Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

July 1: How much democracy do we need?

This week’s topic started with “Are taxes the price of democracy?” and migrated pretty quickly to “How much democracy do we need?”

We should discuss—

  • Are “democracy” and “government” essentially synonymous in this context?
  • Is more government/democracy always better than less? Where should the line be drawn?
  • With the Democrats reportedly going “hard left,” do they/we really understand what European Social Democrats stand for? And how their social programs really work?
  • What are the disadvantages of more government? Are they playing out in Europe? Or is Europe somehow different?

We’ve discussed this topic (or close relatives) before, but the current Democratic Presidential primary race, together with the ascendant power of the Progressive Caucus in Congress, make it even more relevant today.


  • Ronald Reagan used to love to quote Lord Woodhouslee:
    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”
    ― Alexander Fraser Tytler (LH)
    The essence of democracy is to figure out how I can make you pay to pave my driveway, but I don’t have to pay to pave yours; but remember what Churchill said: “The best argument against Democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” … Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

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