The Myth of the Middle 3

Laws always lead to more laws and lost liberty.

Many reasonable people may say "your argument about the left and the right are just theoretical.  In reality we can come together and agree on many things - including helping those who need the help."  In other words, all this "Myth of the Middle" is just political theory and theater.  We need to put it behind us and come together, taking the best ideas from both sides.

Except that it's simply not possible.  It's political theory (not to mention a rhetorical tool of the left) to define the middle as a valid idea.  The idea that we can take good ideas about how to help people and preserve liberty is pure theory that doesn't work in practice.

Sure, it might work in practice for a little while and it may even be successful on a limited scale.  But we have human history to show that socialism at any scale doesn't work.  

There are no functional communist countries.  Europe is a complete disaster with birthrates so low that they cannot maintain any fiscal stability with regard to social programs.  The EU must now take money from countries that were more fiscally wise and give it to countries that spent their money without any thought for where (or may be better put, who) it came from.

Even Norway relies on its oil revenues to support it's social programs  - which is only possible due to their relatively small size and increasing oil prices.  It doesn't function because socialism works, but because it has an excess of revenue flowing from outside the country.  If it couldn't rely on oil revenues, it would be in the same mess the rest of Europe is in.

But this isn't the real problem.  The real problem is human nature.  The real problem is the nature of markets and liberty, as we've discussed before.

People who crave power tend to find places to gather power.  It is always simply a matter of time - not an if, but when.

Governments get all revenue from its citizens - even Norway gets its income from its citizens, in the sense that it is selling the oil that belongs to them.  In order to make sure it collects the income it must be able to exercise force - because if it doesn't there will be those who choose not to participate in government redistributionist schemes, no matter how noble they may appear at first glance.

Once government has force on its side, it can then do all sorts of things to its citizens.  This is and has been the pattern throughout history.

Governmental power is a slippery slope that we always slide down - not just a theoretical slippery slope, but a very real one with very real consequences.  We can see how Social Security slid into Social Security Disability.  Medicare slid into Medicaid which is trying hard to slide into Obamacare.  There are very few examples of entitlements that don't grow and expand.

In every case, the growth of government programs takes some liberty.  Social Security keeps people from investing about 15% of their money in ways that may provide a better return or be more in keeping with their own preferences.  Seniors who accept Medicare are limited in where, what and what kinds of treatment they can receive.

If Obamacare survives, we'll all be subject to government mandates of all sorts regarding not only our care, but our diet.  If the government can mandate we buy health insurance, why can't it mandate we only buy food that's "good for us"?  That was exactly the question Judge Roger Vinson asked before he ruled Obamacare unconstitutional.

State paternalism, even when it's intent is benevolent, requires the ability to tell its citizens what they can and cannot do.  Just like parents grant or deny teenagers the right to drive or to go to a party, this kind of government grants us the right to assemble, speak and worship - until we do something it doesn't like.  We're grounded.

Our rights are take from us for our own good by those who are smarter and more wise than we and know better than us what's good for us - or so they think.  Because leftist governments see the state as the granter of all rights, it can be no other way.  It must be smarter and wiser.  A state that exercises power this way is no different than a monarch or dictator, except without the limits of humanity that all but the very worst kings or tyrants have.

Have we ever seen a rollback of rules or regulations?  When have we seen laws repealed?  It simply doesn't happen.

Instead, with every year we suffer under more laws, more rules and more regulations than ever before.  Each session of Congress results in additional rules and regulations piled atop the millions of pages already in existence.  It doesn't seem to end... there seems to be no limit to what can be taxed or regulated.

There is another way.  Understand that the purpose of government is to preserve liberty, not grant it.  In fact, government's sole purpose is to preserve the liberty of the citizen.

Government's purpose is to protect us from those without or within who would take it from us.  We need to understand that each new law that rules or regulates us is an encroachment on our liberty.  We need to realize that for the government to help another, it must take from you - and also to understand that individuals should help each other without coercion, but by the dictates of each individual's own conscience.

We need to understand that the government is not what grants us rights (and this includes those who often say "the Constitution gives is the right to x, y or z).  We have these rights independent of any government.  Governments can either protect them or take them.  There is no middle way.

Socialism is like the small snowball rolling down the slope gathering momentum until it consumes all in it's path.  The only question is "how steep is the slope?"  The Bolshevik revolution was a very steep slope.  The slope in the United States has been gentle but the snowball still grows in size and speed and strength.

To truly be free Americans is to understand what John Adams knew when he uttered his phrase "Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

Fennoman is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Fennoman or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

"There are no functional communist countries."

I lean decidedly libertarian, but the quote above can be turned around. There are no functional countries that have no socialist elements.

The truth is that countries try to find a working balance between absolute capitalism and absolute socialism. Both ends of the spectrum end up producing some ugly problems that people do not want to live with. So we end up with something somewhere in the middle.

The two FORCES may not be able to find middle ground; they are locked in an eternal struggle. But most citizens don't really want to see either side "win".

Is socialism riding high in the US at this time? It certainly has been, and there are problems that exist because of that. But purging all elements of socialism from our nation is probably not the best idea. If it were to happen, it would not take the people long to figure out why.

February 25, 2011 9:05 AM

When the Democrats had control of both houses, their cry was “we won, you lost” so sit down and shut up. Now that they had one cut off, they are moaning “can’t we all just get along?” They want us to compromise. That is a ruse. They know that they just can’t do whatever they want so they try to appeal to our “gentle” side. Hogwash, they are still attacking the constitution, capitalism, and our liberty and freedom.

When we have socialism and the destruction of what America has been on one side and capitalism, free enterprise, self reliance, freedom, and liberty on the other what is there to be compromised on either side? The left is bent on making America a socialist “paradise”. They have been attacking our way of life for at least the last fifty years. For over 200 years it has been proven that the way to the most successful government system is what so many have fought and died for. From our founders who risked property, liberty, and life to those who hunt for the Islamists who murdered so many of our people, we must not allow their sacrifices be in vain.

There is no compromise possible with the left without destroying our country. This is a clash ideology. No struggle is worth the effort if ultimately total victory is not strived for.

February 25, 2011 9:58 AM

Vladimir val cymal: we need to get away from the term "capitalism" and replace it with "free markets". China is a "capitalist" system, but not a free market. The US used to be much more of a free market, but with government intervention into just about every nook and cranny, we're slowly losing that, too.

We need liberty, not government. The "left" is firmly on the side of government created liberties. The "right", if it's not careful, will be equally authoritarian, just differently.

I would recommend everyone take this test: Most enlightening.

February 25, 2011 10:08 AM


Very well said. I had never thought of it that way before.


February 25, 2011 10:30 AM

Fennoman, you said: "The 'right', if it's not careful, will be equally authoritarian, just differently."

Yes, and that is why so many "swing" voters "swing". This is a powerful bloc in this country and many of them know what they are doing. Keep the two Satans at each others' throats lest they find other enemies (the people).

Like "hot" and "cold", neither extreme is really comfortable to live with. It's true that they are incompatible; that doesn't mean the citizenry wants one or the other.

February 25, 2011 10:41 AM

Werebat, there is absolutely no question that you're right about the way that "swing" voters view things.

You also have a large point, if for "right" you replace "Republican." It should be beyond dispute that many so-called "conservatives" really have no idea what conservatism is, much less the logical and philosophical underpinnings.

Here at Scragged, we don't necessarily reflect the majority view of all conservatives on all matters, but we start from one very clear principle: The only justification for government interference in private lives is to prevent direct, clearly-consequent harm to other innocent individuals.

Thus, for example, we oppose motorcycle helmet and seat-belt laws, because not wearing those (while stupid) directly harms nobody but yourself. We also oppose abortion because an unborn baby is still a human being with an individual right to life - moderated by the right of a mother to defend her own life against a deadly threat, e.g. an ectopic pregnancy.

The principle is clear, the policy conclusions in each case logically derived. I think you'd be generally comfortable in a world run by us - and I use the word "run" only for lack of a better term to express a system that would intentionally avoid centralization of power to the greatest extent possible - though it would probably seem rather alien for a while until you got used to it.

February 25, 2011 2:40 PM

I would be comfortable in a world run by no one— and certainly not the Right, whose Arrogance exceeds their authority, and whose Conservative "views" are mis-guided edicts for invasive laws & control.
If you wish to advocate minimalism, then how about dropping these emotionally laden terms ?
Liberals ain't liberal, the Right is wrong and the Left has left... and Conservative to me means Tory, Royalist, and brings back the history of the British slave colonies in America, not the revolutionaries in 1776.
If you eschew Libertarian or Anarchist, then invent one... but for all our sakes the Party of Reagan/Bush II/Cheney & that of Obama & Co. differs little other than methodology & rhetoric.
And our lives are all the worse for their interference....

February 25, 2011 2:55 PM

Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.
Perhaps I should have added “free market” in my comment but capitalism is required as it is the opposite of socialism.
China is NOT a capitalist system as not all people are allowed to be entrepreneurs and those that are, are at the mercy of the communist (a socialist) government.
Only a very small portion of Americans want any type of socialism. What has happened in America is more interdependence on each other. As people have populated cities that have grown very large, the actions and activities of individuals affect the surrounding inhabitants. Therefore new rules and regulations became necessary. The unfortunate result is that social services became out of control and entitlements have sprung up. The most glaring is the creation of generations on welfare and the imposition of forced participation by those not on welfare. In the past private and religious organizations have given boost to those who befell on hard times. When the government mandates contributions you have gone over to socialism. The American people have been and are the most generous in the world. Socialistic mandates by the government are not the best of solutions.
Proper education is the best solution. Our schools are producing functional illiterates. Advance education is not for every person, many can do better in life with a vocational education rather than a college degree. In addition to the basics of education, responsibility for self and the work ethic should be required of our schools. Self respect and self esteem is best built on individual accomplishment and not by giving prizes for feeble effort of participation. By instilling these characteristics, people will not be looking towards others to take care of them. Pride in one’s accomplishment is what will keep socialism at bay.

February 25, 2011 6:09 PM

"Therefore new rules and regulations became necessary. " is a false premise. No new rules or regulations ever became necessary. The principles of liberty work for small populations as well as large.

"In addition to the basics of education, responsibility for self and the work ethic should be required of our schools." Great in theory, but those things are actually better taught at home, reinforced through accountability at school (not the other way around).

True liberty comes from a moral people - John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The issue is that any other type of government will eventually destroy itself through democratic tyranny or despotic tyranny (it's just a matter of time).

March 5, 2011 11:01 AM

Fennoman, you said "Therefore new rules and regulations became necessary.” is a false premise. No new rules or regulations ever became necessary. The principles of liberty work for small populations as well as large.

You are missing an obvious point. When one lives in the country where the nearest neighbor is many miles away, no one’s rights a violated if you blast your stereo at 3:00 AM. Who cares if you park a dozen wrecked cars in your front yard or if you never pick up the droppings of you seven dogs and eight cats? However if that same person lives a community of 500 single family homes, 100 apartment complex, or a duplex, the actions of one can affect many. You bet I’ll complain if I am woken up by laud music and carrying on at three in the morning or have detour around pet droppings walking down my street.

There may be no need for police, stop lights, or paved roads to your shack in the boondocks. But living in the city these things and more become necessary.

I’d be interested in seeing your solutions on how to keep order in Manhattan, LA, San Francisco, or even in Hastings Nebraska.

March 5, 2011 11:54 AM

Vladimir Val Cymbal: I'm not missing the "obvious" point. In a libertarian state, if you could call it that, each individual is responsible for his/her actions and ensuring that their actions do not infringe on the rights of others.

A Libertarian recognizes when his actions might infringe on another's rights and self moderates his behavior. Libertarians aren't for anarchy, but the rule of law to protect our natural liberties.

You miss the obvious point that "libertarian" does not mean "libertine". IF I were to play my stereo at 3:00 am in my neighborhood, I could very well, expect the local police to show up - as I've violated a very reasonable right for people to expect quiet in the middle of the night. I could even possible expect a civil suit in court for a loss of productivity due to a loss of sleep.

You also miss the most obvious point that the role and scope of the federal government is significantly different than that of the state government than that of local governments. The conflation of "government" into one entity creates the notion that "government" is one thing, when it is not. What is wholly wrong for the federal government to do may be very appropriate for a city government to do. Here at Scragged we primarily and almost exclusively mean the federal government when we talk about government, not state or local governments (but they are occasionally mentioned).

September 9, 2011 12:20 AM
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