It’s a truism that’s become so trite it hardly rises to the level of a bumper sticker: Freedom isn’t free. You see it slapped across the back of SUVs, taped to the windows in Circle-K’s. Some days, it seems everyone can mouth the words but nobody understands them. Freedom isn’t free. It has always carried a cost, demanded a sacrifice. In any society that claims to be free, that liberty must be purchased.
Here I am not talking about, say, taxes. Taxes are not the price of liberty. I am not an anti-tax nut. I recognize, as Justice Holmes did, that “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society”. Taxes pay for the police and the courts, the schools and the hospitals, for sanitation and water and roads. But that’s true for any civilization. Taxes make the modern American civilization possible. They do not make it free. One of the staggering lessons of history, quite unwelcome at the moment of triumph of global capitalism, is that the price of freedom is not set in dollars, or in yuan, or in barrels of petroleum, or in bullion.
The price of freedom is blood.