Freedom means different things to different people. For some it’s all about rights, freedom, and power. Others focus on individual freedom, an abstract concept which includes all the benefits that one has to offer, but is not confined to a particular person. For many people, freedom means something different in everyday life.
For the majority of Americans, freedom means economic freedom. The ability to pursue personal and economic prosperity by working hard at it is something that they are granted for a just and equitable distribution of societal goods and services. There are no particular privileges or immunities granted to any one group or class of people, nor is there any general principle that someone must work harder than others to enjoy them. For example, a worker with the ability to choose whether or not to work would likely have greater economic freedom than a worker forced into an economic arrangement where he or she must work regardless. Freedom in economics is the ability to exchange your freedom for the right to work. In other words, to be prosperous you must be free to pursue whatever chosen pursuit.
Freedom of speech and religion are also important elements of freedom of action and freedom of choice. These are the freedoms that give individuals the power to say what they think and feel about nearly every issue in life, including the issues involving their bodies and those of other people. Civil liberties protect the individual in his dealings with fellow citizens and with the government. The right to vote, to serve on juries, to be free to have a private and public trial are all examples of civil rights.
Political freedom is the opposite of civil liberties. It is the ability to participate and take part in the political process, to vote, to pursue office, and to serve in any way that the law allows. Without political freedom, a vibrant and representative democracy would be unable to exist. There are many differing opinions on how to define political freedom, but almost all agree that it includes a wide range of actions and choices that are related to the functioning of society as a whole. It includes the freedom to criticize public figures, to peacefully protest, and to peacefully assemble.
Economic freedom differs from political freedom in many ways. Freedom of action and freedom of choice are directly related to the ability to make productive investments and to enjoy a reasonable level of wealth. Economic freedom includes things such as the ability to own property, freedom from slave labor or excessive taxation, freedom to invest, freedom to enter into contracts, freedom to enter various markets, and freedom to enjoy the fruits of the entrepreneurial enterprise. A truly free market provides a substantial number of opportunities for the growth and development of individuals and businesses. Economic freedom also includes the freedom to be a successful entrepreneur and to produce goods and services that can be sold and bought.
All three of these freedoms are important and necessary to the operation of our society and economy. Each one seems rather self-explanatory, but it is worth highlighting the difference between these freedoms in order to highlight just how important they are. The First Amendment protects the right to peacefully assemble and petition the government for change. The Fourth Amendment protects the right to peacefully worship and the right to have freedom of speech.