Saturday, September 10

Conservative v. Liberal World Views

Thank you JustDanny and Mafia Princess! I am honored to have been invited to participate in this blog with all my esteemed Lizard friends! Here is my first entry; I promise I will not be so long-winded in the future.

The essence of humanity is free will. In other words the ability,
to make a decision, is the primary characteristic which distinguishes a human from the rest of creation. Furthermore each person has a world view which is essentially a projection of the way he views himself. Thus an ideological world view is continuum representing the degree to which an individual is free to make decisions. It follows that a world view which encourages a person’s ability to make decisions would be the ultimate in allowing a person to realize his full potential as a human. This world view is known as Conservatism.

I submit that Conservatism has these corollaries:

• Each adult of sound mind is primarily responsible for his own happiness and welfare. Accepting personal responsibility is the most important principle of all because it underlies most of the other principles. Before accepting personal responsibility, a person must rely upon decisions of others to achieve happiness, as does a child. When a person accepts responsibility for his actions he stops blaming others for his failures; he enters life as an adult; he is empowered to achieve success.

At that moment, he stops seeing the therapist who encourages him to blame his parents for his deficiencies. He rejects the “legal lottery system” which encourages him to bring bogus lawsuits against fast food chains blaming them for forcing him to be fat or allowing him to drop hot coffee on his crotch. When a person accepts responsibility for his actions he stops seeing the President and other authority figures as his surrogate parents, who are primarily responsible for taking care of him.

• Success in a person’s life can be measured in terms of the degree to which a person achieves goals he sets for himself. Therefore, a person must set goals in order to become successful.

• Freedom is paramount. Economic, social, religious, political, and all other freedom is precious because it provides a framework which allows an individual to make decisions. Some folks believe freedom is free—like air. It’s not; it is a fragile candle flame flickering in a world filled with hostile tyrants. That’s why Conservatives honor patriots with the nobility and compassion to lay down their very lives when necessary to defend the right of their friends to enjoy freedom and safety. Eternal vigilance against tyranny is the price of maintaining freedom.

• Making good decisions requires rigorous thought and access to accurate information. Accurate information is also known as “facts” or “truth”. Truth is a constant which exists independently from a person’s perception. An honest, thoughtful person continually strives to grasp the truth and maintains a healthy skepticism toward unsubstantiated information.

Information which is in conflict with other facts must be resolved in order to be useful. Individuals who do not value truth are purposefully deceitful, intellectually lazy, consumed by emotion, or insane. Such individuals are often guilty of lies, hypocrisy, and spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories and rumors. These individuals relish their ability to hold and act upon inconsistent ideas. They sometimes become dishonest shysters, politicians, or sociopaths who embrace deceit as a sophisticated art form. They are experts at mentally “compartmentalizing” such conflicting beliefs. They are adept at rationalizing any whim using an ever changing moral relativist philosophy. They often maintain an air of superiority with meaningless explanations like Emerson’s “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”.

• A person’s freedom should be restricted only to the extent that it interferes with another person’s freedom. Your freedom ends where my nose begins.

• A person starts life as an innocent blank slate. A healthy society is one which provides the best opportunities for a child to grow into a productive adult. The demise of the intact family has led to a plethora of social problems, arising from confusion and disillusionment which children experience when deprived of this stability. A stable two parent family provides the best foundation for raising a child. This is the main reason that marriage has been held in such high esteem for millennia and remains the cornerstone of a healthy society.

• When did your life begin? Technically this is unknowable by mere mortals. Religious scripture suggests that a person’s soul exists even before conception. But let’s begin with what we know about the development of a human’s body. We can agree that a person becomes human at sometime between and including conception and birth. Many people believe that conception marks the beginning of life. This is probably the most logical conclusion because it is a discrete event at which moment all the genetic instructions are in place to produce a human being. However, only the mother, and whomever she cares to share the information, is aware of her pregnancy in its early stages. Furthermore, many people reject that, regardless of morality, the government has any role to play in regulating the early stages of pregnancy. But how about when the fetus becomes viable? I have friends who, as a couple, gave birth to fraternal twins-a boy and a girl-slightly before the third trimester of pregnancy. Today the twins are in first grade. I think that society is correct in restricting the ability of doctors to destroy an infant in the course of a premature third trimester delivery.

True this is a controversial topic, but it is far from irrelevant. Today the U.S. Senate is torn apart in debate over nominations to the judiciary. The reputations of good people are smeared; and it all stems from the debate on abortion. Is this the way it is supposed to be? Is this what we can expect in 25 years? 50? 100? This issue was supposed to have been resolved by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, but we continue to fight about it. Personally I think this decision was a fairly good compromise. However, in so ruling, the Supreme Court exceeded its duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which obviously is silent with regard to abortion or even the right to privacy. Furthermore the court violated the 10th amendment which stipulates that powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states or to the people.

We need to respect the Constitution by amending it to include a provision addressing abortion. But before we do this must be willing to discuss it and reach a national consensus with regard to the question of when life begins. We need to stop calling each other bad names, respect each other, and reach a workable solution. If we believe in individual responsibility, we should remove this burden from our court system and put it back into the hands of the people where it belongs.

• Superficial characteristics such as race and gender are irrelevant to most discussions about human potential. Society should recognize and deal with each person as an individual and not as a member of some arbitrary group.

• People are fundamentally good. However, a person consistently will do what ever is in his best interests. These two concepts are in harmony provided a person embraces the golden rule, as taught by Christianity and which appears as a theme in most religions. Greed is defined as wanting something for nothing; greed cannot be determined merely by observing a person’s accumulation of wealth. In other words, a person deserves to have anything he wants in life, as long as he is willing to exchange it for something of equal or greater value. The ultimate greedy person is a criminal who steals what he wants from another person.

• Capitalism, which is more descriptively termed “Free Enterprise”, is the economic system most consistent with the fundamental nature of humanity. It affords the most choices, is the most responsive to changing human needs, is the most efficient--has the least administrative baggage, and is best able to harness human productivity by providing a system of incentives which balance risk with reward. In a Free Enterprise system, wealth is freely created because each willing party to a transaction benefits. Free Enterprise is in harmony with the natural forces of supply and demand.

• Socialism, in its various forms and euphemisms, represents the removal of economic choices from the domain of the individual. Because it is inconsistent with human nature, generally socialism must be implemented through force, thereby reducing personal as well as economic freedoms. Socialism is basically an attempt to shift ever more wealth and power into the jurisdiction of a centrally planned government at the expense of individual freedom. As a consequence less wealth is created and each person has less ability to realize his full potential.

Socialists see wealth as a static pie to be redistributed among constituents. Therefore they discourage incentives for producers to create additional wealth, and society becomes poorer overall as a result. Many Socialists contend that they just want to provide for this one very good cause du jour. In reality most Socialists never met a higher tax they didn’t embrace, never met a government program too ambitious, and are unwilling to answer a simple question: What is the maximum proportion of taxation, as a percentage of income, which is fair for the government to take? At this moment, I am discouraged that neither Republicans nor Democrats are willing to curtail rampant government spending until the economy begins to suffer.

• Government is valuable to the extent it builds a safe environment which supports freedom and affords an individual the opportunity to reach his full potential. The most important function of government is to provide a national defense to protect its citizens from international threats. Other valid functions of government are to provide a police force, fire fighting, coordinate the building of roads and other common infrastructure, and other functions which are impractical to be provided by the private sector.

However, most human needs are best met by the private sector. Why? If the government fails, how do you know? You don’t; standards to measure success are avoided at all cost. If the government fails to efficiently provide goods and services can it go out of business? No usually it raises taxes which you are forced to pay. If the government saves money do taxpayers receive a refund or are efficient government employees rewarded? Don’t be ridiculous; at the end of the year government frantically strives to spend any unused funds, so that its budget will not be cut the following year. There are government programs still in place to solve problems which haven’t existed for decades. Government waste is notorious. Government programs are not consistently scrutinized by independent audits.

Inefficiency is not a just a characteristic of the U.S. government, which is probably one of the more efficient governments; it is a characteristic of all government. And the farther government gets from the people who pay taxes, the less responsive it becomes; so local government is preferable to federal government.

The private sector will almost always be more efficient in providing goods and services because it has measurable goals and it must survive. It must be accountable to its shareholders; it must provide superior products at lower costs, or it will be driven out of business by its competitors. What happened to Enron when it became corrupt? How about Enron’s partner Arthur Andersen, once the world’s largest auditor? These entities no longer exist.

• Unlike Libertarians, Conservatives also believe that providing a social safety net is an important function of government. Government should guarantee a minimum level of subsistence for all its citizens. However, the state of being poor or disadvantaged should be viewed as a result of temporary circumstances. Each person, regardless of current social status or background or temporary setbacks, has the potential to become a productive, happy, fulfilled member of society, and is capable of achieving success. It is government’s function to ensure equality of opportunity not attempt to achieve equality of results.

• Individuals can be compassionate; government cannot. Charity is best provided by individuals not government. Individual and faith-based charity is consistent with human nature because it harnesses the euphoria experienced when a person selflessly gives of himself to assist those less fortunate. Try this test: Write a check for Katrina disaster relief large enough that it takes your breath away. Volunteer to personally assist disaster relief victims. How do you feel? Now write a large check to pay for your income taxes on April 15th. Then tally up how much of your salary you get to control after paying federal, state and local income taxes, gas taxes, excise taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, etc. Then consider how much of your taxes will actually reach people for whom you are grieving. Realize that much of your tax dollar will pay for bureaucrats’ generous salaries, benefits and pensions, and be otherwise wasted to buy votes.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on Conservative v. Liberal world views. Feel free to disagree.

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