Important principles may, and must, be inflexible. Abraham Lincoln
- Individual Property Rights
- Personal Responsibility
- Free Markets
- Limited Government and Low Taxes
- Strong National Defense
- Integrity and Moral Grounding
- Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. Abraham Lincoln
- Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. Thomas Jefferson
The principles of individual liberty, family, free market exchange, limited government and reliance on the rule of law described below are rooted in the positive notion that citizens are fundamentally individuals of integrity with moral grounding. Said differently, arguments to expand government, to intrude into family matters, to manage the marketplace, or restrict individual liberty usually assume that individuals cannot be trusted and lack basic integrity and moral grounding. All government representatives — whether elected, appointed or employed — should exhibit a strong moral compass that guides their actions.
Individual Liberty and Responsibility
- No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. Abraham Lincoln
- The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. Thomas Jefferson
So long as they do not harm others, individuals should have the absolute right to make their own informed decisions, use their property as they wish, enjoy all the fruits of their decisions and labor, but also bear the full responsibility for their decisions and actions. Government’s proper role does not include using its police powers to protect individuals from themselves or to take income, property or wealth and redistribute those individual assets in order to meet the needs of others.
- As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live. Pope John Paul II
- You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Desmond Tutu
The family is society’s central institution. It is a covenant between a man and a woman to share their lives, their property and to raise their children. Legitimate government roles for families include establishing property rules for married couples and overseeing dissolution of marriage when spouses cannot agree. So long as they do not harm their children, parents have an absolute right to raise their children and impart such values to their children as they see fit.
- Competition and Free Enterprise
- The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. Milton Friedman
Fully informed individuals acting in their own best interest in a competitive market makes society better off. Government’s involvement in the market should be focused on: (1) defining and protecting private property rights; (2) enforcing free market transactions and protecting against fraud or coercion; (3) ensuring that market participants have the freedom to enter and exit markets; and, (4) protecting against the imposition of unbargained for costs on innocent third parties (externalities). Such involvement assures that property of value can be exchanged, that market choices are freely made, that markets are competitive, and that market transactions do not harm others.
Free markets are distorted by market regulation, government restrictions on entry, taxation and direct government ownership/provision of goods and services.
- Limited, Effective, Accountable Government
- I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. Thomas Jefferson
- A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have. Gerald Ford
Government should be limited, effective and accountable. Government is the servant of its citizens; citizens are not servants of government.
Limited government is a government that is generally focused on: (1) security (national defense and domestic law enforcement); (2) a legal system to define property rights and ensure orderly market transactions (see above); (3) provision of essential functions that cannot be effectively provided by the private sector (e.g., fire protection); and, (4) protection of those who are unable to fend for themselves.
Effective government is one that actually produces the results demanded by its citizens within the constraints of the law.
Accountable government is one that is a fiscally responsible, effective steward of public resources.
Many look to the government to be a social safety net and, too often, government is not held to account for the results it actually produced or the taxpayer resources it uses.
Rule of Law
- Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. Abraham Lincoln
- A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference. Thomas Jefferson