Ken Connor

Principle Number 2: There is an Inverse Relationship Between the Size of Government and the Scope of Freedom. As Government Expands, Freedom Contracts.

Taxes are to government as calories are to people. Lots of tax money is necessary to sustain a big government. The money used to feed the American government comes from the American people. When the government requires more of our money in taxes, less is available for the people. With less money in their pockets, they have fewer choices available to them. They have less freedom to make decisions than they had before the government took their money. And as government grows bigger and bigger on a steady diet of tax money, it occupies a bigger and bigger presence in the lives of its citizens, thereby limiting their freedom even more.

Principle Number 3: Freedom and Security are Not the Same. Real Freedom Includes the Freedom to Fail.

Much of the money in our national budget is spent to insulate people and corporations from the consequences of their own conduct. A classic example is the TARP program, which was designed to immunize large corporations from the consequences of their profligacy. The rationale for the program was that some companies are simply "too big to fail." The result, however, is that, spared from the natural consequences of their own conduct, these companies are likely to repeat the conduct that required them to be bailed out in the first place.

Most people learn from their mistakes, and in doing so, profit from them. Experience often is the best teacher; thus, when we suspend the Law of Natural Consequences, rescuing people from their failings, they are likely to repeat them. If we are to be a truly free people, we must be free to fail… and to suffer the consequences of our failure. A nanny state which protects its citizens from womb to tomb – insulating them from their failure to plan for their financial futures, protecting them from the consequences of their bad choices – guarantees that its citizens will continue to make mistakes. And in the process, it will bankrupt its citizens by robbing those who succeed to protect those who fail.

So, while the debate about our national budget may sound boring and arcane, the outcome of that debate has huge implications for everyone, and not just for our financial future. Nothing less than our freedom is at stake in the resolution of the current budget debate. Here's hoping that the American people and their elected representatives have the discipline and determination to do what's right.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.