“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
–Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861
Healthy competition is good
Competition stimulates creativity, innovation, and progress. Competing interests are natural, as “where one sits will influence where one will naturally stand.” Our nation was conceived as a meritocracy. A society premised upon the idea that one’s hard work, contribution to community, and respect for one’s neighbors are the keys to success. No person born into poverty would be set there by a caste and no person born into wealth would be preserved there by undue privilege or divine election. We all are equal under the rule of law and are endowed with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In principle, those who labor, build, create, and invest each serve a place in our economy and are contributors to our democratic society and our republican institutions. The United States of America was established as a progressive model and is designed to evolve with the times in which its citizens live. The realization of this ideal is not yet complete and this reality this gives us something to strive toward. Always, Forward – We are meant to continually learn, grow, and progress as individual citizens and as a community. Our public duty is to continually strive towards becoming “a more perfect union.”
A Commercial Republic
Our economic tradition is premised upon our being a commercial republic. Where our commercial partnerships not only create access to markets, but also make us a more cooperative society and pacific nation because trade binds individuals and nations together. Both of our political traditions seek a balancing of our private interests and the preservation of the public welfare. Our Federalist forbearers sought a national economy (Alexander Hamilton) and our Democratic-Republican founders sought public investment in science and research, as well as a taxation scheme that was progressive in nature (Thomas Jefferson), so as to create opportunities that preserved our posterity.
Hamilton’s bank was controversial, but necessary. Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase and commissioning of the Lewis and Clark expedition were akin to our pursuing public research and development in basic science and our exploration of space, the oceans, and cyber. We are a capitalist nation, but that is not all that we are as a society. We are very much more than the agrarian nation outlined by Adam Smith, where land was plentiful and industrial farming was not in existence. Hard lessons and progress have shaped our balancing of competing interests. Our progress has moved forward with our means of achieving a better society.
The Civil War forced to us to live up to our ideals and suffragists forced us to move closer to our being true to our values. The Progressive Era pushed us to protect our workers from the harshest of conditions brought on by the industrial revolution and better educate our children after protecting them from harsh and risky labor jobs. WWII and the New Deal pushed us from a dangerous isolation and into a place where our global leadership began to lift the world out of poverty and our own citizens did not worry about dying in destitution after a hard, long, life of work. The Great Society brought us closer to being the Samaritan society that our values postulated by ensuring our oldest and poorest gained access to basic health care coverage through Medicare and Medicaid, options that were advanced through the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which established state-level health care market standards that increased access to quality programs for both our healthiest citizens and those of us with pre-existing conditions (Medicaid expansion).
Ours is a mixed-market capitalist economy that encourages us to act locally and think globally, and it relies on the preservation of our democratic processes, republican institutions, and merit-based traditions, which combine to keep us at the forefront of human progress.
Our economy is not the ends of who we are, but is instead a means through which we move our people Forward. Our economic strategy is designed to keep at bay the historical challenges that subjugated individuals to tyrannical despots and feudal institutions. By preserving the public interest and protecting individual rights and freedoms, we preserve the heritage of progress established within our constitutional framework.
We were not born perfect, but we strive, together, to be more perfect.
Our mixed-market economy lays responsibility for our system upon all of us, whatever natural talents we are born with, and the attributes we bring out of each other through education, empowerment, and encouragement.
Our potential is ours to pursue and we all win if we preserve an environment that builds us up and protects the incentives which drive us to be our best. Our name is ours to earn and our zip code conveys where we are today, not who we are tomorrow.
Our project does not pit us against each other; instead, our experiment binds us together as neighbors, partners, Floridians, Americans, and humans. We owe our best to ourselves and to our heritage and posterity.
We work, create, invest, lead, and preserve our common future as laborers, entrepreneurs, investors, and public servants. And, through our public institutions, we lend a hand up to our neighbors in need.
Our common humanity is declared and our destination as a people is always beyond the horizon – to be seized by our children and grandchildren.
A common prosperity is what we work for, together, and the future is what We, the People, build together today.