The role of government in our lives should be limited to defending our individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It should maintain a court system and provide a national military and local police forces, but no more. It should not play the role of distributing wealth or dictating the private decisions of its citizens. If the role of government were truly limited to the powers enumerated in the Constitution, we would all be better off.
As Ronald Reagan famously remarked, “Man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” Indeed, countries that have market-based economics enjoy more economic freedom, higher incomes, less poverty, stronger civil and political liberties, and cleaner environments. If policymakers were serious about preserving freedom for Americans, they would support policies that limit the growth of government.
Furthermore, the role of government should not be planning the economy. Basic economic forces, not government programs, foster economic growth. Throughout history, centralized government planning has not successfully fostered economic growth or protected civil liberties, and I have heard no compelling reason that it would work any differently in the U.S. As Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman observed, “The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or in literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.”
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