Craig sort of has a point on number two, there. The subject is Franklin’s liberty and safety quote. Economic freedom for economic safety is just such a trade-off and liberals don’t have a problem with that. I’ve seen the point made before and it has the benefit of being strictly true.
Of course, Franklin’s quote, taken literally, is obviously wrong. The Founders didn’t set up a system of complete freedom. There are limits set out in the Constitution. For example, police can enter my private property if they have a warrant. Doing so violates my freedom to control my property. That rule is there to allow the authorities to stop dangerous people in timely manner, keeping us safer. It’s a trade-off and I’m pretty sure it’s a good one.
So is Franklin’s quote useless to us? I don’t think so. The point seems to be that trading liberty for security is a dangerous game. It’s a classic tactic of authoritarians everywhere; just give up this little bit of personal freedom, let me into your life just a little more, and you’ll be safe. It doesn’t typically end well. On the other hand, the balance we’ve struck isn’t necessarily the best one. Maybe it’s better that we give up a little more personal freedom for a little more security in these times. I don’t think so, but that’s just me.
What to make of the general tendency of liberals to want to give up more economic freedom for safety nets than conservatives, then? My less than fully thought out sense of it is that giving up economic freedom is less dangerous. When we’re talking about civil liberties, losing a certain right may mean serious punishment. Economically, you’re losing some money. Maybe it all averages out to be the same. I can’t say with certainty.
This isn’t to defend people who use that quote as Craig notes. If you use the assertion of an authority figure in place of an argument, you deserve even the most meaningless gotcha. I just thought there was an interesting difference of opinion underlying its use.