Oftentimes, technology is discussed solely in such a light that it will only lead to an inhibition of freedom, as LWA contributor Spencer Smith pointed out in regards to drones.
This past weekend while traveling to Northern Illinois to assist the McHenry County Young Republicans in their July 4th activism, I realized one of the benefits of technology in regards to one of the most vital forms of human freedom: mobility between geographical and governmental boundaries.
When I would put in my destination, my GPS would notify me: “This route has toll roads. Do you want to avoid them?” Anyone would say yes, but my reasoning was to deny a state that has been fiscally irresponsible more revenue; the dream of any libertarian.
My GPS not only helped me avoid such wastes of time and money, but also stimulated local businesses, an exemplar of spontaneous order if there ever was one. When I was in need of gas or a bite to eat, my GPS would alert me to where the closest gas station or restaurant was. The utility of such technology cannot be understated, even though the government can use such technology for nefarious purposes. In the past, I took drives merely with paper directions; that was not the easiest thing to do and resulted in many obscenities being uttered. Tom Tom is a company that is commended every day by such consumers like me who continue to buy their products and use them.
Consumers gain quite a lot more than government can as a result of the fact that they are rational actors using such technology to produce wealth, as opposed to stifle wealth or violate the rights of others. Consumers also don’t use the technology in such a way that it is overwhelming; in other words, they only gather enough information to use for their needs. I need to go one place, not gather the details on where millions of people are going.
Consumers, beyond using such technology to challenge, and stymie, revenue collection and stimulate private business, can also use such technology to do what I did: counter government intervention with activism. In that I wasn’t a local, I didn’t have an intimate knowledge of the environs I was working in there, just like when I was doing my work with AFP in my home state. Yet, the technology assisted me in getting where I needed to be and thus I was rendered more effective.
GPS units are not merely computer chips and plastic, they represent a certain kind of freedom as well due to the ease of travel when utilizing them. They are decidedly libertarian in nature for the reasons I’ve pointed out and a result of the prosperity the United States still has, in spite of the central planning that has become more characteristic of the economy.