Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label Economic Liberty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Economic Liberty. Show all posts

Thursday, January 13, 2011

200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

Hans Rosling's famous lectures combine enormous quantities of public data with a sport's commentator's style to reveal the story of the world's past, present and future development. Now he explores stats in a way he has never done before - using augmented reality animation. In this spectacular section of 'The Joy of Stats' he tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers - in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Walter Williams on 'Future Prospects for Economic Liberty'

WALTER WILLIAMS is the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University. He holds a B.A. from California State University at Los Angeles and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in economics from UCLA. He has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a Hoover Institution National Fellowship and the Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation George Washington Medal of Honor. A nationally syndicated columnist, his articles and essays have appeared in publications such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, National Review, Reader’s Digest, Policy Review and Newsweek. Dr. Williams has authored six books, including The State Against Blacks (later made into a PBS documentary entitled Good Intentions) and Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism.

The following is adapted from a lecture delivered on August 2, 2009, during a Hillsdale College cruise from Venice to Athens aboard the Crystal Serenity.

Future Prospects for Economic Liberty

One of the justifications for the massive growth of government in the 20th and now the 21st centuries, far beyond the narrow limits envisioned by the founders of our nation, is the need to promote what the government defines as fair and just. But this begs the prior and more fundamental question: What is the legitimate role of government in a free society? To understand how America’s Founders answered this question, we have only to look at the rule book they gave us—the Constitution. Most of what they understood as legitimate powers of the federal government are enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. Congress is authorized there to do 21 things, and as much as three-quarters of what Congress taxes us and spends our money for today is nowhere to be found on that list. To cite just a few examples, there is no constitutional authority for Congress to subsidize farms, bail out banks, or manage car companies. In this sense, I think we can safely say that America has departed from the constitutional principle of limited government that made us great and prosperous.

On the other side of the coin from limited government is individual liberty. The Founders understood private property as the bulwark of freedom for all Americans, rich and poor alike. But following a series of successful attacks on private property and free enterprise—beginning in the early 20th century and picking up steam during the New Deal, the Great Society, and then again recently—the government designed by our Founders and outlined in the Constitution has all but disappeared. Thomas Jefferson anticipated this when he said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Do Americans Still Believe Freedom Leads to Prosperity?

From The Hill
By Dr. Barry Asmus

One of the greatest displays of American military and economic might took place during the tsunami relief efforts of 2004, when close to 230,000 people died. When all seemed most bleak, American rescue operations were there. Within hours of the disaster, a giant city rolled upon the shores of Indonesia, in the form of one of America’s 24 aircraft carriers (the world has only 34). The ship’s nuclear power generators fueled the water purification efforts, bringing life and hope to millions of Indonesians. The confluence of American technology, manpower and execution symbolized the last century of American dominance on the world stage. Billions of dollars poured out of the hearts of Americans, giving more to the relief effort than the next five countries combined. The whole world watched. America’s capability to organize such a massive relief effort would not have been possible but for its economic system. The modern ideals of private property, free markets and low taxes found unprecedented success in America over the last two hundred years. Beginning with free trade between the states, low taxes, and a nearly hereditary aversion to government meddling – America prospered. The United States, with less than 5% of the world’s population, created almost 1/3 of the world’s wealth for every year over the last century.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

John O'Sullivan on Margaret Thatcher: A Legacy of Freedom

John O'Sullivan, executive editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has served as a senior editor at the London Times and the Daily Telegraph and as a special advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He has also been editor-in-chief of the United Press International, editor of The National Interest and National Review, and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. His most recent book is The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World.

The following is adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on May 9, 2008, at the dedication of the third statue on the College's Liberty Walk and the first statue of Margaret Thatcher to be erected in the United States.

IT is a great pleasure to be back at Hillsdale. It is some 32 years since I first visited the College for a meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society. Those few days were an important education in American politics for me. The conference was attended by many people who had just returned from the Republican Convention at which President Ford had narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan. They were full of enthusiasm for Reagan and full of conviction that one day he would become president. Their enthusiasm—and their passion too for sound doctrine—swept me along. I think I became a firm Reaganite at that conference here in Hillsdale. And I have never had cause to regret my conversion.

I was already “a Thatcherite of the first hour,” to use Gaullist terminology. Indeed, along with Ralph Harris, Arthur Seldon, Keith Joseph, and such distinguished alumni of that Hillsdale meeting as Madsen Pirie and Stuart Butler, who went on to found the Adam Smith Institute in London in the late 1970s—well, we all have a good claim to have been Thatcherites even before Lady Thatcher. Most of the intellectual groundwork for what became Thatcherism was done in places like the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Adam Smith Institute, the Center for Policy Studies, the Mont Pelerin Society—and Hillsdale College.

But I have to add some words from Lady herself when someone made the same claim in her presence: “The cock may crow, but it's the hen that lays the eggs.” We couldn’t have implemented those ideas of freedom without her courage, leadership, stamina, and commitment to those same ideas. So it is fitting that Hillsdale College should be erecting a statue to Lady Thatcher—you were allied with her in the same cause of freedom long before she became a personal friend of the college.

I congratulate the sculptor, Bruce Wolfe, on his magnificent achievement. Not only is it a superb likeness of Lady Thatcher at the apogee of her political authority, but it also captures the extraordinary energy that she always projected—even when, as here, seated in a comfortable armchair. I will be especially nervous delivering these remarks today, feeling that Herself is seated just behind me and likely to catch me out in some error.

It is, finally, a great pleasure to be here under the gavel, so to speak, of your President Larry Arnn. I first met Larry at the dinner table in London of the late Peter Utley, a great conservative journalist, who was another Thatcherite of the first hour. While I was learning Reaganism in Hillsdale, Larry was learning Thatcherism in London, in both cases from the best possible teachers. In the end, of course, Reaganism and Thatcherism are the same Anglo-American conservative philosophy of ordered liberty applied in somewhat different national circumstances.

That is why Thatcher and Reagan were such a natural and successful partnership. They did not always look like a natural partnership, however. One acute and well-placed observer, Sir Percy Cradock, who served as Lady Thatcher’s foreign policy advisor in Downing Street, pointed to some very sharp differences between them in the following contrast: “the bossy intrusive Englishwoman, lecturing and hectoring, hyperactive, obsessively concerned with detail” and “the lazy, sunny Irish ex-actor, his mind operating mainly in the instinctive mode, happy to delegate and over-delegate, hazy about most of his briefs, but with certain stubbornly held principles, a natural warmth, and an extraordinary ability to communicate with his constituents.”

That sounds like criticism. And recent Reagan scholarship suggests that the president was somewhat less lazy and delegation-happy than he liked people to think. But in fact, Sir Percy was an admirer of the partnership as well as one of its close advisors. As he went on to say, these different personalities complemented each other very well. They were not oil and water, but oil and vinegar—no prizes for guessing who was which—and not entirely by accident. Both were determined to make the partnership work. Both shared the same essential philosophy. And both were prepared to back each other up in public even when they differed in private—almost all of the time, at any rate.

Winning the Cold War

Now I shall not devote this speech entirely to the Cold War partnership of Thatcher and Reagan. You know most of that story from the American end. Besides, its essence can be summed up in Lady Thatcher’s own tribute to the President: “Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot.” But she added a little coda too: “Not without a little help from his friends.”

That summarizes the truth very crisply. Reagan’s friends in this cause included Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa, Helmut Kohl, Vaclav Havel, Italy’s Francesco Cossiga, arguably Mikhail Gorbachev (who has ever since referred to “my friend Ron”), and the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. All those friends were important and all played crucial roles in restoring freedom to the “captive nations.” But Margaret Thatcher was the most consistent, the most outspoken, the most determined, and the most reliable friend to Reagan and the United States in this final climactic struggle with totalitarian communism.

She matched Reagan’s military build-up with a strengthening of Britain’s defense forces.

She was the strongest voice in Western Europe protesting against the Soviet-ordered imposition of martial law against Solidarity in Poland.

She fought a war to evict the Argentineans from the Falklands—a war that not only showed the fighting spirit of the British forces but also compelled the Soviets to accept that the West would fight to defend itself.

She supplied Blowpipe missiles to the Afghan resistance that gave Reagan the incentive and justification to insist that American intelligence agencies should supply them with the more effective Stinger missiles.

She prevented—it was almost her last political act of importance—she prevented the European Union from accepting the legitimacy of the Soviet incorporation of the Baltic countries inside its multi-national Gulag.

Above all, she rallied the Europeans to ensure the installation of U.S. missiles in Western Europe to match the Soviet planting of SS-20s in the Soviet satellites.

Let me give one example of the many times she acted to stiffen the spines of Western European governments either weakened by the leftward drift of their social democratic parties or frightened by the massive anti-installation rallies of the so-called “peace movement.” West Germany’s Helmut Schmidt—another friend of America’s and a strong anti-communist—was losing the battle to keep his left-leaning SDP from opposing the installation of U.S. missiles. He asked Thatcher if she would take some of the missiles that West Germany had originally accepted in addition to those taken by Britain. She agreed to do so. Both Schmidt and the installation policy were able to survive for another day. In the end, such strong leadership ensured that the missiles were installed across Western Europe in 1984—Germany fully included after Helmut Kohl replaced Schmidt.

This was a decisive defeat for the Soviet Union in the Cold War. They lost their long-cherished hope of being able to employ nuclear blackmail against NATO and to split the Atlantic alliance. They walked out of the Geneva arms control negotiations in protest. But they had to walk back in a little later, and later still in the Geneva, Reykjavik, and Washington summits, they had to swallow disarmament treaties that essentially demolished their military threat to Western Europe. The collapse of communism occurred only a few years later.

Today we forget how quickly the Reagan-Thatcher partnership vanquished communism. Thatcher took office in May 1979 and Reagan in January 1981. They had won power precisely because the voters of the West were worried about the breakdown of their societies and the remorseless advance of the Soviets and their allies—in Southeast Asia, in southern Africa, in Afghanistan, in Central America. Yet by 1982-83 they had stabilized their own societies and begun the military and economic challenge to the Soviets in earnest. In 1982, a senior Politburo official wrote in his diary that the Soviets faced an ideological and economic offensive that they had no idea how to counter. If things continued as they were going, he wrote, there would be what he called “a Polish Russia” in ten years—i.e., the same implosion of communism inside the Soviet Union that had occurred inside Poland.

Neither Thatcher nor Reagan realized that the Soviet system would collapse as quickly as it did. What they did realize, however, was that it was a dying system.

As the Prime Minister was being driven to the London airport on her way to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov’s funeral, Robin Butler, the most senior civil servant in attendance, noticed that she was wearing high-heeled court shoes. Would she be attending the funeral, he asked, in those shoes? Yes? In that case he insisted on diverting the car to a shoe shop where she could buy a pair of fleecy fur-lined boots—the only footwear suitable to a Politburo funeral that would involve standing for hours in a sub-freezing Red Square.

Having bought the boots, Thatcher complained to Butler about their exorbitant price all the way to Moscow.

The next day was as Butler had predicted. Thatcher had to stand for hours in the cold. After the burial, she paid a brief courtesy call to drink a glass of champagne and to shake hands with Andropov’s successor, Konstantin Chernenko, at the Kremlin wake. She then returned to her limousine for the drive back to Moscow airport. No sooner had she settled onto the limo’s cushions than she apologized generously to Butler.

“Robin, I should never have made such a fuss about the price of those boots,” she said. “When I saw Chernenko in the receiving line, I realized at once that they were a sensible investment.”

It was a dying system—but it might have taken forever to die of its own accord. Its death was an assisted suicide. Without Reagan and Thatcher standing by the bedside, quietly turning off the feeding tubes, the Soviet empire might have survived another few decades, with huge costs in ruined and oppressed lives and needless arms spending. That it ended within a decade of their elections—and that it ended, unlike most empires, peacefully and without vast bloodshed—is due in large part to Lady Thatcher’s combination of strategic firmness and diplomatic flexibility.

Restoring the Vigorous Virtues

Owen Harries, the distinguished Australian editor of the National Interest magazine, once remarked to me that Thatcher would probably be regarded by history as more important than Reagan when it came to economic reform. That seems a shrewd judgment to me. And I would hazard the following reasons for it.

First, the recovery of the British economy in the 1980s was more impressive than America’s revival because it started from a lower economic point and occurred in a more left-wing country. Jimmy Carter might have been moderately efficient at ruining an economy, but he was no match for 50 years of socialism and Labour government.

Second, Thatcher had harder opposition to overcome. Her labor market deregulation had to run the gauntlet not only of Labour MPs, but also of timid Tories.

Third, even after passing into law, her labor and economic policies had to survive major non-parliamentary challenges from the labor unions, notably the 1984-85 miners strike. This was a hard-fought battle, but it was also a victory for Thatcher as important in domestic politics as the Falklands War was in foreign policy. It removed the last lingering, nervous fear of both the voters and the markets that labor unions could render Britain ungovernable and the elected government impotent. And it weakened the extreme left everywhere, including in the Labour Party, by demonstrating that its trump cards amounted to a busted flush. Though Labour took some years to realize the fact, Thatcher’s victory entrenched her economic and labor reforms as the new consensus of British politics.

Once that happened, as Harries pointed out, the British economy began its long boom, combining economic growth with price stability. Loss-making industries were closed down or reduced in size. Manufacturing industries shed labor, often while increasing output, as they restructured to meet foreign competition. New companies or entrepreneurs from academic and non-industrial backgrounds established new industries in the financial services, information, and high-tech sectors. Privatization transformed inefficient state-owned industries into dynamic private sector enterprises. New financial instruments allowed entrepreneurs to take over sluggish low-earning companies and put their assets to more profitable uses.

In general, Thatcher’s British economy, like Reagan’s revived U.S. economy, was characterized by change, profitability, growth, the better allocation of resources (including labor), and the emergence of new industries—indeed of an entirely new economy—based on the information revolution.

Allied with these reforms was the spread of capital ownership. Thatcher had drawn the battle lines with Labour in a 1987 election speech: “Labour believes in turning workers against owners; we believe in turning workers into owners.” Two-thirds of Britain’s state-owned industries were sold to the private sector, resulting in more efficient industries and wider capital ownership. Between 1979 and 1989, the proportion of the British public owning shares rose from seven percent to fully one-quarter. And more than a million people bought their own homes from often reluctant local authorities.

There was a social side to this economic liberalization too. And this was more significant in Britain than in the U.S., which has long had a strong enterprise culture under governments of both parties. Here is Thatcher’s Finance Minister, Nigel Lawson, pointing out some of the signs of a growing enterprise culture in Britain:

For many years there was an average increase of 500 new firms per week—after deducting closures. There was a rise from little more than one million to over three million in the number of self-employed. The UK venture capitalist industry, which scarcely existed when we first took office, had by 1985 become twice as large as its counterparts in the rest of the European Community taken together.

I would underpin this with an example from my own life. When I graduated in 1964, there was not a single member of my graduating class who intended to start his own business. They all wanted to become trainee managers at large corporations such as Imperial Chemical Industries and Metal Box. Twenty years later, at the height of the Thatcher revolution, half the science graduates of Cambridge intended to start a software company and half of the graduates of the Royal College of Arts became famous fashion designers within weeks of putting out their shingles.

All these changes were a revival of what Shirley Robin Letwin, the distinguished Anglo-American political theorist, called the “vigorous virtues” in her important study of Thatcherism. These are such qualities as self-reliance, diligence, thrift, trustworthiness, and initiative that enable someone who exhibits them to live and work independently in society. Though they are not the only virtues—compassion might be called one of the “softer virtues”—they are essential to the success of a free economy and a civil society, both of which rely on dispersed initiative and self-reliant citizens.

That transformation did not stop at the Atlantic’s edge. Thatcher (and Reagan) also changed the world economy by virtue of the demonstration effects of Reaganism and Thatcherism. They had provided the world with successful models of free and deregulated economies.

These demonstration effects were similar but not identical. Tax cuts were America’s principal intellectual export; privatization was Britain’s.

Of the two, privatization was the more important globally, since the Third World and post-communist economies were encumbered with a vast number of inefficient state industries. Privatization expertise became one of the City of London’s most profitable services over the next two decades. Even the Soviets and Western European communists were forced to change course by the widespread adoption of privatization internationally—and also by the equally widespread acceptance of the market logic behind it.

In the Politburo archives I found this unwitting tribute to Lady Thatcher in a 1986 conversation between Gorbachev and Alexander Natta, the General Secretary of the Italian Communist party:

Natta: At the same time we, the communists, having either overestimated or underestimated the functions of the “welfare state,” kept defending situations which, as it became clear only now, we should not have defended. As a result, a bureaucratic apparatus, which serves itself, has swelled. It is interesting that a certain similarity with your situation, which you call stagnation, can be seen here.

Gorbachev: “Parkinson’s law” works everywhere. . . .

Natta: Any bureaucratization encourages the apparatus to protect its own interests and to forget about the citizens’ interests. I suppose that is exactly why the Right’s demands of re-privatisation are falling on a fertile ground in Western public opinion.

Once the command economies of the Soviet Bloc collapsed in 1989, revealing the extraordinary bankruptcy of state planning, it was the Thatcher model that the new democracies mainly sought to emulate.

Lady Thatcher became a hero to these new societies. But when she visited them, her message was political as much as economic: It was that they should treat the rule of law as being vital to both democracy and market freedom. Her message was one of ordered liberty.

That is a battle she believes has yet to be won—and in some cases even fought—by the conservative side.

Reviving Ordered Liberty

When Lady Thatcher revived the British economy, she was reviving profound social virtues that the British had once exemplified to the world—the Thatcherite “vigorous virtues” described above. In 1979, they seemed utterly destroyed by 50 years of statism and socialism. In fact, they had merely been driven underground by government over-regulation and intervention.

As James C. Bennett has observed, it took only a few years of Lady Thatcher’s application of free market solutions for these virtues to become vigorous again. Once that happened, it took only a few more years for those revived virtues to transform Britain from the sick man of Europe into the world’s fourth largest economy.

Deep social patterns can rarely be extirpated altogether. Cultural transformations of nations and societies imposed by governments nearly always fail in the long run. The old ways only look dead; in reality, they are merely dormant. They are the resources of our civilization and they can be revived to meet new challenges.

If Lady Thatcher demonstrated that truth in matters economic, she believes today that the resources of the Anglo-American political tradition of ordered liberty are not exhausted either. She believes that the virtues of that tradition—dispersed authority, open debate, popular sovereignty, spontaneous social evolution—are not dead, merely dormant. Indeed, they are flourishing in those new democracies, such as Estonia and Poland, where they have been introduced since 1989 (and where economic success is far more obvious than in countries that have clung to more centralized models). They are flourishing too in the English-speaking world outside Britain—notably in the U.S., Australia, and a reforming India. And they offer the best hope for Third World countries emerging from poverty and backwardness into a world of globalized opportunities.

Ironically, however, these virtues are threatened in Britain by growing statist regulation under New Labour; by the nation’s absorption into a European political structure built upon a very different tradition of constructivist rationalism; and by the failure of many conservatives to see the dangers in a European and global governance that lacks democratic accountability and threatens liberal freedoms.

Lady Thatcher could well afford to ignore these threats and spend her declining years in pleasant social activities. She has earned her rest. And sometimes her friends manage to compel her to enjoy herself. Yet she doesn’t really enjoy enjoying herself. And until her doctors finally put their collective foot down, she devoted much of her retirement to writing books, such as Statecraft, that apply the lessons of ordered liberty to the new circumstances of a globalized world.

Her new message is a kind of international Thatcherism. She believes ordered liberty to be a better system than constructivist rationalism for nations as well as for individuals. She believes in international cooperation between sovereign nation-states rather than global governance by transnational institutions. In particular, while urging a warm relationship with continental Europe, she proposes that Britain should regain and exercise its sovereign independence in a wider commonwealth of English-speaking peoples.

These are controversial views. But they may also be prophetic. The British people adapted with surprising speed and success to the restoration of their economic liberties in the 1980s. Today they are plainly uncomfortable in the bureaucratic structures of a Europe constructed upon an alien political tradition. Freed from these stifling political constraints, they might flourish independently yet again.

Of course, Lady Thatcher does not expect this will happen in her lifetime. But she didn’t believe she would live to see the end of the Soviet empire either. And the lesson of her whole life is: If you don’t try, you won’t succeed; but if you do try, you cannot imagine how successful you might be.

A bringer of hope and a messenger of freedom, Margaret Thatcher would be at home at Hillsdale College as much as her statue will undoubtedly be.

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Path To Restoring Our American Government to the People

By John Hanson

The power of Congress to tax our income has had far reaching effects. They have used it to gradually erode many of our rights under the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments. Changing the tax code has already affected our rights to practice our own religion, to assemble, and to privacy just to mention a few. Imagine the effect a change in the tax code could have on gun ownership if they (our ever more liberal Congress) decided to give a large tax credit for those who turn in guns and ammo to the government. And it won't cost the treasury a dime. As usual with tax credits, the taxpayers who don't receive the credit will cover the cost of giving out the credit. As usual they will avoid public scrutiny and objection by attaching the code change as they do with earmarks to some Bill with a completely different focus!

Did anyone notice that when the original 4 page “Bailout” bill was expanded to 400 pages to win congressional support 100 tax code changes were slipped in? Congress could avoid NRA pressure against making gun ownership illegal and still get their intended result, a great reduction in American gun owners. Why would Congress want to disarm it's citizenry? Our founding fathers wanted us to be armed. For Congress it is all a matter of control. For us it is a matter of liberty, the freedom to govern ourselves and not be ruled by them.

At Zap The IRS we work to promote passage of the FairTax bill not just for our economic survival but for our inalienable right to liberty. Passage of the FairTax as written will strip Congress of the power to own and control our other words, OUR LIFE.

I admire my fellow Americans who are working hard for so many different causes. There are advocacy groups all over the internet. They seek changes from Congress regarding immigration, abortion, gun ownership, marriage, energy, the environment, and on and on and on. Working to pass new legislation regarding these issues will amount to a monumental waste of time if Congress is not stripped of its power to control our earnings. Consider this quote made in the early 19th century:
"Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws." -Amschel Mayer Rothschild (1773-1855)
All the advocacy groups out there are composed of Americans of every political stripe and persuasion. They all have different views on the same issues. They propose and advocate different solutions for the same problems. This is very American! Always has been. There is truly only one issue they can all unite to promote to give any meaning to whatever laws they may succeed to get passed. That issue is the FairTax. What all the Americans out there have in common is that they are tax payers who need to take back control of their liberty and money from the government and restore it to being a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our laws will become meaningless if we are ruled by the government rather than served by the government.

Join the 2nd American Revolution at

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Freedom Imperilled

From The New Criterion

On Democratic Despotism

“It is seldom,” David Hume wrote, “that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.” That admonitory sentence furnishes one of the epigraphs for Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, first published in 1943. How is freedom faring in the United States today? Peter Robinson, a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, provided a melancholy prĂ©cis in “The Loss of Individual Liberty,” a column that appeared in Forbes last month. Mr. Robinson recalled a dinner he shared with Milton Friedman several years ago. He complimented the venerable economist on his role in transforming the intellectual landscape, especially in fostering widespread appreciation of the inextricable connection between free markets and individual liberty. Friedman refused the compliment. “We may have won the intellectual battle,” he said, “but in practical politics, it’s difficult to see that we’ve had any effect at all.” Even a few years ago, it would have been easy to react as did Mr. Robinson at the time: to think that Friedman was responding with false modesty. After all, had not the power of the free market been demonstrated beyond cavil in America’s triumph over the Soviet Union, its unparalleled prosperity, its culture of political freedom?

That, as Mr. Robinson puts it, was then. Now, today, we have witnessed an expansion of government into every corner of economic and social life that has been as sudden as it has been extraordinary. Having just lived through a presidential election in which the winning candidate cheerfully admitted that his goal was “to spread the wealth around,” we might think Mr. Robinson, a well-known conservative, was making a partisan point. He wasn’t. Over the last several years, he observes, we have witnessed, under a Republican administration, a prescription drug program that “represents the biggest expansion of the welfare state since the Great Society.” At the same time, Congress sharply increased domestic spending and passed “the biggest farm bill in history, a massive transfer of resources to the 2 percent of the population still engaged in agriculture.”

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