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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thoughts on Politics in a Very Partisan Environment

There are many difficult subjects still on the political agenda for this year.

As our politicians work through these issues, rather than taking a rigid ideological stance on the merits of government intervention - or avoidance thereof, they would do well to ponder, during the remainder of their Easter vacation, these words written in 1795 by Edmund Burke:

"… one of the finest problems in legislation, namely, to determine what the state ought to take upon itself to direct by the public wisdom, and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual exertion."

There are things that governments can, and should, do that markets cannot. So too, markets frequently excel where governments will fail. Then there are many situations where the proper balance between government and individual is far from clear.

To strike the correct balance is hard but failing to make the attempt is dereliction of duty. Open minds - and some of the humility expressed by Burke - if such still exist in the Congress of the United States, will raise the likelihood of success.

Your correspondent would like to be an optimist but is not planning to hold his breath!

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