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Crises and Opportunities


The following 7-minute speech was delivered to 240 people at a meeting of the Charleston Meeting, a prestigious monthly discussion club in Charleston, South Carolina. Other speakers were U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C), Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Congressman-elect Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Jim Capretta (American Enterprise Institute), Alex Nowrasteh (Cato Institute), Ken Abramowitz (New York financial planner), and Mark Mix (Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation). The talk was delivered extemporaneously and so what follows is not a verbatim transcript of the talk.

Thank you very much. It’s nice to be here with you to share ideas on liberty.

Everywhere you look, there’s a crisis. Social Security, healthcare, immigration, drug war, terrorism, Afghanistan. The list goes on and on.

What’s interesting about these crises is that they all have a common denominator: the federal government. Or to be more specific, the particular type of federal economic system in which we all have been born and raised, one that consists of a combination of socialism, interventionism, corporatism, and imperialism.

On the domestic side, the role of the federal government is to take care of people with welfare and regulation. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, aid to dictators, minimum wage laws, ADA regulations, drug laws, government-business partnerships, corporate and banking bailouts, and on and on.

On the foreign side, the role of the federal government is to be the maintainer of order and stability in the world, with invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, regime-change operations, coups, installation and support of dictatorships, torture, assassinations, and on and on.

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that our lives are filled with permanent, ongoing crises, for crises are inherent to those four isms.

So, the question is: What should we do with all these crises?

One answer is to continue doing what we have been doing for some 80 years—coming up with reforms to address the crises. But the problem with that approach is that, as we have learned over the decades, reform inevitably leads to more crises, giving us a never-ending cycle of crisis, reform, and crisis, reform.

So, I would like to share with you a different idea, one that takes this entire issue to a higher level, just for you to think about and reflect upon.

Here’s my idea: a total separation of economy and the state, just as our American ancestors separated church and state. This would mean that all economic activity, like all religious activity, would be totally free of government control, regulation, and taxation. A free-enterprise system.

People would be free to engage in any occupation without a license or a permit. Consumers would decide who stays in business and who doesn’t.

People would be free to enter into economic transactions with anyone in the world. If you want to travel to Cuba and spend money there, fine. The feds could no longer put you in jail upon your return to the United States. If you want to hire a Mexican, Guatemalan, Frenchman, or whomever, you would be free to do so. It’s your money and your business.

You would be free to keep everything you earn. No more income tax, IRS, tax deductions, and April 15.

You would also be free to do whatever you want with your own money. No more mandatory charity. Ditch Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, aid to dictators, along with minimum wage laws, economic regulations, government-business partnerships, and corporate and banking bailouts.

On the foreign side, bring all troops home from everywhere, and discharge them into the private sector, along with all welfare and regulatory bureaucrats. Dismantle all the welfare and regulatory agencies and departments.

What would this idea mean?

I submit that it would bring the greatest period of economic prosperity in the history of mankind, especially for the poor. That’s because you would now have all that massive amount of capital remaining in the private sector. It is capital and productivity that is key to rising standards of living, especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

I submit that it would also nurture such values as responsibility, self-reliance, and voluntary charity.

And I submit that all the federally induced crises under which we live our lives would disappear and that we would finally live lives of peace, harmony, prosperity, normality, and freedom.

With crises come both danger and opportunity. We see the danger signs. We see Greece and Cyprus. And yet we remained mired in statism and in endless, futile attempts to reform it.

Yet, we have a great opportunity—to bequeath to future generations an economic system based on economic liberty, much as our ancestors bequeathed to us a system of religious liberty. We have the opportunity to lead ourselves and the world to the highest reaches of economic freedom ever known to man.

Thank you.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.