14 Apr 2010

America: Land of the “Mostly Free”

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Last week, the Heritage Foundation issued its annual Index of Economic Freedom. The United States’ ranking fell dramatically from 80.7 in 2009 to 78 in 2010, for the first time declining out of the free category into the “mostly free.”

Bruce Bartlett, in Forbes, says what liberals say: We’re so much wealthier today that we can afford to pay our taxes and the costs of regulations.

Stephen M. Bainbridge responds with some indignation, rightly characterizing Bartlett’s argument as proposing “trading our birthright of freedom for an iPad.”

[I]f I get the gist of this column correctly, he’s arguing that I should be happy about bigger government and higher taxes because I get to buy an iPad . …

I’m happy to acknowledge that the free market economy has produced profound blessings. But I’m not willing to swap my birthright of economic freedom for a “PDA” (how technologically quaint). Nor am I willing to stand by without protest while ever larger chunks of the American economy are turned over to the Obamabots–the very definition of “Social Engineers, who seek to adjust mankind to conform with scientific utopias.” After all, if we rely today on government to provide us with bread and circuses, what will we rely on government to provide tomorrow?

At bottom, my problem with Bartlett’s argument that we can afford higher taxes and greater regulation is that regulation and taxation are like the story about how to boil a frog. If a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

In the United States today, the thermostat is still set pretty low. The Heritage Foundation has warned us, however, that the Obamabots have turned up the heat a tad. It is the proper function of conservatives to resist and to seek to turn down the heat.


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