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What we were doing when freedom died?

by Oregon State Senator Doug Whitsett 8/30/12

In a speech delivered at Hillsdale College November 10, 1977, Ronald Reagan said:

It has been said that history is the patter of silken slippers descending the stairs and the thunder of hobnail boots coming up. Back through the years, we have seen people fleeing the thunder of those boots to seek refuge in this land. Now, too many of them have seen the signs, signs that were ignored in their homeland before the end came, appearing here. They wonder if they will have to flee again. But they know that there is no other place to run to. Will we, before it is too late, use the vitality and the magic of the marketplace to save this way of life, or will we one day face our children, and our children’s children, when they ask us where we were and what we were doing the day that freedom was lost?”

Reagan clearly understood the critical connection between freedom and free enterprise. Thirty five years later, I believe that critical connection is in even greater peril.

We cannot have free enterprise without freedom including:

# The freedom to live and work where and how we please.

# The freedom to live according to the values, and the beliefs, that we hold to be true.

# The freedom to take action on ideas to create products and services.

# The freedom to take risks, to work long hours and to reap the benefits of our labor.

# The freedom of equal opportunity to succeed in our efforts, or to fail, and try again.

Conversely, freedom cannot exist without the free market. The right to have an equal opportunity to succeed is the attribute of free market capitalism that is essential to maintaining all of our freedoms. That equal opportunity to succeed has built and nurtured this great nation for more than two centuries.

A guarantee of equal outcomes is the antithesis of free enterprise. It is the primary tenant of socialism. In fact, the ability to openly and freely compete is the essence of the difference between the two systems of government.

Modern proponents of big government would have us believe that “profit” is a foul concept that implies taking from others. Profits are a necessary feature of any successful business. It is the incentive that encourages the hard work and long hours required for entrepreneurs and their employees to succeed. It is that profit that provides the ability for a business to endure, to innovate, to grow, and to create jobs.

Conversely, the redistribution of profits through higher taxes and fees is counterproductive to the free market. In fact, the reallocation of earnings from those who work hard to those who hardly work serves as a disincentive to both groups.

Successful businesses have traditionally maintained three critical attributes. First, they must provide a valued service or product for their consumers. Second, they know that their business depends on customer service and satisfaction. Finally, they understand that their employees are their greatest asset and treat them accordingly.

In recent years a fourth attribute has become necessary. Businesses now must work together to preserve their freedoms in order to preserve the free market economy.

Our nation’s middle class is shrinking. It now stands at the lowest percentage of our population in nearly seventy years.

We are experiencing an erosion of our way of life. This attrition has resulted from a constant and incremental chipping away of our constitutionally protected freedoms that have safeguarded the free market. Too often, there have been negotiated settlements wherein big business entities have received significant competitive advantages by agreeing to these incremental losses of rights that sustain the free market.

Whenever government chooses business winners and losers, whether by government bailouts, preferential subsidies, punitive regulations or excessive taxes and fees, the free market is manipulated and competitive businesses are injured. The certain outcome is always the incremental loss of freedom.

I believe that Reagan would have been horrified by what has happened and is continuing to happening both within our government and between our government and some international corporate entities

The question is, will we step up and take control of our government this November, or will we be content to tell our children, and their children, what we were doing when freedom died.

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon no one will.

Best regards,





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