More Freedom than Ever?

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Mar 16, 2012 No Comments ›› John Eidsmoe William_E_Simon

More Freedom than Ever?

William Simon (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL._Simon), who had served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Gerald Ford, wrote a brief book titled A TIME FOR TRUTH (http://www (Berkley 1979). Milton Friedman called it “a brilliant and passionate book by a brilliant and passionate man.” After detailing government regulation of the economy and its repressive effect on individual incentive and productivity, on pp. 78-79 Simon gave us a most prophetic insight:

“It is often said by people who receive warnings about declining freedom in America that such a charge is preposterous, that there is no freer society on earth. That is true in one sense, but it is immensely deceptive. There has never been such freedom before in America to speak freely, indeed, to wag one’s tongue in the hearing of an entire nation; to publish anything and everything, including the most scurrilous gossip; to take drugs and to prate to children about their alleged pleasures; to propagandize for bizarre sexual practices; to watch bloody and obscene entertainment. Conversely, there has never been so little freedom before in America to plan, to save, to invest, to build, to produce, to invent, to hire, to fire, to resist coercive unionization, to exchange goods and services, to risk, to profit, to grow.

“The strange fact is that Americans are constitutionally free today to do almost everything that our cultural tradition has previously held to be immoral and obscene, while the police powers of the state are being invoked against almost every aspect of the productive process.”

Note again that Simon wrote in 1979, before the Clinton years, before the Obama years, before the gay rights movement, before TARPs and stimuli. What would he say today.

He noted in the 1970s that (p. 76) “we are careening with frightening speed toward collectivism and away from individual sovereignty, toward coercive centralized planning and away from free individual choices, toward a statis-dictatorial system and away from a nation in which individual liberty is sacred.” Now, 33 years later, the speed at which we are moving in that direction has been ramped up exponentially.

Simon has a few suggestions for action, one of which stands out in particular (p. 78):

“Business must cease the mindless subsidizing of colleges and universities whose departments of economics, government, politics and history are hostile to capitalism and whose faculties will not hire scholars whose views are otherwise.”

“…[B]usiness money must flow away from the media which serve as megaphones for anticapitalist opinion and to media which are either pro-freedom or at least professionally capable of a fair and accurate treatment of pro-capitalist ideas, values and arguments. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and of the press from government intervention. It does not require that any citizen finance those that seek to destroy him.”

Timely words then, timely words now. It is indeed A TIME FOR TRUTH, and it is also A TIME FOR ACTION (http://www (Simon, Enterprise America 1981).

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