First the good news. This past weekend I found the West family summer 2017 vacation spot: Bay Harbor Michigan. I had the pleasure of flying into Traverse City and headed up US Hwy 31 to participate in the Northwood University 10th Annual Bay Harbor Celebration at the Bay Harbor Yacht Club. This year the focus was on U.S. and global economic strength and growth. I had the honor of being on a panel with esteemed economist Dr. Tim Nash, a dear friend. I stayed at the absolutely beautiful Inn at Bay Harbor, and folks, the view from the room of Lake Michigan was just, well, “Pure Michigan”…and the folks were just very hospitable. A real treat was meeting Petosky, Michigan native and U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame member and six-time national champion, Cary Adgate. It was just an exhilarating weekend.However, being there in Bay Harbor, staying at The Inn and speaking at the Yacht Club looking out to the lake reminded me once again that I’m a simple fella from inner city Atlanta and I’m living the American Dream.
Dr. Nash talked about the hard facts, the statistics demonstrating an economic resurgence in the state of Michigan. He articulated the fiscal and regulatory policies which have made that possible there.I was reminded of the famous quote by former Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Monyihan: “you are entitled to your own opinion, but not entitled to your own facts.”
And so it is when it comes to assessing economic policies, comparing those which result in growth, as opposed to those ending in failure. As we look at our American economy we can easily assess that we are not seeing success. Our GDP is lagging, unless you consider one percent growth a “new normal,” along with troubling unemployment rates and the ever-growing dependency of the welfare nanny-state.
My part of the panel presentation and discussion focused on the two contradictory visions of the relationship between government and the governed. I based my discussion on the prescient quote by Abraham Lincoln:
“The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.”
As we go full bore into this 2016 presidential election cycle, it’s very clear the choice Americans have. For one group, liberty is truly about what we are able to determine for ourselves and the product of our labor, in other words, classical liberalism — today’s constitutional conservatism.
Then there are those who believe it’s their duty to determine what to do with others, and the product of other individuals’ labor, truly rooted in Marxist theory, today’s progressive socialism. Marx once advanced a belief of “from those according to their ability, to those according to their need” which is the pure definition of the first principle of socialism — wealth redistribution. The problem we have in America is a lack of prominent individuals who will draw this delineation not based on party, but rather philosophy of governance and principle.The honored father of classical liberalism, Englishman John Locke, spoke of the rights of the individual by way of natural law — life, liberty, and property. It was the author of our Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, later our third president, who advanced the ideal of our individual inalienable rights, endowed by our Creator, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But, when you listen to the prime voices of progressive socialism, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the rest of the liberals, they don’t embrace the true American concept of liberty — defined by Lincoln — instead they embrace the antithesis, a guarantee of happiness.
Consider the language of the progressive leftists — fair share, economic equality, economic fairness, economic patriotism — and Hillary Clinton’s recent proclamation from her economic plan speech, “an economy that works for all.”My assessment is that if we have the tyranny — and that’s what it is — of people who believe it’s their right to decide how they make economic fairness for everyone, in the end, it is unfair for all. Well, let me correct that, it will work for those such as Warren Buffett, Tom Steyer, and Mark Zuckerberg who are part of the system of “crony capitalism.”
There’s a fabulous quote from a gentleman named Richard Cardinali: “Free people are not equal and equal people are not free.” What Cardinali shares with us is that those who seek to make it “fair” for everyone by way of creating an environment of government-driven social egalitarianism will end up stymying our basic natural right of liberty.
Obama, Sanders, and Clinton cannot make us all the same, a tired old concept taken from Vladimir Lenin who stated, “the goal of socialism is communism.”
Lincoln’s quote should be used every day in this election cycle to explain the real difference between our founding principles, and this cancerous belief metastasizing in America. Liberty is the equality of opportunity that enabled me to be in Bay Harbor this week. It’s the essence of America that has enabled me, with a Bachelors degree and two Masters degrees to be married to a woman, my wife Angela, who has a dual major Bachelors, an MBA, and a PhD.
We have a family with two beautiful daughters, but sadly, we represent only 24 percent of today’s black community due to the tyranny of progressive socialists.
Our oldest daughter is in her final semester to earn her Masters degree from Southern Methodist University, our youngest a college sophomore — no college debt. We own two homes, one in Texas and another in Florida – they’ll be part of a legacy we leave to our daughters. That ladies and gents is the result of Lincoln’s explanation of liberty, knowing that Angela is a naturalized American citizen who legally immigrated to America, and I came from Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward.
And that’s why what we represent is so very threatening to the progressive socialists who advocate the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”
So, what is a “fair share” — considering the top one percent of wage earners in America pays 45.7 percent of federal taxes…and the top 20 percent of wage earners pay 84 percent of federal taxes. Obama, Sanders, and Clinton speak the language of the latter as explained by Lincoln, tyranny, an equality of outcomes — “an economy that works for all.”
One of the questions posed to Dr. Nash and myself during the economic growth symposium came from Michigan State Representative Lee Chatfield, a sharp young man. He asked us to define morality.
I took the question and responded by saying, it’s not our business to define what the individual does with his or her life when it comes to personal actions and behavior — that is a matter of character and between them and God.
However, when it comes to the relationship between government and the individual, in light of our discussion on fiscal policy, morality to me is defined between economic empowerment and economic enslavement.
When government promotes policies that enslave the individual, making them dependent, not independent, that is pure immorality. And when I consider Hillary Clinton’s response to a West Virginia coal miner who asked her why she would want to bankrupt and destroy the industry in which he worked — her response was “they” [meaning government] will take care of him.
To me, ladies and gents, that’s immoral, to look into the eyes of a man who wanted to work, provide for his family with liberty, and tell him he means little in the face of her abject tyranny.
This election comes down to understanding the delineation between liberty and tyranny, the policies of equality of opportunity versus equality of outcomes, economic empowerment versus economic enslavement. It comes to realizing that being free is not about all being equal — the seminal difference between constitutional conservatives who believe in individual sovereignty versus progressive socialists who embrace collective subjugation.
Which shall America — in other words YOU — choose?