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Sounding Off: We must fix free market as needed

August 26, 2010|By Don Mueller

Regarding "Redistributing wealth does not help situation" by Assemblyman Jim Silva (Community Commentary, Aug. 5):

Before wealth can be redistributed, it must be created by brains and hard work. Americans expect all who are able to pitch in, take care of themselves and help provide for those who are unable to do so. We have chosen the free market as the best means to deliver the most goods and services and to encourage creativity and personal freedom. Our system is set up to reward the best producers by giving them a larger share of the pie

The free market we have chosen has produced a plethora of goods, making us — on average — one of the richest nations in the world. One of our tasks is to ensure that the distribution of the wealth thus produced is equitable and supportive of our fundamental democratic principles.

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We have periodically tweaked the systems when problems became apparent, as when we set up the Social Security system to ameliorate the difficulties of older workers and the disabled.

We have taxed ourselves as individuals and businesses to support Social Security. Subsequently, we added Medicare for health services.

The free market has been tweaked for other reasons as well, most recently to shed light on, and to restrict, those financial industry practices that, we determined, had been a chief cause of our current major recession.

The free market, then, is a creature of our experiences and our expectations, subject to change as our experience and expectations change.

Government is our tool to collectively maintain our security, our civil rights and our economic system. While it has its faults, including a vulnerability to persons and entities who try to influence it for their private benefit, its democratic base enables us to maintain a high degree of fealty to the values we sought to defend at our founding and again at subsequent historical transitions.

Our private economy continues to demonstrate its high productivity as well as its tendencies to mis- and malfeasance. We the people through our government must therefore periodically inject ourselves into the affairs of the free market, even though we recognize this instrument has its own faults.

We should, with care, address all questions of our economy, including wealth distribution, because we, not some outside authority, set them up originally and because they are meant to serve the core values of our national identity.

DON MUELLER is a Huntington Beach resident.

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