Friday, September 10, 2004

On Politics


(Note: Links below)

I tend to divide polical issues into three major categories: economic, social, and national defense/foreign policy. The World’s Smallest Political Quiz, developed by libertarians, considers two of them – economic and personal/social. According to its creators, a conservative supports economic liberty but opposes some personal liberties (in the name of “moral values”); a liberal supports personal liberty (in the name of “tolerance”) but opposes some economic liberties (in the name of “economic equality”); and a libertarian supports freedom in both areas.

Broadly speaking, this quiz is a good way to label oneself in the public square. Of course, conservatism (speaking as a conservative) is a complicated term in American politics. We’ve got traditional conservatives, libertarian conservatives, religious conservatives, neo-conservatives, paleo-conservatives, and now “South Park” conservatives – among other strands. (Others speak of a big four: the “Old Right,” “New Right,” neo-cons, and libertarians.) The Republican Party is even more diverse because it includes many disguised liberals and spineless “conservatives” prone to liberal behavior.

Within a thoroughly corrupt human race, a governing body is necessary to ensure justice and order among men. And because of our corrupt nature, political power must be limited and separated to prevent tyranny. The best system of government is one that’s run democratically within a principled framework that ensures the fulfillment of government’s ultimate purposes. Justice is the goal; representative democracy and the rule of law are important parts of the means to achieving it.

My perspectives on the three main issue categories are as follows:

1) Economic. As Karl Marx pointed out, difficulties arise from the existence of private property. Much of what is owned is unearned, and life isn't fair. But the alternative – central control over economic decisions – is far worse. It would necessitate arbitrary decision making by the state and open the door to any degree of tyranny. Economic power must instead be divided among many through a natural, free market system of private ownership. Indeed, the freedom of trade, at least in some sense, seems fundamental and natural (and biblical – see Bible/Government Q & A). Capitalism is more compatible with a just and free society than any other economic system.

Moreover, a free market is superior to any other at creating wealth. And not only, then, does authentic capitalism drive a prosperous economy, it delegates economic responsibility to each individual rather than to the state. Fostering responsibility, not dependence, produces better people and hence a better society.

Our current welfare state (for welfare quotes, click here) defies these principles and replaces real generosity with bureaucratic, forced wealth redistribution. Private charity, in fact, is simply more effective than government welfare. Autonomous, private organizations competing in a free market system of philanthropy will maximize their efforts, adapt to each individual, distribute services conditionally to foster personal accountability, and help solve the spiritual ills (as well as the material needs) that are at the root of much of society's problems.

Taxes and spending should be kept low, the tax rate must be flat, simple, and fair, and wealth should not be redistributed through government programs.

2) Social. An objective moral code/natural law exists by which society should be ordered. Civilization must found itself upon respect for human dignity, and it ought to be structured through the institutions of marriage and family. In fact, the strength of such non-government institutions – and the entire Judeo-Christian ethic – is crucial in order to maintain a limited state, as it is our own deviation from this design that necessitates the existence of government in the first place.

3) National Defense/Foreign Policy. A nation must defend itself. It should also be willing to fight abroad for the cause of justice. In today’s world, new threats must be addressed and freedom ought to be promoted around the world for the safety and security of everyone.

Thus, it’s safe to label myself a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, and – well, foreign policy is a bit trickier. A neocon? Maybe. sums up conservative principles this way: "free enterprise, limited government, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."

I believe that my views are in line with a Christian worldview; for more, click here.

For some great political quotes, click here.

For talking points on some of the major political issues, click here.

For resources for learning about the issues, click here.

Disagree? E-mail me.

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