A small step toward clarity

A small step toward clarity

"What is in our best interest?" What a unique, intriguing and timely topic for debate, especially in Rhode Island. Kudos goes out to Mike Stenhouse, staff and associates of The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity for presenting that very question as the premise for the recent debate at the URI campus on April 26. As a first step to a long range goal, it hit the mark.

The first panel consisted of two all-star champions and supporting cast of their respective political camps. The conservative represented by Steve Moore of the Heritage Foundation (squired by Justin Briggs) and the progressive/liberal represented by Tom Sgouros of RIFuture.com (squired by Samuel Bell). The topic: "Tax and Spend Policies." With the stage set the "debate" quickly spiraled into partisan, he-said she-said, same old progressive/liberal vs. conservative bickering. The dialogue consisted primarily of either high corporate taxes vs. tax cuts for the rich or (and this is my personal favorite) Tom Sgouros tossing a stack of some 14 papers across the desk to demonstrate the complexity of entitlement enrollment. While fiery and entertaining it lacked substance in actual principled discussion: "What is in our best interest?"

The second panel consisted of representatives of equally opposed, yet more philosophically orientated, organizations. For the progressive/liberal view Demos Senior Fellow Rich Benjamin. From the Ayn Rand Institute for Individual Rights was seated Don Watkins. The topic of debate was "The Morality of Tax Policies." Again, it started with "some" meaningful discussion but very quickly spiraled into attack and defended positions of the left-right strong holds. The second missed opportunity for meaningful discussion.

Ayn Rand once said: "Just as man cannot survive by any random means, but must discover and practice the principles which his survival requires, so man's self-interest cannot be determined by blind desires or random whims, but must be discovered and achieved by the guidance of rational principles."

My wife and I attended with no expectations of conclusive answers fully aware that was not the point of the debate. The core principle of the debate was to establish a principled discussion within Rhode Island that has been sorely missing: "What is (really) in our best interest?" Thank you Mike Stenhouse, et al.

Jay Robbins