The Problem

I am becoming a bit of a genealogy nut. My mother-in-law has converted me to ancestry interest. My grandparents, on my mother’s side, are from Russia. They were a part of the Volga River Germans. What a legacy of hard work, faith, and love. On my father’s side, my ancestors have been in the country since its beginning. My great great great grandparents fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. I am very proud of this, it is kind of cool. My Dad used to say we came over on the Mayflower, but the only problem is Christopher Martin, who is listed on the roster, died during the first winter. Tracing our lineage to him is going to take a bit more that just recognizing a name on the Mayflower passenger list.

My comments today are not about my history, but about what this country has stood for for 236 years. Zingales states this quite eloquently is his book on capitalism. “When a few disgruntled British emigrants decided to find their own path to the pursuit of happiness, they set in motion the most successful social experiment in human history. The Founding Fathers not only established a government of the people, by the people, and for the people; in spite of all the government’s limitations, they also created an economic system of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The cronyism of today’s American meritocracy is similar to what our Founding Fathers were escaping, “a capitalism that was the creation of a rich elite who saw an opportunity to get richer.”

Zingales then adds the critical element to understanding the type of capitalism this country has developed. “America’s brand of capitalism has survived and thrived because of a unique set of circumstances: a government attentive to the interests of ordinary people, a set of values that have made the accumulation of wealth a moral responsibility rather than an end unto itself, and a belief that the system provides opportunities for all.”

In 1851 F.W. Bogen wrote this poignant statement. “For every migrant should well consider, that in a country like the United States of America. . ., where no princes and their corrupt courts represent the so-called divine right of birth, in spite of merit and virtue – that in such a country the talents, energy and perseverance of a person must have a far greater opportunity for display, than in monarchies, where the evils above mentioned have existed for centuries, and with their sad effects still exist.”

The economic process demonstrated throughout our history involves a free market system, where individuals, through earned success, can find a good life; a government which creates “the conditions of liberty and opportunity so that each individual can define success as they see fit;” and these successful people then help their neighbor. We are in danger of losing this system, through extend government reach and individual inaction. We better wake up, or we will continue to move down the road to Serfdom.

And that is my thought for the day!


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