World in the Grip of an Idea: 18. The United States: A Republic and Gradualism


In this series, Dr. Carson examines the connection between ideology and the revolutions of our time and traces the impact on several major countries and the spread of the ideas and practices around the world.

If saying so made it so the United States would today be the strong­hold of capitalism and the citadel of free enterprise. Many intellectuals who deplore this state of affairs nonetheless proclaim it to be so. The notion crops up frequently in writ­ings about America by Europeans. There are even Americans who say they favor free enterprise and who declare that the United States is the prime example of it in the world. They may be right in their judgment, but if they are it should give more than a little pause as to the state of freedom of enterprise in the world.

There should be no doubt that the United States was long considered as and was in fact a land of opportu­nity. Immigrants poured into America from other lands in in­creasing numbers after the first third of the nineteenth century. They came, in part at least, because they hoped for and often found greater opportunity than in the lands from which they came. There are still opportunities in the United States today. Many of the oppressed peoples from around the world still try to gain entry to this country. They are oppressed as a result of the idea that has the world in its grip. But they must surely discover when they arrive here that the idea has its grip on the vaunted land of opportu­nity as well as on other lands.

How free is enterprise in the United States? No one has, to my knowledge, devised a means for making the kind of measurements which would give a precise answer to the question. Computers have now been made that can provide swift, almost instantaneous, an­swers to all sorts of questions, but the most sophisticated computer would be unable to tell us how free enterprise is. This is the case mainly because there is no way to quantify the obstacles that government puts in the way of enterprise, but there is also no way to take into account the ways human ingenuity will discover for overcoming or getting around these obstacles. Even so, the ques­tion can be answered with sufficient exactitude to show that enterprise is being stifled, choked, throttled, lim­ited, and restrained in America, and that there is a well established trend in this direction. And government restriction is in some way a limita­tion on enterprise, and restrictions abound today.

Perhaps the best way to test how free enterprise is in America would be to survey the obstacles that stand in the way of someone contemplat­ing going into business today. No brief survey can hope to cover all the obstacles; indeed, they may now be so numerous that a lifetime would be too short to learn them. Some of the obstacles are of such complexity that anyone contemplating going into business in a particular locale would need expert legal advice from those familiar with the local situa­tion. But a survey of the obstacles can show the character of many of the limitations and the trend toward increasing them.

The Need for Capital

The first need of anyone going into business will almost certainly be some capital reserves, since vir­tually all undertakings require cap­ital of greater or lesser amount. To get capital it is usually necessary either to save it oneself, borrow it from others, or get them to invest in the enterprise. The greatest obstacle to individual saving today is infla­tion, and inflation is a direct conse­quence of government monopoly of the money supply and continual in­crease of it. Inflation discourages saving: it even introduces doubt as to the merits of it. Inflation reduces the value of money saved because as the money supply is increased prices rise. This means that the saver could have bought more with the money at the time that he first re­ceived it than he could at a later date, if the inflation continues over a long period of time. Inflation has been almost continual in the United States since the early 1930′s and shows no signs of abatement.

The graduated income tax is another deterrent to capital ac­cumulation. Not only does the United States government have such a tax but so also do most states. The more one makes the larger proportion of it is taken by govern­ments. Proponents of the graduated income tax often talk about it is as if it were a means of taking from the "haves." It is better understood in its most devastating effects as taking from those who are "getting," for the "haves" can sometimes avoid it en­tirely. At any rate, progressive taxa­tion limits and obstructs enterprise by making it difficult to accumulate investment capital.

Social Security payments are another inhibiting tax on those who would save to start an enterprise, and this tax has mounted precipit­ously in recent years. Social Secu­rity payments might be conceived as a system of forced saving, but they hardly qualify as savings at all. All that is paid into it is forfeited by the individual, forfeited as far as any control over it is concerned. He can­not draw the money out in order to make investments. He cannot use it to take advantage of greater oppor­tunities as they come along. In short, so far as saving for starting an enterprise is concerned, Social Secu­rity payments are just so much money lost to taxation.

Borrowing offers hardly more freedom from obstruction by gov­ernment than does saving for the would-be enterpriser. Banks are the most readily available sources of loans, but they are also probably the most severely regulated undertak­ings in America today. National banks are chartered by the United States government, and state banks by the states, thus limiting the number and variety of such institu­tions.

Bank Regulation

The federal government regulates the activities of all national banks and all those which are members of the Federal Deposit Insurance Cor­poration, which is to say virtually all of them. State laws regulate all banks within their bounds as to such matters as branch banking and interest rates. Most states have usury laws which place limits on the percentage of interest to be charged. This latter restriction is particularly obstructive to new en­terprisers, for all enterprises are risky and new ones especially so. Banks are loath to take such risks when they can charge maximum interest on insured and government guaranteed loans. Moreover, state and federal regulations discourage or prohibit certain types of long term loans, and government comptrollers look carefully at the type of collateral pledged to secure loans. Then, too, federal, state, and local governments are competitors with private individuals for the money that is available for lending, and they enjoy some decided advantages in this competition. The federal gov­ernment requires and/or encourages the banks to have some proportion of their investments in government se­curities. Municipal bond proceeds are exempt from federal taxes. Banks are much more likely to be able to help a new enterpriser by discounting any paper he holds from his customers than they are to put money directly into the enterprise.

The frustrated enterpriser may look hopefully toward incorporation and the selling of shares in his pro­jected business. But he will discover quickly enough that if he decides to go "public" with his offering gov­ernments have erected obstacles here as well. The Securities and Ex­change Commission keeps a wary eye on stock offerings, and the more recently set up consumer protection agencies may be no less alert to what he is doing. The SEC is more than a little dubious as to the valid­ity of any claims that might be made about the future prospects of the business. Should the shareholders lose for one reason or another, the new enterpriser may find himself the object of civil, or criminal, suits by various government agencies.

An Array of Obstacles

People somehow manage some­times to overcome the great variety of obstacles in the way of it and get together sufficient capital to go into business. But in trying to decide what business to go into they en­counter another impressive array of obstacles. In contemplating the pos­sibilities, anyone will discover, if he did not know already, that many sorts of enterprise are very nearly or entirely closed to him. The coining or issuing of money has been a monopoly of the United States gov­ernment for so long that hardly any­one would conceive of it as a poten­tial field for enterprise.

The other most general monopoly of the United States government of a possible business undertaking is that over the carrying of mail, espe­cially first class mail. In earlier times, even with the government occupying the dominant position, there were many opportunities for entrepreneurs to engage in mail transport and even, sometimes, de­livery. Star routes, as they were called, were serviced by individuals and private companies; trains, boats, and busses transported mail. Now, most of those opportunities have been foreclosed. The United States Postal Service maintains its own fleet of trucks; and privately owned airlines are the only remain­ing private domestic transporters of mail of any consequence.

There are other monopolies by the federal government, but they are not so extensive in scope. There is the monopoly of merchandising on military posts by the Post Ex­changes. There is the monopoly of the generating and sale of electricity in some regions such as the Tennes­see Valley.

The Panama Canal Zone has long been the most thoroughgoing monopoly of the United States gov­ernment. "Private parties are not allowed to own any land in the Zone and private businesses do not oper­ate there. Therefore, the many other businesses in the Zone other than the Panama Canal are maintained and operated by the Panama Canal Company. These businesses include a steamship line between New York and the Isthmus of Panama; a rail­road across the Isthmus, the cargo docks and piers and harbor terminal facilities on the Isthmus; a coaling plant for ships; an oil-handling plant; commissary stores . . . ; a printing plant; restaurants, the­aters, bowling alleys," and so forth.’ If Communists do take over the Canal Zone they will find their basic work has already been done.

The federal government now vir­tually monopolizes intercity rail passenger transport by way of AM­TRAK and is extending its sway into freight hauling by way of CONRAIL.

State governments have also es­tablished various monopolies. The most dramatic of these may well be that over the sale of liquor and cer­tain other alcoholic beverages. About one-third of the states have a monopoly of the sale of at least some of the alcoholic beverages. Where there are state liquor stores, those who are considering going into some legal business must put this area of potential opportunity out of mind. But even where states do not own and operate the stores, there are usually strenuous restrictions upon entry into such undertakings.

Although neither the federal nor state governments monopolize the manufacture of spiritous liquors, their laws and prohibitions are such that in effect they secure a monopoly to a select few domestic and foreign manufacturers. During much of American history no single under­taking, besides farming, had so many entrepreneurs as distilling, and many farmers supplemented their income with the product from their "stills." These distillers have now become an endangered species as a result of decades of relentless search for and pursuit of them by "Revenuers."

States generally have a variety of monopolies. For example:

The state of New York has long main­tained a system of barge canals 525 miles in length, which it operates at public expense, charging no tolls. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, since 1918, has operated the transit system of Boston and neighboring cities and towns. Harbor facilities at ocean ports—wharves, docks, warehouses and the like—are usually owned by state gov­ernments. At New Orleans a State Board of Port Commissioners, formed in 1896, operates grain elevators, coffee termi­nals, banana conveyors, cranes, derricks, a belt line railway, a canal, and a free trade zone. . . .2

Local governments generally have several monopolies which ex­clude private enterprise. Munic­ipalities frequently monopolize trash and garbage collection, water distribution, sale of electricity, distribution of natural gas, and bus or other street and subway systems. At one time, virtually all local transportation systems were pri­vately owned and operated, but price and service restrictions be­came such a handicap that cities took them over.

Indeed, the whole field of trans­portation is now very nearly closed to enterprisers. Railroading was so regulated by the Interstate Com­merce Commission that it ceased to be a growth business. Nowadays, a would-be enterpriser would be as likely to think of building a railroad as he would to go into manufactur­ing buggies. City transport is not a viable opportunity, and it is being made less so by massive government grants for the building of rail sys­tems. It is possible to go into truck­ing, but the obstacles to doing so are such that only the most intrepid enterpriser would venture into the field. Taxis are so regulated in most cities, and the privilege of operating one so restricted that opportunity in this field is limited. Entry into the air transport business is hampered by the Civil Aeronautics Board, and it sometimes takes years for estab­lished carriers to get authorization to provide new service to some city or locale.

Government Schools

The field of education has never been a particularly good arena for private enterprisers, and it is gener­ally becoming less so today. Laws requiring school attendance for young people have taken that facet of education out of the realm of economic goods, that plus the fact that "free" public schools are pro­vided. Such private schools and col­leges as exist are usually subsidized by gifts and tax-free contributions, hence making it difficult for anyone to enter the field in the hope of profit. On the fringes of education, e.g., teaching various skills such as auto repairing or barbering, there used to be considerable opportunity for enterprisers to found and operate schools. These are being hard pressed today, however, by vocational courses in the public high schools and by the vocational emphasis in many government funded trade schools and community colleges. Governments are well on their way to monopolizing education by using their taxing powers to exclude com­petitors.

Many hospitals were once pri­vately owned and operated, but such hospitals are rare today. The Hill-Burton Act brought large doses of federal money to hospital building and gave encouragement to gov­ernment owned and operated hospi­tals. It would be exceedingly dif­ficult today to raise the capital necessary to provide the expensive equipment necessary to compete with government owned hospitals.

Governments at all levels are vig­orous competitors in providing rec­reation facilities. This is particu­larly true for parks, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools, lakes, and-waterways. Many buildings in which recreation activities take place—e.g., auditoriums, ball parks, civic centers—are now being built with tax funds. Not only does the prospective enterpriser find his po­tential savings taken away in taxes to support such undertakings but also his entry into such enterprises made difficult by government com­petition.

Research and Information

The federal government is in the research and information business in a big way. The Government Printing Office is enormous, and keeps busy printing numerous pam­phlets, making available research reports, publishing agricultural treatises, and providing information for businessmen. A United States Senator pointed out a while back that the Commerce Department gathers around 100,000 research and development reports each year, and that the government spends ap­proximately $10 billion each year on research.3 Although governments have not pre-empted the informa­tion field, they have made great in­roads into it.

There are, of course, enterprises that can be started in which there is little direct competition from gov­ernment, but there are obstacles to be overcome in going into any of these. A minimum requirement in almost any locale is to get a license. Beyond that, many undertakings require a charter or franchise from some one or more governments. Many kinds of undertaking have special training or knowledge or moral requirements. For example, barbers may have had to have spent a specified length of time in training in a state recognized school, nurses to have undergone a particular reg­imen, teachers to have taken cer­tain education courses in order to be certified, real estate salesmen to have passed a written examination, plumbers to have served an appren­ticeship, saloon-keepers to have con­formed to certain moral standards, and so on. Lawyers usually have to pass the bar examination in the states in which they wish to prac­tice.

It may be instructive in getting some idea of how far this goes to look at this partial list, in one state, of those agencies charged with over­seeing certain undertakings: State Board of Accountancy, State Board for Examination, Qualification and Registration of Architects, Commis­sion for Auctioneers, State Board of Examiners for Speech Pathology and Audiology, State Board of Bar­bers, Board of Chiropractic Exam­iners, State Board of Cosmetology, State Board of Dentistry, State Board of Electrical Contractors, State Board of Engineers and Land Surveyors, State Board of Registra­tion for Foresters, State Board of Funeral Service, State Board of Reg­istration for Professional Geologists, State Board of Hearing Aid Dealers and Dispensers, Board of Landscape Architects, Board of Physical Therapy, State Board of Private De­tective and Private Security Agen­cies, State Board of Examiners for Sanitarians, Commission of Struc­tural Pest Control, Board for Regis­tration of Used Car Dealers, State Board of Registration for Used Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers, Motor Vehicle Dismantlers, and Motor Vehicle Rebuilders. The list is not complete by any means, but the point perhaps emerges.

Anyone going into business has to have some place from which to oper­ate, i.e., land, buildings, or offices. If he needs land, he will find himself in competition—though that hardly seems to be the right word—with federal, state, and local govern­ments for the dwindling supply of land. Governments were once the great sellers of land in America, but they have now reversed the field and become major buyers—perhaps "condemners" would be more descriptive—: for military installa­tions, for parks and forests, for highways, for urban renewal proj­ects, for hospitals, for lakes and dams, for schools, and so forth. As one writer puts it, the federal gov­ernment "is the biggest landlord on earth, aside from the communist countries."

Restrictions on Land Use and Building

Of course, the land and building will have to be selected with care if one is going into business. There are increasing restrictions on land use in the United States. Zoning laws have been around since the 1920′s, though they get ever stricter, and they are now being supplemented with land use laws in many states for rural areas. But lately the United States government has gone into comprehensive land use control, or very nearly that, under the aus­pices of the Environmental Protection Agency. The government has asserted its sovereignty over land use to protect water, air, endangered species, and what have you. Anyone thinking in terms of operating a factory or manufacturing estab­lishment must undertake the dif­ficult task of assuring state and fed­eral agencies, by way of surveys and tests, that he will not significantly harm the environment within which he locates.

Although the above are only a partial listing of the obstacles which a would-be enterpriser must over­come, let us suppose now that our enterpriser has managed to set him­self up in business. However improb­able it may seem, however much of at least a minor miracle it surely is, some men are actually able to begin new enterprises in the United States. They manage to accumulate the savings necessary despite the inflationary thrust, the progressive income taxes and the burden of So­cial Security or manage to borrow the money despite restrictions that make this difficult, or even succeed in selling stock in a corporation so as not to arouse the ire of the SEC. They select an undertaking that is not monopolized by government or that government competition has not effectively foreclosed. They get franchised, certified, licensed, au­thorized, permitted, qualified or whatever, find some land on which to locate in which their kind of un­dertaking is allowed, and satisfy the authorities that they will live in harmony with the environment.

A Senior Partner

Such an enterpriser is by no means out of the woods, however, simply because he has managed to open his doors for business. Indeed, it would be more correct to say that many of his troubles have just be­gun. The man who enters business discovers rather soon, if he did not know it already, that he has a Senior Partner—government. More precisely, he has a committee of Senior Partners, composed of fed­eral, state, county, and, depending upon the locale, township and municipal authorities. These Partners may have thrown any number of obstacles in the way of his going into business in the first place; they may be in competition with him; they may have made low inter­est loans to his competitors or even granted them special privileges which he does not enjoy. They will rarely have invested anything in the business themselves. Yet once he opens his doors these Partners join the firm, so to speak.

In the first place, the Senior Partners require the businessman to be a tax collector. If he sells to con­sumers, he will generally be ex­pected to collect federal excise taxes and state and local sales taxes. If he employs other people he will be expected to withhold federal and prob­ably state and local income taxes from their wages. Under most condi­tions, he must collect the workers’ Social Security taxes by way of payroll deductions. Some cities have employment taxes which he may have to collect.

No matter how small his business may be, the Senior Partners will require that the businessman keep extensive and precise records of his various transactions. He will need records, of course, of the taxes he has collected from others, and records for his own income and Social Secu­rity taxes.

The Senior Partners are not par­ticularly mollified by getting the first fruits from any income and having the businessman collect taxes for them. They take an active role in determining how the busi­ness should be run. If he sells to consumers, various federal and state consumer agencies may take the side of his customers against him and haul him into court on their behalf or because he has not com­plied with one or more of the mul­titude of laws governing these rela­tionships. In like manner, the Senior Partners stand ready to in­trude in a great variety of ways on behalf of his employees against the businessman employer. They have, of course, generally specified that he cannot employ those who have not attained a certain age. They pre­scribe minimum wages, maximum hours, time and a half for overtime, and have long been solicitous of female employees.

Of late, federal and state govern­ments have exerted themselves to see that employers do not discrimi­nate in hiring because of race, sex, age, color, religion, or country of national origin, among other things. In order to prove that he does not do so, an employer is often bidden to take Affirmative Action to assure that he has the proper "mix" of minorities amongst his workers and be diligent in promoting such of these as he has assembled to the better positions he has available.

If his employees should decide to organize themselves into a labor union, the National Labor Relations Board has laid down all sorts of rules to which the businessman em­ployer must comply. Should he be judged to have failed to comply he may well find himself saddled with back wages to pay and employees on his payroll whom he would prefer to do without.

Safety and Health

The Senior Partners concern themselves, too, with the safety and health of the businessman’s employ­ees. To that end, OSHA, a federal agency, promulgates all sorts of rules and standards for safeguard­ing the health of employees. Should an employer fail to comply with these standards he is subject to po­tentially heavy penalties.

Particular industries are subject to their own kinds of regulation. For example, the powers of the Federal Power Commission over producers and sellers of electric power show the extent to which the interference of a Senior Partner may go. It exer­cises the following powers:

Prescribes and enforces a uniform sys­tem of accounts for privately owned pub­lic utilities engaged in the transmission, or sale or wholesale of electric power in interstate commerce; determines the original cost and accrued depreciation of facilities for the generation and trans­mission of such energy; investigates and regulates the rates, charges and services for such energy; passes upon application of such utilities for authority to issue securities, to dispose of, merge or con­solidate facilities, to interconnect facilities, or to acquire securities of other public utilities; passes upon applications of persons seeking authority to hold in­terlocking positions; evaluates applica­tions for and, when in the public interest, issues permits for the construction, oper­ation, maintenance or connection of facilities at the borders of the United States for the exportation or importation of electric energy; passes upon applica­tions for authority to export electric energy for the United States.5

The Senior Partners are also po­tential customers of the busi­nessman. The federal government is today the largest purchaser of goods and services in the country. When it is joined by states and local govern­ments, the role of government as purchaser is an immense one in­deed. Needless to say, these gov­ernments extend additional author­ity over anyone from whom they buy goods or services. A seller does not just offer his custom in the market to government; government uses the leverage of a buyer to further con­trol the businessman’s business.

The above only scratches the sur­face of government intervention in the economy today, but perhaps enough has been told to warrant a conclusion. Enterprise is not free in the United States today. It is ham­pered, obstructed, restrained, con­strained, restricted, limited, compel­led, and otherwise confined by a multitude of regulations, require­ments, and government competi­tion. And there is a well established tendency to increase the interven­tion more and more over the years. Occasional "deregulation" is over­matched by restrictions introduced from other directions. For example, farm crops are not controlled as much now as they were twenty years ago, but land use restrictions are being introduced into rural areas.

Gradual Intrusions

Thirty or forty years ago there was considerable debate over whether the United States should have a planned economy or not. The issue was not resolved by the debate, but it has been largely resolved in practice by step by step intrusions into the economy. By government’s regulatory powers, control over the money supply and hence over credit and banking, over education, over the communications industries, over transportation, over labor, over the environment, and so forth, planning is widely established today. In most of the United States today, no struc­ture can be erected without permits, inspections, compliance with set­back ordinances, zoning laws, and other such restrictions. Government subsidies to cities and regions de­termine the character and direction of developments in those areas.

A broader conclusion is war­ranted, too. The United States is under the sway of the idea that has the world in its grip. Whatever the merits or demerits of any or all of the government interventions dis­cussed, one assumption underlies and powers them all: namely, indi­viduals and voluntary associations of men cannot be trusted to provide for themselves and others by pursu­ing their own self-interest. They must be directed and controlled in their activities by an interest that is outside of and above them as indi­viduals. Self-interest of individuals must be contained, restrained, and redirected—ultimately rooted out—, and for it must be substituted what is supposedly in the common inter­est. The instrument for imposing this common interest is government. That is the idea.

Under the sway of the idea, gov­ernment has asserted its power into virtually every area of American life. Government has grown mighty and the individual weak and lim­ited. How did this state of affairs come about? It is certainly a rever­sal of the idea on which these United States were founded. The United States was founded as a republic. Both the United States and the state governments operate under the aus­pices of written constitutions. The idea that informed these constitu­tions was that governments should be limited in order that individuals might be freed—freed to pursue their own interests in order to fulfill themselves as best they could and according to their own lights.

Keeping the Peace

It is, of course, the end of govern­ment that those within its jurisdic­tion shall be protected in their life, liberty, and property from harmful intrusions by others. To that end, governments were empowered to legislate, to use force, and to resolve disputes which threatened the peace in order that men might go about their affairs undisturbed by malefactors.

But beyond the granting of powers believed necessary to maintain gov­ernments which could keep the peace, put down domestic insurrec­tion, and repel foreign invaders, the main efforts of the constitutions were to limit the governments they authorized. It was for this purpose that bills of rights were incorporated in them. It was to this end that the powers of government were sepa­rated into three branches. The list­ing of powers granted was supposed to constitute an inherent limit upon government. Even the dispersion of power into federal and state juris­dictions was thought to act to limit the exercise of power. If this was not the aim and purpose of the United States Constitution then those who successfully argued for its adoption were themselves either deceived or engaged in deceiving others.

Among the opponents of ratifica­tion of the Constitution of 1787 (the United States Constitution), not one could be found who did so because the government lacked power. On the contrary, it was the fear that it would become powerful and oppres­sive that animated them. A goodly number of men in that day took the time and made the effort to study the history of governments. One conclusion stood out among all the others that they drew: All govern­ments tend to become oppressive. Few would have dared to rise in the conventions in those days, amidst the displays of historical erudition, to proclaim that men vested with the power of government have been so transformed that they could be trusted with determining what is for the well-being of those in their jurisdiction. On the contrary, it was settled opinion that those who gov­ern will pursue power to the detri­ment of the well-being of their fel­lows if they are not deflected from the course. Limited constitutional government offered the best means they could conceive for delaying, if not ultimately preventing, the ap­pearance of the oppressive tendency of government.

How It Happened

How, then, did this reversal take place? How were many of the con­fines on government removed and did government begin to confine the individual more and more? A por­tion of the answer is not difficult to find. It came about gradually, and step by step. Probably, none en­visioned that when national banks were given a monopoly of the issue of bank notes in the 1860′s by plac­ing a prohibitive tax on state bank notes that in the 1960′s virtually all concrete limitations on the money supply would be removed and that such powers as remained over the money supply would be under the control of the federal government. Yet the stage was being set for this course of events, not with malice aforethought but by a process of accretion of power.

Another point can be asserted here; it has been written about and documented elsewhere, and the present theme precludes discussion of it in detail. The point is this, Americans, or a significant portion of them, came under the sway of the idea that has the world in its grip.6 That is, they came to believe that when individuals pursue their self-interest it is detrimental to the gen­eral welfare, that the supports to the individual should be removed and the individual confined, and that government was the proper instru­ment to perform these undertak­ings. Although the idea generally goes by the name of socialism, most Americans never consciously be­came socialists and, of those who did, few avowed it. The attack upon the American system and the intru­sion of government was done piecemeal. Yet when the develop­ment is viewed whole, it makes sense only in terms of the preva­lence of the socialist idea.

It is important, however, to delve somewhat into the methods by which government power has been concentrated and unloosed. The dis­persion of power by which these United States began had to be over­come and evaded. How this was ac­complished needs now to be told.

Next: 19. The United States: The Concentration of Power.



‘Harold Koontz and Richard W. Gable, Pub­lic Control of Economic Enterprise (New York: McGraw Hill, 1956), pp. 684-85.

2Clair Wilcox, Public Policies Toward Busi­ness (Homewood, Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, 1960), pp. 805-06.

3William Proxmire, Can Small Business Survive? (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964), pp. 99-101.

‘Koontz and Gable, op. cit., p. 695. 3Cornelius P. Cotter, Government and Pri­vate Enterprise (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960), pp. 227-28.

"The present writer has discussed this in detail in. The Fateful Turn (Irvington, New York: Foundation for Economic Education, 1963) and The Flight from Reality (Irvington, New York: Foundation for Economic Educa­tion, 1969).



Moral Sickness

A swelling is one of the infallible signs of a sickness underneath, and the swelling of government in America today merely evidences the moral sickness of the people under it. Big government is for little people. The better the people, the less necessity there is for government. This simple, vicarious relationship between the citizen and his government is obscured today in the fog of our confused political councils.

Clarence Manion, “Cause of Corrupt Government”


June 1978

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December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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