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Romney Makes the Moral Case For Freedom

I have been somewhat frustrated over the years that conservatives (conservative politicians, anyway) have tended to make the case for free enterprise and limited government almost entirely in prudential terms: we’re for it because it promotes economic growth. At the same time, many have been willing to concede, implicitly at least, a sort of moral superiority to government, which has the role of judging and redressing the “excesses” of the market.

So I was glad to see that in a speech in Missouri later today, Mitt Romney will state the case for freedom in ringing terms that we have not heard for quite a while:

[A]long with the genius of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights, is the equal genius of our economic system. Our Founding Fathers endeavored to create a moral and just society like no other in history, and out of that grew a moral and just economic system the likes of which the world had never seen. Our freedom, what it means to be an American, has been defined and sustained by the liberating power of the free enterprise system.

That same system has helped lift more people out of poverty across the globe than any government program or competing economic system. The success of America’s free enterprise system has been a bright beacon of freedom for the world. It has signaled to oppressed people to rise up against their oppressors, and given hope to the once hopeless.

It is called the Free Enterprise System because we are both free to engage in enterprises and through those enterprises we ensure our freedom.

But sadly, it has become clear that this President simply doesn’t understand or appreciate these fundamental truths of our system. Over the last three and a half years, record numbers of Americans have lost their jobs or simply disappeared from the work force. Record numbers of Americans are living in poverty today – over 46 million of our fellow Americans are living below the poverty line.

This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportions. Our government has an absolute moral commitment to help every American help themselves and today, that fundamental commitment has been broken.

Conservative economic policies don’t just create more wealth than socialism or liberalism, they are morally superior to socialism and liberalism. Let’s hope that today’s speech is just a small preview of what is to come from the Romney campaign.

UPDATE: More from today’s speech:

Today, government at all levels consumes 37 percent of the total economy or G.D.P. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, government will reach half of the American economy. And through the increasing controls government has imposed on industries like energy, financial services and automobiles, it will soon effectively control the majority of our economic activity.

One must ask whether we will still be a free enterprise nation and whether we will still have economic freedom. America is on the cusp of having a government-run economy. President Obama is transforming America into something very different than the land of the free and the land of opportunity.

We know where that transformation leads. There are other nations that have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.

I don’t want to transform America; I want to restore the values of economic freedom.

In a free-enterprise system, we don’t measure our success in equal outcomes, but instead in how well we preserve and promote the equality of opportunity. And this system has resulted in unrivaled prosperity and made America the greatest nation in history.

President Obama’s vision is very different – and deeply flawed. There is nothing fair about a government that favors political connections over honest competition and takes away your right to earn your own success. And there is nothing morally right about trying to turn government dependence into a substitute for the dignity of work.

Where my vision believes in the ingenuity of the American people, his vision trusts the wisdom of political appointees and boards, commissions and czars. It’s one in which ordinary Americans must get permission from people in Washington before they can buy, build, invest or hire.

It’s a world of federal mandates and waivers, tax credits and subsidies, federal grants and loan guarantees. It’s an economy where a company’s lobbyists will be more important than its engineers, and federal compliance lawyers will outnumber patent lawyers.

Excellent stuff.

Recommend this Power Line article to your Facebook friends.

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