Love It, or Leave It

Many defenders of the status quo believe in the theory of “Love it, or Leave It” (LILI). I believe this is problematic on at least a couple important fronts.

First, all other inhabitable land in the world is already claimed under the jurisdiction of other governments that often show even less respect for individual rights than the United States.


Where there are governments that would fit my policy preferences more closely, the cost of moving is prohibitively high, given that the existing governments with more economic and social freedom are only marginally better than the US. I readily admit that conditions in the United States are not so bad that I am willing to move to another country in pursuit of freer public policies. “Ahh, then don’t complain”, they say.

This logic, taken to its conclusion, suggests that anyone who criticizes the status quo in any way should move. But I’ll give LILI theorists a chance to clarify. I ask them, at which point is it acceptable to criticize the status quo before one should “leave it”? If I believe that taxes should be lower, is it acceptable to voice that, or should I leave the country instead? If, more radically, I believe that I should not be compelled to participate in the social security system, may I voice that or should I leave the country? On war, had I resisted the draft for WWI, WWII, or Vietnam, would it have been appropriate to voice my disagreement, or would I have needed to leave on moral grounds?

Again, what level of criticism is appropriate, if any, according to LILI?

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