Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Necessary, But Not Sufficient

I was sitting quietly one recent evening when that phrase began rolling around in my head (the emptiness of the appendage that decorates the top of my neck sometimes permits such things). I am not entirely sure to whom it should be attributed (anyone who knows is more than welcome to fill me in), but it feels pretentious enough to have come from one of our Founding Fathers. It struck me how little it's used these days and how appropriate that it might be to an understanding of our current relationship with government. 

For example: Providing roads and keeping them in repair is necessary, but not sufficient to justify the crushing level of taxation placed on gasoline for this purpose, the graft involved in the attempt, and the horrible job being done in spite of or because of this. 

Providing police protection for life and property is necessary, but not sufficient for the way in which it is underfunded, the lack of respect for those performing it, and the occasional examples of abuse of power which seem to be the only thing that make headlines.  

The availability and quality of the long term health care is necessary, but not sufficient to justify the phenomenal costs, the mind-numbing maze of paperwork involved in getting it, and any need for government intervention. 

Holding elections in order to fill offices at every level of government is necessary, but not sufficient to justify the money being spent on it, the annoying political ads that we are subjected to, and never-ending circus that politics has become in recent years. 

Laws to regulate the trade of goods and services between states and countries is necessary, but not sufficient to justify the incredible number and complexity of the current laws, intrusive nature of those laws, and monstrous bureaucracy (growing larger every day) that seeks to stifle the very thing it attempts to protect. 

The creation of laws to guarantee the freedom and protect the general welfare of the people is necessary, but not sufficient to make comprehensible the labyrinth of nonsense, overlapping and contradictory drivel, and obsolete claptrap that makes up the massive pile of dead trees that masquerade as law in this country. (... talk about your carbon footprint, sheesh!)  

Taxes, levies, or duties to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the citizens of the United States is necessary, but not sufficient to justify the the crushing level of taxation imposed, the unnecessary level of complication in the process, and the abuse of power that the IRS has committed in the performance of enforcement. 

A jury of peers for the adjudication of cases both civil and criminal is necessary, but not sufficient to explain the madness of consciously ignored facts, sentences without regard to the crime or the victim, and settlements that have turned the civil courts into a form of judicial lottery. 

See what I mean! Like Super Glue, there are 1001 uses for the phrase, "necessary, but not sufficient". While I am sure that anyone now reading this can easily come up with additions, or even their own list where this phrase is concerned (and you are certainly welcome to send them in as comments), isn't it astonishing that we don't hear it used more often? 


Hooda Thunkit said...


IMNHO, we're just about at that point when it is almost easier to scrap everything and start over, rather that rehabilitate/fix what we have now.

Of course, for a country founded on freedom, we seem obsessed with burdening ourselves with the mess that we have, rather than to scrap it and start over.

In a sense, inertia can be fatal...

Tim Higgins said...


I believe that there is still a chance as long as people like you and I can climb up on our soapbox (electronic now) and shout at the world. I think that you probably do too.

As for scrapping everything, I prefer to "recycle" it. Let's go back to the Founding Fathers' ideas and see where that gets us.

Roland Hansen said...

I had a soapbox once. It was necessary, but not sufficient.
Now, I just hang out and do a little this and a little that. It's not necessary, but is sufficient.
At least, I have an honesty of purpose.
I may not have thunkit, but I am not just blowing smoke.

In regards to the topic:
Kudos for a well-worded and thought-provoking deep analysis.
I am somewhat in agreement with Hooda Thunkit. In fact, our country's founders decided to do just that when they decided to throw out the Articles of Confederation and create an entirely different national government at the Philadelphia Convention.

Tim Higgins said...


I appreciate the sentiment, but the only deep analysis that I know about is the kind that I so richly need and refuse to submit to.