I finished M. Stanton Evans' 1975 book, Clear and Present Dangers: A Conservative View of America's Government. In my latest reading, Evans proposed conservative solutions to our country's problems. He acknowledged that he supports solutions that would go much further than what is politically feasible, but he's open to meeting people halfway and taking half a loaf rather than none at all. For example, Evans supports abolishing the minimum wage, but he'd be open merely to exempting teenagers from it.
There were two items in my latest reading that especially stood out to me.
First, on page 395, Evans proposes that residents of the inner-city be
allowed to vote on whether or not urban renewal will take place in their
area. Evans says that this "would give the otherwise
voiceless citizens (usually blacks) in the central cities a say-so in
their own affairs." That sounds rather populist! I like it! Evans
also referred favorably to a proposal to "eliminate taxes on structural
improvements on property", thereby encouraging inner-city buildings to
be upgraded and made more liveable, as well as a proposal to reform
zoning ordinances that inhibit "new construction" in the inner-city,
thereby addressing housing. Evans does not go into much detail on ways
to improve the inner-cities, but I appreciate that he not only said what
he thought was wrong with the government policy of that time regarding
the inner-cities but also demonstrated his willingness to consider
Second, in his discussion on pornography,
Evans affirms that the matter should be left to the states, but then he
goes on to say that the pornography industry has suffered, even though
states have avoided a repressive policy. Evans says that states should
have the authority to set their own policy regarding pornography, yet he
himself seems to prefer a more libertarian approach. I'd say that he
was overly optimistic about the demise of pornography, however, for
television, movies, and the Internet these days show plenty of
Overall, I thought this was a good book,
even though I'm not much of a conservative nowadays. I admire Evans
for challenging the liberal consensus of his day, and I thought that he
made a good point when he argued that legal limits on government
authority should be consistently followed, lest the state get out of
control. I feel that the Tenth Amendment (at least as
conservatives understand it) is too rigid of a limit, for I have
problems with hindering the government from doing good, especially in
situations where people cannot really help themselves. But I understand
why limits are important. One problem that I have, though, is with
Evans' insistence that the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply the Bill
of Rights to the states. So we should fear the federal government
becoming a tyranny, but we shouldn't mind if the states suppress the
rights listed in the Bill of Rights? What sense does that make? Isn't tyranny bad, whether it occurs at the federal, state, or local level?
thought that Evans made valuable points about certain government
policies causing more harm than good. That's certainly plausible! I
was a little skeptical, however, when he sought to downplay the extent
of the problems that the government was trying to solve. Moreover, my
hunch is that laissez-faire would create its own set of problems. I
think that one should seek to reform how the government does things,
rather than rolling back government involvement and expecting for
problems to go away as a result of that. What's interesting is that
President Barack Obama, specifically Obamacare, has sought to tackle
some of the health care problems that Evans discusses, such as subsidies
to hospitals that increase the cost of health care.
I have to
admire Evans for the extent of his documentation. I did not fact-check
everything he said, for I did not have the time or the energy,
considering the vast wealth of information that is in Evans' book.
Surprisingly, I found fact-checking Newt Gingrich's works and Mitt
Romney's book to be a more manageable task than fact-checking Evans
would probably be.
Evans' book was definitely worth reading. In a
couple of days, I'll be starting my Year (or More) of Nixon, so I'll
play by ear what I post in the two days before then. One of my posts
will probably introduce my Year (or More) of Nixon, defining what it
will be and my reason for it!
Believe truth! Shun error!
2 hours ago