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Letter from an American Father: Our Children Desperately Need Economic Freedom

Me and my daughter having tea

It’s Father’s Day. To be honest, that doesn’t mean a whole lot to my children right now. I am a father of two little girls (and another little one on the way), so I guess this is the day that they celebrate how wonderful I am, but my girls are still young enough at 2 and 4 that they always think I’m great. Other than a card that my oldest writes in and my youngest scribbles in, it is just another day. Maybe when my children grow up it will be a day with more fanfare, or maybe by then they will need a day set aside on the calendar to remember me at all. Regardless, I find Father’s Day a good time to reflect on how I’m doing as a parent.

I’m certainly not perfect. I fall prey to many mistakes fathers typically make. I occasionally let work come before family. Sometimes I read through my daughter’s bedtime story too quickly because I’d rather be doing something else. I ignore that stinky diaper hoping my wife will change it instead of me. Even so, I think on the whole I’m doing a good job. My girls are happy, healthy, and safe, I’ll do my best to give them a quality education, and they know they are loved. I’ve worked hard along with my wife to make all that happen.

But is that enough? As fathers, what steps should we be taking to prepare our children for the future? Is good shelter, enough food, adequate safety, and lots of love enough?

Everyone has to decide how best to raise his own children, but I would submit one important element missing from what I’ve mentioned so far: In what shape are we leaving our society and our government for our kids to inherit?

It is easy not to think about this as being an integral part of parenting, since these areas are not exactly in our control. You might think that since there are so many different opinions about how our government should behave that it is pointless to focus on it and instead trust that our children will figure it out once they reach that point. I can understand that point of view, but it’s a dangerous one.

There are three reasons why I am asking you, from one father to another, to become actively engaged in shaping the structure of government that we will be handing off to our children:

  1. We know for certain that countries with higher levels of economic freedom are more prosperous then those with little economic freedom.  People in those countries also are healthier, happier, better educated, and more likely to find employment. Children in these countries have more opportunities and a better shot at success than other countries.
  2. In America, we have historically had high levels of economic freedom, explaining our prosperity. But in the past decade we have been losing this freedom at an alarming pace. Our national debt has soared, taking the future earnings of our children and spending it today.
  3. If we don’t stop the loss of economic freedom in our country, our children will be less likely to have the opportunities we’ve had. On average, they’ll be less prosperous, less healthy, less happy, not as well educated, and more likely to be unemployed. This is on top of the tens of thousands of dollars of government debt they already carry today.

It certainly won’t be easy to change the system to ensure our children have the economic freedom they need to prosper, but take a moment to think about the stakes. If you were the perfect father in every way and raised your happy, well-adjusted and brilliant children to adulthood flawlessly, yet they found themselves entering a world without any jobs available, with a crushing debt burden and high taxation, poor healthcare and educational opportunities, would you be happy about your children’s prospects?

Your children need you to provide for their immediate needs, and I find that most fathers do this very well. I’ll bet your children don’t know real hunger or don’t worry about where they will sleep tonight. I wish that were enough to ensure our children will have the same opportunities that we’ve had, but it isn’t. They need economic freedom as well, and in America, we are giving them less and less every day.