What Liberals Want

conservative-liberal-road-sign

In a commentary for Townhall.com, John C. Goodman explains what he believes liberalism to be.  Whether he is right or wrong, he does not say what the goal of liberalism is. So, I will.

Liberalism comes in two forms: social liberalism and fiscal liberalism.

In a nutshell, social liberalism is born out of the desire to do anything that one wants without experiencing any unwanted consequences as a result. Fiscal liberalism is born out of the desire to obtain anything that one wants without having to compete for it.

First, let’s examine fiscal liberalism. You may have noticed that some liberals have openly promoted the redistribution of wealth through government action, but why would they do so? Well, the answer is quite simple. If the government were to redistribute wealth, then some parties would receive wealth without having to compete for it.

Normally, people acquire wealth through honest means using a combination of skills, talents and physical labor.  However, not everyone has the same skills and talents. Those with more skills and talents tend to succeed in high-paying occupations where such skills and talents are in demand. Those lacking in skills and talents tend to have to engage in more physical labor in order to acquire the wealth that they want. Even then, the use of physical labor may not result in the acquisition of the wealth that skilled and talented people are able to acquire.

The human animal is prone to be an envious animal.  When less-skilled and less-talented people see the wealth acquired by more-skilled and more-talented people, the former have a bad habit of becoming envious of the latter. The former want what the latter have, but the former aren’t skilled and talented enough to compete for what the latter have.  One way that the former can acquire the wealth enjoyed by the latter is through government-mandated wealth redistribution.

Before continuing, I need to make clear that wealth redistribution has nothing to do with government-provided fiscal safety nets provided to people who are unable to complete for resources because of physical or mental handicaps.  Government programs such as SSI, SSDI and Medicare fill a need.

Wealth redistribution isn’t about filling a need. Instead, it is about filling a desire to have wealth that others have acquired through competition in a free market.

So, how does the goal of fiscal liberalism compare to the goal of fiscal conservatism?

Let me put it this way: conservatives want equal opportunity; liberals want equal results.

Conservatives promote a level playing field for all, but a level playing field does not guarantee equal results for all, which is what liberals want. All too often liberals will interpret unequal results as being evidence of a playing field that isn’t level, when in reality the playing field is indeed level.

When a level playing field is used, better-skilled and better-talented people are going to be more financially successful than lesser-skilled and lesser-talented people. That is just the way that life works. The same level playing field can enable all people to acquire what they need, but the human animal is prone to want more than it needs.

It is common for liberals to describe their battle with conservatives as “have vs. have-not,” but that description is incomplete. A complete description is “have-more-than-enough vs. have-not-more-than-enough”.  In short, it is a battle born out of envy, sometimes fueled by greed. Granted, conservatives are capable of being envious and greedy, but conservatives will still acquire the wealth that they want though honest means. The trouble comes when liberals wrongfully accuse honest conservatives of acquiring wealth through dishonest or improper means. An example of such was seen during the most recent presidential contest, when liberals verbally attacked Mitt Romney because he had been successful at acquiring a large amount of wealth. Romney’s liberal critics couldn’t point to one thing that he did to gain wealth that was illegal, and yet they vilified him. Barack Obama took the criticism a step further, when he told proprietors of businesses, “You didn’t build that,” implying that those business people hadn’t earned what they had.

Fiscal liberalism isn’t an American invention. It is universal and has existed as long as there have been people. One could say that every person is born a liberal, because children have to be taught to compete for resources. I don’t know who said it first, but I heard it said that a conservative is a liberal who grew up.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be one of the grown-ups.

 

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Posted by on February 24, 2013.
Filed under Liberals.
A refugee from Planet Melmac masquerading as a human. Loves cats*. In fair condition. A fixer-upper. Warranty still good. Not necessarily sane. [*Joke in reference to the TV sit-com "Alf", which featured a space alien who liked to eat cats. Disclaimer: No cats were harmed in the writing and posting of this profile.]

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  • Brucehenry

    Conservative assertions about a desire for a level playing field would be more convincing if they hadn’t howled about affirmative action since its inception (they have), if they supported removal of the cap on SS contributions (they don’t), if they supported equitable distribution of public-school funding rather than localism (they don’t), etc etc yada yada.

    If this “these guys are just jealous” trope is going to be your theme from now on, let’s not hear any more nonsense about the Dems playing “class warfare” games. This article reads like a manual on how to be holier than thou. Oh-so-admirable conservatives just got raised right, put their nose to the grindstone and achieved the American Dream by dint of Hard Work while the “less talented” welfare queens and layabouts wait to get things handed to them. Looking down your nose at folks is no way to win an argument, David.

    But you should keep it up. The “47% are lazy” argument worked so well for you guys in the last election. Keep on doing it.

    As to Romney, much of his wealth was acquired through pure speculation, not any productive investment. In some cases he simply cannibalized struggling-yet-surviving companies to make a fortune for himself through “consulting fees”, leaving workers jobless in his wake. To the extent he did that, the attacks on his record were deserved. Quit your whining.

    • jim_m

      Whatever AA once was, today it is nothing more than a quota system used to discriminate on the basis of race. For that reason several courts have held that so-called diversity requirements by university admissions, which were instituted originally to “level the playing field”, are nothing less that racial discrimination schemes.

      The reality is that AA has become a preemptive accusation of racism against the entire nation (or at least the white part of it). Attitudes have changed. Everywhere I have ever been we have looked at qualifications and not color or gender or religion or sexual orientation.

      People have changed for the better. AA has changed for the worse. It’s time to change or get rid of AA so that it stops making things worse.

      • Brucehenry

        Fine, I can see your point. However, conservatives opposed it from its inception, so forgive me if I take conservative assertions about wanting a level playing field with a grain of salt.

        • jim_m

          AA was created in 1961 so I could not have opposed it since I wasn’t born yet. As for the current claims, I reiterate my point that the nation has changed. People don’t discriminate like they did 40+ years ago.

          Tell you what. I will accept the charge of conservative opposition to AA if you accept my claims against the dems as being currently and historically racist.

        • retired.military

          Again a link would be great Bruce.

        • Jwb10001

          And liberals support AA beyond it’s expiration date so forgive me if I take their level playing field talk with a grain of salt.

    • Joe Lagle

      So, somehow affirmative action is leveling the playing field? Preferences based on races is leveling? Apparently I don’t understand what a level playing field is then.

      • jim_m

        Obviously the left believes that some races are inferior to others and require special assistance in obtaining a job or school admissions.

        To not believe that some races are inferior in this manner is racist. TO look at people, ignoring race and looking purely at their ability is inherently racist because that means that people of certain races will be excluded from certain jobs. The left knows this so it demands that lower standards be used for people of specific races to give them what the left considers a level playing field, which is actually a tilted playing field in favor of certain people based on race, which traditionally would be called racism, but we now understand that treating someone by the content of their character is the real racism. MLK Jr was the greatest racist of them all it seems.

        • Brucehenry

          Well, since he was a strong proponent of affirmative action….

          • jim_m

            When there really was a lot of racial animus AA was a necessary tool to overcome that. But now that we are two full generations beyond that, the character of society has changed and it is not necessary to impose a default assumption that all white people are racists. What you are creating is an incentive system to actually be racist since you are punishing people for being racist regardless of whether they really are or not.

            The left is built on preserving racism. They cannot survive without it.

          • Brucehenry

            Do you see in my comments an argument to continue AA indefinitely? I said that conservatives opposed it from its inception — and they did. Which contradicts, in my opinion, arguments that conservatives have always promoted a level playing field.

          • jim_m

            I cannot find in my comments or in the article a claim that conservatives always supported a level playing field. Liberals sure as hell did not. The dems opposed the Civil Rights act for Heaven’s sake so let’s not get into who didn’t support it when, because it used to be that no one did.

            The issue is about who believes what today and the fact of the matter is that today’s left does not believe in a level playing field. It is really that simple.

          • Brucehenry

            OK, but in my first comment I said conservative would have more credibility on the level-playing-field thingie if they hadn’t opposed AA from its inception. But I’ll grant you that we should probably be talking about the positions taken TODAY and not 50 years ago.

          • retired.military

            Thank you for that bit of sanity Bruce.

          • retired.military

            Please show where republiicans opposed AA since its inception.

          • Brucehenry

            Sure, just as soon as you post something to contradict it. BTW, I didn’t say “Republicans,” I said “conservatives.”

          • jim_m

            Then it becomes some BS like you on the left are fond of spewing that the people from the South for the first half of the 20th century are more like conservatives today than today’s left. (which is only true because today’s left is more like the bolshevic party of 1917 than the Southern US of 1960)

            In this way you deny the historical fact of opposition to desegregation by the dems and the dems support of institutional racism.

          • retired.military

            Bruce

            You are asking me to prove a negative. Come on guy. You are better than that.
            You made the claim that conservatives have been against AA since it’s inception. I asked for a link. You asked me to disprove it.
            At least let’s have an honest conversation please.

            I could say “Liberals are against African Americans climbing out of poverty today.”
            You say prove it or provide some type of documentary evidence.
            I say “Prove it isnt true”
            That is no way to have an adult conversation. I made what I thought was reasonable request. No snarkiness, no name calling, no insults. etc.

          • Brucehenry

            Not asking you to prove a negative. It’s common knowledge that conservatives opposed AA from the start. You could find me a conservative from the 1960s who supported it if you wanted to. Just Google conservative+ support+affirmative action and see what pops up.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            No, he’s not.

          • retired.military

            Bruce

            Here you go

            http://www.policyalmanac.org/culture/archive/affirmative_action_history.shtml

            “But in the most
            far-reaching federal expansion of affirmative action, the “goals and timetables”
            plan was revived by President Nixon and Labor Secretary George Shultz in 1969.
            In issuing the so-called “Philadelphia Order,” Assistant Secretary Arthur
            Fletcher said:

            Equal employment
            opportunity in these [construction] trades in the Philadelphia area is still far
            from a reality. The unions in these trades still have only about 1.6 percent
            minority group membership and they continue to engage in practices, including
            the granting of referral priorities to union members and to persons who have
            work experience under union contracts, which result in few negroes being
            referred for employment. We find, therefore, that special measures are required
            to provide equal employment opportunity in these seven trades. (5)

            President Nixon later
            remembered, “A good job is as basic and important a civil right as a good
            education . . . I felt that the plan Shultz devised, which would require such
            [affirmative] action by law, was both necessary and right. We would not impose
            quotas, but would require federal contractors to show affirmative action’ to
            meet the goals of increasing minority employment.” (6)”

            Bruce also

            http://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1957/1957_91/
            decision: 9 votes for NAACP, 0 vote(s) agains
            One of the landmark AA cases. at least 4 conservative SCOTUS justices from my limited time on the site. This case went to the supreme court against the state of ALabama for not hiring black police officers. Let’s see Alabama early 70s.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_gubernatorial_election,_1970
            Governor – George Wallace.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_Highway_Patrol

            James Bonard Fowler became a significant player in escalating the acute racial conflict that led to the Selma to Montgomery marches in the American Civil Rights Movement.[8] As a corporal in the Alabama State Police in 1965, he shot and killed an unarmed black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, but was not prosecuted and convicted for the killing until 45 years later.[8][9] Fowler is also under investigation in the May 8, 1966 death of 34-year-old Nathan Johnson, another unarmed black man.[10] Johnson had been arrested for suspicion of drunken driving on US Highway 31 and was fatally shot by Fowler at the

            Your turn

          • Brucehenry

            I see where Nixon supported AA. Does that refute my contention that conservatives didn’t? Because ONE semi-conservative Republican (who, by the way, had a pretty decent record on civil rights as VP) supported AA does that mean that conservatives, as a group, supported it?

            I don’t understand your point in posting the Wallace and Highway Patrol links, or the court case one. Justices follow the law and precedent, ideally, not their own political opinions.

          • retired.military

            Bruce
            Justices – Really??? Gee look at Ginsberg among others. Look at what dems said about Roberts preObamacare verdict. Look at the solid left votes on the current SCOTUS. WHy do you think we have so many solid left and right votes on the court?

            Look at all but Kennedy and now Roberts and you will find folks who vote consistently liberal or conservative. Do you honestly believe what you are saying.

            The case I cited was from Alabama and dealt with hiring black police officers. The police officer who shot the black man who was unarmed was convicted for his murder 45 years later. He wasnt even charged back when it happened.

            “Does that refute my contention that conservatives didn’t?”

            Gee Bruce am I supposed to spend hours listing conservative after conservative who somehow some way in some form supported AA?

            I have shown you conservatives which supported AA.

            I stated
            “Please show where republiicans opposed AA since its inception.”
            You stated
            “Sure, just as soon as you post something to contradict it. BTW, I didn’t say “Republicans,” I said “conservatives.”"

            I posted something. You also stated
            “. It’s common knowledge that conservatives opposed AA from the star”

            As none on this site has supported your accusation and as you state “IT IS COMMON KNOWLEDGE”
            I now ask that you do what I did.
            Support your statement please with some type of proof.
            SInce you state that it is common knowledge I suggest you follow the advice of someone who stated (and ai paraphrase)

            Just Google conservative+ oppose+affirmative action +1960s and see what pops up.

            BTW Bruce, I tried your advice and saw zip from the 1950s or 60s in the first 10 pages of results. Are you suggesting I try all 4 million + results.

            After some seardes I found

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_conservatism_in_the_United_States

            Which mentions that black conservatives are now commonly called uncle toms by democrats.
            Also
            From Reconstruction up until the New Deal, the black population tended to vote Republican as the Republican Party, particularly in the Southern United States, was seen as more racially liberal than the Democratic Party, primarily because of the role of the southern wing of the Democratic Party as the party of segregation and the Republican Party’s roots in the abolitionist movement (see Dixiecrats for more on this). Blacks started to shift in significant numbers to the Democrats with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt,[7] whose New Deal particularly benefited economically disadvantaged minority communities and helped forge the New Deal coalition which dominated American politics for the next 30 years, and continued with the election of John F. Kennedy.

            Another case study of differences between Black conservatives and Black Republicans is an emphasis on personal empowerment versus theological perspectives. Black Republicans like Colin Powell hold to the social ideas articulated by the early Radical Republicans like Frederick Douglass while at the same time supporting the self-empowerment message of Booker T. Washington. Many social conservatives who are black and Republican hold to a biblically based empowerment although they also appreciate Booker’s emphasis on personal accomplishment. Conservatives like the Texas minister T. D. Jakes are evangelical African Americans who support policies more in common but not totally in line with many white Evangelicals.

            Also considering % wise more republicans in the House and Senate voted for the Civil rights act than democrats I can find absolutely no such link “common knowlege” that you speak

            Again I invite you to back up what you said with some sort of proof.

          • jim_m

            The left does not admit to the existence of black conservatives. These people are not really black, they are race traitors and Uncle Toms. The left does not accept the idea that people of minority races are capable of having conservative ideas (or for that matter capable of thinking for themselves).

            As for Bruce’s contentions not squaring with factual reality… I believe that it has been pointed out that the left believes that their ideology is greater proof of truth than fact.

          • retired.military

            I try to specify dem politicians and talking heads when I speak about generalities “of the left” such as you make Jim.

            Both sides are guility of generalizations such as the one Bruce made about “common knowledge” which he then refuses to back up with some type of proof or in answering the question about dem politicians who are prolife (I cant think of one holding statewide or nationwide office). .

            Also both sides are guilty of blind spots. Not thinking of McCain and Romney as being liberal republicans comes to mind.

            And no I am not picking on Bruce but he is the only left leaning person responding to this thread that I have bothered reading.

          • retired.military

            Sure Bruce. 50 years ago. When times were MUCH different as far as African Americans being able to do simple things like riding a bus, owning a home, opening a business and getting hired, or getting into college. Different world today. If you want to talk about the country of 50 years ago lets talk about the DEMOCRAT sheriff using dogs to keep blacks away from polling places, the DEMOCRAT installed Jim Crow laws. ETC

          • jim_m

            No. Bruce just wants to claim that white people are still the same people who would keep blacks off of buses, not serve them in restaurants, and who would lynch them for walking on the sidewalk.

            You want an excuse to feel racism? After an adulthood of being treated like I am the same as a klan member from the 50′s I really feel justified in being as prejudiced as I want to since I am already being punished for it. It gets to the point where I want to discriminate just so I get back some of what I am paying the price for.

            Leftist policies promote racism by assuming that it is occurring and then punishing people who are not discriminating. I say that we should stop being unprejudiced if we are going to be punished like we are anyway.

          • Brucehenry

            Quite a revealing comment, Jim.

            Hey, is it possible to make a strawman out of whole cloth, (“Bruce just wants to claim…”) or does it have to be exclusively made of straw? ‘Cause I think Jim here has done it!

            BTW, want to know why black people are not relegated to the back of the bus, are allowed to enter restaurants, and can freely walk down any sidewalk in any town they wish? Because the government took action. Could those things be the case today without the CRA of 1964, enacted by liberals of both parties and signed by a liberal president? Maybe. What do you think the chances would be?

          • jim_m

            Yes. The government took action. The fallacy from the left is that such action is still required. The continued treatment of people as though they are guilty of racism does not reduce racism, it promotes it by provoking racial animosity as you are punishing people for behavior they are not committing. You are actually creating a perverse incentive for people to be more racist.

            I think that if we stopped preemptively punishing people for being racist that there would not be a need for institutional programs like AA. There should still be penalties for racial discrimination, but they should be applied where it is actually occurring and not everywhere based on the behavior of people who are mostly dead.

          • Brucehenry

            But at the time the argument against government action was that it was a violation of personal “liberty” and states’ rights. That the monstrous federal government was imposing a ban on freedom of association and other such nonsense.

            These arguments were made by the leading lights of conservatism, guys like Goldwater, Buckley, Kilpatrick.

            Given that those arguments were proven specious then, why should we be convinced that any and every thing that the government does or proposes to do is “tyranny?”

          • jim_m

            I could provide you a list of dozens of dems who stood against desegregation and used the same argument. Far more dems were against civil rights than republicans.

            If you want to throw down on which party has done more to promote racism and segregation you are going to lose. The Party of Jeff Davis should watch itself when throwing around charges of racism.

          • Brucehenry

            Never mentioned party, Jim. I’m talking conservative vs liberal. There used to be such animals as liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. While a few Blue Dogs survive, liberal Republicans are virtually extinct.

            Do you deny that Goldwater, Buckley, Kilpatrick, and even Reagan vocally opposed the CRA of 1964? Do you deny that it was opposed on grounds of freedom of association and states’ rights, and was denounced as “government tyranny” by those opposed to it?

          • jim_m

            In light of what the CRA has done to us in the last 5 years I would say that their opposition was positively visionary.

          • retired.military

            “liberal Republicans are virtually extinct”

            Romney
            McCain
            Collins
            Snowe
            Hagel
            Graham

            Those are 6 off the top of my head in less than 20 seconds.

            Thou doth protest too much

            Please name 6 democrats as prominent as the above that can be classified as conservatives.

            I will even give you two
            The dem who spoke at the 2004 republican convention
            Al Gore’s running mate (conservative as far as the war went and nothing else.

            Name one promiment dem today who is prolife.

            Go ahead Bruce we’ll wait.

          • jim_m

            You left off Christie, Jeb Bush, Huntsman…

            And of course the most faux of all Republicans, Bloomberg (although honestly, he is not a Republican except when it comes to the ballot and that was only ever a matter of convenience.)

          • Brucehenry

            Romney, McCain and Graham are liberals? News to me,and I assure you to them.

            I don’t know much about Snowe and Collins, but I suspect your definition of “liberal” may be “not a raving wingnut.”

            Hagel, I hear, is only a “liberal” if opposition to the Iraq War makes one a liberal. By that measure, so is Pat Buchanan.

            I don’t know about 6 off the top of my head, but Manchin, Dorgan, Baucus, Nelson of Nebraska, even NC’s own Kay Hagan are not exactly loony libs.

          • jim_m

            Seriously? McCain Snowe and Collins were famed for going against GOP policy and voting with the dems. If that doesn’t count at least as moderate I don’t know what does. Snowe and Colline were NE republicans in the same mold as Brown. You could include him in your list, that is unless you considered Scott Brown a right wing ideologue, in which case you are beyond hope.

          • retired.military

            Bruce
            Definition of “liberal republican” isnt exactly an exact quantifiable thing. Same was as assault weapon.

            Yes I believe McCain is liberal. He sucks up to the press and willingly backstabs his party time and again. He is one of the main reasons why he lost in 2008. WIthout Palin he would have gotten fewer votes.
            Graham and his amnesty crap along with some more of his positions is a mccain lite.
            Romney is from Mass and backed Romneycare. Again the main reason he lost the election is the fact that conservatives didnt vote for him in greater numbers. He had the center pretty good.

            Snowe and collins voted with the dems more than with the republicans.

            Of your list I have heard of Nelson but dont know much about him. I dont follow the others so I dont know.

            But thanks for the answer. Oh BTW did you ever find a prolife dem that is in high office? And Biden isnt prolife with his wishy washy answers regarding being Catholic and still pushing the proabortion agenda.

          • retired.military

            republicans voted for the CRA in greater % in Congress than dems did.

      • Brucehenry

        No, you apparently don’t.

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        Affirmative Action is a Racial Quota which is indeed racist, and all the current proponents of it are racists.

    • herddog505

      You’re right: looking down your nose at the less fortunate is no way to win an argument in this day and age. As we’ve seen in the past several elections, the key to winning is to pit US against THEM, to promise that our wise, benevolent government (run by TOP men, you know) will take from those who have too much and give it – fairly, equitably, wisely – to those who don’t have enough.

      Yessir, the way to win an argument is to say that THOSE PEOPLE, with their nice, new, shiny school are getting too much! THEIR kids are getting all the advantages, and that’s why YOUR kids aren’t doing so hot (YOU have nothing to do with it, of course). Our answer is to take it away from them, to see to it that there’s a more fair distribution of the (if I may coin a term) educational wealth. And, if required (we know how sneaky THOSE PEOPLE are), we’ll even make THOSE PEOPLE’S kids go to school with your kids, and your kids can go to THOSE PEOPLE’S schools.

      And THOSE PEOPLE have money. Yep: lots of it. And THOSE PEOPLE didn’t EARN their money by honest toil. Nossir: they earned – stole! – it by SPECULATION! By INVESTMENT! They didn’t work for it, so it isn’t really their money at all: it’s really YOUR money. We’ll take it from them and give it to you so that you can enjoy your retirement free from want. How’s that sound?

      Naturally, they’ll oppose us, the greedy b*stards. But, if we all work together, we can take it away from that and give it to the people who NEED it.

      Yep: THAT’S how to win an argument in liberal America. And Greece. And France. And the Soviet Union. And Red China. And Cambodia…
      Who are we to oppose this sort of thing?

      You say: “There are persons who have no money,” and you turn to the law. But the law is not a breast that fills itself with milk. Nor are the lacteal veins of the law supplied with milk from a source outside the society. Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in. If every person draws from the treasury the amount that he has put in it, it is true that the law then plunders nobody. But this procedure does nothing for the persons who have no money. It does not promote equality of income. The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder.

      With this in mind, examine the protective tariffs, subsidies, guaranteed profits, guaranteed jobs, relief and welfare schemes, public education, progressive taxation, free credit, and public works. You will find that they are always based on legal plunder, organized injustice.*

      Frederic Bastiat
      The Law (1850)

      There’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to one group of people planning to rob (“plunder” is Bastiat’s word) another group in the name of some imagined right to what they have.

      What’s amusing is that the lefties who whine about “corporate subsidies” and “corporate welfare” have no problem with other types of subsidies and welfare. In honestly, though, that street goes both ways.

      ====

      (*) http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html#SECTION_G033

      • Brucehenry

        Libertarians were just as full of shit in 1850 as they are today apparently.

        • herddog505

          Not sure how wanting government to stay out of one’s business, to want government to not take money from one person to enrich another, is being “full of shit”, but I suppose that’s a matter of opinion.

          • Brucehenry

            Libertarians only want the government to stay out of any FURTHER business. They’re fine with having roads, courts, police, air traffic control, safe food and drugs, etc, as long as the government doesn’t upset THEIR applecart and use its power to help anyone other than themselves.

            Bastiat didn’t want the government to “plunder” from himself and his friends, forgetting the ancestors of the aristocrats and rich merchants (his friends) that “had” back then had plundered what they “had” from workers and peasants in the first place in Medieval times.

            If only Bastiat had been listened to, the Western world could have remained the Utopia that was 19th Century France!

          • herddog505

            First, I think you’re making the usual mistake of confusing libertarians with anarchists. They aren’t. They want what libs claim to want when it comes to abortion: the government out of their business. However, as Bruce MacMahon writes above:

            “Get the government out of my bedroom!” has become “Get the government into everything my neighbor does!”

            As for Bastiat, a reading of The Law indicates that he was not too happy with what we would call “corporate welfare”, regarding it as another form of plunder:

            Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another; the law takes the wealth of all and gives it to a few— whether farmers, manufacturers, ship owners, artists, or comedians. Under these circumstances, then certainly every class will aspire to grasp the law, and logically so.

            Further, it is eminently clear that he didn’t regard the France of his day as a “utopia”. To the contrary, he saw that the idea of “plunder” had caused problems and was likely to cause more. His position was to do away with the idea that the law could be used to create a utopia and restrict itself to defending people’s lives, liberties, and property:

            [I]f you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, literary, or artistic —you will then be lost in an uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it upon you. This is true because fraternity and philanthropy, unlike justice, do not have precise limits. Once started, where will you stop? And where will the law stop itself?

            I see in the news today that Bloomers has decided – from purely benevolent, altruistic, gosh-darned GOOD motives – to ban the sale of two liter bottles of Coke in his halcyon city. Think about a government that is so powerful, so intrusive, that it can and will tell people what size soft drinks that they may buy. What may NOT such a government do?
            So, to answer Bastiat’s rhetorical question, the law doesn’t stop ANYWHERE once it becomes a tool for those who want NOT to merely protect the people but rather to mold them into the sort of society – the utopia – that THEY want.

            http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/soda_ban_to_sap_your_4t5pEK0hvo3PoNZEBOdZ2L

            Bastiat had libs pegged a century and a half ago:

            Again, it is claimed that persons are nothing but raw material. It is not for them to will their own improvement; they are incapable of it. According to Saint-Just, only the legislator is capable of doing this. Persons are merely to be what the legislator wills them to be. According to Robespierre, who copies Rousseau literally, the legislator begins by decreeing the end for which the commonwealth has come into being. Once this is determined, the government has only to direct the physical and moral forces of the nation toward that end. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the nation are to remain completely passive. And according to the teachings of Billaud-Varennes, the people should have no prejudices, no affections, and no desires except those authorized by the legislator. [empasis original - hd505]

    • retired.military

      Affirmative action – some smart guy said “judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin”.

      All affirmative action is today is reverse racism.

      Cap on social security taxes – What is the purpose of SS taxes? To ensure that poeple have money after their retirement. Chances are if you have more than 115K or whatever a year than your social security checks are going to be like 3k plus a month not to mention your other monies. You dont need that much to sustain yourself generally.

      All a tax would be above that level is pretty much more redistribution of wealth.

      Now if you stated that social security earnings which do not get paid out due to early death go to family members than I got no problem with it. THen the money is going to the family of the person that earned it.

      If liberals supported school vouchers where people would go to the schools of their choice instead of getting stuck in public schools to support the teachers unions than your argument would have more weight. BTW school taxes are local govt issues. We see how well the dems do at local govt. Look at the recently posted list of worst cities in America. of the top 20 we have 15 dems as mayor, 3 republicans and 2 independents (who are consistently liberal).

      ref Romney statements – 4 words – George soros – currently manipulation.

      Soros makes Romney look like a piker. BTW did you know he made a billion dollars in the past few months in the currency speculation market? Yeah that is only 4 times what Romney is worth.

      ” nonsense about the Dems playing “class warfare” games”

      Come on Bruce. Every other word out of A democratic politicians mouth is “the rich” and lets take a look at Soros’s money and Gates money when they die. Do they pay the death tax? Nope it goes into foundations where it is not taxed or done so at a much lower rate. And who controls those foundations? pssst. It is their heirs.

      • Brucehenry

        1. MLK said some other stuff, too. Conservatives are being dishonest or ignorant when they attempt to co-opt MLK as one of them.

        2. I fail to see what’s level about a playing field on which a guy who makes $106K is taxed on 100% of his income whereas a guy who makes $212K is taxed on 50% of his.

        3. Conservatives have opinions on local issues, too. Around here, they like “neighborhood schools,” which means that well-off kids have nice clean new schools and poor kids have crappy ones. In other words, “I got mine, fuck you.”

        4. Soros didn’t run for president. If you want to criticize Soros as a speculator and unproductive, I’ll join you. Romney was criticized as a speculator who had, in the past, sometimes feasted on the misfortunes of others. We didn’t get a chance to vote against Soros, but we did get a chance against Romney. I have no doubt that if Soros ran for office he would be criticized as an unproductive speculator.

        5, And every other word out of a GOPer’s mouth is about “takers vs makers” and the like. So?

        • jim_m

          Regarding #3: Spending on education is not linearly linked to educational quality. We have increased educational spending dramatically with little to no effect. In my area there was outrage when it was shown that the wealthiest of school districts was shown to deliver poorer results than a middle class district that spent half as much.

          Private schools often spend far less than public schools and deliver better results.

          • Brucehenry

            I’m sure that you are right in many cases in this regard, Jim.

          • retired.military

            Bruce my son went to a Catholic high school. 4k a year tuition. (out of my pocket). Average spent per student in public schools was at least 8k that year.

            If private schools are more efficient and we are drowning in debt than why not do something like ths.

            Say a state spends 10k a year on schooling one child.
            a. Offer parents 3k per year voucher.
            b. Take the other 7k and keep it in the school system.

            This means more spending for public studets per student,
            it means smaller class size in public classrooms, it means probably less infrastructure needed in the large cities, less money spent on public school buses, fewer teachers needed and thus less costs for state employee pay and pensions. Teachers that no longer work in teh public school system can get a job in the private school systems as they will have increased demand for teachers.

            A win win. Except that dem politicians wont allow it.
            What is more important a. giving the kids more of a chance to escape failing schools and get a better education or b, keeping teachers in the teachers unions, bus drivers in the transportation union ? Most dem politicians say b

          • jim_m

            Fewer students mean fewer teachers needed, which means fewer union jobs, which means fewer union dues, which means less money from unions going into dem campaign coffers.

            Therefore improving the quality of education is a non starter. The only answer for the left in improving education is to create more union jobs that will end up yielding more campaign donations from corrupt unions to corrupt dem politicians.

            The left doesn’t care to discuss any other solutions. If their “solution” doesn’t work they will just keep on throwing more money into it. In fact it is better if their solution doesn’t work.

          • retired.military

            Give a dem politician the following situation
            “we can give $10,000 to a student to attend either Los Angelos community College or to Notre Dame. Which school would you prefer the student to attend?”

            The dem politican will say unvariably “We have to have separation of church and state”

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            The correlation between spending and educational outcome over the last 40 years has been inverse.

        • jim_m

          Regarding #4, The left is keen on socking it to “the rich” which in reality means the middle class and the unconnected. Rich donors to the left don’t pay taxes (see Hollywood, Facebook, GE, Geithner and Rangel for examples) and are oddly excluded from their definitions of who should be paying “their fair share”.

          THe left doesn’t want the rich to pay more. They want those not of the left to pay more and they only say “the rich” to disguise that fact..

          • Brucehenry

            I heard on NPR that Facebook wasn’t gonna pay taxes, and later that same day on ABC News. It seemed to me the tone of both stories was of just as much outrage as when they reported what the oil companies were fixin’ to pay last year. YMMV.

            I know a couple of fairly prominent Hollywood types (relatives of in-laws). They pay plenty of taxes. Who in Hollywood are you alleging doesn’t pay taxes?

            In any case my point (and RM’s) wasn’t about the rich vs the poor. It was about Soros vs Romney and the coverage each receives about how they make their money.

          • jim_m

            Restore the 20 percent excise tax on motion picture theater gross revenues that existed between the end of World WarII and its repeal in the mid-1950s.

            The movie excise tax was imposed in response to the high deficits after World War Two. Deficits are high again, and there’s already historical precedent. Of course, to keep up with technology, the tax should now apply to DVDs, downloadable movies, pay-per-view and the like. But in these financially perilous times, why should movie stars and studio moguls, with their yachts, swimming pools and private jets, not at least shoulder the burden they carried back in Harry Truman’s day — when, to be honest, movies were better anyway.

            Hollywood stars carry on about how the rich should pay their fair share? They should step up to the bar and show their sincerity by paying this tax again.

            The funny part? Hollywood argued for the repeal saying that the high taxes reduced investment and job growth, the very things that Hollywood today claims would be increased by higher taxation to fuel government spending. If Hollywood believe that taxation is good they are obligated to lead the way by repudiating this tax break which by today’s Hollywood reasoning was gained by false pretenses and deceit.

          • Brucehenry

            What a terrific gotcha, Jim! Congratulations.

        • jim_m

          Regarding #2: It isn’t about how much you earn that is the sole determinant of your tax rate, it is how you earn it. The left is very much against earning money from investments. So were the NAZI’s and the Communists who both outlawed such income from nonlabor sources.

          • Brucehenry

            Fine. Re: the SS tax, someone making a salary of $106K is taxed on 100% of that salary, while someone making a salary of $212K is taxed on 50% of that salary.

            And I don’t know about “the left,” but I’m not against making money from investments. I only sneer at those who speculate — gamble — on mortgage-backed whatnots and the like, or who ghoulishly carve up struggling-but-still-viable companies and feast on them like vultures, and then claim to be Job Creators.

        • retired.military

          1. True. At the same time the discussion was about AA. If you want to have a talk about other things MLK said than can we do so in an appropriate forum. If he has other quotes about AA I will be glad to hear them.

          2. Is the tax system unfair? Yep. The top 5% pay about 40% of the total income tax in the govt. The bottom 47% pay about 1%. The income distribution tries to even that out. The thing is Bruce. Obama and the dems had 2 years with total power and didnt change it. THey had a filibuster proof senate and a supermajority in the House. Reid doesnt have problems like the right does with McCain, Snowe, Collins, etc.
          Yet they didnt feel that taxes were a priority. Hell they refused to even pass a budget.
          Dem politicians crying about the rich is BS since they had the golden opportunitty to fix it and it wasnt even close to being a priority.

          3. As someone who grew up on the inner city and went to schools in the project section of the city I saw kids who still performed brilliantly despite the circumstances. Money does not equal success as far as education goes. It is up to the individuals to do their part. Look at DC. Highest money per student in the nation. One of the absolute worst as far as students performing. Yet you had kids in a voucher program that went to Obama’s kids schools and the funding was cut for that.
          Dem poltiicians are concerned about one thing as far as education goes. That is keeping the kids in public schools to teach them the “left way of thinking” and taking care of the teacher’s unions”
          4. Soros didnt run for office. But he has spent more money than just about anyone I know of to get dems elected. They are beholden to his way of thinking if they want his money. It is not honest to say that he doesnt influence politicians with his money.

          5. And every other word out of the dems politicans mouth is “Tax the rich’ I am not rich. I wouldnt mind paying more in taxes IF and only if the politicians are proving that they can spend it wisely (both parties). They have instead proven that they cant. Why throw good money after bad when it is my money.

    • Vagabond661

      “As to Romney, much of his wealth was acquired through pure speculation, not any productive investment. In some cases he simply cannibalized struggling-yet-surviving companies to make a fortune for himself through “consulting fees”, leaving workers jobless in his wake”

      I would appreciate a certifiable link to that. I would offer more people have been put on the unemployment lines by Obama’s policies.

    • jim_m

      As to Romney, much of his wealth was acquired through pure speculation, not any productive investment. In some cases he simply cannibalized struggling-yet-surviving companies…

      Well which is it? Are you claiming like many socialists and communists before you that income through financial investment is ill-gotten and should not be legal?

      And are you also claiming that private equity firms should be illegal? I know a lot of people whose companies were saved by going through private equity. In fact I worked in an industry where 2 of the 3 major players went through private equity in the last decade. They emerged stronger than before. Heck, one of those companies had more employees than the other two major competitors combined and it wasn’t the market leader. They needed to shed jobs.

      Leftist fools look at private equity as though having a job was a constitutional right and that once hired you should never be able to be fired. That comes from leftists working in unions or tenured academia where such nonproductive systems exist. Notice that our education system sucks and our unionized manufacturing industry in nearly dead and our heavily unionized government is a complete failure.

      People lose jobs. That’s life, grow up and get over it. I have been on the short end of the stick and it sucks. The answer is not to demand that someone take care of you cradle to grave. Nor is the answer to demonize those who have to make the hard decisions to let people go. I’ve been on that end too and it still sucks. Quit your whining Bruce and tell your friends to go work for a living.

    • $1965156

      Oh, you told the truth and got voted down!

  • BruceMacMahon

    I would argue that the term “liberal” no longer applies to the forces controlling the Democrat party today. They are “progressive authoritarians” – progressing toward a future where the government is the supreme authority and that individual rights are but a distant memory, replaced by privileges bestowed upon select classes by the authorities. There’s nothing liberal, in the true sense of the word, about them.

    • BruceMacMahon

      “Get the government out of my bedroom!” has become “Get the government into everything my neighbor does!”

      • Constitution First

        How is the government not in their bedroom, when liberals asked us (taxpayers) to pay for enabling their sex life?

    • $1965156

      Ah ha ha, “authoritarians”!? And what rights are going away?…How is the gov’ment the “supreme authority”, give one example, you psychologically projecting paranoid schizophrenic! Answer: “Uhhhhh…”

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        Second warning.

      • Jwb10001

        Like 32 oz soft drinks? How about french fries? What about rapid fire weapons? Like to choose what school to send your kids to? Wanna ride in your car without your seat belt on? How about riding your motor cycle without a helmet? Want to send your kids to school with a lunch you packed for them? I know I shouldn’t engage your idiotic posting but come on you don’t see any intrusion resulting from nanny state liberal policies?

  • MartinLandauCalrissian

    Personally, I think that the words are essentially misused any more. “Liberal” now applies to socialists, Euro-styled, Democratic Socialism. Hell, the founding fathers were liberals in their day. Conservatives are the liberals, really. Today’s left of center folks are not traditional, American liberals. They are communists and socialists without having the decency to accept the charge.

    • $1965156

      Ha ha ha. “I’m scared.” The red scare is over bird brain.

      • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

        You are on the road to bannishment.

  • Vagabond661

    “Let me put it this way: conservatives want equal opportunity; liberals want equal results.”

    No truer words were ever spoken.

    • jim_m

      The problem is that the left cannot understand the difference.

    • $1965156

      Shut up you moron.

      • Vagabond661

        Conservatives want honest debate. Liberals, when they don’t know how to debate you, tell you to shut up.

        • Berzrkr50

          Or call you racist, homophobic, sexist, etc…

  • r.a.

    “In a nutshell, social liberalism is born out of the desire to do
    anything that one wants without experiencing any unwanted consequences
    as a result. Fiscal liberalism is born out of the desire to obtain
    anything that one wants without having to compete for it.”

    Well, that’s a bit of a strawman characterization of the “other side” if I have ever seen one. I really don’t see the point of setting things up like this.

    “You may have noticed that some liberals have openly promoted the
    redistribution of wealth through government action, but why would they
    do so? Well, the answer is quite simple. If the government were to
    redistribute wealth, then some parties would receive wealth without
    having to compete for it.”

    Strawman again. Some US liberals (as in social liberals, not classical or neoliberals) promote various forms of government action in an attempt to balance out shortcomings in the market system or the private sector. They are going for something along the lines of “justice.” You know, like the “liberty and justice for all” kind of thing. Because, despite the strident beliefs of many market fundamentalists, the free market can’t take care of everything–and it does not work according to ethical principles, which come from human moral and legal systems (yes, like the US Constitution).

    But then, of course, the problem is that governments tend to be inefficient, corrupt, etc. Power corrupts, and all that. A lot of liberals seem to forget that part of the story. Adam Smith was writing about that sort of thing in Wealth of Nations–he knew the open market was a remedy to certain government tendencies. And, as he argued, markets obviously have their benefits. Lots of liberals tend to forget that too (but they like their SUVs and iPhones, of course). So it’s a matter of balance. But the motivation behind many liberals’ beliefs is not just so that people get stuff without working/competing for it. Adam Smith also wrote about the need for a check on the market–he was not the free market fundamentalist that many of his followers are today. He was well aware of the fact that some sort of government structure was quite necessary in order to ensure a just system (read his “Theory of Moral Sentiments”).

    “Normally, people acquire wealth through honest means using a combination
    of skills, talents and physical labor. However, not everyone has the
    same skills and talents. Those with more skills and talents tend to
    succeed in high-paying occupations where such skills and talents are in
    demand.”

    This is a really simplistic (and flawed) argument about how economics works. Sure, many people acquire or produce wealth via hard work, skills, talent, etc. But people also acquire wealth by luck, by force, by cheating, stealing, political power, gambling, and so on. Those are realities that affect our economic and political systems, and they can’t just be swept aside for the sake of telling easy stories. There are many ways to get rich, some of them are honest and just and others not so much. It’s not just a matter of those having skills and drive versus those who don’t. In fact, this is a seriously warped argument you are putting forth here (but it’s not a new argument by any means…Herbert Spencer and many others have basically tried the same line of reasoning long ago). Plenty of people work hard their entire lives and do not acquire wealth. Plenty of people do not work all that hard and become millionaires. Some people with nothing have great ideas and work hard and end up rich. Others have no shortage of ideas and drive, but can’t break outside of a life of poverty.

    “The human animal is prone to be an envious animal.”

    Nope. The human animal is prone to a whole range of potentialities, and envy/greed is just one possibility. This is another bad argument about “human nature” that gets used way too often to justify overly simplistic arguments about economics.

    “Conservatives promote a level playing field for all, but a level playing
    field does not guarantee equal results for all, which is what liberals
    want. All too often liberals will interpret unequal results as being
    evidence of a playing field that isn’t level, when in reality the
    playing field is indeed level.”

    Well, both sides promote all kinds of nice things. A level playing field would mean that the same rules apply to everyone. And it would mean that everyone shares the same rights, protection of the law, opportunities, etc. In order to determine whether or not the playing field is level, then we’d have to move past the simple economic fairy tales and really try to analyze the connections between opportunity and results. Both parties here in the US talk a big game, but each side allows certain things to slip through. Conservatives tend to gravitate to supporting “the market” and the private sector, and sometimes turn a blind eye to certain…problems in those systems. Liberals tend to have a lot of faith in the power of the state to “set things right,” and they also have a strong tendency to ignore what’s going on when it comes to corruption, etc.

    Do we have a playing field level here in the US? I’d argue we do not–and I think both parties have done their fair share to make this so. The crash of 2008 provided plenty of evidence that we have some serious issues to face, and what have our two parties done since then? Not much. A lot of talk, blaming the other side, and making the same old arguments about markets vs government, etc. No wonder we’re going in circles.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    • jim_m

      Some US liberals (as in social liberals, not classical or neoliberals)
      promote various forms of government action in an attempt to balance out
      shortcomings in the market system or the private sector. They are going
      for something along the lines of “justice.”

      Except that your idea of justice is not justice at all. Your idea of justice is to take money from people who justly earn it and give it to people who are either 1) incapable of earning more than they do or 2) unwilling to earn more than they do. The left calls this “social justice”, the rest of us call it communism, oppression and theft of property.

      The problem with this so-called justice (which is really standing the term on its head since what is really occurring is an offense to the civil rights of others) is that the left is demanding an equality of outcome regardless of the ability or the effort of the people on the receiving end. Life is not equal. People are not all equal in their abilities. These are facts. The left wants to impose a Utopian system where everyone is happy and everyone is equal. This is not natural and is antithetical to human nature. People want to be rewarded for their effort, the left insists on rewarding people for their non effort or rewarding all effort equally. When you reward all effort equally then what you get is the lowest common denominator of effort.

      The problem is that people like Ryan A are too ignorant to see that what they are demanding is a fantasy that has never worked and is doomed to fail for the simple reason that it ignores human nature and tramples human rights.

      • r.a.

        “Except that your idea of justice is not justice at all.”

        How do you have any clue what my idea of justice is all about?

        “Your idea of justice is to take money from people who justly earn it and give it to people who are either 1) incapable of earning more than they do or 2) unwilling to earn more than they do. The left calls this
        “social justice”, the rest of us call it communism, oppression and theft
        of property.”

        Again, what makes you think you know what I think about justice? Why do you continually make these kinds of assumptions, jim? It really gets you nowhere. Let me know when you’re done arguing against your own imagination and then we can talk. FWIW, my view of justice goes more like this: People who make money unjustly (read: folks who participated in the kind of crony capitalism you mention above) should be treated at least as harshly as the dude on the street who gets harassed endlessly over jaywalking. At least. And if someone makes billions of dollars in an honest, just way, more power to them.

        “Life is not equal. People are not all equal in their abilities. These
        are facts. The left wants to impose a Utopian system where everyone is happy and everyone is equal.”

        Granted, life isn’t fair. And people all around the world have varying skills, education levels, opportunities, etc. They also put in varying degrees of good, honest effort and hard work. If someone is rich, or poor, that really gives us few clues about their character, abilities, or honesty. However, a lot of folks like to make simple assumptions based upon very little information. But having the right “abilities” and dedication to hard work do not directly translate to success, or wealth, or the “good life” or even economic stability. It can, but not necessarily. Results vary, depending on all kinds of things. The one place where people are and should be “equal,” is before the moral and legal systems we create, since, “all men are created equal,” etc. Do you disagree? If so, then take it up with the dudes who founded this country.

        “This is not natural and is antithetical to human nature.”

        What do you even mean by this? What, exactly, is antithetical to “human nature”?

        “The problem is that people like Ryan A are too ignorant to see that what they are demanding…”

        Uh…what demands am I making? Please point out where I am on here making “demands.” And be careful of making undue charges about “ignorance” when you go off half-cocked and say stuff like this.

        • jim_m

          The concept of all men being created equal is not in relation to their abilities, but in relation to their moral standing.

          The idea that all people are equal in relation to their abilities is false. The idea that we should engineer a society where all people are equal in terms of compensation for their performance is against human nature. Karl Marx understood this and his belief was that communism was the road by which to change human nature, this is why we call communism a Utopian philosophy, because it supposes a state of existence that cannot be without changing man’s nature.

          • r.a.

            “The concept of all men being created equal is not in relation to their abilities, but in relation to their moral standing.”

            Yes, basically their standing before the law, society, God, etc. Agreed.

            “The idea that all people are equal in relation to their abilities is
            false. The idea that we should engineer a society where all people are equal in terms of compensation for their performance is against human nature. Karl Marx understood this and his belief was that communism…”

            Ok, jim, what on earth are you talking about here? Is this a response to something I wrote?

            Also, what do you mean by “man’s nature”?

    • jim_m

      Conservatives tend to gravitate to supporting “the market” and the
      private sector, and sometimes turn a blind eye to certain…problems in
      those systems. Liberals tend to have a lot of faith in the power of the
      state to “set things right,” and they also have a strong tendency to
      ignore what’s going on when it comes to corruption, etc.

      In other words, conservatives believe that people and society should cultivate a sense of charity to assist those who are less fortunate. Liberals believe that people must be coerced by government to do what they deem to be right and that people should be prevented from choosing or acting on their own as that diminishes the role and power of government.

      • r.a.

        Your “in other words” version of my words has nothing to do with what I wrote. Try reading again. It’s just a general point about which side of the argument each of our two sides tend to fall on, and what each ignores. IN OTHER WORDS: Liberals put too much faith in government and conservatives put too much faith in markets.

        • jim_m

          Wrong. Your assumption that conservatives believe in markets to help the poor an those in desperate circumstances is incorrect. As I pointed out, conservatives believe in charity and in promoting the notion that people should take some responsibility for others. Liberals think that government is the answer because it is the only answer they have.

          Charity is not a market based solution, it is a morality based solution, which is probably why the left is incapable of understanding it or accepting it as a valid solution.

          • r.a.

            Ok, I see where you were going with that now. Look, my point was basic: each side has their blindspots. Some conservatives overlook the shortcomings of the market, and some liberals have, shall we say, naive views about government. That was my point there.

            But you are right in bringing up the moral arguments that come from the conservative side. While there are certainly some conservatives (or maybe libertarians) who argue that the market can pretty much take care of everything, there are plenty of others who (drawing upon a range of moral positions) argue that we should indeed “take some responsibility for others,” as you say. That’s a good point, jim.

            But then you kind of go overboard in assuming that folks to the left of you are somehow lacking in moral systems and beliefs. Interesting.

          • jim_m

            If I believe that the left lacks any sort of moral system or belief it is because the left is in constant derision of every person with any sort of moral system or belief (that is with the exception of muslims because lefties are afraid to say anything lest they have their throats slit).

            The left is so busy tearing down values and morality, saying that values are all relative and any system of values is just as good as any other, (which is patently false since they argue that their beliefs are superior to those of Christians and the very act of their arguing so betrays the fact that they believe that their amorality is superior to Christian doctrine).

            The left is busy crowing about tolerance whilst they do everything within their power to destroy people who think and believe differently than they do. The left is filled with hate toward anyone who dares suggest that there is a moral code and moved to near violence (and real violence in some cases) toward anyone who dare speak about such a code in a public forum.

            And finally, the left is built upon the idea of shirking responsibility. They want government to pay for everything and do everything. People should pay more taxes, but they won’t even volunteer to give government one penny more despite the fact that avenues have been made available for them to do so. Liberals donate significantly less to charity than conservatives, they expect the government to take care of everything , even to the point that some on the left have suggested outlawing tax deductability .for charitable donations. There exists on the left an antipathy toward people acting on their own and taking responsibility for their own actions and for the well being of others.

          • r.a.

            Ok, well, I’m not here to argue with you about your general feelings or conceptions about what “the left” does and thinks. If you have any questions about what I think, let me know.

    • jim_m

      Do we have a playing field level here in the US? I’d argue we do not

      The argument is not whether there is a level playing field. The issue is what constitutes a level playing field. Traditionally, the idea was that there existed equality of opportunity. The idea was that government should help level the playing field by reducing artificial barriers to people doing business and being successful.

      However today we have nothing but crony capitalism that benefits insiders disproportionately and victimizes people based on political connections.

      The left claims to desire equality of outcome but the effect of their policies is to trap millions of people in poverty rather than actually acting in ways that will help them because the corrupt system pays enormous benefits to the politically connected thus eliminating any real incentive to help those outside of the system.

      Yes, our system is corrupt. There is a good argument that trying to create an equality of outcome actually increases that corruption because it puts government in the place of determining winners and losers. It makes government the provider of success and creates a system that can be gamed where those who do no work can profiteer off of the labor of others.

    • herddog505

      ryan anderson[The descriptions of 'social' and 'fiscal' liberalisms presented by David Robertson are] a bit of a strawman characterization of the “other side” if I have ever seen one. I really don’t see the point of setting things up like this.

      Oh? In what way? What you see as “leveling the playing field” and “an attempt to balance out shortcomings in the market system or the private sector” is really nothing more than redistribution of wealth: taking from those who have it and giving to those who haven’t. As for the social liberal aspect, i.e. not wanting to pay the penalties for one’s mistakes, is this not what abortion is about?

      ryan anderson[Liberals] are going for something along the lines of “justice.” You know, like the “liberty and justice for all” kind of thing.

      I suggest that you have an different idea of what constitutes “justice” than we have. Justice is a matter of law, of punishing a crime. Simply deciding that “it ain’t FAAAAAAIR!” that Peter has more than Paul that it’s hence OK to tax Peter to give to Paul is not “justice” any more than it’s justice for me to find a wealthy person, rob him at gunpoint, and give the money to charity.

      Further, once you’re on the road to this sort of “justice”, of using the power of government to promote “equality”, where do you stop? If Peter has a dollar more than Paul, is it not “justice” to give them each $0.50? Or, if you think that Peter somehow did Paul the dirty to get that dollar, is it justice to take it all and give to Paul?

      Finally, this attempt to use the law to promote “equality” of necessity means dealing with groups of people, which can lead to some pretty silly outcomes. Is it somehow right to take from Joe White, living in a trailer park in Podunk, WV and give the money to (for example) Beyonce in the interest of “justice”? Isn’t this EXACTLY the idea behind reparations, which lefties like to pass off as “justice” with the apparent idea that Peter has to pay for what his great-grandfather did to Paul’s great-grandfather?

      ryan andersonPlenty of people work hard their entire lives and do not acquire wealth. Plenty of people do not work all that hard and become millionaires. Some people with nothing have great ideas and work hard and end up rich. Others have no shortage of ideas and drive, but can’t break outside of a life of poverty.
      Yes. And the fact that there is, through nobody’s fault or malice, income inequality and wealth inequality and educational inequality, does not provide carte blanche for the government to Do Something(TM) about it. This is the liberal position. You mention the financial crisis of ’07 – ’08: I suggest that, to a considerable extent, this occured exactly BECAUSE lefties looked around, saw some inequality, decided (with a health dollop of political calculation) that it was a wrong that HAD to be righted, and (ahem) adjusted the mortgage system, with the result that they put a time bomb into it. We’re all paying for that.

      The purpose of justice should NOT be to promote equality or goodness or wealth any more than it should be the business of a judge and jury to decide whether or not a murderer should get off because the victim “had it coming”. Rather, the purpose of justice should be simply to, on an individual basis, defend the rights to life, liberty and property. If the law in our country concerned itself with this simple task, we’d have a damned sight less contention and trouble.

      • r.a.

        HD505: “I suggest that you have an different idea of what constitutes ‘justice’ than we have. Justice is a matter of law, of punishing a crime.”

        Try me. I think justice is basically a matter of law–or the moral and legal systems that we create, participate in, and maintain. But then, I don’t assume that laws are always just. That”s a bad assumption.

        HD505: “Yes. And the fact that there is, through nobody’s fault or malice,
        income inequality and wealth inequality and educational inequality, does
        not provide carte blanche for the government to Do Something(TM) about it.”

        I agree with you there.

        HD505: ” You mention the financial crisis of ’07 – ’08: I suggest that, to a considerable extent, this occured exactly BECAUSE lefties looked around, saw some inequality, decided (with a health dollop of political
        calculation) that it was a wrong that HAD to be righted, and (ahem) adjusted the mortgage system, with the result that they put a time bomb into it. We’re all paying for that.”

        I’d say that’s a pretty faulty and warped explanation of the roots of the financial crisis. Was the mortgage system way too lose? Absolutely. But don’t forget that there were many, many complicit actors who contributed to that–and it wasn’t all just a bunch of liberals. The people who were doing all kinds of crazy shit with derivatives made their own choices, and knew what they were doing. Not to mention others.

        HD505: “Rather, the purpose of justice should be simply to, on an individual
        basis, defend the rights to life, liberty and property. If the law in
        our country concerned itself with this simple task, we’d have a damned
        sight less contention and trouble.”

        I think we agree about justice for the most part. I tend to think of justice as something along the lines of making everyone somewhat “equal before the law,” so that the CEO of Goldman Sachs is treated the same as Joe Public down the street. Granted, in the real world that’s a pretty utopian position…but then so was a lot of the stuff put into the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. There’s always going to be a gap between stated laws and rules and how those laws and rules are enforced (or not, as the case may be). So that’s why we can’t just be some passive populace that expects everything to fall into place.

        • herddog505

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but you define (or, at least, include in) justice as “take from one person who’s done nothing criminal and give to another person who’s done nothing to earn it”. That’s a mighty peculiar definition of justice. Or, more to the point, it would have been quite familiar to slaveowners throughout history: it’s perfectly just and legal to take from the slaves and give to us just because of who they are and who we are. Life is so beautiful…

          With regard to the mortgage crisis, I do not excuse the people who made bad decisions with MBS’s. However, the root cause of the thing was a pair of decisions by Uncle Sugar. The first was to put the full faith and credit of the United States behind the mortgages through the agencies of Fanny and Freddie, making those mortgages appear to be about as safe an investment as could be well imagined. Why NOT derivatize something that rock-solid?

          I have already discussed the other: the idiot decision by Uncle Sugar to force banks to start loaning to people who had no business getting home loans.

          These two decisions set up the meltdown. I will not discuss the apparent failure of regulators such as those who knew that (for example) Bernie Madoff was up to no good yet turned a blind eye, or the officials who decided not to prosecute Jon Corzine even though millions of dollars just sort of disappeared on his watch. Our government in action!

          If you believe that justice should apply equally to everybody regardless of his position, wealth, connections, color, gender, etc., then I completely agree with you. However, it seems to be that you can’t have equal justice AND play favorites based on skin color, gender, who your great-grandfather was, etc. Yes, it’s a noble thing to want to battle against discrimination and bigotry, but two wrongs don’t make a right, ESPECIALLY when righting those wrongs has a political component, when politicians can essentially buy votes by playing favorites in the interests of “justice”.

          Finally, we are NOT a “passive populace”, though I suggest that our nanny state is bidding fair to change that. What are we doing but convincing people in greater numbers to sit back on their fat behinds and wait for Uncle Sugar to take care of them, to buy them a phone, take care of their mortgage, take care of their student loan debts, etc? Is this not precisely what the IOWS was about: “Gimme-gimme-gimme ‘cuz I don’t want to have to work for it”?

          • r.a.

            HD505: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you define (or, at least, include in) justice as “take from one person who’s done nothing criminal and give to another person who’s done nothing to earn it”. That’s a mighty peculiar definition of justice.”

            Uh…no. Justice to me is about fairness and equality before the law and the social/moral systems humans create. In other words, justice to me is the idea that everyone deserves the same respect and rights accorded by law/society. Fair treatment, regardless of class, position, etc. I like what Jefferson said about this stuff:

            “The system of justice will either protect citizens from tyranny or be one means by which tyranny is exercised over them. A just society rests upon an equal application of the law to each and every citizen; it protects the rights of individuals regardless of the
            inconveniences caused thereby. It is of inestimable importance to the happiness and security of the people that justice be administered strictly, according to the established forms of the law.”

            He makes a good point that systems of justice can either protect or they can be tyrannical. There you have it.

            “With regard to the mortgage crisis, I do not excuse the people who made bad decisions with MBS’s.”

            Well, that’s good.

            “However, the root cause of the thing was a pair of decisions by Uncle Sugar.”

            I see, it was all the government’s fault, and the poor traders, banks, and investors were just doing what they thought was right. Seriously? You really think those people were that naive and unaware of what they were doing? Granted, the govt was certainly part of the problem…but that wasn’t everything.

            “…the idiot decision by Uncle Sugar to force banks to start loaning to people who had no business getting home loans.”

            So you think the banks were FORCED to do this huh? Really? How were they coerced into doing this? Are you saying these banks had no free will? They didn’t make any choices that they should be responsible for?

            “I will not discuss the apparent failure of regulators…”

            Well, we should. And then we should also talk about the people who actively worked to keep the regulators out of the picture (or ignorant of what was going on.

            “If you believe that justice should apply equally to everybody regardless of his position, wealth, connections, color, gender, etc., then I completely agree with you.”

            Ya, then we agree. And while we have certainly come a long way when it comes to pushing for justice here in the USA, we ain’t done yet, IMO. And a lot of people argue about just how to move forward. This stuff is worth talking about, that’s for sure.

            “Finally, we are NOT a ‘passive populace’…”

            I think we do have a pretty passive populace, in the sense that many of us show up to vote, check the boxes, and basically just go along with things–rather than ask some deeper questions about how our choices get narrowed down, who makes those decisions, and what this means for our democracy. Anyone who starts looking closer at the folks who run the presidential debates should be alarmed if they are advocates of robust democratic principles rather than made for TV political fluff. But I think I’m going off topic now…

            PS: What does justice mean for you? Where do your ideas of justice come from primarily? And thanks for the rational discussion.

          • herddog505

            Let’s start with the basic question: what is justice?

            I find this surprisingly difficult to define. It boils down to upholding a set of laws or rules that are themselves accepted as “just” (fair, equitable, rational, legitimate) by the majority of the people who live under them. The aim of justice is to increase domestic tranquility by punishing wrongdoing, i.e. violations of life, liberty or property; we hope that this deters wrongdoing or, at least, convinces the malefactor not to do it again. “Wrondoing” – crime or civil breach – is defined based on the generally accepted moral values of the broader society; the laws are, in a sense, codified morality*. Thus, many of our laws arise – or, at least, mirror – the laws set forth by the various religions, especially Christianity and Judaism.

            Because the law arises from morality and because the jurist uses much the same language as the moralist, there is a tendency to use the law to force “moral” behavior, to make a “better” society by forcing people to behave in ways that are considered “moral”. This, to my mind, is a perversion of justice, which should concern itself with crimes, i.e acts (proscribed by law) that harm others. Unfortunately we have and had had the theories of “social justice” which in effect make crimes of being too wealthy or too successful. They are fine-sounding theories that appeal to our basic notions of fairness** and charity (it is ironic that the left, which generally sneers at Christianity, perverts the Christian rules of charity for the purposes of plunder), but they turn the law inside out: the law, which should be impartial, punishing without prejudice or favor, punishes based on wealth.#

            The result, of course, is that everybody wants to get in on the act. The law, instead of being a rather dry pursuit concerned with punishing wrongdoing, becomes a tool to punish one’s enemies and reward one’s self. I have recently been reading Bastiat’s The Law. He writes:

            [U]nfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.^

            Now for a more specific topic:

            ryan andersonSo you think the banks were FORCED to do this huh? Really? How were they coerced into doing this? Are you saying these banks had no free will? They didn’t make any choices that they should be responsible for?

            Forced? They were forced to make bad loans. The were not forced to create the mortgage-backed securities. Responsible? They lost quite a lot of money: they paid for their blunders. What more do you want? Should we throw some bankers (which ones?) into prison? Hang them?

            The bankers were told by the government to make the loans. They were told by the government that the loans would be honored by the US Treasury. How, then, are they at fault for what happened? Because they couldn’t foretell the future and know that the MBS’s, which WERE profitable and apparently sound investments, would suddenly turn toxic?

            ===

            (*) I wish to be clear here: MAKING law – the legislative process – is concerned with what is “right” or moral, while UPHOLDING the law – the legal process – is concerned with what is “just” or legal. Hence, the law may punish a “good” man while letting a “bad” man go free.

            (**) By coincidence, I read an article just this morning about the different ways that people around the world perceive “fairness”.

            [I]n each game there are two players who remain anonymous to each other. The first player is given an amount of money, say $100, and told that he has to offer some of the cash, in an amount of his choosing, to the other subject. The second player can accept or refuse the split. But there’s a hitch: players know that if the recipient refuses the offer, both leave empty-handed. North Americans, who are the most common subjects for such experiments, usually offer a 50-50 split when on the giving end. When on the receiving end, they show an eagerness to punish the other player for uneven splits at their own expense. In short, Americans show the tendency to be equitable with strangers—and to punish those who are not.

            The researchers found that this behavior is typically NOT seen in other cultures. In one culture, what we would consider to be shamefully unfair splits are accepted: “Hey! Free money!” In others, the “giver” would slight himself, it being considered “right” (moral) to do so.

            http://www.psmag.com/magazines/pacific-standard-cover-story/joe-henrich-weird-ultimatum-game-shaking-up-psychology-economics-53135/

            (#) The use of the term “tax” to describe what is essentially a fine for having too much money is absolutely orwellian.

            (^) http://bastiat.org/en/the_law.html#SECTION_G006

          • r.a.

            This is good stuff, HD505.

            RE: Justice: Ya, it is definitely a tough one to define. Especially since the idea has shifted over time. The term itself has meant some different things–and I think it was only attached to the idea of “fairness” relatively recently. But don’t quote me on that…I need to read up on that a bit more.

            Also, ya, law is something along the lines of codified morality, and justice then would be the equitable enforcement or application of that law. Assuming that the morality encoded in law is just in the first place–that’s one of the catches with all this, no?

            I agree with you that attempts to force certain moral norms are perversions of justice. Or they can be. Any enforcement of law is in effect forcing people to obey certain (agreed upon) moral norms (about murder, rape, theft, etc). So the issue here is really about which norms are acceptable to uphold with force and law, and which ones should be left to people to hash out individually, democratically, etc. I agree with you though that a lot can go astray in the name of “law” and “morality,” especially when there is coercive or violent force behind the law.

            The social justice stuff gets complicated. It has roots in Catholic teaching–some pretty solid foundations if you ask me. But the problem is that all kinds of things can be justified in the name of “social justice,” and some have everything to do with coercion and nothing to do with justice. Anyway, there’s a lot to talk about with all that, and I am no expert on any of it.

            RE: The bankers and the financial crash: I still think you’re giving those bankers too many excuses. And I think it’s a stretch to say they were forced into making those bad loans. But maybe we should trade sources and see what we come up with. I’d recommend “Fool’s Gold” by Gillian Tett, whose with the Financial Times. What do you recommend? Also very important: By no means do I think “the bankers” were the only ones responsible for what happened. That would actually be pretty ridiculous, considering all the factors that went into a massive global meltdown that economists are still debating about today. A lot of people want an easy answer, just one person or group to blame. In reality, it’s not as easy to pin blame on “the govt” or “the bankers” as the true culprits of what happened. At least, I don’t think so. But that’s not a very exciting answer.

          • herddog505

            I think that “fairness” has always been the implicit idea behind justice. The problem is that “fairness” is in the eye of the beholder: I make no doubt that Pharoah, the feudal lord, the slaveowner, the robber baron, etc. though that their system was eminently fair… to them. For everybody else, maybe not so much.

            If we embrace the Enlightenment concept of unalienable rights, however, then the solution becomes somewhat more clear: if we both have equal rights to life, liberty and property, then it seems to me less likely that either of us will have his rights trampled. This is why I think that liberal class warfare rhetoric is so dangerous: once society collectively agrees that some people (Africans, Indians, nisei, the rich) are not worthy of the same protections as everybody else, then it’s a short and easy path to some pretty horrible crimes: discrimination, slavery, genocide. The law – justice – ought to be in the business of impartially protecting everybody’s rights, not playing favorites, even for the most altruistic reasons.

            ryan andersonAny enforcement of law is in effect forcing people to obey certain (agreed upon) moral norms (about murder, rape, theft, etc.).

            This is true. I expect that John Wilkes Booth, Byron De La Beckwith, and Nidal Hasan all did what they did not only with a clear conscience, but with a warm feeling of doing something good, right and proper. Personally, I’d feel the same when I put ropes ’round their necks…

            I have thought about what constitutes a “crime” and why we ought to punish it. I realize that it treads on some uncertain ground, but fundamentally a crime is an act that injures a person’s life, liberty or property or, in some cases (treason, draft dodging), injures the society as a whole. It is in the interests of society to prevent (or, at least, avenge) such acts in order to promote the civil peace and national security, which is to the advantage of us all. It makes no difference to me that a person is robbed, raped or murdered in another state or county, but living in a society where such crimes are (ahem) discouraged IS in my interest. By the same token, it is of no consequence to me that one stranger decides to break a contract that he has with another stranger, but it IS in my interests that contracts – including any that I might make – have the weight of the law behind them.

            Where the concept becomes hazy are those cases where it’s not so obvious that there has been an offense to life, liberty or property. For example, I am not in favor of laws against drug use nobody is harmed by the act itself. Yet, is it in society’s interest to discourage the (shall we say?) collateral acts of driving while impaired? Or discouraging a person becoming a burden on society because, by making himself a slave to a drug, he cannot hold a job or otherwise be a productive citizen? The prohibitionists wanted to ban alcohol for similar reasons, and because they wanted to stop the collateral crimes of drunkards abusing their wives and children, either by direct physical abuse or by drinking up the grocery money so that they went cold and hungry.

            This attitude is, I think, back of the lefty ideas of using the law as an agent of charity and enforcing “virtue”: it is in society’s interest that we not have uneducated citizens, so we have public schools. It is NOT in society’s interest to have people forced to beg for their bread, so we have welfare. Etc. The problem is that this pits “society” against the individual who has to pay for it all. As Bastiat notes, it turns the law on its ear because, instead of interesting itself with defending life, liberty and property, it TAKES liberty and property (life, too, if one resists) for charitable reasons, for “the benefit of society”.

            With regard to the bankers, I can’t point to a single source. I agree with you that it was a complex issue. There were problems in other countries that contributed to the problem that clearly were not the fault of the US government. However, we know that the government KNEW that it was increasing risk to the system when, back during the Clinton years, it ordered banks to (ahem) ease their lending requirements*. We also know that Bush sounded the alarm early in his term, only to be pooh-poohed by such financial luminaries as Bawney “High Roller” Fwank.** In short, the US government played a very key role in setting up the catastrophe; had Uncle Sugar not taken the steps that he did (for the best reasons, of course), I doubt that the meltdown would have been nearly so bad or, indeed, have occured at all.

            ===

            (*) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFlYmLAMbrw

            (**) I worry, frankly, that there’s a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios.

            Rep. Barney Frank
            Sept. 10, 2003

            I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .

            Ibid.
            Sept. 25, 2003

            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122290574391296381.html

            See also:

            http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2008/09/bush-called-for-reform-of-fannie-mae/

          • r.a.

            HD505: “The law – justice – ought to be in the business of impartially protecting everybody’s rights, not playing favorites, even for the most altruistic reasons.”

            First, I agree with you that what we want is a situation in which everyone has equal rights under the law. And justice should be about protecting everyone’s rights.

            But problems crop up because 1) we can’t assume that law, or codified morality, is always just. Jim Crow laws being a past example; and 2) The law doesn’t cover everything. There are often cases in which patterns of injustice exist that are socially accepted even though they are technically illegal, wrong, etc.

            So while I agree with you that ideally it should be a system in which we have laws and then just enforcement of those laws, often there is a lot happening outside of all that. And that makes legislating justice pretty difficult.

            HD505: “This attitude is, I think, back of the lefty ideas of using the law as an agent of charity and enforcing ‘virtue’…”

            Ya, I agree with you about the inherent problems of trying to force charity and “virtue” (a slippery term if there ever was one) via law. One of the main problems being that so many people disagree about what would constitute charity or virtue. Not to mention the fact that it forces people into certain “accepted” behaviors. In the case of drugs and alcohol, I don’t think we should be telling people what to do. But I do think it makes sense to make it illegal to drive after drinking 18 beers. Just like the whole outlaw of soda in New York–to me that’s an insane overreach, even if soda is extremely bad (it is). That’s some serious overreach all in the name of the public good. On the other hand, I do think it makes sense to regulate people who produce food (meat, etc), because I would prefer not to have shit (literally) in my food when the label says “Grade A.”

            And regarding the bankers and the crash, I agree with you that the govt played a key role. No doubt about that. As with everything, everyone wants to shift the blame elsewhere. What a surprise!

          • herddog505

            ryan anderson[W]e can’t assume that law, or codified morality, is always just. Jim Crow laws being a past example; and 2) The law doesn’t cover everything. There are often cases in which patterns of injustice exist that are socially accepted even though they are technically illegal, wrong, etc.

            I accept that the law is imperfect because the society that makes / administers it is imperfect. However, to minimize injustices that might arise from these imperfections, I suggest that limiting the scope of the law is the way to go. You mention Jim Crow: how did those laws arise except for (in part) a determination by their authors to use the law NOT to defend life, liberty and property but to attempt to make the sort of society they wanted? I suggest that CONCEPTUALLY there’s no difference between Jim Crow laws (which plundered black Americans) and our present welfare laws (which plunder “rich” Americans).

            ryan andersonI do think it makes sense to regulate people who produce food (meat, etc), because I would prefer not to have shit (literally) in my food when the label says “Grade A.”

            Neither do I. However, I suggest the following:

            1. That the government doesn’t regulate an industry does not mean that said industry is immune from lawsuits or criminal prosecution for harming people by selling defective (adulterated) products. To the contrary: if the government is in the business of “regulating” an industry, it’s very easy for that industry to (ahem) guide the regulatory policies and legal liabilities to their benefit. Many people think that the Wall Street bankers who “caused” the meltdown ought to be prosecuted. Well, why aren’t they? I suggest that it’s because Uncle Sugar has a regulatory scheme, and those bankers made damned sure that it favored them;

            2. I do not believe that government regulation really plays that large a role in consumer safety: there is not an army of federal regulators who inspect every dairy farm, cannery, meat-packing plant, etc. on such a frequent basis that they catch all the foul-ups. We see regularly in the news where people get sick or even die from contaminated food: where were the regulators?
            I have worked in a regulated industry (pharmaceuticals). Quite aside from people taking pride in their jobs and not wanting to risk harming people (“Remember: your own child might take the drugs you are working on!”), what keeps the industry honest is not regulatory inspection but rather fear of prosecution for negligence and crushing lawsuits.
            In the final analysis, I believe that attempting to PREVENT crime is a pointless task: people intent on wrongdoing will find a way. The best we can do it to try to deter would-be criminals by making it very clear that they will be punished for their wrong-doing, and, if necessary, making it impossible for them to commit further crimes by either locking them away for life or putting them in a grave.

          • herddog505

            Speaking of the law and idiocy therein:

            What was his crime?

            Rape? Murder? Home invasion? Defrauding 10,000 people in a pyramid scheme?

            Worse: As a romantic gesture, he released a dozen helium-filled mylar Valentine’s Day balloons with his girlfriend.

            http://ace.mu.nu/archives/337879.php

    • Brucehenry

      Well, it was an excellent and thoughtful one. I envy your ability to criticize effectively without sarcasm or snark. I myself lack that ability.

      • herddog505

        I agree with you: ryan anderson is one of the most polite people who comment here. I may not always agree with him, but I don’t recall ever detecting any animosity or even smugness when reading his comments.

  • stevesturm

    There is no difference between social and fiscal liberalism, both aim to remove an individual from having to suffer any consequences as a result of their lifestyle. It’s ‘no worries, anything goes’.

  • Constitution First

    The biggest moral sin is, we all know where this is going: The United States of Europe. The enormous difference is Europe had US to repeatedly bail them out. There is not enough money on the planet to bail US out. The normal reaction would be to say our government is simply too stupid to recognize the error of their ways, however the evidence shows they are a lot smarter then surface appearances. They are malfeasant. The $64,000 question is: why are they taking US down The Road to Serfdom, while lying and misleading every step of the way? Don’t get me started on why the malfeasant media so willingly rides shotgun.