What to think about the governmental shutdown? On the one hand, those who say we have to stand up for principle, damn the short-run consequences, are right. On the other hand, those who say the Republicans are only shooting themselves in the foot by what they are doing are right.

How can we reconcile the fact that the principle here seems to call for martyrdom?

I think the Republicans have picked the wrong principle. The principle is not Obamacare must go. That’s an excellent goal but it is not a principle, and it’s not a goal that can be achieved with Obama in office and the Democrats in control of the Senate.

The principle here is that a country can live beyond its means. The fact is that we are bankrupting ourselves by degrees. If the Republicans held made not raising the debt limit (again) the issue, on the grounds that the debt limit is set in order to stop just what’s happening, I think they could gain by their resoluteness.

But to make it about Obamacare Republicans would have to have an answer to: but we can’t just let people die! And that’s the way Obamacare stands in the minds of too many people. Certainly it’s the way the media presents it. Republicans, who are altruists, have no answer to that. They never have had one for any of the appeals to need. That’s why they keep losing ground.

To defend not raising the debt limit, they would simply have to say: why can’t government live within its means? The debt limit is supposed to limit our debt. Why then has it been raised 74 times since March 1962, and 14 times since 2001? It has to stop. The government must spend less—less of your money.

(And it might be worth Republicans mentioning that even if you pay no income tax, you pay a lot in other federal taxes, and document that).

The Republicans should have made that their stand and then blamed Democrats for refusing to act responsibly, for wanting to go on for the 75th time since March 1962 in getting deeper into a hole—the hole that ends up like Greece. Only there’s no one to bail America out.

Their motto should be No more! We have given the welfarists 75 second chances to restrain their appetite for vote-buying, and we’re not going to do it a 76th time! No more!

That would enable them to place the blame for the shutdown where it belongs: on those who want to spend beyond all limits.

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Harry Binswanger

Dr. Binswanger, a longtime associate of Ayn Rand, is a professor of philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center of the Ayn Rand Institute. Dr. Binswanger, a longtime associate of Ayn Rand, is an instructor of philosophy at the Objectivist Academic Center of the Ayn Rand Institute, and a Senior Contributor at RealClearMarkets.com. He is the author of How We Know: Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation and is the creator of The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z. Dr. Binswanger blogs at HBLetter.com (HBL)--an email list for Objectivists for discussing philosophic and cultural issues. A free one-month trial is available at: HBLetter.com.

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