F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
March 12, 2000
I'm Afraid I've Got Some Good News

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

Is America experiencing a new birth of freedom? It sure looks that way.

There's good news on the threshold of the 21st century, declares David Boaz of the Cato Institute. "With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the shift toward capitalism in China, the energy has gone out of socialism," he observes. "We also see a greater appreciation for markets as an organizing principle of society."

In a recent issue of the Cato Institute's bimonthly Policy Report, Boaz cites "the shift to an information economy" as another bit of good news. He argues that this trend is "undermining the power of nation states. Global markets make it more difficult for states to impose taxes and controls on their citizens," explains Boaz. "Unprecedented access to information undermines claims of authority based on special knowledge. The shift from physical to human capital," he emphasizes, "empowers individuals and makes physical control less relevant."

Liberty is growing in America, agrees Cato's Ed Crane. "Privatizing Social Security is supported by two thirds of the population of the United States," he reports, "and people under 50 support it nearly unanimously. Men and women; Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; union workers; blacks, whites, Asians, and Hispanics all overwhelmingly favor replacing Social Security."

Crane cites "significant policy gains" as evidence that "progress is clearly being made. Today, the education monopoly is under attack as never before," he observes. "The teachers' unions are in rapid retreat, throwing charter schools at the discontented masses in the hopes of placating them before they tear down the walls of the monopoly. Ten years ago the unions were impervious to criticism."

Crane detects "a growing understanding that it's the third-party-payer system . . . that's to blame for bureaucratized and expensive health care in America. Hillary Clinton's effort to sell the Canadian system as the model for the United States broke down," he remarks, "when it became common knowledge that Canadians travel south when they have serious health problems. . . . There is a serious effort under way now to expand medical savings accounts and, indeed, to separate health insurance from employment through equal tax treatment."

Crane notes that "welfare is no longer a federal entitlement. People clearly understand the counterproductive nature of the dole," he asserts, "and are determined to hold their fellow citizens responsible for their own actions, as they largely did before the advent of the paternalistic Great Society programs of the 1960s."

Crane perceives "a growing consensus that scrapping the 9,000-plus-page U.S. Internal Revenue Code would be a good thing to do. Tax simplification," he contends, "is something to which all politicians must at least pay lip service."

Crane also points out that "the federal courts have once again started defending property rights; have been firm in support of free speech rights; have told Congress not to delegate its power to unelected bureaucrats; and have even resurrected the essence of the Constitution, the doctrine of enumerated powers. . . . A renaissance of respect for the Constitution," Crane concludes, "is imperative if the prospects for liberty are to be positive."

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