It’s kind of heady stuff when your very accomplished, professional author daughter calls and asks for your opinion.
It got me thinking.
Maybeth was writing her column for the Washington Times about the latest “Story” book by Annie Leonard. She’s the author of “The Story of Stuff,” a staple in elementary school curricula, which demonizes capitalism.
This one is “The Story of Change.” It advocates a government mandated “new economy” which would put an end to free markets and free enterprise.
Leonard argues that “the purpose of an economic system is to organize human activities in ways that support healthy and resilient human communities and ecosystems for both present and future generations”
Marybeth wanted to know how I would define America’s economic system.
Big order. I gave her a short version about freedom, and she took it from there.
Still, it got me to thinking.
Wikipedia defines Economics as “the social science that analyzes the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.” I would add the words “by human beings.” Economics is all about people.
The Declaration of Independence asserts that human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Our Constitution does not mandate an economic system. It is a system of government created by free people for a free people. It assumes that our economic system, to the extent that we have a system at all, is nothing more than the sum total of our individual pursuits of happiness.
The problem with studying economics is that analyzing what people do generally leads to predicting what people will do, which leads to organizing what people do, which leads to telling them what to do.
Everybody wants to control human behavior. Parents, teachers, advertisers, churches, bosses, homeowners associations, city, state and federal governments, the Federal Reserve, the United Nations and God Almighty.
Only God has got it right. He tells us what we ought to do, but then He lets us do whatever we choose to do. It’s called free will. By making us live with the consequences of our choices, He teaches us how to live.
Dwight Eisenhower had a great way of saying it. “We must act in our enlightened self interest.”
That means pursuing happiness according to our own vision, our own ideas, our own personal goals and ambitions, and our own best judgment, then taking the lumps that come with failure and reaping the harvest that comes with success.
Only California has a constitution which asserts that its residents have the right of pursuing and obtaining happiness. That kind of utopian optimism is probably the result of too much sunshine.
Still, the search for collective happiness through collective action is a temptation which fires up a lot of people these days.
The Prophet in Chief of collectivism is the President of the United States. He reminds us that every Horatio Alger had to walk on the public road, get mail from the Post Office, and save his money in a bank protected by the FDIC.
True enough. But the vast majority of people who walk on the public roads, get their mail from the Post Office and put money in an FDIC protected bank don’t start businesses, don’t employ other people, don’t make significant personal contributions to the economies of their state and the nation.
Mitt Romney did.
Mitt Romney knows that the economy of a free people cannot be managed.
Mitt Romney knows that the best economic system is one that is founded on the natural desire of people to pursue their own happiness, one that rewards success and penalizes failure, where every person has the right fairly and legitimately to acquire and accumulate private property and to determine the objects of their own benefaction.
So the issue in November is clear, and it will determine the fate of the nation.