Better-Off: Dividends of Freedom

As I listened to my new friend, I experienced mixed emotions. He made me angry. By the time he finished, I was sad. I had to admit to myself that I, too, have observed a lot of Americans with screwed up psyches. Many of our kids and grandkids don’t have the slightest notion why America has had it so good. Many within our present generations have come to the conclusion that for some unknown twist of fate we are Americans, and we simply are entitled to more and better.

But, neither my new Swiss friend, nor the scads of present Americans have cared enough to go back into recent history to discover why it is that America is even yet reaping the benefits of the 1776 economic, cultural, and spiritual experiment. That phenomenon has been observed by the rest of the world, but not always understood with accuracy and wisdom. It seems to be easier for the outside observers to lust after and covet the things that America enjoys than to discover and pursue the advantages of constitutional democracy and the free enterprise system

Of course, the other thing that made me sad was the necessity for me to admit that America has lost, and continues to lose, the distinctive advantage we once enjoyed. Every time we lose our precious freedom to choose through additional government regulations, we commensurately lose our dividends of freedom. Whenever we experience exorbitant taxation that stymies our inherited incentive to create and produce, we lose our dividends of freedom. Every time a government entity takes away our right to enjoy and utilize our rights to our own real and personal property, we lose our dividends of freedom. Whenever we are denied access to prudent and just courts and laws, we lose our dividends of freedom. And every time we experience the ripping out of the roots of our religious and spiritual heritage, and are denied more and more of our rightfully inherited culture,we lose more of our dividends of freedom.

There is no guarantee that in the future America will always experience the advantages set into motion by the improbable experiment of 1776. There are many individuals in this world who would like to see the total American experiment neutralized. It is always more tempting to pull the successful down to a level where it can be highjacked than it is to pay the price required to create one’s own system of success.

The power, however, that existed and was made available in 1215 at Runnymede, England, when King John signed the Magna Carta, and the creativity and burning passion that saw the signing of the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence of 1776 in America, is still a glorious possibility. The determination by history’s handful to be faithful to the God-given principles of goodness, and to be guided by the economics of the interior, is still an option today. The experiment is not dead, and the benefits have not forever dwindled. There is the glorious possibility that the improbable experiment will continue, and we will all continue to be Better-Off.

Next Week: Unintended Consequences

(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson   

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