I have to restrain the cynicism and sarcasm since government policy messes with the topic of the happiest chapter we cover: growth.
There is nary a downside to economic expansion. It means prosperity. Rising incomes. Technological advance. More leisure. More arts. It’s a virtuous cycle.
Policy, by definition, means politicians getting in the way of that.
They penalize our work effort through taxation, diverting our time and resources through a labyrinth tax code. Rules and regulations devised “for our own good” absolve us of personal responsibility, and weigh down our pursuits of happiness.
Government programs set up in benevolence serve mostly to rob us of the incentive to make our way, and in the process keep us addicted to the same. Politicians also restrict our ability to trade with each other.
There are a few basic things though, that government can, and should do to foster growth.
The law should be clear and fairly enforced. Parties to private contracts should be held to them, and private property should be respected.
The importance of the latter is why it was so disheartening to discover recently that some elected officials, and candidates for office, prop up their signs without seeking permission from property owners.
There are fundamental constitutional and human rights issues involved.
Property rights are a key underpinning of the “right … to be secure in (our) houses … against unreasonable search and seizure.” There are also first amendment concerns.
Imagine you’re not engaged in the political process.
When you work, have kids to raise, are active in your church, or maybe have a side-gig, the last thing many of us want to do in our free time is tune in to a bunch of smooth-talking, fake-grinning politicians trying to sell us a load of doo-doo, arguing with each other all the way.
Reading a book, playing music, gardening, running, poking yourself in the eyes … almost anything is more preferable.
That’s why economists call it rational ignorance.
How would you react if one morning you awoke to find a campaign sign in your yard? Worse yet, what if you ARE engaged, and it’s for a candidate you do not support?
Not only has your property been trespassed upon, and arguably defaced, but the expression of your values has been hijacked and misrepresented.
The cynic might say these candidates have actually displayed how well-qualified they are to carry out elected office in the manner to which we’ve regrettably become accustomed.
To add insult to injury, some of the property owners I spoke with told me they have to spend a couple hundred dollars to have the signs removed. That’s time and money that could have been spent bolstering the community.
Having your own property, or even a domicile you rent, is the key to security. From that derives stability, and a greater ease to go about making a meaningful contribution to society by maximizing your talents and ambitions.
Sometimes that means developing your property to meet the demands of those who want to trade with you the product of their own toil.
A candidate for public office wantonly driving a stake into the land of another, or affixing their sign to their fence, may not seem like a big deal. In fact, it betrays a disrespect for our fellow citizens.
Long ago a buddy joked that it’s better to do and ask forgiveness, than ask permission and risk being turned down. Politicians very rarely ask forgiveness because, in their world, when their heart is in the right place, they think they did no wrong.
Look where that’s gotten us.
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