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Fiscal cliff or launch pad? Part 2: Foundations of liberty

By Debra Rae
web posted October 22, 2012

In the boxer's ring of election year partisan politics, biblical scholar, author, and referee Wayne Grudem studies the moves of gloved contestants, each vying for his own view of government's role in the economy. Grudem's is a thoughtful, reasoned analysis of the economy as applied to fundamental truth. [1] Bottom line: How a nation regards foundations of liberty—(1) rule of law, (2) voluntary exchange, (3) limited government, and (4) private property—directly affects its economy.

Rule of Law

Despite the phrase's ambiguity, "rule of law" is foundational. Seeking to establish "a government of laws and not of men," John Adams enshrined this principle in the Massachusetts Constitution (1780). [2] When applied justly, rule of law speaks to the following: (1) no one is above the law and, (2) under it, citizens and businesses are protected from abuse of power. When it fails to protect life, liberty, and property, rule of law is exploitative. [3]

Examples are plentiful. Following the 2001 Attack on America, George W. Bush's disturbingly invasive Patriot and Homeland Security Acts centralized federal government and threatened civil liberties as never before. [4] Thereafter, President Obama ousted General Motors' president. Some believe it sidetracked rule of law when he and nonelected appointees redesigned the entire industry; and to credit him for "saving the auto industry" is to affirm the Marxist maxim, "ends justify means." [5]

Voluntary Exchange

Economist Milton Friedman explains that, in recorded history, the only cases in which masses have escaped "grinding poverty" are "where they have had capitalism and largely free trade." [6] To the contrary, progressives insist that a market-based economy fosters bourgeoisie abuse. Yet having characterized free enterprise as "nonsense," Obama's manufacturing Czar Ron Bloom added, "We kind of agree with Mao [Zedong] that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun." [7]

In July of 2011, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted, "What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget ... we're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today." [8] Twenty-five years in the private sector, Mitt Romney explains "despicable" Republican policy:  "When government takes more money out of the hands of people, it makes it more difficult for them to buy things. If they can't buy things, the economy doesn't grow. If the economy doesn't grow, we don't put Americans to work." [9]

Ronald Reagan described progressive government's view of the economy: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." [10] Reagan joined Romney in applauding "individual initiative, personal responsibility, opportunity, freedom, small government, and the Constitution" as key American principles for fostering a successful, world-class economy. [11]

Limited Government

Unfortunately, Obama's doctrine of Keynesian economics calls for government to spend more than it takes in. The U.S. owes as much as it produces yearly, yet spendthrift progressives continue to "invest" in human resources, at home and abroad. Progressives champion throwing millions of American taxpayers' dollars into overseas abortions and subsidizing state-funded college aid to undocumented (hence, "illegal") students. Problem is, tax-and-spend big government has run out of other people's money, as Margaret Thatcher famously warned. [12] Too big to fail? I think not.

Private Property

Noah Webster wisely observed that the power of the people increases in exact proportion to their acquisitions of property. [13] Historically, the singularly proven means for eradicating poverty has been private ownership of property, yet a progressive "new age of collectivism" seeks to limit private property, amass public property, and/or distribute property among the masses.

Constitutional attorneys Nancie and Roger Marzulla rightly expand the meaning of "property" to include "buildings, contracts, money, retirement funds, savings accounts, machines and even ideas," further noting that "to use, enjoy, and exclusively possess the fruits of one's own labor [property] is the basis for a society in which individuals are free from oppression." [14] For apparent reason, dismissing private property rights preclude successful introduction of capitalism into former communist nations. [15]

Stewardship, Not Earth Servitude

So-called environmental protection presumes to protect nature from people by policing economy-killing regulations. True, responsible stewardship is essential. No one wants smoggy cities, mercury-infested water, lead paint or asbestos in their homes.

But when progressive "managerial society" demands nothing short of earth servitude, the line has been crossed. For example, after the EPA refused a hearing for landowners Mike and Chanteill Sackett (and threatened them with daily fines of thirty-seven thousand dollars for presuming to develop a "potential" creature habitat), even progressive members of the Supreme Court—Justices Antonin Scalia, Elena Kagan, Ruth Ginzburg, and Stephen Breyer—condemned the EPA's "high handedness." [16]

Never mind lessons to be learned from Germany and Great Britain (that alternative energy subsidies are "money down a rat hole") or from Spain and Italy (that for every single green job created, huge numbers of jobs are lost). America introduces almost fifty legislative bills or amendments every year that curtail development, add to traffic congestion (therefore, pollution), and, in the end, increase the overall cost of living.

Vehicular hybrids are a start, but progressive politicians refuse to tap Alaska's natural resources, Wyoming's Green River Formation, and clean, inexpensive oil shale in the Northern Rockies (the world's largest oil deposit). [17]  Our economy and national security are no better for it.

Class Warfare (Have's v. Have-Not's)

Characterized as "terrorists," "wealthy, powerful, greedy obstructionists," and "demons," capitalists (often identified as "the religious right"), in fact, donate to non-church related charities four times what liberals do. Although conservative-headed families earn a tad less income than liberal counterparts, they nonetheless give about thirty percent more. [18] This begs the question, "Who's exploiting whom?"

In the end, voters decide; but, at the top, progressives control both political parties. While the choice may not be crystal clear, a fully informed, engaged citizenry must reach authentic moral consensus and give rightful heed to our nation's doctrine of original intent, the U.S. Constitution.
It behooves voters to understand economic basics, minimize the blame game, learn lessons from history, and properly esteem foundations of liberty—rule of law, voluntary exchange, limited government, and private property.

Most importantly, believers are commanded to humble themselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from their wicked ways. Then (and only then) will God hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal the land. [19] ESR


  1. Wayne Grudem. Politics—According to the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).
  2. Massachusetts Constitution, Part The First, art. XXX (1780).
  3. Stanislav Mishin, "American Capitalism Gone with a Whimper," PRAVDA.Ru<http://pravda.ru/>
  4. Coffman, Plundered: How Progressive Ideology Is Destroying America, 164.
  5. http://bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/mailbag/did-president-obama-save-gm/article_dbb89b52-1327-11e2-94eb-001a4bcf887a.html
  6. http://votefordavid.blogspot.com/2009/08/Milton-friedman-calmly-destroys-phil.html
  7. Michael Coffman, Plundered: How Progressive Ideology Is Destroying America, 103.
  8. Greta Van Susteren. Leader Pelosi is Trying to Save the World from Republican Budget (GretaWire: Fox News, July 28, 2011).
  9. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mittromney415553.html
  10. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ronaldreag109938.html
  11. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mittromney415548.html
  12. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Margaret_Thatcher
  13. Noah Webster, "An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution," Pamphlets (October 10, 1787): 58-61. 
  14. Nancie and Roger Marzulla. Property Rights, Understanding Government Takings and Environmental Regulation (Rockville, Maryland: Government Institutes, Inc., 1997): 2.
  15. Coffman, Plundered: How Progressive Ideology Is Destroying America, 53.
  16. Sackett et vir v. Environmental Protection Agency et al. Supreme Court of the United States, March 21, 2012. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1062.pdf.
  17. Coffman, Plundered: How Progressive Ideology Is Destroying America, 106-107.
  18. Coffman, Plundered: How Progressive Ideology Is Destroying America, 46.
  19. 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Debra Rae is a regular contributor to The Intellectual Conservative. © 2012







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