Wouldn’t it be nice to have a checklist of principles that allows you to figure out how ideas or programs floated by politicians, the legacy media, and every other activist organization out there impact your life and liberty?  A list of criteria that lets you see if the implementation of the idea is likely to enhance or diminish your freedom?

In a piece entitled Following the Wrong Compass: The True State of the Union by Balint Vazsonyi of the Heritage Foundation published in 1999, the author distills what he considers the prime ingredients of our country’s founding into a set of benchmarks against which to measure and evaluate the effect of proposed laws, public policy, or just the latest buzz being pushed by legacy media.  He called this guide a compass, and it consists of four points:  the rule of law, which he considers to be the North Star, the right to private property, individual rights and a common American identity.

Here is how it works. Every time somebody proposes a new law, a new statute, or an executive order, you ask whether it passes muster when held against the standard of the Four Points. The answers are easy, because either they do or they don’t. If they don’t, then they have no place in the United States of America. Without that compass, what would make us American?

He calls this compass the American Way, since those principles define America.

There’s another compass in use in America, which is the polar opposite of founding principles:

It, too, has four points. Its North Star is the pursuit of social justice; instead of individual rights, it promotes group rights; instead of the guarantee of property, it advocates redistribution through entitlements; and in place of our common American identity, it favors what it calls multiculturalism.

He calls this one socialism.  Why?

How do we find a name for the other compass? Let us work backwards. Multiculturalism is really another form of redistribution, only it is cultural goods being redistributed. Redistribution grows out of group rights, because certain groups are entitled to the fruits of redistribution whereas others are not. And, of course, the whole idea of group rights grows out of the search for, and the pursuit of, social justice–whatever that means.

So here we are, looking for a name. How should one call this doctrine, this compass? “Multi” does not suggest an all-purpose label, and “entitlement compass” just doesn’t sound good. “Group compass” does not make much sense. How about going back to its North Star: social justice?

…Socialism, I believe, is the appropriate, scholarly, utterly unemotional designation of a grand philosophical idea in Western civilization. Ever since Descartes started thinking about thinking, and other French philosophers followed in the 18th century, and then Germans picked it up where the French had left off, socialism has been in the making. For a long time, then, socialism has been with us as “the other grand idea” of Western civilization, and it will remain with us as long as there is an “us.”

There is nothing derogatory about it, and there is nothing “red” about it. Socialism is an idea about interpreting the world, and charting the future, that has had the benefit of some of the best minds in the history of the planet and has held–and continues to hold–tremendous appeal to vast numbers of people. It deserves to be taken seriously, and it needs to be engaged on philosophical grounds. In every sense of the word, it holds the opposite view of everything this country was built on.

There’s much more at the link.  The subject is especially apropos because of the anger at government growth and spending being expressed by the Tea Party movement.  The four points of the American Way compass should be the basis of its manifesto.   Because I believe the best way to fight ideas is with other ideas,  they’re going to appear in some form on my protest signs.

H/T The Loft