Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Door Closes, a Window Opens



In the interest of fairness, I have to say I haven't read Glenn Beck's novel yet, but it has awakened a new sense of urgency in my desire to help change our society.

"The Overton Window" is a model that describes how policy changes as acceptable levels of freedom change. For any public policy issue, there is a range of acceptability in the spectrum from total tyranny to absolute anarchy, and politicians are generally hesitant to push policy outside of that range (the "window") -- until now.

Obama's approval numbers now are as bad as they've ever been, and I've come to realize that at the very core of his hubris, he may believe that he is much more capable of moving the window than he is. Because of this, I would strongly caution my fellow conservatives to exercise restraint in calling for more government intervention in the gulf oil spill.

People seem most amenable to moving the Overton Window in times of national trauma. World War I brought us the income tax and the Federal Reserve, both of dubious constitutionality. The Great Depression, worsened as it was by government malfeasance, brought the New Deal and all manners of hellish bureaucracy that we are still dealing with today.

Every effective political philosopher has had the patience to move the window. Obama may not be very patient, but that doesn't mean the window won't move. The trend over the last 100+ years has been towards less freedom rather than more, but it's not too late to save ourselves -- yet. Let's move the window back.

A special thanks to the late Joseph Overton and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

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