It’s Independence Day, and I can’t help recalling Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote:
“That government is best which governs least.”
We sometimes forget that this country was founded by people who desperately wanted to extricate themselves from precisely the kind of overbearing, dictatorial central government under whose thumb we now find ourselves. More than anything else, the early American Colonists wanted simply to be free. Free to realize their dreams – the very reason they braved a trip across an ocean to an uncertain future. Free to go where they wanted to go in order to pursue those dreams. Free to build, work, achieve, and most importantly, to keep the fruits of their labors.
The early settlers did not come with the expectation of security, or some “guarantee” of success. They knew that freedom requires the willingness to accept risk. As a result, from around the world we attracted the most courageous, the most adventurous, and the most entrepreneurial members of their respective cultures. Thus the statement in the Star Spangled Banner that America is the “home of the brave” has its roots in reality – only the brave got on the boat, while the timid and the fearful stayed behind in their home countries.
Unfortunately, we now live in a time when far too many of our citizens do not want the “least” government – they want the most. The reason is that over the last 100 years or so, we have been gradually brainwashed to believe they everyone has a “right” to an ever growing list of goods and services, things are rightly our own responsibility to provide to ourselves and our families. Unlike the early Americans, too many today want a “safety net” – a guarantee.
Perhaps most disturbing is that the early settlers, who took pride in their self-reliance and work ethic, have now been replaced by an ever larger percentage of our population who see it as perfectly acceptable to use the government to confiscate the earnings of their more successful neighbors. They have, quite literally, hired the government to act as their proxy thief, in order to pay for an endless list of their personal desires, from “free” cellphones and “food stamps” to “free” education and “free” healthcare.
And they think it’s OK…I heard one liberal woman declare that excessive taxation of the rich is just fine because “the majority voted for it – that’s how Democracy works.” I didn’t bother trying to explain to her that we are not a “democracy” but a Constitutional Republic – I merely reminded her of the old definition of Democracy: “Four wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.” She was not amused.
Business today is no different – from SOLYNDRA to General Electric to the Ethenol lobby, the involvement by government in the private sector has spawned an entire idustry whose sole purpose is to sell access to legislators, in order to cash in on government mandates. The free market has not been free for almost a century. Take government completely out of the healthcare and insurance business, and the cost of medical treatments would plummet.
We also now have mountains of ever more government “regulations” allowing unelected bureaucrats to control every aspect of our lives, destroying the free market and driving up the cost of everything we buy. And it’s getting worse by the day. We are now looking at massive taxation of CO2, which will be a disaster for anyone who uses energy – in other words, all of us. And why? To combat a myth, “man-caused global warming” – the biggest fraud in history.
The other problem is that the downside of regulation is never discussed – as if all regulation is somehow “good” on its face. That there is no cost to it. But the first rule of economics is that there is no free lunch. Every action has a cost. And the cost of overbearing regulation at the Federal, State, and sadly, even the local level, is that economic activity is always adversely affected. And the depth and breadth of regulatory tyranny today is simply breathtaking.
In today’s government regulated America, it is doubtful that Thomas Edison could have invented the light bulb, that Alexander Graham Bell would have come up with the telephone, or that the Wright brothers would have been able to produce the airplane. From OSHA, to the EPA, to the DHS, the SEC, the FDA, and on and on, an army of government “brown shirts” would make such leaps in human progress all but impossible today.
But the most negative affect of excessive regulation is virtually invisible – the business that never starts (or moves overseas), the idea that is discarded in the face of endless licensing forms and fees, permits, and just plain bureaucratic nonsense. Sure, we have I-phones, and numerous other examples of technological advancement, but these are the exceptions – in too many areas of the economy, it is simply easier and less costly to produce more and more products overseas.
Time is running out – if our country is to survive, we must return to the principles that made us not just a beacon of liberty, but the greatest global economic powerhouse in all of human history: individual liberty, personal responsibility, (truly) free trade, and the rule of law (NOT “regulation”). And we’d better do it sooner than later.
God help us if we don’t…