Jon Sanders


(Note: Follow the links to view the opening exchange; my offer and Jerry Agar's reply.)

Dear Jerry,

Welcome to the fray! I appreciate your discounting the Sowell's Basic Economics, which you already have. I must say, however, that I already have Reagan, In His Own Hand – a wonderful book indeed and a glimpse into how deeply ran the Gipper's conservative roots.

Ronald Reagan was no ballyhooed Politician for "Change" who merely tried on conservative philosophy because it was what polls said the voters wanted; he was a philosophic conservative and freedom fighter. In other words, when Reagan said in his First Inaugural Address, "Government isn't the solution to our problem; government is the problem," he believed it to his deepest core. In contrast, when President Clinton said "The era of big government is over" in his 1996 State of the Union address, that was just election-year stuff.

Heavens, but we need another Reagan.

Our readers brought up a good point about this exchange, however, in noting that we were criticizing nanny-stater Democrats running for president while ignoring the nanny-stater Republicans doing the same. Those critics missed the key basis for the bet: these are our nanny-staters; none of the ones in the GOP are from our home states. Still, the spirit behind their criticism is worth heeding. And that is, both parties' leading candidates hold beliefs about the uses of government and the value of individual liberty that threaten the fundamental freedoms upon which this nation was founded and still thrives.

To be sure, those fundamental freedoms are based on the same philosophy Reagan espoused. The Founders conceived rights as something self-evident in every person, bestowed by the Creator – things which must not be intruded upon but protected by government. Nanny-staters view rights as privileges bestowed by government, and not always to every person, but to certain groups as the political winds blow. Reagan and the Founders knew that government creates more problems that it solves and envisioned freeing people from as much government as they could. Nanny-staters look to government for solutions and think they "free" people by having government take more and more decisions away from them.

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.