The Freedom Box Principle

Paul Gordon Collier

The degree of the FREEDOM you either EXPECT or perceive to NEED to exercise will directly affect the degree to which you are willing or unwilling to exchange SECURITY AND COMFORT for FREEDOM.

Want to know why we are losing our freedom in America today?  Is it because the progressives are winning?  Would conservatives reverse the trend?  I think the problem is this- power tends to corrupt- absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.  Power comes by limiting your freedom and extending MY Freedom.    If the “MY” is the government and the “YOUR” is the people, then the people who allow government to continuously take their freedom away are empowering their governmnet.  Why would a people who actually have power to choose their government allow this to happen?  I think I  have the answer- the Freedom Box Principle.

Here is a simple illustration of Freedom in America today- the Freedom Box Principle illustrated:

freedom box final illustration


This illustration shows the Freedom Box as I believe it exists in America. It also shows levels of ‘Freedom Users’.  The terms are for illustrative purposes only.  The amount of freedom you want to use is contained in your Freedom Circle.  As you can see, some Freedom Users don’t come anywhere close to the real boundaries of freedom in America today.  Other Freedom Users collide directly with those freedoms.

 A Freedom Box illustrates the real boundaries of freedom placed upon us by our governments, from the local to the federal level.  The Freedom Box has thick walls.  These walls keep us from extending our Freedom Circles, but they also keep out uncertainty and danger.

Looking at how or why people might feel compelled to use the many types of freedoms that exist can get very complex.  Even looking at the many types of freedoms that exist (or don’t) is not a simple task.  So this illustration won’t attempt to try to do any of those things.

This illustration is designed for one simple thing, to help you see how people living in the same freedom box might have radically different ideas about how free they actually are.  The freedom box is based on this idea:

The degree of the FREEDOM you either EXPECT or perceive to NEED to exercise will directly affect the degree to which you are willing or unwilling to exchange SECURITY AND COMFORT for FREEDOM.

So let’s look at the radical extremes of societies and how they might look at freedom boxes:

NO FREEDOM- A society of people who want nothing but security and comfort is not only willing to accept a smaller freedom box, they will enable it, even demand it.

TOTAL FREEDOM- A society made up of people who want total freedom above all won’t want ANY freedom box, and they will take up arms to break down the freedom box’s walls.

FREEDOM CIRCLES in the Freedom Box

SMALLEST FREEDOM CIRCLE- The person who is living in the smallest circle I call a ROOM FREEDOMIST.  So long as they are free to walk around their room they are happy.  So if our Freedom Box in America doesn’t invade that room space, that ROOM FREEDOMIST will feel very free.

Room Freedomist


BIGGEST FREEDOM CIRCLE– The other end of the scale is the person I am calling the AMERICAN FREEDOMIST.  This person wants to be able to freely move around the whole nation.

american freedomist freedom circle


I assigned labels for illustrative purposes only.

There are many factors that go in to what makes some ROOM FREEDOMISTS and others AMERICAN FREEDOMISTS.  These factors include Religion, Commerce, Family, Education, etc.  The more important it is for you to make your own decisions about these major parts of your life, the closer you are to being an AMERICAN FREEDOMIST.

Remember, these labels are only metaphors to illustrate the Freedom Box Principle

Freedom is not Freedom unless it is tested.  The more you need Freedom, the more you test Freedom.  The more you test Freedom, the more you discover how free you truly are.

Also, when you are looking at this illustration, consider this factor, which is not expressed here.  It is possible for one Society to have different Freedom Boxes for different types of people.  For instance, the Freedom Box for a white, middle class American in the 1950s was considerably larger than the Freedom Box for a Black, southern middle class American in the 1950s.

The Freedom to worship as you choose is very high in Saudi Arabia if you happen to be the right kind of Muslim.  That Freedom is non-existent for a Christian.


Now, what does this tell us about America?  We are under a regime, the Obama Presidency, that is rapidly accelerating the extension of Federal Power which began long before this President was elected.

One could argue that Bush II laid the groundwork for the dramatic extension of Federal Power which has occurred under President Obama.

The Freedom Box that the Obama Administration is currently building is considerably smaller, on the whole, than the Freedom Box that existed under Lyndon Baines Johnson.  I would argue that this is not a conservative versus progressive argument, but a freedom versus security argument.

The ROOM FREEDOMIST wants only to be allowed to walk around their room.  They WANT to feel their room is secured from threats outside their room.  The ROOM FREEDOMIST feels safe, secure, and free in Obama’s Freedom Box.

The STREET FREEDOMIST is already feeling constrained by this administration and is considerably less likely to support this Administration’s efforts to continue to shrink our American Freedom Box.

street freedomist freedom circle


I believe that the majority of Americans are ROOM FREEDOMISTS and HOME FREEDOMISTS.  They mostly feel free, and they mostly want to feel safe and secure in their Homes and their Rooms.  So long as this charismatic, charming, celebrity President continues to make them feel safe and secure they will continue to support him and the people who make his policies possible.

Unless and until more Americans expand their Freedom Circles, the continual erosion of our freedoms will not be reversed because Americans will not feel their freedoms are seriously being threatened.  For the STREET FREEDOMIST, they are already coming face to face with the real limits of America’s Freedom Box.

The question I have for you is this-

What type of Freedomist are you?  I am an American Freedomist.

Paul Collier