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05/17/2009

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Anonymous

Dear Becker,

It appears that you have a very straightforward "hands off" ideal of government. The argument in back of such an ideal is, I suppose, efficiency. There are least two objections to such an ideal. First, markets might be much more inefficient than was previously thought. So the exception you make for government correcting market inefficiency might swallow the rule of a "hands off" government.

In the second place, there are many considerations that reasonable people would think "trump" that of efficiency. If we agree that certain considerations "trump" efficiency then we must reject a "hands off" government as a kind of default position.

Free market fundamentalism is as dangerous as any other fundamentalism. Quite simply, the fundamentalist believes steadfastly in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

neilehat

For an insight into the phenomena known as the American Conservative Movement, the following conversation overheard on Main Street U.S.A. may shed some light on the subject:

Mod.: You know, we've got some problems we need to get straightened out.

Con.: You know I'm a CONSERVATIVE!

Lib.: Really!? That explains it.

Con.: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT!!? YOU DO KNOW PIGS WEAR LIPSTICK!!!?

Mod.: Well ... I guess the current State of Affairs pretty much explains it all ... we have met the enemy an he is us.

jenny

I am not surprised that no one answered my question, "You do want to win, right?"

The conservative movement doesn't want to win. They don't want back in power. The one-note religious zealots and science-hating gay bashers the triggering blogs described, what they really want is for their fantasy of the country wrecking itself to come true so they can, in their troubled imaginations, come salvage the pieces. There is a Randian/Nockian tradition to this kind of infantilistic retreat into delusion. Galt turning the lights off in NYC, and the Remnant, and so on.

There is also among this whacko contingent a revolution fantasy of the US government decaying into a crime franchiser, like Mexico, or Zimbabwe, or Ecuador, that these would-be Wolverines can insurge against while living off of deer and fish in the woods, like Swayze and the Pony-boy kid. What else is to be made of the spike in usage count of the word "revolution" on the Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh programs, the siren beacons to this deeply detached cohort? In delusional tones that deep is sung the death-knell of the GOP.

I, however, still prefer this world, this reality, and still want to win. I would be encouraged to see some support here, for the notion of winning. You know, like as in the Senate, the House, or 1600. Anyone? Anyone at all who can resist the urge to freak out about fetuses and post some words about winning? Please?

jenny

I am not surprised that no one answered my question, "You do want to win, right?"

The "conservative" movement doesn't want to win. They don't want back in power. The one-note religious zealots and science-hating gay bashers the triggering blogs described, what they really want is for their fantasy of the country wrecking itself to come true so they can, in their troubled imaginations, come salvage the pieces. There is a LeHayean/Randian/Nockian tradition to this kind of infantilistic retreat into delusion-- getting raptured off the plane, Galt turning the lights off in NYC, the Remnant, etc. These fantasies are the Dungeons and Dragons of this "movement," obsessive, in-bent, and utterly onanistic.

There is also among this whacko contingent a revolution fantasy of the US government decaying into a crime franchiser, like Mexico, or Zimbabwe, or Ecuador, that these would-be Wolverines can insurge against while living off of deer and fish in the woods, like Swayze and the Pony-boy kid. What else is to be made of the spike in usage count of the word "revolution" on the Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh programs, the siren beacons to this deeply detached cohort? In delusional tones that deep is sung the death-knell of the GOP.

This is also the group that coined the term RINO. I offer the counter-term AMINO: AMerican In Name Only. Since only a deeply disturbed counter-patriot would wish for the end of the Republic as a means to calm their personal hysteria.

I, however, still prefer this world, this reality, and still want to win. I would be encouraged to see some support here, for the notion of winning. You know, like as in the Senate, the House, or 1600. Anyone? Anyone at all who can resist the urge to freak out about fetuses and post some words about winning? Please?

COS

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aFy7olAsHDQU&refer=home


http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/federal_debt_chart.html


Two articles.

One shows the UK's credit rating may be going down because Debt/GDP is at 100%. Here is a nice quote which illustrates this concern is not limited to the UK:

“The key from a market perspective is whether this is a stand-alone U.K. problem or whether it is the start of a trend where the agencies start to review the ratings of various sovereigns across the developed world,” said Gary Jenkins, head of credit research at Evolution Securities Ltd. in London. “If this is really just a case of the U.K. deteriorating as a credit then it could have a significant impact going forward.”


The second link shows the USA will approach the same Debt/GDP % under Obama.

Those who think the next President isn't going to be a real fiscal conservative really don't understand much about our economy or the world economy. Those claiming "traditional" and "intellectual" conservatism is DEAD are very naive. We are just waiting for the bubble to pop on Mr. Obama (Mr. BIG GOVERNMENT).

I don't even think Republicans wanted to win with Mccain. They knew the leverage problem in the US required Keynesianism, afterall it requires government to fix a problem government created (by providing implicit guarantees for the GSE's). Republicans understand the Debt/GDP realities for our nation, and they know it cannot sustain these levels but has to return to a 65%-70% mean. They did't want another Bill Clinton taking credit for being fiscally conservative. Instead, they want their own guy getting credit for one of their bedrock principles (fiscal conservatism) while Democrats get credit for their sole bedrock principle (tax and spend).

Mitt Romney is going to have a field day in 3 years. It is going to be too easy to point to stagflation, higher taxes, deficits, and Mr. GOVERNMENT while calling for smaller government, lower taxes, and fiscal conservatism. Mccain wasn't even funded by the GOP. Romney is going to have more money than the MESSIAH himself. And any argument for campaign finance reform will fall on deaf ears. Obama and the ACORN liberals illustrated that candidates can buy elections.

Obama's approval ratings is going to fall like Jimmy Carter's. 4 and out for tax and spend stagflaters...!

Robert

You wrote: I claimed in that post that the current Republican Party is trying to incorporate two inconsistent sets of beliefs: one is the support of competition and generally freer markets, and the other is the advocacy of interventionist policies on various social issues, such as gays in military, stem cell research, or in international affairs.

To intervene or not to intervene is not the question for most of these issues (issues, by the way, about which I have mixed sentiments). The government runs the military, which has a host of regulations-- what should its policy be towards gays? The entire argument about stem cell research has been about how much the government should fund it -- advocating not funding certain kinds of research is not interventionist!
There is no disconnect between arguing for more individual and market freedom and arguing for a particular set of moral positions in cases where the government will be acting anyway.

Roy D. Schickedanz

President Obama delivered a major speech on the legal course and direction of our country.

That speech was followed by the former Vice President Cheney’s delivery of litany of excuses for their misconduct in trying to destroy our country and their continued un-American activities.

As Americans we need bring these people before our system of justice for the highest crimes committed facing criminal changes for their action and deeds in fear mongering.

These crimes will seek the death penalty, and question that would be asked before selection of a juror is whether they have any problems in a conviction that would have these people executed for crimes committed.

We look to day that a special federal grand juror passes indictments for probable cause for Bush, Cheney, and associated members of that administration being brought to justice, knowing our system of due process can hear those cases, rendering whatever verdict and punishment is necessary for crimes committed.

Anonymous

Roy D. Schickedanz,

You spend too much time watching Keith Olbermann. Give it a rest man...!

What is the difference if Bush holds these terrorists indefinitely at GITMO or if Obama holds them indefinitely some place else...?

---

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/21/raw-data-text-president-obamas-speech-national-security/

"Finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.

I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face. We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who have received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

As I said, I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people."

Barack Hussein Obama

---

There is no difference at all...!!! It is just a change in rhetoric that Obama worshippers actually are naive enough to believe. The issue does not go away and it does not change. Obama is still going to detain these terrorist indefinitely, where he does it really doesn't matter.


Also, why won't Obama release all the memos on enhanced interrogation...? We all know it worked in providing information on the terrorist attack the government stopped in California. Why not allow the public to see these memos firsthand and decide for ourselves...? Let's have a real Truth Commission, not one where Nancy Pelosi makes up facts.

---

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/21/raw-data-text-dick-cheneys-national-security-speech-aei/

Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.

Over on the left wing of the president's party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they're after would be heard before a so-called "Truth Commission." Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It's hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors.

Dick Cheney

Anonymous

Schnickedanz,

You are a whackjob liberal who spends more time watching Keith Olbermann than anything else.

The Obama justice department has already taken the position that prisoners held at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan are not entitled to any protection under the US Constitution. Whether the courts will allow that is unknown. And even if the courts do allow that, I would love to hear someone explain why it's more "ethical" or "principled" to hold a guy indefinitely in a brig in Afghanistan than in the state-of-the-art prison at Gitmo.

Obama is stuck between a BS Campaign Promise and reality. Only Obama's worshippers do not realize this. They are too brainwashed by idiots like Olbermann.

mark

I think it would be good to decouple the question, what is the future of conservatism from the question, what is the future of the Republican party. First, the Republican party is tarred by the failures of the Bush administratio and will not emerge from that shadow in the next three to five years. Second, the successes of Obama, Dean and moveon using the Internet to raise money lead me to believe that traditional party structures and old media are not as important as before to organize people. Third, as between continuing to be linked to the anti-intellectual wing of the Republican party vs sacrificing those to create new links to independents and Democrats who become disaffected with the far left, I think it will be a more successful strategy to pursue the latter course.

VennData

The GOP demographers of the Reagan era, gave voice to the abortion nuts, the gay-marriage despisers, the flag-burning zealots. And now you're as stuck with them as you are with Reagan's Greenspan legacy.

So you've got:

1) Cheney who wants a big bombing.
2) Jindal who wants science out of the schools
3) Buchanan who wants walls
4) Notre Dame football apostates who think passing laws against something will end it.

...not too mention a decade of your anti-Clinton screeds which allowed Obama to slip into the nomination. You guys made Obama. Get that through your heads.

Principled libertarians couldn't explain economic liberalism to the minds you've polluted above in a decade of loud-mouth radio shows.

You're screwed.

neilehat

Anon., do you understand the difference between Civil Law and Martial Law and their relation to the Constitution?

Criminalizing past acts? Ever heard of Ida Tarbell, T.Roosevelt, and the Sherman Antitrust Act or President Washington and the Whisky Rebellion? Clearly, you have no understanding of the uses and techniques of Interrogation and yet you pontificate on the subject as if you were the expert.

I could go on and on and on through your comments, but that would be blatant and ignorant on my part.

Chris Graves

I agree with the distinction that you draw between Republicans and conservatives, Mark. One can certainly be both a conservative and a Republican based on the Goldwater/Reagan strain in the party or even dating back to Lincoln and disaffected Whigs who, in turn, were descendants of Federalists. I see David Brooks and, in a slightly different trend, there is Lew Lehrman who is enthralled with Alexander Hamilton. But one must be wary of this marriage of political convenience.

I see Reagan and Goldwater as philosophical descendants of Jefferson and Madison. That is why so many Southerners flocked to their candidacy so readily. Both Goldwater and Reagan were much more interested in limited, decentralized government than traditional Republicans who were still be influenced by Lincoln and other founders of the party. There has also been a slightly socially liberal streak in traditional Republicans (but nowhere near what we got later with the counter-culture in the McGovern wing of the Democratic Party--that is why the Democrats have been ruled completely out of bounds by contemporary conservatives on the national level). The Reagan wing of the Republican Party always seemed more in harmony with the implicitly agrarian/small town values that can be traced back to the founders of the Democratic Party and were still present to a large degree even in the New Deal. That is why Reagan could consistently be both a Democrat in the 1930's and later a Barry Goldwater Republican. Until very recently I voted for local Democrats rather than Republicans. I live in Texas and previously in Georgia.

I see social issues such as abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, church/state relations as proxies for this battle between cities and the country and big business and small entrepreneurs/family farmers--or stated in an even starker, more encompassing contrast it is the conflict between impersonal, depersonalizing institutions and more personal, intimate face-to-face relationships.

Even though Jefferson and Madison saw a place for commerce and believed in laissez-faire, their basic motivation was to limit those in power especially those who controlled large, dehumanizing institutions such as central government, but also banks. They were able to see the dangers of a society solely focused on money with its urbanization and attendant coarseness and depersonalization of the individual. This instinct forms the nucleus of the Republican (which became the Democratic) Party in opposition to Hamilton's vision of an urbanized, centrally guided capitalism funded by a central bank. Jefferson's predictions on what would happen to the social fabric as well as the quality of the life for the individual if we over-industrialized and over-urbanized has come to pass.

There is a dehumanizing tendency in the extreme division of labor and mass production brought about by capitalism. Adam Smith himself recognized and worried about this danger. The factory system reduces each worker to an unthinking automaton. That is why workers can be so easily replaced nowadays by literal automatons. I see such technological innovations as wholly positive by freeing people from such degrading work while increasing the total level of wealth. But a lot of people have had to suffer during the past two centuries under such working conditions and many still do today. One can see the appeal of organized labor to ameliorate these working conditions even if the reality of unions was decidedly mixed. These ways of organizing the production process have made real improvements in people's living conditions possible. But let's also be aware of the real human costs associated with the Industrial Revolution that persist today.

What is even more pernicious about the fungibility of units of labor and capital being substituted for labor is the habit of mind it inspires. We saw that frame of mind on display this week with Professor Becker's suggestion of substituting one child for another after a mother kills the first one in the womb for the sake of convenience. The flexibility of capitalism not only does not produce great works of architecture (see Tom Wolfe's *From Our House to Bauhaus*) because of the disposable, functional mindset it engenders, but it also makes human relationships (consider how people in businesses are constantly transferred all over the country ruining any semblance of stable communities) and human beings (abortion, divorce) disposable as people are always looking to trade-up in human flesh.

I was in a doctor's office today and picked up the *Wall Street Journal Magazine.* In it was a story of entrepreneurs in the mortuary business challenging the dominant big funeral homes. These innovators are offering more personalistic funerals. The woman who was featured in the story spoke of her father dying in a sterile hospital environment (another example of the factory system) and how she wanted to offer people who are mourning the loss of a loved one a more comforting, respectful, and humanizing way to bury their dead. Of course, I applaud this move in the funeral business. But the dominant business model that inspired the depersonalized, mass produced funeral comes from the older business habit of reducing everyone to cogs in a machine.

I see this element of thinking present in both the socially liberal, irreligious, pro-business, growth at all costs traditional Republican of today as well as the bureaucratic statist egalitarian sexually liberated Democrat who would make Jefferson turn in his grave.

Friedrich Hayek warned against the introduction of positivism into the social sciences for this very reason (see his *Counter-revolution of Science*) among others. Existentialist philosophers were also correct in their pointing to the dangers of positivism. Positivism is the prevailing paradigm in the economics profession, unfortunately. I once sat in a presentation at Georgia State University's Economics Department where a young job applicant delivered a paper on making childcare more efficient. She spoke of measuring the quality of childcare by how many degrees the caregiver had in psychology or some related field. It apparently did not occur to her that the most important quality in caring for a child is a genetic tie to the child and being female, in other words, being the child's mother. Positivism is part of the rational-naturalistic-economic approach that Edmund Burke poetically decried in his famous lament: "But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever." And we might add America as well.

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Anonymous

Great work! Thank you!

Anonymous

Conservatives are againsters! That’s the popular image of conservatives, and it is true; they are against many things that the government tries to do.
The reality, however, is that conservatives are ardently, fervently in favor of freedom. More government means less freedom, no matter how nicely and sweetly the government wraps its helpful packages, freedom is eroded. And government will keep eating away at the freedoms that remain until at last the government is totally, completely in control and there are no more freedoms to conquer. And conservatives will keep on being against the loss of freedom – until the government rakes in the whole pot and no surviving conservative, nor anyone else, can speak against the government.

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