“Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy” by Dr. Lawrence W. Reed

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii introduced me to Dr. Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (www.mackinac.org), a nonpartisan research and educational institute.

In 2001, Dr. Reed presented a speech to the Detroit Economic Club titled “Seven Principles of Sound Economic Policy.” He highlighted seven ideas that are “pillars of a free economy.” It’s time to read them again and use them to analyze legislation in Hawaii – and in the nation.

#1: Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free. We are all equal before the law, but we don’t have equal abilities, attitudes, and industriousness. The only way you could have a truly equal society is to use force; and we would all end up as slaves.

#2: What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair. Think about the graffiti and vandalism in public parks and restrooms. The best way to maintain wealth and productivity is to let people keep what’s theirs.

#3: Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people. Government should not make a few people feel good today by hurting many people tomorrow. By the way, it’s not “economic stimulus” if a thief steals from a bank and spends the money at a local shopping mall.

#4: If you encourage something, you get more of it; if you discourage something, you get less of it. You can’t raise taxes and expect people to work as hard or spend as much as before.

#5: Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. When it’s your money, you care about getting your money’s worth. When it’s not your money, who cares?

#6: Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you’ve got. A free and independent people don’t rely on government for their sustenance. Instead, government is a protector of our liberties.

#7: Liberty makes all the difference in the world. Liberty makes happiness and prosperity possible. Benjamin Franklin warned, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

We must all be vigilant to keep government in check and our liberties secure. We must ensure that our public policy reflects the principles of the Founding Fathers and our Constitution.

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