woman writing letter

To the Editor:

Michael Dahlen’s article “The Rise of American Big Government” [TOS, Fall 2009] is a clarifying survey, in essentials, of the interventionism that has eroded freedom in America for more than a century. But as to the alleged economic successes of Reagan and Clinton, weren’t these funded with deficit financing and inflation? I’d like to hear Mr. Dahlen’s thoughts on this.

Stephen Grossman
Fairhaven, Massachusetts

Michael Dahlen replies:

Both Reagan and Clinton financed much of their spending with deficits and inflation. (They financed the rest of it with taxes.) Their economic successes, however, pertain not to the way in which they financed government spending but to the fact that they reduced it. Reagan cut federal spending from 21.68 percent of GDP in 1981 to 20.86 percent of GDP in 1988, and Clinton cut federal spending from 21.17 percent of GDP in 1993 to 18.35 percent of GDP in 2000. Because they reduced federal spending relative to GDP, the aggregate of deficits, inflation, and taxes necessary to finance their spending was lower than it otherwise would have been. For this, both Reagan and Clinton deserve some credit.

Michael Dahlen
Royersford, Pennsylvania

The Status of the Choice to Live

To the Editor:

In “How Morality is Grounded in Reality” [TOS, Fall 2009], Craig Biddle writes: “Human values are chosen—every last one of them.” Doesn’t this include the “ultimate” value of life? And if life is chosen, doesn’t there have to be something more fundamental, some basis for the choice to live?

Mr. Biddle also quotes Ayn Rand’s statement: “The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do.” This seems to imply that life is not chosen and that the mere fact of being alive makes life the standard of value.

Is life chosen? And, if so, on what basis? I’d like to hear Mr. Biddle’s thoughts on these questions. . . .

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