough to read or talk to the right people at the right time. It is not taught in schools for very obvious reasons. Conversely, limitations are taught by the bound class: You want to fit in, right?
One such thing is certainly comfort. If it wasn’t for the fact that most do not believe that they can live a very good life free from stress, obligations, lifestyle-diseases, etc. for less than $10k a year; if it wasn’t for the fact that most people are fully convinced that more money buys more comfort and that money buys comfort in the first place, financial freedom would not exist, because there would be less manufacturing and less service jobs and thus less dividend yields.
If it was not the fact that most people believe they should be home owners before having lived three decades of the lives or even just move out and get their own place, demand for money would be less, interest rates would be lower, and financial freedom would not be as free.
If it was not for the fact that most people think that employment equals security, nobody would be willing to work for someone else and willingly hand over most of their profits from the work and accept an economic wage only.
If people did not believe that more money is always better, they would not be willing to lock up their money in retirement accounts and accept the index funds that Wall Street is selling them, this essentially being a transfer from the bound to the free through IPOs with no reason or rational beyond accepting the going rate and trying to buy as much as possible. (The winners in this game is entrepreneurs, investment banks, that is, sell-side, not even mutual fund managers, that is, the buy-side, although they make a good living charging fees.) The rich get richer.
This is indeed an ownership society and if you don’t own your a$$, you can bet someone else does.
If it was not for the fact that most believe that an education gives them more or better career choices, they would not let themselves be locked into thinking like a professional, that the only way to live would be to administer services for a time-based fee while paying off their student loans.
The only thing I have strived (stroven?) for is to be as financially free as possible. And the only thing I needed to do was to adopt the beliefs of the financially free rather than the financially bound. I do realize that my continued enjoyment of life is fully dependent on the majority of people continuing to believe in the prevailing myths of “our” culture (maybe it is really “their” culture).
Obviously, this should leave me slightly worried about my prospects. I am, however, convinced that more than 90%, and probably closer to 99% of everybody will think I am nuts and thus I have nothing to worry about.
My financial future is, therefore, secure knowing that people will keep believing what they have been told and what they are being told everywhere they turn. Just don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
Originally posted 2009-10-13 00:02:25.