The Free Exploring Mind

The Far Middle episode 105 falls between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day—presenting an opportunity to clarify the differences between these military observances, as well as Veteran’s Day.

Nick sets the stage by reminding listeners that The Far Middle embodies literary great John Steinbeck’s view that “the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.”

As Memorial Day nears and the start of summer, Nick links this episode’s sports dedication to the boys of summer and a great sports question: If you could attend one game from any sport, from any era, which game would it be for each sport and why? For baseball, Nick’s choice would be going back 95 years today to watch the Yankees take on the A’s at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Listen as Nick runs down the legends that were featured in the game’s lineup cards—a game that was a true Field of Dreams.

Beginning this week’s connections, Nick moves from self-made greats like Gehrig and Ruth (who played in that May 1928 classic) to President Abraham Lincoln who “stated numerous times that there’s no more trustworthy person than an individual who rose from poverty because they respected what honestly was earned,” explains Nick.

Delving into Civics 101, Nick describes the dereliction of duty by our elected Congress today where vague/cloudy/general laws are passed, which then bolster the size and power of the administrative state as they’re given wide latitude to interpret the law. It’s a devious scheme where politicians enjoy plausible deniability by allowing bureaucrats to unravel vague laws. Nick argues that Congress’ dereliction of duty to lead on straightforward statutes has been the single-biggest contributor to government’s growth and skyrocketing debt—a thesis you can read more about in Precipice.

Continuing, Nick asks what would happen if this dereliction of duty by the elected Congress, along with a willing/usurping of legislative power by the administrative state, was coupled with a president who was of Leftist leaning. The answer is what’s happening with the current Administration. Nick presents a host of examples where the bureaucratic state is usurping congressional power, thereby killing the private sector, free enterprise, meritocracy, capitalism, and individual achievement.

Next, Nick explores a passage by Francis Fukuyama, observing, “how eerily similar today’s United States feels and looks compared to Fukuyama’s description of a failing society.” He proceeds to recall the Greek concept of thymos, discussed in episode 97, and sees a system in America today that is increasingly fixated on squelching thymos both individually and as a society.

In closing, Nick returns to the topic of summer, reflecting on both the Grease soundtrack and Van Halen’s album 5150. These albums were in many ways the soundtracks to Nick’s respective 1978 and 1986 summers. Whether you’re sittin’ home tonight or out until the mornin’ light, hope you enjoy episode 105!