… is from page 23 of Pierre Lemieux’s excellent 2018 monograph, What’s Wrong With Protectionism? :
In a free country, resources belong not to the country as a single entity (“us”) but to different individuals or private groups (including corporations) separately. America is not a single entity but the collection of millions of individual Americans. At least in a free society, “country” is just a shorthand for the individuals who compose it.
DBx: Note that the truth here expressed by Pierre does not imply that groups of two or more people cannot, should not, or do not often combine their efforts to pursue joint goals. Households consisting of more than one adult, business firms owned by more than single proprietor, and all clubs attest to the reality and value of jointly pursuing goals. Ditto for non-profits.
In principle, such joint pursuit of goals is the justification of government in a free society. The reality differs. Unlike with any household, business firm, or club, most people treat the state religiously. The state is assumed to be the product of historical forces grander and more transcendent than the ‘mere’ prudential desire of individuals to jointly combine their resources and efforts to achieve some particular, worldly goals. And being grand and transcendent, the state is assumed also to possess miraculous powers and regard for the greater good that, obviously, are not possessed by ordinary individuals and by voluntarily formed groups.
Of course, such a grand and god-like creature must have special privileges to accompany its ability to work miracles.
Most people, of course, think the political philosophy expressed above is hog-wash. Hoots, hollers, and serious head-shaking ensue whenever a benighted libertarian, such as myself, points out that the state is a human institution, run by humans, and, hence, incapable of performing any of the many miracles that people demand that it perform and ardently believe that it will perform successfully if only We the People are sufficiently faithful, obedient, and generous in our tithing.