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Senator Marco Rubio was elected in 2010 to represent Florida in the Senate. He was born in Miami to parents who had fled the dictatorship of Fidel Castro after the Cuban revolution. Senator Rubio’s recent speech at the Reagan Library is an amazing mix of wisdom and common sense.
Power Line posted the following excerpt:
[W]e must begin by embracing certain principles that are absolutely true. Number one – the free enterprise system does not create poverty. The free enterprise system does not leave people behind. People are poor and people are left behind because they do not have access to the free enterprise system because something in their lives or in their community has denied them access to the free enterprise system. All over the world this truism is expressing itself every single day. Every nation on the Earth that embraces market economics and the free enterprise system is pulling millions of its people out of poverty. The free enterprise system creates prosperity, not denies it.
The second truism that we must understand is that poverty does not create our social problems, our social problems create our poverty. Let me give you an example. All across this country, at this very moment, there are children who are born into and are living with five strikes against them, already, through no fault of their own. They’re born into substandard housing in dangerous neighborhoods, to broken families, being raised by their grandmothers because they never knew their father and their mom is either working two jobs to make ends meet or just not home. These kids are going to struggle to succeed unless something dramatic happens in their life.
These truisms are important because they lead the public policies that define the proper role of government. On the prosperity side, the number one objective of our economic policy, in fact the singular objective of our economic policy from a government perspective is simple – it’s growth. It’s not distribution of wealth, it’s not picking winners and losers. The goal of our public policy should be growth. Growth in our economy, the creation of jobs, and of opportunity, of equality of opportunity through our governmental policies.
Now often when I give these speeches, members of the media and others get frustrated because there is nothing new or novel in it. We don’t have to reinvent this. It’s worked before and it will work again and they are simple things. Like a tax code that’s fair, predictable, easy to comply with. Like a regulatory framework that doesn’t exist to justify the existence of the regulators, that doesn’t exist to accomplish through regulation and rulemaking what they couldn’t accomplish through the Congress.
And it is the proper role of government to invest in infrastructure. Yes, government should build roads and bridges, but it should do so as part of economic development as part of infrastructure. Not as a jobs program.
And government should invest in our people at the state level. Education is important, critically important. We must educate and train our children to compete and succeed in the 21st century. Our kids are not going to grow up to compete with children in Alabama or Mississippi. They’re going to grow up to compete with kids in India, and China, all over the world; children who are learning to compete and succeed in the 21st century themselves.
These are proper roles of government within the framework of creating an environment where economic security and prosperity is possible.
The concepts in the speech need to be shouted during the current debate about our budget deficits. The first is the idea that free enterprise does not create poverty–it provides a vehicle for people to escape poverty, and the second is that poverty does not create our social problems–it is the result of those problems.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan understood what the war on poverty would do to America when Lyndon Johnson began the program:
The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
It’s time to examine how we spend money to fight poverty in America. Free money is not a solution to poverty. Free money destroys self-esteem and ambition–both of which are needed to overcome poverty.