Ours is no longer, in our president’s take on things, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
America now is the land of the envious and the home of the victim.
Ours is a land, as our president explains it, where the success of one American comes at the expense of another. Where the poor are poor because the rich are rich.
And where the role of government is not to ensure “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” but to tax away wealth from those it deems to have too much and determine how to invest our nation’s resources.
The president chose to give this speech in Osawatomie because President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, spoke there in 1910 and made a plea for more government in American life. How clever.
But in 1910, the federal government was extracting less than five cents from every dollar produced by the American economy.
It was not until the 1930s, except during World War I, that this doubled to 10 cents of every dollar. After World War II, this doubled again, to 20 cents.
Now, after three years under Obama’s vision, the federal government takes 25 cents of every dollar produced by the American economy. If we throw in the costs of state and local government, barely 50 cents of each dollar of our economic output remains in the private economy.
But Obama thinks we’re languishing because we’re still too free.
The idea that “the market will take care of everything” may look good on a “bumper sticker,” according to our president, but, in his words, the idea of free citizens and free markets “doesn’t work” and “never worked.”
Perhaps our president ought to wake from his dream, and our nightmare, and take a closer look at the country he is living in.
According to the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in studying entrepreneurship, almost all net new jobs created in our country come from firms less than five years old.
Net new job growth in America comes from entrepreneurs. Not from government bureaucrats and not even from corporate monoliths.
This entrepreneurial activity takes place at considerable risk. According to one study from Case Western Reserve University, only 30 percent of new business start-ups are still operating after 10 years.
Entrepreneurs start and build their businesses with personal savings, credit cards, funds from family and friends, and loans and investments from banks and venture capitalists.
But what entrepreneur will take these risks if there isn’t upside as well as downside? Who will do it if success is punished rather than rewarded? If power-seeking politicians decide that certain successful entrepreneurs have become too wealthy?
Our president cannot seem to grasp that freedom and entrepreneurship are not about “doing your own thing” but are the essence of what he calls “we’re greater together than we are on our own.”
Businesses grow by competing to serve customers.
It is also not about, to the president’s confusion, “making up your own rules.” It works when we don’t make up our own rules and live by eternal truths, which prohibit theft and protect private property.
Our problems start when government stops doing its job to enforce those rules and starts making up its own.
We stand at a critical crossroads today in clarifying the role of government in our free country.
Obama was correct to say that “this is the defining issue of our time.”
Whatever solutions Republicans propose to deal with issues like government spending, taxation, health care and education must flow from a core vision of what America is about.
Whoever emerges as the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 must be ready to offer a dusted-off and clear vision of America that will restore our understanding of and faith in the freedom that made and makes this country great.
Star Parker is an author and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education.