By Dr. J. Robert McClure, JMI President & CEO
James Madison articulated his belief in liberty clearly and concisely in Federalist 51 when he wrote, “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” Madison’s point was a defense of limiting government power while still allowing it to perform its important role. The rest of the passage in 51 is more familiar to us all: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Madison went on to argue that the “great difficulty” then was to frame a government as “to be administered by men over men…” that must “first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”In essence Madison’s articulation is, among other things, a moral defense of self-government by the people as well as a clear illustration of the proper role of government in the daily lives of its citizens. One need only to look around today to see manifestations of the worst fears of the Founders: The federal government has now granted over 1,000 waivers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Patient protection? Affordable care? If this legislation is so great, why so many waivers? And the number keeps growing. Moreover, both The Wall Street Journal and The Hill report that these waivers have gone primarily to political allies of the administration, labor union groups, and big corporations. The reality is that “big government” breeds crony capitalism and corruption. Those who are able to game the system through money, power, or influence are given preferential treatment on all kinds of legislation – Obamacare is only the most recent, perfect example.Two more recent examples? The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is threatening to file suit against a private company (Boeing) simply for planning to open a new factory in a “right to work state” (South Carolina). Boeing is not closing down a factory in another state to open this new one, mind you. It is simply expanding its business to a state that is not particularly union friendly – because it makes economic sense to do so. If you run your own business, doesn’t the mere threat of this kind of intimidation affect your decision-making?There is more. The President is considering an executive order that would, in the words of the Washington Post, “require the government to collect detailed information about the political activities of anyone applying for a federal contract.” It would require these businesses and their principal officers to provide a list of all contributions to candidates, political parties, committees, and even private organizations that are not required by law to reveal their donors. What kind of chilling effect would that form of intimidation have on a business that might choose to support causes that may very well oppose the current administration?These are the kinds of actions the Founders understood, and were rightfully fearful of. Free markets and limited government, instead, level the playing field for all to compete fairly and transparently, giving rise to the American Dream – the idea that anyone through hard work, vision, and energy can rise to be whatever he or she chooses. Ironically, our current President is a testament to this American ideal. Those who scoff may call this idea naïve, but history – again and again – is on the side of liberty.