Healthy Banker Makes Case for Economic Freedom

June 22, 2009

The president of the Czech Republic electrified the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) dinner last year with his warnings of how political and government leaders are using the hoax of man-made global warming to usher in a new form of communism. Vaclav Klaus released a book through CEI, Blue Planet in Green Shackles, which said that modern-day environmentalists were being guided by the same mentality of social control that characterized the communist ideology.

This year's dinner featured a dynamic address from John Allison, chairman of the BB&T Corporation, who said that it will be difficult for America to come back from the assault on the free enterprise system being engineered by the Obama Administration and which began under President Bush, "but the fight is not over."

In his remarks, Allison said the U.S. does not have a free market economy, but a mixed economy in which the government exercises too much influence already in too many sectors. He specifically warned that the Federal Reserve, which has spent trillions of dollars in the financial crisis with no accountability, has to be controlled.

With this speech before one of the leading free-market think tanks in the U.S. , Allison established himself as a major advocate for economic freedom in the age of Obama.

However, Allison is a disciple of Ayn Rand, the controversial writer and philosopher, and he recommended her book Atlas Shrugged, to the CEI audience. He has spoken at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

Although strongly in favor of freedom and capitalism, Rand was militantly atheistic and pro-abortion. Conservative hero Whittaker Chambers, the communist defector who believed that traditional moral and religious values were absolutely critical to America 's survival against the totalitarian threat, wrote a scathing review of Atlas Shrugged.

At the CEI dinner, Allison made the case for economic freedom as someone who runs a successful banking business and avoided all of the risky lending and investment schemes that got other banks into trouble.

Nevertheless, his firm was forced to take bank bailout money from the federal government but has paid it back. In a statement, it said the repayment will enable BB&T to be "more focused on the business of serving its clients than dealing with government distractions."

Allison wrote a famous letter to Congress, from a "healthy bank" perspective, on the federal bailouts that began last year under President Bush. He said, "We think it is important that Congress hear from the well run financial institutions as most of the concerns have been focused on the problem companies. It is inappropriate that the debate is largely being shaped by the financial institutions that made very poor decisions." The letter had 14 points that disputed the nature and rationale of the bank bailout plan.

Allison told the crowd of several hundred conservatives and libertarians at the CEI dinner that America will eventually go broke unless out-of-control spending and excessive borrowing is seriously addressed. He said this would happen in 25 years or less.

He said America needs a change in philosophical direction, from the mentality that says the people have a "right" to such things as a house and health care. People didn't come to America because they thought it was the "land of security," he said; they came because it was a land of opportunity.

The concept of a right to a house led to the housing meltdown because of government policies encouraging home ownership by people who couldn't afford homes, he said. He specifically blamed Rep. Barney Frank for having a major hand in the crisis.

He warned that the Obama Administration is repeating the mistake by pursuing the concept of a right to health care.

He said the restoration of a market economy can only be achieved by returning to a gold-backed monetary standard and that the government-run public schools should be privatized.

We have to return the American system to when people exercised freedom and responsibility, and had a right to the product of their own labor, he said, adding that many current problems stem from the fact that people can use government to vote themselves a "free lunch" from the productive and private sector.

Allison said there were indications of "some recovery" in the economy but he warned that the excessive federal borrowing and spending would result in a lower standard of living for the American people over the long run and create "stagflation," defined as lower growth and inflation.

One of the best things about America , he said, is that Americans have a "unique sense of life" and will not succumb quickly to the massive expansion of government power that is well underway.

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