Karen Kwiatkowski: Wanted … less government

During my primary challenge to the Sixth District incumbent congressman, I’ve pointed out the sad fact that while Mr. Goodlatte is a Republican, he’s grown and expanded government for nearly 20 years. He’s added to the federal debt, he’s grown the list of unfunded mandates and entitlements, and he’s increased the regulatory burdens we face in agriculture, in education, in energy, in transportation – while consistently voting to reduce our civil liberties and internet freedom.

He didn’t do it alone! Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress have worked hard to grow government and reduce liberty.

Can we imagine what less government and more freedom would look like? I’d certainly like to!

Throughout the region, we see thousands of complicated regulations, tremendous government dependency, and very little in the way of new job creation. We don’t make things like we used to. Page County in particular faces long-term unemployment of over 10 percent, and like my own Shenandoah County has seen employers leave the area forever, along with many of our youth.

Trends like this that impact real people. Our first question should be, “Is government helping, or is it just in our way?”

This is the very question that led to the idea of “Free Enterprise Zones.” These pockets of “less government” have bipartisan support, and they can work if they focus on what matters – local people, local capital, real freedom, limited government.

Enterprise zones work through lowered taxation, flexible regulations, suspension of fees, and tax incentives. Private and public grants may be involved, but free enterprise zones are not government charity. Private capital and investment is attracted to these liberty zones, and productivity, creativity, and local employment increases.

Decades ago, much of the country was characterized by economic liberty. But the modern government response to every crises has never been an increase in personal and economic liberty, but instead increases in debt, spending, regulation, and taxation.

Why can’t we try freedom for a change?

Jerome Corsi, in his Red Alert newsletter, reported earlier this year that China convinced our government to establish Chinese free trade zones here in America! The Chinese are trying freedom, and it’s working! In fact, two Chinese Free Trade Zones are in our own backyard, with FTZ #185 in Culpepper using the Front Royal port of entry, and FTZ #238 in Dublin using the New River Valley Airport as port of entry. If it is good enough for the Chinese, why can’t Americans have more economic freedom right here, right now!

The Commonwealth does have an existing enterprise zone program, targeting urban areas. It’s mostly handouts, rather than real tax and fee suspensions, and it aims at attracting outside businesses rather than generating real economic liberty among the people who live in the areas. None of these zones are in the 6th District.

We must insist on economic liberty as an American tradition, and as our birthright. That’s why I’m proposing that Page County become a free enterprise zone – with significantly reduced taxation, elimination or suspension of regulatory constraints, fees, and licensing costs, suspension of 90 percent of the federal paperwork required for adding employees and satisfying federal mandates, and other reductions of government interference.

Sure, this may not be in the short-term interest of government bureaucrats. Giving up tax revenue temporarily will have them throwing spectacular conniption fits. But they’ll get over it. If we try freedom, and start practicing economic liberty, capital and entrepreneurial ideas from Valley residents of all ages will prime the pump.

We all know that schemes to “create jobs” by paying people borrowed money to dig holes and fill them back up will never create long-lasting prosperity. It’s time to try something so old that it almost seems new:  Liberty and small government!

Karen Kwiatkowski, a conservative Mount Jackson cattle farmer and military veteran, is challenging Bob Goodlatte in the Sixth District Republican congressional primary on June 12.


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