Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What works?

There are hundreds of "plans" in today's world on how to do everything from run a government to how to destroy one. Star Parker discusses one such "plan" in her Town Hall column today. There's only one problem with the majority of these plans: they don't focus on what works.

Most of these "plans" aren't geared to succeed, but to push someone's "brilliant" idea, and to put as much money into that individual's pocket as possible. Ninety percent of those ideas have been tried before, and failed. "This time it'll work" is a constant refrain. Yet when one actually digs into the plan, the same old trite programs are found, the same old worn statistics, the same old fallacies believed, the same old failed "incentives" recommended.

Two problems often overlooked spell doom for most "plans": they fail to take into consideration human nature, and they fail to take into consideration social and political realities.

Everyone in the "chattering class" assured President Bush that democracy was not feasible in the Middle East. Similar groups said the same thing about Japan, and Germany, and dozens of other countries. Today, Japan is one of the freest nations in Asia, with an again-booming economy after ten years of stagnation caused by political manipulations. Germany was an economic powerhouse before the government pushed the country into two huge holes: social programs became too large a portion of the budget, and there was a huge cutback in individual freedom that stifled initiative, destroyed motivation, and eroded the work ethic. Germany and most of central Europe are set to put themselves even further under the millstone of bureaucracy and destructive social policies by endorsing and accepting the EU "Constitution".

Everywhere you look in the world today, the nations that have a high standard of living, high standard of production, and a "satisfied" population are also nations that recognize a high standard of individual freedom and personal responsibility. When taxes get too high, productivity suffers. When taxes are reduced, there's more incentive for job growth, promotion, increasing production, and greater consumption. When restrictions become too large, new businesses don't start. Reduce the restrictions, cut the red tape, and the business community virtually explodes. When costs become excessive, more people enter poverty status. When government-imposed costs (taxes, restrictions, regulation) go down, more people's standard of living raises, and they move out of poverty. When welfare benefits outweigh incentives for working, more people go on welfare. When welfare benefits are cut, or where business opportunities exceed the benefits of welfare, the number of people on welfare drop. It doesn't matter where you look, these same actions produce the same results.

Prosperity, then, requires three things: individual freedom, limited government involvement in day-to-day activities, and personal opportunity. Government cannot create "opportunity" except in government. Government is not productive, only restrictive. The larger the government, the larger the cost and the greater restriction it places on individual capacity for growth.

The flood of illegals entering the United States is a response to limited opportunities in their own country. If their home nation were to increase opportunities by restricting government involvement in daily life, removing restrictions to business development, limiting taxes, and recognizing and protecting personal freedoms, fewer people would desire to leave. The flood isn't due so much on what the United States is doing as it is what their home nations AREN'T doing. Those governments are committing suicide by immigration: the best and brightest leave, and only those that are a part of the system, or who cannot leave or compete in their own nation, are left. Productivity enters a constantly tightening spiral as less and less local talent is available to do productive work, and the government burden to support those unable or unwilling to work increases.

There are only two remedies: to depend upon a valuable but finite resource, such as oil, to support the government, or to reform the government to offer opportunities to the average person. The second option requires a government that recognizes personal liberties, private property, opportunity for entrepreneurship, and the requirement to limit the burden of government. This is the only way to interrupt the destructive spiral, to spark internal development, and to create a sustainable population of productive individuals. All the utopian dreams, all the government-imposed plans, and all the failed social programs in the world won't do it. The only way to improve the plight of the local population is to grant them the freedom to do it themselves.


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