If you absolutely had to draw up a set of policy proposals to dislodge the United States from its position as the most prosperous country in the world, how would you do it?
Your first step would be to pinpoint which factors have produced levels of prosperity unseen in human history and which exist here in the United States. Step two would be to convince impressionable citizens that their eyes and ears are deceiving them, and that the policies that have produced our unprecedented prosperity are failures. Your third step would be to get those same impressionable people to become advocates for legislation which will ensure that the deterioration of the United States occurs slowly, so the contrast between a less prosperous today and a more prosperous yesterday is less noticeable; the regression of prosperity becomes accepted as the norm. Your fourth step is to laser-focus all blame for this regression on your ideological opponents.
Understandably this is an extremely touchy subject, so in this piece I’m going to avoid speculation about the motives of any particular individual or individuals, as I feel conjecture may obscure the seriousness of our subject matter.
With that caveat, here are a set of policy proposals which will ensure the destruction of prosperity.
POLICY OF DESTRUCTION PROPOSAL #1
The first policy priority would be to separate Americans from their money and to convince them that bureaucrats and elected officials can spend their money—for them—better than they can spend it on themselves.
After all, you cannot have both vibrant economic and political liberty and expect to implement your anti-prosperity platform at the same time. Separating people from their own hard-earned money is not easy and requires some slick marketing. Here’s how to do it: Find a charismatic speaker, with no qualms about bending the truth, and ensure he or she depersonalizes and demonizes hard-working taxpayers.
Very few Americans, when asked about specific people (i.e. their neighbors, family members, or friends) want to confiscate their money for their own personal use, but when the charismatic speaker engages in a full blown class-warfare campaign and avoids specifics, using terms such as “the rich,” “pay your fair-share,” and “big business,” it becomes easier to convince others that they are entitled to the earnings of fellow citizens. What many of these people fail to understand, when they buy into the big lie about income confiscation and redistribution, is that their own prosperity is next.
POLICY OF DESTRUCTION PROPOSAL #2
The second policy priority would be to separate Americans from control of their health and medical care.
You cannot destroy American prosperity while allowing people to freely choose when and where they seek medical care, whether acute or chronic. There are only two ways to organize a healthcare distribution system. Healthcare can either be rationed by those in power or priced through free-markets; there is no other way. Medicine, a hospital bed, and a doctor or nurse’s time are resources that can only be allocated by rationing or pricing. In dismantling the pricing signals of healthcare by inserting the government as a third-party payer of healthcare services, and disconnecting the patient from his or her own healthcare provider, you can convince the public that the inevitable exploding health care costs are the fault of greedy boogeymen. This will allow the government to come in and save the day, even after having caused the problem in the first place.
Once this step is achieved, grab your charismatic leader again, and encourage him to demonize “profits” in healthcare—despite the fact that he or she doesn’t work for free—and you’re on the road to government rationing of healthcare and the destruction of your health and prosperity.
Policy of Destruction Proposal #3
The third and final step is to expand the government bureaucracy and ensure it has maximum discretion in the implementation of regulations.
You cannot destroy American prosperity with a Constitution and laws that limit government power and maximize individual freedom. The way around this dilemma is to expand and empower the government bureaucracy and write a series of regulations that mimic laws by giving the bureaucrats power to interpret what the regulations say.
Go get your charismatic leader again and ask him or her to give a series of apocalyptic speeches about our future and man’s role in the inevitable destruction of the planet, and while giving the speeches, be sure to demonize any opposition as “deniers.” This will pave the road to establishing an unchecked government bureaucracy with the power to take your private property, your business, and your bank account. It will most certainly destroy the path to prosperity.
Ask yourself: Who are these charismatic leaders?
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image is by Robert F. Bukaty | AP Photo.