Perspective: Spirit of Liberty
SEPTEMBER 01, 1986
Since the spectacular July 4th weekend celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, America has been enjoying a period of euphoria. With much flag waving we have rejoiced in the remarkable way people from all parts of the world have melded into a single nation. Race, color, or creed offer no serious barrier to becoming a successful scientist, business owner, shopkeeper, teacher, or entertainer.
The spirit of liberty, as epitomized in the Statue, has been responsible for this record of achievement. That spirit of liberty offers opportunity to any who dare to try, to struggle, and to work. However, the spirit of liberty can be snuffed out by well-meant attempts to protect the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses.”
Tax funds that finance “safety nets” can discourage the incentives of those who are less fortunate to improve their own situations. And the collection of taxes from those who must pay the costs hamper the efforts of those who could contribute the very most.
The market economy is remarkably resilient. In spite of the many obstacles that have been placed in the path of entrepreneurs over the years, they continue to show energy and initiative. And so long as freedom of entry into various occupations and businesses is not seriously restricted, so long as producers are not discouraged by high taxes and rigid regulations, newcomers will always be welcome for the contributions they can make. There is no limit to the number of new arrivals who can be accommodated in such a free market economy. However, if people come here because of the “welfare state,” because of government-financed “safety nets,” there is a limit to the number of people who can live within our borders. Production and living standards would then decline and newcomers would find themselves in constant conflict with those who came here before.
Disillusionment with some of our socialistic experiments has developed, and tentative attempts have been made to limit government, reduce taxes, deregulate, and privatize. If these attempts eventually do succeed, it will be a sign that perhaps the Statue of Liberty is not 100 years old, but 100 years young. Its torch will then continue to shine as a beacon of hope to persons throughout the world. It will tell them that here they can find, not security, but what is more important, liberty and freedom of opportunity.
If Men Could Fly
We tend to ask questions only about the unusual event. The everyday happening rarely excites our curiosity. We see a bird in flight and yawn. Were we to see a man flying unaided through the air we would immediately start an investigation.
This poses a problem for the student of liberty. Our children, beneficiaries of the free market in a free society, take prosperity for granted. The laden shelves and burgeoning freezers in the local supermarket stimulate no questions. Bare shelves and empty freezers might.
Yet “bare shelves and empty freezers” historically are the norm! The vast majority of men and women who have walked this planet have spent their every waking hour in a struggle to keep destitution at bay. The puzzling excel> tion which cries out for explanation is the plenty enjoyed by the beneficiaries of economic and personal liberty. If we teach our children the lessons of history, we may elicit the questions only free market economics can answer.
—John K. Williams
The Freeman’s op-ed newspaper program, in which we send Freeman articles to a select group of newspapers for use on their editorial or commentary pages, continues to expand. Sarah H. Lindsey’s “Educational Freedom” (June Freeman) has appeared in The Augusta Chronicle, The Anchorage Times, Fort Walton Beach Daily News, The Phoenix Gazette, and The Orange County Register. Peter S. Heinecke’s “The Fallacy of Comparable Worth” (June Freeman) has been published by the Gettysburg Times, Chicago Sun-Times, and Long Island Newsday. James L. Payne’s “It’s Not Our Money” (June Freeman) has been used by the Chicago Tribune. And Dennis Bechara’s “The Continuing Plight of Agriculture” (May Freeman) continues to be reprinted, most recently by the North Fort Myers Lee Constitution.
If you see one of our articles, we would appreciate it if you would send us a clipping.
Spanish Books from FEE
For readers of Spanish—Hispanic newcomers to these shores and students of the language—it is difficult to obtain books which explain the free market, private property, limited government system. To fill this need, The Foundation has stocked books from Spanish language publishers in Central America and Spain. Titles include The Law by Frederic Bastiat, The Incredible Bread Machine by Susan Love Brown and others, Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, Planning for Freedom, Liberalism, Economic Policy, and Human Action by Ludwig von Mises, and The Essential von Mises by Murray Rothbard.
Write Bettina Bien Greaves for information and a price list.