Star Parker

"Tis the season to be jolly."

But this year it's going to be a challenge for many Americans. A Washington Post survey this week reported two thirds saying they were being impacted by the current recession. In another poll, 57 percent said they'd be cutting back on their Christmas spending.

Nothing unsettles the human heart and mind more than the unknown. I think our general discomfort is compounded by a feeling of not knowing exactly what is causing this economic tsunami and how and when we will recover.

Maybe as we consider all this, and particularly at a time of the year when we think about the blessings we do have to count, we might ponder what produced all the prosperity we have to begin with. What 's behind this great economic miracle -- the greatest of all time -- the United States of America?

If we listen to the news and our politicians, you would conclude it's all kind of a big machine. Like with a stalled car, they're all under the hood trying to figure out what went wrong. A busted hose? Distributor? Spark plugs? What needs to get fixed or installed to get the thing running again?

Or, alternatively, you'd think that we're like a bunch of white laboratory mice running around in a cage. The policy makers stand over us in white coats trying to figure out, "Well, do we need to give them a food pellet or an electric shock to get them to do what we want?"

Are we so lost today that we have forgotten that our great miracle has been produced by free people living in a free country?

Yet, now we hear from politicians that the problem is we're too free. We need more government, more regulations, more bureaucrats planning our lives and telling us what to do. Who is asking, given what made us great to begin with, if the problem is not exactly the opposite?

Consider that on the other side of the world the Chinese are now celebrating the 30th anniversary of the economic reforms that introduced private ownership and free markets into their communist country. Sure, China is still run by their communist party. But 30 years ago one hundred percent of their companie s were government run. Today half have been privatized.

China has been growing at double-digit rates since they opened the door to economic freedom. Income per person is ten times higher today than thirty years ago. And 250 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty.

Now I read that another miracle is occurring in China alongside of the new prosperity which freedom has enabled.

The Economist magazine recently reported about what it called "China's fastest growing non-governmental organization." Christianity.

According to the report, there may be now 130 million Chinese Christians - some 10 percent of the population. It is estimated that maybe one percent of the Chinese population was Christian when communist China was founded in 1949.

It's particularly compelling to consider that this explosive growth of Chinese Christianity is occurring in a country that is still officially atheist and where the government remains hostile and opposed to religion. And that, according to this estimate, the number of Chinese Christians is now almost double the number of Chinese members of the Communist Party.

So why, when the Chinese are discovering both freedom and faith, is America abandoning both?

Why do we now think we need to turn to commissars in Washington to plan our economy and our lives to save our country? Is this really where we should be turning20to be saved?

Let's remember, particularly now, that freedom is what made America great and that for that freedom, in the words of our first president George Washington, "religion and morality are indispensable."

This Christmas, let's remember who we really are and that the formula for American success is freedom, faith, family, and friends. Merry Christmas to all.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.