In a YouTube video posted by The LIBRE Initiative on Monday, Executive Director Daniel Garza reminisces about his early life as a first-generation American in a family of Mexican immigrant farmers and entrepreneurs:
“My parents were immigrants from Mexico with nothing but a fourth-grade education. We were so poor. My siblings and I would often miss school to work the fields. Our home was the size of a tool shed. It had no running water. What we would do is warm buckets of water on the stove, so that when my parents returned from working the fields, they would bathe with small cups. My father never took welfare, because he didn’t want to depend on anyone or lose his dignity.”
Garza’s story is truly one of achieving the fabled American Dream, and he is adamant that the path to success is through economic liberty. So is his father:
“You can make it with just three things: God, good credit, and freedom. Liberty to work. And that’s what the United States is.”
Garza Senior seems to believe that America is a place that grants everyone the freedom to work. He must be confusing the real America with President Roosevelt’s dream of America, where the ability to work is indeed a right and not a privilege.
Garza Junior goes on:
“My family and I have succeeded by following the path to freedom. But that path is on the verge of vanishing. What we’re starting to see here in American now is the growth in the size and the scope of government that is now starting to look like the governments we left behind. I’m just torn apart when I see folks who are caught in this dependency that government offers. And not only that, they’ve condemned their children to a life of mediocrity and subsistence.”
Garza believes — in fact, he knows — that “advancing economic freedom is the best way to improve human well-being, especially for those at the bottom.”
While Garza’s message sounds idyllic, it’s nothing but bromides. Of course economic liberty is a cherished principle of Western civilization. But so is social equality. And severe advancements in the economic liberty may lead to degradation of the social equality. The past few decades of increasing deregulation is proof of that; the wealth and income disparity gaps continue widening by the day.
All things being equal, the government would have no place regulating the markets. But things are not equal in America. So unfettered capitalism, to borrow a maxim, is like a lamb and a wolf arguing over what they’ll have for dinner.
The poor and the rich are not given the same starting line, like a reverse staggered start in track, where the wealthy begin in front and are given the inside line. The rich and the poor are given different sized ladders, or they’re given the same-sized ladder but the rich are born onto a pedestal. (You get the picture.)
There must be consumer protections against Wall Street and big business, there must be environmental protections against harmful industry practices, and there must be programs to spur the economic growth of those born much less fortunate than others.
Race, class and opportunity are conjoined at the hip in America, so to favor less regulation and more economic freedom is to deny a helping hand to groups of people victimized by centuries of socioeconomic policies that favored a small elite, the same small elite happily gorging itself today.