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Compassionate Conservatism?
February 12, 2002 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Compassionate Conservatism? Why is anyone surprised by the difference between campaign rhetoric and action once in office?
posted by chris0495 (71 comments total)

 
Gosh, I'm shocked that the "Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights" would want to slam the Bush Administration. The paragraph below (from an intro to one of their reports) is from their website - and is full of language and rhetoric that seems lifted straight out of the 60's. The things it "chronicles" are scathing. The funny thing is, this report is about the Clinton Administration. Yep - Clinton was not liberal enough for them. Hardly surprising they'd want to hang Bush.

"The report chronicles discrimination directed at racial minorities as well as against women, legal immigrants, language minorities and disabled people. It highlights the need for increased leadership at the federal level, pointing to numerous illustrations of discrimination's prevalence.The report addresses 19 new recommendations to the Administration and Congress, grouped under three headings: Presidential Leadership and Appointments, Federal Civil Rights Policies and Remedies, and New Legislative Remedies."
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:08 AM on February 12, 2002


Is anybody really shocked that a Republican's Civil Rights record stinks? Declaring one's self a Republican is essentially announcing "I'm white and relatively well-provided for. I want to keep it that way, and I don't care upon whom I step in the process of preserving the present order of things."

That, and I want to see the allegations come from a more damning source than "The Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights." This article is barely news.
posted by Harry Hopkins' Hat at 8:38 AM on February 12, 2002


MidasMulligan: You need to stop reacting to posts without carefully reading the material in question. The report concerns on two years of the Clinton administration, but focuses more on the first year of the Bush administration. And it's rather complimentary of Clinton, while not as overwhelmingly rough on Bush as the FPP makes it sound. The basic report is here, followed by recommendations.
posted by raysmj at 8:39 AM on February 12, 2002


i like the recommendations :) it's like asking bush to create an office of civil rights responsibility!
posted by kliuless at 9:10 AM on February 12, 2002


FYI: "What is compassionate conservatism and can it transform America?"
posted by Iberaband at 9:14 AM on February 12, 2002


"I'm white and relatively well-provided for. I want to keep it that way, and I don't care upon whom I step in the process of preserving the present order of things."
Harry Hopkins Hat: You seem like a reasonable person, and I'm sure that you recognize your own statement as a bit of intemperate slander. Surprisingly enough, my experience of Republicans and conservatives is that they want precisely the same things that Demorcats and liberals want: an end to poverty, an end to racial discrimination, more prosperity for more people, and the maximum allowable freedoms consistent with public safety. The conservative view is that these ends are best achieved via the free market, and the preservation of traditional values, and all that. Bush made a serious tactical error when he came up with that "Compassionate Conservativism" tag, because it implied that up until then, compassion had not been part of the conservative agenda. That, of course, is untrue, as anyone could tell you who has been following the conservative argument over the years. The strength of our country is that our Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals actually share the same respect for the consitution and racial equalty, and have the same honorable ends. The simply differ bitterly about the means of achieving those goals.
posted by Faze at 9:20 AM on February 12, 2002


[Declaring one's self a Republican is essentially announcing "I'm white and relatively well-provided for. I want to keep it that way, and I don't care upon whom I step in the process of preserving the present order of things."]

I'm gonna have to call BS on that, MmmmKay? That may be what it means to you, but as a Republican is sure as hell isn't what it means to me.
posted by revbrian at 9:27 AM on February 12, 2002


The strength of our country is that our Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals actually share the same respect for the consitution and racial equalty, and have the same honorable ends. The simply differ bitterly about the means of achieving those goals.

That's pretty lame, and also completely unproven. I'll leave it to others to point out specific instances of racism or race baiting, and to bicker back and forth about it in a totally pointless manner. But I think it's a safe bet to say that not all liberals have the same honorable ends, much less all liberals and conservatives. How would know this about all people anyhow? Are you omniscient?
posted by raysmj at 9:36 AM on February 12, 2002


Raysmj: Omniscience is not one of my many fine personal qualities, however, you must accept a certain level of generalization, or discussion becomes impossible. But to address your objections, I would have to say that in my broad contacts with many different people in many different walks of life, and in my reading (which I would modestly characterize as vast) across the whole spectrum of political opinion, I am continually impressed by the liberalisim of our American conservatives, and the conservatism of our American liberals. Talk to any liberal for more than a few minutes, and you will hear him affirming much the same ideals as a conservative would after a few minutes of similar conversation. Also, don't forget, people are not ideologies. We all have our moods and pets, and sometimes we shoot off our mouths and say things that are far removed from the core beliefs that motivate our actions.
posted by Faze at 9:52 AM on February 12, 2002


Bush made a serious tactical error when he came up with that "Compassionate Conservativism" tag, because it implied that up until then, compassion had not been part of the conservative agenda.

Drivel.

The party of Herbert Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Dick Nixon, Ronald Reagan, David Duke, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and the entire Bush clan has consistently fought against civil rights, women's rights, lawful dissent, health care for the poor, business regulation, and protection of the environment.

Now that's really compassion.

Conservatism in this country has been about one thing: kowtowing to Mr. Greenback...kneepads optional.

[Declaring one's self a Republican is essentially announcing "I'm white and relatively well-provided for. I want to keep it that way, and I don't care upon whom I step in the process of preserving the present order of things."]

I'm gonna have to call BS on that, MmmmKay? That may be what it means to you, but as a Republican is sure as hell isn't what it means to me.


Spin it...but the original characterization sounds just about right to me. I'm sure we'll hear Kenneth Lay howling that Enron sure as hell wasn't about stealing money, either...
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:53 AM on February 12, 2002


There's a bunch of back-room mud-wrestling going on around these issues (one example).
posted by gimonca at 9:53 AM on February 12, 2002


my experience of Republicans and conservatives is that they want precisely the same things that Demorcats and liberals want: an end to poverty, an end to racial discrimination, more prosperity for more people, and the maximum allowable freedoms consistent with public safety.

Well put. I would add, though, that the more extreme Dems. and Reps. support more intrusive government (i.e. collective) interference into people's lives, for their particular ends. In my view, the two party system is still, at its heart, the federalist v. antifederalist divide.

The conservative view is that these ends are best achieved via the free market, and the preservation of traditional values,

I would agree that conservatism involves the preservation of traditional values, but the free market as ideology is more of a neo-conservative flourish which, IMO, works against traditional values, particularly family life. The market, through the industrial revolution, took the parents-- first the father, then the mother-- away from the home to spend eight hours a day at work or commuting to work, for one admittedly extreme example. Neo-conservatism accomodates this contradiction through casting free markets as a good in and of themselves, rather than as a tool to benefit individuals. Callously allowing the arrangement of individuals in a way which best suit the needs of the market is fundamentally at odds with the primacy of the individual.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:55 AM on February 12, 2002


"and the preservation of traditional values"

Whose traditional values? At what point should they no longer be preserved?

Slavery? Segregation? Jim Crow? Anti-sodomy laws? Prohibition?

The problem with the Republican party is that they have aligned themselves with the religious right, whose aim is to impose their values on the rest of us. If not for this giant, inescapable fact, I would consider voting Republican.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:13 AM on February 12, 2002


more extreme Dems. and Reps. support more intrusive government (i.e. collective) interference into people's lives, for their particular ends.

Well, these types of Democrats and Republicans have the same goals as their less "extreme" counterparts: eliminate poverty, education, etc. What separates all of them isn't the goals, but how to go about them. What you call intrusive government might be a worthwhile program to someone else; that's why these things have to be argued on merit, rather than assuming that these kinds of politicians are working towards "their particular ends" rather than the same goals we all share.

What gets to me about Bush is that he throws around to term "bipartisanship" like he invented it, while making speeches implying that the Democrats don't want kids to read, or economy to get better; rather than that the parties just can't agree on how to go about it. "And there'll be people who'll say..." and so forth.
posted by skyline at 10:17 AM on February 12, 2002


Up until very recently I was of the "Dem and Reps are more alike than they are different" camp. However, I am coming to believe that this is almost entirely untrue. While any particular Dem may express his or her goals and ideals with much the same rhetoric as any particular Rep, I don't think that this translates into "wanting/believing the same things."

More and more, I am coming to believe that Conservative/Libertarian/Rep individuals perceive the world in fundamentally different ways than do their Liberal/Progressive/Dem counterparts. Give each individual/goup a fixed set of circumstances and the interpretations offered will often be wildly divergent - same data set, different sum.

It is not just that the differing ideologies push the opposing camps to emphasize different aspects of a situation, but instead I think that the differing ideologies actually result in the effect of Reps and Dems living in different "wolds" from each other. The interpretations offered for a given situation are different, because to each camp the situations themselves are different - the view for each is interpreted through a fundamentally different lens or filter, through which the basic facts of the case are altered.

Is one side perceiving the world true while the other side's perceptions are false? Perhaps, I know which world I prefer. But perhaps neither side sees the truth. Perhaps the political "worlds" we have constructed for ourselves hold no more authentic truth than the fleeting impression of a desert mirage.
posted by edlark at 10:23 AM on February 12, 2002


fold_and_mutilate: Herbert Hoover? Think the opposite. You might want to read John Barry's Rising Tide. The GOP's bad civil rights history begins with the effort, beginning in the mid-'60s, to bring segregationist Democrats and their followers into the Republican fold.

The very blossoming of the Christian right, by the way, began with the effort to stop the IRS's Carter-era attempt to revoke the tax exempt status of segregated religious schools. Reagan courted these same Christian conservatives. This is no great secret.
posted by raysmj at 10:24 AM on February 12, 2002


What gets to me about Bush is that he throws around to term "bipartisanship" like he invented it, while making speeches implying that the Democrats don't want kids to read, or economy to get better; rather than that the parties just can't agree on how to go about it. "And there'll be people who'll say..." and so forth.

One of the perks about being president. You get to talk shit about the other party (or the other branches) wherever and whenever you want to, and it's headline news. Great move by the framers, I think.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:27 AM on February 12, 2002


fold... are you serious about your statement: "(republicans) ... consistently fought against civil rights."? As I recall, it was a Republican President who penned the Emancipation Proclimation to get the ball rolling (making many souther dems very upset). Fast forward to 1964 and a discussion on the Civil Rights Act:


"Not only did Al Gore Sr. and all of the Southern Democrats vote against the Civil Rights Act, Gore Sr. tried to derail it by amendment. His amendment stated, "in defiance of a court desegregation order, federal funds could not be (with)held from any school districts." The 1964 Civil Rights Act would not have passed if Republicans had not rallied to stop this radical amendment offered by Sen. Albert Gore, Sr. to weaken the bill. The Southern Democrats filibustered the act, and it took a strong Republican response to pass it. So valuable were the Republicans to the vote that Democrats gave credit to them during their national convention. President Lyndon Johnson praised the "overwhelming majority" Republican support. "


What we're talking about with these two policies is history changing, wide-sweeping change. Sure - you'll find examples here and there of wrongdoing - nobody's perfect. But in the big picture, Republicans have made the right choices in regards to civil rights.
posted by stormy at 10:35 AM on February 12, 2002


Skyline,
You're saying just the same thing I am. Bush hurts his own cause when implies that his opponents to want kids to read, or the economy to get better, etc. Democrats want all those thing, they just want to go about getting them in a different way. It doesn't speak well for civil discourse when leaders start flinging around these deliberate untruths, that do nothing to convince the undecided, and do nothing but comfort the people who are already on your side, and inflame those who are not. There is a need for the type of mutual respect best typified by Lincoln's second inaugural address, which we should all re-read at least once a year. (It's really short.)
posted by Faze at 10:41 AM on February 12, 2002


Raysmj- Fold_and_Mutilate presented Hoover simply as a president lacking in compassion, not necessarily in the area of civil rights.

Hoover certainly gets my vote for "Most Cold, Out-Of-Touch and Unfeeling" among US presidents. Consider his Depression-era remark upon seeing destitute men in Washington hawking fruit on the roadside:

"Many people have left their jobs for the more profitable one of selling apples."
posted by Harry Hopkins' Hat at 11:08 AM on February 12, 2002


stormy: Kinda forgetting about Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond's 24-hour filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 957, aren't you? Sure, he was a Democrat/Dixiecrat. But why did he become a Republican? By the time he did, the GOP had changed, and nearly all the former Jim Crow Dems. had become Republicans.

By the way, Al Gore Sr. supported the Votings Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Oh, and Barry Goldwater, the father of modern GOP conservatism, voted aginst the Civil Rights Act of 1964 too. George H.W. Bush also attacked his opponent, Ralph Yarborough, for supporting the act in a race for a Texas House seat in 1964.
posted by raysmj at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2002


Harry Hopkins: No, he didn't.
posted by raysmj at 11:10 AM on February 12, 2002


"Many people have left their jobs for the more profitable one of selling apples."
Herbert Hoover never said this, any more than Marie Antionette ever said "Let them eat cake." Both are historical canards. Actually, Hoover was no more or less compassionate than Franklin D. Roosevelt. He got whacked in the face by the Great Depression, and didn't know what to do about it. Franklin D. Roosevelt thought he knew what to do about it, but aside from boosting the country's morale, his policies were also a total flop-a-roonie. It was the utterly non-compassionate occurance of war that saved us. At least that's what my Pappy says.
posted by Faze at 11:27 AM on February 12, 2002


Raysmj-- The quote's fabricated? Check here, or here.

Shaping history into what's ideologically convenient for you-- are you a religious fundamentalist or something?
posted by Harry Hopkins' Hat at 11:33 AM on February 12, 2002


Faze: It's a bit of both, actually.

Harry: I meant that you misrepresented fold_and_mutilate's comments, nothing about Hoovery's. The poster wrote nothing of the sort that you stated.
posted by raysmj at 11:35 AM on February 12, 2002


Hoover's, rather. Gosh, this is hacking me off. Hoover, to me, is not an issue in civil rights. And I'm not a conservative or a Republican, already! OK?
posted by raysmj at 11:37 AM on February 12, 2002


OK. Just one more. Hoover's association with civil rights, as small as it is, is overwhelmingly positive.
posted by raysmj at 11:42 AM on February 12, 2002


...are you a religious fundamentalist or something?
Harry Hopkins' Hat: Now you're just having fun with me, you old fooler. In regards to that Hoover quote, you'll have to source it better than that.
posted by Faze at 11:44 AM on February 12, 2002


"I'm white and relatively well-provided for. I want to keep it that way, and I don't care upon whom I step in the process of preserving the present order of things."

Uhh, yeah. I think this statement epitomises the kind of race-baiting that groups like the 'Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights' consistently use to further their little agenda. The problem is, this group seems to have confused civil rights with economic policy. Since when was it anyone's civil right to be at the receiving end of a bloated government program? And I have serious doubts that the 'inner-city poor' that these groups valorize ever benefitted at all from the federal bloatware that the CCCR is pining for. These programs have done little other than create a culture of victimization and dependency in the communities they are to ostensibly help.

And there are plenty of blacks/hispanics/etc. that are politically other than Democrats, but, of course, they will be labelled Uncle Tom, right? I also must point out that Bush appointed two black people to highest level cabinet positions, Condaleeza Rice being perhaps his closest advisor. What thrilled me the most about this was that it was such a non-issue in the administration; Rice and Powell were chosen on the basis of their credentials rather than to fill some quota, which seems to me to be a true instance of civil equality.
posted by evanizer at 11:55 AM on February 12, 2002


Personally, speaking as a Republican, here's my idea of welfare. Get kids while they're young, build good attitudes and a good work ethic, then give them a marketable skill. Giving people handouts only reinforces existing negative paradigms, exacerbating the real problem. You've gotta break through the attitude problems before you can realistically achieve widespread social change.

Harry Hopkins Hat: You seem like a reasonable person...

You really haven't run into HHH around here much, have you? He's a blatent idealogue, even more so than f_and_m.

I appreciate what you seem to be trying to do, edlark, but all the politeness in the world won't get you anywhere with one such as Harry.
posted by gd779 at 12:09 PM on February 12, 2002


" ... Declaring one's self a Republican is essentially announcing "I'm white and relatively well-provided for. I want to keep it that way, and I don't care upon whom I step in the process of preserving the present order of things...."

I love it! Though it would probably puzzle all the working-class Hispanic families that voted for Bush in considerable numbers. But when did facts ever stand in the way of ideology?
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:56 PM on February 12, 2002


Is this thread proof that: a) There is no liberal conspiracy on metafilter or b) that conservatives are really defensive about these issues. Which is not to say that, to some degree, that the GOP is not innocent of a few charges made by liberals here (see: Hoover, as if anyone here really cares; total lack of diversity, etc.). But, y'know, the GOP isn't very diverse. That's not a lie. It has that post-'60s "southern stragegy" legacy, one particularly relevant given that the party has been taken over by Goldwater-style fusionist (that was the word for it - look it up) conservatism since that time. Nothing you can do about it, if you're really interested in racial issues, but try to do better and to stop whining about how Bush put in Condi Rice and Powell. Well, OK. Great. But it doesn't change the recent past, or the party's current lack of diversity.
posted by raysmj at 2:18 PM on February 12, 2002


I'd just like to point out that being conservative does primarily mean leaving things as they are or changing them back to what they were. You know, preferring and defending the statu quo and all that it involves. To win elections conservatives make concessions, but that's all they are.

If you're a conservative you have to deal with the fact that conservatism perpetuates existing injustices, promotes selfishness, undermines social welfare and basically upholds privilege and the survival of the richest, smartest, most powerful, et caetera.

I'm a conservative, by the way. It's ridiculous when we try to appear as democratic or socially responsible as liberals or socialists or indeed anyone else interested in change and promoting the underprivileged and the poor.

It really is as simple as that.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:56 PM on February 12, 2002


Ok, my $.02.

The right, in general, wishes to have less government. As said before, the current Republican Party platform advocates less federal government, and a reliance on the free market to decide the outcome of programs, jobs, taxes, etc. A general fear of “outsiders” coming into their respective towns/states and mandating programs and deciding how to live permeates the Republican Party. This might stem way back to Colonial America, where this actually happened. Ever since then, especially with Jackson, the way to become elected was to be the “man of the people” or the “outsider that will clean up _______.” Added to this, as stated before, is the “Religious Right”. Everything said before this post applies [it is just easier that way]. Filling the rest of the party, are those who just want things the way they used to be, or are happy with the status quo. Naturally those who are wealthy, or are in power are these same people. They want to conserve their money, conserve their power, and conserve their way of life. Hell I would too if I was rich. Of these wealthy elite’s, I think we can all agree that they are men, and are white. It has been that way for ages, and will continue for ages. That’s how it is.

The main problem I have with the Republican party stems from their basic platform. I believe in smaller government, because I believe that the government cannot decide what I do with/to/whatever to my own body. While Reps. are for smaller gov’t [free-market to decide] for issues of race, taxes and most importantly Corporations. Unfortunately, our economic system is about as free-market as I am a monkey. The federal government regulates so much, for good and bad that we should dispense with the farce of calling it a free-market economy. I believe that this is purely a tactic by the Rep. Party to get around issues. So we are both for smaller government, but in different areas and for different means. I also take umbrage to the Religious Right trying to legislate morality. I believe it is a slippery slope, which should be trodden lightly.

I also believe that our current system is unjust. 1% of America owns/controls 75% of the world? How is that just? How is it that corporations, that are treated like individuals, but have the resources of 10^100 of a person and then pay no takes [Enron, GE, etc.] just? Why does is take millions of dollars to become elected to the House or Senate? Why is it that Over the Rhine, Cincinnati OH, where 90% of residents are African American, but the median income is $6,000/year? How is this just?

Finally, as said by jeff-o-matic, what are republicans trying to conserve anyway? We should all ask ourselves if we are better, collectively and individually, than 5 years ago. No, economy is down due to a myriad of events. How about 10 years ago? Sure, cold war is over, but we have many smaller hot wars going on. How about 25 years ago [1977], well gas is cheap and our economy is better than it was then. How about 55 years ago [1947], atomic bomb, war, etc. You get the idea.

What Republicans strive to do is conserve, what is being conserved is power. Power, money, control is supreme, and anything that could disrupt that is dangerous and shall be squashed. At times, African Americans, Native Americans, Women, hippies, Rock-n-Roll, the Internet, Open Source, etc. were/are enemies of the status quo. The disruption of the status quo disrupts capital which disrupts power. Republicans conserve power. Nothing else.
posted by plemeljr at 3:15 PM on February 12, 2002


The Republicans DO NOT believe in smaller government. Their budgets are just as bloated as Democratic budgets, but its where the bloat is spent that makes the difference. Democrats will spend the bloat on welfare and other social programs. The Republicans will spend it on the military. Same cash, different buckets. The fights are all about the buckets (rather than the Benjamins).
posted by owillis at 3:46 PM on February 12, 2002


Miguel Cardoso: I'm a conservative, and I disagree with your post in almost every respect.

I do agree that conservatives favor the triumph of the smart over the stupid, as well as the triumph of the diligent over the shiftless, the upright over the degenerate, the responsible over the irresponsible, and the venturesome over both the reckless (on the one hand) and the timid (on the other).

However, conservativism, preserving economic openness and rewarding enterprise, does far more to upset and overturn existing power structures and privileges than anything else.
posted by MattD at 4:01 PM on February 12, 2002


Owillis-

While you are correct that Republicans spend on the military-industrial complex, they are really just spending money on themselves - the corporations that are owned/run/worked on by Republicans. By spending money in the complex, they are conserving the power [wealth] inside the haves. In reality this is just money laundering.
posted by plemeljr at 4:05 PM on February 12, 2002


Yes, I know non-Republicans work in the complex also, but that is really incidental.
posted by plemeljr at 4:10 PM on February 12, 2002


Incidental? Well the workers in the M-I-C are almost always union, which tends to be Democrat-leaning. I don't know what's going on. I'm agreeing with Aaron in threads, somewhat defending Republicans. George Bush is inside my brain.
posted by owillis at 4:12 PM on February 12, 2002


MattD: it's a matter of terminology. You're economically liberal, in the Nozickian sense that you favour intense competition, a free market and capitalism in general. That does upset power structures and all that.

I'm economically conservative. I believe in big government, controlled competition, protectionism, a degree of corporatism, social welfare - what Southern Europeans sometimes call "organic(or Christian) democracy" and the British call "one-nation conservatism". I.e. Macmillan rather than Thatcher.

Although we share core beliefs I'd say you were more of an individualist and I more of a collectivist. Your position, if taken to an extreme, would lead to social darwinism. Mine to a mild form of fascism. Both are repugnant - but they're on the same path.

In the end I'd say you favour change based on competition and equality of opportunity, whereas I, as a traditionalist and monarchist, am deeply suspicious of change of any sort.

Conservatives are a very diverse bunch, you'll agree. Or not. But then difference and disagreement - along with a reluctance to embrace ideology - are our thing, right?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:45 PM on February 12, 2002


But then difference and disagreement - along with a reluctance to embrace ideology - are our thing, right?

differences in conservatism? sure. Reluctance to embrace ideology? I think not, though many conservatives like to think this about themselves, and tend to repeat it in the hope that it will become true (nothing personal, Miguel, I just hear this claim a lot, usually from some conservative ideologue). Free marketism, anti-communism: neo conservatism saw both of these stances elevated to the level of ideology, as ends in themselves.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:13 PM on February 12, 2002


Miguel: You're talking European Christian Democratic/corporatist conservatism, which would be closer to neo-populism of the early 20th Century here, only without the interests organized along sectoral lines (although some in that era wanted it). Here in the states, conservatism has come to mean fusionist "conservatism," which took off in the 1960s and came of age with Ronald Reagan. The "right" is a fusion of those pushing neo-liberal economics and others who push traditional values and morality.

These two, as you imply, do not make a natural fit. It's not really conservatism, in the European sense, or in any sense. It's just a stupid bit of terminology that no one can stop. At least Milton Friedman has the sense to say, more or less, that it's all horses***.
posted by raysmj at 6:02 PM on February 12, 2002


Surprisingly enough, my experience of Republicans and conservatives is that they want precisely the same things that Demorcats and liberals want: an end to poverty, an end to racial discrimination, more prosperity for more people, and the maximum allowable freedoms consistent with public safety.

what a party claims are it's goals the policy it subsequently enacts are more often than not two different things.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:42 PM on February 12, 2002


" ... I also believe that our current system is unjust. 1% of America owns/controls 75% of the world? How is that just?..."

Wow. WOW. THAT is a great one. I just LOVE this sort of statistic (though it seems like it might take some real balls to trot them out when another FPP today relates to how utterly bogus statistics are used to illustrate people's preconceived biases).

Hell take it even further! Applying a "six degrees of seperation" law to money, we might be able to prove that the top .5% owns/controls 95% of the world! And by applying the "all rich people are in cahoots and scratch each other's backs" theorum, and extending the definition of "owns/controls" just a tad more, I believe we can finally arrive at the penultimate statistic (here it is - the natural conclusion to your line of logic):

ONE American owns/controls ALL the wealth on EARTH!
(Except for a small chicken owned by a fellow in rural China - but the chicken is old and infirm, so it really doesn't count).

Oh this is just so horribly horribly unjust. Oh the horrrror (imagine fat Brando rubbing his hands on his bald head), the horrrror.

(What! My wife just pointed out that China and india alone account for at least one third of the world's population - and that they'd get quite a kick out of an American boasting that it's richest 1% owns/controls 75% of the world ... but she mistakenly believes that simply because she's been there and is actually on the clue train that things like reality matter in a dialogue like this ...).

Why does is take millions of dollars to become elected to the House or Senate? Why is it that Over the Rhine, Cincinnati OH, where 90% of residents are African American, but the median income is $6,000/year? How is this just?

How is anything else just? That's the question. I'm all for you having what you consider to be compassion. I'm all for your deep concern for people that don't make much money. What I don't consider just is that you apparently believe that I should pay for your compassion. You apparently believe that it is "just" to control outcomes. That people who start the companies that provide thousands of jobs to those that have never started anything - and who would be living in squalor in any other period in history (and in a good 1/3 of the current world) - owe more than just those jobs, no ... they also owe the taxes that pay for over half of the nation's public works and infrastructure, unemployment insurance and social security.

And if they still manage to get rich - well, it is still "unjust", because you, and those making "$6,000 a year" don't think it's fair. What right do you have to decide what to do with the fruits of anyone else's labor? By what standard of "justice" do you believe you have the standing to engage in massive re-distributions of wealth? simply because you've decided you are "right"? Having very little, and assuming that the reason you have very little obviously is not your responsibility, but must be because others own and control some vast exclusive "system" that it is "just" to sieze and re-distribute is not justice. It is legalized robbery.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:34 PM on February 12, 2002


Miguel, I swear, your entire rant of conservatism is the exact opposite of conservatism in America. Therefore, I have one question for you...Is this one elaborately constructed troll, or do you not understand American definitions?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:51 PM on February 12, 2002


Nothing you can do about it, if you're really interested in racial issues, but try to do better and to stop whining about how Bush put in Condi Rice and Powell. Well, OK. Great. But it doesn't change the recent past, or the party's current lack of diversity.

raysmj: Eh...doesn't change current lack of diversity? Appointing two black cabinet members doesn't change the current lack of diversity? Doesn't it, in fact, do exactly that? Change the lack of diversity!!

I hate when people mention that most Republicans or conservatives are white and religious. It's like saying that all minorities are Democrats. Stereotypes are for the simple minded. People don't enjoy handling complex issues so they break it down to simple stereotypes. The fact that most blacks vote Democrat doesn't make it correct (or incorrect). It's a statistic. It's the same statistic stating that most Catholics vote Republican. People define themselves into these narrow groups and eventually become the casualty of stereotypes.

What should define a voter is knowledge of the candidate and his/her specific positions. Instead, we stereotype these candidates into groups: Republican or Democrat. Voters make it easy so they don't need to research/understand the issues. What this thread should have been about is does compassionate conservatism exist. The answer is yes. As does dispassionate liberalism. It's all a matter of labels, after all.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:06 PM on February 12, 2002


I've come to this thread way too late to get at all involved in the arguments, but I have to make one point that a lot of people in this thread are getting entirely wrong: Being a political conservative != being for "preserving the status quo." That's one (and only one) of the dictionary defintions of being "conservative" in a generic sense. Conflating that with political conservatism is like claiming that all political liberals stand for is licentiousness.
posted by aaron at 11:49 PM on February 12, 2002


MidasMulligan: I believe we can finally arrive at the penultimate statistic

Dude, "penultimate" does not mean "really ultimate." But maybe they don't have dictionaries on the clue train.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 AM on February 13, 2002


MM: I'm all for you having what you consider to be compassion. I'm all for your deep concern for people that don't make much money. What I don't consider just is that you apparently believe that I should pay for your compassion

Yeah, you're obviously thrilled about compassion. Don't want to pay for compassion? If you don't pay for it with your wallet, you'll pay for it on the guillotine. You put the cart before the horse- we don't structure societies so that some people can become rich, damn the consequences; we the ignorant masses try to get livable lives for as many people as we can, and if some can serve that purpose and live in nicer material comfort for their efforts, all the better. What, you think you're the only real person in the world? You think you're special and exempt from the rules of living together like everyone else? You think we're all in some 6 billion participant game of Survivor? Every living soul is as alive and real as you think of yourself in the confines of your skull, as deserving from birth of breath and life. Try weaning yourself off the nipple and joining the rest of the community of mankind.

MM: That people who start the companies that provide thousands of jobs to those that have never started anything - and who would be living in squalor in any other period in history (and in a good 1/3 of the current world)

Ah yes, that now famous Mulligan elitism- because we all know that outside of the Dagny Taggarts and the Francisco d'Anconias (who always did everything perfectly- a member of the Master Race who hit a homerun the first time he played baseball! Yay!), all human beings are lazy, stupid, and inept, flesh bags who wouldn't be able to feed themselves but for the grace of Midas Mike Mulligans.
I think your next step is obvious, Mike: you and your fellow Titans need to band together and wipe the earth of the mongrel races that not only spoil the gene pool but drag down and degrade the noble efforts of you and your superior beings. Once its just you and your fellow Gods among Men, I'm sure it will usher in a thousand years of paradise. I'd wish you luck, but it's always been clear that I'm not to be one of the chosen...
posted by hincandenza at 12:24 AM on February 13, 2002


American definitions

*sigh*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:58 AM on February 13, 2002


Uh oh, hincandenza is gonna trot out the guillotine! Save your necks, fellas! Better rake all your cash out of the back of a truck to all the slithering millions that you have tread over with your gargantuan feet! Puhleeeze!

What rubbish! When wounded, play martyr to the People (that's people with a capital P) Oh! The PEOPLE shall prevail! If we won't hand over our hard earned money to them like good little communists then they'll KILL us and take it. Great! That's JUSTICE, that's PROGRESS.

But when you're busy chopping off the heads, hincandenza, watch your back, because one of the vaunted People might just decide that you have a little more than they do. Then you might find your head in the basket.

Two of the oldest rhetorical tricks in the book:

1. Point out a simple grammatical error in attempts to belittle opponent or to evade the issue.

2. When you can't provide a proper retort, appeal to ignorance, beg the question, ad hominem attack, race bait, evade, etc. [as per Schopenhauer's 38th strategem] (see also Hincandenza's last post)
posted by evanizer at 1:21 AM on February 13, 2002


" ... weaning yourself off the nipple and joining the rest of the community of mankind... we the ignorant masses try to get livable lives for as many people as we can, and if some can serve that purpose and live in nicer material comfort for their efforts, all the better... "

'Tis not me that needs to be weaned off a nipple. The "livible lives" you are trying to get for as many as you can are often provided by those you curse as being rich and selfish. It doesn't matter if you've earned nothing, created nothing - if others have more than you judge them to have a right to - this alone justifies taking them by violence and re-distributing according to whatever principle you believe is right. And yet you believe you occupy some sort of moral high ground.

Ayn Rand rightly pointed out that the result of your principles leads to the Soviet Union. China. North Korea, and the other places where people still talk of "the revolution".

No one's life is a means to your end.

PS. "Dude, "penultimate" does not mean "really ultimate." But maybe they don't have dictionaries on the clue train."

Dude, peunultimate means "the last except for one", the one just before the ultimate. Note the the mention of the chicken. But thanks so much from applying your clearly piercing mind to the essential point of the matter.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:28 AM on February 13, 2002


Personally, the biggest problem I find with economic conservativism, is the belief that one can create a basic standard of living for oneself and succeed simply by working hard. Central to this is the promotion of the handful of people who managed to get independently wealthy, while ignoring that for every successful entrepreneur, there are hundreds that never succeed in spite of hard work and long hours.

In addition, the free market only works as long as certain conditions are met. And those conditions are increasingly less certain due to a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:58 AM on February 13, 2002


BlueTrain: Of course the presence of Powell and Rice doesn't change the diversity of the Republican Party. It'll only change if their presence in the administation brings more non-whites into the party, which so far hasn't proven to be true. There were fewer minorities at the last convention than in 1992, if I remember correctly. In any case, there isn't a whole lot of diversity of party membership, convention delegates and voters for GOP candidates. It's barely there in the diversity dept. when compared to the Democratic Party in terms of membership, delegates and voters.
posted by raysmj at 8:57 AM on February 13, 2002


The "livible lives" you are trying to get for as many as you can are often provided by those you curse as being rich and selfish.

The converse is often true, too: the wealth of the wealthy, and the conditions for producing wealth, are provided by the labor of the service class. Both sentiments are overly simplistic, both are accurate.

What right do you have to decide what to do with the fruits of anyone else's labor?

That's a great argument for socialism right there, be careful. But, while we're on the subject, what right does someone like Steve Forbes (or George W. Bush) have to do the same? He didn't make shit, he didn't earn shit, he inherited shit. But we're supposed to treat him like John Galt? I think not.

Ayn Rand rightly pointed out that the result of your principles leads to the Soviet Union. China. North Korea, and the other places where people still talk of "the revolution".

Well, that was Rand's opinion. She exhibited a common trait of many eastern European refugees, which is the almost pathological (read: irrational) aversion to any kind of collectivism. (Irrationalism being the root of evil in Rand's world. But, then again, she was a lifelong smoker...)

No one's life is a means to your end.

To a certain extent, it is. You see, we've developed what we call "society", because we've discovered that working together collectively is more beneficial than everyone fighting it out for himself. We give up certain freedoms for the benefit of the collective. Just which freedoms those are is what's up for debate.

Note the the mention of the chicken.

I studied with that chicken for many years. She was a hard teacher, but fair.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2002


" ... The converse is often true, too: the wealth of the wealthy, and the conditions for producing wealth, are provided by the labor of the service class. Both sentiments are overly simplistic, both are accurate..."

Not really. Capitalists provide jobs. They provide the conditions by which laborers who could never start a business can still earn a living. No laborer has ever been forced to accept a job (in America anyway).

" ... But, while we're on the subject, what right does someone like Steve Forbes (or George W. Bush) have to do the same? He didn't make shit, he didn't earn shit, he inherited shit. But we're supposed to treat him like John Galt? I think not...".

The question was "What right do you have to decide what to do with the fruits of anyone else's labor?" If Forbes and Bush inherited - they have the wealth they have because it is the right of their families to give wealth they earned to their children (or to charity, or any other place). Again, what right do you have to say that it shouldn't be the choice of old man Forbes, but should be your choice? And you're not supposed to treat him like John Galt. This is the essential question ... why should anyone else need to justify money they have to you? You act as though if there are "John Galts", maybe that would be sufficient for you to tolerate their existance, but if someone with money doesn't meet whatever standard you set, then you have a right to their money. Why? WHY?

"... Well, that was Rand's opinion. She exhibited a common trait of many eastern European refugees, which is the almost pathological (read: irrational) aversion to any kind of collectivism..."

You call it "pathological" and "irrational" because you haven't lived it. Ayn Rand wrote during a time when large amounts of the American left loved the ideals of "communism". She also noticed - in a way that pisses liberals off to this day - that the natural conclusion to a lot of their principles, the actual living demonstration of them, was to be found in the Eastern bloc.

" ... No one's life is a means to your end.

To a certain extent, it is. You see, we've developed what we call "society", because we've discovered that working together collectively is more beneficial than everyone fighting it out for himself. We give up certain freedoms for the benefit of the collective. Just which freedoms those are is what's up for debate..."


Yes, and to a certain extent, that "society" you've developed is paid for largely by people that it curses as evil, and brands as selfish. You see, "working together collectively" is a lovely phrase, but in practice it often means that people that add very little value to the "collective" feel justified, even self-righteous in their demand that they receive benefits from those that add enormous amounts.

Collectivists speak as though the way to organize "working together collectively" is to start by assuming everything belongs to everyone - and anyone claiming even slightly more than the norm is getting away with something ... isn't paying "their fair share". Individualists start by saying everyone is responsible for themselves, and that we interact in whatever way we each decide is best for ourselves.

People who recieve more than they contribute to "the collective" obviously have a vested interest in saying things like "we've discovered that working together collectively is more beneficial than everyone fighting it out for himself...". Those who have to pay the bill for their sentiments naturally have a somewhat different feeling.
posted by MidasMulligan at 3:37 PM on February 13, 2002


American definitions

*sigh*


WTF is that Miguel, another one of your well-constructed, psuedo-trolls? You are sighing because the US has changed the meaning of a word? Or are you sighing because of your Europe is better than the US arrogance? Or is it just a bait? Please Miguel, I'm curious to know...
posted by BlueTrain at 3:47 PM on February 13, 2002


People who recieve more than they contribute to "the collective" obviously have a vested interest in saying things like "we've discovered that working together collectively is more beneficial than everyone fighting it out for himself...". Those who have to pay the bill for their sentiments naturally have a somewhat different feeling.

So, for example, how 'bout those folks who got the chance to put a few thousand dollars into one of these off-shore debt-hiding partnerships at Enron, and see a return of a million dollars in a couple of months? How many "jobs" did they create, exactly? How hard did they work, how unique was their talent? How did they "contribute" more than they "received"?

Really, what you're saying is that money is its own reward; if you get enough money, you get to define yourself as a good and noble person in some kind of post hoc fantasy world. Someone who, despite the nice house, cars, and fur coats is losing out, contributes far more to society than they'll ever get in return. Let's tear Jesus off the cross and put Ken Lay up there- you want to talk noble self-sacrifice, that's your guy. They say he went bankrupt for our sins...

I'm no Communist, you wealth-fellating stooge, nor are my ideas espousing Communism no matter how much you wish to easily smear me as a Pinko. I believe in free, fair markets as one method to construct parts of our society that most benefit from that type of structure. I believe in the power of the small, in local control, in the notion that "pursuit of happiness" is a pre-eminent goal of human life and our nation, and that pursuit of happiness is best decided by those most directly affected by it- the very heartbeat of Democracy itself. But laissez-faire market places are still just a tool, and you know what they say about tools: if all you have is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts to look like a nail.
posted by hincandenza at 4:09 PM on February 13, 2002


So, for example, how 'bout those folks who got the chance to put a few thousand dollars into one of these off-shore debt-hiding partnerships at Enron, and see a return of a million dollars in a couple of months? How many "jobs" did they create, exactly? How hard did they work, how unique was their talent? How did they "contribute" more than they "received"?

So basically, hincandenza, you pick the worst example of capitalism and announce it as the norm, in fact, as the epitome of what capitalism represents. Kinda like those effing welfare bitches who only have kids to support their drug habits? That's why welfare is so horrible, right?

I'm tired of this crap, hincandenza...I already mentioned in an earlier thread that you are all rhetoric and fluff. Arrogant condescension essentially to corner those opposed to you. One link...one tangible fact is all I ask; otherwise, you're still a blowhard.
posted by BlueTrain at 4:24 PM on February 13, 2002


BlueTrain:

No offense meant. At all. Please sympathize with the odd man out here - namely me! I'll try. It's just that definitions in political philosophy are definitions, whether they're used by Americans or Europeans. But in American politics - not in American political philosophy, the foremost in the world, where definitions are universal - when people say "conservative" they mean "right-wing politically and liberal economically". Or Republican free-marketeers. Or right-wing religious nuts. Or even libertarians.
When they say "liberal" they mean social-democratic or left-wing. Or Democrats who defend minorities and believe in a national welfare state. based on taxing the richest citizens. Or socialists even.

It's confusing! Liberal comes from liberty, meaning freedom. Being economically liberal means you put your faith in the free play of the market. Meaning: small government. Conservativism( raysmj says it would correspond to U.S. right wing populism at the beginning of the 20th Century)means big government, tariffs, corporatism, i.e. limited capitalism.

Liberalism means change and openness. Conservatism means authority and tradition.

That's why "American" definitions make me sigh. I've studied political philosophy all my life. Rousseau and Nozick, Hegel and Dewey, Locke and Rawls are all the same "nationality" in that they essentially use the same philosophical definitions.

This is the source of the confusion. There was no disrespect intended. It's just that I'm in a minority of one here. I'm a conservative in the philosophical, universal sense, meaning I think unbridled capitalism and minimal government are truly terrible things.

Did this help at all? I hope it did. In any case, please accept there was no disrespect involved. I suspect your legitimate antipathy is based on the fact that I am right-wing and conservative. Not on any attempt on my part to bait or troll. At least grant me that.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2002


" ... I'm no Communist, you wealth-fellating stooge ...".

Interesting to notice the levels people sink to when their arguments themselves are exposed as utterly bankrupt.

" ... I believe in the power of the small, in local control, in the notion that "pursuit of happiness" is a pre-eminent goal of human life and our nation, and that pursuit of happiness is best decided by those most directly affected by it- the very heartbeat of Democracy itself..."

Lovely rhetoric. That all still reduces to "You have something I don't. I have a right to it because I decided I do. If you don't want to give it to me, you are selfish."

" ... So, for example, how 'bout those folks who got the chance to put a few thousand dollars into one of these off-shore debt-hiding partnerships at Enron, and see a return of a million dollars in a couple of months?..."

No, a better example would the very tiny percentage of Americans that pay over half the taxes, for the benefit of the nearly 40% that pay none at all. Note that the actual sentiment was this:

"People who recieve more than they contribute to "the collective" obviously have a vested interest in saying things like "we've discovered that working together collectively is more beneficial than everyone fighting it out for himself...". Those who have to pay the bill for their sentiments naturally have a somewhat different feeling."

You've said nothing to answer that. All you've attempted to do is launch another volley of flowery words to hide the fact that you're the quintessential looter.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:54 PM on February 13, 2002


Not really. Capitalists provide jobs. They provide the conditions by which laborers who could never start a business can still earn a living.

Again, overly simplistic. Why can't you just admit that both can be true, at various times and to various extents? Why are you such a fundamentalist?

No laborer has ever been forced to accept a job (in America anyway).

nice non sequitr. Have you heard of sharecropping? Sure it was a long time ago, but it will do to refute your statement.

If Forbes and Bush inherited - they have the wealth they have because it is the right of their families to give wealth they earned to their children (or to charity, or any other place). Again, what right do you have to say that it shouldn't be the choice of old man Forbes, but should be your choice?

The subtext of your Randian ravings is that the rich are deservedly so, and that everyone has an equal chance. Forbes and Bush show that not to be the case.

"... Well, that was Rand's opinion. She exhibited a common trait of many eastern European refugees, which is the almost pathological (read: irrational) aversion to any kind of collectivism..."

You call it "pathological" and "irrational" because you haven't lived it.


You have a really bad habit of assuming you know about the lives of various posters. Since you brought it up, I'll tell you: I'm first generation Ukrainian, my folks escaped from Stalin in the 40s. I think I have a pretty good idea of what life was like, though I'm not simple enough to think that the Soviet perversion demonstrates the failure of communism any more than Enron demonstrates the failure of capitalism.


Collectivists speak as though the way to organize "working together collectively" is to start by assuming everything belongs to everyone - and anyone claiming even slightly more than the norm is getting away with something ... isn't paying "their fair share".


No, that's your definition of what collectivists think, and it is of a piece with your Randism, which is a philosophy based entirely on the elevation of subjective presuppositions. (Ironically, it's called Objectivism.)

Individualists start by saying everyone is responsible for themselves, and that we interact in whatever way we each decide is best for ourselves.

Well, I might decide that it's best for me, as an individual, to beat up my neighbor, the individual, and take his lunch. But the collective decided that that just won't do. Are you starting to understand how both work in tandem?

People who recieve more than they contribute to "the collective" obviously have a vested interest in saying things like "we've discovered that working together collectively is more beneficial than everyone fighting it out for himself...". Those who have to pay the bill for their sentiments naturally have a somewhat different feeling.

Again with your assumptions about what people think. You have no idea what I do, or how much money my family has, yet the only way to keep your argument afloat is to cast me into whatever mold you deem appropriate.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:55 PM on February 13, 2002


This is the essential question ... why should anyone else need to justify money they have to you?

Yes, that's the essential question for fundamentalist Randians, but I'll answer it anyway:
They don't need to justify it, but they need to recognize that the conditions for their wealth were not created by themselves alone, or, in the case of Bush and Forbes, at all.
posted by Ty Webb at 7:02 PM on February 13, 2002


" ... Again, overly simplistic. Why can't you just admit that both can be true, at various times and to various extents? Why are you such a fundamentalist?..."

You can label me a fundamentalist if you like. In this case, I believe I'm correct. Not simplistic, not fundamentalist. Correct. The norm in history is a human race nominally above subsistance - the vast majority of our population living day to day. A couple years of drought, bad crops, and serious starvation wiped out whole villages. A single disease could decimate whole chunks of continents. A very few people held wealth and power ... and it was generally solely based on birth. There was no career choice, or "fulfillment" ... whatever station you were born into in life was very likely to be where you died.

The anomoly in history is a country in which the poor often live at a higher level of creature comforts than the rich of the middle ages did. In which not everyone may have an absolutely equal chance at birth, but in which a higher proportion than has ever been the case can finish life at a much better standard of living than they started it with. This is not possible because of day laborers. There have always been day laborers. It is only the emergence of the capitalist that provides this.

" ... nice non sequitr. Have you heard of sharecropping? Sure it was a long time ago, but it will do to refute your statement..."

Interesting that you'd need to go back a century to find an example. Even more interesting to think it refutes my statement. Needing to go to this level of technicality is really quite desperate. Might also mention - since you brought up sharecropping - a recent article about the man that is currently the COO of Merrill Lynch, and in line to take the Chairmanship of the company. A black man named Stanley O'Neil - who is the grandson of one of those sharecroppers. And has risen to that place through sheer work, will, and merit. That is what the Randian world you so dislike makes possible. and what no other system in history has.

" ... though I'm not simple enough to think that the Soviet perversion demonstrates the failure of communism any more than Enron demonstrates the failure of capitalism..."

I'm not either. It's the fact that I've never seen evidence anywhere of the success of communism that demonstrates it's failure.

" ... No, that's your definition of what collectivists think, and it is of a piece with your Randism, which is a philosophy based entirely on the elevation of subjective presuppositions. (Ironically, it's called Objectivism.).."

Ditto dude. That's your definition of "Randism" ... oddly attempting to pass itself off as "objective".

" ... Well, I might decide that it's best for me, as an individual, to beat up my neighbor, the individual, and take his lunch. But the collective decided that that just won't do. Are you starting to understand how both work in tandem? .."

Am I "starting to understand"? My, how delightfully condescending. The line was framed as a starting point: "Individualists start by saying everyone is responsible for themselves, and that we interact in whatever way we each decide is best for ourselves." Will we create laws that govern behavior? Of course. Libertarians are not anarchists. But the principle will always be that the only thing that will be governed is what must be goverened. Laws against assault and murder? Sure! you have the right to stop me, by law, from punching you. you do not, however, have the right to tell me that (for instance) what I smoke, or have sex with, in my own bedroom, is your concern.

And I do not accept the principle that money is "collective".

" ... Again with your assumptions about what people think. You have no idea what I do, or how much money my family has, yet the only way to keep your argument afloat is to cast me into whatever mold you deem appropriate..."

I'm sorry, where in that statement are you mentioned? I certainly don't need you to keep an argument afloat. That statement isn't really even that questionable. Is it something you find in error? That people with no money might find it in their best interest to argue that wealth is "collective", that they have some sort of moral right to more than they've earned ... and people with a good deal of money, who will be the ones paying, might actually beg to differ?
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:27 PM on February 13, 2002


There have always been day laborers. It is only the emergence of the capitalist that provides this.

And I do not accept the principle that money is "collective".


See Midas madly recast the argument, yet again. Who is asking you to accept that money is collective? It's resources that are collective, to various extents, and one's labor which makes it private. Assuming one actually labored for it.

That people with no money might find it in their best interest to argue that wealth is "collective", that they have some sort of moral right to more than they've earned ... and people with a good deal of money, who will be the ones paying, might actually beg to differ?

A sentiment based entirely on the assumption that those with no money haven't worked hard their entire lives. In the Randian/Midas fantasy, everyone get's a fair start, and all it takes is hard work. Reality is slightly more complicated; you apparently refuse to accept this.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:11 AM on February 14, 2002


This thread may be officially dead but I'd like to say this to Midas.

When I was nine years old my father upped and left, leaving me, my mum and brother to look after ourselves. As we'd always had enough to live on and my mum had been of the stay at home variety, she only had a low-paid part-time job at the time. So what we had to live on was a less-than minimum wage and the small amount of maintenance my dad had to pay. Had that been it then we would have had to sell the house (the proceeds of which would have been split between the two parents) and go and live with my gran. If there had been no gran then we would have gone to a refuge or some other institution paid for by charity. I was going to say we would have got a council flat, but that's part of the welfare state, so we wouldn't even have got that. Luckily I live in a country which (at the time) had a strong commitment to the welfare state and we got social security money. The mortgage was paid for and we lived very frugally on what my mother earnt plus the social.

Luckily my mum is an educated woman and she found a full-time job within a year and we came off welfare. Later, both me and my brother went to university, courtesy of the tax payer (in the UK at the time if you were below a certain poverty level you got a grant). Although neither of us are incredibly rich we now contribute more in taxes than if we had been denied that education. But the fact that we're now paying back what we got from the state is not the point. The point is that if there had been no safety net we would have been destitue through absolutely no fault of our own.

These things happen to undeserving people all the time. The economy goes haywire, redundancies are made and people who have worked in one industry all their life find themselves unemployed with no hope of re-employment. People get ill or their partners get ill. They get pregnant. They get old. Some people take advantage but if you're going to be fair to the rest, you have to accept that. Most people hate being on welfare and do everything they can to get out. A wealthy nation can afford to provide the safety net, so why the hell shouldn't it?
posted by Summer at 9:49 AM on February 14, 2002


Why? Because Midas does not like other people. His writing is rife with this loathing of "the masses", of the common man of which- god forbid- he ever be confused. His opinion won't be changed, nor ours by his, through appeals to compassion because of this fundamental difference at heart. At some point, for some reason, he made a decision to see himself as apart from humanity because of its flaws, while the rest of us seem to have embraced the cause of humanity in spite of their flaws- and our own.

Hey, for a couple of years when I was a bitter, lonely pre-teen I read Ayn Rand and thought it was brilliant stuff: really sticking it to all those stupid ingrates who didn't treat us brilliant people with the deference and idolatry we deserved, and threatening to take our genius out of their petty world and make a hidden paradise just for ourselves. That those stupid ingrates seemed to be the adult versions of my junior high tormentors only helped seal the deal for me, emotionally. I wanted to believe it, as a salve to the uncomfortableness that was other people.

I've long since learned in life how empty, how isolating, that mindset is; and how, for all the logical justification I could give to it with flowery language, it was always nothing more than the rawest emotions in my head being filtered through the fancy-pants language parts of my brain. It's funny, much of what we believe, what we think we believe because it's "true" or "provable" or "logical" is really just our most ancient and primal emotional core shouting out through the layers of the last few millenia of cranial evolution.

I hope Midas can see that some day, too.
posted by hincandenza at 12:37 PM on February 14, 2002


" ... Why? Because Midas does not like other people. His writing is rife with this loathing of "the masses", of the common man of which- god forbid- he ever be confused. His opinion won't be changed, nor ours by his, through appeals to compassion because of this fundamental difference at heart. At some point, for some reason, he made a decision to see himself as apart from humanity because of its flaws, while the rest of us seem to have embraced the cause of humanity in spite of their flaws- and our own..."

Oh, you poor, confused little boy. "tis not my writing, but yours that is filled with "loathing" of the "masses". I don't see masses. I see individuals. The "compassion" you pretend to have apparently falls apart into something approaching violent language when someone even mildly disagrees with you. Apparently deciding that you can't answer the arguments - you've instead tried to pull a nearly classic demonization (it's "us" compassionate ones vs. "Midas") ... this then, is your view of compassion?

So far as "embracing" humanity. I've started three companies, now do strategy for a fourth - started a foundation and serve on the board of another. I have directly provided jobs - i.e., incomes - for over 1,200 people during the course of my life, and indirectly for many more.

Don't preach compassion to me asshole, I don't pretend, nor speak in your flowery words - but I've created more jobs for people that support families, and contributed in taxes to more welfare checks than a dozen of your sort wrapped into a little self-righteous ball.

People don't eat your pious sentiments. They can eat food I've helped them earn for their tables.

I can understand why you hate Ayn Rand, she called bullshit on two thirds of what you are.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:37 PM on February 14, 2002


Oh yes, by the way, Atlas Shrugged was the second best selling book in the United States in the 20th century. Second only to the Bible. It is now approaching 40 years since it was published (1957), and is still selling around 450,000 copies a year (a total that most books these days rarely reach in a single year, let alone year after year). Perhpas the "we" you are so fond of speaking on behalf of is not quite as universal as you assume.
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:13 PM on February 14, 2002


Midas, could you point me to a list of best selling books of the 20th century? I’ve never been able to find one.

The list you seem to be quoting had nothing to do with sales. In 1991, the Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club polled readers to find which books made an impact on people’s lives. The Bible was first and Atlas Shrugged was second. Both those books are incredibly preachy—one defined the term. They are written specifcally to effect the reader’s perception. In fact, I would say the Fountainhead changed my life as would at least one of my friends. Thankfully, we moved beyond her totalitarian hero worship.

Titanic is the highest grossing movie of all time, that really doesn’t say much about its merit.
posted by raaka at 10:01 PM on February 16, 2002


Is the MidasMulligan Pins Medal On Own Chest Ceremony going to be a weekly, daily or hourly feature?
posted by y2karl at 3:53 AM on February 17, 2002


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