Friday, February 04, 2011

Governments that initiate force or coercion violate moral principle

We violate the Golden Rule when we vote for politicians and give our allegiance to governments that attempt to regulate private behavior.

Is it possible to create a sustainable and just civilization where neglect of basic philosophical principles is commonplace? The most fundamental moral principle, the Golden Rule, familiar to all religious traditions--and embraced by skeptics, atheists and agnostics as well--requires that we limit our actions so that we do not produce effects on others that we would not want for ourselves. Yet this is the error we commit when we support politicians, policies and governments that meddle in the private lives of peaceful citizens. Using government as a kind of tool, we are doing to others exactly what we would not want done to ourselves.

Attempts to regulate private behavior not only infringe on basic civil and human rights, they also inevitably draw resources and attention away from the legitimate functions of government. We are less able to effectively and appropriately regulate public behavior that actually causes harm when we are distracted in this way. The proper function of government is to regulate public behavior. Any action that is private, that is not open to public view and that does not impose effects on any individual against their will is not a legitimate target for control by government.

Let us consider the Golden Rule when we cast our ballot and when we communicate our interests and concerns to our elected representatives. A political path that respects this most fundamental moral principle might seek a marriage of libertarian and green political traditions. Not "Republican or Democrat", but "Libertarian AND Green", if we wish to embody this philosophical principle in our political life. Guided by the first principle of libertarian politics, we would refrain from giving any support to any policy or politician that would initiate force or coercion against any peaceful person. With a green political agenda, we would ensure that the overall level of pollution and the rates of taking of natural resources would be kept within limits acceptable to the largest number of people—and within limits respectful of the interests of other inhabitants of the planet.

With a libertarian perspective that respects public and private property rights, and with a green social conscience, we would expect and require that polluters and others who degrade natural resource wealth will pay a fee, money to the people, as compensation for the damage done or value taken. Such a public property rights paradigm could serve as a foundation for a society that is both more sustainable and more just.


Systemic flaws are not reported

Who should decide how to spend public funds?