The world is threatened with a renewed wave of anti-capitalism and anti-business sentiments and policies. Many who cheered the demise of Soviet communism in the early 1990s, presumed that this meant that, by default, the case for free markets and competitive enterprise had won in the battle of ideas. Over the last twenty-five years it has become clear that the same misguided arguments against free market capitalism constantly reemerge, like an ideological vampire waiting to rise from the intellectual grave and drain market freedom of its lifeblood by more government regulations and controls.
Political campaign years are filled with candidates’ promises to solve people’s problems. Government policies will “create jobs,” will reduce or even block the “unfair” competition of market rivals in foreign lands, will restore or create prosperity for all, and will assure “fairness” for everyone, even if it means imposing regulatory or special tax burdens on some to guarantee politically provided privileges and benefits for others who are deemed “deserving.”
At Saturday’s Republican debate, several candidates were asked to define “conservatism.” Marco Rubio gave a politically-astute answer. He said conservatism embodies three principles: (1) limited government under the framework of the Constitution, (2) free-market economics and (3) peace through strength. Donald Trump gave an answer in keeping with the root word “conserve,” he conserve that which one has.
Discrimination has become a “dirty word.” It has come to carry the “politically incorrect” connotation of prejudice, hatefulness, racism, and cruel intolerance towards others in society. There is only one problem: which one of us does not discriminate? Indeed, everything we do reflects discriminating choices and decisions.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision was his core belief that every American should be represented equally in our system of governance, regardless of race, color or creed.
For the past several years, the policies that favor certain minority groups at the level of college admissions and public employment, commonly called affirmative action, have been on the back foot. Laws and constitutional amendments in various states, most notably in the liberal stronghold California in 1996, have restricted or banned outright the practice of discrimination on the basis of race, whether favoring the majority ethnic group or a minority. These movements ought to be welcomed by supporters of liberty. Our nation is founded on the principle of equality before the law. It seems inherently unjust to favor one group over another because of the color of their skin or ethnic history. It is doubly unjust that the organization engaging in such practices be the government to which we all pay taxes and from which we are meant to expect equal treatment and consideration.
President Obama and many of his fellow Democrat politicians think they have identified a terrible injustice in the “gender pay gap.” But with almost no effort, anyone who can access the Internet can go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and find information showing a far greater injustice: the pay gap between young people and older workers.
With all the talk of America’s forgotten middle class, it’s worth taking time as we begin a new year to consider that the country’s seeming obsession with wealth and inequality may instead be turning the U. S. into a country with only two classes: the governed and the governing.