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A Letter to a Washington Radio Station

Mr. Jim Farley, Station Manager
WTOP Radio
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Farley:

Each time your station runs a comment by Colbert King, Cal Thomas, and other pundits, your anchors announce “WTOP brings you commentary and analysis from both sides.”

The “conservative/liberal” division – although thought of in America today as the two alternative, relevant “sides” of political opinion – is no such thing.  If we talk seriously of two “sides,” a much more realistic division is between those persons with a fetish for centralized power and those persons who distrust such power.

Modern “liberals” long for Washington to design and control the economy in great detail.  Modern conservatives look to government to engineer the polity’s moral tone and (with some notable exceptions, such as George Will) to deploy U.S. military might to “build nations” or “spread democracy” abroad.  Despite their differences on particular policy issues, both modern “liberals” and conservatives have a fetish for centralized coercion.

So the side opposite both the modern “liberal” and conservative is occupied by those persons who are neither conservative nor “liberal” but, rather, deeply suspicious of entrusting government with power.

And these “power skeptics,” as we might call them, are far more willing than are “liberals” and conservatives to let individual men and women choose their own courses in life – to buy and sell and work as they wish; to save and invest – and ingest – as they choose; to partner with each other romantically, socially, and commercially in whatever peaceful ways they like and never in ways that they dislike; to keep the full fruits of their efforts and risk-taking, and not be coerced into subsidizing those who are less industrious or adventurous; and not to be forced to support military adventures that have no direct and compelling relationship to the protection of peace and property at home.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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