with fervor as citizens described theirrnpet ideas on what should be done. I wasrndumbstruck. I had expected this partrnof the meeting to be a discussion ofrnwhat the next President could do to helprnthe economy, but to my astonishment,rnfor the remaining two hours, not onernword was uttered on that subject.rnOne person suggested making the taxrnon tobacco so high that everyone wouldrnstop smoking. Another wanted to raisernthe tax on gasoline high enough to discouragernall use of internal-combustionrnengines and to force people into electricrncars. One man wanted to institute arnnegative income tax, a method of automaticallyrnsupplementing the incomes ofrnpoor people, to guarantee everyone adequaternfood and housing. He recognizedrnthat some people would choosernto live on this income, but consideredrnthat his plan had an added advantage—rnpeople thus freed from the necessity ofrnmaking a living could contribute to societyrnby producing great art! As soonrnas that man mentioned art, a womanrnsuggested that not only should the artsrnbe free of censorship, but that a federalrngrant for art should be available to anyonernwho wants one. In other words, anvonernshould get money to do anythingrnhe wishes to call art.rnMost people favored federally fundedrnhealth care, and there was talk aboutrnadopting national health plans similarrnto those of England, France, Sweden,rnCanada, and other countries. Manyrnpeople wanted to do something aboutrnthe high salaries paid to CEOs of largerncorporations. They suggested morernsteeply progressive income tax rates andrna 100 percent inheritance tax to reducernincome disparities. They also wantedrnto increase government regulation of thernSavings and Loan industry and the airlines,rnand to pass laws to make corporationsrnbetter “corporate citizens.”rnIn short, people didn’t want to talkrnabout the economy, but about how to usernthe power of the federal government tornrestructure society. What was missingrnwas any discussion of the effect thesernchanges would have on the economy.rnPeople often speak of an economy asrnbeing sick. The biological metaphor isrnapt, because the specialized parts of anrneconomy, like those of an organism, cooperaternfor the benefit of the whole.rnThe economy, like an animal, feeds andrngrows according to its own nature andrnis healthiest when all of its parts are allowedrnto function naturally. The biologicalrnmetaphor even extends to parasitism.rnBoth societies and animals havernparasites that attach to them and drawrnnourishment from them. The detrimentalrneffect of a small parasite on arnlarge animal may be negligible, but ifrnthe parasite grows too much, it debilitatesrnthe host. If the drain becomes severernenough to kill the animal, the parasiternalso dies.rnNatural selection has endowed parasitesrnwith the genetic wisdom to obeyrntheir own version of the Laffer curve.rnThey limit the amount of nourishmentrnthey draw from the host to keep fromrnendangering its life and their own existence.rnGovernment do-goodism, whichrnis nothing more or less than socialism, isrnan economic parasite. Unable to live inrnpure form, it can survive only by drawingrnLIBERAL ARTSrnART APPRECIATIONrnMany heartfelt thanks . . . for coverage of the exhibition entitled “Gender Engendered,”rnwhich ran through June 13th at the Community Education Center (CEC). .rn. . Also allow me to thank the staff and board of the CEC for honoring its commitmentrnnot to remove work on the basis of content. Despite strong objections fromrnsome quarters, the CEC held firm.rnUnfortunately, a few disgruntled individuals expressed their dissatisfaction with thernexhibition by vandalizing five of the artworks.rn—from a July 2, J992, letter to The Cit’ Newspaper, Philadelphia.rnstrength from a host economy. It doesrnnot have the innate wisdom of a naturalrnparasite, but grows until the host societyrneither collapses or becomes wisernenough to throw it off.rnThe former Soviet Union and therncountries of Eastern Europe are examplesrnof societies that socialism has destroyed.rnThe growing costs of the healthrncare and welfare programs of Sweden,rnthe Netherlands, Denmark, and Francernare draining their national economies.rnTaxes are so high in Sweden that investorsrnare finding tax havens abroad,rnand Swedish corporations are movingrnout of the country. (Sound familiar?)rnIn the Netherlands, as many people livernon the dole as work, and because of therngenerous health benefits Dutch workersrnenjoy, as many as 13 percent of those inrnthe “working” group call in sick. Smallrnwonder that the economies of theserncountries are in trouble.rnThe town meeting showed me howrnlittle the American people understandrnthe workings of free enterprise, the economicrnsystem that has made them thernenvy of the world. This economic system,rnbased on each person’s ownershiprnof himself and the products of his labor,rnis the most efficient and moral systemrnyet devised; efficient because it providesrnmaximum incentive for each individualrnto produce what the other members ofrnsociety want, and moral because it recognizesrnthe natural right of individualsrnto choose how to employ their own talentsrnand to dispose of what they produce.rnThe townspeople are apparently notrnconcerned about the immorality of takingrnthe fruits of one person’s labor torngive to another. They want to push towardrnwhat-ought-to-be but apparentlyrnhave forgotten that the output of therneconomy determines the limits of whatcan-rnbe. They need to realize thatrngovernment action beyond keeping thernpeace usually shrinks the realm of whatcan-rnbe by reducing the freedom peoplernneed to create jobs and prosperity.rnThe town meeting convinced me thatrnthe source of our economic difficultiesrndoes not lie in the President’s actions orrninaction—it is much closer to home. AsrnPogo said, “We have met the enemy,rnand he is us.”rnGeorge L. Clark is a retiredresearchrnscientist livingrnin Manhattan Beach,rnCalifornia.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn