You have heard me say it many times: Liberty is the absence of government in choice. It was the absence of government that made us a great nation.
The greatest American achievements – the abolition of slavery, the creation of the middle class, private charity, and the industrial revolution – occurred in the first American century, when government was constrained and liberty was not.
For nearly a century, government consumed less than 5% of national output, leaving us 95% free to act on our own volition. It is not by accident that we raised from obscurity to become the most prosperous, the most virtuous, and the healthiest people on earth – those are the certain benefits of free market capitalism and limited government.
Conversely, the second American century was defined by the growth of government and the constraint of liberty. It will be remembered for two world wars, the Great Depression, and a 45-year Cold War with the Soviet Union played out through various proxy conflicts around the world. War and wealth destruction are the equally certain consequences of socialism and big government.
Just as the absence of government propelled living standards and public morality forward in the first American century, the expansion of government in the second eroded our standard of living and debased the moral underpinning of our national identity. Government now consumes over 50% of GDP; we have become the land of the half-free and the home of the half-brave. We should quit pretending otherwise.
The socialists in both parties who perpetrated this offensive against capitalism and liberty will not accept any responsibility for their actions. In fact, they blame liberty and capitalism for the consequences of their efforts to subvert them. Capitalism is not the cause of our economic troubles; capitalism is the cure for our economic troubles.
Pure, free-market capitalism – unregulated, unfettered, unbowed – is the only socio-economic system compatible with Liberty and individual rights. Voluntary exchange is the only rational means for two sovereign human beings to relate to each other; the only way for their individual rights to be respected fully.
There is no place for government in voluntary economic exchange between individuals; the proper role of government is absence.
Let me state this plainly: people should be free to buy and sell any product, service, and form of labor under any mutually agreeable terms to whomever and from whomever they wish at all times – without exception. This is what economic freedom looks like; it has been so long we can barely describe the memory of it.
And economic freedom is the only relevant measure of liberty in a society. Freedom of thought and speech is meaningless without the freedom to act, and freedom to act requires economic exchange. Personal liberty and economic liberty are but two sides of the same coin; you can’t pretend to keep one while throwing the other away.
Do not lose sight of this fact: every dollar spent by government was taken by force from someone who earned it.
That person was deprived of his liberty to spend, save, or gift that dollar as he sees fit. The moral offense of deprivation of economic liberty negates any proffer of “public good” peddled as justification. Need does not justify the taking; not for the looter, the rapist, the thug, or the government.
We forget that even greater good would have been done with the private spending of that same dollar. It would have generated employment better than any federal stimulus bill; it would have purchased better health care than the government can provide; it would have permitted a charity to change a person’s life more than any government welfare program ever did; it would have been invested in a venture that was literally sustainable, not rhetorically so.
Is there a single one of you so foolish you would allow me to take away half your income to spend as I see fit? Then why on earth would you permit me to do it as your Congressman?
There are 535 members of the Congress and Senate; every single one of them is less qualified than you to decide how you should live your life. You are the world’s foremost expert on the subject of pursuit of your happiness - don't leave that job to amateurs.
Tim Nerenz is the Libertarian Party Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin's 2nd District. To support Dr. Tim's campaign, please visit the campaign website at www.timnerenz.com.