Throughout US history, the American people have forfeited more and more civil liberties as a result of personal ignorance, civic illiteracy, and an unfounded trust in political leadership. Originally formed as a government of limited powers, the federal government has increased its control of the United States economy. The temptation to harness the power of the central government to serve a particular political agenda and to satisfy the vision of the common good has proved irresistible. At the same time, the common good remains either ill served or served by methods that are inefficient and with costs that are disproportionate to the anticipated benefit.
Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the founding fathers, stated, “In our opposition to monarchy, we forgot that the temple of tyranny has two doors. We bolted one of them by proper restraints; but we left the other open, by neglecting to guard against the effects of our own ignorance and licentiousness.” Dr. Rush’s fear has come to fruition. Unsatisfied with a system that exists primarily to protect life, liberty and property, we now insist that government serve as an insurer of the material well-being of its citizens. We have moved away from the limited government that Thomas Jefferson envisioned, as captured in his first inaugural address, “A wise and frugal government . . . shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”
For decades the government has forced citizens to forfeit part of their earnings to social security – the largest ponzi scheme in US history – with liabilities that increase daily but no real assets to cover them. Any time something goes wrong in the market, we can trace the failure back to a government program that created false market signals and a misallocation of scarce resources. When we do experience a market correction, instead of allowing the free market to correct itself, we turn to the government for help. We, through our shortsightedness, have become dependent on the government to allocate resources. This dependency came to a head after the most recent financial crisis where entitlements shifted from the American people to American business. Corporate socialism has now been added to the growing list of constitutional and economic indiscretions.