A Miracle at Stake
NOVEMBER 01, 1962 by LEONARD E. READ
The Constitution of the
Number One, there wasn’t a single person that turned to the government for security, welfare, or prosperity because government was so limited that it had nothing on hand to dispense, nor did it then have the power to take from some that it might give to others. To what or to whom do people turn if they cannot turn to government for security, welfare, or prosperity? They turn where they should turn—to themselves.
There was another benefit that flowed from this severe limitation of government. When government is limited to the inhibition of the destructive actions of men—that is, when it is limited to inhibiting fraud and depredation, violence and misrepresentation, when it is limited to invoking a common justice—then there is no organized force standing against the productive or creative actions of citizens. As a consequence of this limitation on government, there occurred a freeing, a releasing, of creative human energy, on an unprecedented scale.
This was the combination mainly responsible for the "American miracle," founded on the belief that the Creator, not the state, is the endower of man’s rights.
This manifested itself among the people as individual freedom of choice. People had freedom of choice as to how they employed themselves. They had freedom of choice as to what they did with the fruits of their own labor.
But something happened to this remarkable idea of ours, this revolutionary concept. It seems that the people we placed in government office as our agents made a discovery. Having acquisitive instincts for affluence and power over others—as indeed some of us do—they discovered that the force which inheres in government, which the people had delegated to them in order to inhibit the destructive actions of man, this monopoly of force could be used to invade the productive and creative areas in society—one of which is the business sector. And they also found that if they incurred any deficits by their interventions, the same government force could be used to collect the wherewithal to pay the bills.
I would like to suggest to you that the extent to which government in America has departed from the original design of inhibiting the destructive actions of man and invoking a common justice; the extent to which government has invaded the productive and creative areas; the extent to which the government in this country has assumed the responsibility for the security, welfare, and prosperity of our people is a measure of the extent to which socialism and communism have developed in this land of ours.
The foregoing is an excerpt from the set of two LP recordings by Mr. Read, three sides of which deal with the Essence of Americanism—the gift of freedom, the loss of freedom, the rescue of freedom. The fourth side describes a series of suggested answers to various Clichés of Socialism.
This set of two records may be ordered from The Foundation for Economic Education,