Freedom Works!

How often has history shown us that freedom works and big governments eventually not only fail, but fail big time?

In our nation’s short history, we find that with very few exceptions, the more government intrusion, the more problems we have in the long run.  Government may begin with a good motive and goal and with benign intentions, but they invariably turn malignant.  Just look at what we did with Japanese Americans in World War II, or with black men suffering from syphilis down in Tuskegee from 1932 to 1972. Of course, let’s not forget how we squandered precious lives and treasure in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

On foreign policy: we supported ruthless dictators in the Phillippines, Iran, Cuba, Panama, South Vietnam, and many other places, only to later have to force them out or being overthrown by radicals.

Instead of promoting human rights, as did President Carter, or freedom as Reagan did, we have had presidents dictating to the world on everything except what this nation was founded on. Must we fight wars over oil and stuff?  Must we forcibly maintain a false hegemony over the world, rather than be the kind of place others aspire to be?

We have a giant trade imbalance right now.  This is not because of corporations, but because of government.  Government taxes and regulations have made it difficult for companies to compete overseas, unless they move their manufacturing overseas.  Tax rates are so high (highest in the industrial world) that companies are moving out of the USA and taking their money and jobs with them.

Our Social Security system is bankrupt.  Bankrupt! And the Feds can’t help but keep dipping into it to pay for other programs, leaving Trillions in IOUs in their wake.  Meanwhile, Chile’s program of individual accounts provides the freedom for people to retire wealthy. Why don’t we switch? Because government leaders are bound by the wealthy groups that bribe them!

Why are our schools ranked 26th in math and science in the industrial world, when we spend more per child than anywhere else?  If the Dept of Education was formed to fix schools, why haven’t test scores gone up any since its inception in the 1970s?  When the freedom of voucher systems gives parents power to escape poor schools, why are so many government leaders fighting to stop them and maintain the lousy program the teachers’ unions desire?  Why have “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core”, which parents and teachers hate and show no real change for students?

California ran a literacy program for 30 years, making kids memorize spelling words. After billions of dollars and years, they decided it was a failure and replaced it with a Phonics based system.  Why did it take a generation to discover it didn’t work? Because bureaucracy builds a self-sustaining protective wall around itself.

Big government fails elsewhere, also.  Just look at the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe 20 years ago.  More recently, look at the various liberal nations with big governments that have declared bankruptcy, stared down bankruptcy, or have had to be bailed out of bankruptcy (Ireland, Spain, Greece, Italy, etc).

History shows that big governments fail. Rome, Greece, etc.  They did well until governments became bloated and were brought down.

Even in the scriptures, we read about centralized governments that became corrupt and led to the destruction of nations: Babylon, Assyria, and Jerusalem.  David and Solomon both began as good kings, but big government corrupted both of them. Even in the Book of Mormon, we see the battles between free men and king men. While a few kings and judges were good, too often the power was taken over by those seeking to build their own power base.  We see that in both major parties in America today: liberals seeking to build a giant social network, while the conservatives seek to build a giant moral/defense network.

Presidents Obama and GWBush may sincerely have wanted to help the nation through the Great Recession. But let’s face it, their efforts have not only done nothing, but actually delayed the full recovery.  Millions are still losing their homes. Small businesses cannot easily get a loan. Regulations are forcing the wealthy and their companies to move overseas. These two presidents have increased the national debt by $12 Trillion. From George Washington through Bill Clinton, we only built a $5 Trillion debt.  This means each man, woman and child in the USA owes over $50,000. Compared to earlier times, we find In 1918 (after WWI), the average American owed only $894 in adjusted dollars.  Of course, that is just the national debt. When one combines all debt, including unfunded liabilities in Medicare, Medicaid, etc., America is in debt for over $60 Trillion, or $193,000 each!

I could go on and on about how big government is failing us, as it has failed every single other country that has tried to go big, but I now wish to focus on Freedom.

Freedom in any country has shown to lift that nation.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, China took note.  Over the last 20 years, they have opened up markets for their people. In the last 20 years they have created a middle class of well over 300 million people! That is 25% of their population and a larger number of people than in the United States.

In 1985, 90% of the people in India lived on less than $1 per day. India was known for its centralized governing socialism. If a new factory wished to have electricity, it would have to submit requests to the central committee, which could take years to approve and more years to provide the electricity. As companies are now flowing out of the USA, so they left India a generation ago.  Today, however, the nation has a burgeoning middle class, simply because government got out of the way.  There are 430 million Indians today that are now out of poverty, because freedom was given a chance.

Perhaps you can think that it is because these nations may have rich resources. How about Hong Kong, then?  It is a crowded island with no resources except human capital. In Hong Kong, it is easy to start a business.  A couple bucks and a one page form and you can start your business that very day. They have a burgeoning middle class with only one problem they struggle with today: rising apartment prices, because the place is growing and there is no room to expand on the tiny island.

Mostly I’ve been talking about economic freedom. However, freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and freedom from government action are also extremely important.  American colonists were angry because British soldiers could take over your home without any due process or recourse.  Today we become angry, and rightly so, over a NSA that snoops in our electronic homes for everything and anything, without due process.

The recent Hobby Lobby case is a major victory, even though it was narrowly defined. It reminds us of the importance of religious freedom.  Early American colonists knew of the dangers of a national religion, as England, Germany and Italy had. I would warn us of today’s national social religion that seek to replace our morals and beliefs with their amorality.

It is scary to think that some government stooge is monitoring this blog right now, looking for any freedom freaks that do not agree with his socialist ideas.  But they must be out there, as so many people in big government seek not only to justify their jobs and actions, but to expand them.  The IRS will grow with Obamacare, even as we find they are destroying Constitutional freedoms.  The NSA is growing, even as we find they are destroying Constitutional freedoms. Other organizations are growing, even as service in the VA drops, and education dumbs down our kids.

On this Fourth of July weekend, let us remember our freedoms.  Let us remember that there are always enemies and Gadianton robbers out there, who seek to steal those freedom from us. Let us remember that freedom is hard to obtain, and must be regained with every new generation.  Let’s insist our nation’s leaders not only promise to defend the Constitution, but actually DO defend and protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic.

Let’s all thank God for Freedom!

 

 

6 thoughts on “Freedom Works!

  1. I appreciate this post, having been a radical libertarian in the past. But I’m not a libertarian anymore. I have a lot to say to the specific claims of this post (both positive and negative things), but it wouldn’t be productive. So I guess I’ll just explain why I think libertarians should be careful.

    Political freedom is a valuable thing, but it’s not the only thing. I had a real adventure attempting to rest the universe of political philosophy and history on a singular maxim of freedom/autonomy/non-violence (whether Randian or Rothbardian or whatever). It really doesn’t work–and I suspect anyone who says it does will soon collapse under the intellectual weight of the project. If the world is sum-uppable, it’s only summed up in the gospel of Jesus Christ, correctly understood and practiced.

    Every other good political ideal–including freedom, fairness, compassion, equality, democracy, tradition, goodwill, brotherhood, order, peace, progress, solidarity, authority–is just one of many virtues that must be balanced against the others with humility and discipline. None of these, including freedom, however appealing it sounds or how consistent the internal logic of its devotees’ ideology, can appropriately make itself alone an ultimate ideal of political or social action. The only proper icon for politics (or for anything) is Jesus Christ, who himself represents a bundle of apparently contradictory virtues.

    Of course, it hasn’t been revealed exactly which balance we should strike at any particular time, but I think it would be a mistake to think we’ve found the correct one (say, freedom above all else), especially when that balance is so simplistic. It would be an even bigger mistake to make true religion subordinate to ideology when they inevitably conflict. We’ve seen how dangerous that can be.

  2. I agree that freedom is just one of many virtues. I am not an anarchist, as I recognize that some government is necessary in order to maintain maximum freedom, while preserving safety and integrity of society.

    However, there are far too many that would give up freedom in the name of imposing their own will upon all people. Whether it is Obamacare being foisted upon us by Democrats or the war on Iraq by neocons in the Republican party, does not matter.

    That the virtues of Jesus seem to contradict only occurs when we over-focus on one over another, or try to use them in a manner not intended by God.

    However, the principle of freedom has done many wonderful things: allowed the gospel to be restored, allowed people to rise up out of poverty, etc. Many other virtues and good things cannot move forward without there first being freedom.

    And for those individuals who live in a world without freedom, they are often eager to jump at the chance of having it. One billion people live where they are limited on religious freedom. Billions live in poverty caused by recalcitrant governments and despots. In many countries, women are forced to be illiterate and treated as slaves because of lack of freedom.

    Some fear freedom. We should not. It always balances itself out. Monopolies, when left to themselves, will eventually have competition. It is only when government steps in that we get robber barons. In fact, today’s economy is creating new robber barons because government is printing money to give to them, while destroying our middle class. Government cannot help but pick winners and losers, and those winners are going to support the government in a never ending cycle of corruption.

  3. I’d like us to be more cautious about setting government and freedom against one another. Many of us, I imagine, would agree that obedience to law actually makes us more free. This is certainly true in the context of the government of God. Don’t we teach our young people that adherence to the Word of Wisdom, to use the classic example, safeguards our ability to be free to choose in future? This law is executed by God’s government on Earth (His Church) and those not abiding it are censured. I remember a beloved professor of mine protesting that I should be free to drink a cup of coffee if I want and that by abiding by the rules the Lord has set that I am limiting my freedom. Abiding by the Word of Wisdom allows me to be free to reap the blessings predicated on it. I feel freer abiding by it than being enslaved to useless and potentially harmful habits. We could go through all of God’s laws and see how we are freer under His government than we would be outside of it. Government and freedom are not opposed to one another.

  4. Daniel Pout, you are conflating worldly governments and God’s government. There is no doubt we will all be “freer under His government.” One of the main points of the Book of Mormon, however, is that His government isn’t here yet and what we usually get are governments by power-hungry kings and others intent on limiting freedom. Even in our republic in the United States there are many elected officials who don’t bother to read the Constitution and refuse to understand the key role of individual liberty and natural rights. Freedom means the ability to make bad choices, but being in line with God’s government means not making those bad choices and aligning your will with God’s.

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