November 7, 2011


Truth has a ring to it. It has clarity. The muddled verbose verbiage of academics often clouds truth. Worse, the attempt to hide it or change it is too often attempted and achieved by those who care less about truth than agendas. Yet, truth ultimately survives despite efforts to eliminate it because of truth’s simple sensibility.


It should be self-evident that freedom exists only in a society that allows people to do whatever they want as long as they do not initiate force, use coercion, fraud, or steal to achieve their goals. It should be obvious—but it isn't.

Today it is considered enlightened thinking to stipulate that government invest in technology, education, environmental protection, and trade measures to make our export industry more competitive against other nations. It is also taken as a given that we must take from the rich and give to the poor to close the income gap. As republicans debate these issues, whether they are conservative, libertarian, or moderate, one word is lost in the debates: freedom.


While you will hear a multitude of plans and arguments defending free markets and proposals to reduce taxes, regulation, and government to create jobs and prosperity, you’ll rarely hear these practical arguments paired with the moral imperative of freedom. The problem with this line of debate, is that if economic prosperity is the goal, why not argue that we become more like China? That’s exactly what Obama and the democrats are doing. After all, China is growing at 9% while we are growing at only 2%, so why not emulate the Chinese model to increase our growth?


How do we counter the argument that our government needs to help industries whose foreign competition is subsidized by their governments? How else can we compete against them? If we don't subsidize our industries our competitors will clean our collective clock. Or how can we compete with a Chinese education system that is subsidized and directed to train their students in math and engineering, while we as a nation are not increasing our funding to do the same?


How do you counter the argument that other nations subsidize their export industries and have laws that restrict our imports so that they can run surpluses? Why not move toward protectionist trade policies like theirs? It works doesn't it? The Chinese are way ahead of us in green technology and they subsidize all of their industries. How can we possibly compete if we do not do the same? The future will be won by a mixed economy of more government money and leadership in partnership with business, wont it? If you want prosperity it must be in cooperation with government. This we are told is the new reality.


How do we combat such ideas? First, we have to set our priorities straight. What is more important to us, being the most prosperous nation in the world or being the freest? If your answer is "the most prosperous" then you must be willing to concede to whatever actions and policies are needed to achieve this supreme goal. If it requires protectionism, so be it. If it means re-distributing wealth then you are for that too. More government regulation, more taxation, and more government control of the economy? Bring it on! After all, we do want to win don't we? We Americans will settle for nothing less than being first at almost everything. After all, It's us against them.


No. This is not the course America must chart. This was not the goal of our founding fathers when they constructed the constitution of this country. The goal was freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom to choose, freedom to speak one’s mind, and freedom to make one’s own decisions and actions as long as they did not infringe on the rights of others.


Alexander Hamilton did not advocate government taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor or particular businesses or industries to compete economically. Madison did not advocate that the federal government teach the nation’s children government mandated courses. And Jefferson did not advocate running a national deficit to provide entitlements for all American's as a new inalienable "right.”


On the contrary, they concentrated instead on setting up necessary checks and balances within government that would maximize individual freedom, and actually prevent the growth of federal power. They cherished freedom over economic prosperity, and government involvement was feared, not solicited.


The fact that freedom leads to prosperity is a secondary benefit of freedom. If America is free and prosperous what difference does it make if communist China is number one in the world in growth? Isn't quality of life more important than the amount of money one makes? Most would answer yes to this question. Prosperity is not such a good thing if it is at the cost of your freedoms. Nations who trade freedom for prosperity usually end up, in the long-term, having neither.


I am waiting to hear someone in the current debates make the case for freedom. When a reporter asks, "Isn't it fair to ask the rich to pay a little more to close the income gap and help balance the budget?" I want to hear someone respond, "It isn't your money or mine. And you’re not asking. You’re telling me I should take money that is not mine and spend or “invest” it in what you want instead of letting the person retain his own money and invest it in what they believe is best. And you’re further suggesting that if that individual disagrees with me taking their money that I should send them to jail or fine them." This is the kind of tyranny our founding fathers fled from.


A prosperous country that isn’t free is not the kind of country I want to live in. How can we argue for freedom for the poor but not the rich? We are all Americans and should all be treated the same. "The land of the free" -- that is what our founding fathers fought for and what we all should be working towards in a free society.


A truly free society draws a line between economy and state, just as there is a line drawn between religion and state. The federal government is supposed to be a referee on the game field, not a player. The government is there to adjudicate disputes, prosecute crimes, and defend against foreign invaders. It should leave all economic decisions however to individuals. And as long as those individuals do not use force, coercion, or fraud to try and accomplish their goals, they are supposed to be free to do what they believe is in their interests and keep the money they earn. This leads to both freedom and prosperity.


But government today is involved in every aspect of the economy. It regulates, controls, dictates, and decrees its will in every aspect of American life. The elections of 2012 will determine whether we as a nation are going to vote for government to get further involved as a key player, or get out of the economy and our lives. The direction we choose will determine whether individual freedom once again becomes the American goal or whether we allow politicians to convince us to exchange a few more of our freedoms for a few more jobs.