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Monday, October 29, 2012

Economic freedom is the foundation of all freedoms

With the election right around the corner, it's time to get serious about what really matters.   Throughout this entire excruciatingly protracted campaign season, just about every issue has been trotted out as being important.  From reproductive rights to gay rights to illegal immigrant rights to animal rights to religious rights and so on, we've been bombarded with so many *-gates (Bindergate, Rapegate, Seamusgate, etc) that you'd think that these are the most important issues.  Not to offend too many, some of those are important issues that do matter.  My contention really isn't about how important they may or may not be, but more how  voters prioritize these issues over the most important issue around:  economic freedom.

Why is economic freedom so important?  To put it in its most basic terms, whoever feeds you has power, and control, over you.  Another way to put it is if you are dependent on someone else to provide for you, then you at their mercy.  While we all like to believe that those doing the providing are benevolent and uncontrolling, the truth is that any "freedoms" a dependent might enjoy is only because the provider allows it. Here's an example of this...

Let's say a sibling or best friend of yours just lost their job.  Being the good friend you are, you allow them to stay at your place rent free.  Heck you'll even pay for their cell phone bill while they try to get back on their feet.  Yet, before them moving in, you tell your friend/sibling that they have to obey your house rules.  One of the rules is no country music is to be played inside the house where you can hear it.  Even though your friend/sibling happens to love country music and listens to it all the time, they agree to the rule in order to have a place to stay.  In this example, as the provider, you're able to exert power and control over your friend/sibling - not playing country music openly - because they do not have the economic freedom to live anywhere else.  I deliberately chose a rather silly rule to point out that whatever the rule is irrelevant.  The point is the dependent all of a sudden has less freedom than they did before.

As Thomas Jefferson is famous for saying (paraphrased anyway): "A government big enough to give you everything you need is also big enough to take it all away".  In other words, if you rely on government to be your provider, then you're also subject to their rules and regulations.  And while it's nice to believe that our government would never infringe upon our other freedoms, it's also extremely naive.  One small example of this organizations designed as non profit 501(c)(3).  These are mostly religious and charity organizations that are tax exempt, a nice boon for non profits.  Yet one of the stipulations of a 501(c)(3) is they are severely limited, or completely prohibited, to any type of political activity.  Aside from not wanting to cause undue strife in a congregation, this is why you don't see any political signage on churches.     So basically, the government uses the economic value that tax exemption provides in order to exert some control over those organizations.

The more we give up economic freedom and depend more on the government to meet our needs,  the more we also leave our other freedoms at the mercy of governmental interpretation.   Religious freedom erodes (as we've been seeing with the HHS mandate) when we rely on government for too much funding.  Women's health issues?  You may have access to health care, but it has to be done the way the government says it will be done and not what you'd like to do.  And furthermore, our economic freedom as an entire nation puts us at risk on a global scale.  Without economic clout, other nations can exert more influence on us, which in turn affects our policies.  

Like it or not, your level of economic independence is directly related to all other freedoms you enjoy.  This is why bigger government solutions are not the way.  The smaller, limited government, as our Founding Fathers envision, gives Americans the most opportunity to achieve their own economic success and freedom and also reduces the amount of influence that can be exerted upon us by the government.

So while there's this scare about Romney overturning Roe vs Wade (which is a fallacy anyway) or that he'll kill Big Bird, these are making mountains out of mole hills while the real mountain - economic freedom - is being ignored as something that will always be there.  It won't if you continue to support candidates that clearly want power to tell everyone what to do (i.e. big government liberals).   And still not sure that's happening?  The proof is in the pudding.  Look at all the economic regulations and power being consolidated by the government.  They understand where the power is...do you?