spect than it found. This principle applies to every aspect of public policy and social life, from education standards to public health, from lower poverty rates to lower crime rates, from environmental quality to the strength of national defense, from lower public debts to the security of retirees. All public policies should be judged by the degree to which they achieve a greater common good for the next generation.
In this present age of self-aggrandizement, we judge every issue by its effect on us, right now or at least in our lifetime. But we also claim to care about our children. Most of us define our care by the private legacy we leave our children. We spend increasing amounts of time and energy on such matters as avoidance of inheritance taxes, life insurance, property conservation, and so forth. But why do we not also consider the public legacy we leave? Why are so many blind to the irony of bequeathing greater private resources in a world of increased poverty, pollution, and political corruption?
Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, we all leave two legacies, a private one and a public one. A genuinely concerned parent and citizen would be at least as concerned for the public legacy as for the private one. That necessarily means participation in the public business of the day, in the decisions that affect the public legacy left for the next generation. Whether we care to recognize it or not, we have a moral imperative to future generations not merely to preserve the values and institutions of the past but also to pass on a society, a nation, that we have made every effort to improve for our children and their children.
These four ideals or principles are interrelated. Civic virtue and citizen participation are best exercised in a local republic that has as its common good the commonwealth of the next generation. Some will say this ideological framework is radically conservative. Others may say it is radically liberal. Both will be right, and both will be wrong. This ideology clearly draws from classical principles that some have interpreted, to serve their own biases, to be conservative or liberal. They will certainly be right that this ideology is radical in the purest sense of the word. This ideology returns to