the loss of political liberty

Two Claremont fellows deliver the philosophical case against the stimulus bill:
As President Obama chides Congress for its delay in passing a $900 billion stimulus bill, the largest lump-sum government expenditure in U.S. history, the country would do well to reflect on one of the basic lessons of human experience: Any excessive concentration of power in the hands of government—not just political or military, but also economic—is a threat to the precious and fragile liberty that we have so painstakingly achieved.
They continue,
Liberals insist on maintaining a wall in their minds between personal and economic liberties. Economic restrictions, however, can have a severe impact on personal freedom. Ballooning budgets and deficits must eventually be paid down by individuals in the private sector. Either we must pay higher taxes today or our children will have to pay higher taxes in the future. Both represent a restriction of private citizens’ freedom to earn and spend their money as they deem appropriate.

Remember Milton Friedman’s brilliant insight in Capitalism and Freedom: The decentralized production and accumulation of wealth in diffuse private hands counterbalances the power that the government wields over individual lives. The ability of the private sector to produce and allocate resources without any central control prevents any single authority from controlling many large and important spheres of human activity.
Actually almost the whole piece is worth quoting:
This is why a vibrant and independent private sector is vital to the flourishing of the personal freedoms that we all cherish, especially when it comes to free speech. In order to disseminate heterodox opinions, dissenting voices need access to resources to develop, print, and distribute their views. As the government becomes the main arbiter of wealth, exercising more and more control over the allocation of society’s resources, it becomes far more difficult for outsiders to obtain independent means to disseminate dissent.

This may seem a remote concern, but it is important to recognize the danger on the horizon. It is no accident that so many dissident movements in politics, culture, sexuality, and the arts have depended on private patrons, whose independent wealth has allowed them to blaze trails of human innovation that no government authority would have permitted.

But perhaps most disturbing of all is the poisonous psychological effect that an increasingly activist government inflicts on its citizenry. There is something profoundly wrong when the economy starts to sputter and immediately the national spotlight shifts to the federal government. Instead of engaging in private reflection and resolving to abandon old ways of individual irresponsibility, the nation quickly turns its frantic eyes to the hordes of technocrats and regulators in Washington, arrayed in suits behind a charismatic figurehead who struts onto the stage and promises an immediate rescue.

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