Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press
Robert Tuccillo, Jr., a Barclays Capital trader, is surrounded with stock market info monitors as he works during the first day of trading at the New York Stock Market on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012.

The primary difference between conservatives and liberals is not their view on big government versus small government or Wall Street versus Main Street. The main difference is their view on the relationship between economic liberty and economic equality. Suppose I have $1 million and the guy walking past my window is homeless, with no hope for a job.

If economic liberty is more important than economic equality, I cannot be forced to do anything useful for that man's situation, even if other people want me to help. On the other hand, if economic equality is more important than economic liberty, there is ideological support for legally forcing me to help the man, whether I want to or not.

So the bottom line question becomes: Which is more important, economic liberty or economic equality? And, what policies will support the more important principle?

David Smith