Reagan’s Four Essential Economic Freedoms Contrasted to Obama’s Economic Plan

I have often thought that political freedoms and economic freedoms are connected: you can’t have one without the other, or at least, not for long. On this very subject, I recently came across a speech by Ronald Reagan from July 3rd, 1987:

Inextricably linked to these political freedoms are protections for the economic freedoms envisioned by those Americans who went before us. While the Constitution sets our political freedoms in greater detail, these economic freedoms are part and parcel of it. During this bicentennial year, we have the opportunity to recognize anew the economic freedoms of our people and, with the Founding Fathers, declare them as sacred and sacrosanct as the political freedoms of speech, press, religion, and assembly. There are four essential economic freedoms. They are what links life inseparably to liberty, what enables an individual to control his own destiny, what makes self-government and personal independence part of the American experience.

First is the freedom to work — to pursue one’s livelihood in one’s own way, to choose where one will locate and what one will do to sustain individual and family needs and desires.

Second of those freedoms is the freedom to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor — to keep for oneself and one’s family the profit or gain earned by honest effort.

Third is the freedom to own and control one’s property — to trade or exchange it and not to have it taken through threat or coercion.

Fourth is the freedom to participate in a free market — to contract freely for goods and services and to achieve one’s full potential without government limits on opportunity, economic independence, and growth.


I thought it would be fun to contrast Reagan’s economic principles with those of Barack Obama. Each of the following comes directly from Obama’s Web site.

Reagan’s Economic Principles Obama’s Economic Plan
The freedom to work “Extend and Expand Unemployment Insurance.” More incentives to NOT work.
The freedom to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor “$20 billion in new tax rebates.” Money for nothing. If the rebate went to actual tax payers, 97% of it would have go to the rich. But Obama’s proposal is to give this money to “America’s workers” He doesn’t clarify exactly who that is, but it sounds like a big redistribution of wealth, i.e. enjoying the fruits of someone else’s labor.
The freedom to own and control one’s property “Barack Obama’s Plan to Jumpstart the Economy”: $50 billion in new government spending. And bigger government, of course, means less control you and I have over our own property, including our income, which Obama will be taking more of to pay for his big government programs.
The freedom to participate in a free market “a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund” and “$10 billion in Relief for State and Local Governments Hardest-Hit by the Housing Crisis.” This is more meddling by the government and anything but free market economics.

Wow, what a contrast! It’s too bad the Republicans didn’t nominate a candidate with Reagan’s views on economics. I guess John McCain will have to do; he is certainly much better on economics than Barack Obama.

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