Seems to Me . . . High Stakes

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Opinion column
By Stan Welch – Well, the field is set. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will face Barack Obama and Joe “Oh No!” Biden in November. The stakes could scarcely be higher. In my opinion, and I think that of millions of other Americans, the future of this nation is at stake.

The current administration has moved this nation so far from its foundations so quickly and abruptly that our very future is at stake.

And no matter what our President might tell us, as America goes, to a large extent, so goes the rest of the world. And so more than the future of America is at stake. At stake is whether the balance of power between producers and consumers is forever changed; with fewer and fewer working harder and harder to support more and more consumers who contribute nothing to the process but their appetites.

At stake is whether our collective and individual economic freedom is lost or restored. Economic freedom ensures social and political and intellectual freedom. If you cannot set your own standard of success for yourself and then have the freedom to pursue it, you are a slave, no matter how well paid you might be.

Look no further than the world of millionaire athletes to see the proof of what I say. For decades, our sports heroes have been paid at a level far beyond most of our wildest dreams. We all watched as superstars went from six figure salaries to seven figure salaries to eight figure salaries.

Why? How? Who wouldn’t be satisfied with seven million dollars a year to play football or basketball or any sport, for that matter? Well, folks, America isn’t about being satisfied. It’s about rising as high as you can, if that’s what you want.

And the way those ball players got those enormous salaries was that a very talented and well paid baseball player named Curt Flood decided that even though he was making more money than the great majority of Americans, baseball’s rules prohibiting him from shopping his talents around, their rules which literally made him and every other baseball player a piece of property, chattel, had to be challenged and changed.

Curt Flood was also a very proud and outspoken black man, whose view of slavery might have been a bit radical in his day; but his premise was true. To be owned is to be owned, no matter how beneficent the master.

And so he sued baseball and he won. His career was destroyed because America has become uncomfortable with radicals since we were founded by them; baseball punished Flood, but his idea prevailed. And that idea was simple. No matter how well paid, if a man or woman cannot have control of their own economic destiny, they are slaves, bereft of freedom and choice. So every professional athlete since Curt Flood can thank him for their ability to negotiate and seek a better circumstance for themselves.

Today, even as more and more athletes reach levels of wealth that are difficult to understand, tens of millions more Americans have surrendered their freedom to pursue and achieve a better life. They have been encouraged to do so by the current administration, which promises that they will be taken care of; and which soothes their troubled minds by assuring them that their failures are not their own, but those of an uncaring system.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, on the other hand, promise to restore an environment where one’s own sweat and effort and vision still counts for something. They promise opportunity, and a truly free human asks nothing more than that. People of strength seek only a place to test that strength; they seek a goal and a clear path to pursue it by.

They seek to make their place for themselves, not to be put in their place by government that sees them only as a source of power for its own agenda.

That is why I consider this election is so very crucial. Is America still a place where strength resides, where freedom lures us to use that strength, even when the effort can be unpleasant, or even unsuccessful?

Seems to me we’ll find out in about ten weeks. Curt Flood is dead now, but I think I know which way he would have voted.