Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Challenge to Houston's Mayoral Candidates

Politicians are infamous for making vague promises and offering few details about their proposals. They like to claim that they will "create" jobs and stimulate economic growth. In Houston they claim that they will improve our "quality of life" and "protect" neighborhoods. Indeed, you--those who are running for Mayor--have made these very claims, and yet you have offered no substantive details as to how you will accomplish these goals. Over the past ten days I have.

I have offered specific details as to how I will reduce taxes by privatizing city services and selling city assets. I have explained how these steps will create jobs and stimulate the economy. I have explained that "quality of life" is a matter of individual values, and "protecting" neighborhoods can only occur by protecting individual rights. I have provided details regarding how I will fight crime. I have stated, clearly and without ambiguity, the principles that underlie my "campaign".

Government cannot create jobs, except within government. Government cannot stimulate economic growth, except by getting out of the way of businessmen and entrepreneurs. As an agent of force, government cannot and does not improve economic conditions when it regulates, prohibits, and mandates. I challenge you to renounce government regulations and put forth plans to repeal those that currently exist.

Your proposals to improve our "quality of life" and "protect" neighborhoods involve using government coercion to impose the views and values of some individuals upon the entire community. In other words, you will promote the "quality of life" of some at the expense of others; you will protect some individuals at the expense of other individuals.

While your proposals may appeal to some voters, they are an abrogation of individual rights. They involve the use of force against individuals; they compel individuals to act as you think appropriate, regardless of the values and judgment of those individuals. I challenge you to renounce the use of force as a means of promoting the values of some citizens at the expense of other citizens.

Houston has avoided the economic turmoil that has hit much of the nation. We led the nation in job growth in 2008. We avoided the housing bubble. The primary reason is the city's relative respect for individual rights, including property rights. Your proposals would have us emulate those cities that restrict individual freedom, and thereby destroy jobs and lead to unaffordable housing. I challenge you to renounce those proposals and embrace the principles of individual liberty.

You may think that voters want more government control of their lives; you may think that appealing to special interest groups is how the political "game" must be played. You may think that government is the solution to our problems, real and imagined. I challenge you to examine your premises.

The purpose of government is the protection of individual rights. A right is a moral sanction to act without interference from others, including government. (The mutual rights of others prohibits us from interfering with their actions.) Individual rights apply to all individuals--black and white, gay and straight, male and female.

Yet, you propose to restrict development that does not meet with your tastes (or that of your supporters). You propose to take money from taxpayers for purposes that you choose, regardless of the judgment of those taxpayers. You propose to mandate how some businesses may operate and what signs they may display. In short, you propose to violate the rights of some individuals for the alleged benefit of other individuals. I challenge you to renounce the violation of individual rights.

Your proposals are founded on the belief that the individual must place the "public welfare" or "common good" above his own interests. In words and in action you have shown that you think it appropriate and just to force individuals to do so. Whether it is banning billboards, or promoting preservation, or prohibiting certain development, you are willing to use government coercion to force individuals to place the interests of the community before their own interests. I challenge you to renounce the belief that the individual is subservient to the community.

This election is about a fundamental issue--the proper relationship between individuals. The choice facing voters is: Does each individual have a moral right to his own life, liberty, property, and happiness, or must he subjugate himself to the demands of the community? I challenge you to answer this question clearly, publicly, and without ambiguity.


Harold said...

Masterful. You've laid out your case in a very clear and concise way, you've stated your premises, and highlighted the fundamental differences between yourself and your opponents. The last question is an especially important one and I'd be surprised if they answered it.

Brian Phillips said...

Thanks Harold. I truly doubt that the candidates will pay much attention to me. But I do have some plans in the works to put some pressure on them to at least address the issues I have raised.

Rob said...

Brian - I personally think you may very well be able to get the "actual" candidates to pay attention to you by simply issuing this post as a press release. In addition to sending it to the media, you could also send copies to the candidates.

Brian Phillips said...

Rob--That is certainly an idea worth considering. I have been working on a press release, but perhaps this post would serve the purpose more effectively. Thanks.