10 Questions that need to (always) be asked

Ken White puts forth 10 questions:

These are all questions that I think ought to be asked whenever we, as a society, decide whether to task and empower the government to do a thing.


Even if I don’t agree with people’s answers to these questions, getting them to ask the questions and confront the issues reflected in the questions would promote the values that I care about.

  1. Does the United States Constitution permit the government to do this?
  2. What would this power look like if it were expanded dramatically in scope or in time?
  3. What would this obligation look like if exercised indifferently by unaccountable people?
  4. What would your worst enemy do with this power?
  5. Does this power make a choice about morals, ethics, or risk that individuals ought to make?
  6. Does this power represent the government putting its thumb on the scales to prefer some competitors over others, perhaps based on their relative power and influence?
  7. Does this power set up a conflict between laws and rights?
  8. Are we giving this power to the right level of government?
  9. Are we acting out of fear, anger, or self-promotion?
  10. Is there any evidence the government is any good at this?

I’m only listing the questions here (mostly for my own future reference). You must read the full article to UNDERSTAND the questions he’s presenting.

These questions stand out to me, not only because I also think they are worthwhile to ask, but because I think people don’t consider the ramifications of what they often demand (from government). Because people often want X and find their own ways to justify X as Right™, Good™, and Necessary™. Trouble is, X winds up hurting a lot of other people, and so the anger, resentment, and division we’re currently suffering from grows even worse.

A simpler way to look at it?

Change places with whom X would injure. Is X still Right, Good, Necessary, Fair, Desirable, now that you’re on the short end of the stick?

Again, we don’t have to agree on the answers to these questions, but these are questions worthy of asking any time something is ask/demanded/expected of government. Let these questions drive you to think, to study, to research, to contemplate, to reconsider…

2 thoughts on “10 Questions that need to (always) be asked

  1. It’s shame our elected servants would actually use criteria such as this for lawmaking. Unfortunately it appears (At least to me) many of our ‘lawmakers’ care not one bit about legality, sanity or much else other than ‘will this further my agenda?’.

    It’s high time for a purge of the political class.

    • I’m glad you referred to them as “elected servants” — because that’s what they are. To refer to them as “leaders” is grossly incorrect.

      But indeed… the events of the past few days (especially yesterday) really underscore this.

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