Capitalism: What values should guide government policy?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Capitalism
An area of the National Mall closed during the government shutdown. Photo by Reivax, released for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

An area of the National Mall closed during the government shutdown. Photo by Reivax, released for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

Government economic policy is now hostage to the ideological battle in Washington, D.C. If we can set that dispute aside for a moment, this is a timely moment to ask:

What values should guide government policy? Here are several values the government should promote. Which of these do you think are the most important?

  • Encouraging people to live more responsible lives.
  • Promoting freedom and liberty.
  • Promoting equality and fairness.
  • Providing a public safety net for people who are facing hardships.
  • Supporting private charity for the poor.

The economic values that government should promote is an area of broad agreement among the American people, according to the recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). A majority of Americans says that each of the above values is important for government to promote.

But some values are more important than others. I listed them above in the order of support. An overwhelming majority say that the value of encouraging people to live more responsible lives should guide government economic policy. Support declines slowly for the other values as we work down the list, but—still—a majority endorse even the last value, supporting private charity for the poor.

What values do you think should guide government policy?

Is the value of encouraging people to live more responsible lives at the top of your list?

If not, what is?

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