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Freedom is the American Dream

May 23, 2019
Weekly Columns

Ever since our brave forebearers declared America’s independence, the United States has been a beacon of liberty, hope and opportunity. Indeed, America is still regarded the world over as a land where success can be achieved regardless of where you’ve come from. And that is because our forebearers trusted free people, free speech and free markets – all of which continue to undergird the “American dream.” 

The American dream never fails to inspire old and young alike, and I believe its promise will continue to motivate future generations to work hard and innovate. Because our country has always valued hard work, we seek to achieve and often succeed because opportunity exists here. But it’s important to recognize that free markets are fundamental to American opportunity and prosperity.  

How do free markets contribute to the American dream? The answer rests in the philosophy of freedom so foundational to our nation. Free markets allow consumers and producers to freely participate in mutually beneficial transactions, empowering entrepreneurs and innovators to create the future.

While opponents of free markets often criticize corporations for dominating an industry, their proposed solution is typically socialization – which would by definition grant the government an unfettered monopoly in regulation of an industry. The result of such regulation would hold back job creators, including small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs. Unelected bureaucrats should not pick winners and losers in the market. I trust the American people to do that on their own.

Where there is more government regulation, there is always less opportunity to innovate and allow the market for products and services to follow its natural trend. To illustrate, think back on rental stores like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. If the government had socialized the movie rental business in the 1990s, Americans would still be driving to the store hoping to borrow the one movie they wanted to watch. However, thanks to free markets, we get to enjoy the benefits of innovation, which in the case of video entertainment has led to popular rental services like Redbox and video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Similar examples could be drawn about cell phones, cars, household appliances and just about every other industry.

You don’t have to look far to find proof that free markets have helped Americans. It is no coincidence that the recent economic boom was preceded by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the Trump Administration’s massive regulatory rollbacks. Due to much-needed tax relief and regulatory reform, job creators on Main Street have been able to expand and invest more in their employees. Wages are on the rise, more jobs are available and hiring continues to tick upward. In fact, unemployment is at an astounding 50-year low.

Free markets truly thrive when insulated by healthy institutions that instill virtue and encourage charity, including strong families and tight knit communities. When the end is purely self-interest, free markets cannot succeed. Rather, they are most fruitful when they are the means to a good end—like having enough money to take your family on a vacation, purchasing your spouse a gift “just because,” donating money to a cause you believe in or simply lending a hand to help someone in need. As evidenced right here in America, a free market economy shaped by virtue is indisputably the most productive economic system for fulfilling the promise of the American dream for generations to come.