Mudcat Café message #962174 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59921   Message #962174
Posted By: Strick
30-May-03 - 05:04 PM
Thread Name: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
"I'm afraid I think my theory explains more, with much less dodging and weaving, whereas your theory can only develop more and more baroque semi-elipses, backtracking, culicues--like those maps of the stars with the earth at the center of it all. Capitolism certainly does propose economic life as a competetive game, at heart, and the more fully you believe in it, the more you may tend, or risk believing that economic life really is a game. Oppressed and exploited people are sore losers. Just keep it in mind for a while, and see if it doesn't explain a lot of substance and also the tone of debates on many issues."

Perhaps it just seemed to me this put the weight of all the oppressed and exploited people of the world on John and the theory he tried to espouse because it was an email from John that brought me to this thread. At best your comparison of this theory to ancient theories of orbital mechanics was a bit demeaning. You took a fairly one sided argument and declared victory. The econmoic anomolies you cite are not suffcient to cast what John was trying to say aside that easily. After all, you didn't address the equally obvious anomolies in the alternative.

For me the issue remains the fallacy of accepting the extremes on either the left or the right. Take an issue I'm familiar with, deregulating telecommunications and utilities. The extreme conservative position is that regulation inhibits natural economic forces that would make the economy more efficient and results in higher costs and lower levels of service. Do away with all regulation. Try to forget that regulation was introduced to counteract excesses of the past. It's a matter of principle that regulations is bad. We're sure it won't happen this time.

The extreme liberal position is that left their own devices the industry would return to the excesses of the past. Regulate them. Better yet, add additional regulation to meet a number of different social agendas and pet programs. No one's measuring the cost of the regulation and the practical impact on costs and levels of service are masked so who's to know? It's sort of a hidden tax on those who can afford to pay.

The catch is that either extreme is really fool hardy. The liberal position is right in a key respect: big businesses (like big labor and big government) simply can't be trusted. Without regulation there would be little to prevent industry from escalating prices, red-lining poorer districts, all the things they did in the past. Enron's (along with several California utilities) manipulation of electrical utility production was proof enough of this.

But, the conservative position is also right. Almost as soon as regulation took hold in telecommunications and utilities in the 20s and 30s, companies began to co-opt the process, mainipulating the politically based regulatory bodies (buying off both liberal and conservative politicians) and using regulation as a shield against competition and technical innovation that might have challenged them. As it progressed into the 90s, regulation achieved pretty much what the conservatives said it would: higher prices, lower service and a drag on the economy. Unfortunately, an efficient telecommunications industry may be the key to survival in the 21st Century as Asia rises to their rightful place in the world.

So, at either extreme, industry screws the public. It always will unless there are effective counter-balancing forces. Perhaps the answer is to look for more a balanced approach, one that uses more than one counter-balancing force: regulation and competition?   Arguing from either extreme misses a more practical answer.

Thanks for sharing your favorite stereotype, BTW. Here's one I like. Whenever you explain any reasonable cause for opposing the direction of liberal policy, a liberal will always find a way to take your remarks the wrong way, as brutish, insensitive, socially irresponsible and motivated solely by greed. Neither stereotype is much to me though, since they're failings of the extremists in either camp. I'm no more a conservative than I am a liberal.