That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
In a recent poll taken by Rasmussen Reports, 64% of those polled said that America is moving in the wrong direction. This result however does not give us any indication of what the right direction is. Ask anyone (including presidential candidates) and you will get a different answer. Principled Policy asserts that policies advocated by Republicans and Democrats have become unmoored from the founding principles of America resulting in a Gordian knot of confusing and often contradictory policies and programs. The only way we can get America on the right track is to define a coherent set of principles that are supported by a general consensus of the population and then make sure that the policies of the government adhere to those principles.
Principled Policy begins with an analysis of the founding principles of the country that are the foundation of the American social contract. This analysis shows that the basic principles of government by the people, equality of opportunity and the free market economic system are inextricably bound together. It shows that the free market system (mistakenly called capitalism) is morally and ethically superior to other economic systems. The book notes that the many failings of the free market system arise from our human weaknesses (misbehavior as defined by behavioral economist Dr. Richard Thaler) and shows that other economic systems also suffer from this problem. Human-made systems and institutions are inherently flawed by our human inadequacies. When these human inadequacies combine with the coercive power of the state the result is tyranny. The American Social Contract sets forth the pluralistic nature of our system based on political and economic liberty. This pluralistic society is a counterbalance to the coercive power of the state and protects us from tyrants and dictators to which other systems are prone.
The book offers policy proposals that at first appear radical but upon reflection are consistent with these principles. These include revamping the tax system, unwinding the social welfare state and reasserting America’s role in the world. The book closes by noting that instituting these reforms will be difficult but offers a number of recommendations on how to move forward.