attributed to P.J O'Rourke
20 Keys for Governing
In this article I want to outline the key principles that dictate all my
policies. Included are 2 pairs of what might be termed sub-principles, meaning,
they really just clarify the fundamental principles.
I believe these keys can be broken into 4 main groups: the 3 founding principles
of a right to life, liberty and property, and a group of important considerations.
An important paradigm is required to correctly understand these keys. The fruits of these principles you do not have a right to be given, but should be protected from others taking, take for example, the first key (01-LIV) the right to life. If you were to sit on a footpath indefinitely, government or society should not be legally required to bring meals for your sustenance. However, it should be obliged to defend you from harm from gangs or such, or to give you justice if you were beaten. In the case of the second key, (02-EQU) Equality before the Law,
specifically employment by the government; no quota should be employed to dictate that a certain percentage of the police force should be women or of a particular ethnic group. However, when 2 prospects seek employment in the police force they should be chosen without bias to gender or race, and chosen on their supposed ability to fulfil the job.
Here then are the 20 keys briefly described:
01-LIV: A right to Life
Every person has a right to live and be protected from attack.
02-EQU: A right to Equality before the Law
The law should treat all consistently without regard to race, culture, gender, political view or wealth.
03-VOT: A right to vote
Each non-minor citizen should have the right to vote for, and participate in the government.
04-EDU: Education for Minors
This key I find the least justification for, yet I believe necessary to give each a fair opportunity for the ability to live a reasonable lifestyle, to accumulate property and participate meaningfully in government.
I include it primarily to save any group from remaining oppressed for more than a generation.
05-LIB: A right to Liberty
People should have all liberty, until it interferes with the liberty of another.
A trivial example: I have total freedom to swing my arm, but that liberty ends when I walk up to another person.
06-C+R: Choice and Responsibility
Individual choice = individual responsibility. If you are doing the choosing you should be taking the responsibility for that choice. Societies become less-effective when one group makes the decision and a separate group takes the responsibility.
07-M+L: Moral and Legal
Legal Law and Moral Law are different things. One of the fundamental errors we make in contemporary society is to mix these. All law should be moral, but not all morality should be legislated. Often our knee-jerk reaction to something wrong is to look to what the government will do.
Wrongs that are coercive in nature (i.e. one person forcing another – taking away their liberty) should have the safety net of justice by the government (if necessary). Unforced actions should not, and can be effectively addressed by the following 7 keys.
The separation of church and state is a physical embodiment of this key.
08-OPI: The right to hold and express opinion
On the level of a society this means freedom of people to express their opinions in the press, internet, flyers etc. It gives people the right to hold offensive opinions, criticize the government or support associations. It gives people the right to peaceably protest any issue as they see fit.
09-ASS: The right to Associate
All peoples should have the right to associate with any other willing person.
The next 2 keys are examples of this right.
10-UNI: The right to form Unions
People should have the freedom to form associations, unions, clubs, religions that do not strip others of their own liberty, and should be able to do so without recrimination from the government.
11-SUP: The right to Support
Individuals have the right to support whatever cause they please. In fact, charitable acts are a moral obligation of individuals of any society. Charities are a superior avenue for assistance compared with government assistance.
12-DIS: The right to Disassociate
Just a people have the right to choose their associates, it is imperative that individuals have the right to exclude others. By this I mean people should be able to form Exclusive Men’s Clubs, or a club that is particular to an ethnic group. Whether this is immoral or not is irrelevant, it should remain a legal right.
13-BOY: The right to Boycott
Boycott means to cease to deal with someone, more typically to cease to deal with an organization or business for moral reasons.
As a form of disassociating citizens have the right to choose whom they have economic relations with. Example: I don’t like Crinkleknee Supermarkets because I believe they treat animals inhumanely, thus I should have the liberty of not buying from them, with the hope that they will improve their practices.
Boycott is an effective tool that can be used to replace government intervention.
14-DSC: The right to Discriminate
Just as citizens have the right to support, they also have the right to discriminate. Companies, associations, religions (but not governments) should all be free to discriminate. Legislation can never control peoples thoughts or attitudes in any case, and trying to enforce this creates fruitless regulations. Better methods for addressing racism, for example, is education, virtue and support groups.
15-LIM: A Limited Government
A Governments job is to do only what a person or group cannot do effectively without it. As Thomas Paine said: “government even in its best state is but a necessary evil”. Government is indeed a necessity, but it is less effective in administering many services compared with the alternatives available.
Governments should therefore focus on its core functions (Roads, Defence, Justice, Policing ); doing more starts to impede on the liberties of the society.
16-JUS: Reparative Justice
Protection of life, liberty and property is a core function of government. Justice is necessary for reparation when these are stolen from a citizen.
Our judicial system is not what I would see as the ideal: it takes too long, and is too expensive.
17-PRO: The right to own and control property
Universally any individual should have the right to own property. Control of an object is a good indicator of true ownership.
Unfair taxation corrodes the right of the people. I believe the government should be very thrifty when it comes to spending the citizens’ money on their behalf.
A government is only as good as its people.
Even the worst system of government will work if the people are good. A perfect
system of government will unavoidably collapse if it is filled with unethical citizens.
Though moral and legal (07-M+L) should be separated, always remember, virtue is
the glue that makes a society prosperous and happy.
19-FAM: The Family is the basic unit of society
No society survives long that doesn’t recognize the family as the basic building
block of society. As a whole, families are a superior way than government to
raising emotionally healthy people and good citizens.
20-TRN: Transition to a better Government
Changing from our current mode of governing to a better way cannot change overnight.
When evolving, consideration should be taken into account that industries have been subsidized, a welfare state created, a bureaucracy created.
This key is one of the trickiest. Just as a child doesn’t change to an adult upon 18 years, sometimes things need to be implemented in half measures or with temporary compromises.
A balance needs to be struck between taking things too slowly and taking things
too fast. Stability should not be the only consideration, but it still needs to be considered.