06 April 2009

Freedom, Independence, Opportunity

Our government has lost its sense of purpose. Politicians forget why their offices exist. Public debate is over trifles, while large issues are ignored. Our government should concern itself about three things: freedom, independence, and opportunity.

Our government was constituted to do one thing: preserve the freedom of its citizens. Every action, legislation, and regulation should be prefaced with one question: will this make us more free? To live in an orderly society, we must all surrender a bit of freedom. But the purpose behind our forming a government is to protect our freedom. Politicians seem to forget this. We need to constantly remind them. We could establish tax systems, legal doctrines, and regulatory schemes that could be still be effective, while preserving freedom. But we get so caught up in the issues of the day, and making money, and staying busy, that we forget the real purpose, to be free.

Freedom is not a means to an end, it is the end. It is the goal. The end result. There is nothing more. So many of us, having reached the goal, ask if there is more, feel that there must be more to it than this, that there must be a higher purpose. Equality, or tolerance, or multiculturalism, or state ownership of enterprise, or something that will give more meaning, or would lend itself to further struggle.

Study history, and you will see what a rare and beautiful thing it is to live free. The natural state of man is to oppress and to be oppressed. Freedom exists so rarely and so briefly in human society. It is our duty to keep it and to preserve it. It is right that we should fear that we are not up to the task.

Out nation was founded also to retain it's independence. This is being surrendered. Can we call ourselves truly independent if our actions are constrained because we have indebted ourselves to foreign creditors? Can we call ourselves truly free if we allow foreign concepts of what is right and just determine our laws and judicial decisions? We call ourselves independent still, but are we? Truly? Only great and noble people are able to retain their independence over ages. We must guard our independence fiercely, but our political leadership has been squandering our independence for a generation.

Still, the everyday economy is what concerns most of us. And in this, our leadership has failed us again. There should be only one touchstone when it comes to economic policy, and it goes hand in hand with freedom and independence: opportunity. Our government does have a legitimate role to play in encouraging opportunity among those in our society with the ability to seize such opportunity to move ahead. To allow citizens, regardless of the station of their birth, to rise to the heights that their ability and ambition may take them, not only enriches the individual, but enriches all of our lives, and benefits our society. To allow the best and the brightest to shine, to achieve, to invent, to flourish, and to profit, gives hope to the poor, and opportunity to all.

For over a generation or more, however, government policies serve to protect, to subsidize, and to coddle the established, at the expense of the rest. For example, the government favors the home owner, no matter how foolish or unwise his purchase may have been, over potential home buyers. Policies favor failing, bloated industries over the entrepreneur, which is regulated and taxed to death. During the present crisis, how many billions have gone to failing, established firms on Wall Street, while no one has proposed expanding assistance to small business, or start-ups? Trillions have been funnelled to existing elites, while tuition rates skyrocket. There is no debate over increasing vocational instruction, the backbone of the service economy.

Freedom, independence, and opportunity. The three fading goals of our experiment in self-government, endangered by the corruption and short-sightedness of our politics.

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