Why is it important that our cities are free?


July 2, 2020 10:02AM

By now, we hope you know about the Beacon Center’s City Freedom Index, but in case you missed it, check it out here. The Freedom Index is Beacon’s newest report informing Tennesseans on the lengths at which local government is regulating your daily life. Its purpose is to equip citizens so they can vote with their feet. If you’re asking yourself “Why should I care to read this?” or “Why should I care about government regulation?” I encourage you to keep reading.  

Although we need government in some form to help avoid societal chaos and strife, government does need its limits. According to John Locke, the government’s primary role is to preserve property. Locke writes, “the labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his.” He highlights natural absolute rights that need protection: life, health, liberty, possessions.  Every time your city makes you pay some ridiculous fee, they are overstepping what their power and authority should be. For example, as the fourth of July holiday approaches, where many are reflecting on their freedoms, some cities in Tennessee can fine you up to $1000 and even give you a little jail time if you do not buy a permit for fireworks. 

Since we are part of society, we put up with government for a variety of reasons but ideally so government can preserve our rights and not profit from them by demanding yard sale permits or going out of business permits, among other things. 

At the Beacon Center, we agree to some necessary regulation, specifically when it comes to health and safety, so long as local governments are protecting our rights and not exploiting them. In society, people willingly join a political society to have their “lives, liberties, and estates” preserved. Our federal, state, and local government should not be acting in ways that reduce individual liberty or promote dependency. Fortunately, tools like the City Freedom Index provide us with the information we need to determine when a government has overstepped its higher purpose by denying personal liberties that serve its agenda rather than supporting the freedom and rights of all. We hope with this new tool, citizens might be able to point out areas that need improvement and help create positive change and development.