Dec 19, 2007

Robert Taft on liberty and progress

We cannot overestimate the value of this liberty of ideas and liberty of action. It is not that you or I or some industrial genius is free; it is that millions of people are free to work out their own ideas and the country is free to choose between them and adopt those which offer the most progress. I have been through hundreds of industrial plants in the last two or three years, and in every plant I find that the people running that plant feel that they have something in the way of methods or ideas or machinery that no other plant has. I have met men said to be the best machinists in the industry who have built special machines for a particular purpose in which that company is interested.

Thousands of wholly free and independent thinkers are working out these ideas and have the right and ability to try them out without getting the approval of some government bureau. You can imagine the difference between the progress under such a system and one in which the government ran every plant in the country as it runs the post offices today. There would be one idea for a hundred that are now developed. If any plant employee had an idea for progress and wrote to Washington, he probably would get back a letter referring him to Regulation No. 5201 (c), which tells him exactly how this particular thing should be done, and has been done for the past fifty years.

It is clear to me that the great progress made in this country, the tremendous production of our people, the productivity per man of our workmen have grown out of this liberty and the freedom to develop ideas. We have the highest standard of living, because we produce more per person than any other country in the world.

~ Senator Robert Taft, A Foreign Policy for Americans (1951)

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