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I was recently invited to a 50th anniversary dinner for a civil rights group where several speakers and guests celebrated their organization’s accomplishments. Although some of the positions they took are not popular with many in the general public, the organization’s leaders feel it is their mission to protect certain civil liberties from the acts of an unfair and overreaching government. Despite the organization’s goals, the keynote speaker proceeded to excoriate the acts of certain individuals who oppose runaway government spending, over regulation and the economic policies of the current Administration. Rather than respecting the civil liberty of free speech and the right to fight for Economic Freedom, less government and more self reliance, the speaker chose to lump all groups together as “far right radicals”, denigrate their motives and indeed their intelligence. This was a very counterintuitive position as it appeared the speaker felt the call for Economic Freedom should be disregarded in order to protect government intervention in the lives of America’s entrepreneurs and indeed the American people.
The fight for Economic Freedom is a kindred struggle to prevent excessive Government control of our “economic” lives. According to the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom is:
“the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please, with that freedom both protected by the state and unconstrained by the state. In economically free societies, governments allow labor, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”
Unfortunately, economic freedom is under attack rather than being promoted. A recent study from the Small Business Administration found that small businesses pay more than $10,000 per year per employee to comply with Federal regulations. This number does not include the impending costs of Obamacare and rising costs of state and local regulations. Moreover, the federal cost of compliance has risen more than 30% in a little over 6 years. Rather than creating an environment of investment and job creation for America’s small businesses, the government just keeps adding more and more layers of paperwork, confusion and job killing frustration.
In reality, as the costs of regulations become more burdensome, entrepreneurs are forced to divert their scarce time and resources to complying with the ever increasing myriad of rules and regulations. Instead of reinvesting in their business, hiring new employees, increasing salaries and meeting their customers’ demands, businesses have to worry about complying with ever increasing government mandates that are in many cases conflicting, redundant and unreasonable. Unfortunately, this simple logic is still lost on many of our “leaders” who prefer to rely on government as the answer to all of society’s challenges. In fact, a congressman from Minnesota was recently quoted as saying that regulations are good as they create jobs because businesses will hire people to help them comply. This type of pretzel logic can be summed up in one word: “HUH?”
The call for increased Economic Freedom is sensible and a time-tested approach for achieving prosperity. It is time our country returned to using economic common sense that relies on the innovation and spirit of the American people to create commerce, new technologies, and new jobs to grow this economy. We ask our leaders to trust the American people to take economic risks and allow them to be rewarded for these risks and yes, pay for their failures. However, even in failure one is not doomed to permanent abyss and should not expect an automatic bailout from the American taxpayer. As Americans we get back up, dust ourselves off and do what it takes to pursue new opportunities. This is particularly true of Hispanic Americans, many of whom have overcome harrowing experiences, yet are leading the nation in creating new businesses. Hispanic businesses are not asking for handouts nor the proverbial hand up, all we ask is for the “handshake” of a government that wants to partner in creating prosperity for our community and all Americans. We are not asking the government go away, just ease up and get out of the way, thereby allowing all entrepreneurs to innovate and create the jobs our community sorely needs.
The LIBRE Initiative will continue to defend the principals of Economic Freedom by advocating for limited government, free markets and self-reliance in order to pave the way for more prosperity, more jobs and the road to a renewed American spirit.
Michael L. Barrera is the former National Ombudsman for the Small Business Administration and the former President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He is currently a Regional Director of The LIBRE Initiative.