I thought this article might be helpful both in exploring the origin of this thinking about economic optimization, and as a story to encourage evolution in your own political thinking. It is often assumed that people rarely change their political views, but it can and does happen. All it takes is an open mind!
I had pretty much always embraced the conservative Republican mantra of lower taxes, less government, little regulation, etc. The idea that lower taxes on the rich would "trickle down" to more jobs for the middle and lower classes made sense to me.
I was thrilled in the early 2000s when Bush was President and the Republicans had control of Congress. Finally I would be able to see how a Republican utopia would play out!
After 9/11, I was quick to support the war in Afghanistan. We had to get those bad guys who attacked us! I was a bit more on the fence about the war in Iraq, but was happy about getting the bad guys there too. Saddam was an evil guy and had to go, right?
By the 2004 election, I was still mostly happy with Republicans but starting to get a little wary. I actually wanted to vote for a third party candidate, but was convinced to vote to re-elect Bush. The largest single factor in that decision was the fear that Kerry would pick "liberal" Supreme Court justices.
The years rolled on and I was increasingly dis-satisfied with Republicans. Government spending was still far too high, and the wars were not going too well. Why were they making no effort to cut programs that Republicans railed against in the Gingrich revolution in the mid-1990s -- programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts, and subsidies to Amtrak and NPR? (Never mind that such cuts would have been a drop in the bucket compared to military spending.)
Then came the 2008 election. I began to learn about Ron Paul and enthusiastically supported him in the primary. His libertarian ideas were starting to make a lot of sense. I was bummed when John McCain got the nomination -- he was far too much of a Big Government Republican. When he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, I quickly got excited again. A real small-government conservative! (For several months before that announcement, I was rooting for Palin to be the pick.) So I suddenly got excited about the McCain ticket. That excitement was somewhat short lived when it turned out that Palin was more mouth than brains. But I still ended up voting for McCain/Palin in November.
I'll go ahead and admit it: Voting for McCain was the stupidest thing I've ever done. Only a stubborn numskull like me would have not gotten the message by that time. I'm sorry America!
I learned more and more about libertarianism and those views made more and more sense to me. From them I learned the origin of wealth, how destructive wars really are, and how over-reaching the US government is. Not to mention the importance of sound monetary policy and the problems with the Federal Reserve. They also pointed out that Republicans and Democrats both support crony capitalism -- the government helping to pick winners and losers in private enterprise.
In 2009, the Tea Party began to rise, fueled somewhat by Ron Paul's popularity in 2008. It looked like they were on the right track. As time progressed, though, it began to become clear that the Tea Party was simply a group of Republicans that was more conservative than most, but still largely supported Big Military and wars.
Throughout 2010 and 2011 I learned more and more about libertarian thinking. I was seeing how much harm our foreign policy was causing, and had caused for the last several decades. Only libertarians seemed to really understand the problems with the current situation.
Once again I enthusiastically supported Ron Paul in the Republican primary. Only when he did not get the nomination, and Gary Johnson entered the race on the Libertarian ticket, I jumped ship and supported Johnson in November. (I even put out one of his lawn signs!) Getting off the Republican train felt great. Seeing Obama and Romney as equally terrible choices, I would have proudly voted for Johnson even if my vote could have swung the election to Romney. Conversely, if Romney were ahead by a single vote and I could have swung the election to Obama, I still would have voted for Johnson. I have never for a second regretted that vote. Johnson was the only person on the ballot who didn't suck, and he deserved all the support he could get!
It slowly began to strike me that my shift to libertarianism was perhaps an over-reaction to just how bad the US Government had become. Yes, libertarians had a lot of good answers and generally supported sound policy. But what if it were possible to do even better?
Libertarians strongly support free market capitalism -- and, in general, so do I. But there is a real disadvantage to pure capitalism with little regulation: Wealth can transfer to a fortunate few, widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Republicans (including the Tea Party) seemed totally OK with that, and libertarians didn't seem to mind it either. But thinking about it more, I realized that is a problem. A society where the rich can only get richer and the poor get poorer is not just, and is not sound. Something else has to be done.
In early 2013 I heard a speaker by the name of Peter Diamandis, and got a copy of his book Abundance. He argued that we have the technological means to provide enough food, water, energy, and education for every person on earth. While getting an autographed copy of his book, I asked him how abundance could be achieved in the light of conflicts like the drug violence in Mexico and the wars in Africa. His answer boiled down to empowerment of the people. I realized he is right. If people are empowered to pursue their dreams and have access to all the education they need, a much sounder society should result.
At the same time I was learning about health, having lost 50 pounds in 13 weeks with the Medifast diet, and about personal finance via Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It became clear that America's problems far exceeded politics. To really succeed, we have to change how we think about nearly everything. Realizing that a lot needed to change, the Pillars of Economic Optimization began to percolate in my head. Finally I decided it was time to write them down for all to see, and this website was born.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook