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Libertarian and Green Values: Future Focus

This is a libertarian perspective on future focus.The questions are from a paper on ten key values of the greens.

How can we induce people and institutions to think in terms of the long-range future, and not just in terms of their short-range selfish interest? Short-range thinking is an adaptation to an environment where regulations can change at any time and taxes destroy long term investments. People and institutions used to have much longer range plans but these proved to be maladaptive in today's world. Inheritance taxes destroy family farms, capital gains taxes destroy long term investment. The IRS promotes investment in insane and nonproductive tax shelters. The long range future has been poisoned by the prospect of ever increasing government intrusion thus forcing people into short range planning. It is hard to plan for changes in the market but it is impossible to plan for changes in the regulations. People can and will plan more rationally in a deregulated economy.

How can we encourage people to develop their own visions of the future and move more effectively toward them? By not allowing government to impose the vision of the few on the unwilling many. People all have their own visions and one of the main barriers to the attainment of these visions is the wall of bureaucracy and regulation faced by anyone with new cultural, technological, or business ideas. Tear down these walls and the visions of the people will flourish.

How can we judge whether new technologies are socially useful -- and use those judgments to improve our society? As consumers we use our judgment to choose technology that improves our lives and thus our society. The government spends our money on weapons to control us and civil engineering projects that destroy our environment. More people are becoming more socially conscious all the time and their spending habits reflect this growing awareness. If we, as consumers, purchase socially useful technology that is what the market will produce.

How can we induce our government and other institutions to practice fiscal responsibility? By withholding our support. It is unreasonable to expect elected officials not to spend the money they are allocated. Fiscal responsibility is a natural response to limited resources. It is our responsibility as citizens to limit the resources we allocate to government by rejecting new taxes and protesting present ones. The tax protests and balanced budget movements show that people are becoming aware and active on this issue. Work with them, work with us.

How can we make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking? Whatever qualities you desire for your life, you are more likely to get them from an open market than from any government program or agency. For people who have lived generations in grinding poverty economic growth is strongly associated with quality of life and it would be unjust to deny them the opportunity to experience it. Those who seek quality of life improvements in other ways will often find those other ways blocked by government regulations. Libertarians want to remove the burden of heavy taxes from those who seek economic growth and to remove the barrier of excessive regulation from those who seek other ways to improve their quality of life.