The Four Fundamentals of American Freedom and Prosperity — Ezra Taft Benson

Prophet Statesmen, Ezra Taft Benson

Excerpt from Ezra Taft Benson address, “Our Freedom is Threatened,” September 22, 1962, Chicago, Illinois.

All of us are anxious to see our country progress, but we want to know by what means. The whole American concept of progress, which has outstripped every other nation on earth, is based on certain fundamental principles which [some] men now ask us to abandon. Certainly we are entitled to challenge such proposals when they are asking us to give up what has worked so well and substitute something which they merely hope will work.

What are these fundamental principles which have allowed the United States to progress so rapidly and yet remain free?

First, a written Constitution clearly defining the limits of government so that government will not become more powerful than the people.

Second, an economic system which is characterized by:

  • Free enterprise the right to venture, the right to choose.
  • Private property—the right to own, develop and enjoy.
  • A market economy—the right to exchange and to profit.

Third, building an open society where each individual enjoys the greatest opportunity to improve himself, to travel, to become educated, to invent, to compete, to build, to speak, to worship, and to pursue happiness in whatever way the individual finds most satisfying and worthwhile.

Fourth, assigning government the role of referee rather than competitor — giving it enough power to provide peace, order and security but not enough power to rob the people of their liberty or take their property “without due process of law.”

Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) served as thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as Secretary of Agriculture for both terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency. 

Prophet Statesmen is a project of the Center for Moral Liberalism.