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A new wave of government expansion is cresting. It poses a threat not just to our economic well being, but to our freedom — social, political and economic.

1. A will to power

Consider the economic agenda proposed by the Democratic presidential candidates:

A government takeover of health care. Taxpayer bailout of student loans. Necessarily, after that, government funded and administered college. An immense industrial-planning and regulation effort in the name of climate. Government jobs for all. “Basic income” transfers on top of social programs. Confiscatory wealth, income, estate and corporate taxation. Government and “stakeholder” control of corporate boards. Rent controls and subsidies. Expanded, politically-allocated “affordable” housing. Expanded regulation of wages, hiring and firing. Extensive speech and content regulation on the internet. And this is the center of the movement, not its fringe that talks of banning air travel. Though the fringe becomes the center quickly here.

Free-market economists, the few of us who remain, respond in the usual way. “I share your empathy, but consider all the disincentives and unintended consequences will doom these projects now, just as they have a hundred times before, and end up hurting the people we want to help. Here is a set of free-market reforms that will actually achieve our common goals…”

But why say this for the 1001th time? Nobody’s listening. We’re making a big mistake: We are presuming a common goal to produce a free and prosperous society, and somehow this crowd missed the lessons of history and logic of how to achieve it. Let’s not be so patronizing.

If their answers are so different, it must be that they have a different question in mind. What is the question to which all this is a sensible, inevitable answer?

Ask that, and only one question makes sense. Power.

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