Reforming Social Security

by David C. John

THE DEBATE OVER THE FUTURE of Social Security is really a debate about two connected issues that are of fundamental importance to Americans. The first issue concerns how we should make commitments to future retirees when today’s promises mean huge costs to our children and grandchildren. While some want to ignore this question, the responsible approach is to require Congress to present Americans with an honest picture of liabilities and to take prudent action now. The second issue is how to modernize a program that is giving steadily worse returns to workers and does nothing to help them save for retirement. Creating personal retirement accounts within Social Security is crucial to modernizing the system and to getting the system’s long-term finances back on track. 9

Principles

The promised benefits of current retirees and those close to retirement should not be reduced. The government has a moral contract with those who currently receive Social Security retirement benefits, as well as with those who are currently close to retirement. These workers no longer have the ability to adjust their retirement planning.

Personal retirement accounts would improve the rate of return on a worker’s retirement contributions and provide at least an adequate minimum retirement income. Workers, especially those who are younger or have lower income, should be allowed to increase the poor rate of return offered by today’s Social Security by investing a portion of their payroll taxes into a personal retirement account. In addition, retirees must be able to count on at least a reasonable and predictable minimum level of monthly income, regardless of what happens in the investment markets.

Americans should be able to use Social Security to build a nest egg for the future. Workers should be able to use Social Security to build a cash nest egg that can be used to increase their retirement income or to build a better economic future for their families. This must be a priority in establishing a system of Social Security personal retirement accounts.

Workers should be allowed to fund their Social Security personal retirement accounts by allocating some of their existing payroll tax dollars to them. Congress should allow Americans to direct a portion of the taxes that they currently pay for Social Security retirement benefits into personal retirement accounts. Workers should not be required to pay twice for the same benefits— once through existing payroll taxes and again through additional taxes or contributions.

Participation in new personal retirement accounts should be voluntary. No one should be forced into a system of personal retirement accounts. Instead, workers must be allowed to choose between today’s Social Security and one that offers personal retirement accounts.

Any Social Security reform plan should reduce the current system’s unfunded liabilities. rue Social Security reform will reduce Social Security’s huge unfunded liabilities by more than the “transition” cost needed to finance benefits for retirees during the reform. Like paying points to obtain a better mortgage, Social Security reform should lead to a net reduction in liabilities.

Objectives

Create Social Security personal retirement accounts that workers would own and could use to build nest eggs for retirement. The Administration and Congress need to give a high priority to the rapid passage of real Social Security reform that allows workers to invest a part of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. The new system should include carefully controlled basic investment options available through a low-cost central management and should include a default account if the worker fails to make an alternate choice.

However, a reform effort should focus on more than solving Social Security’s impending fiscal crisis. It should give an equal weight to allowing workers of all income levels to build a nest egg that retirees can use to improve retirement income, meet unforeseen emergencies, or leave to their families as part of their estate. True Social Security reform should also reduce the massive benefits promised to future generations that today’s system will be unable to pay.

Improve the information that workers receive about Social Security. Workers need better information about the state of Social Security’s finances and the level of benefits that they can realistically expect to receive. The existing annual Social Security statement should clearly and simply explain the system’s coming fiscal problems and include a measure of the worker’s rate of return on his or her payroll taxes.

In addition, an improved annual statement would provide a clear discussion of the true nature of the Social Security trust fund and what sacrifices will be required to repay the bonds that it contains. It should also include estimates of what monthly benefit amounts the worker can expect once the system’s trust fund has been depleted.

In the future, Social Security needs to develop a combined statement that includes projected benefits from both Social Security and any occupational or other pension plan in which the worker participates. This combined statement would both provide a better picture of a worker’s projected total retirement income and serve as an incentive to increase retirement savings.

Encourage better financial education and improve the regulatory climate for defined-contribution pension plans. Employers and school districts should be encouraged to offer simple, practical financial education to current workers and to school students so that they can better handle retirement and other investment plans. However, these programs should not be federally mandated or financed.

In addition, defined-contribution pension plans need to be simplified to make it easier for workers to make the right decisions for their future. Congress and regulators should make it easier for plans to include an appropriate default fund that workers’ money would go into if they fail to designate another investment. To boost participation, workers should automatically be enrolled in pension plans unless they explicitly choose not to participate.

The Administration also needs to encourage the development of low-cost, flexible annuities that can be used upon retirement to pay for all or part of a worker’s retirement benefits. Workers also need more accurate and understandable information about the financial status of any plan to which they currently belong. In addition, the Administration and Congress need to encourage the development of “hybrid” pension plans with some of the characteristics of both defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans. This should facilitate the conversion of existing defined-benefit plans to this model to reduce taxpayer liability and provide workers with a more secure retirement future as current defined-benefit retirement systems continue to fail.

Federal budget rules that have the unintended effect of making Social Security personal retirement accounts a huge expense to the federal government should be changed. In addition, the federal accounting system needs to reflect the cost of Social Security and other entitlement benefits that have already been earned in all longer-term financial statements.

As an example, current federal budget rules would treat money that goes into a personal retirement account as an expenditure, artificially increasing the size of federal spending despite the fact that the accounts would greatly reduce future benefit payments. Similarly, federal accounting practices fail to show either Social Security or Medicare benefits that workers have already earned but that will not be paid until some time in the future. Both budgetary rules and the federal accounting system need to reflect any reduction in Social Security’s unfunded obligations that would result from entitlement reform.

Reform the long-term benefits structure of Social Security to reduce the unfunded liabilities imposed on future generations and to focus available funds on the most needy. Social Security’s benefit formula needs to be revised to reduce the cost that future generations will have to pay to honor benefit promises made today.

Among other adjustments, past earnings should be more realistically weighted by indexing them to inflation rather than to wage growth. Other benefit formula changes may also be necessary. At the same time, lower-income workers who have worked a full career must be able to receive at least a certain minimum monthly benefit.


David C. John is Research Fellow in Social Security and Financial Institutions in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. This article is reprinted from The Heritage Foundation’s Mandate for Leadership.

Mandate for a New Environmentalism

by Jane S. Shaw and Bruce Yandle

WE HAVE SELECTED FOUR AREAS in which the government could make visible changes that will reveal the environmental benefits of private property rights, markets, and decentralization. The Bush Administration should toss out the old and adopt the new environmentalists’ way of framing issues.

Above all, the Administration should reject the old environmental activists’ notion that economic progress and environmental protection are mutually exclusive. Decades of research plus the obvious evidence that developed countries such as the United States have cleaner air, water, and more protected land show that environmental quality goes hand-in-hand with economic progress. Free-market environmentalism seeks to improve environmental quality while recognizing that private property owners tend to be good stewards, that voluntary trading achieves cooperation, and that decentralized decision-making brings in valuable local information. Here are a few ways the current administration can turn these principles into policy:

1. Transferable Fishing Quotas. The federal government regulates coastal fisheries, but at least one third of the nation’s fisheries are excessively fished. A solution is individual fishing quotas (IFQs, also called individual transferable quotas or ITQs). Fishermen are allocated a percentage of the total allowable catch—say, one tenth of one percent of an 8 million ton seasonal catch. Assured that they will be able to catch this amount, fishermen stop the destructive “race to fish” that leads to over-fishing, waste, and even injury and death to fishermen. The Bush Administration supports IFQs but doesn’t designate them as property rights, which limits their effectiveness. The Bush Administration should recognize these quotas as property rights and start implementing them.

2. Water Quality. For years, controlling water pollution has meant setting very tight standards on contaminants that sewage treatment plants and industrial companies discharge into rivers and lakes. (These are called point sources of pollutants.) It is very expensive to clean up these sources further. But little has been done about the pollution that enters bodies of water from rain that washes off farmers’ fields or dirt from city streets (called non-point sources). Environmental laws are not very strict for these sources of pollution. Recently, the EPA encouraged point sources such as factories to pay non-point sources such as farmers to cut back on their pollution. It would cost the companies less, while achieving better results. The President should push for legislation that expands these markets.

3. Transferable Grazing Permits. Although grazing on public land is a “western” issue, national environmental groups have long lobbied to get livestock off the range. Conflict could turn to cooperation if the federal government allowed trading of existing grazing permits between willing sellers and willing buyers. If environmental groups want to buy the permits and retire them, they should be able to try. Voluntary trades require people to back romantic wishes with actual funds. The trades that result will lead to more justice and greater efficiency.

4. Water Marketing. Allocating water by buying and selling is mostly a western issue, too, but growing demands for municipal water around the country are moving it into the national consciousness. The Administration should identify areas, such as the Klamath River basin in southern Oregon, where clearer definition of rights to water could form the basis for trades. As water users weigh the value of the bids they receive, they will reconsider some of the more wasteful uses of water. More water will be available for those who really want it.

These are our nominations for immediate environmental action. With them, the President could toss out the old environmentalists and go with the new to get a return on his political capital. We could see greater environmental improvement along with greater freedom and prosperity.


Jane S. Shaw is senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center in Montana, and Bruce Yandle is interim dean of Clemson University’s College of Business and Behavioral Science.

The First Mandate

by Lee Edwards

THERE ARE ONLY 10 WEEKS between a presidential election and a presidential inauguration, and yet, in that brief period, a president-elect must pick his cabinet and his chief advisers, including his national security adviser and his chief budget officer; write his inaugural address setting the tone for his administration; and decide which of his campaign pledges he is going to implement in his first hundred days. He must shift, literally overnight, from a politicking to a governing mode and become the president, not just of the political coalition that elected him, but of all the people. So complex a task is made even more difficult when the incoming president is of a different political party and governing philosophy from that of the outgoing chief executive.

Several trustees of The Heritage Foundation had been involved in this very experience in 1968. It was Jack Eckerd, head of the General Services Administration under President Nixon, who first suggested at a trustees’ meeting in October 1979, that the foundation should help the process by drawing up a plan of action for a possible conservative administration in January 1981. While no one could say with certainty who the Republican nominee would be, he was bound to be to the right of President Carter, and stood an excellent chance of being elected.

Heritage should take on this enormous task because, it was argued, the new administration, preoccupied with electoral politics, would have given little thought to governing. Robert Krieble proposed that the foundation produce a manual that would help policymakers “cut the size of government and manage it more effectively.”

“Our strong feeling,” explained Ed Feulner, “was that the people of the new and hopefully conservative administration should have some source of information and guidance other than what you get from the incumbents you replace.” In the Nixon transition, he pointed out, “Republicans were briefed by Democrats, the very people whose jobs were at stake and who had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”

The status quo was the last thing The Heritage Foundation wanted to preserve. Feulner, Phil Truluck, Willa Johnson, and other Heritage staff, went to work. Charles Heatherly, a former field director of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute agreed to undertake the overall direction of the Heritage study, beginning November 15, 1979.

Heritage staff began by drawing up a list of key conservatives to talk to, starting with Paul Weyrich and experienced Senate staffer Margo Carlisle, who joined Heritage in the late 1980s as vice president and director of government relations. They also began listing people in the Nixon administrations, like William Simon and Caspar Weinberger, from whom they could draw lessons.While Heatherly concentrated on the policy blueprint, Willa Johnson was tasked with “organizing a Talent Bank for the new administration.” All agreed from the beginning that policy and personnel had to fit together.

At the trustees meeting in December 1979, Feulner submitted a general plan based on the notion that conservatives had to be prepared to answer the question, “What is the conservative agenda, particularly for the First Hundred Days?” As Feulner later explained in the foreword to Mandate for Leadership, the recommendations were concrete proposals which if implemented would help “revitalize our economy, strengthen our national security and halt the centralization of power in the federal government.”

In late January 1980, Heatherly wrote a five-page outline titled Mandate for Leadership. He proposed a team approach that would “scope out” every key department and agency of government. Each team would have a chairman and a co-chairman, and would include academics, conservatives who had been Nixon and Ford appointees, and congressional staff.

Ultimately, more than 250 experts served on twenty teams, while dozens more contributed ideas and information. Heatherly wrote to both the Reagan-Bush and Carter-Mondale campaigns, offering to meet with them on the Heritage project. No one from Carter-Mondale headquarters ever called back, but Reagan- Bush quickly responded.

By June [of 1980], having won twentynine of thirty-three primaries and received 60 percent of the popular vote, Reagan had far more than the 998 delegates he needed for the nomination. He turned over the major responsibility for what he should do if elected to his longtime aide Edwin Meese III, who was also serving as deputy campaign director under William Casey.

Meese visited Heritage in the early spring and was briefed on Mandate. In July, Heritage decided to hold a dinner for the team chairmen and co-chairmen at the University Club in Washington. Ed Meese was a surprise guest and gave Mandate “his blessing,” removing any doubt as to how the study would be received by the administration.

By now, everyone realized he was working on an unprecedented document, unprecedented for Washington and unprecedented for Heritage.

Indeed, never before had such a critical mass of conservatives come together to debate and determine their positions on such a wide range of subjects. The process gave the Reagan administration and the conservative movement itself a running start in going to bat for the initiatives.

The New York Times dubbed the mammoth report “a guideline [for] the Reagan team.” The Washington Post called it “an action plan for turning the government toward the right as fast as possible.” And United Press International described it as “a blueprint for grabbing the government by its frayed New Deal lapels and shaking out 48 years of liberal policies.”


Lee Edwards is Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at The Heritage Foundation. This article is excerpted with permission from his book, The Power of Ideas: The Heritage Foundation at 25 Years. His latest book is The Essential Ronald Reagan: A Profile in Courage, Justice and Wisdom.

Eminent Domain Without Limits? U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Curb Nationwide Abuses

by Scott Bullock and Dana Berliner

WHEN SUSETTE KELO PURCHASED her two-bedroom, pink house in 1997 along the Thames River—a beautiful stretch of waterfront property in New London, Connecticut—she thought she had her work cut out for her just restoring the house and designing the garden. That turned out to be the least of her worries.

Unbeknownst to Susette, the City, a private development corporation (New London Development Corporation), and a pharmaceutical company had reached an agreement. The pharmaceutical company would build a new facility nearby. The NLDC would take all the land in Susette’s neighborhood and transfer it to a private developer who would in turn build an expensive hotel for the pharmaceutical company’s visitors, expensive condos for its employees, an office building for biotech companies, and other projects to complement the facility. The State and the City would contribute millions of dollars. The only thing standing in the way was Susette and her neighbors.

Susette Kelo is not alone. All across the country, state and local governments are abusing the power of eminent domain to take private homes and businesses for the benefit of other, more politically favored private businesses who promise more jobs and taxes. In just five years, the government filed or threatened condemnation of more than 10,000 properties for private parties.

In the face of such statistics, the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm in Washington, D.C., has waged a national campaign in court and in the court of public opinion to restrain government’s abuse of eminent domain and to restore constitutional protection for private property.

According to the Connecticut Supreme Court, the mere fact that your city is strapped for cash justifies condemning your home. After all, richer people could be living there and paying more taxes. Office buildings could be built there, and pay more taxes. Taking your home is for the good of the city—it’s “economic development.”

Using eminent domain for “economic development” alone is a new phenomenon. Usually governments try to at least claim that the area is a “slum” or “blighted,” but Connecticut has dispensed with that pretense and admits outright that if another business could make a profit on your land, the government can take it. The U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits this kind of taking, limiting the power of eminent domain to “public use.” The Connecticut Supreme Court decided that “public use” just means that it could have some benefit to the public, like more tax money in city coffers.

The Connecticut Supreme Court’s reasoning effectively reads the Constitution’s protections out of existence. Whose land wouldn’t produce more taxes if it were an office building instead of a home? Allowing condemnation for “economic development” just allows cities and developers to pick whatever land they want, without regard to the people who live or work there.

Now before the U.S. Supreme Court, Kelo v. City of New London gives the nation’s highest court the opportunity to address this radical departure from the language of the Constitution. The Court’s last case involving private development was 50 years ago, and it allowed the clearance of an area so blighted that most buildings lacked plumbing. For the last 50 years, without further guidance, it’s been up to states to set their own rules. Not surprisingly, the states have reached conflicting conclusions. Some states, like Connecticut, allow condemnations for “economic development.” Other states, like Washington, South Carolina and Maine, do not.

The Constitution is supposed to apply to all United States citizens, and U.S. Supreme Court guidance is desperately needed to prevent the continuing and growing abuse of eminent domain. The Court heard oral argument in Kelo in February and will issue a ruling by the end of June.

Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Land in New London

In early 1998, a pharmaceutical company announced that it would build a $270 million research facility in New London, purchasing the land along the Thames River from the State for $10 million. The company and other development groups associated with the project are slated to receive at least $118.2 million in federal and state subsidies over 13 years.

The plant, which was completed in 2001, bordered a well-established neighborhood called Fort Trumbull. The neighborhood is also along a scenic stretch of waterfront property connected to Fort Trumbull State Park. In January 2000, the New London City Council approved a Municipal Development Plan for the 90-acre Fort Trumbull neighborhood. The intent of the City of New London is to acquire all the remaining properties through eminent domain to build a hotel, private office space, high-income private housing, and other unspecified development projects that will enhance the plant.

Private Parties with Government Powers

The New London City Council solicited the New London Development Corporation— a private organization—to create the current development plan for the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, a plan that was approved by the City Council in January 2000. But the City Council did not stop there. It then delegated its authority over the project, including its eminent domain power, to the NLDC.

When the property owners in Fort Trumbull were served eminent domain papers, they read that the “City of New London, acting by the New London Development Corporation” seeks their home. The NLDC decided which properties were taken and demolished. It also made the ultimate determination on which developer would build the proposed projects.

Under pressure from the NLDC—which included posting eviction notices on the day before Thanksgiving in 2000 on the doors of residents who refused to move—the Fort Trumbull neighborhood has been transformed. After obtaining properties from those who wanted to sell and others who felt like they had no choice but to surrender their homes or businesses, the NLDC moved swiftly and demolished the structures. Today, vast empty dirt fields give the neighborhood the feel of a moonscape with the remaining homes and businesses left standing on less than two acres along the edge of the 90-acre parcel of land slated for private development. The vast majority of the NLDC’s development could move forward without taking the few remaining homes, but the NLDC wants it all.

The Property Owners

In a neighborhood that once teemed with dozens of families, only seven property owners who own 15 total parcels remain. Despite the NLDC’s threat demanding they move out no later than March 2001, these seven families continue to fight for their property rights. Here are the stories of a few of them.

Matt & Sue Dery

The Fort Trumbull neighborhood was once largely made up of Italian immigrants. In fact, right up the street from Kelo is the Dery family, who has lived in Fort Trumbull since 1895. Matt Dery, his wife Suzanne and their son live right next door to Matt’s mother and father. Matt’s great-grandmother, Maria Ballestrini, purchased that house in 1901. Matt’s mother, Wilhelmina, was born in the house in 1918. She and her husband, Charles, have lived there together since he finished his service in the Merchant Marines in World War II. The Derys liked the neighborhood so much that they bought two more houses and now rent them out.

Matt said, “My grandmother opened a grocery store on our threatened property. She extended credit to everyone in the neighborhood when they needed it, and when the property went into receivership during the Depression, she worked until 1958 to earn it back. Through good times and bad over the course of the past century, we’ve been good neighbors and good citizens. We were good enough to pay taxes for more than 100 years. Any town should want residents like us, but now New London has decided that they want better people here, and they’re trying to move us out.”

Bill Von Winkle

Around the corner from the Derys is Bill Von Winkle’s Fort Trumbull Deli. Von Winkle also owns six apartments above the deli, two homes with another five apartments, and one commercial building with three storefronts once leased out by Bill and his wife, Jennifer. The deli served oversized hoagies to eager customers from 1986 until 2001, when the NLDC’s actions forced the Von Winkles to shut it down and forgo its income.

Bill said, “The government decided that despite the fact that my apartments were full, that someone else could make a more profitable use of my land. The New London Development Corporation working with the City has done everything in its power to take what’s mine and give it to a private developer so they can get richer. It’s just not fair. Nothing like this is supposed to happen in this country. America is supposed to be different. It is supposed to be a place where our rights are protected by the government, not a place where they are sold to the highest bidder, but that’s exactly what is happening.”

“The same rules that applied to me should apply to anyone who wants to purchase private property in New London,” Bill said. “No home or business owner should be forced to sell simply because someone with more political influence wants that property.”

Conclusion

If private property may be condemned and given to another private organization or company for private profit, and if the determination of which properties are to be condemned may be delegated to a private group unaccountable to the electorate, then are there any limits on the exercise of this government power?

Without accountability or constitutional constraints, all the incentives promote aggressive, unbridled use of the eminent domain power, regardless of the impact on innocent property owners. It is time to shift the balance away from government power and back to its citizens. The Institute’s case on behalf of Fort Trumbull property owners seeks to end another sad chapter in the government’s modern- day abuse of its awesome eminent domain power.

As Susette Kelo said, “We begged and pleaded for three years and no one heard us, not until the Institute for Justice took our case. Now, we are protected, we are no longer the ones backed in a corner, fighting for the simple right to live in our homes.”

Americans should not be forced to beg for their rights. The case of Kelo v. The City of New London reminds the public that property rights are the foundation of all our rights. They are constitutionally enshrined and they must be preserved; when property rights are lost, the loss of other rights will inevitably follow.

Litigation Team

The litigation team is headed by Institute for Justice Senior Attorneys Scott G. Bullock and Dana Berliner. Joining them on the team is Institute President and General Counsel William H. Mellor. The Institute is joined by local counsel Scott W. Sawyer of New London.

The Institute for Justice’s mission is to advance a rule of law under which individuals can control their own destinies as free and responsible members of society, using strategic litigation, training, communication and outreach. It litigates to secure economic liberty, school choice, private property rights, freedom of speech and other vital individual liberties, and to restore constitutional limits on the power of government. This article is reprinted with permission from the Institute for Justice. For more information on Kelo and eminent domain abuse, visit www.ij.org.

Pounding the Pavement: How You Can Turn Abstract Ideas into Concrete Policy

by Marsha Richards

ANOTHER ELECTION DAY HAS COME and gone and the statistics show that it was the highest voter turnout since 1968 — 60.7 percent of registered voters (122 million people) voted in the November election. The flip side: more than 78 million Americans who were eligible to vote stayed home on Election Day.

Think about that for a minute. A whole lot of individuals didn’t participate, far more than the margin of victory nationwide in the presidential race. In fact, in some of the tightest races at the state level, like the governor’s race in my home state of Washington, the contested margin of victory was fewer than 150 votes and is still being battled out in court. At all levels—local, state and national—we’re talking about votes that will have an impact on your life and the lives of your families and friends not only now, but for years to come.

If you’re ever tempted to think your vote doesn’t matter, think again. As an informed and involved citizen, you have far more power than you realize. You’re the minority who will determine the fate of our nation. That said, it’s not enough to just leave some full-term chads in the voting booth or to fill out your absentee ballot. Being informed and involved means more than that.

I believe there are four critical elements to responsible citizenship. You must 1) know what you believe, 2) know why you believe it, 3) act on your knowledge, and 4) act effectively. Having one, two or even three of these elements is not enough. A responsible citizen embodies all four.

Consider: A lot of people know what they believe and they’re willing to take action. A typical student at Olympia’s renowned Evergreen College might look you in the eye and say, “Logging companies will never stop until they reduce the earth to one giant parking lot.” And an activist such as California’s Dona Nieto will act on that belief by accosting loggers in the woods with “nudist guerilla poetry” (true story).

If you ask such folks why they believe loggers are evil monsters whose sole motivation in life is to cut down enough trees to annihilate the human race, you probably won’t get a fact-based response. Assuming a person still held those beliefs after honestly considering their source, she could probably combat the problem with something more effective than “flowers in her hair and tears in her eyes,” as the bare-breasted guerilla poet did.

I’m picking on silly leftists with my example, but the fact is many conservative, freemarket types are guilty of the same omissions. Too often we know what we believe and even why, but we don’t get out and do something about it. Or we’re ready to do something about it, but we spin our wheels and waste our time on strategies that don’t work.

If someone asks why we believe lower taxes are better for the economy, or why parents should have school choice, or why Social Security has to be reformed, are we prepared with a convincing and factual response that not only debunks the myths of the other side but advances the debate into territory they’re not ready to defend? Are we the kind of people who go off half-cocked or do we carefully evaluate an issue and come up with a solid plan to advance our goals?

Perhaps the most pressing question: Once we know what we believe and we’re ready to act, are we prepared to act decisively, even if it makes us uncomfortable? The men who made it possible for us to openly write and read articles like this would be considered radicals today. They were “the vigilant, the active, the brave” who meant it when they cried, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” They were the ones willing to give up fortunes, security, and even their lives to give us a chance to govern ourselves. They intelligently evaluated their times, and they did what it took to build a nation.


Some Great Books to Read

● Dedication and Leadership by Douglas Hyde. Long-time Communist Party activist turned Christian, Hyde describes the legitimate and effective tactics that allowed an evil philosophy to convert so many.

● Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. Despite his lack of morals and ethics, union radical Saul Alinsky has some legitimate information for those who want to be effective world-changers. No sense letting his protégés, Hillary Clinton and the National Education Association, have all the fun.

● Confrontational Politics by H.L. Richardson. Retired California Senator H.L. Richardson provides a game plan for conservatives who want to effectively combat their liberal counterparts.

● The Art of Political War and Other Radical Pursuits by David Horowitz. Horowitz shows how Bill Clinton’s generation, having mastered the art of political war, has spent the last ten years clobbering conservatives in and out of government.

Are we willing to do what it takes? We’re not asked to sacrifice much by comparison, but it’s not going to be painless either. We’ll have to sacrifice time to become informed, and we’ll probably have to sacrifice comfort to be involved. We may find ourselves knocking on our neighbors’ doors or waving signs on street corners; we may be ridiculed by those who have no appreciation for the sacrifices that bought their right to ridicule; and we may (God forbid) even face more serious persecutions.

The alternative is to let liberty continue to slip away until brave men and women are required to buy it back again with their lives. And those brave men and women will be our children, or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.

I hope you’ll be in that small but dedicated group of citizens who determine the fate of our nation.


Marsha Richards is Director of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s Education Reform Center. This article first appeared in the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s newsletter, Living Liberty. It is reprinted with permission from Evergreen Freedom Foundation. For more information, visit www.effwa.org.

 
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