Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Reason To Survive

I defer to one of the greatest thinkers of our time, Dennis Prager.

If you find his clarity intimidating, you may want to rethink your paradigm.  He is correct in saying America is at a crossroads at what we want our country to look like; the America that has been a force for good in the world, or an America that looks like Western Europe.

I'm sorry, but I'm done with the intellectualizing the choices between democrats and republicans.  I have seen what out of control democrats are capable of doing.  Please, someone ... give me an example of when the republicans, when in charge of both houses and the presidency, screwed things up as badly as this current administration and congress. And please be specific:
Foreign Policy
Domestic Policy
Tax burden

Darko Festin

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Difference Between Conservatives and Liberals

I saw a political advertisement a few months ago that confused me. The politician running the ad claimed to be a candidate that embraced and supported progressive values. The question came to my mind, what exactly are progressive values? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard them articulated in specific terms. I’ve only heard them expressed in ambiguous terms, often couched in negatively oriented sentences and typically book-ended with name calling. i.e. “Well, the difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives are stupid, mind-numb robots.” Here’s another one: “Well, he’s a racist.” Then there's the tired cliche of liberal rhetoric during campaign speeches; “We stand for middle America.”  “We want to save our planet for future generations.” “We’re committed to bringing health care to every American, because it’s their right.” Give me a break. I’m a conservative and I stand for middle America. I want to save our planet, and I’m all for helping Americans get affordable health care. Now, I am certain liberals know what goals they want to accomplish, but that’s a lot different than having a firm set of values that guide them in the accomplishment of those goals. So, as I break it down in my mind, there are two possibilities: liberals simply don’t know what they believe, or they are fearful of rejection if what they believe is clearly articulated. I think this assertion helps explain the absence of liberal clarity on the subject and the reason conservatives encounter such demonetization and name calling. Yes, liberals will tell you what their goals are; protect the environment, eliminate world hunger, reduce global warming, economic justice … but they're slow to tell you how they want to reach their goals. Now, I do think liberals believe something, but as intelligent as some of them are, they haven’t considered the consequences or practicality of their beliefs, which brings me to the short list of difference between conservatives and liberals:

1. Conservatives embrace the doctrine of absolutes, and liberals embrace the doctrine of relativism. Now when you think about this, it’s easy to understand why liberals have a hard time telling you what they believe. Relativism, by definition, is ambiguous since it embraces variables in situations, conditions and individuals to explain or justify thought or behavior. It denies, for one thing, the concept of right and wrong, and for another, good and evil. How many times have you heard someone say something like, “Christian fundamentalism is as dangerous as Islamic fundamentalism.” That statement betrays a world view of moral relativism, which cannot distinguish good behavior from bad behavior. Here’s another one that I’m hearing a lot these days: “We need to make economic justice a priority in America.” Translation: “We’re going to take money out of your pocket and give it to someone else, because we know better than you how it should be distributed.” Let me tell you that Relativism is a dangerous ideology, for it embraces the concept that the end justifies the means.  We currently have a president and sitting congress that demonstrates this attribute on a regular basis; lie, demonize, steal … as long as we arrive at the end with a good result.

2. Conservatives tend to vote and make decisions based on reason, and liberals tend to vote and make decisions based on emotion. The current debate over the illegal immigration issue is largely divided between the facts and the emotional components of the situation. The initial support of Obama Care was largely based on the emotional/class warfare language used to defend the measure; "fat-cat insurance agencies, big pharmaceutical, millions of uninsured, republicans want you to die …" language designed to appeal to the emotions of the constituency. The facts surrounding Obama Care all pointed to higher health-care costs, the disappearance of quality of health care, shortages of doctors, higher taxes, and the creation of some 120 new government agencies to manage the program. A reasoned response to Obama care would have been to say no, which conservatives did, and then were demonized as … racists, obstructionists, the party of no.

3. Conservatives embrace the concept of individual liberty, and the philosophy of self determination bound to personal responsibility. These three concepts are really parts of the larger concept we call freedom. Liberals have historically adopted collectivist attitudes and behaviors in the application of liberty and responsibility; typically diametrically opposed to the concept of freedom.  Conservatives understand that there is risk involved in the exercise of individual liberty, but are willing to take those risks, because to do otherwise gives someone else the authority to make choices that may not be in their best interests. Liberals supported universal health care, largely because it promised to minimize risk, spread out costs, and equalize the quality of health care. Oops. Never in all of our history have so many people been willing to sacrifice their individual liberty, abdicate their personal responsibility and deny their self determination as they were in their support of Obama Care. Obama Care is just one example. Social security, medicare, food stamps, mortgage assistance programs, and unionization are all examples of the collectivism that is tearing the very fabric of our nation. Now, I’m not saying that all of the above is bad, but please tell me where any of it has been well managed. My point is that you can’t engage in collectivist behavior and expect to keep the freedom the founders intended for you to realize.

4. When debating issues, conservative language is generally characterized by a reasoned line of thought, based on logic, historical precedent, and/or well established facts. Liberal language, when debating issues, is characterized by labeling the opposition, and deflecting weaknesses in their arguments by demonizing the person making the argument. It’s often said that conservatives win in the arena of ideas, because liberal ideas don’t hold up to intellectual scrutiny. To date, I have not heard one liberal offer me a reasoned argument for their animosity toward Sarah Palin. Why is she so hated by the left? Here’s what I hear. “She’s stupid. She’s a whacko fundamentalist Christian that doesn’t believe in evolution. She says she can see Russia from her front porch.”  Excuse me, but I’m having a hard time finding any measure of intellectual honesty in those comments. FYI – Here are some facts to consider: George Washington, along with a lot of other distinguished people in our history were Christian fundamentalists. Evolution is a theory … it cannot be proven, so if you accept it as truth, you do so as an act of faith. For the record, if you believe your great, great, great, great, greatX1000 … grandfather was nothing more than a one celled amoeba, I won’t call you stupid if you can’t prove it. Sarah Palin did not say she could see Russia from her front porch. That was Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin. With that said … why do we hear the terms racist, bigot, and homophobes being used almost exclusively from the mouths of liberals?  I’ll tell you why. It’s because they are ambiguous assertions, which normally cannot be proven or dis-proven, emanating from minds that attach an arbitrary meanings to their manifestations. i.e. "If you disagree with me and you are of a different race than me, you're a racist." These emotionally charged terms serve as a means of discrediting the person expressing a point of view in the absence of possessing a credible opposing point of view. Americans are not unaware of this tactic, and I would encourage current and future public figures to avoid the practice of name calling. If you can’t win in the arena of ideas, you should let someone else take your place.

5. Conservatives tend to support limited government. Liberals tend to support bigger government. Sadly, I think the reason liberals support an ever expanding government is that they see government as the answer to all problems. From a historical standpoint you will have a hard time arguing with this assertion. Liberals tend to embrace Utopian philosophy, a philosophy that advances the notion that under the right conditions and with the right people in charge, man can free himself of strife, crime, and the need to work. One problem with Utopian philosophy is that it necessarily demands the sacrifice of individual liberty, personal responsibility and self determination. Another problem with Utopian philosophy is that it ignores the realities of human nature … men will always be greedy, lustful, deceitful and dishonest, no matter who is in charge or what conditions exist. Utopian philosophy needs big government to implement its principles, and ignores all the lessons of human history.

6. Conservatives tend to be capitalists in their behavior. Liberals tend to be socialists in their behavior. The hard facts of our current social and political environment support the above proposition. Look at the actions of the sitting administration and congress … decidedly liberal and decidedly socialistic in the measures they advance and support. Now, the only problem with socialism is that it doesn’t work. With one exception, the kibbutz system in Israel, socialism, as a sustainable economic model, has failed. Not exactly a good track record. People want to look at the current situation in America and call it a failure of capitalism. I would submit that it’s not the capitalistic aspects of our economy that have failed us, but the socialistic aspects; many of which were implemented under the Johnson administration.
Capitalism is the only economic system that embraces and supports the realities of the human condition:
  • People will be productive when properly rewarded
  • People will prosper in an environment that fosters creative expression, productivity and autonomy
  • People want to keep the proceeds of their labor and the freedom to distribute it according to their self interests
  • People will resist productivity when not adequately rewarded
  • People will resist productivity when rewarded for the labor of another
  • Consumption is a matter of survival, and in order to survive one of the following conditions must exist
One must be gifted his/her means of consumption
One must earn the means of his/her consumption
One must steal or take the means of his/her consumption
It only takes a small measure of intellect to realize that socialism ignores all but one of these realities, that some must be gifted their means of consumption. The problem is that in order to give something there must be a giver … someone who has the means to give. As a matter of practice you need more givers than takers. The very nature of socialism eventually erodes this relationship of more givers than takers. Of the three options listed above, only the second one has long term merit, and it happens to conform to the free market system.

I grew up in a middle-class family; a family that promoted hard work, personal responsibility, and respect for others. The schools I attended taught the principles found in the constitution, and encouraged good citizenship. I was exposed to the risks of capitalism and the failings of socialism, and determined early in life that conservative values, some of which I’ve expressed here, would form my world view. I don’t see a broad gap between socialism, communism, Marxism or Statist ideology. They all share the one critical common component: taking the profits from some and redistribute it to others.  I’m unapologetic in my conservative bent and I’ve made it a personal mission to convert as many as I can to a point of view similar to mine. I have many friends who are liberal … yes, friends. I don’t call them names, or belittle them for their opposing views. For one thing, it’s counterproductive and for another, my conservative values forbid it.

I have very real fears about the future of America. I feel that for many Americans, their hopes are anchored in the promises of big government and more social programs. Consequently bigger government necessarily requires a greater degree of taxation, lowering the standard of living for everyone. Capitalism, which served to make America one of the few forces for good in the world, is being devoured by the cancer of progressive thought; environmentalism, universal health care, global governance, and the redistribution of wealth. I think our only hope is to revisit the faith and values of our founding fathers who entrusted us with such a grand experiment; The United States of America.