The battle lines are drawn: Limited vs. unlimited government

The divisions within the United States are growing. Simply stated, half the people want unlimited government, and half want limited government.  Almost all, on both sides of the divide, say our country is about freedom.  Both sides say they want freedom.  Obviously, one group or the other misunderstands what freedom is.

We have heard many assert they are for socialism.  It is another way of saying they want unlimited government.  These same people want government health care, more social welfare, higher taxes, greater government spending, and a guaranteed income for all.  Everything they want calls for unlimited government.

It is important to understand what government does. Quite simply, government makes and enforces laws, rules, and regulations.  It is much more likely for a law, rule, or regulation to say, "No you can't" than "Yes you can."

When asked, "What is freedom?," most say, "I can do anything I want."  So let's look at a simple relationship.  We start with an "I can do anything I want" line.  At the bottom is zero, and at the top is infinity.

The problem with "doing anything I want" is twofold.  First, the place you can do anything you want is in nature, living like Survivor Man.  Here there are no laws, rules, or regulations.  Unfortunately, nature is incredibly brutal.  Many years ago, people began to form groups to protect themselves from the brutality of nature. 

When people form groups, the first thing they do is make rules.  If you want to be part of the group, you must obey the rules, which of course means you can no longer do anything you want.  So let's draw a "Line of Rules" and combine it with "I can do anything I want."

If you draw a line from ∞ to "All Rules," it becomes obvious that as rules increase, your ability to do anything you want decreases.  At the upper left, you are subject to the arbitrary power of nature.  At the bottom right, you are subject to the arbitrary power of total government.

The vast-majority of people want to live somewhere in the middle, between the arbitrary power of nature and the arbitrary power of government.  Let's represent this area with a box.  Our Declaration of Independence has a name for the area inside the box: "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Within the "Box" is where we find freedom.

A system of freedom doesn't mean you can do anything you want.  You are part of a group and must abide by the rules of the group.  But on the other hand, government can't do anything it wants to you because you are protected by the "Box."  Let's call the "Box" "The Constitution."

What becomes clear is that the Constitution was created to keep the government limited.  Limited government is not a "nice thing" or a "worthy goal"; it is a prerequisite if you want a system of freedom.

At the constitutional convention, Benjamin Franklin noted that prior republics were formed with "the seeds of their own dissolution."  Those seeds were simply the failure to keep government limited.  The republics our Founders studied, over time, all morphed into despotic systems.

Unlimited government eventually leads to despotism; it can't do anything else.  Our friends who want both, freedom and unlimited government, are suffering from cognitive dissonance because freedom and unlimited government are mutually exclusive.

So which side are you on?