Ronald Reagan: Whatever Happened to Free Enterprise?

President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan

From the archived pages of Imprimis, the monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College, President Ronald Reagan reminds us that economic freedom is an absolute necessity not only for political freedom, but for all freedom. That freedom must be fought for and protected in every generation. That the business community must join this fight and not remain passive.

“It all comes down to this basic premise: if you lose your economic freedom, you lose your political freedom and in fact all freedom. Freedom is something that cannot be passed on genetically. It is never more than one generation away from extinction. Every generation has to learn how to protect and defend it. Once freedom is gone, it’s gone for a long, long time. Already, too many of us, particularly those in business and industry, have chosen to switch rather than fight.”

President Reagan clearly understood that government action is the biggest threat to our economic freedom and personal freedom. He correctly identified the government as the problem, not the solution:

“During the presidential campaign last year, there was a great deal of talk about the seeming inability of our economic system to solve the problems of unemployment and inflation. Issues such as taxes and government power and costs were discussed, but always these things were discussed in the context of what government intended to do about it. May I suggest for your consideration that government has already done too much about it? That indeed, government, by going outside its proper province, has caused many if not most of the problems that vex us. How much are we to blame for what has happened?

Beginning with the traumatic experience of the Great Depression, we the people have turned more and more to government for answers that government has neither the right nor the capacity to provide. Unfortunately, government as an institution always tends to increase in size and power, and so government attempted to provide the answers.”

Ronald Reagan’s timeless wisdom can be for us a beacon of hope and inspiration in the troubled economic and political times we now face. The Great Communicator took on the establishment and persevered in the face of massive opposition from the liberals and the mainstream media. Despite being belittled, insulted, and demonized, President Reagan stood his ground, acted on his conservative principles, and made good on his promises to restore America’s greatness. His vision and leadership rescued the country from disaster and history proved him right.

More than three decades ago President Reagan concluded his speech with an ominous warning and call to action. It is as appropriate and relevant today as it was in 1978:

Will we, before it is too late, use the vitality and the magic of the marketplace to save this way of life, or will we one day face our children, and our children’s children when they ask us where we were and what we were doing on the day that freedom was lost?

Will enough Americans still heed President Reagan’s call? Will more of today’s business leaders join this fight? Will we preserve our economic, political, and personal freedoms for the sake of this and future generations?

Originally posted at American Thinker Blog.


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