Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kirk's Fourth Principle

Conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity - or kind intentions. (emphasis mine)

In the current financial crisis, the temptation to try anything, to throw all ideas at the wall and see what sticks, is overwhelming. In a crisis, hurt people want action. There's no time for thinking through the consequences.

But is it a crisis? Are we really that vulnerable? And is this stimulus package going to fix anything?

Kind intentions can be deadly. Try to help a pidgeon out of its egg, and you will kill it. Hold a child nonstop, and he sees no need to learn to walk. An attempt to bubble-wrap your life doesn't always result in a safer world.

The House did pass the stimulus bill (or the Porculus, which I think is ever so much more descriptive) and the issue resides now with the Senate. Considering the above statement, it seems unlikely any conservative Senator can vote for this. It ought not be the sole item upon which a senator's conservatism is judged, but it ought to be a large portion of the equation.

Unfortunately, Congress has for years thrown prudence out the window, preferring to kick many issues down the road for future generations to tackle. Social Security not really secure? No problem. Borrow more, and by the time the bill comes due, those in the body passing the buck are dead, no doubt with a hefty Death Tax bill paid by the heirs. Immigration not working out so well? Easy peasey. Pass an amnesty bill and say "No mas" until the issue comes up again in fifteen years.

Politicians don't gain anything by dealing with the long-term, except a kick in the pants from the other guys saying "You idiot, you're going to kill us all!" Politicians think one election cycle ahead. It's all they can afford. You can't blame the fish for swimming.

Still, I think we all need to start hoping, expecting, and demanding more of our elected officials. I've contacted my Congressman and Senators before, but not nearly enough. I know it's a pain. I know it doesn't fit into the schedule. But we need to be doing it anyway. Because it matters.

And we ought to be electing statesmen when we can find them.

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