It occurred to me that one of the aspects of the security vs. liberty debate is that security in many ways reduces the transaction costs of citizens. One thing that’s a failing of both libertarians and liberals is a neglect of how complex and daunting negotiating a thicket of almost identical options with limited information can be for most people. We may be amused by refugees from Communist nations who are overwhelmed by the choices of bread in a supermarket, but fail to note that this is a feeling that’s not so uncommon among citizens in the USA as well. It’s also frequently with regard to things far more signficant that which particular brand of bread one purchases.
As liberty expands, citizens are required to spend more and more of their time weighing options for their various choices. Even beyond just security, it is likely to be very attractive to accept a less than optimal result in exchange for not having to choose as long as the mandated choice isn’t too bad.
Libertarians mock liberals whose solution to any welfare program problem is to create additional forms for those struggling on welfare to fill out. Certainly this deserves mocking. But don’t we liberatarians have the same problem when we ramble on about privatizing social security, open employment rules, deregulation in all of its guises? I haven’t seen much consideration of the burden this places on those who don’t enjoy pouring over endless sets of rules and devising optimizing strategies (honest - not everyone likes that!).
I believe that there are solutions to this problem, even though it’s in some sense a variant of the free rider problem (i.e., the majority will simply duplicate the choices of the dedicated rules lawyers). The goal must be to find a way to allow most citizens to make easy, acceptable choices while permitting those with the appropriate mindset to explore more complex options. But we won’t get there if we ignore the fact that most people aren’t rattling the bars of their societal cages, desperately seeking more choice.