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Gov. Sanford: Expanding Federal Power Isn't What Made This Country Great

Leonard Gilroy
September 26, 2008, 1:08am

In Friday's WaPo, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford once again demonstrates why he is the real deal:
An ever-expanding scope of federal commitment and power is not what made this country great. Expanded power in one place comes at a cost in other places. American cornerstones such as individual initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit -- born in free and open societies with private property rights and the rule of law -- have never fit particularly well within the context of an ever-growing federal government. For 200 years, the "business model" in our country has rested on a simple fact: that while one may reap rewards from taking risks, one should also be prepared to face the consequences of those risks. Some of the proposed actions with regard to the credit market turn that business model on its head -- absolving those who took too much risk, or bought too much house, from the weight of their own choices. If Congress passes the proposed bailout, we will be destined to have far greater problems in time, leaving those who are prudent in their finances to foot the bill for those who are not.
And he warns:
Many of the "cures" that are soon to be offered will have one thing in common -- telling us what others did wrong. Instead of listening to these, each of us as taxpayers must admonish those in Washington to get their own financial house in order. Washington is the master of creative and unsustainable finance, with $50 trillion in unfunded promises. We will be told of bailouts that "won't cost anything." We should caution policymakers that this has never been the history of bailouts, and remind them of Milton Friedman's suggestion that the capitalist system never works without loss. Investment titans recently featured in Vanity Fair trading $60 million beach homes should never be sheltered from this old-fashioned concept. We will be told of "temporary" funds and programs. We should remind our leaders of Ronald Reagan's words that the closest thing to eternal life is a government program. We will be told "trust us" on pricing assets, and we should not -- because no matter how pure one's intentions, no one watches your money like you do. This makes transparency and open bidding incredibly important.
Read the whole thing. And Gov. Sanford's article in Reason's Annual Privatization Report 2006 is well worth re-reading. Here's a teaser:
Any read through history demonstrates how essential limited government is to preserving freedom and individual liberty. What life experience shows us is that limited government is equally important in both making your economy flourish and in enabling citizens to get the most for their investment in government. Let me be clear up front that in the long run the only way to make government truly efficient is to make it smaller, and this seems to me to be the real clarion call in highlighting the importance of privatization efforts. Efficiency and government are mutually exclusive in our system, and if our Founding Fathers had wanted efficiency I suppose they would have looked more closely at totalitarian systems. They wanted not efficiency, but checks on power in our republic.
We could use a lot more like him. » Reason's Privatization Research and Commentary

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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