Letter: Opportunities to break down economic barriers

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”

The author of those words, Albert Einstein, who left Germany when Hitler came to power, understood better than most that freedom is a necessary prerequisite for human achievement.

And when people are free to pursue their dreams, they benefit others.

History shows this to be true. Since the 1970s, governments around the world have removed constraints on individual economic liberty. This has driven an 80 percent decline in the number of people living in starvation-level poverty—an achievement that is as astonishing as it is underappreciated.

This time-tested belief – that free people can do great things – is the philosophical foundation of all we do at Americans for Prosperity (AFP) – North Dakota. It’s why we work hard every day to eliminate barriers for the people of our state.

We believe these principles transcend the hyper-partisan animosity that characterizes our politics today. So instead of looking for areas of disagreement, we will look beyond the existing political labels and alignments and take a page out of Frederick Douglass’ book: “I would unite with anybody to do right; and with nobody to do wrong.”

It’s why we partnered with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on issues of mutual interest, such as criminal justice reform and the passage of the First Step Act. We also partnered with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) against civil asset forfeiture, filing an amicus brief the Timbs v. Indiana case before the Supreme Court. Although we differ with the ACLU and NAACP on many issues, we live out our creed of uniting with anyone to do right.

Now that the election is over, we look forward to working with anyone—of either party—who wishes to expand opportunities and remove obstacles for the citizens of our state.

And we have several opportunities to do just that.

In the fall of 2018, AFP – ND worked with the F5 Project, a Fargo-based group started by a former inmate that helps inmates prepare for re-entry into their communities. We share F5 founder Adam Martin’s belief that “what happens in one’s past does not need to determine one’s future.”

In 2019, we aim to work with F5, local businesses and penitentiaries in our state to provide incarcerated individuals with job training that meets the needs of the labor market. Upon release, they’ll have assistance in job placement.

North Dakota is a leader in providing freedom from occupational licensing. But obstacles remain for many of our citizens in certain professions. For instance, hair braiders must obtain a cosmetology license requiring 1,800 hours of schooling – a difficult hurdle for those with modest incomes.

Rep. Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, is willing to sponsor a bill to remove this onerous requirement and we intend to work with him toward that end.

In 2019, we will work to increase educational freedom through policies that ensure all students have access to a quality education that helps them discover, develop and apply their unique talents to find fulfillment and success in their lives.

The new year presents us with myriad opportunities to break down barriers for the citizens of our state. We have an ambitious agenda for 2019. If you share in our aspirations, we would love to work with you.

Mike Fedorchak is state director of Americans for Prosperity-North Dakota.