On September 17, 1787, the founders of the United States of America completed writing the Constitution. They intentionally left the word slavery out of that founding document. While there were some vague references such as the 3/5 Compromise, the Constitution does not deal directly with the issue of slavery. It is not that the founding fathers all supported slavery (some adamantly opposed it), but that they feared any attempt to outlaw the practice would result in succession of the southern states and dissolution of the Union. Some might say that this approach only made sense, and perhaps it did, because without the United States as a whole, there was no chance of ever ridding the south of slavery. Perhaps the founding fathers recognized that in order to rid the new continent of slavery, they first had to ensure that a sound government was in place that could enforce such a position. Whatever the reason, fear of dissolution of the fledgling nation was the primary reason that slavery was not directly addressed in the Constitution.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which allowed for the internment of over 100,000 Japanese Americans. The majority of those people were citizens of the United States. The reason, again, was fear. The man who boldly stated that “the only thing we [had] to fear, [was] fear itself,” was afraid that any one of these people might have been working with the Japanese government against the United States. We were at war, we were afraid, we were wrong.
In 1994, countless Rwandan men, women, and children were massacred while the United States and the rest of the world stood by and watched. No one wanted to “interfere” in foreign matters unless genocide was being committed. Many leaders feared the ugly consequences of engaging in any war at a time when war, even to save hundreds of thousands of innocent people, was deemed intolerable by the uninformed electorate. Politicians feared public opinion and so they did not label the killings as genocide. Fear of public backlash paralyzed those who could help and hundreds of thousands died.
The United States is once again faced with a serious dilemma. Our current economic crisis may not carry the moral weight of slavery, internment, or genocide, but it nonetheless has the potential to incite fear in the hearts of well-meaning citizens. The call has gone out for the government to save us, for the government to spend us out of a hole this country created by overspending in the first place. In exchange for trillions in government money, tax money from our own pockets, Americans are willing to trade economic freedom. This country is afraid, afraid of not being able to afford the big-screen TV, cable television, high-speed internet, luxury home, expensive car, cellular phone, and IPod that have become the centerpieces of the American dream. In fear of losing our luxuries, we are willing to give up something far more precious and far more fundamental to the American dream, our freedom.
Some may scoff at this writing and call it alarmist, misguided, or just plain nuts. What is nuts is giving the government a mandate to trample our economic freedoms and removing the very capitalism that has made the United States what it is today. With the “economic stimulus packages” come strings, and lots of them. Governments around the globe are touting this as the perfect time to usher in a new world order. This will be a world in which social capitalism is the standard, where government regulation is the norm, and where the economy is under the ever watchful eye of Big Brother. What we are trading in our fear is what this country was founded upon, capitalism. Now, that word, capitalism, has gained a nasty connotation in recent decades as people try to paint corporations as ugly, money-hungry behemoths with no regard for the safety of their consumers or the preservation of the environment. While some of that may be true in specific instances, the alternative is worse. The damage that government interference will cause in the economy will be far reaching. The economy will shrink, waste will increase, the deficit will soar, and the standard of living will plummet. If you don’t believe me, there are plenty of examples all across the globe. Russia failed, Cuba failed, Communism (socialism) failed. Socialism does not work because those in charge of the government are never honest and will never be smart enough to meet the needs of the market as well as individuals.
Consider this, in this current crisis, even though times are worse than they have been in a long time, people in the United States, where capitalism has been given its best opportunity yet, are still living in big houses, still have multiple cars per household, still have the highest numbers of TV’s per capita, still have cellular phones by the bucket load, and on and on. If things are so bad, why do we have so much discretionary income? This is not to say that we are not worse than we were a few years ago. Certainly the economy is going through a readjustment. To think that government could have averted this is crazy. Half of you blame the government for the problem in the first place. Don’t place your future in the hands of politicians. Don’t mortgage your children’s future by allowing the government to borrow recklessly in the present. Don’t let the government restrict you ability to start your own business or dictate the way you invest your money. Tell your representatives in congress that we don’t want this package. We want the government to back off and let Americans do what we do best, fix what is broken. Every time we have put our full weight behind something in the past it has worked. Don’t give up now just because of a bump in the road. Hold fast and remember that what allowed you to buy your IPod and your big screen TV wasn’t government intervention, it was your ability to go out and work for yourself doing what you want at a job created by another person doing what she or he wanted. Capitalism has allowed this country to lead the world in innovations in medicine, computers, space travel, engineering, and on and on. Capitalism, the idea that you can strike out on your own to make your way in the world without anyone else holding you back is what the United States was founded on. It may not be perfect, but it is better than any of the alternatives.
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin