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That all Men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural Rights,…; among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety. -Virginia Declaration of Rights – 1776
Indispensable for personal freedom is the ability for each person to choose how to allocate and invest their time, labor and money as well as to own the gains made by their investments.
George Mason codified the elements of freedom in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, “certain inherent rights, namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”France Declines – What’s Ahead for America?
Former Senator Judd Gregg, (R-NH) has cogently analyzed and described the economic and social decline of France. For many years, French laws have protected employees from being rifted and fostered early retirement for its workers. This greatly hampers entrepreneurship, productivity and economic growth.
Presently, a few political players – the socialists – want confiscatory taxes on everyone making over $350,000 a year. As a result, people work less and create less goods and services. With decreased productivity, France's standard of living is declining as is their competitive stature in the world – both economically and politically.
Gregg’s analysis of a democracy’s propensity to vote for government to control more and more “benefits” is the best perspective on the issue. In America, our benefits are retirement, health, education, unemployment and more. Gregg astutely identifies the envy trap currently being played out in France. The Hill reports:
The driver of this process is at its most basic level envy. In a democratic system it is very simple to claim … that if you just take more from your neighbor, you will be able to live better.
Gregg foresees France’s inevitable spiral of decline by listing that government first creates debt to supply “benefits,” and when the debt is too great, government imposes gigantic tax increases.
First, the government runs up massive debts to pay for its expenditures. When adding debt can no longer be done conveniently, it turns to a dramatically progressive tax policy. Both of these steps, when coupled with an irrational retirement system, lead to a dramatic drop in the productivity of the society and an inevitable resulting drop in the standard of living for all.
As Gregg wryly observes, “Ironically, all this is done under the banner of “fairness and equality.”
Back to America. We have traveled too far in the direction of France. We have created unsustainable “benefits” – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment and many more. For nearly a decade, we have been .incurring enormous amounts of government debt with crushing taxes to follow. Truthfully, the people taxed will not be “only the rich.”
Gregg implores America to observe France and travel another path. The other path is similar to George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights:
… the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.
In order for America to excel and prosper, We the People must work, save, invest and own the fruits of our labor. Our government – federal, state and local – must create systems to encourage and protect ownership and savings, particularly for our essential needs - medical and retirement.
Only through working, owning the fruits of our labors, and securely investing will innovation and productivity be fostered and prevent America from following France.