Kevin Price
Can "gradualism" be used to foster freedom?
By Kevin Price
September 10, 2009

The United States today is a mere shadow of the once free republic that was known as a beacon of freedom through out the work and economic power house that was without comparison. This happened because our federal government deferred to the states and the citizens on the vast majority of decisions that had to be made. We seem to have a very different country today.

Much of the world is rapidly moving away from command economies while the US pursues such at a now rapid pace. This didn't happen over night, but has happened gradually over many generations. Frankly, the US of 50 years ago was not as free as it was a century before; the "good old days" are becoming a distant memory. From the early days of the republic until the early 20th century, state and even local government officials had more real power than those who held most federal offices. Those in Congress — and the White House — had their hands tied by a constitution that put firm limits on them.

We can look at historic Supreme Court decisions and even major events (like some of the effects of the Civil War) and see the power shift from a federalist system with sovereign states to the strong national government system we are experiencing today. The court decisions were driven by policies that were designed to make the federal government stronger. These policies included a redefining of welfare (which historically meant had to be beneficial to everyone or was not welfare), how people were taxed, the expansion of regulation, and much more. There was not a massive change over night, but the change has indeed been huge.

These changes happened because people want more things (or money) paid for by others. The late Russell B. Long may have put it best, stating "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax the guy behind the tree." People want "free" schools, unemployment benefits, subsidy programs, etc., as long as they don't have to pay for them. This natural inclination makes it easy for government to expand. This isn't the case with reducing the size of government. Cutting a program even slightly is seen as Draconian — even cruel. This is logical, if a benefit or program is justified at all, shouldn't it be justified in abundance? This goes back to the federal system that we were talking about earlier. This is why the Founding Fathers so greatly limited the government's activities to around 17 items in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

The only answer to our current situation is to challenge those who want government to grow at a slower speed (the vast majority of Republicans it appears), to begin to demand that those who take the oath of office take it seriously (regardless of how odd their platform seems compared to the many politicians who have trampled over this oath), and to begin using the language of "restoration" and not conservatism. What is there, after all, left to conserve? Bloated budgets, the decline of freedom, and the confiscation of wealth? Conservatism now means only slowing down our trek down the "road to serfdom." We should instead pursue a different path.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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