Monday, April 20, 2009

Ronald Reagan and Economic Freedom

One of my biggest frustrations is the reckless abandonment by politicians when it comes to articulating the importance of economic freedom. In fact, I haven't heard a Presidential candidate build a message on this theme since Ronald Reagan and I believe that Gov. Sarah Palin may be the first national candidate to do such in her Vice Presidential bid.

On the eve of the Fourth of July, 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivered an address entitled "America's Economic Bill of Rights." This was an important time for our Republic, because in addition to celebrating the birthday of the Declaration of Independence at this time, we were also celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the United States Constitution on that year. I cannot think of a better time or make such an address.

Reagan stated right from the beginning what he believed about the Founding Fathers view of economics and noted that the American Revolution had a central theme against "No taxation without representation" and that they "knew that the right to earn your own keep and keep what you earn is central to America’s understanding of what it means to be free. This country was built by people seeking to support themselves and their families by their own labor, people who treasured the right to work and dispose of their earnings as they saw fit, people who were willing to take economic risks." In making his case, Reagan focused on "four fundamental freedoms" and he bolstered these with several guiding principles.
Those four freedoms are, according to Reagan:
The freedom to work.
The freedom to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.
The freedom to own and control one’s property.

The freedom to participate in a free market.

These four principles were fundamental in the building of this country and they have been under attack before Reagan went into office and are all the more so today.
In order to secure these rights, Reagan advocated ten different initiatives to reach these objectives that included:

  • "Reduce subsidized government competition with private citizens." Whenever government could use private companies to do government functions, it should, in order to foster real job creation and to reduce bureaucracy.

  • "The Freedom to Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor: You have the right to keep what you earn, free from excessive government taxing, spending, and borrowing." Now more than ever, this fundamental right is endangered.

  • "To protect you from overtaxing by the Government, I will propose as part of the balanced budget amendment submitted to Congress, a requirement for a super majority vote by Congress before your taxes can be raised." I think this was one of the most bold and creative initiatives ever proposed by a President. Unfortunately, it never became a reality. It is needed now more than ever.

  • "To protect your right to own and use your property, my administration will pursue our successful efforts in the courts to restore your constitutional rights when the government at any level attempts to take your property through regulation or other means." I don't think Reagan even fully realized how far the reach of government would go in this area. Today, malls are developed in the name of "imminent domain" and people are removed from their property because of birds and "wetlands."

Reagan went on to address welfare reform years before Clinton, the need to strengthen intellectual property rights, and more. The entire speech deserves to be read in its entirety. In our current times, all of our freedoms are endangered in a way we had not seen historically. In a time such as this, we need to be reminded that our economic freedoms matter.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on CNN 650 (M-F at 11 am), AOL Radio, and CBS Radio. Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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