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July 12, 2011

Mr. Public, if you please…

Farrell Keough

In these mid-summer months, one would think things would slow down and backyard barbeques would be the only game in town.


Unfortunately, politics is a voracious animal and many other issues are taking place: redistricting; PlanMaryland; (zoning and planning being taken over by the state); the privatization issue of our local county government; the charter writing; and, of course, the national debt/deficit. This list goes on and on.


But, there is one truly important date and that is tomorrow! Yes, your intrepid writer will turn the magical age of 50 July 13.


This gives one a bit of time to ponder – what has occurred over the last half-century? Some fun Internet searches yielded a most interesting cartoon from 50 years ago. It was produced in 1948, (obviously more than 50 years ago) by Harding College and entitled, “Make Mine Freedom.”


But what makes this cartoon so prescient? A simple suffix: “ism.” When one adds “ism” to a noun, you have a description which can separate people into groups and cause a strong emotional response – sexism, racism, elitism, conservativism.


The long and short, this creates groups which fight with each other based primarily on titles rather than beliefs or ideologies. Now, good argumentation can be a positive thing – it forces people to thoroughly think through why they hold their views and opinions.


But, when these arguments are based on somewhat meaningless titles, it belittles both the person and the basis of the argument. Most importantly, it allows for groups and government to wrest control from the individual. In short, people believe they are fighting for their freedoms and liberties; but, in fact, they are losing both!


Now enter John Q. Public. He thinks through this wonderful presentation by a snake oil salesman and determines it is not worth giving up our individual rights and liberties under the pretext of some universal remedy.


This is where it gets interesting. John Q. Public readily admits that while capitalism has its flaws, it is a far better system than any other economic creation. Mr. Public explains that America allows for a person to develop a better product. That person then finds investors, and voilà, a win-win for virtually all involved!


There is an interesting aside to this scenario. John Q. Public credits these investors as “capitalists” – yet the characters are embarrassed by that moniker. Even back then, those who disliked or distrusted our amazing economic system of capitalism had their claws into the public perception. Mr. Public assures these citizens that by investing in these new products they are not only benefiting themselves, but the nation as a whole. They are the engine of our economy and they are the basis for growing our nation.


This juxtaposition is precisely what we are seeing today. Separation of people into groups, pitting one against the other, only results in making government bigger and stronger. It gives government the ability, if not the implied authority, to regulate every aspect of business and life.


Yet, government cannot and has not ever made a job which stimulated the economy. Government is dependent on private sector jobs to pay its bills.


Even 50 years ago this concept was not fully understood. We have an opportunity to re-educate and re-institute this perspective into the fabric of our nation. On this day to celebrate, (July 13, 2011) we should all make an effort to help instruct others in the truth and benefits of capitalism.


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