Agency, Independence and Autonomy

Agency, Independence and Autonomy

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“To find yourself, think for yourself.” ― Socrates

“The proverb warns that, ‘You should not bite the hand that feeds you.’ But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.” ― Thomas Stephen Szasz

“You have agency, and you are free to choose. But there is actually no free agency. Agency has its price. You have to pay the consequences of your choices.” ―Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Our agency, given us through the plan of our Father, is the great alternative to Satan’s plan of force. With this sublime gift, we can grow, improve, progress, and seek perfection. Without agency, none of us could grow and develop by learning from our mistakes and errors and those of others…. I do not really think the devil can make us do anything. Certainly, he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us that we do not give him.” ― James E. Faust

When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to “hope” at all. We simply do the work. ― Derrick Jensen

“Personal autonomy including freedom of thought and action enable a person to escape fallacies and oppression. Life challenges everyone daily. I can achieve personal liberation from pain and suffering by acknowledging unfavorable facts bracketing my existence and honestly laboring to overcome personal bouts of insanity. The truth is the beacon that calls loudest to me. Self-understanding and taking responsibility for my own actions frees me from the agony of infinite despair.” ― Kilroy J. Oldster

“To become financially independent, you must turn part of your income into capital; turn capital into enterprise; turn enterprise into profit; turn profit into investment; and turn investment into financial independence.”  ―Jim Rohn

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” ― Denis Waitley

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We all seek to be independent and have free will over our lives and self. But the irony is that in order to achieve “free will” or “autonomy” we have to cooperate with and serve others interests.

We are never completely free. Even billionaires, rulers and other leaders have to rely on others for security and the fulfillment of personal needs. Without payment to these individuals they would not get these services rendered.

Agency and autonomy are only actually achieved by adding value to other people’s lives. This is why the free market decides what it treasures and values most. We pick up our cue from the free market and render our services to get paid in return.

For increased joy and happiness, we can only increase our agency, autonomy through the exercise of self-discipline. The discipline to engage and serve others which in turn creates mutual returns in form of wages, profit or other gifts to us.

Taxation Tussle

This week has been marked by a trader’s strike in my home country over implementation of a compliance regime on Value Added Tax collection. The Traders have had a five-day strike and have vowed to persist until the new compliance measures are dropped by the Tax Authority.

In reality as it cuts across most countries, the crux of the matter is “Accountability”. There is no direct correlation between taxes collected and public service delivery. Unfortunately, sub-saharan Africa is one of the continents that is hit hard by corruption.

Some of the most significant revolutions in the world have been triggered by punitive tax measures

On one hand, taxation perceived as extractive or unfair may trigger revolt, as was the case during the Boston Tea Party of 1773 or the subsequent American Revolution, the Rebecca Riots against tolls in Wales between 1839 and 1843, the so-called “dog tax conflict” in New Zealand in 1898, the Tax Resistance at Bayt Sahur (West Bank) in 1989, the Poll Tax Riots in the United Kingdom in 1990, or more recently during the Yellow Vest Movement in France since 2018,

Source Threat of taxation, stagnation and social unrest: Evidence from 19th century sicily – ScienceDirect

With a severe lack of accountability vis a vis expenditure on taxes collected, any citizen will lack the will or morale to comply with any tax measures imposed on them.  The traders are now trying to exercise agency in their lives.

They now understand without sacrificing their immediate comfort needs in the short term they will be impacted negatively in the future. Those with a sense of autonomy and agency in their lives will always act before those who are dependents or enjoying the largesse of the taxes collected.

Creation of Autonomy

Autonomy is the ability and capacity to decide and act freely without coercion from others. We can only achieve this by gaining independence both physically and financially. But in order to gain these two key measures of independence there is always a tradeoff.

Nothing in life is free. If we want our desired security we have to ensure our government is properly funded to pay it’s police and soldiers. If we want financial independence we need to serve a large base of customers. Providing them with the goods and services they desire.

Independence is only gained by been self-disciplined and creating harmony and prosperity for others. Without understanding this linkage, one will never be truly autonomous in modern society.


Self-Independence and self-sufficiency is a great attribute to look forward to but comes at the price of self-discipline. The three aspects go hand in hand. You cannot exercise free will without exercising self-discipline and accountability.

Once we understand the relation between these three aspects. We then gain the ability to exercise agency and autonomy in our lives.

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