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Thursday, February 12, 2004

Surprising Answers

I had a hunch that Jim might be surprised to my answers to his poll. I'm sure that anyone reading my posts here who doesn't know me well would assume that I'm quite pro-Bush, pro-Iraq war, and anti-government. Turns out they'd be wrong. I don't particularly like Bush - it's just that I don't hate him either. I wasn't all that gung-ho regarding the Iraq invasion - but I wasn't adamantly against it either and, here we are, so it seems pointless to me to undermine our government as they attempt to reap some benefit for ourselves and the Iraqi people. I'm not anti-government either - I've simply been putting forth views on the subject in a very narrow realm which could mislead readers as to my big picture view.

For example, I've been arguing that the Anarchist/Libertarian view is that government Means are often immoral. I find their argument persuasive and I haven't yet seen anything that convincingly (to me) refutes that logic. That doesn't mean that I don't think government should continue to use those Means, even if immoral. In my opinion, real life is simply too complicated and messy to worry too much about government morality. That's not to say I don't think we should be concerned with morality at all. If we can achieve important Ends using only moral Means and the extra cost required to do so aren't exorbitant, then that's definitely preferable. And if immoral Means are required, the Ends need to be very carefully scrutinized. But I wouldn't advocate bailing on important agendas just because the only way to achieve them was to use immoral Means such as taking things from people without their consent (i.e., taxation). That would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and really, the bathwater's not so bad. Just a little stinky.

Also, I'm an incrementalist. I think that the effects of any change in government policy involves enormous uncertainty and should be changed incrementally. If the Government is involved in something today, it should continue to be involved in it for a while, even if it's phased out over time. Even if, for example, I thought that tax rates should be made flatter, I wouldn't propose changing the tax code to a completely flat tax instantaneously. I'd want it to move towards that structure over many years. I have a general idea of direction for many issues, but because of the impossibility of predicting the end result, I have extremely low confidence that new policies will have the desired effect and minimal unintended consequences. Thus my caveat in Jim's poll that my answers regarding "significant government involvement" were only valid for "today thru at least the next few years." Perhaps eventually the government's involvement should be eliminated, or in some cases added.

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