The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Woodall) for 5 minutes.
I'm happy to be down here this morning. I often come down here with something on my mind, Mr. Speaker. Invariably, one of my colleagues says something that inspires me even more than what I had on my mind when I came down. That's the case this morning.
My colleague who was here right before me said the value of higher education in terms of future earnings is undisputable. The value of higher education, Mr. Speaker, in terms of future earnings, is undisputable. And he then went on to talk about all the Federal programs that provide money so that people can seek higher education.
Now my question is, Mr. Speaker: If the value is undisputable, why do we have to pay people to do it? If the value is undisputable, why do we have to pay people to do it? That's what happens in this Chamber too often, Mr. Speaker.
I think back to 1787 and the passage of the Constitution. The Constitution, as conservative as it is in terms of preserving individual liberties, would not have passed, would not have been ratified, without the addition of the Bill of Rights. Our Founding Fathers were so concerned about a Federal Government trying to do too much that the colonies would not ratify the Constitution in the absence of the Bill of Rights--the Bill of Rights, which sole purpose is to protect individual liberties.
Mr. Speaker, as I look around at what makes America great, it's never something that comes out of this United States House of Representatives. It's something that comes out of a family next door back home. It's something that comes out of a community back home. It's something that comes out of individual liberty and freedom back home. And my job as the representative of 900,000 folks in the great State of Georgia is to protect their liberties from the natural inclination that exists in this body to think they have all the right answers.
We talk about higher education Mr. Speaker. In the great State of Georgia, we have what's called the HOPE Scholarship program. It's funded by lottery money. I would have voted against the lottery, but the lottery won anyway, and now it funds higher education for all Georgians. It's a huge job creation tool. Folks want to come and relocate their business to Georgia because they know kids with an accomplished high school record are going to be able to go to college for free.
That's a State initiative, Mr. Speaker. We're not going to pass a national lottery up here and try to provide free college education for everybody in the country. That's not the right answer. The right answer is to have States and local communities exercise those freedoms and implement their ideas back home.
When I was growing up--and it didn't occur to me at the time, Mr. Speaker, how meaningful it would be--but there used be a cliche that when something was really hard, you'd say: It takes an act of Congress to solve it. Have you heard that cliche, Mr. Speaker? It takes an act of Congress to solve that because the problem is so hard and it's hard to pass something in Congress. It's hard to get an act of Congress. And yet every time we make a mistake, Mr. Speaker, in the name of trying to do good, in the name of trying to have the best idea, in the name of trying to tell everybody in America if only they'll do what we tell them to do they will be happier, every time we make a mistake it literally takes an act of Congress to fix it.
Mr. Speaker, we're not in charge of providing happiness to America. We are in charge of preserving Americans' freedoms so that they can find their own happiness.
Mr. Speaker, there are lots of countries on this planet that do not share the freedoms that we have. There is only one country on this planet that protects individual liberty and freedom as we do. When we talk about the direction of America, Mr. Speaker, we have to decide are we going to protect those things that have always made this country great--individual liberty and individual freedom--or are we going to go the way of the rest of the world, which is looking to a central government that thinks it has all the right answers.
Mr. Speaker, they had it right in the summer of 1787. I hope we get it right here in this Congress.
- March 20, 1996
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