Imagine that in 1917 our government usurped each individual’s crucial responsibility of choosing their own profession, and that primarily because this government agency, called the Department of Professions (the DOP), has existed for generations, most Americans today accept it without challenge.

Bureaucrats make a big, muscular man a construction worker, even though he loves theater; they force an A student in math into engineering, even though she loves teaching English; and an athletic boy who dreamed of becoming an engineer they turn into a soldier.

Bureaucrats make a big, muscular man a construction worker, even though he loves theater; they force an A student in math into engineering, even though she loves teaching English; and an athletic boy who dreamed of becoming an engineer they turn into a soldier. Other people, mainly those without any career aspirations, like that government assigns them a profession. Few people grow to enjoy their professions. Thus, throughout this century most individuals have been unhappy in their careers, while America’s productivity has steadily declined.

There are, however, Americans who challenge the DOP and demand its abolition. Their defense are the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, as they understand that by usurping this choice, the government violates each individuals right to their life, liberty and their pursuit of happiness. But these individualists face enormous opposition.

But if the government doesn’t chose our professions for us,” a DOP-supporter argues, “then everyone will chose whatever profession they want. That cannot exist. The DOP is good at deciding where peoples’ talents lie. They put big, muscular men in construction, A math students in engineering, athletic boys in the military. And what would the people who don’t know what profession to choose do without the government to choose one for them? To abolish the DOP would be foolish.”

“But if the government doesn’t chose our professions for us, then everyone will chose whatever profession they want. The DOP is good at deciding where peoples’ talents lie. They put big, muscular men in construction, A math students in engineering, athletic boys in the military.”

“But individuals have a right to their lives,” the individualists argues, “which demands that they choose their own professions. The big, muscular man who loves theater over construction may write or act in a great play. The A math student who loves teaching English over engineering may produce great English students. The athletic boy who loves engineering may design state-of-the-art aircrafts that perform outstandingly for soldiers who enjoy defending America. To uphold and protect individual rights must always be governments only purpose, and to pursue one’s own life and happiness must be an individual’s only purpose. America has many unhappy people and declining productivity because its citizens’ freedom to choose their professions is shackled.”

The DOP-supporter wears an expression of disbelief. How can anyone challenge this long-standing government agency, she feels, which is crucial to society. “So that’s what you think is so important — people’s own happiness above the good of society? America is in decline because everybody already thinks only about their own happiness. If people were allowed, they’d just choose whatever professions they wanted, and waste their obvious talents, just to selfishly, greedily satisfy their own happiness. What about society’s welfare? Any fool knows that if a person is great at math, then she must do something involving math. Without the DOP she may choose to become a pet store owner. We cannot have individuals freely making such terrible choices, and thus harm society, because they want to profit their own happiness.”

“Any fool knows that if a person is great at math, then she must do something involving math. Without the DOP she may choose to become a pet store owner. We cannot have individuals freely making such terrible choices, and thus harm society, because they want to profit their own happiness.”

“But it is her life. Nobody has any right to dictate what profession she must have?”

“But what about the good of society?”

“Like all individuals who make up “society”, if she chooses and pursues a profession she loves and makes her happy, such as teaching English, she’ll be more productive in it than in a profession where her abilities are strong but that she dislikes, such as engineering. Leave engineering to those who enjoy it. And if she chooses to own a pet store, she will have a great pet store. Either way, if she works hard at her chosen profession — with her own happiness as her only purpose — she will be happy and productive, and America will consequently benefit from better English students or great pet stores.”

“But that’s foolish. Then people will choose whatever profession they want and possibly fail and harm the rest of society because of their own greedy, selfish pursuits.”

***

The individualists knows that for him to argue further would be futile. When arguing other issues in which individual rights are primary, when arguing that the upholding of these rights are fundamental to a civilized, prosperous society of self-responsible citizens, he confronts the same illogical arguments. Whether he’s opposing government’s coercive intervention within issues such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment — supporters of government’s intervention fail to understand that it is thus violating the inalienable rights of all individuals, even if individuals welcome such coercion.

In regard to any issue, government has no right to prevent or usurp any individual’s responsibility to act on their own thinking, judgment and choices, as long as individuals refrain from defrauding or physically harming others. People who want others to make choices for them, such as how to save money for retirement, health care, unemployment, or what profession to enter, have to seek the help of those they must nevertheless choose to entrust.

Therefore, such illogical arguments will persist the longer men fail to understand that under freedom each individual cannot escape from such self-responsibilities as thinking, judgment, and choice — and that freedom is sacrificed when government usurps them.

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Joseph Kellard

Joseph Kellard is a journalist living in New York. To read more of Mr. Kellard's commentary, visit his website The American Individualist at americanindividualist.blogspot.com.

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