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October 08, 2006

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ctw

"I think it´s important that "liberals" come together on more things than they do, as it seems the voice that we speak with is often not cohesive enough."

I consider trying to associate "liberal" with too extensive a set of policy positions to be counterproductive. as noted above, it suggests (whether true or not) a dogma that is inconsistent with the (well, my) concept of liberalism and adds substance to the otherwise vacuous "all liberals believe this" nonsense that trolls - who are typically anti-Democrat rather than anti-liberal but too blinded by anger to make the distinction - emit like wind-up dolls. furthermore, a corollary of my concept of liberal is being able to justify one's positions, which is inconsistent with a too-long list of positions since many of us mere mortals have neither the time, interest, nor background to do more than a superficial investigation of most issues.

political parties obviously have to have identifying labels, platforms, and "cohesion", but I don't see that these contribute to open discussions.

-charles

GARY

Professor Stone wants to call himself a liberal and broadly defines his political philosophy. Except for part of number 6 and number 8 I subscribe to all of these values and call myself a conservative. If one reads his “Conscious of a Conservative” closely, Goldwater probably subscribed to all 10.

I think the label liberal and conservative are pretty much meaningless. Politicians tend to take polls and apply labels depending on the outcome of the poll. The words themself have become symbols.

For example, in the black community where I live, Conservative means racist. To many of the church goers in my community Conservative means born again Christian. To Hillary Clinton anyone who thought her husband ought not be doing those things with an intern were right wing conservative extremists.

At one time things were simple. Liberals wanted to change the way things are. Conservatives wanted to keep things the way they are.

At the time of our revolution, the Liberals wanted very much less government involvement in their day to day lives. The conservatives wanted King George to continue to Govern.

During the 40s and 50s Liberals wanted more government and Conservatives wanted less.

I recall Professor Sharp questioning why conservatives wanted to expand freedom of property and economic rights and liberals wanted to restrict these rights. On the other hand, said Professor Sharp, Liberals wanted to expand civil liberties while Conservatives want to restrict them.

Nixon tried to redefine conservative as more state and local government instead of federal government involvement in our lives.

Johnson and Kennedy carefully defined conservative to mean racist. This is largely how they took a block of voters – black folks – who had formerly been republicans and turned them into democrats. Remember GOP the party of Lincoln?

My personal problem with Professor Stone’s Number 6 can be captured in part by a conversation I had with a Burton Judson janitor all those many years ago during which he told me how proud he had been when his daughter had graduated from college and taken a job as a teacher. He was so sad because she had just resigned her teaching job because she could get more money staying home drinking been and having kids. [A true story from the 60’s on the Midway]

Many say that subjection by the social worker is much more insidious than was the subjection of most slave owners. I am not sure they are wrong. The welfare state is the result, in part from the pure motives of others like Professor Stone who sincerely believe that our nation has a fundamental responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. My experience over the past 40 years is that welfare has not worked. It has made society worse.


Chase

I think #1 and #7 are inconsistent. By saying that government cannot act on the basis of sectarian faith, aren't we effectively censoring religious and spiritual expression? By preemptively excluding religion or spiritual rationales or justifications for government action, aren't we not considering fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others?

It seems to me that Professor Stone's post is saying that all ways of thinking and all truths of any person are welcome in public debate and given the opportunity to prevail in the minds of the people, and therefore in the people's government, unless such ways of thinking or truths can be categorized as "sectarian" or "religious".

The post also seems to imply that there can be no non-sectarian rationale for (i) opposing government funding for stem cell research; (ii) opposing gay marriage (I assume this is what is meant by "rights of gays and lesbians"); and (iii) opposing abortion (I assume this is what is meant by "freedom of choice for women"). I think that if Professor Stone intended this implication, it is not because it is true, but because he has not fairly and open-mindedly considered the truths of those who take these positions, but has instead reacted simply that their position must be religiously-influenced, and as such, not worth consideration. This is the danger of Professor Stone's position - by simply categorizing an idea as "sectarian", the idea would be conclusively deemed unworthy of fair consideration.

I think that if someone or some group can convince the citizenry or their elected representatives (as applicable) to take a certain position, that position should prevail, regardless of its source, so long as taking that position and enforcing it does not violate the Constitution. I do not believe the First Amendment requires the exclusion of religious idea from public debate - if so, then the First Amendment is as inconsistent as Points 1 and 7 of Professor Stone's post.

I understand that allowing the government to consider, and act upon, religious rationales creates potential problems under the First Amendment, but I would rather allow courts to engage in a delicate balancing act to determine if an act improperly establishes religion or prohibits its free exercise, rather than risk chilling a source of expression and ideas that is both widely popular and can be, at least, a valuable contributor to public debate.

Kimball Corson

[I am stuck in Acapulo awaiting a hydraulic repair and found a WIFi network.] I would like to respond to all ten of Roach's defining elements for conservativism, but lack any real time, so I will focus on one, the first, which is 1. Moral relativism vs. moral confidence, and be quick about it.

Aside from the diction here, with its simplistic implications of good and bad, the truth is that the study of Western Civilization from Socrates through Nietzsche is no campaign poster for Christianity or any other religion. To the contrary, the sorted history of the Church and its many failings have been key topics for critizism. The sense of community urged by Aristotle and others later, taking the view mankind is a flawed beast that needs the contraint of his brethern in a community, is an argument for law and social coehesion, not one for religion, except nominally as an organization for the implimentation of social controls, precisely the role in which religion has been so badly critizised by major authors of the Western Canon.

Moral confidence is nothing more than a more complelling reference to moral certainty and the Western Canon has long since disabused us of that notion. Those who are morally certain in troublesome instances are usually just ill considered, nothing more. Round pegs do not fit in square holes, no matter how hard we wish and push them to.

Cynic

"While the American tradition is one of broad religious tolerance, there is no constitutional mandate for a "wall of separation" between Church and State, and this idea is the product of confusion about the tone and tenor of the Founding Fathers. Our immigration policy in particular should take care not to introduce alien and illiberal religious and cultural traditions from the Third World, and it should do so on the basis of a self-conscious goal to maintain a Christian majority in the United States."

What's interesting, Roach, is that you start this paragraph off with an approach I think some moderates, if not some liberals, could be brought around to agree with. Historically speaking, you're likely correct about the Founders and their intentions, in general, with respect to the relationship between church and state.

But then you take the argument down a bizarre xenophobic proselytical path that few besides the most hardcore conservatives can follow. In fact, you contradict the very notions embodied in the beginning of your argument. If it's right that we should stay true to the Founders' ideals and intentions, how on earth does it follow that we should act to bar "alien and illberal religious and cultural traditions from the Third World"? Wasn't religious persecution the very thing the Founders rejected? The sort of rigid one-brand-of-Christianity-only sort of "traditionalism" you're urging is unlikely to sway anyone's mind, and your purported basing it on the Founders' intent is intellectually dishonest.

YLlama

I'd go in for polygamy in a heartbeat if I could be assured there would not be coercion to get spouses into the pact. Same as any other marital ordering. With three or four truly consenting adults, let 'em all marry.

Roach

Cynic, my goal was not to say something palatable to those degraded by liberal philosophy but to say something true.

But, since we're on the subject founders, here's a few quotes from one of the most liberal minded of the founders:

"[Is] rapid population [growth] by as great importations of foreigners as possible... founded in good policy?... They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their number, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass... If they come of themselves, they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship: but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.VIII, 1782.

"Although as to other foreigners it is thought better to discourage their settling together in large masses, wherein, as in our German settlements, they preserve for a long time their own languages, habits, and principles of government, and that they should distribute themselves sparsely among the natives for quicker amalgamation, yet English emigrants are without this inconvenience. They differ from us little but in their principles of government, and most of those (merchants excepted) who come here, are sufficiently disposed to adopt ours." --Thomas Jefferson to George Flower, 1817.

Similarly (and from the other extreme of our founders' general opinions) Alexander Hamilton insisted that "the safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on the love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education, and family." The ultimate success of the American republic, he maintained, depends upon "the preservation of a national spirit and a national character," among native born and immigrant alike.

Hamilton opposed granting citizenship immediately put to new immigrants: "To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens, the moment they foot in our country would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty." Instead, he recommended that we assimilate recent arrivals into American life, "to enable aliens to get rid of foreign and acquire American attachments; to learn the principles and imbibe the spirit of our government; and to admit of a philosophy, at least, of their feeling a real interest in our affairs."

What I've said only seems extreme if you're a liberal. And many Republicans today are basically hawkish liberals. I thought this was a question of conservatism versus liberalism, and I think I've laid out the authentic conservative position above. It only sounds strange because it is sequestered from our national conversation by the media, by the Republian party apparatus, and by various forms of quasi-censorship.

Erasmussimo

Mr. Chase writes, "By saying that government cannot act on the basis of sectarian faith, aren't we effectively censoring religious and spiritual expression?"

I think that your argument rests on the confusion of "expression of political belief" with "adoption of government policy". The liberal tenets posited above welcome even the most bizarre contributions to the political debate. The prohibition is not against the *expression* of sectarian opinions but to the *manifestation* of them in governmental actions. If somebody wants to quote some obscure religious text in favor of, say, an extension of tax law, that's perfectly acceptable in the liberal worldview. The line is drawn at the expression or manifestation of any such beliefs as part of official government policy.

In this regard, I can't resist the deliciously ironic observation that liberals are truer to Christian faith than conservatives. The earliest statement of the principle of separation of church and state long predated the Constitution: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

BAC

Cynic,

The religious tolerance that you (and Roach) extol, and we all enjoy, is the fruit of our common cultural and religious (i.e., Judeo-Christian) traditions. In the conservative's view, if you replace those traditions with "illberal religious and cultural traditions," then you risk losing the foundation for religious tolerance in the first instance.

Do you really think religious liberties would be improved if the majority of citizens in the United States ascribed to radical Islam (an "illiberal religious tradition)? What if five radical Imams sat on the bench of the Supreme Court?

Contrary to Prof. Stone's point #2, tolerance does not belong exclusively to the liberal. For example, above Curtis Strong essentially makes a conservative defense of point #2, appealing to tradition and history as the basis for tolerance and diversity. Defending traditional instutions and traditions is not intolerance, but is rather essential to preserving the diversity and liberties we currently enjoy.

Finally, on the topic of liberty, I think it is important to note that conservatives generally associate liberty closely with property rights, whereas the liberal view of liberty is more focused on egalitarian concepts that I think are fairly represented in Prof. Stone's list.

Erasmussimo

BAC, I'd like to congratulate you for hitting the nail on the head with your final paragraph about the conservative emphasizing property rights and the liberal emphasizing egalitarianism. If we could boil it all down to a small set of differences, that would have to be on the short list.

I'd also like to add some historical observations about religious toleration. There is absolutely zero notion of tolerance in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Concepts of tolerance were championed by a few voices in the desert (including Erasmus) for a long time, but were ignored by the main stream Christian community. It was the horror of the Thirty Years War, along with the growing material wealth of Western Civ, that triggered the Enlightenment and its rejection of religion. The American Constitution is the political fruit of the Enlightenment, and its religious toleration owes nothing to Christian thought and everything to the Enlightenment. Suggesting that our notions of religious toleration are attributable to our Christian heritage is rather like crediting robbers and murderers for our criminal justice system.

Chris

Is there any reason to say "truths" instead of "beliefs" in #1? I mean, truths have to be true, don't they? Using success terms when others would be more accurate doesn't seem likely to engender the healthy sorts of self-skepticism and respect for other people's views that we want.

BAC

Erasmus,

I don't think my post gave all the credit for religious toleration to our Judeo-Christian religious tradition. But certainly you would agree that our religious liberties are substantially affected by the fact that our society comes from that religious tradition rather than some other.

Roach

Liberalism collapses under the weight of its contradictions whenever it's faced with an illiberal, organized opponent that does not put truth in scare quotes. Action takes commitment and belief, and liberalism by its very nature is skeptical. It is even skeptical about the truth of liberalism--hence the meaningless word "truths"--and has folded repeatedly in history when faced with anti-western or leftist violence (especially in the name of the other), e.g., the Paris Commune, the Weimar Republic, Algeria 1962, the student violence of the 1960s in America, etc.

Liberalism's skepticism will ultimately be turned back on itself. Liberals will be outbred and outfought by people whose ideas are not shaped by an unnatural (and frequently disregarded) notion of equality and white guilt. And when combined with its pacifism, utopianism, anti-white racism, anti-nationalism (at least for the West), etc., this liberalism ultimately leads to a kind of western suicide, as it already has in wide swaths of Europe overrun with Islamic immigrants who have absolutely no regard for basic European values, including liberal ones. And worse, liberalism treats this suicide as the advance of justice.

I don't mean literal suicide, of course, but cultural suicide: the displacement and destruction of symbols, beliefs, elites, people, patterns of behavior, practices, modes of government, and the like in the name of a rationalist and Procrustean concern for the Other.

Of course, this is seen by primitive and tribal peoples as a kind of weakness. In the ironic words of French Rightist, Louis Veuillot, the entire Leftist project can be summed up as follows: "When I am the weaker, I ask you for my freedom, because that is your principle; but when I am the stronger, I take away your freedom, because that is my principle."

Western freedoms can only work for our collective benefit and happiness so long as there are pre-political commitments and notions of community that limit how those freedoms will be exploited and how that shared political power will be employed. The expansion of political power to recently arrived foreigners, the dependent, the rootless poor, and the uneducated has been a disaster for the western world and America. Restoring decency and sustainability to our civilization is the conservative project. This requires first and foremost to smash liberal power in the universities, in politics, and in the media.

Erasmussimo

Hmm... no, I think that our religious liberties exist *despite* our religious heritage, not because of it. That is, it was the barbarities of religious intolerance that shocked Western Civ into the concept of separation of church and state. I suppose you could say that Judeo-Christian thought frightened people into religious tolerance.

ctw

"The line is drawn at the expression or manifestation of any such beliefs as part of official government policy."

to be more precise, the current guidelines (as far as I know) are o'connor's "endorsement test" - the essence of which is that government actions should be neutral wrt religions - and the supposedly defunct three-prong (purpose, effect, excessive entanglement) "lemon test" (which refers to the defining case of lemon v kurtzman, not to any religion specifically (:>)) which were applied as recently as the dover ID decision (which, by the way, is a pretty good primer for anyone wanting some insight into estab clause interpretation and/or ID).

BTW, not intending to single out erasmussimo - most of the relevant comments represent people's own views, not the actual state of estab clause jurisprudence (caveat: as interpreted by this non-lawyer).

-charles

LAK

I will note how tolerance, multiculturalism and recognition that, due to technological and economic progress, the world is coming together and people have to live together with people different than them, is somehow confused with moral relativism.

What a disservice all the pomos and post structuralists and Judith Butlers of the world have done to the left, when a prick who advocates for strategic carpet bombing of innocent people has the sack to claim the moral highground and claim liberals don't believe in universal truths.

There is a difference between questioning dogma and criticising the sins of the West in the name of some Christian "truth," and not believing in universalizable truths. What a terrible terrible disservice the pomos and post structuralists did to the left.

Roach, that you think you are somehow naturally better than others is laughable. Perhaps you can do multivariable calculus better than others, perhaps you were lucky enough to get an education and not live a childhood of toil and suffering, but that certainly doesn't mean those with less money or even analytic brainpower than you are any less valuable human beings in the short or long run. Indeed, by what comes out of your mouth, a person with a sense of decency and love, if not money or brainpower, is far better a human being than you, and it is only by some artifact of luck that you happen to be the guy with the education and smug sense that you somehow deserve your luck while others desereve their poverty.

Chase

Erasmussimo:

I agree that the distinction between implementing government policy and allowing expression are different, and that is the purpose of my last paragraph. But I think that taking a hard line stance that religious ideas, any less than scientific, philosphical or any other "kind" of idea, cannot influence government policy effectively chills the expression of that "kind" of idea in violation of the First Amendment. In any event, categorizing something as "religious" is very difficult. I could just as easily say that Professor Stone's list appears to be the Ten Regligious Tenets of the Holy Brotherhood of Liberals, and thus not worthy of influencing government policy.

I see no problem with a government official saying "Look, I've prayed to Zeus, and he revealed to me that the country should have nationalized health care." If the majority of citizens or other elected officials agree (for their own reasons, whatever they may be), and the implemented policy neither establishes a religion nor prohobits the free exercise of religion, I see no point in preventing the policy on constitutional grounds. If anything, I think the Constitution requires that any idea be given the fair chance to prevail and be implemented as policy, so long as by so doing, such implementation does not violate the Constitution.

Frederick Hamilton

Professor Stone starts his top ten list of Liberal Values with the observation that "For most of the past four decades, liberals have been in retreat".

So to take a look at his top ten:

1. No quarrel there. All individuals should have the humility of self doubt and the possible correctness of another’s opinion.

2. My experience, reinforced on this blog is that liberals enjoy the tag of most intolerant and respectful of others. Please feel free to examine the epithets hung on me by the liberals of this post: Nazi, Neanderthal, fascist, et al. When you disagree with a liberal it gets real nasty real quick.

3. Again no quarrel. Liberals and conservatives have a right and responsibility to participate in public debate.

4. I take extreme umbrage at the notion that today's political liberal believes "we the people" are the governors and not the subject of government. My experience paints a different picture. I have argued the point that we the people are the ultimate arbiters of our nation, society, culture and laws only to be skewered by liberals. No I don't believe #4 applies to today's liberals. They favor government by elitism not government by and for the people.

5. No quarrel with government respecting and affirmatively safeguarding the liberty, equality and dignity of each individual. That doesn't mean affirmatively choosing equality of results or affirmatively choosing one person or race over another. In fact under number 3, Professor Stone talks about liberals limiting partisan gerrymandering. Last time I looked virtually every House seat in America is politically gerrymandered. Only Iowa is fair about dividing up the state based on county lines and population allowing it to be the only state with House races that are capable of being competitive. On that note, is "one person, one vote" gerrymandering meant to be one black person, one black vote, one black congressman. Is that gerrymandering OK? (I know you liberals will call me a racist, please don't insult Professor Stone, but of course you will prove my point number 2).

6. This point is one that divides liberals and conservative. Both sides believe in helping those less fortunate. The devil is in the details. Liberals believe that the path to helping the less fortunate is increasingly taking tax monies from individuals who can "afford" it and giving the money to those less fortunate. It sounds good in theory but the practice hasn't produced good outcomes. Witness the good intentions of Welfare and the abysmal results. Both conservatives and liberals need to work together to achieve good outcomes in the context of spending a great deal of our money. Another example is education. The poor get the worst education while consuming the most amount of school monies (Washington, DC; Detroit; NYC; et al). You can spend all the money on education you want, but if parents can't pick the school they want their children to attend with the money following their child, poor and mediocre education will surely be the outcome. Again, a serious difference between liberals and conservatives. Not money issues. Issues of choice. Where is Uncle Miltie?

7. This issue is today the quintessential divide with liberals and conservatives. More correctly social conservatives. Liberals love to tar the "religious right" with their epithets in this arena. Never acting on the basis of faith is impossibility in the body politic. When liberals had the issue of the Vietnam War they embraced pastors, priests and rabbis leading the anti-war marches. When liberals want their liberals elected they go to the black churches to have ministers admonish their parishioners to go out and vote and vote Democrat. When however the majority of the country says no same sex marriages, the liberals cry foul. It just depends on the issue. With liberals there is a palpable antipathy toward people of faith. It comes from a too stringent and strident talk of this separation thing that really doesn't exist other than to forbid a state church. The proof to people of faith is the attempt with federal circuit court blessing to take "under God" out of the Pledge. "In God We Trust" off the currency. If you combine those with gay marriage, then you have a political problem. To "never" act on ones faith even in your duties as a judge or congressman is not possible and gives credence to the antipathy of liberals to those of faith. Whether liberals like it or not, "we the people" (number 4 above) vote many times on many an issue based on beliefs of faith.

8. A true difference between conservatives and liberals. Courts don't have a "special" responsibility to protect individual liberties. Courts have a responsibility to protect all liberties. We want the liberty to live free and safe. If that means terrorists calling in or out of America lose a liberty, conservatives think that is OK. Liberals argue that due process of American Constitutional law applies to enemy terrorists as if they were citizens of America. Conservatives argue otherwise. Most liberals opposed the MCA. Conservatives believe Chief Justice Roberts was correct when he said he votes for the little person when the law favors the little person and the big litigant when the law favors the big litigant. It is up to the law. The special responsibility is to apply the law correctly. If applied correctly at times the loss of the individual liberty of life itself may be the denouement. An individual right or liberty may or may not be the driving force behind judicial decision making. The law should be.

9. Professor Stone is correct when he says that liberals are attacked because of their lack of belief that government must protect the safety and security of the people. It is seen and demonstrated by liberal thinking on secure borders, Terrorist Surveillance Program, MCA et al. That is a tall hurdle for liberals to jump over. The suicide pact and all. Most Americans believe it will take more than "expanded police forces and international diplomacy" to secure our safety from the Islamic jihadists.

10. Actually 9 and 10 are twins that can't be separated easily. The Constitution indeed is not a suicide pact. The president does enjoy constitutional powers as commander in chief. Americans don't want listening in on terrorist calls into or out of America to be unconstitutional. Conservatives believe that, liberals don't. If that means changing either statute or the Constitution to listen in on the enemy we conservatives want that to happen. We think it is a fair price to be paid if need be to our liberties to be safe from Islamic jihadists. Liberals believe otherwise. Same with the economic data mining. Liberals (read these blog posts) believe 9/11, London, Madrid, London air plot, USS Cole, et al are simply small incidents that don't deserve a war response. Just a legal/police issue. A good and healthy debate to have. I believe most Americans come down on the war side and want to listen in on, track down, detain, kill, disrupt and destroy Islamic jihadists who want to kill us infidels until the Islamic world gets the truth that we want this to stop. Some of us believe it will be awhile before they come to that conclusion. We conservatives don't believe to capitulate a la Chamberlain will work. We conservatives believe the Constitution as now constructed allows the president the authority to do that. By the way, that doesn't make us Nazis or Neanderthals or right wing nuts. To wit, we are on a war footing. A legal war footing. Two votes. We are not on a police/law enforcement footing.

LAK

"The poor get the worst education while consuming the most amount of school monies (Washington, DC; Detroit; NYC; et al)."

Jesus Frederick. maybe that's becasue there are so many poor kids? Go read Savage Inequalities by Jonatahn Kozol and get back to me. You could not be more wrong. Sure huge urban school districts have tons of money, they also have tons of students. Go look at the per student spending rate of poor urban public schools and then compare that with rich suburban public schools. No contest.

Go compare New Trier per student spending with King highschool's in the city. Then come back and say "I'm sorry, I was so so wrong."

We have property taxed based school funding in most parts of our country. To insinuate that the poor get more money spent on them is ridiculous.

I'll tell you what. I'll swithch the Department of Education's budget for the DoD's $400 billion a year, and I'll get you some well educated poor urban students in 5 years.

That is one difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservative are disingenuous fools who have their heads in the sand and think poor kids actually have equality of opportunity, whereas liberals actually recognize systematic disadvantages to the poor.

LAK

Oh and Frederick, just to help you out, the rich students at New trier get 2x as much money spent on them as those at King, which is a colleg prep. high school, and is actually better off than most other CPSs.

Honestly, nothing is more upsetting than a bunch of conservatives arguing public education doesn't work when teachers make $30k a year, and where the poor students have half the money spent on them in PUBLIC schools in most states than the rich suburban kids.

Poor kids get the worst education becasue they have far less money spent on them, per pupil.

One thing conservatives do well is manipulate statistics to make it seem like they care about teh poor, when they are motivated by nothing other than fear and greed.

"I don't want to raise the minimum wage because it will hurt the working poor"

That is may favorite. At least Roach admits he is an elitist prick who hates poor people and thinks they deserve their lot in life, like he believes he does.


Garth Sullivan

The reason polygamy is not endorsed by Liberals in this country is that as a practical matter it has been seen to lead to abusive, dysfunctional relationships and thus is not to be encouraged by official state sanction; eg. the Mormons.

In theory, there is nothing wrong with consenting adults agreeing to any sort of living arrangement they want and it is possible that other cultures have had different experiences with the practice.

Conversely, Liberals support homosexual marriage as an equal rights issue because unlike polygamy it is no more harmful to our social fabric than hetero marriage.

Conservatives can point to nothing but religion and tradition in support of their denial of what is a fundamental right. They place these things above the rights of homosexuals in our society.

The primary difference between Conservatives and Liberals is the importance given to personal liberty vis a vis tradition and religion. Liberals demand good reasons before curtailing any personal rights while conservatives are less willing to tolerate any deviations from their beliefs.

BAC

Nice to see that LAK is living up to liberal ideal #1, which is to "consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others," and to "celebrate free and open debate." So it looks like we scratch that one off the list too.

And, Garth, I find it amusing that you begin your post by citing Mormons for their "abusive, dysfunctional relationships," and then end by saying that conservatives are the ones that cannot tolerate deviations from their own beliefs. I believe that the ban on polygamy was the result of intolerance to Mormons' beliefs -- an intolerance that your post perpetuates.

Also, the debate is not between liberty and tradition. Liberals and conservatives have different conceptions of liberty (one based on property rights, the other on egalitarian principles). Liberals and conservatives also differ on the importance of tradition in deciding policy. But respecting tradition is not at odds with protecting liberty.

Frederick Hamilton

LAK,
Sorry, but more money is spent per child in Washington DC than in 99% of the school districts in the country. Ditto Detroit and the school districts in Michigan. No, Marva Collins in Chicago are the pathfinders in education. Give the parents choice, give them vouchers to go to good schools. Introduce competition. Please read that Univ of Chicago man, Freidman. If only the nation listened to him 20 - 30 years ago. Another difference between liberals and conservatives. Competition. It works.

And by the way thanks for proving the intolerance better than I could have said a thousand times. There is much greater intolerance by liberals. They suffer a horrible lack of what the good Professor wrote about, humility. Hope you like your liberal brothers, Professor Stone.

Roach

LAK you demonstrate, as Frederick Hamilton noted above, the natural confusion and hostility of the liberal. You think everything you say is obvious so that only those who are malevolent might disagree with you. And when those malevolent people are non-Western, you just assume it was something you did instead. A weird contradition there: assumptions of universal human goodness for non-whites and universal malevolvence for whites, so long as those whites are not liberal. This sort of thing used to be called racism. Incidentally, I don't think Muslims or even your average poor Democratic Party voter are evil; I just think they're at worst confused and narrowly self-interested. This is the way of the world; it can only be managed not changed.

Anyway, I don't think I'm better than those categories I outline: the poor, the foreigners, etc. I think simply that our government works better when those people don't have political power. It's a question of wisdom, education, and collective tendencies not the blackness or not of their souls. I don't think I'm better than small children or the mentally retarded for that matter, but that doesn't mean I want them designing skyscrapers or even driving cars. In a country like ours, the elites are chosen by the people. The people cannot be degraded or facing a major conflict of interest for the electoral process to work well. Consider the way the public is manipulated by advertising and the press; most are not educated enough to know better, though sometimes their common sense prevails. Even so, on top of this problem, wwhen those with foreign loyalties or their snout in the government trough get to vote, things get screwed up in a hurry. This is the basic thesis of William Lackey's *Democracy and Liberty," which was written about 100 years ago. I recommend it.

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