A fundamental principle of our nation’s founding expresses that everyday people have the opportunity and ability to address questions of politics.  From the mundane to the most controversial, the founders supposed that citizens would have the ability to comprehend the consequences of their opinions.  However, over time, the society has grown increasingly more complex, and the average citizen has barely a basic understanding regarding things like the economics of the financial crisis to the fight over energy policy.

The positive side in this is that we are able to enjoy the benefits of these systems without fully understanding them.  However, the other side is that people remain “rationally ignorant” about the issues, meaning they have daily lives that preclude them from becoming policy “wonks” on every significant topic.  Aaron Wildavsky’s research highlights the key values that affect what people want from government and how people view the world.  These include individualism (a desire to maximize freedom), egalitarianism (a desire for fairness), and hierarchism (a desire for experts to govern economic activity and to ensure security/health/safety).  The general view among supporters of free market principles is that freedom is not popular, but that is far from completely true.  The common view among societal elites and interest groups may show distaste for market principles, but the everyman view may hold something a bit different.

Our Challenge: Make Good Policy Good Politics. Our Question: Just because we’re right, do we have to lose? CEI’s communication work suggests the answer should be a resounding NO! In this presentation on corporate social responsibility, we make the case. 

In the plainest terms, most people are generally non-political about the choices they make in daily life.  However, the values most hold in the highest regard are freedom, opportunity, fairness, and justice.  The problem for those who promote freedom is not what they are promoting but how they promote it, and what they promote it as.  It does a disservice to its principles to ignore that at its core, true liberty is egalitarian, humane, just, promotes equality, opportunity and fairness for all.  Unfortunately, many tend to lean away from illustrating liberty in those terms.  They usually become caught in the trap of defending business, as opposed to defending economic/individual freedom.

Our goal with this project is to relate to organizations that they must illustrate to people how the values they already hold are compatible with, and enhanced by, individual/economic liberty.  This is done through making the connection to their daily lives.  By transforming cultural understandings about the value that liberty plays in improving the human condition, we can enhance human wellbeing.  In particular, we hope to generate greater understanding on how economic freedom serves all—rather than some at the expense of others—the widely held American values of individualism, equality, and hierarchy/security.  In essence, our goal is to illustrate how freedom and pro-freedom principles are common sense values most of us share, leading to freer public policies, reduced government intrusions on society, and ultimately enhanced quality of life.