Mark Steyn, "The Simulacrum of Self-Government":
Say what you like about George III, but the Tea Act was about tea. The so-called comprehensive immigration reform is so comprehensive it includes special deals for Nevada casinos and the recategorization of the Alaskan fish-processing industry as a “cultural exchange” program, because the more leaping salmon we have the harder it is for Mexicans to get across the Bering Strait. While we’re bringing millions of Undocumented-Americans “out of the shadows,” why don’t we try bringing Washington’s decadent and diseased law-making out of the shadows?
Bring it on!
UPDATE: Link fixed now. Thanks, rjs.
Sowell argues that people tend to have one of two visions of life. Holders of the constrained vision--roughly, modern conservatives--believe that perfection in social and economic affairs is impossible. Why? For one thing, the knowledge needed for such perfection can't be obtained by one person or even by a small group of people. So constrained vision holders concentrate on the margin: they look for policies to make things a little better rather than a little worse.
Holders of the unconstrained vision--roughly, modern Liberals--believe that it is not only possible to achieve perfection in social and economic affairs but that people of intelligence and good will can absolutely devise the policies to get us there. So Liberals find people who quarrel with or oppose their policies utterly baffling. How could anyone reject perfection? They can only believe such people are immoral and evil.
Many of the big political debates in my lifetime are well described by Sowell's brilliantly simple scheme.