2012: Economic Freedom Versus the Leviathan


Back in July, I noted the release of a superb video from the Charles Koch Foundation, discussing the importance of economic liberty, and how it relates to the high Western standard of living.  The Koch Brothers are strong believers in economic freedom, which makes them presumptively evil to the Left – unlike, say, George “Currency Manipulator” Soros, Jon “High Roller” Corzine, or George “Solyndra” Kaiser. 

As you can see from this video, the Kochs are also interested in persuading people through the strength of their arguments, as opposed to looting the federal Treasury and whipping up mobs with class-warfare slogans.

Episode Two of this series, “Economic Freedom in America,” is now available, and continues the excellent structure and style of the first installment.  This chapter discusses the loss of economic freedom in the United States, and it’s not at all shy about pinpointing the beginning of that decline squarely in the Bush Administration.

As the video points out, we now live beneath a regulatory regime that no single person could possibly understand.  You would be hard-pressed to read all the rules if you literally dedicated your life to it, and fresh tidal waves of regulation are always rolling in.  This has the practical effect of making nearly every individual and small business a lawbreaker.  Only the very largest corporations can afford to pay the heavy cost of compliance, which adds up to $1.7 trillion sucked out of the productive private sector and expelled into the bureaucratic void every year.

The national debt of the United States finally passed 100% of our Gross Domestic Product this month, which means it is no longer possible for us to pay our debts – and that’s not even counting the vastly larger mountain of unfunded entitlement liability looming over us.  The growth of government, by definition, causes the private sector to shrink – it’s amazing that anyone would be foolish enough to believe otherwise, but Big Government true believers like President Obama peddle that idea constantly.  We have arrived at the moment when government growth will do more than simply retard the growth of the private sector.  It is beginning to consume the private sector.

That is the choice that stands before us in 2012.  We can take the leviathan State apart, or be devoured by it.  Equilibrium is not an option, and never really was.  Automatic growth is built into the system.  If we did nothing more than disable the automatic spending increases woven into the federal budget, the Congressional Budget Office would count it as more than $7 trillion in “cuts” over the next decade, which is four times higher than any ten-year spending cuts envisioned by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Economic freedom is not merely an aspect of liberty, or a contributing factor to national wealth.  It is the essence of liberty, and the source of wealth – at least, the kind of wealth all people can enjoy, to raise our overall quality of life.  Let an American who lives below the poverty line journey back in time, to describe his daily life to a king of old, and the king would soon be on his knees, weeping and begging to trade places with the poor American.  This is a truth so obvious we barely even see it anymore, because we’ve come to take the mechanics that enabled this fantastic general wealth for granted.

Chief among those mechanics is the power of economic choice.  The investment and spending decisions you make every day are far more powerful than votes you cast every few years.  What fools we would be, to trade our power over capitalist competitors for a tiny share of the compulsive power politicians promise to wield on our behalf!  Electoral votes are bundled, organized, and delivered by party machines and “community organizers.”  Your paycheck gives you hundreds of “votes” that must be won individually.  You will never stand as tall in the eyes of a political party as you do in the eyes of a marketing department. 

Of course it’s not perfect.  Life will never be perfect for everyone, but the standard of living America created – with the economic liberty it is rapidly losing – has been of immense benefit to all.  Liberty means competition, innovation, and vitality.  Domination yields hatred, uncertainty, and decline.  It is better to deal with capitalists eager to take credit for their successes than politicians looking to shift blame for their failures.

The future on offer from the Democrat Party is one of diminishing choice.  As the private sector collapses, the number of venues where you can spend your money, or sell your labor, is declining.  The very value of your money is being drained away by the inflationary pressures and monetary policies of the leviathan State. 

The loss of choice annihilates wealth.  You can watch it happen in real time, by pondering the difference in value between a ten-dollar bill, a ten-dollar gift certificate to a department store, and a coupon for $10 off a specific item.  It is the vast spectrum of choice built into that ten-dollar bill that makes it the most valuable of the three. 

Who has the answers to our current economic malaise?  We can use the money in our wallets to launch a 300-million-person search party for those innovators and entrepreneurs, or we can consign our fate to Washington and hope some brilliant central planners finally turn up there.  It’s time for Americans to decisively reject the false promise of “wealth redistribution,” which was always absurd.  Wealth cannot be redistributed, because it dies in the grip of compulsive force.  Only poverty can be re-distributed.  Give the statists another electoral cycle to prove it, and you will learn a far more painful lesson than the one offered by the Charles Koch Foundation in its videos.