This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
Ethical limits on freedom of personal action prohibit the hurting of innocent people, intentionally or unintentionally. I can't beat up an innocent person and vice-versa. I can't get drunk and drive and hit someone on the road because I didn't see them or was too drunk to pay attention to what I was doing. We also can't pass the costs of our own actions onto others.
That is liberalism, not libertarianism but real liberalism. Our property rights give us the freedom to do as we wish with our own property, as long as we aren't hurting innocent people. We are responsible for any actions we take involving our property.
The state is there to regulate how we, as individuals, interact with each other. Joe can get drunk, high on marijuana, eat too much, or not exercise. He can't beat up on innocent people or hit someone with his car or steal their money, bomb their house or commit any other activity that hurts innocent people. Joe is also responsible for what happens to Joe, meaning what he did to himself. This is how freedom works. We are responsible for our own lives and what we do to ourselves. Our freedom does not include hurting innocent people.