Human Events Blog

The Importance of Economic Freedom

 

The Charles Koch Foundation, which according to the Left is headquartered somewhere in the really expensive districts of Mordor, has produced a nifty little video discussing “Economic Freedom and the Quality of Life.”

As illustrated by this video, economic freedom requires secure property rights, the freedom to trade, sound money, and small government.  In other words, the four things we’re losing most quickly under the Obama Administration.

As far back as his fateful encounter with Joe the Plumber, Obama has spoken eagerly of the government’s moral imperative to “spread the wealth around.”  Well, you can’t do that if you respect property rights, and secure them with impartially applied laws.  Those two goals are absolutely exclusive.  Either each citizen owns his property, or he gets to keep whatever the government decides is “fair.”  If we allow the State to decide that certain disfavored people have a diminished claim upon their own property, we are not “impartially” applying the law.

Freedom of trade is being smothered by layers of stifling micro-regulations, in which commerce is deliberately sacrificed to ideology.  What kind of light bulb do you like to use?  That’s a trick question – it doesn’t matter what you like.  Your light bulb purchasing decisions have been made for you.  Companies that defy environmentalist fatwas to manufacture the kind of bulbs many people prefer will be severely punished.  So would a company that tried increasing domestic oil production.

Sound money has been quantitatively eased into an early grave.  Even the carefully-massaged indicators used by the government to pretend inflation isn’t a problem are beginning to go haywire.  When rising inflation mixes with economic stagnation, we’ll be eating Jimmy Carter’s brand of thirty-year-old stagflation peanut butter… and then we’re going to run out of suckers to buy our rising government debt, or China’s effort to decouple the dollar from world markets will succeed, at which point a desperate ruling class will feel it has no choice but to flood the market with dollars. 

You know that “debt ceiling” everyone is talking about?  It’s not an arbitrary legislative concept that can be swept away with anti-Constitutional trickery.  There is a real limit to how much debt the government can sell.  On the other side of that very firm ceiling is a printing press, loaded with Monopoly money.

As for small government… good luck finding any trace of that.  President Obama is holding a Twitter “town hall” today.  Try asking him what government agencies he is prepared to close, and what programs he’s ready to sacrifice completely, in order to complete the task – unparalleled in the history of the world – of trimming the government back to the bloated mess George Bush left behind.

Why is economic freedom so important to prosperity?  There are many reasons, but here are two important ones to ponder:

Wealth requires choice.  You’re only “wealthy” if you have many options for spending your money.  Thurston Howell III was not able to do much with the suitcases full of cash he brought to Gilligan’s Island.  The benefits “provided” by government benefactors will never be as valuable as sound money in your hand, and wide range of competitors working hard to earn your custom.

Prosperity requires freedom.  In the absence of economic liberty, all other freedom boils down to the right to file a complaint.  Individuals of modest means cannot compel the State.  To influence it, they must band together into very large groups, and sacrifice their individuality.  The effort they invest in such collective action could be better invested in productive activity.  Look at the squalid poverty in unfree nations, and you will see large masses of people sitting around and waiting for something to happen.  That is not the proper destiny of free men and women. 

Every shred of human experience tells us that what is built has more value than what is given.  Re-distribution means the ruling class allocates prosperity, and must therefore be begged to hand out a better life… and yet, those who advocate such a system are perpetually surprised to find themselves in a sea of beggars.

Is there anything in the “Economic Freedom and the Quality of Life” video that isn’t verifiable fact, or agreeable to pure common sense?  And yet, the same Leftists who insist their leaders must be obeyed without question, and the relentless failure of their theories must be ignored, will tell you that video shouldn’t be watched by anyone, because it was made with evil Koch money.  Funny how the people we’re supposed to ignore are the ones who remain the most consistent with reality.

 


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