Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Hope For Change

With a little luck, the last of the political primary debates were over this week. The election process is not over by any stretch of the imagination however. With the economy in the doldrums, gas and oil prices at an all time high, and inflation rearing its ugly head; naturally everyone hopes that things will change. Coming out of eight years of a Republican president, the Democratic candidates have based a lot of their campaigning on both hope and change. Even the Republican candidate, facing a disgruntled electorate, recognizes that hope for some kind of change is essential. The question is, "What kind of change?" 

So many things are timing in our lives, and in my case this manifested itself in a book that I recently completed reading, "A Time For Truth" by William E. Simon, written in 1978. Mr. Simon was a Treasury Secretary under Nixon and Ford, and the Energy Czar during the oil crisis of 1973-74. The clear thinking that he brings to the subject of energy and the US economy both as it existed then, and as he saw it evolving some 30 years ago is astonishing, and makes the book well worth putting on your reading list. 

More astonishing still in this book is the reference that he makes to a quote from one of my heroes, Winston Churchill. Being pushed out of office by the Socialists in England back in 1945, Mr. Churchill had some rather interesting insights on those who were taking power and where he saw it leading. These are thoughts that in the current debate over the potential coming to power of the social progressives of this country is worthy of now repeating:  

"I do not believe in the power of the state to plan and enforce. No matter how numerous the committees they set up or the ever-growing hordes of officials that they employ or the severity of the punishments that they inflict or threaten, they can't approach the high level of internal economic production achieved under free enterprise. Personal initiative, competitive selection, the profit motive, corrected by failure and the infinite processes of good housekeeping and personal ingenuity, these constitute the life of a free society. It is this vital creative impulse that I deeply fear the doctrines and policies of the socialist government have destroyed. Nothing that they can plan and order and rush around enforcing will take its place. They have broken the mainspring, and until we get a new one, the watch will not go. Set the people free - get out of the way and let them make the best of themselves. I am sure that this policy of equalizing misery and organizing scarcity instead of allowing diligence, self-interest and ingenuity to produce abundance has only to be prolonged to kill this British island stone dead." 

With the current struggles in the US economy and the coming changing of the guard that will inevitably occur no matter which way the election goes, my hope is that these words bring pause in the headlong rush. Hope is always a good thing. Change, not always so much. 

Government's role in this hope and change is a delicate and a dangerous one. Remember the inflation, unemployment, and chaos that Great Britain suffered for many years after World War II and which didn't truly end until Margaret Thatcher took the reigns of government. Take heed as you ask for government to take control of things and make it all right. And as always, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.


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