By Chris Rossini
During the last Republican Presidential debate, Marco Rubio made a statement that is worth putting under the microscope:
What makes America special is that we have millions and millions of people that are not rich, that through hard work and perseverance are able to be successful.
What made America special at the very beginning was individual liberty. Government was minuscule at first, and the Founders (for the most part) hoped that it would stay that way. Government was to be in the background, and not in everyone's face. Americans were free to create, trade, travel, and live as they wished. It didn't matter if they were rich or poor. It didn't matter if they "worked hard" or not.
That is what made America special.
"Hard work" and "perseverance" are not unique to America. People work themselves to the bone all over the world. The difference was that, in America, if you were good at satisfying consumers, and you profitably took advantage of opportunities, the government wouldn't rob you blind as a result. All throughout history, governments and their dependants lived off the work of the productive. In America, at the beginning, such parasitic behavior didn't exist.
For example, Benjamin Franklin once wrote:
“We have no poor houses in the Colonies; and if we had some, there would be nobody to put in them, since there is, in the Colonies, not a single unemployed person, neither beggars nor tramps.”
Now, were there really no unemployed people? That's doubtful. But the key takeaway from Franklin's statement was that people did not live off their neighbor's earnings. Compare that today, where there are "beggars and tramps" everywhere....And that's with the biggest government and welfare state in the history of the world.
Rubio links "hard work" with being "successful," but this is a common error as well. One becomes successful by satisfying the most urgent wants and desires of the many. While that often does require hard work, it is not a prerequisite.
There are plenty of people who miscalculate consumer desires. They create things that others don't want to buy or pay for. They are unsuccessful despite working as hard as they could. There is no doubt that Bernie Sanders works very hard. But he can never (ever) make socialism work no matter how many hours he puts in.
America's uniqueness was liberty, not some generic term called "hard work."
Rubio then complains that even though people are working "hard as ever" the "economy is not providing jobs that pay enough." This is riddled with errors. First of all, there is no such entity called "the economy" that sits there and "provides jobs."
The economy simply exists. What government does to the economy is the real culprit to disaster.
Thomas Nixon Carter wrote in the 1920's:
“In the absence of force, peace and liberty simply exist; they do not have to be created or supported…In the absence of force, capitalism automatically exists in the same sense that peace and liberty automatically exist.”
In early America, government was largely hands off. People did not sit around wondering if a central planner named Janet Yellen would raise interest rates. Nor did they look to some politician to "create jobs". Such nonsense was nonexistent.
Today, government has its dirty claws in almost every move that's made. Licenses, subsidies, monopoly privileges, red tape, bureaucracy, permits, "regulations"...Government has taken an economy (that simply exists) and has turned it into a gordian knot. It has twisted economic life into a pretzel.
Our troubles have nothing to do with hard work, but have everything to do with government intervention. Government must be peeled away in order to bring back the conditions that produce prosperity. Everyday, a thousand new pages of regulations are created to further squeeze the life out of us.
That has to change.