You lived most your life without getting to exercise many rights your forebears enjoyed. If you’re like me, you think nothing of it. We live in a degraded state of law that recognizes exaggerated claims to personal freedom (abortion, sodomy) on one side, and grants of exaggerated authority to the state on the other (licensure, taxation, search and seizure, surveillance).

The picture has been grim a long time. But not all is lost. You possess a fundamental property right that is still largely intact in our day of statist scrupulosity. It is the right to contract.

You might be forced into a government program, but you cannot be forced into a contract with anyone or any business whatsoever, despite the U.S. supreme court ruling upholding the personal mandate as a tax and the government’s need for new revenue streams in the insurance industry to cover its built-in cost overruns.

While you can resist entering into contracts, it’s almost impossible to avoid government programs. You may have no choice but to be involved in social security through constraints imposed by an employer. You may not be free to escape a county inspection of your new building or of the wiring. You may not to be a free driver on the people’s roads in your car, and so you enter the state highway safety program as a licensed operator of a motor vehicle. Some programs you enter reluctantly, others eagerly. So much free money abounds. Scholarships. U.S.-backed small business loans. You enter a government program for a benefit, or because you seemingly are forced into it as an entanglement and an unavoidable evil. In our schizophrenic age, it’s possible to be involved in both sorts of programs, and think nothing of it.

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