Monday, December 14, 2009

Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy

A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended a local teaparty meeting. It was a follow-up to the big ralley they had at the Voice of America Park on September 6, 2009.
I was very impressed with the quality of people involved in this meeting and how many were willing to volunteer for the different Committees.

I ended up walking out with a booklet in my hand and I am compelled to share the main points here: Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy
By Lawrence W. Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, and President emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (Mr. Lawrence put these points together but mentioned that he is not the originator of them).
Published by Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Here are the seven Principles:

1. Free People are not equal, and equal people are not free.
Obviously, we are here not talking about equality before the law. Free people, who are allowed to follow their dream, will create different results in the market place. Entrepreneurship in America as elsewhere has proven that some people will earn more than others. Is it equally right to pay football players millions of dollars compared to the shift worker in the factory or the cashier at the local department store?

2. What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.
Private property is always better taken care of than public places. When I lived in East-Germany, most public places were run down, except the ones which the elite was paraded by. We can also look along our highways and see the litter thrown out by passer-bys. Fortunately, there are some private civic groups who go out voluntarily and collect trash on Saturday morning.

3. Sound Policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.
The whole welfare system is based on this short-run effect. Is it really better to give someone a fish than to teach them how to fish? O.k. we are at times in need of some extra help. For the sake of our self-esteem and self-respect, I believe, it is better when we have to earn what we need.

"You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it." ~ Adrian Rogers, 1931

4. If you encourage something, you get more of it; if you discourage something, you get less of it.
This has to do with incentives and disincentives. Human beings like to be rewarded and recognized. I don’t why lawmakers are thinking that “the rich” would buy more luxury items or smokers would buy more cigarettes if the taxes are raised on those items. It seems more like a punishment. Did it work? Did the government make more revenue on these items? The only way to deal with a deficit is to cut spending.
Can we deal with recession and declining revenues by punishing some our citizens? A weak economy can be stimulated by allowing more business to get started who can hire jobless workers. To create more small business and give them tax breaks and get people back to work is a better solution than bailing out big corporations who don’t even keep track of where the money went. Let the doctor help the patient get well and not hurt him in the treatment.

5. Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.
We all have heard stories that the government hires contractors who charge outrages prices for supplies like hammers and nails, etc. Government spending is truly out of control. Any bookkeeper has to keep record of how he spends the company’s money. Does the government keep records like this? I am just wondering what happened to all the bail-out moneys?

Economist Milton Friedman gives four ways one can spend money:
• When you spend your own money on yourself you make some mistakes, but they are few and rare.
• When you spend your money to buy something for someone else you still try to be smart but not always what the other person likes or needs.
• When you spend someone else’s money on yourself, like on a business trip, you try to economize but get yourselves the best (unless you have a budget).
• Lastly, when you spend other people’s money for someone else, you tend to be wasteful. That’s what government does all the time.
How are we ever going to get rid of the big deficit of $12.1 Trillion? With an estimated population in the U.S. of 307.5 Million people, each citizen shares a debt of $39,500.00

6. Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you’ve got.
If big government wants to be in charged of everything we become a true welfare state. It is truly robbing Peter to pay Paul. Free people don’t look to their government for their sustenance. Many countries in Europe have found that out already.

7. Liberty makes all the difference in the world.
Ben Franklin was quoted saying: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
It is true that our government has control over 42% of all we produce, compared to 6 or 7% in the early 1900’s?
Mr. Reed like many of us, questions the policies of our country today. Let’s keep informed and not accept everything that comes from the top down. As responsible citizens we all would like to practice these principles. The past shows that America was a giving nation when it came closer to practicing these principles.
The tea party movement reminds us of some of our responsibilities.
Here are some other links, FYI:

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