How Much Economic Freedom Do We Have in the United States?
by Andrew P. Napolitano
The root of economic freedom is the recognition of the right to own private property. That includes the right to utilize it unmolested, to dispose of it without anyone's permission and to exclude anyone from it, even the government. Suffice it to say, no American president since the advent of the income tax and the Federal Reserve 100 years ago has fully accepted or meaningfully defended that right. The more the government extracts in taxes and the more it inflates the money supply, the more it rejects and assaults property rights.
Every president in the 20th century, even Ronald Reagan, signed legislation raising income taxes. The theory behind the income tax is that the government's need for cash is so great, it can just take it from your employer after you earn it but before your employer pays you – before you even see the cash – and use it as it sees fit. This presumes that the federal government has a greater right to your income than you do. There really can be no rationale for income taxes without that belief.
Do you know anyone outside the government who believes this?
If you believe you have the natural right to own your property and to trade and spend your money as you see fit, then there is only one Republican presidential candidate who agrees with you. That candidate, when asked last week in South Carolina what the rate of income taxes should be, replied: ZERO. One needs to laugh at Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as they pitifully attempt to defend natural rights and the right to pursue happiness, when they have no respect for the right to own private property.
The absence of economic freedom today is nothing new and didn't come about overnight. It is the culmination of the Progressive Era, which gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax; the New Deal, which gave us the beginning of entitlements; the Great Society, which enhanced the numbers of people who received entitlements; Ronald Reagan, who bashed entitlements during the six years he was running for president but did nothing to dismantle them; and every president from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush, all of whom just accepted the welfare and warfare state as if the Constitution didn't exist.
Today, we have President Obama, committed to private ownership but government control of the means of production, who wants to enhance the welfare and warfare state by having socialized medicine and perpetual war at the same time.
The essence of the governmental assaults on freedom is presidentially proposed, congressionally engineered and judicially accepted redistribution of wealth via the central planning of the economy. And the consequence of all this is the present lamentable state of affairs where half the country is financially dependent on the other half. When this state of affairs was reached in Ayn Rand's great novel "Atlas Shrugged," she had the productive half stop working just to see what the government would do. It wasn't pretty.
Obama's beloved Dodd-Frank law is the latest act of government theft of freedom in the name of economic equality. It brings us one step closer to total government control of the means of producing wealth. With its unaccountable bureaucracy, Federal Reserve-generated funding, and standardless and appeal-proof rulemaking, it reposes into the hands of an unconfirmed-by-the-Senate nanny stater the power to monitor and to regulate virtually all economic activity in the U.S.
Do you know anyone outside the government who wants this?
There is not a single example in human history of central economic planning producing more prosperity than a free market. The framers understood that. That's why they wrote a Constitution that prohibited an income tax, forbade the states from interfering with contracts, and prevented the feds from taking life, liberty or property without due process. All those constitutional prohibitions have been nullified by amendment or disregarded by consensus.
Do you know anyone inside the government who admits this?
The need for a game changer in the White House, who will commit the government to the defense of private property and free enterprise, is obvious. There is only one on the ballot in South Carolina, and he's creeping up in the polls just like he did in the days before Iowa and New Hampshire. You know who he is.