Hello, River readers. I'm Allen Lewis and am a new contributor here at The River.
First of all, thanks to Tom for allowing me to be a contributor to his blog. I appreciate the opportunity to continue posting my thoughts on the issues of the day. My background is in finance and economics, and I currently work in the investments department of a Houston-area trust company. Prior to blogging here, I experimented with my own blog, which was called Texas Conservative. (Tom previously linked to it from The River.)
In the last two years, I've come to believe that the conservative-liberal construct for classifying political thought is nothing more than a heuristic used by people to avoid having to think critically about their core values and principles. Most political talk radio is based on this heuristic. Conservatives are good and liberals are bad: which one are you?
Part of the reason I gave up on Texas Conservative is because I wanted to move away from that label - conservative. It's quickly becoming a pejorative, and I really don't fit the current widely-held perception of what a conservative is (in today's America, "conservative" typically refers to the neoconservatives), so why burden myself with the label? If people want to apply it to me, fine. At the end of the day, I care about principles: labels mean diddly poo to me, save for one. The one label that I will not willingly accept is "neoconservative".
As for my principles, there are three: liberty, property rights, and peace.
Liberty is man's natural right to be free to act in his own self-interest, according to his own values and by his own judgment, so long as he respects the mutual rights of others.
Property rights refers to man's exclusive right to control scarce resources. Clearly defining property rights is important not because it leads to utility-maximizing outcomes (it does) but because it helps us to solve disputes amongst ourselves peacefully, without force, and in a non-arbitrary manner.
Peace is the final - and possibly most important - principle. Peace means that in our interaction with other individuals, we must act cooperatively (as opposed to coercively) and in a manner that respects the liberty and property of others. Some ask whether peace is a goal rather than a principle - is it the means, or the end? I strongly believe it to be a principle, a conscious decision that individuals are at liberty to choose.
Anyway, thanks for reading The River. I look forward to some great conversations with all of you in the months to come.