President Reagan famously stated: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
That has never been more true in America than it is today. The following is my attempt to expose some of the commonly expressed myths that relate to big government today.
Myth No. 1: Capitalism is failing us.
As Winston Churchill suggested, capitalism has been conclusively proven to be the best system in the history of the world. It offers personal freedom and liberty and equal opportunity, thereby arousing the best of our human potential. It has been responsible for the highest standard of living in the history of the world, and it has done the most good for the largest number of people in the world (see “Capitalism and Freedom” by Milton Freidman).
Our problem today is that we don’t have true capitalism; we have crony capitalism, characterized by inappropriate and often direct governmental control and interference in our free-market system. The results of this are political favoritism, a focus on special interests, unsustainable entitlements, high deficits, and high debt. Examples are our mortgage crisis (caused by our government’s enticing people to buy homes they clearly could not afford), the auto bailout (which unlawfully favored unions as a political payoff), and government loans or guarantees to certain companies (such as Solyndra) within a favored industry.
Crony capitalism is not only counterproductive, it is discouraging, unfair, and even immoral and corrupt. It is immoral for those in power in government to provide political payoffs to their supporters. It is immoral to confiscate more income from the minority simply because the government can. It is immoral to lower the rewards for hard work and success. It is immoral to make our citizens dependent on government entitlements that sap personal responsibility, initiative, and self-esteem, and that we cannot afford and will not be available in the future.
Crony capitalism is a form of corruption, pure and simple; and it is increasingly tolerated in America, much to our detriment.
Myth No. 2: Our national debt is a problem, but a manageable one.
We are continuing down the path toward financial ruin in this country at an increasing rate of acceleration, and we are nearing the abyss. Our national debt is approximately $22 trillion, $8.5 trillion of which was added during the Obama administration.
And that does not even take into consideration our unfunded entitlements, which are many times greater! Interest on our national debt alone consumes a significant percentage of our gross national product; and for a long time, interest rates were being artificially depressed and kept at historic lows! What will happen when interest rates return to normal and even increase dramatically above normal due to the inflation that is likely to occur?
Our incredibly huge national debt is our No. 1 problem, and it has been effectively ignored. Have we learned nothing from Greece? The only solution is a dramatic decrease in government spending (which our government can control) and a dramatic increase in the growth of our economy (which our government does not control but can positively or negatively influence).
Myth No. 3: Government needs to “do something” about the economy.
A big part of the problem is that government has been trying to do something about the economy that in fact it cannot do, does not work, and only exacerbates the problem. How is it that, in a free–market economy, the government can create a good economy?
Just as nature and not the farmer makes the crops grow, the private sector and not the government makes the economy grow. The government should do only that which it can properly do to positively affect the economy: (a) The establishment and support of the rule of law and its consistent and predictable application, (b) the implementation of sound fiscal and monetary policies (including controlling spending and implementing good tax policy, which means low tax rates and a broad tax base) and (c) the implementation of effective and nonburdensome regulations.
Myth No. 4: Big government is necessary to solve our problems.
In reality, the opposite is true. Big government, in fact, causes the problems referred to above and then uses those problems as a rationale for imposing more control over our citizens and the private sector and more counterproductive big government solutions, which only exacerbates our problems. This critique is eloquently explained in three books that should be required reading for everyone: “The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich Hayek, “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and “Ameritopia” by Mark Levin.
Myth No. 5: The growth in government employment is good.
Several years ago, a liberal friend commented that “the good thing about government employees is that they don‘t have to make a profit.” But that‘s really a bad thing, because those in the private sector have to generate income and pay taxes to pay the compensation of every government employee. The recent significant growth in government employment has resulted in many more riding in the wagon than pulling the wagon. That places an increasing burden on the private sector at a time when the private sector is already significantly overburdened. Furthermore, unless the government employee is engaged in an activity that is an essential function of government (which is far too often not the case), then such increased burden is wholly unnecessary. So, what would our unemployment rate be if we excluded all unnecessary government employees? I haven‘t done the math, but I believe it would be shockingly high.
The reality described above is not difficult to discern. We should have learned the proper concepts and principles about the dangers of big government and the proper role of government from our parents and from our schools. Furthermore, these issues are not political. It is about competence—doing the right thing for our country and our citizens, pure and simple.
The core philosophy of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution is one of limited government, which is necessary to ensure the individual freedom and liberty endowed by our Creator. Too many of us seem to have forgotten that. We have been seduced by novelty and the calls for “change,” which, in reality, is nothing more than a reversion from government by the people and for the people to a pre–American time when governments controlled their subjects. We need to remember the God–inspired wisdom of limited government instituted by our forefathers and enshrined in our founding documents, now more than ever.
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