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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Commentary

I'm going to move this up to the top in case you want to weigh in on the comments appended to my Galbraith post.

Anonymous said...

Just to set things straight from the beginning, I am a libertarian. Now, I would like for you to consider this fact: Galbraith was THE person who set liberalism on its path to destruction. For proof, look at the quotations you included in your post. They drip with contempt. His books and speeches were wildly successful. And through them, he taught an entire generation of intellectuals to despise Joe Six-Pack. During the early part of his career, Galbraith taught the liberal-left democrats to snap their fingers and laugh at the average American. In the movie Hoffa, Nicholson tells the DiVeto character – “Never slight a man, he will never forget it.” Americans did not forget the slight -- the arrogant flouting of Galbraithian distain for the ordinary American on the part of Democrats everywhere. Our political system requires two equally strong contending parties. The effect of the demise of the Democratic Party on the Republican Party is evident every single day. This will not change until liberals come off their high horse and come to have faith in ordinary people. I don’t look for that any time soon. In fact, I believe that after the Democrats fail in ’08, the political contest will be between the Republicans (who have moved far to the left, almost to the point of espousing every single principle of the liberal creed) and the Libertarians. These two parties have, not just faith, but trust in the American people, and they express that faith in every kind of way.

May 12, 2006 9:01 PM
CmdrSue said...

Thanks for coming by. If you really want to get wound up I guess you could check my side bar for the Liberal Values Index. I can see that you feel Galbraith tipped over into the intellectual effete.

One thing that I begin to wonder from your posting is - do you consider yourself to be an average American? Do you think that you have faith in ordinary people?

Because you have accidentally tipped your hand. By attacking my viewpoint rather than asking me about it you have revealed that either you a) do not consider me to be an average American and/or have faith in me as an ordinary person, or b) have no faith in the ability for average Americans to think through things and make their own decisions. Isn't that curious considering your point?

You have no way to know this, but I am one of those people who fits everywhere and nowhere. I can hang out with "Joe Six-Pack" or debate with an intellectual - leaving both of them with the feeling that I don't quite fit in but I'm an ok person. I've seen first hand the generosity of a desperately poor woman in Mississippi and the miserliness of a wealthy man in D.C. Unlike you I don't think that there is such a thing as an ordinary American ("not exceptional in any way" WordNet). Everyone is unique. Everyone is extraordinary. My frustration usually comes from the fact that we can't all discuss things together and come to some truth among us. Life becomes soundbites, platforms, and cautiously guarded beliefs.

I'm sorry that Galbraith and/or intellectual snarkiness is apparently a sore point for you. However, if you aren't open to accepting others and working with their beliefs then you have have become a victim of the arrogance you profess to despise.

May 13, 2006 11:03 AM

10 comments:

  1. Are you saying I attacked you? Gosh, I don't see an "attack" anywhere in my comment. I simply asked you to consider a piece of information. I launched a thesis. I made the claim that Galbraith was the beginning of the end of Liberalism. Either you are extremely sensitive or you are spoiling for a fight. I can’t say which, because I don’t know you. But I did notice that you neatly slid away from addressing my argument right into a nice little left cross on the chin of my character. And you did a mighty fine job of tootn your own horn to boot. Now, mind you, what I just said is not an “attack.” It is a description. Go back and read what you wrote. It is a true description. You are a mighty fine liberal, though. I have to give you that. It is in your genes to dodge the issue and attack the man. Now, I suggest we stop snapping towels at each other and address that issue. You go first. Demonstrate how liberals show their faith and trust in the American people. PS: I have been 40 years in the home repair business. You know; hammers and nails – plumbing – that sort of thing. I am Joe Six-Pack.

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  2. I have to admit that I had not read anything posted here but your original post on Galbraith. But just now I took a look. My oh my. That Jason Thomas piece!! Please. Everybody. Go right now and read it. The link is in a post titled, "Rush to Judgment." Be sure and read it too. It makes my point so beautifully. I need say no more. The arrogance, Whew!!!. According to Thomas, Bush voters -- (that’s over 50% of the folks out there) "aren't very bright." The inability to craft a beautiful sentence is proof that you are stupid. Gee, all those brick layers. All those cops. All those truck drivers. Me, for god’s sake. The little guys that all you liberals are supposed to care so much about. Just check out what Jason Thomas thinks of them. And tell me if he is not the protégé of Galbraith.

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  3. Here's a belief I hold: the construction 'Democrats are elite and hate regular folks’ is exactly that--a political tactic highlighting the antics of selected lefty flakes (plus selected distortions), a tactic long in the making and successfully deployed over a period of at least 10 years, so successfully that about 20% of the population who'd normally not care were mad enough to vote for a president despite his obvious flaws. Now, 2 years into his second presidency, those 20% are having second thoughts.

    The truth is of course that the vast population of self-identifying democrats are 'regular' joes themselves. These divisions between right and left artificial and exacerbated purposefully.

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  4. For better or worse, Liberal policy empowers government and Conservative policy empowers people.

    Both ideologies claim to benefit the people but use different methods to achieve this means.

    I happen to believe people are far more capable of taking care of themselves than any centralized entity. Whether they are or not, I also believe people have a moral obligation to take responsibility for themselves and their own. Increased government control only infringes on this territory and, by reducing the responsibility of the individual, which some might take as a positive in the short term, you're damaging the individual in the long term by taking away his independance and effectively turning him into a dependant.

    Have you ever met a dependant person? It's not a happy sight.

    - Novan_Leon

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  5. I appreciate the clarity with which you state your case and it tells me that we are closer in thoughts than separate. My "liberalism" kicks in when it comes to the question: What will we, as a society, do for those who CANNOT do for themselves or WILL NOT do for themselves? To me those are two very different groups, but how we handle the question illuminates more about us as a society than anything else I can think of.

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  6. CmdrSue,

    What you say is very true, but again, in the case of the Liberal, the government is the answer, whereas in the case of the Conservative the people are the answer.

    Following Liberal principles, the government will determine who belongs in the CANNOT group vs. the WILLNOT group, and will proceed to manage the aid given to each group as seen fit.

    Following Conservative principles, the government is hands-off and lets each individual determine on their own which group deserves their support and how much aid to give.

    Now I ask you, if what I say is correct, which school of thought places more faith in Joe Six-pack, and which places more faith in an empowered centralized minority? (aka. "the elite")

    Even if everything I've said is incorrect (which it isn't ;)), it's still easy to see how people can have this perception. Just something to think about.

    - Novan_Leon

    PS. I'm not the original "Anonymous". My previous post was my first post.

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  7. Well, one thing we should probably explore is what we actually mean by what are now becoming politically charged words. Because, to quote Inigo Montoya, "I don't think that word means what you think it means." At least not to me. I go by the following definitions (you should be able to find them on dictionary.com):

    Liberal: Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

    Liberalism: A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.

    Conservative: Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.

    Conservatism: A political or theological orientation advocating the preservation of the best in society and opposing radical changes

    Since you cite the term "policy" I have to assume that you are speaking to political platforms? Which to me means Republican vs. Democrat public policy statements. (There are, of course, other parties and platforms - but those two tend to have the greatest sway over enacted public policies.) Party platform discussions usually lead to seeing that both parties have nice platforms - but what are they doing with them?

    Regarding the government I neither advocate "big government" nor "small government." To me government is not "other" or "the man," it is part of us. To your point of individuals making decisions - I believe that the people (all citizens) should have a voice in what is funded centrally and what isn't. Theoretically that is how a democratic republic works - we vote in representatives who "represent" our views. (Yeah, I know, not so much.) My hope is that through modern communication technology the citizenry will gain a greater voice in their government. I also hope that everyone takes the opportunity to investigate the business of government. Personally, I review the Federal Financial Statements every year and make a spreadsheet to determine how much of my tax dollars go to what.

    Meanwhile, I do believe that some things must be centrally funded through government (whether federal, state, or local). When I read the cynical statement in Federal Executive Magazine that "no one likes to pay taxes" I pounced on the editor that wrote it and said, "I like roads. I like knowing that my borders are defended, that the police will come when I call, that education is an affordable alternative if I want to improve my life... When I put all of that together I have to assume that I like to pay taxes." Do I fully believe in everthing that is funded through the government? No. Absolutely not. Can there be improvements? Hey, doesn't my blog say I'm a liberal? I favor proposals for reform. I'm open to new ideas for progress. But part of why I always say I can't decide if I'm a liberal conservative or a conservative liberal is because I also believe that we should be cautious - preserving what is best in society, and deeply and thoughtfully considering the impacts of changes.

    Also, in closing, I don't think that either philosophy actually espouses faith in an empowered centralized minority - but that there IS an empowered centralized minority "elite" on both sides. We still have aristrocracy. Since I'm naturally egalitarian that frosts my shorts.

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  8. What you say is all well and good, but everything I've spoken of to this point is based on the actions and track record of individuals belonging to either group. We could go on and on about the dictionary.com definition of "Liberal" versus "Conservative" but in the end all that matters is the actions that are taken by those in both groups.

    Ninety-nine percent of the time Liberal policy ends up empowering the government while Conservative policy ends up empowering people.

    FYI: I'm using the Dictionary.com definition for "policy".

    - Novan_Leon

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  9. Also, when you empower someone you are inherently placing more trust in that person to be responsible and use this power in a constructive way. The is the faith that is implied when Liberals or Conservatives choose one group over another.

    - Novan_Leon

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  10. ComdrSue, I agree with you, we (you, me and anonymous #2) are not that far apart and we would be even closer if some of your confusing statements were clarified. (This is not an attack. I like you.)

    For instance, you said:

    “My liberalism kicks in when it comes to the question: What will we, as a society, do for those who CANNOT do for themselves or WILL NOT do for themselves?”

    Let us recognize that the CannotDo group is a tiny (less than 3%) part of our society, and the vast majority of Americans of every type are already committed to taking care of them in every way possible.

    It is the question of what to do about the WillnotDo that has us all stirred up.

    First, where did they come from? They are a brand new feature on the American landscape; prior to 1920, a group too small to measure. Each town and village had just one. The Willnots began to show up in the 30s. Grew in the 40s and 50s and exploded into our consciousness in the 60s and 70s. To understand this phenomenon, let us look at a small homogeneous example – the black American society.

    From 1880 (when the census added this question) thought 1950, more black Americans were married than white Americans. More black children under the age of 12 lived with two parents than did white children. Childbirth out of wedlock among black Americans was rare, because more black families regularly attended a church and with more fervor and positive consequence than did white Americans. The WillnotDo black American was rare, if not non-existent, in spite of the fact that life for the black American family was … well, I need not complete this thought, right?

    Starting in the 30s and exploding in the 60s, Welfare Statism changed all of this. It created a huge dependency group out of thin air, and in the early stages this dependency group was almost 100% white.

    We know that welfare statism was the foundation of this new phenomenon because precisely the same changes created precisely the same effect in Sweden, a nearly all-white population also.

    Asking the question, What ought we do about this? Leads me straight to your next fuzzy statement. You said:

    “To me, government is not ‘other,’ … it is part of us.”

    This statement, for me, is without meaning, even nonsensical.

    Government is an entity belonging to the same class of things as Exxon/Mobile. Government is most certainly “other.” In fact, it is the quintessential, “Other.”


    Now, I want to point out that this statement by you and the one following are at the root of your quandary regarding the WillnotDo American.

    You said: … “I don't think that either philosophy (liberal or conservative) actually espouses faith in an empowered centralized minority - but that there IS an empowered centralized minority "elite" on both sides. We still have aristocracy.”

    I will start with the last phrase and work my way back to the beginning.

    We do not have an “aristocracy” in America by any definition of that word. We have exactly what you said – an empowered centralized minority elite.

    (But not on “both sides.” ??!! Whatever in the world would THAT mean?)

    We have an empowered centralized minority “elite’ because our constitution created it.

    At the same time that our constitution created “the empowered centralized minority elite,” it created the means by which “we, the people” would control it. And we have absolute and total control. Therefore, we do not have an aristocracy, or anything at all even close to it.

    And you began with – “… I don’t think that either philosophy actually espouses faith in an empowered centralized minority …”

    But, ComdrSue, both sides not only espouse the faith, they all agree that it is essential to proper government and that our constitutional controls over that elite group is the bed-rock foundation of the success of our country. It is the essence of our constitution that we have neutralized and even silenced the “majority.” The genius of the creators of our constitution is to have fashioned a political environment where the “Majority” could never, ever overwhelm the “Minority.”

    And finally, we can begin to straighten out the country if we will all recognize and know honestly where we stand. The Libertarian is now what the classical liberal used to be. The Republican is now the new liberal. And the Democrat has become a new-age socialists. Yes, these are mere labels, but they stand for something. If we are to survive; if we are to successfully fend off the enemy that would destroy us, we must all ardently study the history of the foundation of our constitution. We must all understand how and why capitalism and private property and the free market system favors the poor and less fortunate. We must devote ourselves to Due Process and the Rule of Law. In other words, to save ourselves, we must all become Americans.

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