David Harsanyi

Jim, who never has read David Hume in his life, might take time to study the failed European cap-and-trade scheme and wonder why anyone would hamper the American economy with a regressive tax that brings only marginal environmental gains. He's no cynic, but he understands from experience that corporations -- even those swine in the fossil fuel business -- are tax collectors, not taxpayers.

"I don't know the best way to generate clean energy," he'd justifiably declare, "because who the hell knows what technology will win out?" He also might ask, "Since when do we have the right to tell people what kind of energy they can use?"

Even when Mr. Hoover has come up with a sensible idea, Jim hates that it will be implemented by the state through force.

I've introduced you to my friends Mr. Hoover and Jim because they represent the choices we face in this nation on issue after issue. From its inception, the United States has squabbled over the appropriate role of government -- one that pundits on cable TV, for all their bluster, rightly label a debate between socialism and free markets. Yes, this debate pits the theoreticians against the doers, but it is largely a fight between the state and the individual.

So let's have the debate. But before we do, let's understand that Mr. Hoover is going to win. Mr. Hoover always wins. He takes no real risk. If he can't convince us, he has the power to bribe, print money, "compel" citizens, bully and monopolize the process. It's no more complicated than that.

If you want to pass anything, he is your man.

David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.