To the Valley News:
It seems that this election will be about two competing philosophies. The first one is the “Great American Experiment” of a free people, living and working in a free marketplace, versus a big government system with government getting more involved in more and more aspects of our lives to “make things better” with regulations, laws, and reallocating of resources more “fairly.”
The first one, the entrepreneurial free market system, based on the worth of individual effort is the great engine that has brought us from a fledgling wilderness nation to the most vibrant, richest people in the world. It is a system where 300+ million people make billions of decisions large and small every day. This is what makes the free market work, not a few dozen government experts deciding what is best for us.
With the power of our entrepreneurial spirit, this great free enterprise engine over 200+ years (with a few exceptions and corrections) has carried America on a constant upward path to a better life for everyone. Even the poorest American would be considered well off in most of the world.
I'm not saying the government doesnt have an important roll to play, it does. And it’s roles are enumerated in our Constitution.
The other philosophy, the big government system in recent years has been burdening that engine with expensive regulations, punishing taxes, and a strong demoralizing, left wing anti-business agenda which is slowing the ability of that engine to pull us all up that hill. Under President Obama, that trend has been put on steroids. It seems success has to be punished, even if it means less jobs created. We have the highest unemployment since Jimmy Carter in 1979, (the REAL worst economy since the great depression) 12% unemployment, 21% interest rates, and 15% inflation. Yet we vilify the job creators. We raise taxes and redistribute the wealth. This only works until you run out of other peoples money. (Margaret Thacher)
Dr. Milton Freidman the great defender of free markets said about government control: “if you put our government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years, we would have a shortage of sand.”
Let's compare how the two philosophies have worked.
South Korea, since that country was divided has boomed and become a prosperous, modern nation. While North Korea has gone nowhere during the same period. Their people are starving in the dark due to complete government control.
Before Ronald Reagen ended the Cold War victoriously, East Germany couldn't even provide even the most basic need for its people. I know, because my father was from there, and when he sent care packages to his relatives in Plauen, his boyhood home, the most asked for item was toilet paper. The second was soap. See, under free markets today's luxuries become tomorrows necessities, and under Socialism, or Communism, today's necessities become tomorrows luxuries.
You see, centralized government has never worked.
West Germany on the other hand, became an economic powerhouse, and when the wall came down, they absorbed the demoralized East Germans, and now they are the economic leader of Europe.
Another example of the power of free markets is one country during two eras. China under Mao was a complete disaster, despite complete control, and several unsuccessful “great leaps forward” over many sad unproductive years where millions died.
Then after Mao, they let just a little entrepreneurship in. Since then they've been the fastest growing economy in the world AND the ATM machine to finance Obama's path to economic ruin.
Government makes laws and regulations to make things better, but often, unintended consequences of these rules make things worse.
Take the housing collapse, and the ensuing recession. Of course, the blame was put on President Bush, because it happened on his watch. But it started with the “Community Development Act” in 1996 under Clinton. This act mandated mortgages to people who didn't have the means to pay them back. The banks balked at this, saying they couldn't put bad loans on their books, it was bad business practice. The government said “Just do it” and Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac would cover the loans. The banks said “Cool, we can do that.” So the banks started writing risky loans, and more risky loans, and home prices went up and up making more and more people wanting to get in on this great “scheme.” We had a housing boom, but something seemed wrong. George Bush (the beneficiary of the boom) began to worry, and asked Congress for an investigation of Fannie and Freddie and all these mortgages, and mortgage backed securities floating around. Senators Dodd and Frank, Democrats in charge of overseeing Fannie and Freddie, said “nonsense” and no investigation ensued. When the house of cards collapsed, so did the economy. Those responsible took no blame. Instead it was easier to blame Bush, who should have pushed harder on the investigation, but the whole thing started 11 years earlier.
One other example of unintended consequences is the $20 raise we all got by not paying all our Social Security taxes to buy votes in the 2010 election. It didn't buy many votes (thank God), but it cost Social Security $16 billion dollars, and shortened its life expectancy by two years.
One more example: The Fed has kept interest rates near zero for years to stimulate the economy. It hasnt done much good, but the unintended consequence of this is that people who worked hard and saved all their lives to live comfortably in their retirement are getting no interest on these savings. Thanks Fed.
Jerry Rambach, Saranac