By Theresa Camoriano
One of the attacks being waged on Mitt Romney is that he is a rich guy who doesn’t care about the average person. It is summarized by the phrase, “I’ve got mine, so the heck with you!” or something similar. The irony is that conservative policies provide the greatest opportunity for economic mobility, while the policies promoted by Mitt’s accusers tend to lock people in place – keeping the poor in poverty and keeping the rich in their positions of power and wealth.
When the government picks the winners and losers, then those in power will use the government to keep themselves in power and to keep others out. Many politicians say that the free market is cold and cruel and claim that they want to use government to protect us from the dog-eat-dog competitive world, but the fact is that their policies are much more unfair and cruel than the merit-based free market.
Where is the compassion in taking the hard-earned money of taxpayers and showering it on Solyndra and other favored companies owned by your friends?
Where is the compassion in keeping people dependent on government for their income?
Environmentalists who want to prevent farmers from developing their land are taking the “I’ve got mine” approach. They like their current situation and want to maintain the rural countryside no matter how much it costs other people. They don’t care that they are stealing the value of the property from the owner when they prevent it from being developed.
A man who owned farm property about ten miles away from us wanted to develop it. Many well-off people who had moved into new developments in that area did not want him to develop his property. They already had their homes, and they wanted to keep the rural charm of the area by preventing others from building homes like theirs. Did they respect the man’s property rights and offer to buy the property from him so they could control it? Of course not! Why should they spend their own money when they could use the power of government to get what they wanted at no cost to themselves? So, they used the zoning laws to prevent the man from developing his property. The man was so angry that he decided he would fully comply with the rural zoning requirement and started operating a hog farm on the property. Good for him! His “I’ve got mine” neighbors deserve a hog farm in their backyard!
Environmentalists who want to prevent drilling for oil and natural gas also are members of the real “I’ve got mine” crowd. They do not care that their policies cause the cost of energy to rise dramatically and cause great pain for less affluent people or that they are preventing the creation of good-paying jobs for people who really need them. After all, they’ve already got theirs!
And what about those who oppose vouchers and other school choice options while sending their own children to private schools? They’ve already got theirs, so what do they care that they lock poor children in poor schools and middle class children in mediocre schools?
And how about the people who want to lock us in government-controlled health care while they have gold-plated programs for themselves?
On the other hand, Mitt Romney and other conservatives promote free market competition, with respect for private property and the rule of law, which creates the greatest freedom and opportunity for everyone to succeed. When the government performs its proper role of simply enforcing the rule of law without prejudice and without attempting to pick winners and losers, then the question is not who your parents are, what school you went to, how much money you have, or who you know, but whether you can do the best job of serving consumers. Anyone who is creative and applies himself has the opportunity to succeed, and anyone, no matter how rich or powerful, may fail.
This is the traditional, merit-based, American philosophy, which is the exact opposite of the “I’ve got mine” philosophy. It respects the hopes and dreams of every single individual. It creates the conditions that have been most successful throughout history in lifting people out of poverty. It provides the greatest opportunities for growth, prosperity, and happiness for everyone.
The people who are accusing Mitt Romney and conservatives of wanting to lock themselves in positions of power at the expense of the majority ought to take a good, hard look at the actual policy results. Whose policies protect the powerful from competition? Whose policies provide the greatest opportunity for advancement and growth for everyone – not just for the insiders? Whose policies treat every individual with respect? Whose policies treat people like house pets?
Before Romney’s critics accuse him of taking the “I’ve got mine” approach, they ought to look in the mirror.
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