Ask ten people what they consider constitutes wealth and nine will, as likely or not, tell you how much money a person has accumulated. Such a great misunderstanding of what wealth is has led us to a point in our history of near bankruptcy.
Wealth is not hard currency, or the accumulation thereof; it is the ability of a people to produce that which is desirable. In other words it is the ability to have our needs fulfilled; to produce what others need and for others to produce what we need. Today we produce less than we have ever done in our history. The great engines of production can now be found in such heretofore unlikely places as Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India and China. Where is America headed and how did we arrive at where we are today.
Creating wealth doesn't happen in a vacuum. Economic freedom is a motivator that propels a people and a nation to attain greatness, but it cannot be properly viewed without its companion twin; political freedom. The two go hand in hand. When one is restrained or corrupted, the other suffers equally. The former Soviet Union learned this very hard lesson; it corrupted its political system to such an extent that the people simply gave up trying to better themselves. Most of their production went to military uses and citizens found themselves without any motivator that enabled them to be productive. The final collapse in 1991 came seventy years later than it should have.
The United States is simply following the same failed path, but in reverse. Our leaders today are bent on reducing our productive capabilities with arcane and useless legislation with the promise that the future will be better than that which we once had. Empowering various Federal Agencies with backdoor rules and regulations on our economy, we hamstring our most productive entities. The creation of these stifling bureaucracies adds nothing to the Gross National Product and, ultimately, reduces our economic freedom. A lessened economic freedom will lead to a lessened political freedom. The twin forces that made America the 'Arsenal of Democracy' during the second world war will hasten our demise to an afterthought on the world stage.
We find ourselves a fiat people, enamored with past material success, but looking now at a currency that becomes less and less valuable with every passing day. Fiat money is that which is provided by a government that does not encourage its producers to create wealth for the populace. It backs its paper money with neither gold nor silver nor the hope of economic rewards, but with only the threats of confiscatory policy. A fiat people trust a government to give them what they want; the true producers vilified as greedy, contemptible swine to be viewed as an anachronism against the all powerful state.
There may be a line drawn through the history of mankind beyond which there will be no return to the freedoms we once knew. We may have crossed that line, but I hope not. Our choice should be to be a productive people, not a fiat people.