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Politics

sadface
I haven't made a political post in a long, long time.

I'd make one now, except just thinking about it depresses me. I was not happy about the results of the midterm, needless to say... and I am even less happy, if possible, about this "compromise" that Obama has made with the GOP on taxes. From where I sit, it smells more like capitulation than compromise. Give a lot, get almost nothing.

Obama is the most intelligent president we've had since Jimmy Carter... and, sad to say, he is looking more and more like Jimmy every day. A good man, but not a good leader. At least not so far. He doesn't seem to have the stomach for a fight. We need another FDR, another JFK, another LBJ. NOT Jimmy II. (And, yes, I know, Obama has accomplished some important stuff. But so did Jimmy. Camp David accords, remember?)

Yeats was writing about his own time in "The Second Coming," I know, but sometimes I think he was prescient:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And could that rough beast whose hour has come round at least be... Sarah Palin?

No, please. Tell me that's just a bad dream. Somebody wake me up.

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Comments

grrm
Dec. 16th, 2010 01:23 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
No, Abraham Lincoln was a liberal. Some even considered him a radical. The Republicans were not always the conservative party.

The issues change, and the idea of "right" and "left" only goes back to the French Revolution, but liberalism and conservatism trace back to Greece and Rome. In Rome the liberals were the populares, the conservatives the optimates. One faction in favor of change, one supporting "traditional values."

As for today... "limited government" and "personal freedom" are two separate issues. No one really seems to be in favor of limited government except the Libertarians... but the greatest champions of personal freedom are all on the left these days.
dalimar2
Dec. 16th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Really? The left being pro personal freedom?

I say this as a libertarian, by the way.

The right to work? The right to bear arms? Various economic freedoms. The right to personal property? (see kelo vs. new london). You might find more pro marijuana people on the left, but Davis in california was against it and Ron Paul is for it so that one isn't very cut and dry. School vouchers? School of choice? Charter schools? Wasn't it Mrs. Gore who went after video games? Which side is pushing various laws and limits on what people eat? Which side is against economic freedoms like where you can open a restaurant in LA? Which side pushes things like campus speech codes?

Don't get me wrong, Republicans have a whole slew of antifreedom initiatives too, the social conservative ones. Gay marriage being the obvious one. On the other hand the gay marriage ban in California was voted FOR by the same electorate than put Obama into office. Read into that what you will.

I'm sorry, I cannot reconcile that people who believe in a large statist society, even some being socialist, would be the standard bearers for personal freedom. You can't get freedom from big government, only when government is limited can freedom be guaranteed.

I wish the Libertarians were successful so I could just vote for them, but I can't, so I have to choose. I trust in the supreme court and the states to keep my social freedoms safe, and I tend to vote Republican to keep my economic freedoms safe too.
lordbrand
Dec. 16th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
To mention libertarians and then in the same sentence claim that the LEFT is the greatest champion of personal freedom?

That is a mighty interesting definition of personal freedom.

blackrevenant
Dec. 16th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
If one includes "economic freedom" in "personal freedom," then the greatest champions are certainly not on the left. How free can someone be if they're not even able to spend their own money as they see fit? Or protect what is rightfully theirs?

The modern left is concerned not with freedom, but with enforced equality. Too often it is forgotten that freedom and equality are normally a zero-sum game. More of one is balanced by less of the other.
grrm
Dec. 16th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
"Economic freedom" seems to equate to "I don't want to pay taxes."

Taxes are price of civilization.

Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to live and love and dream, freedom of worship, freedom to live one's life without undue government interference... and, yes, equality under the law. These are the freedoms liberals believe in.
blackrevenant
Dec. 16th, 2010 06:09 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Straw manning. Bad form, Peter, bad form!!

I have no problem paying taxes to support the things that a government is actually supposed to do, per those classical liberals that you listed above. I have plenty of problems when "equal protection under the law" is twisted into "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" by politicians who believe that income redistribution is a mandated function of government, such a thing that would have been decried by the classical liberals you listed above.

How ironic that one can trump "equality under the law" in one breath, then advocate that the government treat some citizens differently on the basis of income in the next!

So I ask again: how free is a man when he cannot spend his money as he sees fit, when the fruits of his labors are taken by a government and given to those who did not work for it for the sake of buying votes? How free is a man when he cannot defend himself, when his government seems to insist that he can wait for the police to arrive so that they can take care of any threats to his life, liberty, and property?

Those "greatest champions" you mention are not champions of individual freedom; they are champions of the idea that rights come from the state, that a man's money and property are not his own, that group identity and rights are more important than those of the individual. Rights are unalienable, as put forth by those classical liberals you listed. They are not given by the state, because what is given can be taken away.

(Completely unrelated, it's an honor! I've been a fan for years, and I wish you and yours peace and long life. Hear me Roar!!!)
grrm
Dec. 16th, 2010 06:33 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
I am sure you can -- and do -- spend your money as you see fit. Most of us do, here in the USA.

The government takes a small portion of that money in the form of taxes, to provide for the common welfare. To build roads and bridges, pay for police and fireman and a national defense, etc. The more services we want and expect, the more taxes government needs to collect, that's obvious. And those Founding Fathers we're talking about did not object to taxation... just taxation without representation.

The cutting point, that divides us on many of these issues, is precisely what services we want and expect from our government. Some of us want more than others. I, for one, am not willing to go back to the private for-profit fire departments like the one that helped make Marcus Licinious Crassus the richest man in the Roman Republic. Despite the fact that I have never had a fire (and never hope to), I gladly pay taxes to support firemen. And roads. And unemployment benefits. And health care. Etc.

You, obviously, would differ.
blackrevenant
Dec. 16th, 2010 03:11 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
I spend (or save) what money the government does not take from me.

Again, you're using a straw man to attack a position that I do not hold. I have never written or otherwise espoused the belief that I do not wish to pay taxes. I am well aware of the need for and uses of my tax dollars. Unlike many of my contemporaries, I paid attention in my sophomore civics class. :)

I also gladly support those government services that protect my inalienable rights. That's the function of government, and it needs money to perform that function. I do not have the right to a portion of your life any more than you have a right to a portion of mine. Government, according to Locke (with whose philosophy the Founders were intimately familiar and agreeable), protects life, liberty, and property from the depredations of other men. Health care does not fall into that. If a left-leaning politician believes that it is a moral imperative that one help the less fortunate, he should give to a charity. By using my tax money on things which do not support the "general welfare" as opposed to the welfare of individuals (for the purpose of buying votes, no less!), that politician has crossed the line that separates the rightful functions of government and tyranny.
grrm
Dec. 16th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
"Government, according to Locke (with whose philosophy the Founders were intimately familiar and agreeable), protects life, liberty, and property from the depredations of other men," you write. "Health care does not fall into that."

It doesn't? What is health care for, if not to protect life? If I am sick and need medicine and do not get it, I am just as dead as if the redcoats killed me.
blackrevenant
Dec. 16th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Health care is indeed to protect life. You are indeed just as dead as if the redcoats killed you, but that's not the point.

Valar morghulis, it is said. All men must die. Government, per Locke, is meant to help protect men from men, not from nature. The inalienable rights that the Founding Fathers envisioned were things that one could possess in and of themselves, none inherently requiring the services of others as a prerequisite to their existence.

Health care is fundamentally different. It would not exist without its providers. By declaring health care as a right, you are saying that one is entitled to the portion of a doctor's life, that what they provide belongs not to them to sell, but to all. I cannot see that as a position with which classical liberals would agree.
vargskinnsz
Dec. 16th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
I've got one problem with your argument in general. The thing is, that your whole argument works on the basic assumption, that the money you make is yours and that this would stay the same if there was no state at all. I think you are heavily mistaken here.

If there was no state, you could not be sure, that your boss will pay you anything on payday. There wouldn't even be money without a state. There would be no "work" as we know it today. It's only one the groundwork of a state that there is work and a market. So by which right can one seriously claim that the money one earns through market mechanisms is not earned due to the existence of the state?
blackrevenant
Dec. 17th, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
The statement that work and market would not exist without the state is categorically untrue. Barter systems, for example, have existed longer than government.

I think you're putting the cart before the horse here. Government is not here to create work and markets from nothing, but to protect the ones that already exist.
evil_lep
Dec. 17th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
I think it depends on what you consider a government. Barter has existed since before modern government, certainly, but that doesn't mean that it was a good system before there was effective governance.

Barter systems have existed for a long time, true... but they have always relied on knowledge that, if the other person cheats you, you have some means of redress. Without a trusted intermediary, this means of redress is violence by you on the person who you believe cheated you, which doesn't make for a very good barter system.

Effective barter, or effective commerce of any kind, requires somebody who has the authority to ensure that people don't cheat each other, and punish strongly enough those who do cheat each other. Otherwise, assault, murder, and war become part of that commerce. Hence, government being involved in the economy.
decarlso2000
Dec. 17th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
While I agree that the whole idea of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness does not include health care, I disagree that only these things are the purview of the government. Roads, for example, are something which it would be very difficult to put together without governments. Fulfillment of contracts is another example...if I agree to deliver you goods for payment, but after delivering said goods, you refuse payment, then under your argument, the government should do nothing, as my life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness hasn't been infringed. However, under this scenario, the whole economy would collapse and that would generally be regarded as a bad thing for everybody.
blackrevenant
Dec. 17th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Bear in mind that "pursuit of happiness" is a very fancy way of saying one's right to make a living for themselves, not necessarily chasing down a state of mind of being.

For the example you have listed regarding contract enforcement, the Lockian ideal of government protected life, liberty, and property applies. If someone takes something without paying for it, it's called theft. Enforcing laws against that is certainly the government protecting ones right to property.
haggis_bagpipes
Jan. 30th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Something in this makes me realise that defending personal rights ultimately defends the corrupt people that harbor the principles which are at the root of the problem. They are the people who benefit most from the current system, so defending the rights of all people ultimately defends them the most.
arthurtonypark
Dec. 17th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Inalienable rights?

What is a 'human right' and what is not differs from place to place and time to time. I would argue that rights are not 'inalienable'. Certainly in my country (Great Britain) we think of healthcare as a right. No politician, no matter how right wing, would ever seriously suggest tearing down our National Health Service.

Perhaps we can all agree that the function of government is to enforce and protect human rights. The argument is about what human rights should be - and it doesn't help if one group or another declares their opinion to be 'inalienable'.

blackrevenant
Dec. 17th, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
This conversation is about American politics and the United States Constitution. Therein, rights are not granted by the government; they are assumed to exist, inalienable to a human being by right of that person's existence.

I was not declaring my opinion inalienable. I was using the language of John Locke and the Founding Fathers. They describe the rights of man as inherent and inalienable. They cannot be taken away, only violated.

In this context, the idea of health care as a right is in fundamental opposition to those ideals. If rights to ones life and liberty are held to be inviolate, then coercing someone through the governments monopoly on force and imprisonment to give a portion of their life to someone else doesn't hold water in the context of what government is supposed to do.
Jason Kenney
Dec. 17th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
So, I consider myself a treebeard in politics. However,

1. Unemployment benefits are from a pool funded by employers based on their layoff history. (At least in Mass.)

2. Democrats want to protect people from themselves is the general vein.
3. Republicans want to preserve society.
4. Both are for Big-Buisness... how else are they paid? Dems have Hollywood (See "This film has not been rated" it shows how rating systems generally help the big production companies), Recording Industry. Republicans have Raytheon, etc. (And its more of a per politician in general anyhow.)
5. Oh and the Libertarians have been poisoned by Ayn Rand... lets leave it at that.

As for health care... it is better for the economy if we nationalized health care. We don't allow someone to die if they can't afford the health care. Instead they become in debt. And the amount of ER patients that can't pay increases the cost they charge to those who can pay. So in effect we're already paying for other people's heath care.

The same goes for tuition, if college grads did not have those loans to pay off, they could work for less pay, and have more spending money.

The goverment should also buy the telecommunication infastructure that cable and internet use rather than have Comcast (in my area) be a sole provider, let all of them compete and pay the goverment for the maintenance and use of the cables.

And we could pay for that if we cut our military budget, but paid unemployment benefits for the earmark jobs that were lost from building missiles and planes.Not only that, but with increased buying power our economy would be stronger as well.
decarlso2000
Dec. 17th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
Regarding health care, there are two big problems there. First, as you mentioned, costs for medical services for some are being passed on to those that actually pay. I think that its important to recognize Medicare as a signifigant passer of costs. As the government has market power to dictate how much they pay, and since they have a desire to pay less, this essentially increases costs for others. Again, costs go to those that can pay and do not have the market power to force a lower price. This is also the case for those that don't have any insurance at all...they inevitably go into debt and often are not able to pay. Sadly, those without any market power (aka individuals) get charged exorbitant rates for health insurance as they have the least amount of market power.

The second point is medical malpractice insurance...doctors have to pay outrageous sums for this as a simple honest mistake could result in them owing huge sums and possibly losing their license and thus their source of income. This needs to be addressed, but was largely ignored. I should note that the public option that was floated would most likely have ended up working like Medicare, where costs were pushed to those with private insurance.

What needs to be done is for those problems to be solved. Nationalizing health care is one option, but with it comes other signifigant drawbacks. One is the distribution of costs in at least a relatively fair manner. Not to mention that government agencies are notoriously inefficient when it comes to costs.

Another major drawback that needs to be addressed in a public system is incentives for providing top rate care. A public system is inevitably going to attempt to drive down costs, which will essentially mean that doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and biomedical engineers and researchers will now make less money...which essentially removes incentives for people to become doctors, for companies to pour hundreds of millions into drug research, and for people to work on new techniques. If someone can potentially make millions by working on AI technology or a government paycheck by working on the cure for cancer, which one do you think the majority will choose?

The alternative is to solve these problems within the privatized system that exists and that's what the health care bill is attempting to do. Whether it did enough and the right things has yet to be seen. My guess is that it did not, but I believe it can be done.

joncrushercrusa
Dec. 16th, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
This is a great point. Both parties do support larger government and it would be unfair to say they both do not. A lot of the dissent comes from semantics of "Big Government". I did not hear a lot of conservatives complaining about the expansion of government in regards to the USA PATRIOT(Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) Act which is singularly the most invasive government act in modern times. I need not remind anyone that the great champion of the party that claims to be for less government, George W. Bush signed this bill into effect and signed it into law in 2006 as a bill after its sunset in 2005.
Also because I am not myopic as most Americans seem to be, I clearly remember that the recession and its subsequent bail out began under the Bush administration. I also clearly remember prior to the 2008 election, Bush, McCain, and Obama meeting and making agreements that a bailout package had to be made. The extent of the differences in money to be spent between parties was less than 10% monetarily. To this day sane economists agree that allowing all the corporations in trouble including the automobile industry to go under would have been catastrophic as compared to what the country actually endured. And without digressing too much, it is in no way comparable to the Great Depression because of all the fail safes that have been placed in our system since the 30's.
Back to my original point, at any time we wish something done, like making sure toys do not carry a certain amount of lead or keeping terrorists from blowing things up or making sure roads are travel worthy for the holidays or providing health coverage to fellow citizens not currently covered, we are expanding government. Conservative leaders only seem to have a problem with expansion when laws or organizations are being created that ask the wealthiest individuals as well as corporations to help the funding of these desired projects. These wealthy entities throw tantrums because it might cut into their profits and "golden parachutes." The richest one percent, whether it be individuals or corporations believe they are pillars of the community just by being extremely wealthy and this sense of entitlement should exempt them from being taxed appropriately even though they most often benefit from the programs just as much as the average person. Even more ironically their wealth is derived when the country as a whole is doing its best and our country is always doing its best when they are making their appropriate contributions tax-wise and not simply existing.
I think in good taste I would point something out to these entities in a way that Littlefinger might: It would be better to be taxed 50% on a billion dollars than it would be to taxed 10% on 500 Million dollars. Again though this is contradictory to what the richest one percent and the conservative party supports because they can't get their minds over the fact that they will be paying a higher tax rate even though they would be netting a larger profit.
And when we focus completely on civil rights issues, I challenge any conservative to make claim that their party has done more to protect and enhance these rights than the Democratic Party has in the last 50 years. I would begin my argument by again referencing the biggest infringements on these rights in modern times, the USA PATRIOT Act.
Not to mention a large number of conservatives in my personal experience our either overtly racist and homophobic or they at least hint towards it "ipso facto" in the policies they support. This underlying racism is applicable to our relations with Mexico. Our policies towards our southern neighbor are exploitative and deplorable. We wish to make use of cheap labor in booms and repatriate when we have no more use of them; ie the Braceros Program of the 20th century. "Land of the Free" if you are rich enough to afford it.
shakauvm
Dec. 16th, 2010 08:02 am (UTC)
Re: ummm no
>>No one really seems to be in favor of limited government except the Libertarians...

No one... except the Tea Party, who, you know, just took over a big fraction of the Republican Party back from the Big Government Conservatives that were established under GWB's reign.

The big change will come in 2012, when and if Tea Party candidates send enough delegates to the Convention to change the party platform to support smaller government. With the McCain crowd running things till then, you're not likely to see much change other than what the freshmen congressmen might be able to do.

In any event, I had another post talking about the difference between classical liberalism (which focused on freedom from government intrusion) and progressive liberalism (which focuses on using the government to solve problems) and how they're mostly incompatible concepts, but I think other posters on here have covered that enough.
dalimar2
Dec. 17th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
Re: ummm no
In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

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