If our Movement revels in its maverick persona, then, we will remain divisive.  In sports, divisive is fun.   In politics, divisive is fun, but if we are sincere in our desire to win over the population, then, we need to take the sport out of it.

There are certain pitches in our message which water down our cause.  In fact, we know this to be true because we admit our cause is all but lost.   We cannot convince enough people to respect our cause, and so we have concluded that nullification is the appropriate strategy.   Perhaps it is, but we should still continue to bring about a mainstream movement, rather than a marginalized, disobedient one.

Why are we marginalized?   It is fairly easy to see why.  Despite the many reasons to complain about the state of our nation, most of us would have to admit that life here is far more preferable than most any other nation in the world.   We are so lucky to be here, and we should not take our system entirely for granted.  Most moderates and independents would probably tend to agree with this.

So, when the moderates and independents take a look at our Movement, they invariably derive that we want to shove down the throat of a prosperous civilization theories such as lassaiz faire, zero taxes, abolition of welfare, zero regulations and universal privatization of everything.  This, with all due respect, is not the thrust of our Movement.

Our Movement is to restore the proper division of the forgoing functions among the appropriate levels of government.   Does anyone feign to believe the “free market” is the cure for all that might ail us?   I hope not, but just in case, let me discuss this a bit.

The most popular joke concerning economics asks, “What does an economist do when he falls into a deep hole?”   “He assumes a ladder.”   Well, there is one enormous assumption in the free market theory that nobody ought to overlook.   The free market theory assumes complete knowledge is available to everyone.  Manufacturers of an inferior or dangerous product will not succeed because the public will not buy inferior and dangerous products.   While this is true, in theory, it is not true from a practical perspective.

Sure, when a beef distributor places tainted beef in the market, people will not buy it if they know it is tainted.  But what happens when they do not know?   They can get sick and die.  Lawsuits will follow, the distributor may fail, but money damages do not bring back lives.   Frankly, if I had to choose between the FDA and zero regulation, I would choose the FDA.   I am not crazy about the idea that the market will correct itself and all of humanity will be saved because I died eating rotten meat.  I think many people of reason feel similarly.  Our movement espouses the value of the individual, and in so doing, the individual should not be viewed as an expendable cog in the greater “market.”

It is for this reason that all sorts of regulations are needed.   When we get into our cars every morning, we cannot possibly know all of the engineering that goes into making them reasonably safe and reliable.   Our confidence thus comes from the fact that regulations have been imposed to make them safe.   When we plug in our televisions, we expect that they will not blow up in our faces or burn down our houses.   Again, regulations are to be thanked for our confidence in these states of safety that we routinely take for granted.

Most people, I would suggest, find there is a salient purpose in having government establish regulations, welfare systems, public services (like police and firefighters), and taxation to pay for it all.   It would be unthinkable to see my house burning down while FireFighters R Us, Inc. watches and says, “If you’re paying by check or credit card, we’ll need to see some I.D.” – especially when my wallet is inside the burning house!

So, when we espouse these absolute principles, such as lassaiz faire, abolition of the public sector, etc., it is no wonder the mainstream perceives us as a French fry short of a Happy Meal.   Frankly, I am not sure how our Movement, which is to restore the Constitutional balance of authority between the states and the federal government, became a podium for espousing these absolute theories.

Our Movement, to the extent it is about restoring a Constitutional balance of power, should not pretend that economic theories have anything to do with the Constitution.   What our Movement should do is take a neutral stance on economic policies, welfare policies, taxation, etc. and allow room for those espousing policies in these arenas to seek or propose them in the appropriate venues – the state and local levels.

In conclusion, espousing economic policy, welfare policy, regulatory policy, taxation policy, etc. through the Tenther Movement waters down our message and alienates a great portion of our population from us.   If we stuck to the impetus of our cause, we would be telling the public, “regulations are proper for consideration at the state or local levels,”  “welfare programs should be debated and carried out at the state or local levels,” “the bulk of taxation should occur at the state or local levels.”  This approach would go a long way toward bringing the majority of citizens toward greater acceptance of our Movement’s purpose.

Jeff Matthews

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