James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, April 15, 2005

Choosing the Less Bad

In a country where Big Government isn’t going away any time soon, many laws and budget choices are between bad and less bad. Assuming that the politically-involved libertarian advocates responsible government (as opposed to choosing policies that will hasten revolution), here are standards I would use in analyzing policy. Some of it sounds paleo-conservative, some of it sounds like a moderate Democrat.

1. In a conflict between subsidiarity (or federalism) and individual liberty, favor subsidiarity. Example: the same Supreme Court that struck down state sodomy laws is the same one that repealed the First Amendment in upholding the McCain-Feingold bill. Fight any tendency toward centralized power, no matter how worthwhile the intent seems.
2. In a conflict between national sovereignty and freer trade, favor national sovereignty. The good of a lower tariff will inevitably be offset by dubious and destructive regulations imposed by the WTO or some other unconstitutional, supra-national body.
3. If the choice is peace through neutrality or peace through collective security, favor neutrality.
4. If the choice is world government from the Pentagon, or world government from the United Nations, favor revolution. At least, fight the Pentagon and its President at every opportunity, and use the UN only as a diplomatic tool. But recognize that the President is, today, a greater threat to Americans and the world than the Secretary-General.
5. Realism is superior to idealism. Spreading freedom and democracy to the world through military or economic coercion does not help people in other lands, and only diminishes freedom and prosperity at home.
6. A pro-peace President with wacky socialist ideas is less bad than a pro-war President who favors lower taxes; presidents can’t impose socialism, but they can start wars.
7.If the choice is tax deductions or vouchers, choose deductions. Lower taxes is better than redistribution.
8. If the choice is between “publicly-run” institutions like schools, or vouchers, choose the publicly-run. Because inevitable government waste is better than creating dependency.
9. Between a current government program, and replacing it with another one, favor the current one.
10. In tax reform, cutting rates is a higher priority than simplification.
11. No tax cut should be offset by tax hikes elsewhere.
12. Between tax rate cuts leading to deficits and future inflation, or no tax cuts with balanced budgets, favor balanced budgets
13. Between raising taxes and cutting spending to balance the budget, always go with spending cuts
14. If faced with “I’ll vote for your marijuana decriminalization bill if you vote for War on Iran,” refuse the offer.
15. It is appropriate to propose amendments of bad bills to make them less bad, and then vote against the bill itself.
16.Cut subsidies first, then regulations, then taxes.
17. Tax cuts should start with removing more people of lower incomes off the rolls.
I’ll probably think of more some other time.

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