It’s Not the Economy, Stupid.

October 2nd, 2010 § 0 comments

This election season, the left and the right are both shouting about how much they have listened to the American people. The Republican’s claim they understand how hard it is on Main Street. Joe the Plumber has had to tighten his belt. The Grand Ole Party hears. They will tighten the belt of government, too. The democrats claim to know how hard it is. The have heard the cries for help. And they pledge to send help.

I don’t like either of these ideas exactly, or at least either of these rationales. Give me a political party that is not listening to the people but has something to say. Give me a party that, rather than pretending to be of all the people, is willing to be of none, to do the unpopular thing, instead of listening to us and trying to give us what we want, give me a party that sees the problem and is willing to tell me what needs to change.

The reason we’re in this mess is because congress has been listening to the people. They’ve been giving us exactly what we want. But this is not a democracy. (The founders hated the word.) It is a republic. The reason we have a republic is specifically so that we could elect officials who could vote for exactly what we don’t want, so that the power is derived from the people but also separated from them. Decision making is supposed to be insulated from the people. Instead, every side panders, promising they’re the side to deliver. Where is the side that will be honest, speak of the hard times ahead, tell me what I don’t want to hear, and vote for the programs I don’t want?

That’s the politician I’ll listen to.

Benjamin Franklin said that the government would fail when people began to vote themselves money. More than ever, this is beginning to be the case, especially in “handout” programs, but also in big business subsidies, targeted tax cuts, etc. What’s more, it has become the singular goal of politicians to create an economic environment where business thrives. Though I desire for policies that promote a thriving business environment, this is an entirely wrong-headed approach to governance. The role of government is to protect an environment where virtue thrives. When virtue thrives, those who work hard and produce will thrive. Then they thrive, the economy will thrive.

In focusing on economics instead of ethics (and I mean ethics in a much broader sense than mere rules of business and politics), the government is putting the cart before the horse. The people have lobbied congress to move the cart (the economy), and so congress has gotten behind the cart and started pushing. Congress, ignore the people and go get a horse. While you walk away from the cart to go get a horse, the people will undoubtedly hate you for your seeming abandonment. But this problem will not be solved by a bunch of fat old men grunting and pushing a cart that is stuck in the mud.

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