Don’t miss this piece by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and President of the American Enterprise Institute Arthur Brooks. It sets the stage for the overwhelming issue that confronts the American voter this November:
As we move into this election season, Americans are being asked to choose between candidates and political parties. But the true decision we will be making—now and in the years to come—is this: Do we still want our traditional American free enterprise system, or do we prefer a European-style social democracy? This is a choice between free markets and managed capitalism; between limited government and an ever-expanding state; between rewarding entrepreneurs and equalizing economic rewards.
Ryan and Brooks admit that some critics of their point of view claim that they are stating the choice in terms that are too stark, objecting that it’s possible to have both a big state and well-functioning free market. Data support the notion that many Americans want both a free market and government programs. Ryan and Brooks note:
This leads conventional thinkers to claim that a welfare state is what we truly want, regardless of whether or not we mouth platitudes about "freedom" and "entrepreneurship."
But these claims miss the point. What we must choose is our aspiration, not whether we want to zero out the state. Nobody wants to privatize the Army or take away Grandma's Social Security check. Even Friedrich Hayek in his famous book, "The Road to Serfdom," reminded us that the state has legitimate—and critical—functions, from rectifying market failures to securing some minimum standard of living.
However, finding the right level of government for Americans is simply impossible unless we decide which ideal we prefer: a free enterprise society with a solid but limited safety net, or a cradle-to-grave, redistributive welfare state. Most Americans believe in assisting those temporarily down on their luck and those who cannot help themselves, as well as a public-private system of pensions for a secure retirement. But a clear majority believes that income redistribution and government care should be the exception and not the rule.
Please do read the article. It has a surprisingly optimistic ending.