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BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?

GUEST,Martin Gibson 07 Feb 04 - 09:55 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 Feb 04 - 08:20 AM
GUEST 07 Feb 04 - 12:04 AM
Sam L 08 Jun 03 - 02:01 AM
Strick 07 Jun 03 - 10:03 PM
Sam L 07 Jun 03 - 06:30 PM
Strick 06 Jun 03 - 10:30 AM
Sam L 06 Jun 03 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Larry Kaufman 06 Jun 03 - 08:53 AM
Strick 06 Jun 03 - 12:39 AM
Sam L 05 Jun 03 - 06:56 PM
Strick 31 May 03 - 12:12 AM
Little Hawk 30 May 03 - 11:49 PM
Strick 30 May 03 - 10:09 PM
Sam L 30 May 03 - 09:31 PM
John Hardly 30 May 03 - 08:07 PM
Strick 30 May 03 - 07:03 PM
Sam L 30 May 03 - 06:27 PM
Strick 30 May 03 - 05:04 PM
Little Hawk 30 May 03 - 11:04 AM
Sam L 30 May 03 - 10:14 AM
Sam L 29 May 03 - 03:01 PM
Strick 29 May 03 - 11:03 AM
Sam L 29 May 03 - 10:45 AM
Strick 29 May 03 - 07:46 AM
Sam L 27 May 03 - 09:40 AM
Rapparee 27 May 03 - 09:14 AM
John Hardly 27 May 03 - 08:33 AM
Little Hawk 26 May 03 - 11:15 PM
GUEST 26 May 03 - 06:45 PM
katlaughing 26 May 03 - 06:11 PM
Sam L 26 May 03 - 05:40 PM
Tweed 26 May 03 - 11:20 AM
Little Hawk 26 May 03 - 11:12 AM
John Hardly 26 May 03 - 10:59 AM
Sam L 26 May 03 - 10:43 AM
John Hardly 26 May 03 - 09:51 AM
Sam L 26 May 03 - 12:11 AM
toadfrog 25 May 03 - 11:29 PM
John Hardly 25 May 03 - 08:17 PM
Sam L 25 May 03 - 07:40 PM
toadfrog 24 May 03 - 06:04 PM
Raedwulf 24 May 03 - 04:11 PM
Mary in Kentucky 23 May 03 - 04:08 PM
John Hardly 23 May 03 - 02:07 PM
Little Hawk 23 May 03 - 01:15 AM
Padre 22 May 03 - 11:01 PM
Tweed 22 May 03 - 10:23 PM
katlaughing 22 May 03 - 10:15 PM
Mary in Kentucky 22 May 03 - 09:53 PM
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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 09:55 PM

Extremely well put, Jerry. As one who has touted himself here as a common sense moderate, I find the radical liberalism generally practiced my many (not all) on this forum as out of touch and extreme as the Rush Limboughs and Sean Hannitys of the world. They just don't get it that they are just so much the same.

I guess I get off on yanking anyone's chain who falls into either catagory. It all comes across as anger to me. I usually get great entertainment value out of it.

Stay human. Way to be.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 08:20 AM

Hey, Tweedster: Somehow, I overlooked this thread when you first posted it. As a friend, I have to agree with Beccy (considering myself mostly a liberal.) When I saw the title, I thought this was going to be a thread reminding us that whatever our beliefs are, we are first of all, human beings. We are complex, and resist labels, and labels preclude discussion. They are just a good reason for saying what WE believe. One hand clapping. They encourage generalities that are almost 100% negative (except generalities about our own beliefs, which are 95% praiseworthy.)

I'd like to address category three... human beings. We are FIRST of all human beings, and liberals are just as guilty, generalizing about conservatives as conservatives are about liberals. Us being folksinger types, and mostly liberal in philosophy it feels as good for us to condemn any conservative thinking as it does for Rush Limbaugh, who I find disgusting, to condemn liberals. I know conservative Republicans who would put 95% of the liberals in here to shame by quietly dedicating their lives to trying to ease suffering and political injustice. But, that's like saying, "some of my best friends are black." It doesn't totally address the issue. It's the "exception proves the rule" approach.

We all have to live by generalities. We are faced with daily decisions (like voting) that require us to form opinions that are generalities. BUT, there is a real danger in that. Daily life is mostly lived on a one-on-one basis, and folks is folks, sure enough.
And, even the most liberal person has some conservatives attitudes, and the reverse.

This thread seems to have quickly become a "Oh, yeah, conervatives are stupid" thread. I say that, considering myself a liberal and agreeing almost completely with all the wrong-headedness I personally see in the conservative attitude.

In closing, I'd like to quote Winnie The Pooh. He liked to say that he was "that kind of a bear." We are all guilty (me too) of saying, "Thank God I am not as judgemental as those people." If there is ever going to be any common ground found, we have to start with category three.

Human beings.

Your buddy,

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 04 - 12:04 AM

you guys are so full of crap. where do you get off comparing conservatives with nazis. if that's how you look at it you are indeed misled. rush does not speak for all of us conservatives and if you think he does you again are misled. we have compassion and caring for others, the environment, and a whole host of issues you are lead to think that we trample.

before you throw your stones, you should look at your own branch of the government and find out if they are telling the truth. you do know how to research don't you. don't take everything politicians and talk show hosts say at face value. look it up yourself. maybe even talk to a few individual conservatives yourself.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 08 Jun 03 - 02:01 AM

Yes this has been very interesting to me, lots of fun, and I can't enjoy the prospect of having the last word.

Please, with the tales of big-hearted conservatives tossing checks for sob stories. So what? There were some junk-bond crooks who were big on that too, especially at christmas. This would seem to appeal to the idea that liberalism is all tree-huggy, compassion, and sensitivity. I'm a liberal who mistrusts sentimentality, and find that it flatters it's possessor at a rather cheap price. If you went up to Ronald Reagan with a sad story you might have to remind him you were his son, as his son once actually did at a PR event. But I don't see how either story has any real political meaning.

   Your friend's idea confuses me, since we all look to government, courts, national flood insurance (an interesting one), police, and military to address some problems here and there. The government seems to include things that are government and things that are not, and should be limited, but only the particular branches that aren't terribly profitable. It should stay out of public businesses but go into private bedrooms. I don't claim values for liberals, I claim values are the real base of economies. I certainly don't accord principles to conservatives. And yet again, I don't presume to tell anyone what they in particular what they think if I may generalize about conservatives or liberals. I'm very interested in hearing what particular conservatives think, and seem to have to prod sometimes to find out. But it seems to me liberals tend to write better, present larger and more convincing pictures of complex situations, discover things that undermine their assumptions, reconsider their positions, whereas conservatives most often present curt decontextualised stats and incidents (or heartwarming tales) as though they were definative, all-encompassing, and settled all questions. Conservatives often seem impatient and peevish--but I'd like to know who the better minds are, because I probably just have trouble finding them. Conservatives insult my intelligence so blithely and so routinely that if I were Adam Smith I'd still call myself a liberal for spite.

As it happens, I'm a teamster, and hate the union utterly, but I also know a little of the history of why we have the nasty damned things.

I enjoyed my response to you Mr. Kaufman, because I don't think you or I believe you've presented such a thorough and clear picture of the distribution of tax burden that a reasonable person must surely come around. I didn't even read the statistics, and don't see why I should. The question remains, since the wealthy invest and create jobs and provide the things we need, why should they be taxed at all? What keeps you from arguing that? Why not simply let the system work, everyone else pay taxes TO the wealthiest, since then it comes back down to the rest, and everything is for the better all around? What is the basis for deciding what would be the right distribution? What on earth would you look at, to decide that?


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 10:03 PM

"But you see I would describe that difference in another way. I think I am really more critical of the political process than you may be."

I'm not talking elections. I'm talking the down and dirty way that little things, the petty details get decided in the real world. Whenever a matter of public policy or public spending is decided, someone from some power base or another is there to try to influence it. Unfortunately, it's either that or the market, smoky back rooms or random interactions of market forces. Either produces strange and often sad anomalies. Neither is trust worthy. (BTW, some of the smoky back rooms I know are controlled by famously liberal politicians. They're actually the best at it.)

The simple truth is that most of us choosing one label or another are simply deciding which special interest group or power base they are aligned with. Unions are one of the most inherently conservative organizations on earth if the term "conservative" is used in an objective way. "Free trade" has always been a liberal issue, except that now it's the province of big business, icons of conservatisim. But if you're pro-union, you're a liberal; if you're pro-business, you're conservative. This renders the labels are nearly meaningless.

And where you stress values as a liberal hallmark, conservatives stress principles. I'm not sure what the difference is. I love a story Chris Matthews, the liberal talk show host on MSNBC, told a couple of months ago. He said, "Big time liberals like ideas and the masses, but they don't have time for people, they don't have time for the little guy. Big time conservatives aren't so big on ideas, but they love the little guy. Ronald Reagen, if you went up to him with a sob story he'd take the time to listen to you and more likely than not you'd go away with a check. No big time liberal would ever do that."*

A friend claims he can tell which way you see yourself based on how you answer this question: is it's governments responsiblity to solve problems are ours as individuals? Matthew's story reflects the perceived liberal dependence on government to enforce values and the conservative notion of self reliance as guiding principle. You can point out that some social evolutionists who think that the poor and the weak deserve what they get, but they're a backwater minority. There are some liberals who think that anyone showing abnormal success should be beaten back what ever the greater cost to society. There are clearly selfish, greedy, foolish bastards in both camps.   I'm on record as to what I think about extremists.

Government should be limited, market forces tempered. I'm a moderate activist who decides issues based on my values and my principles, decides for myself not based on the thinking of a spin doctor or talking head. I vote that way with my money and my time, the kind of votes that count and make a difference. Feel free to call yourself what you will, just don't make assumptions on what I think about any issue. People who do are often surprised.

This has been interesting, but I'm sure you've been aware for some time that we're simply hitting the shuttlecock back and forth. Neither of us is going to really change anything the other thinks. Feel free to take the last word.


*Paraphrased, but the gist is accurate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 07 Jun 03 - 06:30 PM

But you see I would describe that difference in another way. I think I am really more critical of the political process than you may be.

    Your view as an independent critical-thinking moderate could be compared, rather favorably I think, to Aristotle's moral philosophy of finding the mean. I might compare my point of view, less favorably, to Socrates finding that artists were the only people who knew things he didn't, but who also presumed by extrapolation to know other things they really didn't know. So they became the more ignorant. I can't find a flattering example for myself in classical philosophy.

   I do have rather mixed views, and have tried to stay out of particular social issues and things I tend to rant about, but on balance, in general, it still makes the most sense to sort me as a liberal. I don't get to vote on each individual issue, or on whichever candidate of many I prefer--the process enforces it's contesting generalizations, whatever I think in particular about this and that other particular policy.

The false dichotomy is one of the most enduringly popular mistakes of thought, at least in western reasoning. It's easier to think of things in terms of this or that (or something in-between this and that) than Who Knows What Else. Our political process reflects this deep compromise. I don't take the construct seriously enough to mind being sorted whichever way seems to fit somewhat better. I think the political process is much more like the machinery of the market, is indeed very tied to it, and really has a less than human face.

   I go back to culture to try to get beyond that, because I think values are where one starts, consciously or otherwise. I love invention stories, and hate the lottery-ticket get-rich invention mythology many people believe in despite it's very neglible bearing on reality. I'm not sure how to explain what I mean by this, except that better things are often at hand, but are overlooked by habits of thought and observation. I like the liberal willingness to be plain goofy, to embrace the unconventional, even if it really is merely goofy, most of the time. It's not that I deny what market economies succeed at, it's just that I'd hope for a better over-all systemology, based on the criticisms we can reasonably make of capitalism. "Liberal" suits because it's less like a file, more like a junk-drawer, really, where you keep all those odd things that seem they may someday be of some use.

Larry Kaufman, you're right. That's the problem with this country. The poor people have all the money.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 10:30 AM

But you see, there it is. Both sides ignore the human behavior they want to ignore and exaggerate that which offends them. Whenever anyone talks about those rich people sitting on their money, I remember what I know about how much effort goes into putting that money to work and the jobs that are created. Neither comsumer spending nor capital investment are the sole way to stimulate an economy. If they aren't balanced, it all goes to hell. And infrastructure is critical, if, and I say if, it's the right infrastructure and the investment in it and the management of it are wise. That's hard. Who makes the choices? Pot holes or voting machines?

The sole difference between us is that I advocate a critical attitude to the political process that would drive market intervention as well as a critical attitude toward the market econonmy. In the end, both are motivated largely by greed. The difference is that the market can be cruel because it's a natural force; the political process can be just as cruel human but has a human face.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 10:15 AM

Strick, I don't deny that people who consider themselves conservatives can sort it how they like. You may be missing the fun I'm having with the question. I don't mind the labels because they're kind of funny sometimes, like cartoons, but I don't take them all that seriously.

   Sure, the forces that drive economies of scale are real, and quite formidable. But I was pointing out that to say economies are based on productivity leaves a little something something neatly out.

   That's a very good question, whether I'm questioning basic theory or the choices that are made in practice. On the one hand I think the basic theory is perfectly good if the culture uses it perfectly, on the other hand I don't think you can really separate market theory from market culture in practice. People have some observable and predictable behaviors--and this is where some conservative thinkers throw up their hands and wonder Why are we evil? Even in virtual economies people hoard as if their lives depended on it. Most sociologists are liberals--I think it may be the most liberal field.

Take money itself. You can't separate the innumerable benefits of currency from the corrosive effects it can have on the imagination--simply, the fact that one can forstall the difficult process of forming and defining values by the easier thing of having a one-for-all value currency. Whatever you want, money can probably help get it.

   I think the kind of culture that best uses the market as a tool is one that views it as that, and nothing more, no matter how spectacular it's power, and is suspicious of it, rather than celebrative. Sure, within a market culture, trying to take many or most counter-measures against market forces is often pointless at best. And many of those attempts are counter-productive, posed, and unrealistic if not utterly cynical and false.

   But many attempts to feed market forces are false too. It does not necesarily help invigorate the market to give tax cuts to wealthy people who don't have to spend it, and very well may not care to, when things don't look so good. One way to be sure the money is spent is to spend it, on infrastructure, schools, roads, pay up some of the hidden costs of so-called free enterprise.

   I'm a liberal because when anyone starts talking about those people on welfare in the checkout line, buying twinkies and pepsi with food stamps, wearing jewelry, and having babies, I just give up, I concede, that's right--what's wrong with this country is: The poor people have all the money. Fine. I advocate a critical attitude toward market economy. It's a process. McDonald's is now suing a food critic for criticising their food, and reflexively I'm on the side of the critic.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: GUEST,Larry Kaufman
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 08:53 AM

A few facts from the IRS web site.   

Bracket      Earn       Pay in Tax
1%          20.8%       37.4%
5%          35.5%       56.5%
10%          46.0       67.4%
50%          87.0%       96.1%

The top 10% of wage earners (ave family income around $93,000) earn 46% of the money but pay almost 70% of the taxes.   The liberals say this is not enough.   How much should the top 10% pay- 80%, 90%, 110%?

Conversely, the bottom 50% of wage earners (half of us) pay less than 4% of the income tax.   Is that fair?

I heard a great comparison about the recent flap over giving tax child credit to the lower income people who don't pay income tax. Two people walk into a store and purchase the identical item for $10.   One pays with a ten dollar bill.   The other pays with a hundred dollar bill and get ninety dollars back.   The first one complains why he doesn't get the ninety dollars back and demands that he gets ninely dollars back as well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 06 Jun 03 - 12:39 AM

Mr. Miller, several nearly random thoughts. So are you questioning the basic theory of economics or the kinds of choices made if you rely solely on it? If the former, consider a discussion I heard about hunger in the United States on NPR this morning. A most interesting point: where there was real starvation in this country in the past, the issue is now nutrition. People who are in need tend to buy the most cost effective food, which, unfortunately is high in calories, but low in nutritional value. They spoke about a problem that would shock our ancestors: hunger that results in obesity. Whatever you want to believe about it this is a major improvement in the human condition brought about by the market you don't want to believe in. This is also true in the "third world". The vast majority of issues with starvation in the world today are not related the economically "oppressed"; they're the result of war and tribal conflicts, forceful interruptions of market forces. There are other issues to be sure, particularly with issues of dislocation like Globalization. Unfortunately, that's the 21st Century's equivalent of the Industrial Revolution. Better to focus on how to help the people it's going to affect most (like knowledge workers in North America and Europe as their jobs "flee" to Asia over the next 30 years -- "Knowledge workers of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your PDAs!") than trying to hold back the tide. These changes will not result from myths, but from inevitable economic forces.

If the later, consider this article: Housing in New York City It's from the Economist which I admit has a conservative bent, but what it says is true. Intefering with market forces has a cost and more often than not that cost hurts most those the interference is intended to help. Interference is sometimes warranted; both sides of an issue often advocate interference in different ways for different reasons. We should choose our battles and be damned sure to consider the longer term impacts of the places we do interfere.

As to starting your own businesses, don't make a classic mistake. The fact that Newton's laws can explain the universe under some conditions doesn't invalidate that you need Einstein to explain it in others as the scale of things changes. You can't always tell the shape of a curve, particularly the kind of "S" curve you're talking about, from examing one short segment. The forces that drive economies of scale are real.

Finally, I'm glad you draw comfort what you think it means to be a liberal. Things I'm sure that no conservative really ever gives adequate consideration. Why do you deny that people who consider themselves conservative can do the same? Their values are different but as real and meaningful to them. Non-conservatives just don't always give them adequte consideration. Heaven forbid any such courtesy should be extended to moderates who don't automatically accept whatever either extreme wants them to believe. ;)


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 05 Jun 03 - 06:56 PM

Strick I think the example you intrduced is interesting, and a sufficient subject in itself. But I think it's a complicated route from there to what are for me the more fundamental economic questions of food, shelter, medical care, education, decent work even for simple unambitious people. Even for complicated unambitious people.

   I'm not sure how to take your comments about science and art, but I doubt even point ten per cent of any art that ever existed would be even mediocre if it weren't for all the rest of the crap. Some of my favorites, Ibsen, Hopper, made nothing but crap for years until they figured out how to pervert it into real art. It's only in crap art like hollywood movies that any good art of any sort just comes pouring out of the genius faucet. It's a process, like science. And in science what endures is just what can't be disproven. Yet.

   I'm missing a very conservative friend who quit the job we had in common. He was perhaps stereotypically a deer-hunting engineering student conservative while I'm rather stereotypically a vegetarian humanities sort of guy. He told me he was doing very well in school although he hadn't got an answer right in 3 years--because of the credit for each step of calculation. I told him we do the same thing in humanities except we don't have any right answers anyway.

   To Everything That Rises Must Converge I can only add that it's the title of a great collection of Flannery O'Connor stories. I've never understood the title.

   I once read a cancer patient's list of ten good things about having cancer--things like People don't ask you to help them move. There are good things about being labeled liberal. Even when you're down, you're not down, you're just where you belong. You can give yourself permission not to want what you don't want. You can take more time to explain what you think than anyone cares to listen. That's lots of fun.

   I can't help it, I still think that Yes Virginia, people do "believe" in the market, despite knowing better. It's a compelling mythology, just like Santa Claus, and really the same thing. It can be wrong all over the place, but when it works for you, it sorta seems that finally something is right.

   My notion that economies are based on values is simple-minded. If you're going to start a business or do something, where do you start? With economies of scale, how many or how much you can do or make? How big can you buy supplies for the best wholesale price? Or do you start with something you think is good, worth doing, something people might like, or want, or need? In patent law productivity-related advantages certainly count, but they are not primary arguments of the utility or desirability of things. But then, most patented inventions are crap too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 31 May 03 - 12:12 AM

The 2nd Law is cold and hard and not to be denied. Beyond the end of time perhaps...

Likewise, that which is good is rare and fleeting. What to be seen on the face of the earth is permanent? In the heavens? But if it offers a glimmer of hope to those who can accept it, it has succeeded. It is enough. Better than this, too, waits beyond the end of time.

(The whole history of Judeo-Christian-Islamic thought has had to struggle with the fact that good does not appear to triumph over evil in this world. We must hope it does in the next.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 May 03 - 11:49 PM

Over 90% of all political iniatives are crap too, but...that which is truly viable and effective tends to outlast that which is not. That which is memorable tends to outlast that which is forgettable. That which is well balanced and of great value tends to succeed, while that which is out of balance and of little value falls into disuse and dissolution.

And all of that is contrary to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, I presume? If the Universe were lifeless, merely mechanistic, and without purpose it would definitely decay and go down to eventual cold death, but it's not.

The scientific reductionist has argued himself into a position where ultimately nothing matters...including his own conclusions. Too bad for him.

Everything that rises must converge. That's a mystical statement, not a physically oriented one. Think it over.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 30 May 03 - 10:09 PM

Sorry, I did't mean that your argument was relevant to regulating radio (though I would agree it argues for it). I was using Clear Channel as an example of how the economy is perfectly happy to arrive at a less than "good" result.

I'm tempted to morph the conversation temporarily in response to this and your point on artistic values. A very wise science fiction author once pointed out that the real basis for most economic principles is the second law of thermodynamics. Through a long convoluted argument best assessed under the influence of 4 or more beers, it's clear that that means all things, art and popular culture included, eventually settle to their lowest level.

On the other hand another wise science fiction author pointed out that 90% over everything artistic produced at any point in time is crap. That's the simplier solution but requires less beer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 30 May 03 - 09:31 PM

Yikes John! Be careful--I have no economics background whatsoever and can't do basic math. I'm a humanities guy with an art degree. My point of view may come from things like "treat every man as he deserves and none will 'scape whipping" or however that line went. My feeling that I shouldn't comfort myself about the moral implications of my actions, despite that I can't control the larger context, probably comes from Faulkner, Ibsen, old plays and such stuff.

   I remember the challenge, on the "conservative" thread, but couldn't remember if you'd posted it or pm'd it. I quite agree that you met the challenge. Your account of liberal views is more respectful than I would be, but I wear the liberal label anyway because, well, it fits, in most places. A little tight around the waist, maybe. Anyway I quite agree that it's of interest to try to sort out the underlying drifts of these ideas, and again appreciate your essay very much. I mean no offence, even if I'm strident. I'm afraid I'm getting to be known for that, regrettably.

   Strick I didn't suppose I had a strongest argument in regard to radio. It occurrs to me that radio is different from pay-for-service things, but I'm not sure how that sorts out. But I can say that it's a good area to see how cultural and even mere artistic values are what we wind up wanting to assess economic policy results by. Do we inherently prefer high gloss national shows, everywhere? Or can we abide more plain and even clumsy productions for the sake of variety, inclusiveness, deeper content (in some cases). Does the market have an inherently corrosive effect on our depth-perception, or would we tend to be shallow and conformist anyway? Maybe we would, even probably, but I think the machinery of the market helps us amplify and spread that tendency. How do you place public radio in this? Your example catches me at a bit of a loss, I don't know what to think.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: John Hardly
Date: 30 May 03 - 08:07 PM

Great discussion guys. Glad to see it -- and I learn... Slowly, but I learn. I'll always wonder what practical solutions could or would have arisen with politics out of the way -- but, of course, that is naive. Politics we'll always have with us.

I do think there is a value in defining the sides -- not because we must (or anyone does) fit into one stereotype or the other, rather, because the extremes are representitve of philosophical underpinnings that I think are worth understanding -- and dividing, for yourself, the wheat from the chaf. I understand others don't see it that way.

I'm glad to see such a good discussion evolve out of this. I PM'd Strick because I couldn't quite make out the finer points of Fred's part of the discussion(yes, I'm that dense!), and I thought his economics background could help me sort it out.

What I didn't say, that Fred was aware of, was that I wrote my essay in two parts. The "conservative" side I wrote in answer to a question here as to what one was. that discussion led me to raise the challenge (nobody took me up on this challenge)to try to explain what the other side believes in such a manner that they would not take issue with it. I made the attempt with the "liberal" part of my essay, but back then I decided not to post it. I don't spend that much time here anymore and when I do I really didn't like the growing feeling that I was spending (wasting) more time "below the line" when my major interest here is in music. Also the mudcat was going through a particularly toxic stretch and, though I thought my attempt a pretty successful attempt at writing something non-inflamatory, at that point EVERYTHING seemed inflammatory on the mudcat. Thus, I filed the essay. Lately I've taken a more "what the hell" attitude and figger if I'm civil that's all I can be expected to control here.

Anyway, there it is. Glad I posted it and got to watch two civil gentlemen have a good discussion. I learned from and enjoyed it.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 30 May 03 - 07:03 PM

"I like yours too, a little, but don't think it bears out since liberals usually object to predictable or actual consequences more than remarks, per se, and conservatives stereotypically reserve the right to plead good intentions no matter what those results are."

My experience with liberals is different, but I'm a veteran of different wars in different places. And both sides reserve the right to plead good intentions no matter what those results are.

As to the airwaves, they are less limited than they used to be. Innovation has made most of the regulations related to spacing stations and the like very obsolete. Think about it, the Internet has limited bandwidth, but it gets by with standards instead of regulation. Regardless, your stongest argument against the market is the horror of Clear Channel broadcasting "All American Idol Music All The Time". It's an ecomonically sound result but not socially acceptable.

I'm radical in thinking that the danger is in bigness itself. I don't care if Clear Channel or Microsoft use their power benevolently. In the same way that military analysts measure another military power's capabilities rather than their intentions (allies can become enemies, after all), the very fact they have so much power demands some counter balancing force however you do it.

Anyway, I agree with your contention that the market often reaches suboptimal solutions (as the melancholy Scot how first described pointed out himself). At least for now, the issue is not in finding al alternative to capitalism, but when and how to respond to the madness. I prefer to think for myself and not fret how anyone labels me or themselves when looking at potential solutions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 30 May 03 - 06:27 PM

Not my favorite, just one I like. I like yours too, a little, but don't think it bears out since liberals usually object to predictable or actual consequences more than remarks, per se, and conservatives stereotypically reserve the right to plead good intentions no matter what those results are. How about this one? Liberals in American politics really don't offer any compelling practical alternative vision, only limitations on the capitalist vision. (So I suppose I agree with John H that it's a matter of degree, but disagree in regard to what.) Thus liberals are more insistant and morally clear when not in power, less so when they actually have to steer. It's easier to blame conservatives for the failings of capitalism than to do anything else, or live any other way.

You're better informed on telecommunications than I, and I'll have to think about how it changes things since radio is free, and there are inherent reasons it has to be regulated at least in terms of limited airwave spots. I'm not sure what I think.

   But without apology I really do think my theory explains it better, and do prefer it, and don't think it puts all the weight of moral culpability on John Hardly, or on one side or another. And I thought some of my remarks conceded that. Nor do I put all the weight on both extremes, and feel quite righteous in the middle of the road.

The best I can wind this up is to say that I'm a liberal because I refuse to believe in the proposal and implications of capitalism, philosophically, although I didn't mean to say that that in itself lets me off the hook, in the least, since I live by it anyway, and on a global measure am just another wealthy white man. (You can always blame the next rung up the ladder.) The fact that it's the best I can do, practically, doesn't change my mind about what I do, philosophically. It's the niceness I object to. The idea that one can feel right anywhere in it. I don't think it's clear, or true.

It's a very interesting topic, and I appreciate your discussing it with me--I was afraid I'd killed it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 30 May 03 - 05:04 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 May 03 - 11:04 AM

Values are everything. This society places a tremendous value on money, for example, something that Native Americans in the 1500's placed no value on...and you see the results all around you.

Christians in the 1500's placed a tremendous value on their notions of religious exclusivity and on detecting the influence of Satan on people...and the results of that were pretty obvious...fanaticism and bloodshed on a massive scale.

It was a system of values that made it seem perfectly allright to the Iroquois (and most other Indian tribes) to torture captives hideously before killing them. Even the captives (if they were Native) bought into that value system.

It is a system of values that encourages people to create hydrogen bombs which can incinerate entire cities in a few seconds.

Most of the above are stupid values...in my opinion...but that's because I have acquired a different set of values.

And people think they are so pragmatic and sensible. Ha! Liberals and conservatives are people who have acquired differing sets of values from older people who passed on those values to them when they were young and impressionable.

Ever try to teach an old dog a new trick? It ain't easy. People defend their arbitrarily acquired values with the same ferocity with which they defend their very lives.

The key to a better life is finding a system of values that is inclusive of, and beneficial to all people...and by extension...to all of life.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 30 May 03 - 10:14 AM

You know, I haven't tried or anywhere claimed I'm trying to present a balanced, unbiased idea. John H's essay is much better in that respect, despite some reservations. I think I could round out my theory to be quite balanced, quite fair, but here's the thing. It wouldn't be as nice to either side as his. And yet it might just be a little bit truer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 29 May 03 - 03:01 PM

Strick, well, I may be wrong, it happened once before, I was nine, and it really upset me. But I was talking about liberals and conservatives--the democrats lost me at "new democrat" and I'm still a liberal if I voted Dole.

Clearly I found John H's comments the most interesting here, as I have before in similar threads, and have used them as a framework to work on my own more narrow theory. Somewhere I think I said I don't really know what conservatives think, but it seems to me....

    You're using "values" in a different sense, to beg the question. I obviously don't mean economies are based on values in the sense of particularly positive social values. But coca-cola may be the most successful commercial product, and nobody really needs it, and it's usually an aquired taste. What does that say? The values I suggest in theory account for what I mean, not contradict it.

   I'm not sure what stereotype I project in the reasons I prefer my theory to John H's, or why it seems to you I presume to know what you in particular think. I don't. I don't know what stereotype you mean. But here's one I like. Whenever you explain any reasonable cause for opposing the direction of conservative policy, a conservative will always find a way to take your remarks the wrong way, as foul, personal, out of bounds, un-called for, what have you. I say it was inside the line, between the posts, above the waist, and all that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 29 May 03 - 11:03 AM

" Strick, well of course that's true--but to be precise, I call it not a belief but a suspension of disbelief, which is to say that the "belief" persists although nobody really believes it or does it. It's more like "rooting" for something than believing anything."

Don't be silly. Some folks think that all people who disagree with them take their beliefs from Rush Limbaugh. Others say it's the ACLU. :D

Didn't the Democrats recently propose a counter tax cut? One in which everyone would receive a $300 rebate (wait, where have I heard that number before?). We're talking politics, not economics. Politicians playing to their narrow special interest groups. Doing what ever they think it takes to get elected.

Values? Econonics, the real messy real world thing, is perfectly happy to ignore values as your own examples prove. Oh, you mean of the people making economic proposals! They don't really know anything about economics. See above.

As for labels, naming and categorizing things is good. Projecting stereotypes as you did in your post summing up your dismissal of John H is bad. How in the heck can you really know what I think on any issue by simply calling me a name?


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 29 May 03 - 10:45 AM

Strick, well of course that's true--but to be precise, I call it not a belief but a suspension of disbelief, which is to say that the "belief" persists although nobody really believes it or does it. It's more like "rooting" for something than believing anything.

A widening gap between wealth and poverty indicates an identifiable direction, and an extremism in practice rather than opinion.

I believe that a second round of tax cuts, ostensibly to create jobs, when a previous round had the opposite effect--that's an example of conservative economics, which you say do not exist. But of course if you separate the idea of the social agenda entirely, it's beside your point, there's definately no liberal or conservative economics. I don't separate it. Here's why.

   I'd say economies are really based on values, and don't see any way around it. Values encompass necessities and desires--it might feed a real hunger to eat one's pets, or each other (which would alter the problem of hunger and over-population a bit--look, there's supply and demand, there's productivity) but we have values attached to our needs until we utterly break down.

I think we sort and label ideas, as opposed forces, for drama, which makes various things more palatable to us. Like two people hitting each other/Ali and Forman, I loved that fight. It's definately a big part of western culture, and we aren't always aware of why we do it, and how it changes us. I don't claim to be immune to it, somewhere above it, sorting all the knowable facts, having all the expertise. I'm down in it. I'm a liberal.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Strick
Date: 29 May 03 - 07:46 AM

Mr. Miller, I concede your points without really accepting your conclusions. It's a myth to think conservatives really believe in an unfettered market. They try to control it just like liberals (there's really no such thing as conservative or liberal economics), the only difference is the social agenda they're working toward.

As to the original question, Conservative versus Liberal, well most of us are, as with any normal curve, in the middle. F%$# both extremes. Don't get your opinions whole cloth from talking heads or spin masters. Question everything. Get the facts. Think for yourself.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 27 May 03 - 09:40 AM

Well.

Anyway John H, you do say that liberals believe that an economy is a limited pie, based on money, despite pains not to say it outright. Nevertheless, if you completely remove it from your theory, you have no theory of the difference between liberals and conservatives on economics. And since you say that liberals "understand" that economies are based on productivity, but conservatives "believe" it more, the crux is that it's a truth that liberals understand less perfectly than conservatives. Dude.

You don't delve into what you mean, exactly, by "productivity" because, I speculate, you mean truly "productive" behaviors, which the market reliably rewards. Whether you mean this or not, and I really don't know what exactly you mean by it, it's mistaken, in fact, and not really a matter of opinion. There are enough cases of such egregious behaviors, that the market rewarded, below all standards of decency, which were legal at the time, that it needn't be debated.

   Also, you speak of a the potential for a "nations" economy to grow. As a liberal I'd say that's boundless potential, as long as there are other nations to support that particular nation's growth. Sometimes it is not profitable to dig gold out of the ground--unless you could get really super-cheap labor. Because of infrastructures and culture and many things, even a very worthwhile invention often can't make it to or on the market on the basis of it's merit alone, it takes a boost from somewhere. From government, as in the case of nuclear power (which has not yet proved genuinely productive) or not, as in the case of many alternatives.

   A perpetual motion machine always keeps wanting that boost. And it has to come from somewhere. In the early days of American capitalism there was certainly a work ethic, vision, and creativity, and I love that stuff, but however out of bounds it may be to say it, however incendiary, there was also a more primitive means of gaining capitol and resources. But, went the rationale, those guys weren't even in the game. On average people work more than they ever did. The economy may well have unlimited potential, but there are still 24 hours in a day.

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.

So as much as I appreciate the trouble you take to sort this out, I think the split does betray your slant, a bit, and slanting differently, I respectfully disagree.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Rapparee
Date: 27 May 03 - 09:14 AM

Why do we insist upon labeling people and ideas? Seems to me that at different times different ideas are appropriate and useful. But instead we hear of "Tax And Spend" Democrats, but nothing of "Tax And Borrow" Republicans. We hear of "Knee Jerk" Liberals and "Consciousless Conservatives."

If the point of the Conservatives is to support business, then wasn't FDR's "New Deal" conservative in that its avowed purposed was to get American businesses back into production? And isn't Bush's campaign agaisnt AIDS in Africa something you'd expect from a Liberal?


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: John Hardly
Date: 27 May 03 - 08:33 AM

Conspiracy, Hyperbole, Honalee?


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 May 03 - 11:15 PM

Agreed, GUEST. And when they went after Iraq it had nothing whatsoever to do with fighting terrorism...it had to do with promoting and practicing terrorism. The Reichstag burned some time ago. The New World Order blitzkrieg has made 2 conquests of two wretched little countries. Now watch for the yellow armbands...or their equivalent...to appear and the civil rights on mainstreet USA to slowly vanish. The rest of the World knows what's happening, but no one can figure out what the hell to do about it.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 03 - 06:45 PM

These are not 'conservatives' squandering American dollars on the phony 'war on terrorism'. These are organized criminals who sponsor the terrorism in order to distract you. And the 'liberals' in congress are going along with the program most obligingly. There is only command-and-control now. The US is under the control of a military dictatorship.

The most important thing to keep your eye on now is how our leaders vote and spend. If they vote against the constitution or spend to suppress rights, they are the enemy...in the employ of organized crime. Don't judge according to the old left/right standards anymore. Until America roots out the traitors in govt, judge according to whether the constitution is being adhered to.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 May 03 - 06:11 PM

LH, most interesting post, thank you.

Tweed, darlin'...point taken.:-)

Just one comment on liberals, something I still consider myself to be, as well as a few other labels, fwiw...I do not think of supply as limited, never have.

I see the wealthiest country in the world with her people in need and it angers me. It angers me when I hear of other countries which provide an education, medical care, and child care to its citizens and I see the lack of such among our own.

I know there is a way; there is a way in which this country could do the same. I believe that everyone deserves a solid basis for life, and a chance to make something of it. I believe if conservatives want to exalt motherhood and encourage stay-at-home moms they need to honour that tradition with a paycheck. I believe that if conservatives and liberals or whatever other stripe someone calls themself, want people to provide for themselves and not rely on welfare, they need to provide an education and training.

I suppose all of those things make me a liberal. What also makes me a liberal is a belief in diversity, a desire to live and let live as long as none are hurt.

I don't believe in big spending, but I see conservatives spending billions to buck up the fear and hatred of war, paranoia, and xenophobia. I would ask for more creative and peaceful use of our country's wealth.

I know there are enough monies for each and every American to receive the basics of life, i.e. education, health care, job training. If this sounds like an emotional, unscientific argument, well, mostly it is and I make no apologies. We are talking about real people, real lives while our country is being run into the ground and we must speak up. We are all just human beings, after all.

katsoftieandthere'snothingwrongwiththat


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 26 May 03 - 05:40 PM

No, John, not exactly. I did see the cautious and respectful way you explain liberal thinking, but you know, when you get to conservatives you contrast them against the very things you were cautious not to say when you outlined liberal ideas. So it's a little muddled for me.

   I don't vehemently agree that the market doesn't reward "effort" although I certainly might in some cases, just like anybody might. But I think it much more reliably rewards effort than actual value, or social good, which I set somewhat apart from any and all efforts to be rewarded by the market. Keep in mind that the same system that gives a baker an interest in baking you bread also gives a doctor an interest in cutting you. (A personal view, since every single member of my immediate family has been slated for surgeries they didn't need, and some more than once.) Since productivity and commercial viability can include goods ills and indifferents, it seems an error to conflate effort and good.

   I think it's a good and persuasive outline, but, to some degree, like a paranoid liberal conspiracy theory, it has the fatal flaw of making too much hypothetical sense. It doesn't account for the liberal and conservative positions that don't sort out that way, like say, nuclear energy. It doesn't see culture.

I was just hoping to goad you on this idea of economies based on productivity, because I simply don't see what it means. When you say that conservatives recognise market demand as a limitation, I'd suggest there's more to be said on that point. Again, some cultural concerns.

And I'd revise somebody having what they want/somebody not having what they need. I don't think it's quite right, is out of proportion, but maybe that's just me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Tweed
Date: 26 May 03 - 11:20 AM

I posted this in the MOAB thread but I will put it here also as I believe this illustrates what human beings need to concern themselves with.
On Mz.Mary's Porch

There's no label with this, only gentle humanity. That's what I been talking about and I found it in Mississippi.

Yerz,
Tweed


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 May 03 - 11:12 AM

Either rich guys or poor guys can be exceedingly dangerous, depending upon their intentions and their general level of morality. Rich guys are usually dangerous on a larger, more impersonal scale (affecting many people), while poor guys are generally dangerous on a more in-your-face personal and individual basis. (But these, of course, are generalizations, and you can find exceptions to them, I'm sure.)

A society that encourages the maintenance of a rich elite also encourages the maintenance of a great many poor. Both are dangerous in their own fashion, and they are the right and left hand of the same beast which is...inequality and injustice.

A just society does not try to make everyone exactly equal...which is impossible anyway...but it does try to ensure that everyone is up to a certain basic standard of living which is fairly decent.

In other words: everyone has a home, everyone has enough food and clothing, everyone has medical care, everyone has access to a good education and a job, and so on.

Simple societies like tribal societies in America or Hawaii for example, did that naturally without a bureaucracy, because it did not occur to them to do otherwise. In so doing they achieved a kind of natural socialism, and a degree of freedom and equality for the individual unknown in class-conscious Europe at the time.

More advanced modern technological societies which require an extensive bureaucracy in order to function simply cannot achieve it, however, without what we call "socialism", which is a publicly funded and publicly administered effort, NOT done for dollar profit but for social profit in a human sense. And there is no such society, including the USA, which does not have a considerable amount of socialism as a result, whether or not they choose to consider "socialism" to be a dirty word.

An interesting aside on this: I know a Polish couple who run a very good car-cleaning business in Orillia. They moved to Canada prior to the end of the Communist administration in Poland, and they like Canada very much. They went back to Warsaw recently for a visit, and were shocked by the change in the country. There were two things that stood out... 1. The incredible profusion of consumer goods of every kind, which was a big change from the former system. 2. The incredible profusion of crime and social problems of every kind.

They said that under the old system the city was entirely safe, day or night, and there were lots of people out on the streets at night, and everyone had a job too, and everyone they knew was basically okay. They say that under the new order now it is very unsafe, and the stores are full of stuff which a lot of people can't buy, because they are unemployed or underemployed.

They say it was much better under the old system, that the new one is rife with gangsterism. How ironical. Gangsterism masquerading as "freedom".

In any case they are glad to be in Canada, but they are not well impressed by what the West has given Poland. I saw the same contrast when visiting Cuba (socialist) and Trinidad (capitalist). They're both nice countries in their own way, but Cuba is one hell of a lot safer, and its poor people are way better off.

Remember Captain Bligh and his boat of survivors after the mutiny? They all shared the food and water equally. Bligh was not stupid. Equality is the first requirement of a just and cooperative social system, especially when times are tough. The alternative is moral anarchy, murder, and rule by the most amoral and well-armed. People like that get no mercy when the tables are turned.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: John Hardly
Date: 26 May 03 - 10:59 AM

I think what I said is that liberals DO understand that economies aren't "pie" to be divided. All I said was that they also believe that they are finite in their ability to grow -- a point you seem to agree with -- along with your vehement agreement that there is little (if any) correlation between effort and reward.

If you felt condescended to it wasn't my intent -- and it certainly shouldn't have been over that point -- a point I didn't make.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 26 May 03 - 10:43 AM

I cross posted with Toadfrog, and would've trimmed mine if I'd read his.

Anyway John H, I had to look up "incendiary"--huh? I didn't think I was implying ruthlessness because it's a matter of facts, not theories, but maybe I'm engaging in "class warfare". Whoops.

I did do something besides add moral motivation and stir up trouba--and I did read the parts you re-posted, but simply didn't take issue with them. I took issue with your main models of economics, and thought that was my main point. To say the economy runs on productivity is like saying a 91 Chevy Caprice runs on energy sources. Things don't run on abstractions. And you condescendingly explain this to "liberals" who believe that the economy is a pie that runs on "money"--Why don't they just print more money, mom? I've heard you run through this lecture four times now, and it wears thin.

   Incendiary? I'm a fairly easy-going liberal, I don't believe that the extremely wealthy are proportionally more guilty than, say, me--success can happen to anybody. There but for the grace of god go I. I'm much wealthier than a great many people in the world. Yahoo. And I don't believe the top per cent are proportionally more "rewarded" or happy either. I don't intend to scapegoat anyone, but don't care to be an apologist for them. I think some factors of excess would be undermined if people simply refused to reflexively honor and respect economic success for it's own sake, and afforded noble economic failures the respect they sometimes deserve. Surely most folk music folks can agree about that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: John Hardly
Date: 26 May 03 - 09:51 AM

sorry. I guess I'm just too dense. Apparently you aren't arguing with my points as much as putting a finer point to them?

And you hate rich guys ;^)


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 26 May 03 - 12:11 AM

Well, I didn't mean to imply ruthlessness. I meant to argue proportion. But I do believe that greed exists--do conservatives think not? No, I think that narcissistic fantasy goes further to explain extreme excess than greed or ruthlessness ever will. Despite that one may easily observe that some wealthy people don't work too hard, or that some of them clearly do, anyway--economic success still feels good, still looks good on the resume, requires less explanation than failure, still makes choices seem sort of validated, eases self-doubts, still preys on the social and--perhaps--moral ego.

   In short, the idea of the market rewarding good behavior is not exactly a belief, and can't quite be accounted for that way. It's a suspension of disbelief.

   And it helps explain why conservative leaders sometimes wind up saying things that don't quite mean anything.

Proportion. Whatever we believe, we do know what happens when we do not place limitations on market driven "productivity". We know we have labor unions because of what happens when we don't. We know why we have to have child labor laws. It's not theory, it's reality, it's history, it's again and again. Do we still have to act surprised at each version of the same story? Still, today, we can't buy an orange without serious moral concerns in the bargain.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: toadfrog
Date: 25 May 03 - 11:29 PM

Mr. Hardly: Well, assuming everything these guys are saying is terribly unfair, how about your assertion: "If there is a phrase that might sum up the driving force behind liberalism as it philosophically approaches economics it would be – It is morally (more on "morally" later) unacceptable for anyone to have what he wants if there is one person who does not have what he needs." That is a parody. It is not a good-faith argument. The idea is, if all the wealth and power is lumped in a few people, it destroys the democratic idea. And is subversive of the common good as well, because the wealthy and powerful will, if unrestrained, put their own interest ahead of the common good.

As to inserting "moral" values into the argument, it is necessary because the market does not necessarily either deliver sound policy decisions or moral ones. A free market will probably maximize the production of wealth - if you make a number of assumptions, such as everyone having perfect information about the products, their cost, and their usefulness, which is not usually true, because vendors of products would often prefer not to provide accurate information - among other things. Also, presence of monopolies will defeat a free market much more effectively than government involvement. But as a rule of thumb, a free market will produce more wealth.

But the reason people bring in these "moral" issues, is that market fundamentalism often is used as a dishonest ploy when what is at issue is not the maximization of wealth, but moral and policy issues. In this context the statement that the market should decide quite simply means the people with the most money must have their way. For example, to say matters of health care should be determined by the market is to say health care should be provided only for those who can afford it. To say that schools should be a matter for the market is to say there is no point in educating the poor. It is fashionable to say, we must have SUV's because there is demand for them, regardless of their effect on the environment, because the market demands them. That is just wrong, because the common good requires a healthy and educated population. It is dishonest to cloak arguments about who should have power, and what values should govern, it pseudo-economic jargon, as if science mandated we be ruled by an oligarchy.

And to say the market must govern is in some contexts, to say whatever is, is right. Some of us are disturbed by the extremely large amounts of money taken out of the economy to pay senior management, or CEO's. We are always told, the market requires it. Have to pay a lot to get top managers. That makes no particular sense, because the correct amount to be paid managers is determined either by the managers themselves, or by their close friends and collegues.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: John Hardly
Date: 25 May 03 - 08:17 PM

"I guess I think that the market can't be relied on to reward genuinely "productive" behavior in any reasonable, proportional, value-based way." --FM

"In reality, though liberals know there may be a slight corollary between ambition and wealth, it doesn't take a real astute observer to note that the wealthy folks we know don't work any harder that we...
...Liberals may also admit that, though there is also a slight corollary between sloth and other self-destructive lifestyles and poverty, this too is too irregular to draw any conclusions. " --JH


"I don't know what conservatives believe, but it seems to me that many believe that playing the evolving game of the economic market is good, in and of itself, apart from whatever results. The means justifies the ends." --FM

"...and in a related manner, believe that when economies are tied down by people with the intent (however honorable) to make sure that some don't have too much -- the poor are the first to suffer." -- JH


You've merely attatched moral motivation (of which you admitted no knowledge -- "I don't know what conservatives believe..."), and incediary rhetoric that implies ruthlessness.

Conservatives I know don't see it that way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Sam L
Date: 25 May 03 - 07:40 PM

John H, you've expanded a bit, but I recognize many key points.

Although your explanation seems to really try to be even-handed, and is probably a far far better attempt than anyone else is likely to offer, I still can't understand some of the basic points. I've always considered myself a liberal on most social and economic issues.I don't remember ever thinking that the economy was a limited pie sort of thing. I can take it that you mean that liberals "believe" this--it may be in the sense of an underlying paradigm--but I'm still puzzling a bit. I think in general the economy is "limitless", but not in any particular instance, at any particular time. When I try to apply this idea to a particular resource, product, or business, only the Ponzi pyramid scheme comes to mind. And even the renewable resource that makes that enterprise work seems to always run out sooner or later.

   That the economy is based on "productivity", and can grow--I'd probably disagree but first I'd have to understand what it means. "Productivity" conflates so many different sorts of things under a general heading. Natural resources, and end-products, things for which there is an established market and things for which a market must be created. Deaths, traditional funerals, and life insurance. Solar power, say, and running shoes. T.V. sitcom jokes (you should expect to make about a million a year) and soil quality and climate conditions in the grain belt. I can't figure out how to make the idea work, generally, in any practical way.
   
   To be fair, it's not liberals but small children and idiots who believe the economy is based on money. Come now. I guess I think that the market can't be relied on to reward genuinely "productive" behavior in any reasonable, proportional, value-based way. It rewards what it rewards, according to it's circumstantial, evolving game-rules, and it rewards behaviors that produce nothing but pleasant distraction as much and more than it rewards providing necessities.

   I don't know what conservatives believe, but it seems to me that many believe that playing the evolving game of the economic market is good, in and of itself, apart from whatever results. The means justifies the ends. I think the market is fun, and spirited, diverting, engrossing, and seductive.

   And I also find it very rare among conservatives to ever even attempt such a thoughtful consideration as you have. It grates on me how conservatives often seem to employ any handy rationale for whatever they want to do, or prefer to think, then another, or okay, or, hey, how bout this one? Like students perpetually asking Is this going to be on the test?--if many liberals may seem merely fashionable, wearing trendy opinions like stylish clothes, many conservatives don't really seem much interested in the subject of economic life. It interupts the game.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: toadfrog
Date: 24 May 03 - 06:04 PM

Well, Mr. Hardly, the original question was pretty bad. But what else is there to say about Rush Limbaugh? Or George Bush?

As I think Mary says, it is altogether possible to imagine a country that is too "liberal," and where the vices of "liberals" are pushed to an altogether unreasonable point. It looked in the 1960's like that might possibly happen. But today, "conservatism" is a misnomer. There just aren't any conservatives. This is true because conservatism already triumphed. Bush, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld are not "conservatives." They are not entitled to wear that honorable name. They are not interested in conserving old values. They are only destroyers. Their only principle is that the rich should have more money. Neither is Rush Limbaugh. He basically panders to people who don't care whether the rich get richer, as long as the poor, and especially the N===='s, are really made to suffer.

And the problem with liberals is not that they put too much faith in government. They are altogether too hostile to government, as are the conservatives. Although I probably differ with Mary Garvey on a lot of things, she is right about one thing. America is choking to death on an excess of libertarianism. With everyone insisting on their freedom to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences. And that shortcoming is common to "liberals" and "conservatives" alike.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Raedwulf
Date: 24 May 03 - 04:11 PM

"those who will say anything to get elected, including different stories in different streets."

errrr... Gareth, the word you were looking for wasn't "Liberal"... It was "Politician!!!!!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 23 May 03 - 04:08 PM

John, I listen to anyone who can get more than 100 Freecell games in a row! ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 May 03 - 02:07 PM

Gee whiz, Mary, now I feel guilty to think you'd actually slog your way through one of my long posts! *BG*

Tweed,

Hmmm. Humanness. Humans hate, lie, cheat, envy and decieve. They are self-centered and lazy, not to mention they are mostly ugly, grow hair in the wrong places, chew food with their mouths open, and lean to fart.

I'd aspire to better than humanness. Alas, I can be nothing other.

But I've seen a neighbor care for his dying stepfather when there was nothing to gain -- nobody would know that he took the care to rub his stepfathers stiffened, arthritic shoulders, or bent low to the old man's face to hear the words he had little breath to force louder.

We can exhibit love, kindness, humility, gentleness, and occasionally do the selfless thing (without looking too deeply at true motivation). We just rarely choose this path.

If civility is your goal, elevating your humanness might be closer to attainable if you didn't resort to the rhetoric of those you wish to rise above. Limburger is not the fellow's name. It doesn't raise the level of discourse to get creative with the name -- and, on the scale of creativity, the name "Limburger" is at least as juvenile as Limbaugh's use of "Henry Nostrilitis Waxman" -- a name that's use has caused me to more than cringe -- I turn Rush off.

I also recall you, Tweed, as a strong apologist for Michael Moore -- Limbaugh's liberal counterpoint. Until we choose to hold our own guys to the standards we demand of those whose positions we don't share, the discourse will forever be bitter and fruitless. Our humannes will not be elevated.

Your questions (in your initial post) were leading ..... and inflammatory. Certainly not "asked" in a manner that would appear that those who disagreed with the opinion behind them would be included in your goal of "advanced humanness". In fact, as asked, they imply that any disagreement would condemn the other side to "devolved humanness" in their (our) ignorance.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 May 03 - 01:15 AM

It leaves those of us who refuse to be labelled as either "liberal" or "conservative"...two buzzwords which long ago lost their relevance and usefullness, as far as I'm concerned. In other words, it leaves most of us.

The liberal-conservative divide is a phony concept used by the powerful to distract people, just as they use "sports" events and elections to distract people. It's a game. The rich win and everybody else loses.

As long as they can get the poor, worldwide, to demonize and kill each other over silly labels like liberal and conservative or Democrat and Republican or Christian and Muslim the game will go on and most of us will lose much of our freedom and brotherhood in the process.

It's been happening that way for thousands of years. Rush Limbaugh is an errand boy (witting or unwitting) for the mouth of a very hungry and conscienceless beast. He's about at the moral level of the people whose fanaticism fueled the Salem witch burnings.

Pretty good essay there, John Hardly!

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Padre
Date: 22 May 03 - 11:01 PM

As I read your topic title, neither conservatives nor liberals are human beings. What does that leave?


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Tweed
Date: 22 May 03 - 10:23 PM

John Hardly, give us your thoughts on advanced human-ness if you get some more free time. What is it and how can we become more humanlike and shed the labels? What would it take to make us better and undivided as we are today? (and BTW that was so well written I was able to understand all you wrote. I have come to think that if your definitions are true then there are actually very few true liberals or conservatives in government or walking the earth anywhere and so mebbe there is hope for us.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 May 03 - 10:15 PM

IN the meantime, the FCC is deciding on whether to allow even more single-ownership of more and more media, so that we lose all local ownership and it is all controlled by the few comglomerates. I know ti is a lot that way now, but they are going to make it even worse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Conservative, Liberal, or Human Being?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 22 May 03 - 09:53 PM

Thanks for the effort you put into your writing, John. I usually read all of them.


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