Here???s a little something to rinse the bad taste of Barack Obama???s delusional ???the private sector is doing just fine??? press conference away. Mitt Romney gave a speech in St. Louis on Thursday, in which he advanced the moral and practical case for capitalism. It provides far more food for thought than listening to a failed bureaucrat demand more deficit spending on roads and bridges.
???America is rightly heralded as the greatest experiment in self-governance in world history,??? Romney declared. ???We are all here today because of a startling conviction that free individuals could join together to decide their fate and that more freedom made us all stronger.???
It???s sobering to reflect on how perfectly that statement reverses Obama???s philosophy, which is all about using compulsive force to decide the fate of individuals, and openly treats economic freedom ??? or ???you???re on your own economics,??? as Obama prefers to call it ??? as a source of peril and weakness. Government issues commands, and requires obedience. More commands and obedience inevitably mean less freedom.
???Our example ??? and commitment ??? to freedom has changed the world. But along with the genius of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights, is the equal genius of our economic system. Our Founding Fathers endeavored to create a moral and just society like no other in history, and out of that grew a moral and just economic system the likes of which the world had never seen. Our freedom, what it means to be an American, has been defined and sustained by the liberating power of the free enterprise system.
???That same system has helped lift more people out of poverty across the globe than any government program or competing economic system. The success of America???s free enterprise system has been a bright beacon of freedom for the world. It has signaled to oppressed people to rise up against their oppressors, and given hope to the once hopeless.???
This is the core argument in freedom???s case against collectivism. Economic liberty is the practical expression of personal freedom. Without it, ???freedom??? merely describes the size of a cage with cast-iron bars. A free man or woman exerts ownership over the product of his labor. Ownership implies the right to keep those products, or sell them.
Sales and investment are voluntary acts. You are not truly free unless you can own property. The State???s proper role involves securing private ownership, not abrogating it. We learn from our study of America???s founding that a just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed. Well, if consent is to be given, it must be possible to withdraw it. The private ownership of property and capital provides an essential means for withdrawing personal consent, without dissolving the State, or fleeing from it.
Economic liberty is the constructive expression of individual will upon the material world. The money in your wallet represents the most pure, beautiful, concentrated disobedience mankind has ever been able to distill. ???It is called the Free Enterprise System because we are both free to engage in enterprises, and through those enterprises, we ensure our freedom,??? as Romney explained.
From this perspective, Romney sees the Obama catastrophe as both practical and moral:
“This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportions. Our government has an absolute moral commitment to help every American help themselves and today, that fundamental commitment has been broken.
“I do not believe this has been done with evil intent or ill will. But for a family watching their house being sold at foreclosure, or the family that is forced to spend their kid???s college savings just to make ends meet, the results are just as devastating.
“These are not statistics, these are our fellow Americans. As your President, starting on Day One, I will do everything in my power to end these days of drift and disappointment. There is something fundamentally wrong when there are over 23 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work, and yet the President tells us he???s doing a great job.”
(Emphasis mine.) That???s an interesting choice of words, especially since Romney delivered this speech the day before Obama???s ???the private sector is doing just fine??? blunder. Some have compared this outburst to John McCain saying ???the fundamentals of our economy are strong??? in 2008, which led the Obama team to portray McCain as hopelessly out of touch. It is, however, possible to assert that the fundamental elements of a system are strong, even when immediate results are unsatisfactory, due to bad decision-making at higher levels. A mighty engine can be badly tuned, and the ship it drives can be pointed in the wrong direction.
Obama, on the other hand, is denying factual, observable reality, to a degree that approaches madness. (Romney responded to the disastrous Obama press conference by saying it made Obama look ???detached and out-of-touch.??? Hell, it made him look hermetically sealed.) But even worse, Obama has turned McCain???s unfortunately timed observation completely on its head, because he really has poisoned the very fundamentals of the American economy. The mountain of debt he accumulated will haunt us for years to come. It???s depressing our national productivity. Debt service consumes so much of our federal budget that it???s being used as a cudgel to demand more tax increases!
ObamaCare is a bid to permanently change the relationship between government and its citizens??? who will become, at every income level, its clients. Just as every dollar of proposed spending cuts is now portrayed as a heartless attempt to starve the poor or sack firefighters, cops, and teachers, in the ObamaCare future all fiscal restraint will be portrayed as an assault on public health. That???s how it works in nations that have already embraced socialized medicine??? and when they try to overhaul their unsustainable systems, those nations tear themselves apart.
When freedom is traded for control, there is no return policy. The Left defines the growth of government as ???progress,??? and you can???t ???reverse??? progress, right?
Re-distribution and control are always and forever the enemy of the ???absolute moral commitment to help every American help themselves??? that Romney describes. Obama loves to declare that certain people have ???made enough money.??? His sole fiscal reform proposal, promoted with monomaniacal focus, is that some people should be penalized because they lawfully took advantage of tax incentives the government explicitly offered them, and the political class doesn???t like the result. The President wants to judge which endeavors should be ???winners??? and ???losers,??? compelling the rest of us to respect and finance his decisions. Our ambitions will be weighed in Washington, and we will be notified which have been found wanting.
Romney contrasts the reliance upon individual ingenuity with obedience to political ???wisdom???:
“In a free-enterprise system, we don’t measure our success in equal outcomes, but instead in how well we preserve and promote the equality of opportunity. And this system has resulted in unrivaled prosperity and made America the greatest nation in history.
“President Obama’s vision is very different ??? and deeply flawed. There is nothing fair about a government that favors political connections over honest competition and takes away your right to earn your own success. And there is nothing morally right about trying to turn government dependence into a substitute for the dignity of work.
“Where my vision believes in the ingenuity of the American people, his vision trusts the wisdom of political appointees and boards, commissions and czars. It???s one in which ordinary Americans must get permission from people in Washington before they can buy, build, invest or hire.
“It???s a world of federal mandates and waivers, tax credits and subsidies, federal grants and loan guarantees. It???s an economy where a company???s lobbyists will be more important than its engineers, and federal compliance lawyers will outnumber patent lawyers.”
???Wisdom??? implies certainty, and there are no certainties in economics ??? whether or not politicians choose to admit it. ???Ingenuity??? is the creative assault upon uncertainty, bringing profitable order from chaotic opportunity, rather than insisting on respect for some absolute and unyielding order conjured through ideology. It is the difference between sailing upon the waves, and attempting to command the tides.
It???s great to hear Mitt Romney champion capitalism, rather than apologizing for it. In the election to come, the case for economic liberty will be laid before the American people. After years of miserable socialist failure ??? both in America and around the world – capitalists are the prosecution, not the defense.