Friday, August 31, 2012

Bob's Views on the Blessings of Liberty ... Government Schools, Health Care, Retirement Funding and Free Choice ... Any Individual Freedoms Left?

I believe in natural rights and John Locke's view that we're all born free and retain that freedom until we either give it away or have it taken from us. I also consider myself extremely fortunate to have been born in America and to be possessed of such unalienable rights as "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I buy the whole American self governing and individual freedom and opportunity story and always have.

On the other hand, others have different views, of course. For instance, the philosopher Plato circa 400 BC believed that philosopher-kings and the smartest guys in the room were the most capable and best positioned decision makers for any society.

Late in the 18th century, our nation's Founding Fathers rejected that elitist and paternalistic view, basing the American republic on the belief that free self governing people were perfectly capable of making their own decisions and doing so in a manner which would be much better than any government elitists could.

Here's the punch line for me. We've strayed very far from that simple starting point in the latter 18th century.That's one of the main reasons I write this admittedly amateurish but candid blog. If it only helps make people stop to think think about life in America, past, present and future, well, that's good enough for me.

So here we go.

Today, our schools are mostly government run, and heavily union influenced. Lots of politicians, including most Democratic Party leaders, are willing accomplices in this assault on our individual freedoms. Free choice isn't allowed.

By that I mean simply that individual parents and children can't take the money spent per pupil in public schools and elect to spend it elsewhere. It's government knows best elitism all the way. Plato and his philosopher-king enthusiasts -- aka rulers or Guardians -- would be proud.

Thinking about all that school choice stuff, I wonder how many of us as parents don't feel as capable as the government knows best gang about deciding where our kids should attend school. Not many, I would guess. But we're denied that choice, and more important, we allow ourselves to be so denied by our government and union rulers -- er -- public servants and teacher representatives.

Thus, I believe, as I would guess you do as well, that many if not most people send their kids to their zip code based area public schools because of the expense that would be involved to do otherwise. But why should there be any expense factor as long as the subsidy is limited to the amount spent per pupil in the public schools? We're already paying, aren't we? And they're our kids, aren't they? So why can't we each choose where our MOM goes and how it's spent to educate our youth?

Let's get the government officials and unions out of the way.

Same with health care decisions and the retirement benefits we "receive" from the government. Why aren't we allowed to choose for ourselves? Is it because we're getting "too good of a deal" or free lunch from the government?

And if that's the case, why not just pass that good deal, aka free lunch, through to each of us by giving us the money being spent by the government rulers on our behalf? And if that doesn't cover the whole bill, isn't it time to acknowledge the simple fact that we're asking our kids and grandkids to pay in the future the excessive bills we're running up today and not willing to pay for in our own generation?

The political "progressives," and lots of Republicans, too, won't tell the truth about these things. To do so would expose the simple facts. We're not paying for all the money we're spending today.

To live within our means as a society will require us to make choices and prioritize how and on which priorities we will choose to spend our limited funds.

Do we want more government, and therefore more taxes imposed on all of us? Even if we stick the rich with the bills, there aren't enough rich people to take care of our overspending problems.

Or do we want more personal freedoms and the personal responsibilities that go along with those freedoms?

Or do we instead choose to place unsustainable and unaffordable financial burdens on future generations? If we do, let's at least have the decency to admit it.

Or do we really want to encourage private sector growth and investment, including accepting and even enjoying the fact that some of our fellow citizens will prosper individually as Sam Walton, Steve Jobs and Mitt Romney have done? And that there will be much material inequality in America as a result of the personal choices we make and the personal responsibilities we assume.

More government schools, health care, retirement subsidies and rules inevitably will mean less economic growth and less employment. It will also mean a lower standard of living, as well as more deficits and burdensome debt. And this will happen for sure and indefinitely, and at least until the fit finally hits the shan financially and a deep and lengthy recession, high inflation or even worse results.

Big spending Keynesianisn is now and has been the rallying cry of the "progressives" for many decades. But when the views of John Maynard Keynes first came to the forefront in the Depression era of the 1930s, the world wasn't already awash in debt. That came later and largely as a result of all the Keynesian attempts to "stimulate" economic growth and promote "fairness" throughout Europe and the U.S. over the subsequent decades.

Now we have what we have and we are where we are. Awash in debt and deficits and with heavy government intervention in our economies. But Keynesianism hasn't worked. It's only brought the world bigger and more intrusive governments, and low growth, high unemployment Plato-like societies and economies.

As in the case of the boiled frog, too many of us are smiling now as the government acts to "help" us.

Here's my takeaway lesson.

More government will only mean a weaker society. And a weaker society can't possibly result in a fairer society. American progressivism as it exists today is a ruinous, lost and hopeless cause.

This wasn't intended to be an ideological argument or political statement of any kind. I believe strongly that it's grounded on fact based historical evidence. So I wanted to share it with you.

At least that's my personal "believing is seeing" view of the world.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Thanks. Bob.

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