Americans who are serious about fixing the country's fiscal mess must begin by fixing their own character.
These resolutions make a good starting point:
•I pledge myself to a lifetime of self-improvement so I can be the model of integrity that friends, family, and acquaintances will want to emulate.
•I resolve to keep my hands in my own pockets, to leave others alone unless they threaten me harm, to take responsibility for my own actions and decisions, and to impose no burdens on others that stem from my own poor judgments.
•I resolve to show the utmost reverence and respect for the lives, property, and rights of my fellow citizens. I will remember that government money is really my neighbors' money, so I will not vote to loot them. I will stand on my own two feet, behave like an adult in a free and civil society, and expect the same of my children.
•If I need help, I will ask my family, friends, faith network, neighbors, local charities, or even strangers first – and government last.
•If I have a "good idea," I resolve to elicit support for it through peaceful persuasion, not the force of government. I will not ask politicians to foist it on others because I think it's good for them.
•I resolve to help others who genuinely need it by involving myself directly or by supporting those who are providing assistance through charitable institutions. I will not complain about a problem and then insist that government tinker with it at twice the cost and half the effectiveness.
•Finally, I resolve that the highest authority in which I place my strongest faith will not be the United States Congress.
Lawrence W. Reed, an economist and historian, is president of the Foundation for Economic Education.