We are hearing a lot these days from tea party advocates about the need to restore free enterprise, an implication that it has been taken away. We are told that democracy is built only upon the free enterprise system.
Democracy is the idea that each citizen gets a vote, an equal say in government. When the economic system permits easy entry and competition between entrants, it is a free enterprise system.
As perhaps the most extreme example of socialism, communism has become the model used to criticize today's economic and governmental systems. In communism, few if any are permitted to enter freely into the major markets, there to produce and compete with the single controller of the nation's capital assets, the State. And where the State is controlled by a single party or association of bureaucrats, there is no democracy, no choice by the people of who will be calling the shots. No free market determines who may or may not enter it, or what prices they may charge for their goods and services.
Ours is a representative, not a pure, democracy. We have open, free markets.
Some markets are dominated by large groups. Wall Street dominates our banking system, yet an independent Federal Reserve Board has control over the monetary system. Our banks are owned by share holders, some being individuals, most being other large enterprises.
Whereby the vote of our representatives we have created entitlement systems, we have chosen government to provide for us in our later years, rather than depending upon our children as once was the case. This is not communism, but it is a long-standing form of socialism, one chosen democratically!
Whether it runs a military, an entitlement system, or an agency meant to foster a cleaner environment or a better education, bureaucracies tend not to work efficiently. Little if any competition encourages bureaucrats to be inefficient. But where there are few if any ways for many of these operations to be conducted competitively, we remain stuck with our bureaucrats.
Over my lifetime, I have seen the wages of non-unionized bureaucrats rise to unprecedented levels. Where once being a bureaucrat meant accepting a lower wage in exchange for an assured retirement after 20 or 30 years of steady and dependable work, now we have overpaid soldiers, overpaid politicians and overpaid local, state and federal workers, many of whom retire and double dip in second careers. Even our school teachers, dedicated workers in a truly noble profession, are being paid like never before.
Let's stop senseless hammering on socialism and free markets and start remembering from whence we came to where we are and by what means our governmental programs were changed by "We the People in our More Perfect Union."
Perhaps we do not need fewer bureaucrats, just fewer well paid ones.
• Dale Whiting is a Chandler resident