Freedom is not free

March 22, 2011

Freedom is not free.  I occasionally have to remind myself, even as the daughter of a career solider. Our young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan are living proof that our precious freedom is not free.

Freedom means more than casting a ballot to shape government, although each election cycle, we choose to weaken or strengthen freedom.  It also means choosing your own doctor.  Having meaningful influence in your child’s education.  Deciding whether or not to drive a car, telecommute, carpool or take the bus.

These are a few, inadequate examples of something as big as freedom.
Freedom means the ability to make the wrong choice – and bear the consequences.  It also means the freedom to make the right choice – and reap the rewards.
As our country continues to transition to an information-based world in which businesses compete globally, some seek a government that soothes with, “There, there, don’t worry.  We’ll take care of you.”

It might be comforting to imagine someone with all the answers making sure the right choices are made on your behalf.  It might appeal when imagining a disappeared job.  Or spiraling medical costs.

As conservatives, though, we appreciate the truth behind the saying, “A government that has the power to give you everything also has the power to take everything.”
The most common theme I hear as I talk with constituents and the hundreds of Georgians who visit the capitol every day during our legislative session is the economy – it’s jobs, it’s spending and it’s taxes.

Many are angered that the Federal Deficit will top $1.6 trillion this year alone, bringing our national debt to over $14 trillion.  In the current economy, it’s alarming.  Each citizen’s share of this debt now totals over $45,000.

There’s no question that the Federal Government’s reckless spending cannot go on forever.  I take comfort in the quote, “If something can’t go on forever, it will stop.”
Our President would do well to learn that low taxes are the result of low spending.
On the other hand, your Republican majority at the state capitol will conclude this legislative session with a balanced budget.  We’ll make cuts, even tough ones, to keep the tax burden low.

The state budget this year is 20% smaller on a per capita basis than when Sonny Perdue, the first Republican governor in modern history, was elected in 2003.  Georgia’s state budget ranks 49th per capita in the nation.  We’re proud to be at the bottom of the barrel in that regard.

President George H. W. Bush said it best when he said, “I don’t hate government. A government that remembers who is its master is a good and needed thing.”
That’s why a Government that’s closest to the people is best. One that is accountable, transparent and relevant.  One that will listen because the people have a firm grasp on needs versus wants.

Winston Churchill said about democracy, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”  The same holds true for taxes – none are desirable, some are necessary.  We need roads and schools.  As a compassionate people, we believe in a safety net for foster children and for those that truly cannot provide for themselves.

And we need  jail cells for the criminal.  But we are weary of providing a hammock for the lazy or a cushion for what citizens can ultimately do for themselves.   Laws and taxes piled on year after year quietly erode qualities like initiative and self-sufficiency that have made America what it is.

As conservatives, we want a jobs friendly business climate, one that promotes entrepreneurs and small businesses that will in turn create jobs for our families.   We know an anti-business climate stifles the ability for businesses to prosper, or even fail on their own. Much is learned in both our successes and our failures.

As conservatives, we want education that promotes innovation and creative thinking.   One that allows those nearest to the student to have the most input.  Not an education system that is a one-size-fits-all with no regard for the needs of the individual.
As conservatives, we know burdensome mandates and high taxes threaten innovation.  When America shifted from burning wood in ovens and fireplaces and mule-pulled wagons to get to town, no brilliant politician mandated how and when Americans would retrofit to coal, natural gas, and petroleum.  Scarcity and price drove innovation.

Imagine if we had told Apple Computers in the 70’s they could only produce certain types of computers that were energy efficient.  Do you believe the rapid growth from the massive mainframe computers to the IPads we have today would have occurred?   Imagine if we had tried to prop up the beeper industry when consumers stopped buying them after moving on to the cell phone.

As conservatives, we want heath care that encourages people to take responsibility for themselves knowing they will pay more if they do not. The alternative is a model that creates Britain-like lines and bureaucratic rules that decide when and how you’ll receive health care.

As conservatives, we value the Rule of Law above political correctness. In that regard, the Georgia House of Representatives passed strong illegal immigration reform last week.

Never forget, we are a really generous country and state.  The U.S. has welcomed more legal immigrants for each of the past 30 years than the rest of the entire world combined.  Our country is comprised of immigrants and it benefits from the diversity they add.  In fact, in recent years, half of all new legal immigrants have come from Mexico.  We welcome them as citizens.

But we cannot afford to take in all those who want to come here. 10 percent of Mexico’s population already lives illegally in our country, and Georgia ranks 6th in illegal immigrants, higher than Arizona.  Georgia spends over $1 billion each year on public schooling for 64,000 illegal immigrant children and 90,000 U.S. born school-aged children of illegal immigrants at an average cost of $7400 each.
Half of all illegal immigrants did not finish high school as compared to 20% of natural born and legal immigrants.  We can’t afford to take on this burden.

As state legislators, we don’t have the authority to enforce our country’s borders.  We can, though, take a stand in making Georgia less attractive as a haven for illegal immigrants.

As conservatives, and as Fulton County Republicans in particular, I know we’ll continue working to preserve and expand the fundamental qualities that have made Amercia the greatest country in the nation, one we’ll be proud to pass on.  Freedom is not free, but it is worth every dime of effort by each one of us.

Thank you for all you do to keep Georgia and our country moving forward.  God bless you and God bless our country.