Appreciating Freedom …

As we’re approaching Memorial Day, which seems to have devolved into simply another commercialized break from the daily grind …

… with many people spending more time enjoying their freedom than actually remembering with gratitude all the brave (and often young) men and women who died defending it …

… we thought we’d use the occasion to take a deeper look at the relationship between freedom and prosperity.

Not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying our freedom. We should be doing that year-round, which is what entrepreneurship and investing are all about.

But maybe Memorial Day is an opportunity to contemplate freedom and the price paid for it in a deeper way.

After all, “freedom” is such a nebulous word.

Is freedom about being able to say and do anything one wishes? Where does one person’s freedom end and another’s begin?

These might seem like political questions and perhaps they are.

But before there is power, there must be policies. And before there are policies, there must be principles those policies are based on.

History says power and policies unbridled by principles quickly become unruly and tyrannical.

Yet no rules means mob rule. And mobs can spontaneously coalesce in varying forms for various purposes, and so are unpredictable and destabilizing.

If all your tenants decide to take over your apartment building and stop paying rent, do they have the “freedom” to appropriate your property simply because they outnumber you?

Obviously, for a complex society to function safely and productively, there needs to be some agreed-upon rules everyone plays by.

When it comes to rules, we’re in the camp of less is more.

It seems to us the more policymakers try to improve things, the worse they become. But that’s us. We realize not everyone agrees.

Thankfully, we’re not the kings.

In fact, getting rid of kings and overtly proclaiming each individual as owner of his or her own life and property was the basic premise on which America’s revolutionary concept of freedom was based.

The American Declaration of Independence contends there are “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and …

… “that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Simple concept. But revolutionary. Literally.

No kings. No rulers. Just public servants deriving their just power from the consent of the governed.

We all (probably carelessly) take it for granted, but until America was founded this type of individual empowerment was unheard of.

Of course, the government Americans set up for themselves … the agreed-upon rules that everyone plays by (or are supposed to) …

… are delineated plainly in the U.S. Constitution, which is itself a fairly simple and straightforward document.

When private citizens step into public service, whether as police, politicians, or soldiers, they each swear a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution … in some cases, to the death.

It’s those who made that “ultimate sacrifice” whom we remember on Memorial Day.

Yes, we can argue about the validity of the conflicts each died in. But bad policy doesn’t negate the spirit, patriotism, or devotion of those who died answering when called upon.

Memorial Day should be about considering long and hard whether any conflict for which American sacrifice … life, limb, or fortune … should be risked.

Of course, this goes back to policy.

Just as we think it’s essential to form a personal investment philosophy … a set of principles by which you decide when, where, and how to invest …

… it seems reasonable that policymakers should be guided by a clear set of principles they use to determine if any sacrifice is justified.

It’s horrible when people die in conflict. It’s worse when the cause is trivial, unnecessary, or unjust.

Of course, everyone has varying opinions and this is the course of great debate.

But it seems like the “agreed-upon rules” are about defending the Constitution …

… which is the set of rules designed to protect each individual citizen’s unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In other words, if a conflict isn’t primarily focused on defending the Constitution, perhaps it’s something to be reconsidered.

When we think about “freedom” as the Constitution defines it, a major component is the inalienable right to private property.

Private property rights are the foundation of personal wealth.

After all, if you can’t own property … whether it’s real estate, ideas (intellectual property), stocks, bonds, precious metals, the fruits of your labor, the profits on your investments … it’s impossible to build wealth.

Wealth is all about property rights. It’s the American Dream.

So unless you dream of a future where you’ll own nothing and be happy, you might want to pay attention to people who think that’s a good idea.

Memorial Day is about remembering those who died defending the Constitution which defends your right to own property and wealth.

Investors exercise this freedom to pursue happiness and wealth, contending with a variety of challenges in their quest for success.

Unfortunately, there are people and ideas opposed to your right to own property. They’ve been around for a long time. They’re just getting more vocal now.

We’re live and let live guys. We don’t care if someone doesn’t want to own anything. That’s their freedom.

But when those folks want to divest us of our property and deprive us of our rights to own it, then they’re not following the American rules.

In other words, when their freedom to own nothing impedes on our right to own property, they’re crossing the line.

We may not be soldiers or politicians, but we think anyone who cares about their property rights probably should be ready to contend for their right, property, and the Constitution which protects them.

As for those who’ve died, we think if we were to ever die for a cause, as nice as it might be to be remembered for who we were …

… we think it would be much better for people to remember WHY we died … and to defend what we accomplished, and finish what we didn’t.

Memorial Day is about remembering.

So while we hope you enjoy a fabulous and fun Memorial Day weekend with friends and family, we hope this little muse inspires you to …

… consider the foundation of your freedom and prosperity, remember those who fought and died for the cause of that foundation,

… be proactive in both your wealth building and your wealth protection,

… and invest time and attention into supporting the people, policies, and principles on which your current and future prosperity depend.

Make this Memorial Day weekend count.

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