Where's the Middle Ground?

Where's the Middle Ground?

All the talk lately about how the powers that be must reach a compromise assumes that there's a middle ground to occupy. I suppose by definition there is, but the problem may be that it occurs in an area that's almost equally unthinkable for statist and small-government enthusiasts. As Don Quixote at Bookwoom Room puts it:

Conservatives want as little government as possible consistent with doing what government must do (internal & external security, some regulation, some useful programs (national highway system, for example)). Liberals want as much government as they can have without killing the golden goose.

The problem is that the two visions don’t intersect. The largest government any conservative worthy of the name could support would still be much smaller than the smallest government any liberal worthy of the name would support. . . .

The issue is not really whether we close the debt gap with tax increases and spending cuts. . . . The issue is what role we want government to play in our lives. Do we want only the government that is necessary? Or do we want all the government we can afford? Or do we want to maintain a government that we can’t afford, leaving our children to deal with the mess? . . . Even assuming that both sides in the current negotiations wish to change from that course (not at all a safe assumption!) they will not do so in anything more than a papered over way unless they can bridge the gap between the first two philosophies.

Mark Steyn weighs in on the demographic difficulty:

The problem is structural: Not enough people do not enough work for not enough of their lives. Developed nations have 30-year-old students and 50-year-old retirees, then wonder why the shrunken rump of a "working" population in between can't make the math add up.

By the way, demographically speaking, these categories — "adolescents" and "retirees" — are an invention of our own time: They didn't exist a century ago. You were a kid till 13 or so. Then you worked. Then you died.

As Obama made plain in his threat to Gran'ma recently that the August checks might not go out, funding nonproductivity is now the principal purpose of the modern state. Good luck with that at a time when every appliance in your home is manufactured in Asia.

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