Big Government or Big Business?
October 23, 2005
Some have said, including a well known U. S. Senator, that they "would trust big government over big business anytime." And so we ask: If a large, intrusive government over regulating human lives is so wonderful, then why is South Korea more prosperous than North Korea? Why was West Germany more prosperous than East Germany and why is Taiwan more prosperous than China?
Why is it that some claim that "they trust big government over big business?" Why is that? Could it just be that some believe that governmental bureaucracy knows what is best for an individual rather than what an individual knows for oneself? Could that be the reason?
Even America's largest companies do not have nearly the power over citizens that the government exercises routinely. Very little, if anything, forces one to buy a specific product or purchase a specific service. Indeed, there have been plenty highly successful and supposedly "powerful" companies who within a few years found themselves to be quite mortal. Take for example, Montgomery Ward, Ames, or Atari, or certain digital manufactures. Big companies go out of business but big government does not go out of business, ever. Big government is just not the subject of the automatic quality control of the free market. President John F. Kennedy said it well, when he stated "A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."
In a sense, free market economies commit "creative destruction." They eliminate old industries and jobs but in the process they create new industries and employment opportunities. At the start of the twentieth century, about 25 percent of Americans worked in agriculture. Now, only about on in two hundred workers is employed in the agricultural sector. There used to be 1.4 million people working on the railroads, as did some of the relatives of your columnists; now, there are about 200,000. Are these disasters? Not really. Whenever one industry is downsized or eliminated, a new industry or business is born. These workers displaced in one industry then become available to work elsewhere in the economy. Certainly the advent of the automobile eliminated an abundance of jobs in the buggy and spring wagon factories, but the rise of the car helped the entire society become more mobile while simultaneously creating thousands of jobs making and servicing motorized vehicles. One could go on enumerating thousands of such examples in this modern society of ours. The market discipline encourages a constant search for new efficiencies. And market prices in conjunction with the profit motive and competition help to determine how the production is organized. We say, let the market forces work.
Free markets, by harnessing the individual initiatives and intelligence of millions of people, cause an upward swing in the quality of life and standard of living for everyone. There is a link between work and reward. Working smarter is rewarded as much as working harder. In fact, it is the free market of ideas and technology, not the government, which is closing the gap between the rich and the poor. Robert Rector, Senior Research Fellow in Domestic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation reported that the US Census indicated on September 16, 2004 that "Today the typical American, defined as poor by the government, has a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer, a car, air conditioner, a microwave, and a color TV." Economic free market and freedoms along with individual initiative have helped to close the gap.
Thus, economic freedom is political freedom. George Soros donated well over $10 million to defeat a sitting President in the 2004 election. He had the freedom to do so. A moral, just, and successful society recognizes and provides for the protection of individual freedoms. In fact, history shows that societies that protect economic freedom also allow human liberty. In every case, free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs, and high standards of living as compared to the systems, as cited at the top of this column, who are burdened by the heavy hand of government. This country was founded to protect the freedom to choose how to live without meddlesome interference from others. Free people make their own decisions about how to live, how to maintain and use their talents and skills in their labor and, how to suffer and endure the ill effects of their decisions. A society that protects these benefits and opportunities is moral and just AND safeguards these benefits for all of us AND for the generations to come. It was Theodore Roosevelt who said it well: ..."the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done," and that too, is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.