Give the GOP credit: In offering the 2010 version of their 1994 Contract with America, dubbed the "Pledge to America," at least they're being clear about what they'd do if they regained control of Congress. (I found a draft of the Pledge at Scribd and am working through its 21 pages.) Some of the GOP proposals make sense; others, I'm not at all so sure about.
The Pledge talks about cutting through job-killing government red tape. But if there's one thing we know about people of all stripes, it's that they can focus single-mindedly on the pursuit of what they want; they'd much prefer not to have to think about the possible side effects of their actions. (Economists call these side effects externalities.) That goes for two-year-olds, for tycoons, and for everyone in between.
Rodney Clapp put it well a couple of years ago in The Christian Century: "The theological rationale for the necessity (and the potential nobility) of government can be summarized in two words: original sin. Each and every person and institution is prone to self-deception and destructive self-interest. ... There is no such thing as sufficient self-regulation on Wall Street, on Main Street, in our churches or anywhere else. ..." (Emphasis added.)
It'd be wonderful if we didn't need traffic laws, and every driver could relentlessly put the pedal to the metal to get to her destination, oblivious to everything around her. But that would have been a bad idea even in the days of Model Ts and two-lane gravel roads; it'd be disastrous in this day of SUVs and high-speed interstate freeways (not to mention giant tractor-trailer truck rigs).
The "road" we share is both more crowded and more complex. It seems pretty silly to insist that the simple "traffic laws" of yesteryear are all we need.