Friday, June 14, 2002

What Is Zero Base Thinking?

If you remember the presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, you might remember that his economic program relied on an idea called "Zero Base Budgeting." Without stooping to wonkery, this meant that, instead of starting with last year's budget, each department of the bureaucracy would begin each year's request for a budget at zero dollars, and attempt to justify each and every dollar that thay would plan to spend. Of course, no plan like that could fly in a world where entrenched interests rule, and nothing as sensible as requiring bureaucrats to justify funding yesteryear's mistakes could ever be allowed to exist. In today's federal budget planning, there is rarely any discussion about much beyond the per cent increase over last year for all the old stuff, and a request for funding for new initiatives and mandates. No wonder the government is awash in cash. They have the perfect mechanism to demand ever larger sums of money, coupled with the ability to get it, either from taxation, borrowing, or printing, in virtually unlimited amounts. Zero Base Budgeting is something that exists only in a few states, where there is a limit to the state's ability to tax, borrow, and print money. Washington has no such constraints.

I don't control any budget except my own, but I do control that which is and will be presented in these pages. I intend to utilize a process that I have used most of my life, and I have never understood why others don't do the same. I call this process Zero Base Thinking. While my opinions depend upon Franklin's dictum "where you stand depends upon where you sit," my thinking follows a different course. I try to filter out the garbage and lies that are infused throughout our public discourse. I assume that "the common knowledge" is almost always wrong. I suspect all "facts" until many reliable sources agree to the same "fact," but still realize that there are (at least) three sides to every story: his, hers, and the truth. Simply:
Question authority. Try to find out the facts. Filter out the spin. Think for yourself. Derive the truth.
It's simple, but it's not easy. It's called thinking for myself, and anyone can do it too, or you can watch me do it in these pages. It is a lot more work than believing one side or the other, having preselected the side. It's a lot more accurate though.

You might notice, however, that my opinions do not always square with my thinking. Since where I stand depends on where I sit, I think that, in the spirit of full disclosure, I should reveal my biases, right up front.

Some have called me a libertarian, but I prefer to be called a reactionary conservative, since I wish that Thomas Jefferson were still president. Few laws passed since Jefferson's time have improved our nation, and certainly no law passed since the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt has been needed. Congress should limit itself to repealing legislation, until laissez faire economics and personal freedom return. Government should support freedom, property rights, and national defense. Infrastructure should be a national interest only in the case of local failure or great need. The commons, such as roadways, water, and land should be paid for by the users. Charity should be voluntary. Taxes should be upon consumption, not production or income. I may, indeed, be a libertarian.

As a Jew whose parents were both affiliated with the Irgun, a Zionist organization, and a boy who grew up instilled in the memory of 11 uncles killed in the Holocaust, I am totally on the side of the Jewish State, and peace through strength. I have no illusions about man's inhumanity to man, and have contempt for those who believe (or claim to) that man has advanced beyond savagery, when push comes to shove. I also know that America and Israel are perhaps the only strong nations who have not used their strength to murder their opponents and take their land, and have no desire to build empires beyond their present borders. When I say this, I include Judea and Samaria within the present borders of Israel. I leave it to the democratic process within Israel to decide where to draw the line, and will support the Israeli people, whatever they decide.

Therefore, while I am a Zero Base Thinker, you will occasionally catch me with opinions that do not square with my logic, but you will always read the logic first.

I have actual work to do, which involves travel and an uneven schedule, so I will be posting to this blog unevenly. This makes maintaining a comment system too risky, but I promise to answer any and all emails (even if I just tell you to buck off). If anyone catches me being wrong about something, I will post a retraction.