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07.01.2008 0

Is Liberty Only Learned Through Experience?

  • On: 07/20/2008 16:55:39
  • In: Monetary Policy
  • “Almost all voters in 1992 and a large majority in 2000 had vivid memories of the 1970s, when we had both economic stagnation and double-digit inflation — stagflation — and thanks to government price controls, motorists had to wait an hour in line to fill up their gas tanks. Those experiences put the advocates of bigger government on the defensive… This year, half the voters are too young to have been behind the wheel in a gas line or to have been paying rapidly rising monthly bills with a paycheck eroded by inflation. They have lived all their adult lives — all their lives, in the case of the millennial generation, born since 1980 — in an era when we have had low-inflation economic growth 95 percent of the time.” – Michael Barone, “Uncle Sam Pays? Sure – Whatever.” April 12th, 2008.

    Does it really take a tyranny to remind the people of their liberty?

    Some conservatives apparently think so, promising to sit out the presidential election this year so that the Democrat nominee will win, which would – in theory – remind voters of how bad Big Government really is.

    As risky as such a strategy may appear to supporters of limited government, there is truth to the notion that the more free people are interfered with by government, the more they will oppose government. However, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    ALG would question the notion that the American people need to suffer the irrational policies of the Left once more – and endure the misfortune which those policies bring – in order to prove that Big Government does nothing but cause Big Problems. What about reading history?

    As it stands today, with the nation facing troubling economic times, there are two strains of conventional wisdom – both of which cannot be true – that the culprit of the impending recession is: 1) too much government intervention; and 2) not enough government intervention. For the voter born since 1980, both arguments may appear quite theoretical in nature.

    As Michael Barone notes in the above quote, the millennial generation of voters (born since 1980), have lived under good economic times for most of their lives, and do not have the experience of having lived through the Big Government policies which provoked stagflation in the 1970’s.

    How will they determine which wisdom is true? Barone offers some insight:

    “In their recent book Millennial Makeover, Morley Winograd and Michael Haides write that these Millennials have high trust in the federal government. Have Uncle Sam pay for health care? Yeah, man, that would be, like, pretty cool.

    “But they also say that Millennials favor systems that give them lots of choices. They want to mouse-click on the option they prefer. This, of course, is in conflict or at least tension with systems in which government makes choices for you. If young voters’ positive disposition to government programs gives Democrats an opening, their preference for choices gives Republicans one, too.”

    In other words, there is an opportunity this year for conservatives and free market advocates to education the electorate on why Big Government “solutions” rob individuals of choices, undermine economic prosperity, and tend to be the cause of the very problems which our Benevolent Benefactors seek to solve.

    The American people do not need to actually live through another government-induced economic downturn (though we may already be in one) in order to embrace free market solutions. At this critical moment, the people – and a whole new generation of voters – need to be educated by a free market critique of Big Government. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error.”

    We do not need another tyranny to justify our liberty; we only need a dose of history.

    ALG CTA:
    We encourage you to tell your audiences to contact their National, State, and local elected officials in government to tell them that they have had enough of government interventions into the economy, that they want more choices, and that they want somebody to stand up for free markets.

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