Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Folly of Centrism

Paul Silver, writing at The Moderate Voice, opines:
Most of us like talk and performance that is moderate in tone and balanced in application. And it is a useful exercise to continually reflect on what we mean by moderate, extreme and balanced.

It seems to me that each issue can be laid out along a spectrum from one extreme to another. e.g. Nationalized businesses on one end and unfettered markets on the other with gradations of regulation in the middle. I am drawn to the gradations in the middle. For me the compelling debate is about what kind of regulation and how much.

Similarly on Taxes: Socialism on one end and Libertarianism on the other with various philosophies of taxation in the middle. For me the attractive debate is about how much taxes are necessary to provide some agreed upon level of wellbeing for our citizens. I think it is a canard to talk about any significant reduction in overall tax burdens. Even with scrupulous management, our Federal budget might only shrink from $3 Trillion to $2.5 Trillion. The real issue is how the burden is shared by those to whom much has been given.

This is political philosophy as an extension of personality. It has nothing to do with moral judgments or the weighing of consequences. It is compromise, for the sake of compromise.

The "middle" has shifted so far leftward since 1929 that Silver cannot imagine a much smaller government, even though we had a much smaller one until the government-caused and government-prolonged Great Depression.

Silver reveals himself not as a "moderate" or "centrist" but as a class-warring socialist when he invokes "those to whom so much has been given." "Those" are, in fact, people who have done much to provide goods and services of value to others. What "those" have has not been given to them; they have earned it. But that matters not to Silver and his ilk, who see income disparities as an excuse for government-enforced theft.

As I say, the "middle" has shifted far leftward.