The promise of America is a dream.
It is not the promise of an easy life, material wealth or even a white picket fence.
Instead, the promise is one of freedom. It is the promise of a country where citizens are free to create their own futures, free to pursue their own successes, free to build their own lives. The promise of America is that the unique dignity and potential of each human life is allowed to prosper and flourish, free of government intervention.
This belief in the enduring capacity of people illustrates the need for economic freedom.
A central part of the American promise is the idea that with hard work, every person—regardless of age, background or religion—has the opportunity to succeed and achieve. Fundamental to this dream is that government remains small and limited, giving maximum freedom to the individual. The great potential of America lies not in her government, but in her people.
As governor of Kansas, I worked to pass laws that recognize and respect the capacity of our citizens. The goal was simple: institute laws and policies to incentivize growth, reduce regulatory red tape, and empower people to build a stronger economy. Trusting that Kansans should keep more of their hard-earned money—and, if given that freedom, individuals and businesses will succeed—we cut taxes.
We cut taxes for everyone who paid state income tax, enabling families to keep more of their wages to invest or spend as they see fit. We also completely lifted the income tax burden for nearly 400,000 of the poorest Kansans, giving the struggling among us relief and allowing them an opportunity to regain their economic footing.
The last piece focused on job creators, bringing the small-business income tax rate to zero. By unleashing these job creators, who employ nearly 70 percent of the Kansas workforce, we are encouraging growth and spurring new hirings, wage growth, business expansion and innovation.
The principles put into practice brought success; greater economic freedom for Kansans allowed for greater creativity and innovation. Last year alone, a record-setting 17,298 new businesses opened in our state. That figure represents thousands of Kansans now serving their communities with unique faculties and talents, in addition to the individuals they hire to join them in that mission. Last year marked the fifth consecutive record-setting year for new businesses in Kansas, despite a national decline in startups.
The story of a small business in Osage County, Kansas, illustrates how increased economic freedom betters the lives of not only the entrepreneurs and their family, but eventually extends the benefits into whole communities. This particular family business served their clients through physical therapy and chiropractic care. With tax reform now law and their income tax burden lifted, the owners were able to reinvest that money into their community, not only in their own business, but helping other local businesses grow as well. In the period from 2012 to 2016, they more than doubled the amount of money they could invest in their business and the local economy of their small town by purchasing goods and services from 12 additional local companies.
With this greater economic prosperity, Kansans are able to build a stronger, brighter future for themselves, their communities and future generations yet to come.
A more free country with limited government and lower taxes means greater economic opportunity for more people. It opens the door for increased economic mobility and security, and the promise of a better future to more Americans. A belief in limited government is a belief that given the freedom and opportunity to succeed, individuals and families will flourish.
But most of all, the promise of America requires a belief in human potential. The capacity to dream, innovate and prosper lies in every person. The imprint of each life bears unique talents and gifts. Economic freedom provides the space to realize that human dignity through work, innovation and creativity.
Every American should have the ability to build their own American dream. For every person, that dream looks different—a welder, a professor, a soldier, a businessman—but to become a reality, every dream requires hard work, passion and dedication. In short, the American dream requires the American spirit. We owe it to the next generation of Americans, born and unborn, to preserve a land where freedom and opportunity reign, so they too can live in a land of liberty where dreams are plentiful and spirit abounds.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in “Faith at Work: Economic Flourishing, Freedom to Create and Innovate,” a special report released by IFWE and the Washington Times. Reprinted with permission.