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The 2016 presidential election is being defined by many of the same competing ideas that decided so many recent elections. Conservative ideals versus liberal principles. Higher spending versus lower taxes. National security versus individual liberties. These are healthy, important discussions about the best path forward for America. However, there’s another debate raging on the campaign trail that’s cause for real concern—a debate over free enterprise versus socialism.
Our free market system has fostered the most innovative, prosperous, and entrepreneurial country on earth. It’s why the American economy today remains the envy of the world. It’s the reason we have access to cutting-edge technology, groundbreaking drugs, and other world-class inventions that continue to improve our lives. It enables small businesses and large corporations alike to innovate and take risks, continually delivering better products and smarter services. And it gives all Americans opportunities to pursue their dreams and be rewarded for their success—no matter who they are or where they come from.
Beyond U.S. shores, free markets have had a similarly positive and powerful impact. Studies have shown that nations that transition to free market economies see literacy rates and life expectancy go up, while things like poverty levels and pollution go down. Moreover, there’s a strong correlation between those who enjoy economic freedom and those who enjoy personal freedoms.
In short, the free enterprise system works. It’s a system to celebrate, not vilify.
Socialism, conversely, has been tried and has failed time and time again. Though it promises equality and prosperity, socialism inevitably leads to misery and poverty. It’s an upside-down system—instead of the government serving the people, the people serve the government. It’s an economic perversion that fundamentally undermines incentive, discourages risk taking, stunts innovation, and facilitates tyranny.
Yet it’s being pitched as a positive new direction for America, when in fact it is a radical and dangerous path. In the speeches we have heard in favor of socialism, important issues and challenges facing our country have been raised, including how to get our economy humming again and create more jobs for Americans. However, these are challenges that are best tackled under a system that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.
As Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” She was right then and is still right today. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges all Americans to reject this failed, antiquated, and discredited economic system. There’s no place for it in a country that strives to be free, prosperous, and forward looking.