Separating the Right from the Wrong and Left: Seizing the Moral High Ground

Over the past several decades, poverty has decreased the world over. Many people, however, are unaware of this face. Moreover, American citizens are equally unaware of where the credit for this progress belongs. Much of the credit for this achievement belongs to the principles of economic freedom associated with American democracy. The much-maligned American political right has largely been responsible for championing these freedoms, with President Ronald Reagan’s achievements deserving particular credit.

However, the news for America is not all good. The “wrong” in the title, refers to the more recent drift away from (and in some cases, outright abandonment of) the principles of economic freedom that spurred American historical progress. There are many causes for this drift from America’s principles, with plenty of blame to go around. America’s problems span multiple facets: education, demographics, fiscal irresponsibility, undue political influence of special interests, an overly intrusive government, and others. This post will investigate and show evidence for examples of this drift. It will also propose some solutions.

Conservative principles offer an effective solution to the problems America currently faces, but conservative thinkers and leader have not effectively communicated the narrative regarding the drivers that brought the nation to where it currently stands nor have they effectively advocated the right’s solutions. That conservatives can and should better articulate this narrative is the essential thesis of this post.

Like America’s Declaration of Independence, conservative principles can be outlined in several concise statements. However, just as the Constitution embodies the Declaration’s implementation of the ideals, so too this post will formulate and show how conservative principles, form a solid, moral and proven basis in addressing the many problems confronting America.

Source: Mark Sussman

Addressing these problems will take more than one post. Accordingly, this post is a prelude to  a series of perhaps a dozen illustrating how the aforementioned principles can guide the nation in addressing the top dozen or so problems currently confronting it. More specifically, today’s post focuses on the principles of economic freedom (i.e., capitalism), and seeks to illustrate the broad swath of progress which it has carved out for America –  and increasingly in recent decades – the rest of the world. Economic freedom’s impact has been wide-ranging. It has increased democracy,  reduced poverty, curbed hunger, and fostered other critical elements advancing humanity’s pursuit of happiness.

This discussion will organize the key issues using a fictional “newspaper headline” framework and consistent elements for each problem / solution discussion as per the format below.

Source: Mark Sussman

The Global Impact of Freedom

A notable, but often missed, impact of economic freedom is the decades-long, ongoing decline in the percentage of the world’s population living under $1 a day (see chart below).

Source: Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin

Few stress this remarkable improvement, though the data analysis is complicated because not all countries maintain equivalent statistical histories. Nevertheless many economists have compiled variations of this data and adapted it to provide others with an encouraging picture. This post will address some of the uplifting elements of this story. Generally, one might define economic freedom as bringing  social gains to lower-income populations across the globe. One might capture its effects by examining metrics in areas such as: education, health, democracy, trade freedom, labor freedom, and other aspects of economic well-being and political freedom.

Reduced Government Regulation of Business

There has also been global progress on reducing government intrusion. The World Bank has documented 1,835 privatizations between 2000 and 2008 at a total value of $453 billion. Business restrictions have eased in 153 countries vs. worsening in only 20. Three out of four countries have made it easier to start a business. China has gained by increasing its electric generation capacity.

While global progress is something for Americans to cheer about, the news is not without its downside. One negative element is that while other countries are lifting themselves up, America has lost sight of the lessons that have facilitated its progress; namely: individual responsibility,  limited government, a private sector free to innovate and prosper – in other words, its economic freedom.

Index of Economic Freedom

“As Friedrich A. Hayek foresaw decades ago, ‘The guiding principle in any attempt to create a world of free men must be this: a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy.’ Thus, the battle of ideas must also be a battle for the meaning of the very words with which we debate. Is it ‘progressive’ to utilize the coercive power of the state to redistribute and level incomes within a society? Is it ‘liberal’ to build a massive state apparatus to regulate conditions of employment, usage of energy, and access to capital? The answers to such questions will determine how we live as individuals in the 21st century.”

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., President, The Heritage Foundation, November 2011

The following section is adapted from the Heritage Foundation and its Index of Economic Freedom (IEF).

Guiding Principles of Economic Freedom for a Free Society

  • Each “person controls the fruits of his or her own labor and initiative. Individuals are empowered—indeed, entitled—to pursue their dreams by means of their own free choice.”
  • Individuals “succeed or fail based on their individual effort and ability.”
  • The “institutions of a free and open society do not discriminate either against or in favor of individuals based on their race, ethnic background, gender, class, family connections, or any other factor unrelated to individual merit.”
  • “Government decision-making is characterized by openness and transparency, and the bright light of equal opportunity replaces the shadows where discrimination can be most insidious.”
  • “In an economically free society, the power of economic decision-making is widely dispersed, and the allocation of resources for production and consumption is on the basis of free and open competition so that every individual or firm has a fair chance to succeed.”

The ten weighted elements of the Heritage Foundation’s calculation of its Index of Economic Freedom include:

  • Business freedom
  • Investment freedom
  • Trade freedom
  • Financial freedom
  • Fiscal freedom
  • Property rights
  • Government freedom from spending
  • Corruption
  • Monetary freedom
  • Labor freedom

According to the Heritage Foundation:

“The Index results, when compared with data about changes in economic and social conditions in societies around the world, provide strong empirical evidence that the free-market system remains not only viable—with the value of its core features such as private property rights, openness, and flexibility almost unquestioned—but uniquely able to promote economic dynamism and long-term prosperity.”

The 2012 Index confirms the positive relationship between economic freedom and prosperity yet again.

Source: Heritage Foundation

“GDP per capita is much higher in countries with greater economic freedom.” The chart above “shows a strong positive relationship between the level of economic freedom and GDP per capita.”

Applying the Economic Freedom Index

The IEF index exhibits a strong negative correlation to public debt as a percentage of GDP.  One can draw two conclusions from this finding:

  1. The “accumulation of debt appears to have a negative impact on economic freedom. Countries with higher levels of debt tend to have lower levels of economic freedom, and it is very hard for countries with debt levels of 70 percent or higher as a percentage of GDP to be considered even moderately free.”
  2. “The level of economic freedom appears to play a critical role in determining the economic impact of debt. Where economic freedom is high, debt may be sustainable even at higher levels. Where economic freedom is low, the impact of even moderate levels of debt is likely to be negative.”

The Index has documented the “steady progress in global economic freedom” until the mortgage crisis of 2008.

Source: Heritage Foundation

The global average economic freedom score in the 2012 Index is 59.5, a 0.2 point decline from last year and matching the second lowest level in the past 10 years.”

Rapid expansion of government, more than any market factor, appears to be responsible for flagging economic dynamism. Government spending has not only failed to arrest the economic crisis, but also—in many countries—seems to be prolonging it. The big-government approach has led to bloated public debt, turning an economic slowdown into a fiscal crisis with economic stagnation fueling long-term unemployment.”

For governments that increasingly are constrained by budget deficits and rising debt, the disconnect between past promises and the capability to fulfill them, and between financial assets and liabilities, has become difficult to ignore. A fundamental rethinking of the social contract, the basic and proper relationship between government and citizen, has become not just an academic exercise, but a political debate that in some countries has spilled into the streets.”

The empirical evidence above and economic theory support the thesis that more economic freedom will result in faster economic development.

Why? Free trade allows for all countries to benefit from the principle of comparative advantage – that is countries can specialize in economic activities where they have a particular cost or quality advantage. Low taxes provide people with incentives to work hard and invest wisely. Private firms driven by profit maximization will have a greater incentive to run a business efficiently than state-owned businesses.

Further Evidence of Success

Economic Freedom is improving world poverty and hunger.  Countries with the highest income growth are also the countries where the incomes of the poor grow the most. Strong growth over the last three decades has lifted almost a billion people out of extreme poverty.  This trend is well illustrated in the figure below

Source: Adam Smith Institute

As a share of world population, the overall data from the Adam Smith Institute documents a poverty decline from 42 to 21 percent between 1981 and 2005.  The World Bank predicts that poverty will continue to fall to 11 percent in 2020.

Economic freedom is increasing world democracy. Economic growth also improves the political arena; there is a strong association between economic development and democracy.  Jacob Lundberg of the Adam Smith Institute notes:

“Dictatorships are more likely to democratize the richer they become, and democracies are less likely to collapse the richer they are.  Bearing in mind that the world has become considerably richer under capitalist principles, it is not surprising that democracy is expanding globally.”

Source: Adam Smith Institute

The above figure shows that a wave of democratization started in the 1980s; more than 50% of the world’s population now live in democracies.

The rise in democracy also has had positive effects in other areas.  Many accept the “democratic peace theory”, the contention that two true democracies have never waged war against one another in world history (possible exceptions are marginal cases with disputes whether the countries were democracies or whether the conflict was in fact a war.)  Reasons for the democratic peace trend may include:

  1. Those in power are held responsible by its citizens for costly wars;
  2. Governments that respect the rights of their own citizens also respect the rights of others.

Economic freedom is leading to better health. Global life expectancy continues to increase – benefiting men, women and children.

Source: Adam Smith Institute

As the chart from the Adam Smith Institute above shows, it is now 69 years. This life expectancy growth reaches even into sub-Saharan Africa. It has increased despite the AIDS epidemic in some countries. The situation of women has improved dramatically over the last few decades: fewer women marry before age 18 and maternal mortality has decreased by over a third since 1990.  The trend is similar for child mortality: since 1970, it has halved in Africa, declined by 2/3 in India and by 5/6 in China. Globally, child mortality has fallen by 57 percent.

Economic Freedom is increasing global literacy. World literacy has been increasing for a long time  and the positive trend is expected to continue. Lundburg points out that more than 9 out of 10 children attend elementary school in almost every part of the world. Even in sub-Saharan Africa 76 percent of children go to school. Moreover, urban growth contributes to social progress. Twice the percentage of children attend school in urban areas than in non-urban. Male-female enrollment disparity is also lower in cities. Children in developing countries are now educated for 10.4 years on average (up from 9.1 years in 1999); children in developed countries are educated for 15.8 years (up from 15.2 yrs)

Recent Trends in America?

By any measure, the last 4-5 years in America cannot be deemed a great success. The bursting of the “mortgage bubble” exposed some growing problems that had been ignored for several decades. In broad terms, these have resulted from a slow evolution toward bigger government and increasing interference with the private sector. In the last three years, the trend has been accelerated, due to the White House’s strong leftward tilt. The chart below highlight some key differences in right and left-wing philosophies.

Source: Mark Sussman

Moreover, the culmination of long-growing fiscal issues has left the country with a mountain of problems that it must address before they get worse. For the moment, it is sufficient to offer a tentative matrix (see chart #35) and to seek reader thoughts regarding both the vertical list of problems and the horizontal list of root causes.  The objective is to help brainstorm the key problems and their root causes.

Concluding Thoughts

Economic freedom is expanding throughout the world and is improving the lives of over a billion people. However, America, which used to lead the way, isn’t paying attention and is at risk of forfeiting its prosperity and liberty. Conservative principles can help the country regain its footing. Nevertheless, conservatives must do better at explaining why and how.  In part, they must explain and prove that the principles of limited government, supporting the Constitution, and allowing individual initiative to flourish are elements of a practical and effective solution.

In contrast to the rather spectacular success record of private enterprise, the “let the government  do it” approach has a fairly dismal record. To select just a few examples:

Source: Mark Sussman

Big government solutions may have good intentions, but they rarely lead to their intended outcomes.  Moreover, they can sometimes lead to immoral outcomes. Since when is it moral to address the issue of poverty, but yield a result which leaves the indigent worse off? When is it moral to mislead people that their savings are being held for their retirement, and then abscond with and spend the money on other things?  This leaves the system without the ability to fulfill its promise. Moral? Of course not. The “moral” approach is to have the government focus on its primary, narrowly proscribed Constitutional functions, balance its budget with a spending plan designed to accomplish its objectives, and manage that plan in a careful and attentive way.

As noted earlier, this post is the first in a series that will address twelve major problems facing America and show the application of our ideas and ideals. Additional reader suggestions are welcome. Your voice is important to our nation. Citizen interest, dialog and data are critical to good civic outcomes, and that includes outcomes which simply assure proper conditions for the free market to work. So please participate in the “pop quiz” of chart #35 and other suggestions.

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About mbsbvu

EDUCATION: BAE, MAE, Aero. Eng'g - Rensselaer Poly Inst; Ph.D. Aero. Eng'g - M.I.T. CAREER: Engineer & Program Mgr. - The Boeing Co. 1966-2000. Retired 2000. Founder of Political Discussion Group: Conservative Enthusiasts Greater Seattle Area - -2006
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20 Responses to Separating the Right from the Wrong and Left: Seizing the Moral High Ground

  1. Scott Erb says:

    Most of the improvement in world poverty comes from China, whose economic development (like that earlier of South Korea, Japan and Taiwan) was through state capitalism — a strong state assisting business and planning development. Other states that have moved forward include Brazil, whose leftist government has overseen a shift towards being on the verge of being an economic superpower. No successful development strategy has let the market do the work, all have embraced both capitalism and considerable state involvement in the economy.

    Also, I think it’s odd you say the “right” wants to reduce debt. This current crisis began in the 1980s when US debt to GDP went from 30% to 60%. That was a hyper stimulus of the economy when the economy already was turning around due to lower oil prices. The Reagan administration embraced debt and said that it wasn’t a problem. In the 90s that stabilized, but due to de-regulation and less state oversight, private debt continued to sky rocket and banks began to experient in unregulated derivatives trade at unprecedented levels. I’ve called this the failure of the free market experiment: http://scotterb.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/the-failure-of-the-free-market-experiment/

    The Bush Administration — with complete GOP control until 2006 — also increased debt during a period of economic growth. Debt can increase during a recession, but to increase debt during a boom is dangerous. Obama’s increased debt — but again, at least this was during a recession.

    The crisis that hit in 2008 (which Obama inherited) was due to thirty years of growing economic imbalances in the US, with ever increasing debt, and an increasing current account deficit (which hit 7% by 2007). In short, it is a very simplistic partisan analysis to try to say the “right” has the answers and the “left” is wrong. Besides the fact it caricatures each side, it also ignores the facts about what caused the current crisis and what has helped decrease global poverty. Yes, economic freedom is important and capitalism necessary, but capitalism without government regulation and oversight is dangerous. Also note that low tax rates in the US not only helped increase debt but fed the bubble economy. Investors did not “create jobs” but went for quick profit through bubble schemes that turned out hurting everyone but generating huge profits for big banks. So I think you’re being overly ideological and simplistic in trying to divide it into left and right.

    • marksbvue says:

      Hello Scott. Thank you for your thoughts and rational tone. I agree with a few of your points, but do take issue with 2-3 major thoughts: (1) China; (2) the fundamental cause and timing of our current crisis; (3) responsibility for America’s existing, projected, ominous Debt and the polarization and bitterness of political thought that ensues.
      For reasons of time and space I’ll address these in separate rebuttals. Here are my thoughts on item (1).
      You point to the fact that China is responsible for much of the poverty reduction that I cite in my article. But as I illustrate below, China was moribund and very low on the scale of economic strength until it took major steps to unleash its economy from the stranglehold of gov’t intrusion. But it is precisely the continual underlying “freeing up” in the past decades, of China’s economy for which CREDIT IS APPROPRIATELY GIVEN to the morality of Capitalism.

      Few observers would deny that China has been the economic superstar of recent years. Less obvious is quite what the secret of this success has been. It is often vaguely attributed to “Bamboo Capitalism”, typically implying that bureaucrats with heavy, visible hands have worked much of the magic. Yet, as even some of the Communist Bureaucrats note (see further below in this paragraph), China’s vigor owes more to what has been happening FROM THE BOTTOM UP than from the top down. China has a multitude of vigorous private entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs often operate outside not only the powerful state-controlled companies, but outside the China’s laws. But as Zheng Yumin, the Communist Party secretary for the commerce department of Zhejiang province, told a conference last year: more than 90% of China’s 43M companies were private, employing 92% of the country’s workers.
      Qiao Liu and Alan Siu of the University of Hong Kong calculate that the average return on equity of unlisted private firms is fully ten percentage points higher than the modest 4% achieved by wholly or partly state-owned enterprises. The number of registered private businesses grew at an average of 30% a year in 2000-09. Factories that spring up alongside new roads and railways operate round-the-clock to make whatever nuts and bolts are needed anywhere in the world.
      Another sign of the economic energy of the private sector can be found in its rate of growth. According to China Macro Finance, a research firm in New York, the number of registered private businesses grew by more than 30% a year between 2000 and 2009 (see chart 1 of the article: “Entrepreneurship In China – – Let A Million Flowers Bloom”, March 10,2011, THE ECONOMIST, print edition). The gross figure (ie, before netting off firms that closed) was at least seven percentage points higher, estimates Ronald Schramm, China Macro Finance’s managing director. These figures EXCLUDE unregistered businesses, among them the country’s ubiquitous tiny offices and manufacturers. Millions of people trade through electronic platforms like Taobao, which is intended as a site for individuals but has listings for transactions involving volumes that could not possibly be for personal consumption.

      According to Eva Yi of Keywise Capital Management, a hedge fund, such firms account for about 70-75% of profit in Chinese industry (see chart 2 from The Economist as cited above) and 90% in non-financial services. Jun Yeop Lee of Inha University, in South Korea, calculates that enterprises not majority-owned by the state contribute about 70% of GDP, assuming that they account for all agricultural output and two-thirds of services.
      I think the above data make clear that “Bamboo Capitalism” is more a myth than reality. The critical significance of the private sector, though, lies in its vibrancy rather than in the precision with which we can measure them. For a state-directed country, much of China’s success comes from businesses that thrive in large part because they operate outside state control. Now, please don’t interpret any of my comments in this note as my expressing a broad approval of the Chinese model. Of Course NOT! The system is not what I’d ever think desirable for America. But the primary point is: China’s growth was a product of unleashing the stranglehold of the Communist apparatus over that Nation’s economy. It was, clearly, a success for Economic Freedom. And so it is quite fair to include China’s putting-economic-control-back-in-the-hands-of-its-populace, as a fundamental component of the improvement in Global living standards resulting from increased ECONOMIC FREEDOM.

      • Scott Erb says:

        I actually agree with much of what you say (though South Korea had a strong state influence during the earlier stages). Yes, economic openness and freedom is essential and good. The left and right in the US share a belief in markets, capitalism and freedom. They disagree on precisely how to make this work. My disagreement with you is less in terms of your overall argument, more in terms of how you seem to make this a partisan argument in which Democrats/the left are seen as opposing economic freedom or markets. I also don’t see this as a continuum where it’s always better to have less government. I see too much and too little government as each being dangerous in different ways. They key is to find a balance that promotes freedom and effective economic development — as well as being humanitarian, helps give real opportunity to everyone (prevents people from having overwhelming structural barriers to success). So I agree that dependency on government is bad, but there is a role for the state to prevent the “winners” from rigging the game in their favor (which happens without enough regulation). With high debt I see a need to both cut spending and increase taxes on those who have benefited the most over the last thirty years. I disagree with doctrinaire Republicans, but was disappointed when my Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe, announced her retirement.

  2. Scott Erb says:

    If you’re interested, here’s more on my take of the current crisis as the result of thirty years of growing (bipartisan) imbalances: http://scotterb.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/understanding-the-economic-crisis/

  3. Pingback: How to Be a Self-Defeating Conservative « Clarissa's Blog

  4. nickgb says:

    Boy, do I trust an index that creates a numerical score based on a bunch of measurements of “freedom.” Especially by a group that can find ten distinct categories of economic freedom…

  5. jlhartman says:

    Ugh, this has to be the single most poorly written post I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading on this site. So few citations and so many inflammatory statements, it’s a disgrace on such a scale I honestly hate myself for wasting the time to respond. I won’t stand for another one of these, much less 12 more. This blog was my first foray into attempting to understand the modern conservative perspective, but since then I’ve discovered George Will, Bruce Bartlett, and David Brooks, so I’m not exactly for wont of intelligent discussions from a conservative perspective any longer. However, I’ve come to respect Sean and the community he’s built around this site a great deal and I enjoy and appreciate the perspective provided in the posts and comments. I sincerely, for my own sake, hope this post is not a sign of what we can expect in the future.

    • marksbvue says:

      JL,
      Two points and a few seconds is all the time I care to put in to your ill-tempered comment. However, I find the anger and arrogance of your note as inviting some rebuttal.

      My point #(1): “POORLY WRITTEN”, “DISPLEASURE”, “SO MANY INFLAMMATORY STATEMENTS”, “DISGRACE”, “HATE MYSELF”. This is hardly representative of civil dialog. Sean’s ROARR blog is intended as a contribution to RATIONAL discourse. Some may disagree with my thoughts. But I put much effort into presenting them in a factual, logical framework, bringing supportive, published data to bear on the issue at hand. I think it then incumbent on those who criticise to present counter-arguments, preferably supplemented by facts and data. I find nothing rational in your contribution, per the wording replicated above.

      Point #(2): You say: “so few citations”. Yet every piece of data shown contains its own citation. Moreover, I point out that the blog is a simply a condensation of a detailed exposition published elsewhere. The latter has its own citations, is noted in the Blog and can be found at: http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/MarkS181/mbs-separating-right-from-wrongleftpdf-rev-a/3 . I hope to see a more factual and constructive bent in your
      next note.

      • jlhartman says:

        Fine, I wasn’t really writing to you last time, but since you responded, now I will. Here are three of your inflammatory statements that do not have citations to support them:

        You write: “In broad terms, these have resulted from a slow evolution toward bigger government and increasing interference with the private sector.”

        However, “Since January 2008, net of census hiring, the federal government has grown by 3.5 percent, gaining 98,000 jobs….Since the beginning of the recession, state governments have added 42,000 employees to their payrolls. Local governments have cut 258,000 jobs (1.7 percent of their January 2008 workforce). Overall, total government employment has shrunk by 0.5 percent since January 2008.”

        http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/256225/census-and-growth-federal-government-employment-veronique-de-rugy

        Furthermore, the current federal employment numbers are hardly out of line historically speaking. The 2010 number of federal employees is actually about 10% less than the average since 1962, and it’s almost exactly at the average over the previous 20 years. So what is this “slow evolution” you speak of?
        http://www.opm.gov/feddata/HistoricalTables/TotalGovernmentSince1962.asp

        You write: “In the last three years, the trend has been accelerated, due to the White House’s strong leftward tilt.”

        I’ll concede that there has been a “strong leftward tilt” coming off of the George W Bush years, but that is because “President Obama is the most moderate Democratic president since the end of World War II, while President George W. Bush was the most conservative president in the post-war era.”
        http://voteview.com/blog/?p=317

        You write: “…we import more oil than ever before.”
        This simply is not true. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_a.htm

        The biggest complaint I have about your post is the assumptions you make in it. Democracy and capitalism are not conservative ideals any more than they are liberal ideals, and your claiming that they are does nothing to help us understand one another. I could make a chart showing “conservative” ideals on one side with words like “fascism” “racism” “xenophobia” “lack of education” “support rape of women” and “prefer poor people die than receive health care” but that wouldn’t make it any more true than the “liberal” side of your “key philosophies” image. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for your type of post on the Internet. Regrettably there are far too many. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Michele Bachmann sites might be a place to start. Your post just isn’t close to the level of sophistication I’ve come to expect from ROARR in my years as a follower. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps posts like this is where the site is headed, in which case I will fill my time reading other conservative outlets. But I won’t be happy about it, and I won’t be quiet about it either.

  6. middleagedhousewife says:

    I think that our willingness to become dependent on the government is the biggest obstacle to overcome. To many Americans are becoming indoctrinated into the ideal that it is the government’s job to protect us from failure. It is hard to sell an agenda of less government regulation, and cuts to entitlement spending when so many people don’t want to be responsible for themselves. It’s also hard to sell the concept of less government regulation of businesses when there are so many companies producing inferior products and services or with poor customer service relationships. In order to justify less regulation, companies need to be willing to do right by their customers,employees,and environment.

    • dugmaze says:

      “To many Americans are becoming indoctrinated into the ideal that it is the government’s job to protect us from failure. ”

      We are required as Americans to live by our constitution. Our constitution does require the government to provide the general welfare and safety of it’s people.

      Our government has been protecting businesses(not corporations) and people ever since our founding. Can you name me one successful business which wasn’t provided an environment to grow in by our government?

    • Scott Erb says:

      Good point — though I disagree with the post and think an active government is essential, programs that promote dependence do harm to those they are trying to “help.” I think a lot of conservative critiques of social welfare programs make good points. The key is not to simply drop the programs and tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (that simply creates permanent underclasses) but find ways to create social programs that liberate rather than create dependencies.

  7. Kamizushi says:

    Wow, Quite a bit of BS you are spreading there aren’t you. Could you name 1 republican president in the past 40 years who did NOT beat the spending record? No you can’t. I can name exactly one Democrat who did it who. And you attribute the improvement in education and healthcare worldwide to free-market despite that fact that in countries where more people are literates and have access to health care, it’s usually because those services are socialized. And you attribute the improved longevity in the world to free market, completely ignoring that it was mainly due to better healthcare which again is mainly provided by the state in most concerned countries, and in poorer countries, the vaccination is a huge factor.

    • dugmaze says:

      “mainly due to better healthcare which again is mainly provided by the state in most concerned countries, and in poorer countries, the vaccination is a huge factor.”

      Clean water and fresher foods are the number one reasons for the decline in disease. I strongly urge everyone to research the history and decline of all diseases.

  8. dugmaze says:

    “the principles of economic freedom that spurred American historical progress.”

    Such as?

  9. middleagedhousewife says:

    The Preamble of the Constitution states that it is the job of the government to “provide for the common defense, [and] PROMOTE the general Welfare,”(emphasis mine)of the American people. It is the job of the government to protect us from foreign enemies, and sometimes each other, but not from ourselves. Promoting our welfare is not the same thing as providing it. Indeed it can be argued that creating programs that encourage people to be dependent on the government for their needs rather than empowering them to be able to take care of themselves does not promote our welfare but instead decreases it.

    Yes, it’s true that government programs can help to grow a business, and some regulations to protect consumers and employees are necessary, but burdensome regulation also stifles business growth and job creation.

    • dugmaze says:

      “Promoting our welfare is not the same thing as providing it”
      Thomas Jefferson uses the term “PROVIDE for the general welfare” when describing the general welfare clause section. I would find it impossible to believe our founders wrote the preamble to describe anything other than the constitution.

      ““[T]he laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.”–Thomas Jefferson
      http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/art1frag29_user.html

      “It is the job of the government to protect us from foreign enemies, and sometimes each other, but not from ourselves. ”
      but not from ourselves? Are you saying people are poor, homeless, sick, and unemployed because of their own fault?

      “creating programs that encourage people to be dependent on the government ”
      What about corporations? Does the definition of welfare apply to people only? If anything we see corporations running to the tax payers for help. Just where do you think all this debt came from? Because there hasn’t been any increase in social programs benefits in over a decade.

      “burdensome regulation also stifles business growth and job creation”
      What’s an example of burdensome regulations and how did it affect jobs? Job growth is by demand only.

      • middleagedhousewife says:

        Yes, Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, (the welfare clause) does say provide, but for the general welfare, things that would benefit the nation as a whole, not the welfare of the individual. (Things such as infastucture improvements etc). Though this clause has been
        used to justify entitlement programs, that was not its original intent. This is demonstrated by the Constitution’s use of the phrase “the people” when describing the rights of the individual. Therefore had this clause been meant to require the government to provide for the means of survival for individual citizens, it would have read, “Provide for the welfare of the people”.

        “Are you saying people are poor, homeless, sick, and unemployed because of their own fault? ” Yes, to some degree I do believe that. Many people are impoverished, become ill, or remain in those states because they made poor choices and do not take responsibility for them. I’m not saying we should turn our backs on people in need, unexpected bad things like the loss of a job, or a catastrophic illness do happen. Our welfare system should be designed to help people pull themselves up out of those situations and require that they make the effort instead of simply providing hand-outs, and thereby making people dependent on the government for their needs.

        As far as the corporations are concerned, I think you and I are on the same page. I do not think the companies should be “bailed out” by the taxpayers. However, regulations such as Dodd-Frank make it hard for small businesses to raise the capital to expand. Like you said, “Job growth is by demand only”. If small businesses can’t grow, they have no demand for jobs.

  10. lbwoodgate says:

    Mark,

    your post fails to note that there are fewer government regulations now than when Reagan began it all 30 years ago and that the tax rate for business and individuals is lower now than when Reagan was President. So why did the economy fail so miserably in 2008 (and please don’t blame this solely on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and why has the income disparity between the wealthiest 1% and everyone else grown steadily over the last 30 years?

    And, am I missing something, but were we supposed to be impressed with the statistic that showed the percentage of the world’s population living under $1 a day has decreased. I didn’t see any information that illustrated how this change was negatively impacted by rising prices for goods and services, especially petroleum and access to potable water.

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