Seven principles of sound public policy


Lawrence W. Reed, now the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, has a short booklet available that can help citizens analyze whether a government policy is sound.

Titled Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy, it’s a comfortably short pamphlet of just 11 pages. But it’s full of a lot of wisdom.

The seven principles are these:

  • Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.
  • What belongs to you, you tend to take care of;
    what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.

  • Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.
  • If you encourage something, you get more of it; if you discourage something, you get less of it.
  • Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.
  • Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you’ve got.
  • Liberty makes all the difference in the world.

In the booklet, Reed expands on each principle.

Click on Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy to read the booklet. There’s a pdf version available for downloading and printing.


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