“The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories—with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.”–Ayn Rand.
I mock Rand a lot on this blog, but the above claim is almost totally true. (For full credit, she should have said “Republicans” and “Democrats”.) True, she casts their efforts at control in the worst possible light, but still she describes their perception of the trade-off correctly.
Where she went wrong was in assuming that their assessment was wrong. She no doubt saw this as irrational behavior on the part of these parties, but in truth, it’s a necessary trade-off. It’s very hard for people to engage in meaningful artistic and intellectual pursuits if they can’t have a certain level of material well-being. And if they have to spend all their time working to achieve this, they won’t have time to use their minds. So, the “Liberal” concludes it is best to use intervention in the economy to allow people a certain degree of comfort.