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Charles Koch: Why We Fight for Economic Freedom
In nations with the greatest degree of economic freedom, citizens are much better off in every way, writes Charles Koch in an op-ed published on Newsmax. One of America’s most successful businessmen, Koch serves as the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries. A strong critic of President Obama’s policies, Koch warns of the insidious, unchecked growth of U.S. government today. “When everyone gets something for nothing, soon no one will have anything,” Koch writes, “because no one will be producing anything.”
In 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, I attended an economic conference in Moscow.
Like my father during his visits to the U.S.S.R. in the early 1930s, I was astonished and appalled by what I saw.
Simple necessities, such as toilet paper, were in short supply. In fact, there was none at all in the airport bathroom stalls for fear it would be stolen. Visitors using the facilities had to request a portion of tissue from an attendant beforehand.
When I walked into one of Moscow’s giant department stores, there was next to nothing on the shelves. For those shoppers who were lucky enough to find something they actually wanted to buy, the purchase process was maddening and time-consuming.
Although the government provided universal healthcare, I never met anyone who wanted to stay in a Soviet hospital. Medical services might have been “free,” but the quality of care was notoriously poor.
My experiences in the Soviet Union underscore why economic freedom is so important for all of us.
Nations with the greatest degree of economic freedom tend to have citizens who are much better off in every way.
No centralized government, no matter how big, how smart or how powerful, can effectively and efficiently control much of society in a beneficial way. On the contrary, big governments are inherently inefficient and harmful.
And yet, the tendency of our own government here in the U.S. has been to grow bigger and bigger, controlling more and more. This is why America keeps dropping in the annual ranking of economic freedom.
Citizens who over-rely on their government to do everything not only become dependent on their government, they end up having to do whatever the government demands. In the meantime, their initiative and self-respect are destroyed.
It was President Franklin Roosevelt who said: “Continued dependence on [government support] induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.”
Businesses can become dependents, too. If your struggling car company wants a government bailout, you’ll probably have to build the government’s car – even if it’s a car very few people want to buy.
Repeatedly asking for government help undermines the foundations of society by destroying initiative and responsibility. It is also a fatal blow to efficiency and corrupts the political process.
When everyone gets something for nothing, soon no one will have anything, because no one will be producing anything.
Under the Soviet system, special traffic lanes were set aside for the sole use of officials in their limousines. This worsened driving conditions for everyone else, but those receiving favored treatment didn’t care.
Today, many governments give special treatment to a favored few businesses that eagerly accept those favors. This is the essence of cronyism.
Read the rest of this piece on Newsmax.com: Charles Koch: Why We Fight for Economic Freedom
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