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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee and on the Finance Ways and Means Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Buying Compliance

As we head into another legislative Session and Presidential election year, many are very concerned about our elected officials proposing evermore socialist policies and programs. Our nation seems to be split - some want to stop this advance, and clearly others want to progress with it.

The late, great economist Milton Friedman often reminded us that throughout history there have been oppressive governments that impose totalitarian socialism on the people – causing untold tyranny, servitude, and misery. As Americans, we reject such oppression.

Yet, many of the very same Americans who regard totalitarian socialism as something evil do not seem to see a problem with democratic socialism.

If it is agreed that socialism takes away our freedom, imposes heavy taxes, and creates heaps of inefficient government bureaucracy, why then is socialism any more palatable just because a legislator votes for it through the democratic process than if a dictator imposes it?

Is it really possible to take freedom away in a kinder gentler manner? As government programs become ever more elaborate and expensive just how much will it ultimately cost to buy the compliance of an entire state or a nation?

The genius of our founding fathers is unmatched in the history of civilization. They created a nation based on the blessings of liberty, personal responsibility and free enterprise. Never before had such freedom or prosperity been known.

Far from being anarchists, they formed our government to determine, arbitrate and enforce rules that protect our rights and punish those who would violate our freedom.

But today, there seems to be confusion over just what constitutes a "right." A constituent once asked me, “Do you think healthcare is a right?” “No, I don’t” was my reply and I went on to explain that if a so called “right” takes something from another person to provide that right to you it is not a right.

My right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness costs others nothing and yet I delight in each of those rights everyday. My right to freedom of speech, religion and my property costs others nothing as well. The government doesn’t provide those rights to me – they are mine, given to me by God. The government protects those rights for me...and for you.

Yet, if you say "I have a right to healthcare," you are expressing an expectation to get all the healthcare you want for free. However, if it is your right, why must others suffer to pay for it?

Socialized healthcare is not a right but a government program. All socialism, democratic or totalitarian, is born of a politician with a “Plan.” He typically thinks he knows better how to spend your money, and pretends to care more about your children than you do. All in a scheme to force your dollars out of your pocket into the government coffers for some program that will provide him power and make him immortal. However, the program is destined to be laced with coercion, power struggles, turf wars and pressure from special interests that are assured to grant you less and less power, and less of your own money for time immemorial. Before you know it, you’re pathetically begging some politician for something that you should decide on for yourself.

The carrot to take away your freedom? How do they buy your compliance? They promise you that "they and they alone" will give you something for “free” – in reality, they are offering to purchase your vote with your own money.

Our free enterprise system has produced great riches; therefore, it is tempting for politicians to come up with a “plan” to smooth over the bumps in life. However, the original plan for our nation is a plan that produces the most freedom and prosperity through the protection of our rights. Would taxes be so high if we stuck to the basic elements of:
  1. Providing protection for our citizens inside and outside of our national boundaries
  2. Effective laws and courts to preserve order and provide justice, interpret and enforce private contracts, pronounce punishment, grant restitution, foster competitive markets and counter monopolies
  3. Providing a strong monetary framework and banking system
  4. And protection of the truly helpless (generally the insane and children)

Experience shows us that government just doesn’t perform market activities as well as the free market. Socialism fosters rationing, poor quality, poor service, stunted innovation and undermines motivation. Politicians may have some very smooth words that tempt your better judgment and attempt to buy your compliance but truly their rhetoric will only bankrupt us all.

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