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Reagan vs. McCain on profits, business, and the free market

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 31, 2008 09:11 AM

Compare and contrast.

Class warrior John McCain Edwards at last night’s GOP debate held at the Reagan Library (transcript):

I think that we’ve got to return to the principle that you don’t lend money that can’t pay it back. I think that there’s some greedy people on Wall Street that perhaps need to be punished.

HOOK: I want to start with Senator McCain.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the importance of leadership and management experience. What makes you more qualified than Mitt Romney, a successful CEO and businessman, to manage our economy?

MCCAIN: Because I know how to lead. I know how to lead.

I led the largest squadron in the United States Navy. And I did it out of patriotism, not for profit.

COOPER: I’m going to ask you all for follow-ups on this, but, Senator McCain, I just want to give you an opportunity to follow up on that. Is Governor Romney ready to be a military commander?

MCCAIN: Oh, I’m sure that, as I say, he’s a fine man. And I think he managed companies, and he bought, and he sold, and sometimes people lost their jobs. That’s the nature of that business.

Ronald Reagan, “What Ever Happened to Free Enterprise,” Ludwig Von Mises Memorial Lecture at Hillsdale College, November 1977:

Political demagogues aided by spokesmen for a variety of causes, some worthy in themselves but questionable as to whether they’re a proper concern of government, have created a political and economic mythology widely believed by too many people. This is why we need the communications. This, more than anything else, has increased government’s ability to interfere, as it does, in the marketplace. “Profit” is a dirty word, blamed for most of our social ills. In the interest of something called “consumerism,” free enterprise is becoming far less free. Property rights are being reduced and even eliminated in the name of environmental protection. It is time that a voice be raised on behalf of the 73 million, pointing out that profit, property rights, and freedom are inseparable and you cannot have the third unless you continue to be entitled to have the first two.

Ronald Reagan, radio address, April 1979, via the Acton Institute:

Our free mkt. system is usually termed capitalism and by that definition capitalism has hardly been around long enough to deserve all the evil for which it is being held responsible.

Most of us aren’t really conscious of how recently the capitalist system came into being. Possibly we look back & think of the extravagant luxury of kings & emperors & see that as capitalism. We have a modern counterpart today in the rulers of Marxist nations. The ruling hierarchy of the Soviet U. live on a scale more akin to royalty than do the heads of capitalist countries.

Maybe our trouble is caused by the term capitalist itself. Actually all systems are capitalist. It’s just a matter of who owns & controls the capital–ancient king, dictator or private individual. We should properly be looking at the contrast between a free mkt. system where individuals have the right to live like kings if they have the ability to earn that right and govt. control of the mkt. system such as we find today in socialist nations.

We have a very visible example of the contrast between the free mkt. & govt. ownership in a household necessity we take for granted. The invention of Alexander Graham Bell–the telephone offers us irrefutable proof of the superiority of the free mkt.

As recently as 1880 there were only 34,000 miles of telephone wires on the whole N. American Continent. There were dozens & dozens of small telephone companies using several different kinds of equipment and there was no inter-connection between these different companies. The same situation prevailed in all the other so called advanced nations.

If someone had openly advanced a plan to put a phone in every home, on every farm, in every hamlet & city and hook them all together I’m sure someone would have said, “only govt. has the resources to do that.”

Now strangely enough in most other countries govt. did take over the telephone system and to this very day the telephones in a great many countries are part of the postal system. In America the govt. wasn’t bulldozing it’s way into the free mkt. place as it is today. For that we can be grateful. The scattered, competing phone companies were left to the magic of the mkt. place. And that magic worked as it always does.

We take the phone so much for granted it’s hard to realize things weren’t always this way. We can dial directly to any point in the country and to a great many outside the country.

With no intention of insulting anyone it I have to say it only takes a few days trip in many of those other countries to where the telephone is a govt. service to realize there is a difference. A long distance call there can be quite an adventure–so can getting a phone installed.

But here we have them in our cars if we like, in private or corporation owned executive planes & on boats. We bounce long distance calls off privately owned satellites and use telephone lines for network radio & remote broadcasts of sporting & special events.

And all of this came about because private individuals wanting to make a profit for themselves kept thinking of better services to offer, confident that we’d want that better service.

This is RR Thanks for listening.

Reagan in His own Hand, The Free Press p. 228,229.

And attributed to Reagan:

“The best minds are not in government; if they were, business would steal them away.”

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Related…

Daniel Casse: Romney blew it.

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