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Of Liberals, Conservatives, Rationalists, and Moral Foundations


The world is pretty good; all we have to do is not ruin it.

Our fiscal situation has gone from impossible to absurd. No level of taxation can possibly pay for all the promises the government has made, yet it cannot even agree to slow the rate of increase in spending, nor to produce honest accounts. All its energy is devoted to avoiding what it calls "the fiscal cliff," otherwise known as cutting the spending it implemented as "targeted" and "temporary" four years ago. Our monetary policy is to use central bank assets to buy government debt.

Respect for civil rights and rule of law has decayed. Complexity of government has exploded, as has the size of indirect government sectors like lobbyists, tax accountants, and lawyers who maneuver through government rules. More and more people are dependent on the government every year.

The anomalous thing is that these giant steps toward totalitarianism are happening in a time when everything outside the government is going great. Other socialist rampages were touched off by intolerable social conditions. But we are seeing the fastest improvement in the standard of living in human history, with more people in the world leaving poverty every year than could have been imagined even a short time ago. The world as a whole is enjoying unprecedented peace and prosperity. There has never been a better time to beat swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks.

The problems we do have are global and require cooperation, innovation, and enthusiasm rather than anything that can be legislated or obtained by force. And we have the information and communication tools to support the effort, for the first time in history.
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