Friday, June 15, 2007

What is Balanced Government?


It has come to our attentions, thanks to you dear readers, that in our numerous submissions of an alternative and superior approach to government reform we have yet to offer a clearly defined singular explanation of what that alternative approach is and what it means; that although we've reduced our approach under a simple, easily recognizable and singular term, we have yet to reduce the idea under a clear, concise, and easily referenced explanation. We shall seek to rectify this situation in this post, and in others should this one prove inadequate the important task. As always, dear reader, your feedback is vital to the task of our articulating our position in the clearest terms possible: the process of refinement may well be said to hold the key to providing a truly superior product.

While we shall not attempt to define a balanced approach to government reform in every particular - an exercise that would be as impossible as it is unwise - we do recognize that an overall explanation and understanding of the idea of balanced government is indeed necessary and warranted, and completely within the purview of our overall mission. Once more, my friends, we would direct your attentions to the archival posts dedicated to this particular subject as part and parcel of developing a better understanding of the idea of balanced reform. As has been said, these posts in particular have generated a good deal of dialogue and debate on the subject, and that debate in itself is fairly instructional as to what we mean by the term Balance, or as Mr. Tams so aptly puts it: "the Cornerstone of Federalism."

One such post is entitled: "
Why Libertarians have it wrong." In this particular piece, Mr. Tams puts together a reasonable argument in favor of Balanced Government as a means to an end generally sought by the idea of libertarianism - a return to limited government. As Tams explains: while limited government is a fine goal, it is indeed a goal; not a strategy. Let us momentarily pause here to reiterate, our strategy or means for reforming this government can be reduced under one overarching and common theme - Balanced Government. But what does this mean?...

By "Balanced Government" we intend a return to the original balance of political powers, and the balanced distribution of those powers among the several branches, levels and spheres of our government. Herein you will note, dear reader, a twofold objective: 1. Proper balance in the distribution of political powers among the several branches of our government, and 2. Proper balance in the distribution of those political powers among the various levels and spheres of government. The idea is simply this - achieve the goals of limited and overall legitimate and effective government through the means of a wide distribution of the powers of government among the various levels and spheres of same. We submit that the closer to the individual American government is, the more involved in the political process is the individual American likely to be....as a general rule, of course: The closer to the individual government is, the closer to government is the individual...

Do pause to reflect on that thought for a moment. It has a nice ring to it no doubt, but think on it awhile. If the individual is close to his government; that is, if he is aware of the general (and certain particular) workings of his government, not to mention what it is doing or is likely to do under a given scenario, and etc., then he is much more likely to be more politically aware, and more politically activated. In other words, he will take particular care to protect and defend his true interests under a balanced scenario. And his general interests are the same as his neighbor's interests, incidentally. And it works the same way in the inverse. The closer to the individual government is, the more aware government is of the individual's needs, his wants, what his priorities are, and so on and so forth. Now, I recognize that this is a rather simple explanation of a rather complex idea. But I like simple; it suits me very well. And I'm in no way attempting to thwart your own imaginative process here. Indeed, quite to the contrary.

...And while government power becomes more widely distributed among the levels and spheres, so too will individual Americans, being closer to the functions of government themselves, begin to experience in a more personal way the impact or effects of bad (and good) governmental policies instituted over the governed. The governed under a balanced scenario would be defined, and confined, more strictly to those individuals finding themselves under this and that particular sphere and level of government. This is what we mean by "Balanced Government." It is fundamentally an approach which seeks to re-establish the Constitutional boundaries originally confining the national government in particular to a clear and definite sphere of operation. In so doing, the lower levels of government take on more constitutionally consistent responsibilities thus bringing "government" ever closer to the people themselves where it may be more finely adjusted to the unique circumstances and needs of those more localized governed to whom it is confined. Therefore, and by these very principles, the balanced method of government reform, in theory or put into actual practice, appears to me to be a top-down, as opposed to a bottom-up approach. It also appears to take on an external to internal kind of a quality. Not too awful long ago those facts might well have sealed the fate of balanced government to my own mind. However, my investigation into the matter has convinced me that not only is this possible, but that it is also quite appropriate given the state of governmental chaos in this nation. And truly the method itself proves quite the contrary on some reflection. But let us proceed with our investigation.

The various levels and spheres are further expounded on in yet another archival post which is somewhat instructional on this point. It is entitled, interestingly enough:
Expanding Upon the Concept of Balance. As the title would lead us to believe, the point of this particular post is to expand upon Mr. Tams's formal introduction of the idea of Balanced Government as a means to our common ends. And as becomes strikingly evident in reading this particular post in light of Tams's foundational piece, the concept is indeed expanded upon insofar as the Federalist approach to government reform is an extensive and a sweeping approach. By the term "sweeping" we intend here to say that it becomes fairly evident upon reflection that while other approaches to government reform tend to be rather, and by their very natures "limited" in their applications and extent of application (though quite the contrary in the extent of their effects), even by design, our approach which we've merely borrowed from the founders is rather unlimited in the extent of its application across the governmental spectrum thereby earning its very descriptive because, first and foremost, it possesses the unique quality of limitlessness; which is to say that honest adherents to the concept of reform will recognize that reforms of any kind, limited in application and well intended as they may be, are inherently far-reaching in the extensiveness of their effects. This is generally an undesirable characteristic possessed of limited methods of reform because it imposes upon the natural order of things, leaving to chance occurrences that which a more discerning eye would most probably resign to the realm of dangerous and insidious doctrine.

And herein is an ever-mindful flag to would-be reformers: any method of government reform that proposes, and/or imposes strict limitations to its designs and purposes, well intended and attractively clothed as it may be, is steeped in the deceptive influence of imbalance. That is; whether the strategy is shown to restrict government, or whether it possesses itself the restrictive characteristic, it is an inferior and a hopeless method of governmental reform. It creates more problems than it cures, in other words, continuing the cycle of imbalance. Balance possesses no tendency to limit itself, except in the pace at which it displaces that of imbalance. And that is not properly a limitation on itself as much as it is a strict adherence to natural laws. It has no inherent limits; it is limiting...to those forces that oppose it. The term limits as it applies to balanced government describes what it does, not what it is. This unlimited characteristic unique to balanced government, coupled with the double security of its natural tendency to slow, yet purposeful and decisive application, and its recognition of the cause-effect relationship, my friends, is what lends to balanced reform its most outstanding and superior aspects and qualities.

There exists a striking contrast between balanced reform and any limited method of reform. As to the latter, each and all of these have one common and inherent flaw which we've already identified - limited extent and applicability. As I said before, this is undesirable, deceptive, and insidious; it is odious to the very idea of reform itself. This common characteristic of limited approaches to reform in itself leads us to identify yet another flaw in such an approach - the dangers inherent in seeking changes applicable to singular aspects of the whole of government. These dangers are most evident in their effects - that one aspect of government is subject to an attempt at alteration and improvement, while the remaining aspects are supposedly left unaltered and unaffected. This is simply an impossibility and therefore an imprudent, not to mention imbalanced, method of approach. As to the former, no such flaw, nor any such inherency exists. By the very nature of this method the whole of government undergoes simultaneous reform, slowly, methodically, and perhaps above all, peacefully.

Let us here pause to reflect that our condition is not yet a hopeless one. Many would argue differently, and to be candid, I've come real close to arguing that myself a time or two. I have good reason to believe we haven't degenerated to the depths of hopelessness, however. But one specific reason fits this context very well: This government and this People are not yet completely and utterly out of balance. Were that the case we would indeed be at the precipice. But that's not the case. There still exist under this system many remnants of balanced government, and many Americans who conduct themselves overall to accord with the principles of balance, yet their vital influence is anemic due to the effects of imbalance, which they themselves do not willingly participate in. And this, my friends, should be a source of great comfort to us as we seek to restore the principle of balance on those very remnants, and by and with the aid of those very souls. And incidentally, if we are to have any sense of urgency to our purposes, it must be to halt the degenerative process while remnants of balance still remain; while our most powerful asset (The People) remains in a state not altogether corrupted. For once we've lost those remnants, those structures and surviving institutions; those very souls, I can imagine nothing short of all out war to follow. We're a more imaginative people than that, are we not?

I will conclude this edition with one final thought on the balanced approach to government reform: Having put quite a lot of thought to it, I have concluded that there's a quality inherent to balance that is somewhat elusive under a mere cursory investigation. For my own purposes I have denominated this "the non-deceptive quality." For the sake of putting a definition to it, I will say this: Balanced Government does not abide deception, or the practice thereof. Deception itself is incidental to imbalance, not balance. It may well be that it's an actual product of imbalance. In some cases I think it truly is. There are few instances that my imagination can contrive of deception finding many havens under a truly balanced scenario. It may hide itself in the far corners, but it cannot survive long at the forefront. Under imbalance, however, not only is deception provided safe haven, it is actually encouraged and aided in its destructive tendencies. And as I said, in many cases it may well be an actual product of imbalance itself. In stark contrast to this, balance has no such tendencies. Where there is imbalance there is always deception in direct proportion to, and vice versa. Balance and imbalance are opposing forces. So too are those elements incidental to them. This very quality inherent to Balance is striking in its implications once balanced reform is underway. My friends, Balance itself is its own best security. Balance exposes deception where it lives and roots it out; it drives it to the far corners where remnants of imbalance (that which provides it succor) still survive. No; I have no utopian vision that the natural world under any circumstances can exist absolutely free from the evil of deception. On the other hand, I do not deny the connection between imbalance and deception, nor the evil of them both.

Finally, as with other postings to this blog, we seek to find some common ground with other reform-minded individuals. We believe there are a great many untapped human resources out there who would agree with the idea and method of balanced reform were they familiar with its concepts. It is not our purpose to put a negative spin on, or to delegitimize any method of reform - most of us seek the same goal. Rather, our purpose, as with balance itself, is to expose inherent weaknesses and dangerous tendencies incidental to limited methods of reform. While it would be disingenuous to claim that we have no bias on the subject, it would be wrong not to expose the general weaknesses and dangers inherent to limited methods of reform as they become evident to us. We believe then that common ground lies in a balanced perspective on reform. The choice then is between balance and imbalance, and we hope to have herein offered some bit of clarity to the question.

13 comments:

Michael Tams said...

Webster,

Now if we can find a way to get this in the hands of a few million Americans, we're home free. ;)

Nicely said, my friend. I had seen this draft and hoped it would soon be available to all.

Let's pray that Providence smiles upon our efforts and grants us the favor of repairing the foundational cracks!

-MT

Samuel Adams said...

Magnficent.

Call Me Mom said...

I've skimmed it Mr. Webster and it looks good, but I've not had time to do more than skim and dash off this quick note to let you know I was here.

Call Me Mom said...

And before I forget, A very Happy Father's Day to those of you who qualify.:)

Daniel Webster said...

Mom, Thanks very much! I must qualify given the number of offspring I had some part in producing...during those wonderful, glorious times. ;)

On the post itself, take as much time as you need. I look forward to your thoughtful arguments for and against the principles of balanced government, as I've laid them forth.

Mike and Samuel, thanks for the encouraging comments. Mike, a certain someone does know that he has one, right? And Samuel, do give my love to the Mrs.

You guys (and gals; no offense, Mom) are great!

Michael Tams said...

DW,

There you go again being cryptic. I think I know what you're asking me, but I could be wrong.

-MT

Call Me Mom said...

Mr. Webster,
Having taken the time to look a bit more at your post, I must say I think it is well done.
I think the idea of top down reform has some merit, although it would be best to work both ends against the middle. I can see that it will be easier to get the bottom working up if they can see some instances of true leadership and reform at the top. I say that, because I have seen it working of late in some of those "other spheres".
I look forward to further discussion of the topic.

Daniel Webster said...

Mom,

On the idea that it's a top-down method of approach, as I said it appears that way but in reality it is a bottom-up approach (I'd hoped that I'd get a chance to explain this). More precisely, as you say, it is more of a combination of the two, but fundamentally I think it is a bottom-up, not a top-down approach to reform. This is the conclusion my mind has drawn.

The contributers here discussed this sort of methodology way back when and there was some...inter-project contention if you will, as to whether the different approaches could be effective put in operation, NOT whether they could claim the same merits.

As I seem to recall we all agreed that the bottom-up, grassroots style of approach was indeed the preferable one, but there was some disagreement as to whether it was a practicle one given the confused degenerative state the nation's in, or appears to be in.

The beauty of the Balanced Approach I think is that it must start out at the grassroots level with the purpose of reforming government from the top down. So, it combines the elements of the top-down and the bottom-up methods of approach effectively working, as you say, both ends against the middle. Not a bad way of putting it, btw.

So you see, there's yet another feather in the Balanced cap.

Thanks for the comments, and do keep 'em coming.

-DW

Ron Russell said...

I suppose a need for balanced government exist. Not really sure we have such a system in this country. It seems to me that in the day to day influence of government the executive and legislative branches hold the most power, but in the long run the judical branch has the greater influence. There is in a sense a balance.

Michael Tams said...

Dear Ron,

The most important thing to take away is the spheres of government, not the branches. While much attention is given to the over-reaching of one branch relative to another, it is wholly insignificant when compared to the over-reaching going on in the many spheres of government.

Ron Russell said...

There is a need for balanced government and balanced dialog as well, the former cannot exist without the latter. We need the Rush's and Rahn's to be the bookends that hold up the center.

victor said...

very interesting about balanced government



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sharon said...

thanks for the link...

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