Deep Dive: Four essays on liberty worth your time this weekend.

As we head into a long holiday weekend, you might just have some extra reading time. I want to point out 4 pieces that you could start with.

Salt Lake Chamber President Derek Miller has an essay about the legacy and promise of liberty. “Liberty’s eternal power is America’s legacy,” he writes, “its gift to the world, placing self-determination in the trusted hands not of the government but the governed, and for this reason, so many seeking to aggrandize themselves and consolidate power for their own purposes seek to undermine this and other founding principles. 
He also writes about the responsibilities of liberty and the deepening of our social capitol, “the power we have collectively to overcome shortcomings and adversities, to promote opportunity and fairness, and to lift those who stand in need.”

LaVarr Webb writes about the philosophy of government and shares his thought on why we even have government. However, he notes that “there is one really important thing that sets government apart from all other institutions in society. Most debates in government, in legislatures and Congress, are really about this peculiar and crucial characteristic of government…the power of FORCE and COERCION.” He then shares foundational principles behind the US Constitution and what powers are embedded in it to restrain the power of government, and finally, the vital roles of values in our government.

Dallin H. Oaks has a lengthy piece on the “Our inspired Constitution” and its impact on our lives today. As a scholar of the Constitution, for more than 60 years, he writes, “To facilitate moral agency — the power to decide and to act — is an important divine purpose for the Constitution. The most desirable condition for the exercise of moral agency is maximum freedom for men and women to act according to their individual choices….This obviously means that human slavery is wrong. And according to the same principle, it is wrong for citizens to have no voice in the selection of their rulers or the making of their laws.” There’s much more in his piece that’s worth your time.

Finally,  be sure to check out this essay from Arthur Brooks on patriotism, nationalism, and happiness. “Nationalists may identify as patriots, and some people opposed to both ideologies might argue that they are equivalent,” he writes. “For national and individual well-being, though, distinguishing between them is important. Following Tocqueville and Orwell, we might define patriotism as civic pride in our democratic institutions and shared culture, and nationalism as a sense of superiority or identity, defined by demographics such as race, religion, or language. Modern social science finds a major quality-of-life difference between the two. In 2013, a cross-national team of political scientists measured the effects of each on the levels of social trust and voluntary association, both of which are strongly positively associated with personal well-being. They found that civic pride usually pushed both up, and ethnic pride pushed both down. Given the evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that patriotism, as we have traditionally understood it in the United States, is good for our happiness. Meanwhile, nationalism (under Orwell’s definition) is not.”

Happy reading.