Making it politically profitable to do the right thing

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “The issue is not a partisan issue. We will not solve our problem by electing the right people. We will only solve our problem by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.” Milton Friedman.
     Those words spoken by economist Milton Friedman during the presidential administration of Jimmy Carter are just as true today. The problem he saw then is exactly the same problem we are experiencing now. Politicians, for the most part, always do the politically profitable things as it applies to them. Unfortunately, many citizens feel those are not the right things for them but do not know how to change the politicians.
     Changing politicians comes two ways: changing some of their actions and, changing from one politician to another. It would seem that, as Friedman said, it is not a partisan issue. Both political parties seem to want exactly the same thing: to make government bigger so that they are ever so much more powerful themselves.
     Government gets bigger no matter who is elected. It is true some politicians do not increase government quite as fast as other politicians, but in the last century government has always gotten bigger. President Thomas Jefferson observed, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”
     Sometimes the only thing that helps is to get new politicians in office who do not yet know the ropes to bind the citizens. Those are the ones that we think will be different. Mark Twain observed, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”
     One of the most troubling aspects of politics to me is that to get elected both parties must promise to spend tomorrow’s money on today election. The way they see it, if they do not they will be yesterday’s news. Any politician saying they are not going to bring home the pork is unelectable. Read full column