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Choose Freedom

Preamble to Our
Remarkable Constitution

Posted on November 18, 2011

All of you who read my articles will know that I am not a torch or flame throwing writer. My core is built around freedom. I fret because it seems that so many do not understand the concept of what freedom means or even is. Yes, freedom does include the legal and moral ability to go, do, say, succeed, fail, and most important, respect others to do the same. We do not have the freedom to trample on the freedom of others. Human failings (of morality) and different degrees of human ambition prevent economic equality.

Our government was not founded to give anything to anybody except the freedom to choose. The legal limits were installed in accordance with long standing cultural knowledge of possible choices that people could make that violated the freedom of others - such as stealing, murder, and etc. The concept was simple, and one which would create the world's greatest nation. Bear in mind that there is a difference between those who seek wealth or power, and those just wanting to be left to their everyday world. Being wealthy or poor is not a crime, it is a choice. Individual choices people make are valid as long as those choices are within the legal and moral precepts set by the society. Every person, regardless of their position on the educational and achievement scale is necessary to make the whole thing work.

I realize that this is a little wordy, but please take away this; our lives are what we make of them. Whatever our degree of achievement, it is our life's choices that put us there. Briefly, consider how much effort you put into paying attention in school, and how well you took advantage of your opportunities. Your socio-economic status today is the result of your choices and behavior. That is the way a free society works. There are no do-over's, what is done cannot be undone, but the good news is that we can learn from our decisions whether they were good or bad and move on.

Confused yet? I certainly am! I know that much is being made about the wealthy among us. But understand, without the wealthy among us, our society would look much different than it is at the present. Take art for instance. We are able to enjoy it and need to be reminded that without the wealthy, much of human's finest creations would not have been possible. It is the wealthy who place high value on the craftsmanship of excellence. Without a premium for our best, there would be no incentive for the effort to produce the best. Modern governments and rulers from antiquity have financed and encouraged excellence in creativity. Popes, Kings, and other wealthy patrons of the arts commissioned great works showcasing the talents of those who created the best. Surviving pieces of those commissions from the ancient times are still admired by all who take an interest in the excellence of human creativity. The entire political spectrum recognizes the importance of encouraging and patronizing those creative expressions.

Well, a business is like that. A business is analogous to an artistic creation. Building a business requires money, dedication, hard work and an unfailing belief in that old cliché stating that "if you build it, they will come", of course meaning customers. When a person wants to start a business, first, the business creator must be able to convince those who would finance the business of its profit potential and of the borrower's personal dedication to see the business succeed. As a matter of record, most small businesses are financed by family members on the strength of both love and faith in the ability of the would-be business creator.

Wage earning is the much safer choice. A person working for wages has no idea of what it is like to put it all on the line for an idea. Most small business start-ups are creations of love and hold the hopes and dreams of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur also carries the weight of his investors on his shoulders. It is up to the entrepreneur to make the business a success. Success is not guaranteed but if the effort does pay off, his business will pave the way for others to have a job and a shot at success. The business creators among us are special people. Derision of success is an affront to those who have the drive and ambition to want better for themselves and their family. Deriding the successful is also disheartening to those who would take the chance on starting a business.

Holding up success as something evil and drowning it with taxes and regulations put a damper on efforts to begin a business. Such tinkering with the basic structure of human aspirations suffocates desire and is disastrous for a culture.

However, and sadly, there remains a solid core of people who demand equality of wealth distribution. The sad part is that wealth redistribution for the purpose of economically equalizing everybody ruins a society. The concept has been adopted by many governments and the result is always, not sometimes, oppressive to the people. There are many examples of failed governments that have tried redistribution. Those systems always run out of money, even the noblest of intentions cannot save it. Remember - over milking the cow does not make the cow give more milk, the cow just goes dry.

The public sector unions of Europe have almost collapsed the governments of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. All of the union contracts were negotiated in good faith, but those governments promised more than they could deliver. When they raised taxes on the wealth producers, the wealth producers either left the country or went bankrupt. Income redistribution never works to anybody's advantage. Failing more revenues from taxes, those governments seek loans so they can maintain their lavish benefit system on the hope that better days are just ahead.

France, not to be left out, has seen its borrowing costs increase as they also struggle to stay afloat. French banks like the banks in other European countries are under duress and it is very questionable whether the French will be able to continue without drastic reforms.

The United States is getting to that precarious perch of over-spending. But for the time being, our borrowing rate to pay for national obligations is still low. However, we are drowning in debt and any increase in our borrowing cost could create the type of upheaval seen in Greece. Civil unrest will be the result of having to cut the benefits of those who now depend upon them. There are no positives when a culture is forced into massive borrowing to maintain their obligations. There are also no solutions to the situation when there is no more money to pay accumulated obligations. Default and ruin become inevitable and completes the cycle.

It should be pointed out that the condition of indebtedness is the result of political choices. Politicians love spending the people's money as inducements to get votes. Mollifying public unions with lavish contracts to get campaign funds becomes the snowball from Hell as it rolls down hill. Most of those contracts are cheap and seemingly affordable at first, but as the workers age; they start retiring. Our good medical system is serving to help us live longer putting further strain on the system. More and more money is needed to pay all of those obligations.

When the owed amount starts to be a problem, the politicians turn to taxing and regulation to raise money for their extravagance. In fact, politicians have turned taxing into an art form. Over regulating and over taxing wealth producers is not the solution to an over-reaching government. High taxation slows investment and commercial activity and makes money problem worse. Companies that feel threatened relocate to other countries and take those jobs with them. In the end, the government has to resort to borrowing the money to pay the bills. Having to borrow money to pay bills is not good.

Still, the public sector unions persist. Having a broke government means nothing to them so they send their membership into the streets to protest reforms. And as a practical matter, who can blame them? They had an agreement that they depended on, only to have everything collapse around them. I do not blame the people who will have to bear the brunt of needed reforms - there is plenty of blame to go around.

I will leave you with this; educate yourself so you can make good decisions. Do not put yourself in a position of dependence - that is not freedom. Be suspicious of anyone bearing gifts or handouts. There is no new morality. There is no way of life you can think of hasn't already been tried and discarded. Freedom also means having to act and be responsible; doing otherwise imperils your freedom.

Robert welcomes your comment to this or any other of my commentaries.

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