Liberty Commentary

For the Most Part, ‘Nothing’ Is Precisely What Government Is Supposed To Do

by Vin Suprynowicz, LRC

Last week, we were discussing the Obama administration’s anti-freedom agenda.

When a political leader snidely ridicules the free market, characterizing those who challenge his initiatives to vastly expand federal regulation and management of the economy as being in the pay of “greedy insurance executives,” “big bankers,” and the like, I don’t see how anyone can argue that he’s not against the free market.

In fact, they don’t. Mr. Obama’s champions respond by citing all the injustices which they believe are wrought by the free market.

Therefore, ipso facto and by their own words, their agenda is anti-freedom.

Their fall-back position appears to be, “OK, we acted like fascists, but it’s all temporary, and it had to be done or things would have gotten much worse.”

But the huge government economic interventions of the past three years – under Bush and Obama both – have done far more harm than good. Angela Merkel in Germany resisted calls for huge government “stimulus” spending on the Bush-Obama-McCain model. Left to their own devices, German employment and modest economic recovery are now doing better than ours.

Every Obama promise about how “stimulus” spending would limit unemployment and other signs of deepening recession has proven wrong. And who would expect otherwise? I doubt there’s been an administration in history whose members have so little cumulative experience running real, for-profit businesses in the free market. And who but a permanent prisoner of the ivory tower would expect any benefit for the private sector from a policy of government soaking up all the nation’s available credit and channeling it to “protect’ existing government bureaucrat jobs?

The leftists cackle that non-Democrats “offer no solution” except to “do nothing.”

Precisely. Faced with a serious depression in 1921 as the American economy corrected from its wartime footing, Warren G. Harding did little to fight the necessary deflation, instead slashing government expenditures while advising that the bankruptcy courts were there for those who needed them. Once it was obvious Washington was not going to step in to prop up wages or prices or anything else, the free market made its adjustments, and the correction of 1921 was over in 18 months, setting the stage for the boom of the 1920s.

The shrieking harpies of the left condemn the free market, saying it leads to greedy CEOs like those of Enron “ripping everybody off.”

In fact, the vast majority of private businesses offer good value and honest service, and the chiefs of the few that commit theft or fraud usually go to prison. How many Washington politicians have gone to prison for violating their oath to “protect and defend” a Constitution that grants them only sharply limited powers?

The free market – the words mean just what they say: “allowing” people to exchange goods and labor voluntarily, rather than having government goons with guns tell us what we can buy or sell and how much or little we’re required to charge for it – has given America the greatest level of wealth known to history.

The socialists respond by complaining that wealth is “unevenly distributed.”

So are energy and talent. Blame God. Meantime, even the “poor” in America are vastly better off than in 90 percent of the world, and vastly better off than our grandparents – whereas in every experiment in which men with guns were allowed to grab the wealth and “redistribute it,” everyone ended up poorer … including the poor.

You see, if you take away the stuff I can gather up by working hard, I’m either going to move somewhere where I’m allowed to keep the fruits of my labor, or else I’m going to stop working so hard … if at all.

On balance, a limited government, concerning itself primarily with protecting our freedoms, has given us the greatest prosperity, the most effective division of labor, ever seen. Compulsion systems, on the other hand – like those prevalent in eastern Europe from 1917 and especially from 1940 to 1990 – have created widespread poverty, desperation, starvation, suicide, and slavery.

Those are not the exceptions. Those have been the universal outcomes of the repeal of freedom and the free market.

If you doubt it, get back to me in a year or two, and let me know what two or three full years of our current, hell-for-leather, Obama-Reid leftist agenda have wrought.

Because I think there are going to be some foreclosures. Some commercial land loan defaults. Some Asians refusing to buy any more of our debt unless we sign over some of the smaller states and territories as collateral. A bit of inflation. A bit of tax and regulation resistance. A boycott of America by foreign tourists tired of being groped and prodded by the TSA.

Mr. Obama says the economy is “recovering.” I suspect he’s either lying, or a shocking economic naïf, or both.