Why We Love Freedom: It’s the key to economic viability and production in any culture

It’s one of the things I like most this particular time of year, the spring months ahead of summer, when stores like Cabela’s put out their Holiday attire. With Memorial Day and the Fourth of July coming on the horizon, there are a lot of patriotic garments that they offer to satisfy the sentiments of their customer base, which, to say the least, are not Karl Marx fans. It’s always a reminder to me of where people are generally, away from the news and in reality. When I travel around the country, it’s pretty easy to see where people are politically. And Cabela’s understands that, as does Bass Pro. The same company essentially owns them, but they know their customers, and I enjoy going there to see what’s the latest in outdoor trends. These stores, dedicated to adventure and patriotism, are such wonderful assets, and I have never gotten tired of the Cabela’s in my neighborhood of Cabela’s West Chester, Ohio, since it opened. Let’s just say I spend a lot of time there. On this particular visit, I found a really nice Under Armor camouflage shirt that would be perfect for the summer season and all the outdoor activities I have planned. And it had a nice logo on it that said “Freedom.” It was a whole marketing line of t-shirts they have in all kinds of colors and styles, and they were selling like hotcakes at a maple syrup festival. I bought the shirt and other related items and immensely enjoyed the experience. But I had to ask myself as I watched others doing the same thing, what does everyone think that “Freedom” means? Why do we say it? Why was it such a powerful marketing tool? Under Armor is trying to appeal to those sentiments, so why was it such a powerful statement that might provoke someone to buy it, as opposed to a statement that might say, “Compliance?”

What do we mean when we say we want and expect “freedom?” Freedom from what? Freedom from government, Freedom from our parents? Freedom from work? Freedom from corporate influence, hostile governments, greedy financial institutions, politics, taking our kids to soccer practice, public schools that can’t spend our money correctly and waste it trying to indoctrinate our children into a Marxist ideology? We have a lot of hooks in us by the nature of living life. But if we had to put our finger on the specificity of the meaning of Freedom from an American perspective, the way Cabela’s is marketing it is the Freedom to live your own life the way you want to. It’s undoubtedly not Freedom from responsibility. And the more successful you are in life, obviously the pressure of responsibility increases. But what is specific about American Freedom is the notion that the value of a developed individual life is recognized as significant, and the results of that development and uniqueness benefit our national culture. In America, you can be a slug, barely rubbing two pennies together and living out of a van, nearly homeless, or you could work hard and become an executive for a major company. In America, you can literally have access to anybody at any level. A woman can date a multimillionaire if she is attractive and can get their attention, as opposed to a more controlled society that works within a caste system, as it is throughout India, Nepal, and into China. In Iran or Pakistan, a woman might be the most beautiful person in the world, but nobody would know because of their regimented society. And the hope to date or even marry someone outside of that rigid system is an impossible concept. 

In America, we have an expectation of choice. We can choose to be successful or not, to spend time with people of any level of input. Of course, you would have to work hard to move through social circles, but if you choose to work toward those goals, the doors are open to the hard worker, and we have that Freedom of choice. And you see that when you travel and go to summer activities where people have RVs and boats, earned assets that represent their hard work or lack thereof. I am always amazed by the variety when I go to campsites with our RV and my children. Some people have multimillion-dollar rigs decked out with all the luxury one could imagine. Many times, those rigs are more elaborate than their homes. And they might be parked next to some scrappy dude who hasn’t washed in a week living out of a tent in the bed of his truck with an American flag stuck out of the hood with a crude drill hole applied to stand it proudly upright. And they will talk and kid around with each other without any pretense of snobbery. They subconsciously appreciate each other’s choice to live a free life. And the results of those decisions provide different toys in life to enjoy. But they celebrate their ability to make that choice and not have a government or social construct make it for them.

This is why China must steal nearly a trillion dollars a year in intellectual property theft because even with the rigged financial system that has put them on the front burner for corporate communism, their culture is dying regarding creativity. They might have a lot of hard workers and an obedient society ready to do whatever they are told. But they aren’t very creative, which is common in communist cultures. Yet invention comes from Freedom. Good ideas are born when people are free to think outside the box. I have had several occasions in my life where I’ve had to deal with the United States Patent Office, and let me tell you, it’s always very busy. There are a lot of good ideas in America born every day, and those ideas come to those who are free to have ideas and are bold enough to act on them. And boldness comes from Freedom of choice. When people are free to express themselves either boldly or rigidly, there are consequences to that behavior that have predicted results. But when people are not free to think for themselves and act accordingly with some sort of market incentive, a society quickly shows the results in stagnant behavior. So in that regard, which is why Cabela’s markets “Freedom” the way they do, Freedom is an essential ingredient to the potential for a vibrant and inventive society. And that’s what we celebrate in America, the Freedom of choice. And from those choices, we have seen proof that society flourishes without a complicated caste system driven by religion or politics in limiting options for the human experience. And that’s what we celebrate on our patriotic holidays, the ability to have a choice. And perhaps to show off our new boats, campers, fishing poles, guns, the things we could buy because we chose to take a risk and hit it big, or work hard all our lives and treat ourselves to a new toy. Or just to spend time outdoors with family and friends because we have the leisure time to do so. Freedom is important to the American lifestyle, and it’s more than a tagline that refers to the period of the Founding Fathers. It’s an important attribute of our economic viability and our culture’s purpose. And it’s always under threat by oppressive forces that are jealous of it, and it’s something we must defend diligently. 

Rich Hoffman

Click to buy The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business