Perhaps it is true that quantifying something is easier when that thing is small. How would we quantify economic freedom? The answer, Judge Napolitano believes, lies in how much freedom we have surrounding private property:
The root of economic freedom is the recognition of the right to own private property. That includes the right to utilize it unmolested, to dispose of it without anyone’s permission and to exclude anyone from it, even the government. Suffice it to say, no American president since the advent of the income tax and the Federal Reserve 100 years ago has fully accepted or meaningfully defended that right. The more the government extracts in taxes and the more it inflates the money supply, the more it rejects and assaults property rights.
Every president in the 20th century, even Ronald Reagan, signed legislation raising income taxes. The theory behind the income tax is that the government’s need for cash is so great, it can just take it from your employer after you earn it but before your employer pays you – before you even see the cash – and use it as it sees fit. This presumes that the federal government has a greater right to your income than you do. There really can be no rationale for income taxes without that belief.
Do you know anyone outside the government who believes this?
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The absence of economic freedom today is nothing new and didn’t come about overnight. It is the culmination of the Progressive Era, which gave us the Federal Reserve and the income tax; the New Deal, which gave us the beginning of entitlements; the Great Society, which enhanced the numbers of people who received entitlements; Ronald Reagan, who bashed entitlements during the six years he was running for president but did nothing to dismantle them; and every president from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush, all of whom just accepted the welfare and warfare state as if the Constitution didn’t exist.
Today, we have President Obama, committed to private ownership but government control of the means of production, who wants to enhance the welfare and warfare state by having socialized medicine and perpetual war at the same time . . . .
Bickering commonly erupts over the definition of socialism when it is pointed out that we are socialist. Socialism’s formal definition is “government ownership of the means of production.” Many argue that since the government does not own all the factories and firms, we do not have socialism. But tell me. What ownership does the government need to have over anything if it can control the money with which things are bought or the people who are put in place at a company? We may not have strict socialism, but it is very close. The truth is, it is probably worse…