Undoubtedly, the current economic malaise has made life harder for many Hispanic and Latinos whose families have lived for many generations in America as well as for recent immigrants. But don’t fault the tempest-tossed American private sector - that’s been battered by a wave of big government policies in the past few years - blame the loss of our economic freedoms for keeping a rebound in check, stifling growth, and choking the American Dream for so many.

We are in constant decision making mode, about everything, just about every waking hour of every day - whether we realize it or not. From what clothes we wear, what we will eat, what we will say, to whom we will relate with, places we will visit, and whether we choose to worship – or not. We make decisions based on facts, misinformation or flat out myths. We make these decisions out of self-interest or in regards to others.

Choosing to emigrate from one’s country of origin is no different. Thousands of bits of information are considered in a benefit to cost analysis before making such a consequential decision.

Those who chose to leave their countries of origin did so only after the sum of their experiences, and the totality of the information considered, persuaded them enough to believe they could prosper in another land, that they could achieve in another land what they could not in their countries of origin.

Throughout our history, more people were rewarded for making the decision to immigrate to America than anywhere else in history (and our nation was made stronger for it). Arguably, our nation met more expectations, fulfilled more dreams, and generated more prosperity for more immigrant families than any other nation in history – regardless of race, religion or creed, each one intuitively driven by the belief; “Si soy libre, prospero.” (If I’m free, I’ll prosper.)

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But today, our nation’s ability to satisfy such expectations has become decidedly more difficult due to our current economic sluggishness and the monstrous debt obligations caused by our government’s penchant for irresponsible spending, taxing, and borrowing. And we all continue suffering because of it.

These realities beg several questions: Why are some countries better at generating prosperity than others – that is, why do some accumulate wealth at vastly higher levels, grow, innovate, and modernize faster? Why do countries differ in educational attainment, health of the population, infant mortality rates, and poverty levels? And why do these outcomes change within different regions, different ethnicities, and at different times?

How did we become the most prosperous nation on earth; and why are we now on a downward path today? Were different generations or groups of people made of finer clay; was it the scarcity or vastness of resources and navigable waters; or were the affairs of some generations or peoples simply favored by a Divine Creator?

The factors are many, but a society’s economic system has empirically proven to be a determinant and primary factor in the levels of prosperity it is able to achieve.

Certainly, government has a significant role – it is important for government to do those things that as individuals we cannot do for ourselves – such as providing law enforcement, an impartial justice system, and a military that effectively defends us from foreign aggression. But, political leaders must always be vigilant protectors of our civil rights, political liberties and economic freedoms. This means advancing the rule of law, sound money, respect for private property, free trade and limited government.

In protecting and promoting our economic freedoms, elected leaders can do more to increase prosperity for more and more people, vastly improve mortality rates, individual happiness and the environment, and lessen poverty by simply securing our freedoms.

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Conversely, any erosion of the pillars of economic freedom will reduce a society’s ability to generate broad and sustained prosperity. Excessive taxation, borrowing and regulation have shown time and again to breed political cronyism, corruption, impoverishment, and stymied innovation, less democracy and less individual freedoms. Ever-expanding centralized government also hampers the ability of job creators to grow, innovate, and expand economic opportunities for others.

Three years of failed big government policies, billions of squandered taxpayer dollars in “stimulus” spending and failed Federal investments in unsustainable companies like Solyndra are still not enough to convince the current administration that government spending cannot and will not create sustainable prosperity.

This is a topic of high urgency for our community, as Hispanic unemployment still hovers at 11% and 1 in 4 live under the poverty level – the highest rate ever for our community.

The loss of economic freedoms resulting from a more powerful, centralized government and over-regulation must be reclaimed by all Americans. This includes our own U.S. Hispanic/Latino community writ large, each one of us duty bound to defend our liberties and economic freedoms.

Join the effort to reclaim the principles that made our nation great –that inspired so many of us to dare to dream, and make our lives better. Let’s reclaim our dream. Let’s choose prosperity. Let’s choose to live free – to be LIBRE.

Daniel Garza was formerly Associate Director at the Office of Public Liaison for The White House. He is currently the Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative. You can learn more about The LIBRE Initiative by visiting their website at www.thelibreinitiative.com , liking their facebook page “The LIBRE Initiatiative” or following them on twitter @libreinitiative

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Daniel Garza is president and chairman of The LIBRE Institute. You can see here a video of the author explaining the High School Diploma Initiative here.

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