The issue of property rights – where they come from, how far they extend, etc. – often seems to appear as an underlying but under-addressed theme in many of my political/ideological conversations nowadays. One of these days I’ll have to compose my own thoughts on the subject; the results, if not the intermediate steps, will undoubtedly appear here. For now, though, I’ll just point people to a discussion of the same issue at Left2Right. Yes, the title says “Equality of Opportunity” but property rights pretty much turn out to be the crux of the issue. As usual there are many good comments, but one in particular by “Bret” stood out for me (even though it had little to do with either equal opportunity or property rights).

When the Republicans were the minority party, they sure seemed to like the idea of federalism a lot. Now that they’re the majority party, they seem to have cooled off on the concept. Democrats didn’t seem all that hot on federalism when they were the majority party. Now that they’re not, I suspect they’ll embrace it.

I’ve always had a soft spot for federalism for many of the reasons Herzog mentions, such as keeping the sources and exercise of money/power closer and allowing for experimentation. For the record, that attitude has not changed because of any election, but it does seem like many other people could not say the same.

Fiscal responsibility is similar. The minority party is usually all for fiscal restraint. After all, the money won’t be spent on their favorite projects. The majority party usually likes big government. We’ve seen this switch from the Republicans being the party of fiscal restraint to the Democrats being the party of fiscal restraint as the Republicans gained control of the federal government.

I’m not sure how this fits in with anything either, but I suspect that somewhere within that observation there’s a way to understand Republican actions that might otherwise seem hypocritical. Misrepresented motives (especially venal self-interest) aren’t pretty either, but they’re not the same as hypocrisy.