What’s old is new again

The siren song of the tax-consuming class is unmistakably clear: Capitalism has failed.

We’ve tried the free market and suffered greatly, they purr. Now that Democrats have control of the White House and both chambers of Congress for the first time in 15 years, it is time to try a new economic model, they argue. One that offers the warm embrace of government, that trusts the wisdom of the state over "greed."

Yes, our economy has suffered great damage, and millions of Americans have experienced a commensurate reduction in their standard of living, the highest the world has ever seen. But we have been here before — in the 1870s, in the 1930s, in the 1970s. In each period, those who favor state dominion over individual rights have argued that the only way forward was to abandon the liberty-oriented principles and philosophies of the past.

Today, the faces in Washington and the mainstream media are different, but the collectivist ideas remain the same. "We are all socialists now," Newsweek magazine declared this month. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, despite amassing individual wealth and fame through performance and competition, are gleeful messengers for the "we know best" set. What’s old is new again.

As proof that we have heard and rejected the tiresome demands for greater state control before, it’s worth watching a 1979 interview of the late economist Milton Friedman by the leftist pundit Phil Donahue. Mr. Donahue wrings his hands over the chaos of capitalism and what he perceives as an unfair distribution of wealth.

"The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus," Mr. Friedman responds. "The record of history is absolutely crystal clear — that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free-enterprise system."

Mr. Friedman points out that those suffering the most around the world do so in precisely the nations that have rejected the wonders of capitalism and the free market.

Watch a 2 1/2-minute clip of the interview below.

This country is the richest and most powerful land on Earth because it remains largely free. The increasing cries for federal intervention, and the government’s increasing willingness to answer them, betray the principles on which this nation was founded.

Previous attempts to centralize authority and chain down free commerce have been rejected, for the most part. If we are to recover, we must do so again.

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