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Commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation, Ethical Standard More Thought Provoking Commentary!
July 13, 2010
You are invited to read this commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation. It will make you think!
Progressives 3, America 0
By Robert E. Freer, Jr., President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
“The trouble with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.” —Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain.
"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." —Albert Einstein
I am amazed. The cow must have jumped over the moon! Did you ever think that an American president, leader of the greatest free market economy in the world would face a united Europe lecturing him on prudent financial management and balanced budgets? Absolutely amazing! My jaw is hanging out that the nations that first embraced Keynesian economics have finally had enough and are embracing a notion that Keynesian economics itself must ultimately recognize enough is enough. Spending like there is no tomorrow eventually reaches “tomorrow.”
It is a measure of how far out of touch our government leaders are that they persist in their ruinous efforts to micromanage the U.S. economy. They are so doctrinaire in their Keynesian allegiance that they are determined to fundamentally change the role of government. It will take decades of determined counter management to right the ship of state. Conspiracy theorists tell us it is a plot to undermine our Constitution and permanently change our way of life. Whether purposeful or not, our Republic has not been so threatened from within during our history, even during the New Deal.
Insane though they are, our government leaders may be so isolated from operating in the world you and I do, they honestly feel Government is capable of making the unlimited series of interconnected decisions to turn the previously unprogrammed (read- “Free”-) actions of 305 million people into a symphony of government’s own design. That notion is doomed to failure from the start…Besides, who in their right mind would want to do that! If we don’t quickly change direction, it will create a dictatorial state that enslaves us all before itself falling of its own weight.
Margaret Thatcher, more than thirty years ago noted, “no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then to look after our neighbour.” Thatcher’s view, drawn from Friedrich Hayek is that systems and institutions are organic and will be shaped by individual choices over time. These notions are denigrated by the likes of those who are calling the shots in Washington today, but it is they who are inflating the importance of their own intelligence in placing that intelligence above the atavistic determination of the “tribe” to default to primary concern with the individuals with whom they interact on a daily basis. At the grassroots we will disregard whatever instructions we receive from above in favor of what works at our contact level.
If made in Washington progressivism was ever to work, we would have to suppose that the limitless factor of the sum of national personal daily decisions impacting on our lives are responsive to the “higher” intelligence residing in Washington, New York, Chicago, L.A. and San Francisco that is found in the heads of government agencies, universities, media mavens and the like. While recognizing a certain mindless worshipping of what passes for culture in those venues, I reject the notion that it is superior or could ever outweigh the common sense of the American people who live throughout this great land, and are not yet ready to be measured for fetters on their potential for individual greatness.
The progressives who won the last election have done all of us a great disservice. They took a nation that was hurting, applied theory to what commonsense should have told them would only make matters worse, and, golly, it really has made matters worse! The federal stimulus, which I had major objections to in the first place, has made a bad situation worse by being largely spent on ephemeral projects that have encouraged communities to double down on fiscal irresponsibility by adding more fire, police, teachers and other workers not previously on the payroll to an already bloated government, and now, local and state governments are facing the reality that the federal money is coming to an end, and their deficit has been made worse because of the expanded workforce they were lured into by our good friends in Washington. How dumb!
Instead of helping to transition to a self sustaining economy, our economy is facing the reality that these employees will soon be back looking for new jobs or permanently unemployed. If it was to be spent at all, it should have been directed to enduring public works that would add to the nation’s resources and encourage lasting private enterprise. We certainly have more than enough road, bridge, rail and school projects that would have had a lasting impact on the community and would have led to sustainable private sector employment. Score: Progressives 1, USA 0!
The last administration was certainly not a paragon of fiscal responsibility, but at least they did not take an economy in extremis and add to its woes by creating continually growing annual trillion dollar entitlements. In health care they have begun the restructuring of a private sector system with a state devised system that substitutes their collectivist judgment on health care through more than 150 new health care agencies. They have added the inefficiency of complexity to what was mostly an insurance problem and haven’t done us any favors on insurance. The negative impact of the legislation other than the whammy to our fiscal situation is just now being felt, but for one they are lousy predictors of result. Rather than less use of emergency rooms for primary care, emergency room use is up substantially, and we have been alerted to expect major increases in both our health insurance premiums and fees. Again the arrogance of our intelligentsia has led to: Progressives 2, America 0
And now we come to “FinReg” or as it is known on Capitol Hill, “S 3127, The Dodd Frank Financial Reform Act of 2010.” I fault this bill at its roots. In the midst of the financial crisis with the cozy relations in Washington between Treasury and the big banks, suspicions were cast that no solution conceived in DC would fundamentally change the banking industry in New York from which many of these bureaucrats were drawn. You could see in the summoning of the major banks to Washington the wheels turning in some bureaucrat’s mind. “Let’s see, we have half a dozen banks with over half of the nation’s wealth, and then you have everybody else. Hmmm, let’s regulate them closely but not harm our friends and let the rest of the banks go relatively unscathed”
Well, that is not how it has turned out, but our market center banks have suffered a body blow with extremely costly regulation that will only be fully measureable in increased costs and lost business over time as the new regulatory apparatus gets to it. Rather than creating the impossibility of “Too Big to Fail,” Washington has enshrined it with this legislation and further enmeshed government where it doesn’t belong. Cost: Progressives 3, USA 0!
Copyright © 2010 by Robert E. Freer, Jr. All rights reserved
About the author: Robert E. Freer, Jr., is president of the Free Enterprise Foundation. He is also the first BB&T Visiting Professor in Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel. A regular contributor to the Mercury, Prof. Freer may be reached at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like him to appear before your group or organization to speak on any of the subjects about which he writes, please contact him at The Citadel. Copies of his earlier columns may be found at The Free Enterprise Foundation
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