The Left and the Right – Who Knew?

  • Two major political worldviews dominate our society: Left and Right
  • Leftist point of view: The government should provide a comfortable life for everyone from cradle to grave, no matter how they behave
  • Democratic socialism is what the Venezuelans elected
  • Could you imagine the folks in Washington, DC running Google, Apple and Coke?
  • The extreme Right point-of-view: The government should do almost nothing

As government grows, liberty recedes

Today, two major political worldviews dominate our society: Left and Right. To help you understand this, I will explain the two extremes in greater detail below. And unfortunately, it appears there are more elected officials (and voters) who support the extreme far Left than ever before. Just a couple of decades ago, they would have been laughed off stages and deemed unelectable if they espoused extreme Leftism. Yet, somehow the far-Left mindset has become mainstream.

First, the Leftist point of view: The government should provide a comfortable life for everyone from cradle to grave, no matter how they behave, no matter what they do, whether they work or not. Medicare for All, free college, free phones, free housing, a guaranteed income—even if you choose not to work. No country in the world does this. Some Scandinavian countries come close. However, this comes at a high cost. For instance, the middle class in Denmark pays 60 percent of their income in taxes. Not to mention that gas costs almost $6 per gallon and a McDonalds meal deal costs more than $11.

Some of these politicians and their allies (the legacy media and others) call this democratic socialism. Let’s hope they don’t mean real socialism. Real socialism is “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

Democratic socialism is what the Venezuelans elected. First the socialist Hugo Chavez followed by Nicolas Maduro. Now the Venezuelans suffer under the wrath of Maduro, the dictator. If they had only known that democratic socialism almost always turns into totalitarian socialism, then maybe the people of Venezuela—once a prosperous nation—would have chosen otherwise. Before it’s too late, it is imperative the people wise up and throw off the yoke of socialism. Like they did in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s.

Socialism is not, and never will be, the great all-encompassing welfare state. Under socialism, the government would own or control all major corporations. Could you imagine the folks in Washington, DC running Google, Apple, Coke, Pepsi, Sprint, Verizon, Netflix, LG, and General Electric? That’s what they try to do in socialist countries. No wonder they fail.

Back to the big welfare state. All those benefits come at a great cost. A really great cost. Contrary to what they tell us, there just isn’t enough money in the hands and accounts of the “rich” to pay for it. So, the middle class has to pay. Is it fair that regular Joes and Janes who did not attend college—and whose kids likely will not either—are forced to pay for the “free” college of doctors and lawyers? Or should they also have to pay for the hard-partying college boy or girl who are on the seven-year plan with poor grades and lots of free time?

All that money has to come from somewhere and someone. That’s why the middle class have to pay 60 percent in taxes in Denmark. That’s the reason gas and other things cost so much more in Denmark, because they have a VAT (a tax on goods and services as they are being produced, that is then passed along to the consumers who buy their goods). All that free stuff comes with a cost.

Sorry for the digression.

Now for the extreme Right point-of-view: The government should do almost nothing. Maybe roads, prisons, and courts. Yet some of those on the far-Right end of the political spectrum aren’t even sure about those services. There is almost nobody in America who actually thinks like this. Most on the Right want a limited government that does not tax them to death. And, they believe the government we have is already way too big and that Washington has usurped too much from the states as far as duties, government control, and bureaucracy goes.

Why am I talking about the extremes? To highlight the differences and help you understand where people are coming from. To give you a real-world frame of reference to understand the present nature of American (and world) politics.

Center Right, center Left, or far Left; there are Far left people throughout the American mainstream. Like AOC and Bernie Sanders for instance. Are you aware he honeymooned in the Soviet Union and used to praise Venezuela. He doesn’t any more, at least not publicly.
When the rubber meets the road and it comes to important services—such as educating our kids, our future generations—the type of school system you desire is very different if you come at it from the Left or the Right. The Left view is that it is the school’s job to provide every kid with clothes if they need them (I know of a school that has washers and dryers and clothes at school because some of their parents don’t send their kids in clean clothes), three meals and snacks, as well as counseling services. Under this view, schools should take care of the nation’s youth in almost every way conceivable. Basically, the school is responsible for the individual. The more dependent, the better.

A school with a more Right-of-center design has the idea that it’s up to the student and family for that student to come to school—clothed, fed, ready and willing to learn each day. The school’s primary function is to provide an education, not to provide a full (and costly) assortment of care-taking services.

A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. This is often attributed to America’s third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence: Thomas Jefferson. It is not his quote. Although, President Jefferson did say something to the effect that as government grows, liberty recedes.

We at The Heartland Institute understand this principle, which is why we work diligently to defend and expand liberty. We believe in free markets that have as little regulation as necessary, yet still protect the weak from the strong, and the environment from the bad actors and the ignorant. A free market where free people can freely exchange goods and services with other free people is one of the things we strive for.

We also believe that the government we have, while it should be limited, should also be as cost- effective as possible in serving our needs. The government should work for us, not us for them.


Frank Lasée
The Heartland Institute

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