Every age, I'm sure, thought they were the greatest and smartest, but it has to be acknowledged that humans have made great advances in knowledge over the past 200 years, especially in the last 100. Great changes happened throughout history, although no major changes for long periods of time, but change has been incredible from the beginning of he 20th century until now. The 20th century brought fantastic technological developments, horrendous collective violence, psychological revelations, political unheavals, political freedom, sexual liberation, spiritual pluralism -- we've learned a lot about human nature -- what to do and what not to do.
The fall of the Soviet Union taught us that central planning doesn't work long term. America has been confused politically, but much of our statist tendencies, which have worked against an underlying free enterprise energy and genius, have been caused by the human defect of wanting something for nothing. I think we realize now that there's a price tag for everything we receive. Never before in history has a country been more ripe for the creation of a free society and a literally limited government. The Founder's vision has proven to have been premature, and during our capital formation many bad relationships were developed between industry and government -- plus, our society wasn't ready for freedom, thus the continuance of slavery and the suppression of women. That was addressed as we learned.
We've reached a point in human development where it's painfully obvious that economic information is too complex for government management, and that society simply needs a few general rules to guide its daily activities. In a previous post I wrote about community in freedom -- and this is where we stand. Government regulations have created a cronyism which feeds off American taxpayers. If government becomes the center of influence, then all efforts are geared toward directing the influence. Responsibility can't be a State monopoly -- it creates dependence in the majority, weakening communities, and it creates cronyism among the powerful few. We've also learned that ogliarchies aren't the best arrangement, except for those in power.
The idea that an unregulated society will fall victim to powerful corporations is opposite the reality of open competition and the personal responsibility of all citizens to oversee our interactions. The power to effectively regulate commerce lies in the private sector based on the indivdual interests, which are unfathomly interconnected, of everyone involved -- the general rules apply and are enough -- no one receives favoritism, no one commits fraud, government protects individual rights, courts mediate disputes and punish violators, transactions among individuals send the most reliable economic signals, failure weeds out incompetence and bad players, excellence is rewarded, honesty is the best policy, equal opportunity is moral.
Government intervention in the form of economic management and social engineering has complicated our economic relationships and has created a cronyism and nannyism which puts our nation at risk. We know enough now to live in freedom, although it'll take a gargantuan transition effort to move away from statism. There are creative ways to maintain a free market and avoid the risks so many statists have feared -- the dangers of statism are greater at this point, and statism, in one form or another, is the bulk of our experience. Using our communication/information technology and creating even more transparency, coupled with an invigorated, individual responsibility, will allow private sector self-regulation -- open competition with no government back-stops will clear the field of rent-seekers and power-mongers who can't survive without State assistance. The smart, transparent and nimble will win in a free marketplace.
We have also learned that a properous country cannot survive morally unless it has compassion for those who are unfortunate and can't make it on their own -- there's no doubt that the private realm will respond to the unfortunate and will take care of them much more humanely than a government welfare system. It's also obvious that social security will be best handled through responsible people making plans in a private system, which will foster the development of creative insurance/savings arrangements - we don't have to follow Greece to collapse.
A free market, prosperity, compassion, social security and safety nets are all connected. It's time to apply what we've learned -- it's time to apply the Founders' vision -- we know enough now to know we can't know enough to centrally plan, and to know we shouldn't pretend to know.