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'The Bottom Line': A year later

By By Tray Smith
One year ago this past Monday, "The Bottom Line" began appearing weekly in the Sunday edition of the Advance. Since then, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to share my views on national issues, current events, and my personal experiences with you. Today, as I look back on all of the articles I have written on this page, I want to share with you the core philosophy that shapes the opinions I have expressed.
I am not a member of the far right, but I am definitely not a liberal. Of the four major political ideologies (communism, conservative, liberalism, and libertarian) my beliefs are closest to that of a libertarian. Yet I never put ideology in front of logic or realism, and I always try to support policies that not only fit my beliefs system, but that are practical.
I believe that the government should be as small as possible. A federal government that takes more than one out of every five dollars is simply unacceptable. Instead of trying to redistribute wealth among various classes, the government should try to create an equal opportunity for all people to succeed, and expect individual citizens to turn those opportunities into responsibilities. Before we focus on what we can do for each other, we should focus on what we can do for ourselves without government help.
I believe that minimizing the amount of government involvement in the economy and maximizing the amount of money that stays in the hands of individuals and businesses will lead to more robust economic growth, a belief that has been proven accurate time and time again throughout our history. This is because profit-driven enterprises are always more efficient then pork driven bureaucrats. If there is a task that the government must do, municipal and state governments should take the lead. Keeping power out of Washington allows citizens to exert more local control over programs that have a big impact on their daily lives. Before Congress spends money, it should always ask whether that issue can be handled best by the private sector or local and state governments.
Yet, I also recognize that the private sector has its flaws. The government must regulate businesses, but only to the extent necessary to preserve true competition (i.e. by preventing monopolies from forming.) The government must also intervene when the market fails to recognize its long-term best interest. For instance, disregarding environmental standards helps businesses profit in the short-term, but the long term consequences of environmental mismanagement cost much more.
Beyond the economy, the government must provide services that the public is not capable of providing for itself through the market. Law enforcement and national security should each be handled by the government. Having a government that ensures our safety is also an economic benefit. Ensuring each citizen has the right to an education is also critical to providing equal opportunity for all of our people to succeed. Perhaps the most controversy is aroused when the government's role in protecting moral values is discussed. As a libertarian, I believe the government should stay out of our personal lives as well. I also believe certain civil liberties must be carefully guarded. But I am not naive enough to think that our enemies will not take advantage of our freedoms, and I understand when the government conducts certain surveillance measures intended to preserve our safety, so long as those measures are reasonable.
I also believe that, despite your moral or political opinions, everyone in the Untied States has a basic right to life that must be protected at every level. That is why I am pro-life (though I understand abortion cannot be avoided in every circumstance) and against the death penalty in most cases.
We are all better off when there is less government involvement in our lives.
That is the "Bottom Line" of "The Bottom Line."
Tray Smith is a sophomore at ECHS. He writes a political column for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at tsmith_90@hotmail.com for comment. His column appears weekly.