Saturday, March 12, 2011

An Opportunity

Current crises present thoughtful people with opportunities for impact as the polemicists of the extremes wear themselves out. I suggest the following for our discourse and decisive action:

Let's stop the name-calling. Whether we are conservative or liberal, progressive or libertarian, labeling and hyperbole keep us from actually looking at the issues. As long as we can call someone a Nazi or a Commie we will never make progress. This said, we also reserve the right to see the links between philosophy and policy and ask for explanations of principles!

Let's live within our means - and as the means change, we all benefit or sacrifice accordingly. Why do firefighters, police and teachers suffer the most while we cannot even audit our bureaucracies? We cannot concomitantly be a warfare and welfare state forever.

Public and private entities need to be partners, not enemies. We need ethical oversight (NOT ownership or administration) of private enterprise and excellent systemic change in public administration that sharp business leaders can provide. The amount of redundancy in government is stunning. We must rebuild infrastructure and the successes of the 1930s and 1940s are instructive.

Public order requires private virtue. Liberty is built on morality and truth. We cannot question all moral structures and expect less than anarchy followed by totalitarianism. We do not need a government regulating our daily menu; conversely, we are personally responsible to feed well, clothe and care for ourselves and our children. If conservatives want less government, they must step up local and personal care. If liberals want healthier citizens, they must insist on personal accountability.

All business is service. For people who claim to be biblical in their world-view, they need to remember that God is the Owner and we are the stewards of creation, property and wealth. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian texts, there is a delightful balance - property rights are protected and prosperity is not a sin. At the same time, the poor are cared for and unjust economic and legal structures are confronted by the prophets. If we own businesses, we should have women and men lined up wanting to work for such ethical, kind and effective companies. If we are employees, we owe our leaders a full day's effort.

Compassion and other government operations are best delivered locally. Fewer tax dollars to Washington mean more for our cities, counties and states.

Radical Islam is a threat to all who love freedom. Of course most Muslims want peace and toleration - but most people are not patient revolutionaries with a long-term goal of a universal caliphate. Here is the 21st question for all Muslims of conscience: Will you strive to create a world where people of all faiths or none live in full equality, with the liberty of conversion, free speech (even if offensive) and the right to question religious leaders? If you answer yes, there is hope for peaceful coexistence and even reform within Islam. Any qualification of this query means subversion of freedom is never far away. Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and agnostics, and all other must answer yes as well. Society is best served when there is a real "free market" of religious options.

Let's roll up our sleeves, meet together and create a better future. We can argue over the climate or unite in private/public partnerships. We can drill for oil and develop new energy technologies. We need less conversations about the United Nation or a North American Union and more on revitalizing our local economies.

The time is now.

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