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Old 08-28-2010, 03:03 PM   #1
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The argument against conservatism

This is one of those threads that will hopefully stir up some good debate. My argument is against conservatism and its “strict father morality”. Evidence supports the liberal worldview of empathy. For conservatives to be right, the following would have to be true:
  • Peoples fortune or misfortune is due to their own actions – If this were entirely true, I would have no problem with the conservative world view. The reality is, however, that while talent and hard work are important factors, there are many additional factors. Many people are born into poverty and despite doing well in school are unable to afford college – at least not without taking out financially crippling loans. Not to mention, public education is not the great equalizer as schools in poor areas have less funding since funding is provided by local taxes. Conservatives are against the government spending money by offering poor students low interest government loans. The argument, as always, is the slippery slope fallacy – that government intervention leads us down the slippery slope to socialism and trains people at a young age to be dependent on the government and not on themselves. This makes no sense as most middle and upper class families, even conservatives, are happy to put their own children through school (often with NO expected repay) and we have yet to develop an epidemic of adult children dependent on their parents. Finally, as adults, there are many factors beyond talent and effort that influence ones earnings – physical attractiveness, height, weight, sex, and just plain luck – right place, right time, etc. Also in today’s world of outsourcing, automation, and other rapid changes in the world of work there are many threats to financial security that are totally beyond the control of individuals and that warrant having safety nets in place (see http://www.greatriskshift.com/).
  • The “free market” is natural and fair – Free markets don’t just happen. Some form of government has to be in place to start the whole process. Still, conservatives can’t get past the idea that the income distribution that free markets produce is perfectly fair and just and is a reflection of each persons’ production and contribution to the economy. The reality is, however, that income is NOT correlated directly to production or the amount of value a worker adds to the economy. Income is correlated with supply and demand. There is always an oversupply of labor that leads to a “natural” unemployment rate of a few percent. The extra supply of people in the labor pool tends to be most concentrated in low paying jobs that require less training and education. The result is that people in these jobs have wages that reflect this labor oversupply so they get paid very little even though their production and contribution to the economy as a whole should warrant a higher pay – not the pay of a doctor or engineer but still higher than what they get. Think about it. We could not get by without janitors, store clerks, garbage men, etc. When conservatives complain that tax dollars are being “stolen” from the rich and “given” to the poor through income redistribution they are arguing from the perspective that the original distribution was the most fair and natural when in fact the evidence is to the contrary. Oversupply of labor in the unskilled job market drops wages below where they would be if they were based instead on how much the worker was producing. A system of progressive taxation seeks to correct this. I would even argue that a negative income tax would be the most fair way to compensate those in the lowest 20 -25 % so that they can receive a living wage for the work they do. To be clear again, these jobs should still be lower paying relative to higher skilled jobs – it just should not be as bad for these workers as it currently is.
  • People respond rationally to incentives – This is a favorite. Conservatives believe this which is why they are against social programs such as universal health care and for things such as the death penalty. The reality is the human mind just doesn’t work this way all the time. People don’t do a cost/benefit analysis before they commit crimes – they either aren’t thinking at all or think they are going to get away with it which is why the death penalty doesn’t deter murder. Regarding healthcare, most people around the world seek to avoid getting sick or hurt not because it is costly, but because it is painful and unpleasant! This is the main deterrent. This is why the conservative argument that universal health insurance would deter people from taking care of themselves makes no sense.
  • Regulation is too costly and interferes with the free market – Too costly? The cost of NOT regulating is even costlier as has been proved with the BP disaster and other similar cases. Yes, it interferes with the free market but this is necessary as the markets job is to make profit, not guarantee safely of employees and the public. There has to be a balance.

That’s it for now. I know this is long but it could have been a lot longer. The main point is that conservatives take these 4 untruths, among many others, to be true. If they were true, I would support the “strict father morality” of conservatives that says “you get what you deserve” or “you sleep in the bed you make”. The reality is far more complex, however, and warrants having a healthy dose of empathy for others and trying to build a society that helps empower the less fortunate rather than saying “too bad, so sad…” It will be unfortunate if the coming elections this year and in 2012 go to the republicans.
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:22 PM   #2
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^Unfortunately, most our our conservative posters have left the building so I don't think you'll get much debate.

Purpleoscar might enage. .
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:29 AM   #3
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The problem for many conservatives on this board responding to this post is that the points made are partially putting words in the mouth of conservatives as if they all agree on these simplified points. I'll give it a whirl.

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Originally Posted by pcfitz80 View Post
[*]Peoples fortune or misfortune is due to their own actions – If this were entirely true, I would have no problem with the conservative world view. The reality is, however, that while talent and hard work are important factors, there are many additional factors. Many people are born into poverty and despite doing well in school are unable to afford college – at least not without taking out financially crippling loans. Not to mention, public education is not the great equalizer as schools in poor areas have less funding since funding is provided by local taxes. Conservatives are against the government spending money by offering poor students low interest government loans. The argument, as always, is the slippery slope fallacy – that government intervention leads us down the slippery slope to socialism and trains people at a young age to be dependent on the government and not on themselves. This makes no sense as most middle and upper class families, even conservatives, are happy to put their own children through school (often with NO expected repay) and we have yet to develop an epidemic of adult children dependent on their parents. Finally, as adults, there are many factors beyond talent and effort that influence ones earnings – physical attractiveness, height, weight, sex, and just plain luck – right place, right time, etc. Also in today’s world of outsourcing, automation, and other rapid changes in the world of work there are many threats to financial security that are totally beyond the control of individuals and that warrant having safety nets in place (see http://www.greatriskshift.com/). [/LIST]
On the first point you would have to be arguing against a Super Libertarian. Conservatives would also argue that you can't fund social programs without people who produce and the taxes have to be reasonable so there is an incentive to do work since work is painful and so that envy towards those relying on the dole doesn't entice more people to be the same way. Also it is important to have laws that protect property and life to redress unfairness. On your point of the "epidemic" of adults relying on their parents I think there is a thread on that subject as well. What has been lost on the public regarding money is the habit of savings for: emergencies, downpayments on mortgages, and retirement. Without these habits government will promise those people benefits (whether they can be sustained or not) and many will ask government for those services. BTW don't underestimate hardwork and persistence in how it can create success.

Now remember Adam Smith was for public education. In the past it didn't cost as much as it does now (because education has expanded with knowledge enormously) and when you add healthcare technology the costs again sky rocket. There is a role for government in these areas but it's getting the right balance that left and right fight over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcfitz80 View Post
  • The “free market” is natural and fair – Free markets don’t just happen. Some form of government has to be in place to start the whole process. Still, conservatives can’t get past the idea that the income distribution that free markets produce is perfectly fair and just and is a reflection of each persons’ production and contribution to the economy. The reality is, however, that income is NOT correlated directly to production or the amount of value a worker adds to the economy. Income is correlated with supply and demand. There is always an oversupply of labor that leads to a “natural” unemployment rate of a few percent. The extra supply of people in the labor pool tends to be most concentrated in low paying jobs that require less training and education. The result is that people in these jobs have wages that reflect this labor oversupply so they get paid very little even though their production and contribution to the economy as a whole should warrant a higher pay – not the pay of a doctor or engineer but still higher than what they get. Think about it. We could not get by without janitors, store clerks, garbage men, etc. When conservatives complain that tax dollars are being “stolen” from the rich and “given” to the poor through income redistribution they are arguing from the perspective that the original distribution was the most fair and natural when in fact the evidence is to the contrary. Oversupply of labor in the unskilled job market drops wages below where they would be if they were based instead on how much the worker was producing. A system of progressive taxation seeks to correct this. I would even argue that a negative income tax would be the most fair way to compensate those in the lowest 20 -25 % so that they can receive a living wage for the work they do. To be clear again, these jobs should still be lower paying relative to higher skilled jobs – it just should not be as bad for these workers as it currently is.
The problem with the second part is again that some conservatives agree and some (especially libertarians disagree) though I don't know of any that want zero government. Even anarchists believe in government in practical reality. I think one libertarian (Friedman) proposed a negative income tax and others from different political persuasions may not like it.

Another problem is that poverty was actually higher before the industrial revolution so capitalism provided more wealth than any other system so even if you have social programs to help others again you can't kill the motivation that made the wealth. Eg. Soviet Union "We pretend to work and the government pretends to pay us." Other conservatives would argue which unemployment rate are you talking about? Sometimes the rate increases when people feel the economy will provide more jobs and then it decreases as they get more absorbed. Some people are under frictional unemployment because they are in school at the same time. Many people who are in low paying jobs are students and will increase their pay as they get more experience. The true structural unemployment increases when there is excessive unionization and other government barriers to creating businesses (trade barriers per example). In fact I would propose that we need a little unemployment (not too high) to allow choice for people to get education, move from one industry or company to another, allow spouses to take care of their kids and rely on one earner etc. The problem is only when unemployment is really high. Under the Soviet Union you could have full employment but again how do you motivate people so the products and services are of enough quality that it actually increases the standard of living? Poverty today in the west is much different than in the past.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcfitz80 View Post
  • People respond rationally to incentives – This is a favorite. Conservatives believe this which is why they are against social programs such as universal health care and for things such as the death penalty. The reality is the human mind just doesn’t work this way all the time. People don’t do a cost/benefit analysis before they commit crimes – they either aren’t thinking at all or think they are going to get away with it which is why the death penalty doesn’t deter murder. Regarding healthcare, most people around the world seek to avoid getting sick or hurt not because it is costly, but because it is painful and unpleasant! This is the main deterrent. This is why the conservative argument that universal health insurance would deter people from taking care of themselves makes no sense.
When it comes to people acting rationally I agree that many conservatives and especially libertarians feel this way, but unless people learn from their mistakes I don't see how lax deterrants really won't increase crime (especially if you look at stats from 1960 and on). Having a nanny state that makes decisions for you still doesn't answer the problem of distant bureaucrats making mistakes for you since they are human as well. Again you also have to be careful of trying to insure the public from everything which may be too costly bureaucratically so you can't implement enough programs and enough quality government services to the point that complaints would stop or decrease. I mean do humans ever stop complaining? Because we don't live forever no program or product will totally satisfy. That is the nature of life. When it comes to people not taking care of themselves it's pretty obvious in terms of diet that we aren't but I wouldn't blame a healthcare system either since these are more cultural problems. The biggest cost on healthcare is people not getting insurance (even when many can afford to) and then after getting hurt asking the taxpayer to pay up from the entitlements that already exist. Certainly some mandatory system will have to be created to prevent bankrupcy or disallowing coverage will be the only option. If Republicans try to repeal Obamacare they should not pursue the status quo because it is unsustainable as it is.

I agree that we need some safety net for healthcare but where I live universal health care is universal access to a line up so I feel that some mixed system would be more efficient. Either a single payer system with private delivery services competing for government contracts or a mandatory insurance system that deals with free rides and allows for across state purchase of insurance with regulation to prevent denied coverage and collusion. Many conservatives don't like the employer system which is an outdated system going back to the great war.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcfitz80 View Post
  • Regulation is too costly and interferes with the free market – Too costly? The cost of NOT regulating is even costlier as has been proved with the BP disaster and other similar cases. Yes, it interferes with the free market but this is necessary as the markets job is to make profit, not guarantee safely of employees and the public. There has to be a balance.

That’s it for now. I know this is long but it could have been a lot longer. The main point is that conservatives take these 4 untruths, among many others, to be true. If they were true, I would support the “strict father morality” of conservatives that says “you get what you deserve” or “you sleep in the bed you make”. The reality is far more complex, however, and warrants having a healthy dose of empathy for others and trying to build a society that helps empower the less fortunate rather than saying “too bad, so sad…” It will be unfortunate if the coming elections this year and in 2012 go to the republicans.
In terms of regulation only the most extreme libertarian would want to have no regulation. Some regulations are good and some are bad. I think the public wouldn't want to do away with the FDA and other safety departments. Though conservatives will point out that many times departments over-regulate to protect their own asses and people may suffer without the medication they could be receiving so again a balance has to be struck so that over-regulation doesn't grind the world to a halt. There is a reason why people don't like red tape.

I disagree with you on the idea that conservatives lack empathy. They have a different empathy that is a tough love. Responsibility goes along with freedom and many people need less empathy and a kick in the pants to get going. Direct non-judgmental empathy has it's place but it can be overused to the point that people who receive the empathy may in fact deserve the consequences they received. What I find interesting about the left (especially in the media) they often don't ask questions that show a person down on their luck had made bad decisions. They tend to avoid that (because it's politically incorrect and reduces audience sympathy) and then ignore some situations where people are hurting themselves and others where NO amount of charity or feeling someone's pain will solve the problem. Eg. Drug addicts, psychopaths. Some people are beyond help and as long as there is no permanent cure for addictive or addictively sadistic behaviour 100% sympathy is wasted. There is a point where a drug addict will never change and when psychopaths will kill no matter what. You also can get into a snag where you blame a abstract concept "society" which is made up of individuals for consequences that happen to an individual. You can get into a loop where "society" (which is really taxpayers) will get blamed for everything. This is why a court system is necessary to relate blame to individuals who are responsible (or corporations and governments if truely applicable). Blame does exist but it has to be very accurate and targeted for people to feel a sense of justice.

If people don't let others take responsibility for themselves and make people own up to their decisions then this stereotypical liberal guilt builds up and the only outlet is to blame happy people, wealthy people, etc to release the tension. There are imperfect conservatives who like to eternally bash people and expect no positive change from those down on their luck and I disagree with them as well. Some people can change. Yet I also disagree with fawning activists who avoid telling a necessary truth and in turn enable bad behaviour.

Finally if you feel that Republicans will be a tragedy if they get elected then you're stuck in a dualistic problem that comes from not actually trying to read into their points of view in great depth. I've read the left in great depth and I understand where they come from but I disagree with them mainly because they are experimenters and I don't believe that most of those experiments will pan out because we have enormous history that bears out lessons that we need to learn and it's getting harder and harder to create new inventions that actually are BETTER than what we have. Some of the experiments are useful and make us improve but many are just wishes that have no basis in reality. These experiments have to be heavily vetted because if they fail bureaucrats who's jobs are on the line will picket job cuts even if they are needed.

The main arguments amongst most of the left and the right are about how to balance government and the productive sector that pays for it. Because we humans aren't Gods we won't get a perfect Platonic superaccurate ultimate balance but only approximations according to our impressions, biases, cultural lessons so debate continues on indefinitely. Because of a lack of perfection in our abilities I believe it's very important to have this Aristotelian golden mean with our choices (especially when we are in new territory) so we don't forget lessons of the past and repeat mistakes or make dreadful new ones without viewing all stakeholders.
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:52 AM   #4
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Just sayin'...

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The problem for many conservatives on this board responding to this post is that the points made are partially putting words in the mouth of conservatives as if they all agree on these simplified points.
Pot, kettle, yadda yadda.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:15 AM   #5
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Haha, I was just going to say that EXACTLY describes purpleoscar's posting style.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:33 AM   #6
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Purpleoscar, You seem to be are arguing that my views and the dominant view on the left is extreme left (communism, lax detterants) and that conservatives want a healthy middle ground when it is the opposite. The right (those in control on the right) in America today is extreme right and the left is actually pretty middle ground. I’m at work now but will write more later.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:20 PM   #7
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Near where I work there's a methadone treatment centre. All day these bums hang around selling their drugs, swearing, shouting, urinating in public (and worse). Some of them have kids. Their lifestyle is facilitated by left-liberal policies of cradle-to-grave welfare entitlement.

Can someone explain to me what's empathetic about this?
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:22 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by purpleoscar View Post
I disagree with you on the idea that conservatives lack empathy. They have a different empathy that is a tough love. Responsibility goes along with freedom and many people need less empathy and a kick in the pants to get going. Direct non-judgmental empathy has it's place but it can be overused to the point that people who receive the empathy may in fact deserve the consequences they received. What I find interesting about the left (especially in the media) they often don't ask questions that show a person down on their luck had made bad decisions. They tend to avoid that (because it's politically incorrect and reduces audience sympathy) and then ignore some situations where people are hurting themselves and others where NO amount of charity or feeling someone's pain will solve the problem. Eg. Drug addicts, psychopaths. Some people are beyond help and as long as there is no permanent cure for addictive or addictively sadistic behaviour 100% sympathy is wasted. There is a point where a drug addict will never change and when psychopaths will kill no matter what. You also can get into a snag where you blame a abstract concept "society" which is made up of individuals for consequences that happen to an individual. You can get into a loop where "society" (which is really taxpayers) will get blamed for everything. This is why a court system is necessary to relate blame to individuals who are responsible (or corporations and governments if truely applicable). Blame does exist but it has to be very accurate and targeted for people to feel a sense of justice.

If people don't let others take responsibility for themselves and make people own up to their decisions then this stereotypical liberal guilt builds up and the only outlet is to blame happy people, wealthy people, etc to release the tension. There are imperfect conservatives who like to eternally bash people and expect no positive change from those down on their luck and I disagree with them as well. Some people can change. Yet I also disagree with fawning activists who avoid telling a necessary truth and in turn enable bad behaviour.
Yep.
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Old 08-29-2010, 01:19 PM   #9
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Purpleoscar, You seem to be are arguing that my views and the dominant view on the left is extreme left (communism, lax detterants) and that conservatives want a healthy middle ground when it is the opposite. The right (those in control on the right) in America today is extreme right and the left is actually pretty middle ground. I’m at work now but will write more later.
I'm saying that your description of conservatives is not accurate. There are debates within the movement as we speak. We even have openly gay conservatives now. It's constantly evolving. My arguments against communism often involve professors who are openly communist and economic ideas that can easily lead to huge governments that would resemble something close to it. Obviously not everyone in the left believes in communism but many ideas (like worldwide cap and trade) fall right into that thought process and are heavily supported by communists.

Whether you feel the left is the middle ground or not you have to ask yourself how that developed over time. The left can overreach and often does as a strategy. They feel if they get half of what they want by shooting for the moon they will slowly push conservatives to the left which in fact is what has happened. Since we don't have balanced budgets and haven't for a long time you would have to say that right now the left is far left in terms of economics and even getting "compassionate conservatives" to embrace constraint is just as difficult a process. Politicians have to look at their careers and even Republicans can have a hard time trying to sell constraints to an electorate. The public likes to have their cake and eat it too. Conservatives know that when the GDP starts being eaten by the government up to 40 - 50% or more you get higher unemployment, less opportunities and you create bureaucratic class that doesn't need to make any constraints to save for a retirement (because of great pensions) and this can only be funded by higher taxes on those who cannot get those benefits but must find more and more room in their budgets to save for a retirement and pay for the bureaucratic class. In Canada 40% of the GDP is in the 3 layers of government and even then cities and provnices feel they need to piggy back on the federal government for funding requiring complicated transfers for an otherwise uncomplicated problem that it's the same taxpayer in the end just spread thinner. In Alberta we have union commercials where they refer to themselves as "your working people" when I believe they are entitled people that need their benefits to be curtailed so we avoid extreme calamities like in Greece (or much of Europe for that matter). The strategy is to add more debt so the only conclusion is to raise taxes more and if the budget gets balanced after that the taxes don't go down they stay high and fund more of the bureaucratic class solidifying generations of people who will, at any curtailment of their benefits, protest in destabilizing ways to get their way. This was a problem even in ancient societies and it is still a problem now. When you look at the history of economics a lot of what conservatives talk about is actually perfectly sane.

There are weirdos in every movement and we have to point out the socially conservative over the top ones like (polygamists, racists, gay bashers, pro-creationists in school types, weird patriot types etc) and in every evolving process with freedom of speech some people will be in that line. Homosexuality is a particular thorn for many conservatives because they can be traditionalists and heterosexual marriage has been an institution before religion so expect some dragging feet and wailing as new generations accept tolerance.

If you want an example of a conservative politician that the right likes you would have to point at Chris Christie. Unfortunately they are rare and usually come when there is a fiscal crisis that needs to be fixed. When the ecomomy is good Republicans can revert to back slapping big spending policies to try and avoid criticism. You can see this in companies where cost cutting CEOs are needed but when pro-growth business strategies are needed they are often turfed for more risky CEOs. Then when the risk results in too much debt and breach of debt covanents they turf that guy and move back to a cost cutter.

Much of the lauded European social programs are only there because the U.S. has paid for the military might so that Europeans don't have to spend as much on military. I know it's fun to be dualistic and bash the U.S. as overly reactionary but really every country is interconnected in so many ways that to support U.S. military diminishment without European military advancement would be tempting dictators to want to threaten their neighbors.

This back and forth between the left and right is what democracy is about and the change in guard is what keeps democracy alive. If conservatives stay in power indefinitely there would be splits within their own party so policies would still change and there would be different wings within a party or even break offs into new parties.

I hope you don't think indefinite Democrat policies and Democrat wins will really truely make you happy. NOTHING on this earth can make anyone 100% happy all the time including your favorite politicians. That's why I like being a conservative because I'm expected to live out my own life and find my own direction and I don't have to wait for a program to fullfill me to total peace/tranqullity or I don't have to wait for a series of programs to solve all the world's problems. Yet at the same time I'm able to produce income that can be taxed (at a reasonably fair rate I hope) to support programs that supply a demand that free markets don't. That's all government should do and most politicians are debating that balance and will do so as long as we have a democracy. Both sides will see the results of policies and both sides will debate the value of policies and both sides will debate what the true cause and effect are and that's the way it should be.

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Haha, I was just going to say that EXACTLY describes purpleoscar's posting style.
Hey I think I'm doing a good job considering I'm opening up in a forum that is more centre left and even far left in some cases. It's so much easier to go to a conservative forum and just agree most of the time. It's much harder to be outnumbered and still debate without getting angry or bashing people.
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Old 08-29-2010, 01:43 PM   #10
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Near where I work there's a methadone treatment centre. All day these bums hang around selling their drugs, swearing, shouting, urinating in public (and worse). Some of them have kids. Their lifestyle is facilitated by left-liberal policies of cradle-to-grave welfare entitlement.

Can someone explain to me what's empathetic about this?
You can go even farther and look at visible minorities being treated like children who are considered not able to make decisions for themselves and yet some of them become some of the best conservatives we have precisely because they can see that and resist it. Human beings are creatures of habit and despite not being Christian I agree that idleness breeds "sin" or at least bad habits. When you're like that you have low self esteem and you most likely won't get jobs let alone decent jobs and you won't have the habits to develop skills so you can change your life. We even have a thread that talks about arrested development and most people aren't poor in those situations just poor in experience. Letting people learn the error of their ways by letting them face their own consequences sometimes is the only medicine left. People often choose short-term benefits over long-term ones precisely because it's easier but the long-term benefits of self-discipline and achieving something in life is much better than addiction to comfortable bad habits. All people have to do is be mindful of their choices and notice when they replace one desire for another. Often we don't notice it but it happens as soon as the new desire takes up enough of your time so that the old desire slips away. If people replace one addiction for another they can learn to replace those crude enjoyments for better ones that leave you feeling energetic and not depleted. Allowing these consequences to happen also allows for freedom because if we don't allow those important consequences to happen we would have to necessarily have a nanny state again prodding us all the time. If we have trouble trusting corporations to be perfect (because people aren't perfect) how would governments (full of people) be better? I say lets have competition of ideas and sometimes I'll be wrong and sometimes right (whether I have strong bleeding heart feelings of compassion or not) but hopefully the RESULTS of policies will be clear enough that civilization can move forward with less delusion.
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Old 08-29-2010, 05:47 PM   #11
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Purpleoscar, I will say it again. Liberals are not communists – we believe in Capitalism and that yes – you need incentives for people to work. My arguments against communism often involve professors who are openly communist and economic ideas that can easily lead to huge governments that would resemble something close to it” This is a pretty general statement. One can just as easily say that conservative style capitalism can easily lead to a situation resembling feudalism where a few people control all the wealth and power and democracy ceases to function effectively. But to be fair to what you were saying I do agree that not all conservatives are Super Libertarian. HOWEVER, experience has shown us over the past 30 years, especially that past 10 years, that the dominant forces controlling the republican party are extreme (radical conservatives), even though many individual conservatives are not and there is indeed debate among conservatives, while those on the left have moved more toward the center - It isn’t the other way around like you are saying. History shows this. Look at Clinton – he started out fairly far left but moved much more center due to pressure from the extreme right. It is the radcons who hold most of the political power on the right and that have beliefs close to the ones I listed.

Our whole economy has become more conservative and “supercapitalist” over the past 30 years (see Robert Reich book by the same name). This has been due to globalization and rapid technological change and I’m not arguing that we turn back the clock. But it is important to remember that these structural differences in today’s economy make Americans more economically vulnerable than they were 40 – 60 years ago. We may be richer and have fancier stuff but that is not the point. Outsourcing, automation, globalization and the death of oligopolistic welfare capitalism along with sky rocketing costs of health care and education have made Americans more vulnerable to sudden financial disaster due to job loss or sickness and make year to year income differences more volatile than they once were (The Great Risk Shift | Jacob S. Hacker). Also, companies no longer provide the stable benefits of long term employment, retirement pensions, and in some cases even health care and yet despite this conservatives wish to eliminate or reduce funding to government programs in exsistance. Bush even tried to privatize social security. Liberals are only arguing that government help to fix some of these big holes that have developed in the safety net so I don’t’ agree with your framing of this as liberals wanting a “coddling, cradle to the grave welfare state”. You mention that my description of conservatives in inaccurate but that is not a description of what most liberals in America are and want. But just like you say, there are indeed weirdos in any movement and I won’t deny that some want too much from government.

I have indeed done a lot of reading to understand conservatives. I understand where they are coming from and believe it or not I think you are well intentioned. But I don’t think our social problems, like those described by financeguy, are a result of liberal policies of “welfare entitlement”. Conservatives just love to talk about welfare checks like they are the only type of social program out there. Most social programs such as after school programs, job training, government student loans, unemployment insurance (which is temporary), mental health treatment, etc actually help to give people a ‘hand up’ and not a ‘hand out’ and many benefit the middle class. These hand ups offer many people a way out of poverty or temporary help in the event of job loss or some other big problem like major illness. I would argue that the lack of any help for the poor, especially those who are young, is what leads to people feeling that they can't get their foot in the door and turning to crime and drug use. Yes financeguy, there will always be a few people who milk the system. There is no perfect system and yes some people are hopeless causes but will be under any system. But it essentially comes down to this: 1. Either you let a few children and innocent people (people down on their luck do to no fault of there own) starve to ensure no one cheats the system or 2. To ensure no innocent people or children starve you accept that a few cons might cheat the system. I believe that perfectly sums up the difference between liberal empathy vs. conservative strictness.

Finally, there is the issue of the “political class” and bloated government. I could not agree more that this is a problem. I actually take a conservative stance on this issue. I think government jobs could be made more efficient and that you have too many people doing too little work, with benefits that are too generous. The problem is, I don’t see either liberals OR conservatives tackling this problem as it has grown under Liberal AND conservative leadership with no one taking a meaningful stance. Have you ever heard of a republican congressman arguing against the lifetime full annual salary they get even after they serve?
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:03 PM   #12
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purpleoscar, pray tell which university in Canada did you attend where you encountered swaths of self-proclaimed openly Communist professors? I am really curious because it isn't the experience I had at all at either of my universities and other posters have shared my views here. For the fun of it I even asked a friend who went to school at Victoria (I am not sure you'll find a more leftist-leaning mainstream school in Canada) and she didn't know a single Communist prof in her day.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:17 PM   #13
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There’s an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It’s a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous:

It’s that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children’s prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by low incomes, but also by shortsighted private spending decisions by heads of households.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/op...f.html?_r=2&hp
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:18 PM   #14
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purpleoscar, pray tell which university in Canada did you attend where you encountered swaths of self-proclaimed openly Communist professors? I am really curious because it isn't the experience I had at all at either of my universities and other posters have shared my views here. For the fun of it I even asked a friend who went to school at Victoria (I am not sure you'll find a more leftist-leaning mainstream school in Canada) and she didn't know a single Communist prof in her day.
Oh they may not come out and say it in so many words, but it's clearly obvious. If you're perceptive enough, that is.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:32 PM   #15
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Oh they may not come out and say it in so many words, but it's clearly obvious. If you're perceptive enough, that is.
Must be all the reading between the lines.

Though purpleoscar did specify that they were "openly" Communist so even if you're as dim and unperceptive as me you should still get it...
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