The following is a guest post by Dr. Robert Owens.
The Question is, “What’s the Answer?”
In politics and economics as in everything in life there always seems to be more questions than answers.
Some answers previously shared:
Politically speaking, I have said before in these columns that I no longer consider myself to be a conservative because there is nothing left to conserve. Instead I consider myself a Liberal in the classical sense: in the tradition of Jefferson and Paine a believer in human liberty. The once proud name of Liberal has been coopted and fundamentally transformed by the Socialists who have followed the advice of one of their early leaders, Norman Thomas, “The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”
I say it is time to reclaim the name.
In the economic realm, I am unabashedly a believer in capitalism. The reason for this is that it is the only system ever devised by man that requires freedom as a foundation for it to exist. Every other economic system ever tried is a centrally-planned command system. The king, the dictator, or the politburo decides how many widgets the country needs and that is how many widgets the country gets and everyone works at the widget factory.
As a child of the Cold War who had Marx shoved down his throat by Socialist teachers from grade school through college, I rebelled when one of my History professors told me that economics was the lynchpin of History. It wasn’t until after the fall of the Evil Empire that I was able to appreciate this truth. It is interesting to note that before we adopted the German style of College education in the 1890s Economics, History and Political Science were all one discipline. How can we understand any one of them without the others? One legged stools do not stand very well. Information in a vacuum is still a vacuum.
So what is the question?
How can America continue to exist politically as a Republic with a constitutionally limited government dedicated to personal liberty, economic freedom and individual opportunity if our central government destroys competition?
The support of competition does not make someone an anarchist as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accuses.
The use of competition as an organizing mechanism in society precludes the use of certain types of coercive regulations. However, it does not preclude the use regulations or guidelines. There are important reasons why the negative aspects of this statement have been stressed by the advocates of competition while the positive have been neglected by its opponents.
It is necessary that all parties in the market place must be free to buy and sell at any price which they can agree on. It is also necessary that everyone should be free to produce, sell and buy anything that can be produced or sold. It is also necessary that everyone has equal and free access into the trades.
Any attempt to control or regulate prices or quantities of commodities deprives competition of its ability to bring about the effective coordination of individual efforts because price changes then are no longer able to correctly act as a reliable guide for an individual’s actions.
This is not an iron-clad rule. As long as any restrictions placed on all potential producers affect all producers the same and are not used as an indirect method for controlling prices and quantities. All such restrictions impose extra costs however if they are imposed evenly competition can survive if not thrive. For example, it is generally agreed that regulations to control the use of poisonous substances, to limit working hours, or to require sanitary conditions are both desirable and necessary.
The only question here is: are the social advantages gained by these regulations greater than the economic costs they impose. Neither is the existence of social services incompatible with freedom as long as their organization and operation is not designed to restrict competition.
Thus it is shown that the advocates of competition and economic freedom are not anarchists demanding a Laissez-faire anything goes free-for-all. They admit the need for safety and agree that as long as things are equal things are fair.
The fairness of competition is shown in one of its primary foundational principles: that the owner of private property benefits from all the useful services rendered and is liable for all the damages caused to others by its use. When it becomes impossible to make the enjoyment of certain services dependent on payment or if the damages from its use are deflected then completion is ineffective as a social organizer because the price system has been disrupted.
Thus both restrictions on the use of property and bailouts which transfer the cost of failure from those who made the bad decisions to the taxpayers cause the market to become unhinged from reality and the creature of government direction. We see licenses, permits, and other regulations control who can engage in what economic activity. Look at the stock market. Does it rise or fall because of innovation? Do the efforts of people to create and market new products lead the DOW to new heights? No. The market rises and falls on whether or not the Fed is going to continue pumping fiat money into the system.
The rules of the game have been so distorted by the government that honest and open competition is almost impossible. This is why the underground economy flourishes, because it is the only place where free competition still exists. And people will always yearn to be free. No matter how governments try to chain their citizens down with webs of regulations and nets of laws Gulliver will always struggle and strain against the ties that bind until he breaks free.
It is obvious to all that President Obama has succeeded in his goal of fundamentally transforming America. For example, his massive stimulus that paid off campaign debts to unions and donors and his mountains of new regulations on everything from banking to coal to student loans. There is the never-ending FED pump which just keeps pouring more money into an already bloated bubble in an effort to make a socialized crippled economy at least look like it works. And of course there is Obamacare which effectively socializes 1/6 of the entire economy. The combination of these policies breaks the back of competition and sound the death knell of the great experiment in freedom begun in 1776. Drip by drip, inch by inch we have been moved closer to the goal. Now it is the Health Care take-over and the flood of fiat currency that are leading to a terminal case of bankruptcy, a systems collapse, and as our Progressive leaders hope, the dawn of a new day.
When the invisible hand has been tied and competition weighted in favor of government chosen winners and losers, when the electoral game has been stacked in favor of a two headed Progressive Republicrat party of unlimited power, pride and ambition, when equal justice under the law applies only to citizens and not to officials, the Question is, “What’s the Answer.”
That answer might be, “How long?”
How long before we the American people demand that our nation founded in revolution against tyranny reject the empire and restore the Republic? We can all see that the emperor has no clothes. We all know the deck has been stacked, the game rigged, and the winners chosen. How long before we demand that we are allowed to live in a nation where we will be judged by the content of our character and not by our membership in a protected or favored group, our political contributions or whether or not we have saluted the party line?
As we watch our beloved nation transformed it might be well to remember what our second President John Adams once said, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” Then again he also said, “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens