Monday, March 9, 2009

A road through the forest

In an early draft of my “Forests, trees, and earmarks” post I concluded by saying, in language which may yet make it into my second post on the subject:

Without basic principles about Federal spending arguments about all spending - normal appropriations, non-pork earmarks, and pork-barrel projects - devolve into “Is not, is too” squabbles over whether or not the spending is needed. This results in the opponents looking wholly negative with no alternative to offer. With those basic principles those saying “no” can offer a different view of the right path instead of just an insistence that we’re on the wrong path which is - let’s face it - less than helpful.

My understanding of basic principles - what mine are, how they fit together logically, and how they should be applied to policy questions - is evolving, to put it kindly. If one were to be less than kind, one could use terms like primitive, inchoate, and more intuitive than intellectual.

Luckily there are people who seem to share many of my basic principles and are able to express them far more elegantly and coherently. This morning, Yuval Levin is one such person; do read his lovely little essay, “The Republicans’ Road Back”.

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