The American Dream is the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone. Opportunity should abound for each according to their ability. It should not be constrained by humble beginnings, race or gender. Many are living that dream today, but many others are discouraged and losing hope. Lifting up the poor, rebuilding our middle class and restoring the American Dream are among the great challenges of our time.

History has shown us the road forward. California is proof that socialism doesn’t work. Yes, it’s true that we have the fifth largest economy in the world. It’s also true that we rank 48th in the nation in economic freedom and that we have the third-highest cost of living.

Low- and middle-income families are robbed by the rising cost of goods and services under California’s socialism. The annual cost of heath insurance for a 27-year-old here has risen $2,700 since Obamacare was implemented. We pay $1 a gallon more than the national average for gas, $35 a month more for food and $365 a month more for housing. The wealthy barely feel these higher costs. They continue to invest and build wealth. Low- and middle-income families feel the crushing weight of these higher costs. They struggle from paycheck to paycheck. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer under socialism.

Other consequences of socialism are clear for all to see. California ranks fourth in income inequality, first in poverty, first in the number of people on welfare and first in the number of people who are homeless.

This map shows the countries with the most and least economic freedom: www.heritage.org/index/heatmap.

The countries with the least economic freedom are the countries people are trying to escape from. The countries with the most economic freedom have the most prosperity. They have the best income and wealth equality, the best gender equality and the best racial equality. These are also the countries where people like Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs produced some of the great advancements of our time. The increased prosperity that flows from free market capitalism gives families the opportunity to build wealth while saving for retirement and their children’s college educations.

The world has witnessed our success. The great influx of both legal and illegal immigrants is proof of that. Many risked everything including their lives and they didn’t come for socialism or a free handout. They came for the opportunity to work and build a better life in a country with more economic freedom than their own.

America’s economic freedom ranking improved from 18th to 12th in the last two years. All groups have benefitted from that, but none more than blacks and Hispanics.

Our Founding Fathers understood the value of limited government, liberty and economic freedom. These are the principles that fostered the innovation and entrepreneurship that built the largest and strongest middle class in the world. Restoring the American Dream doesn’t require ever higher taxes and government forced redistribution of wealth. We just need to remember where we came from.

Lloyd Leighton

Yuba City

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