Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Things I've Learned

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to this blog. I’ve resolved to write more in 2011. Having said that, allow me to zero the scale and provide a snapshot of where I am, ideologically speaking that is.

I’ve reaffirmed, learned, and realized that:

1. I believe in American exceptionalism
2. There’s a difference between stupidity and ignorance – the latter can be assuaged
3. Philanthropy is a moral obligation, not a legal one
4. In helping the needy, private sector charities generally do a better job than governments
5. Your rights, as a rule, cannot result in the diminution of mine
6. Politicians lie
7. Morality matters
8. A man’s morals have little to do with his godliness
9. Debt, either personal, corporate, or national, is oppressive
10. Nothing in the Tea Party platform is racist
11. Hypocrites abound
12. North Carolina boasts my favorite state motto – “To be, rather than to seem”
13. Kenya cannot escape poverty without free enterprise and individual liberty
14. Private property is freedom
15. Generally speaking, conservatives are driven by logic, liberals by emotion
16. Nothing is more important to me than my family
17. The U.S. Constitution provided the framework for the abolition of slavery
18. People are too easily offended
19. The poor are afforded representation without taxation
20. Wealth necessarily results in increased consumption
21. Environmental awareness is important
22. The weak or defenseless will be preyed upon
23. Social justice cannot be achieved through confiscation or legislation
24. As a group, African-Americans are politically exploited by the left
25. Fatherhood is an awesome responsibility
26. These topics will define the 21st century - access to affordable energy and religious fundamentalism
27. A flat tax would be fair and equitable
28. Humility is important

I’d love to get your feedback. I can elaborate on any of these at your request. Happy New Year!


Findingmeagain said...

I agree with 90% of what you've posted. My issues are nit-picky at best. As a liberal I can guarantee you that there are those who let emotion rule on both sides. I think you may have put that in there to get a rise out of liberals. But in general I think we have a lot more in common than we do that separates us. I like that you included charity and giving and that it is a moral obligation. The problem is there are a lot of conservatives that don't seem to care about their fellow man enough to piss on him if he were on fire these days. You seem to be an old school conservative, much the same as my parents. You have to admit that there is a new breed that does not seem to care about anyone but themselves.

I appreciate that your family is the most important thing to you. We have that in common. I think our approaches to achieving what's best may be similar but with different execution based on our differing belief systems.

I'm also with you on a flat tax.

estherB said...

Interesting list. With some things I agree. With others, I'd like to discuss further. That being said, you may add to your list that progress will only be achieved by looking at what we have in common vs. what divides us.

right said fred said...

Wow, great feedback so far!


thanks for your comments. I'm not surprised that there's a lot we (the right and the left) agree on. I've known this to be the case for a while. On your comment, "As a liberal I can guarantee you that there are those who let emotion rule on both sides. I think you may have put that in there to get a rise out of liberals." Nope, not intended to get a rise... the fact that you think so proves my point though - a rise is an emotional response:)

on your comment that there are, "a lot of conservatives that don't seem to care about their fellow man enough to piss on him if he were on fire these days.". I completely disagree. I suspect you're perceiving "love of liberty" as "indifference towards others". Those hate-filled conservatives are the first ones in line to donate time and fortune to charitable causes. In other words, they'd rather choose to give than be forced to do so. Statistics to back up this assertion are everywhere - just take a look.


In your words, "progress will only be achieved by looking at what we have in common vs. what divides us". I guess that depends on what you mean by "progress". If by progress you mean bipartisan legislation making it's way to Obama's desk, I disagree. I think that the less our federal government does, the better. As I see it, with most laws passed comes a diminution of freedom. Yes, compromise will get more laws passed, but I'd rather not pass a law that makes everyone "happy". I'd prefer to stand my ground, and pass laws that are consonant with the 28 bullet points above. Having said that, we all really do have a lot in common. How to get there is where we disagree.

Anonymous said...

Next time be a liberal and number your points :)Liberals are not emotional we care about immediate families and the masses because what would society do without the village remember it takes a village to raise a child we need healthcare for ALL.

right said fred said...

@anonymous, I did the good liberal thing and numbered each item. Great idea, thanks. Your statement suggests that conservatives do not care about families and the masses - come on, really? We need healthcare for ALL? Okay... what about housing? And for that matter, food for ALL?

Pat said...

Excellent points, all. You are right, the charitable giving of conservatives far outpaces the giving of liberals.

Capitalism has become a negative term to many these days, so I've started replacing it with "economic freedom."

The constitution is what made this country great, guaranteeing our freedoms. It is not a "living, evolving document" as some on the left would have us believe.

Keep up the great blog posts, Fred!

Just a conservative girl said...

I am glad to hear you will be posting more as you are a very good writer.

I agree with virtually everything you said.

Findingmeagain I know very few conservatives that don't give both time and money to charitable causes. Matter of fact, I give a larger percentage of my salary then both the Obama's and Biden's. You may disagree with what I and other conservatives give to, but we give plenty. Charity is a moral obligation, not something that be forced on us by government. It is not charity then. If it doesn't come from the heart it isn't charity.

Anonymous said...

1. Why are we exceptional? Is it our poor health care system? Our poor educational system? Our penchant for invading countries that have taken no aggressive action against us? Our lack of relative and absolute social mobility?

10. How about the repeal of the 14th Amendment (supported by many in the Tea Party)? That doesn’t seem to have any racial undertones to you?

15. Conservatives are driven by logic? The religious right is arguably the most emotion driven political group in America. They renounce evolution and embrace the idea that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old despite so much evidence to the contrary. Many of them want to abolish the separation of church and state (a measure that has helped ensure religious liberty throughout our history), and voters in Oklahoma (a very Red state) passed a law banning Sharia law despite the dearth of Muslims in the state (~6,000 as of 2000). How logical do you think the birthers are? How about the people that think we will never run out of fossil fuels? Which side would you say is more emotional about abortion?

Both sides frequently get caught up in their emotions and ignore facts and logic.

19. Poor people don’t pay sales tax, gas tax, excise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, or social security and medicare taxes (the list could go on and on here)? Haven’t you argued that corporate taxes just get passed onto consumers and employees? Wouldn’t that mean the poor pay a lot of indirect taxes as well?

20. What about increased saving and investment?

21. Excellent point. It would be a lot easier to vote Republican if there were more candidates that agreed with you on that point.

27. Could you expand on this a bit? Do you mean a flat federal income tax? Instituting that would make the overall taxation system regressive as a whole.

right said fred said...

Thank you, anonymous for your comments! I really enjoy this sort of discourse. I always learn something!

I'll reply to your questions on each numbered point in order:

1. On American exceptionalism - You're a "glass half empty" person, huh? From my perspective, nowhere else on earth is there such a confluence of opportunity, individual liberty, and inalienable rights. This is the best place on earth to make something out of nothing. America, in that regard, is #1. period.

14. There are a couple of congressional representatives that interpret the 14th amendment in a way that perverts the phrase "under the jurisdiction thereof". They are seeking to introduce legislation that forbids so-called "anchor babies" from being American citizens. Firstly, this position is not in the Tea Party platform (which, to be brief, focuses on fiscal responsibility). Secondly, "many in the Tea Party" are not like-minded. I know scores of Tea Party members personally, and I don't know ANYONE that agrees with this interpretation of the 14th. I'll add that these representatives are seeking to solve a problem (illegal immigration) through the back door. I think they'd do better by focusing on the illegal entry part of the problem.

15. On this assertion, I have to give you credit. Both sides can be emotional. But the emotional religious right are but a subset of conservatives - we are not monolithic. And neither are liberals. So I should have been a little clearer. What I was trying to articulate is that in general, liberals tend to cite "the right thing to do" and "compassion" in ideological resolution. Conservatives tend to cite the Constitution, and outcome. Of course, none of these are hard and fast rules... both sides get emotional, and yes, perspective conveys a degree of logic. So on this matter, I'll eat at least one wing of the virtual crow.

19. I should have specified that I was referring to federal taxation. States, cities, and counties tax at their will. The freedom to move from state to state (at least the ideological freedom) protects us from tyranny in this regard. I assert that when it comes to federal taxation, the poor actually make money, and are afforded representation at the same time.

20. Savings provide banks with assets to back loans, which companies use to increase production, and thus, consumption. Investing acts in a similar fashion (e.g. stocks) by providing publicly traded companies operating capital. The only way wealth does not fuel consumption is when the wealthy stuff their mattresses with cash. And they don't do that, because they (like you and me) want more of it. Great question nonetheless.

21. I think a lot of Republicans do agree, but to a point. Generally speaking, liberal environmentalists are okay with a lower standard of living in exchange for a green planet. I say, let's focus on making renewable fuels cheaper and more accessible (through innovation), and stop subsidizing them. Subsidies only delay their efficiency and ubiquity, and at the same time stifle economic growth.

27. Yes. I propose an 11% national retail sales tax (and the abolition of the federal income tax). This tax would be on every commercial exchange. No good or service would be exempt. Simple and cheap to run. And before you say it, the rich would pay more than the poor, because they spend more. To boot, they'd have no shelters or loopholes. "the thing I've learned" #19 would be addressed as well. Economic models I've studied suggest that this would actually increase federal revenue.

Thanks for the comments. I really enjoyed my retort. I hope you find is as enlightening as I did your comments.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about that, the first link should be:

Anonymous said...

19. What about corporate taxes? Do the poor not indirectly pay those?

20. Good point.

21. Republicans agree? Then why do Republican Presidents appoint such anti-environment people to be Secretary of the Interior?

Liberals want to trade a lower standard of living for a green planet? Failure to properly regulate dirty industries can and will lower people’s standard of living. Look at the BP spill, coal mine collapses, the natural gas hydraulic fracturing in PA and CO, or the use of tetraethyl lead in gasoline. Lives are lost, people’s livelihoods are destroyed, and disease rates increase. Intelligent environmental regulation doesn’t limit quality of life, it ensures it.

How does a subsidy delay a technologies ubiquity? People respond to incentives. If you pay someone to use a certain technology, they will be more inclined to use it. The more people that use a certain technology, the more ubiquitous it becomes.

What do you think about funding basic research into renewable energies? I think our government should invest more heavily in this area. We should also end all fossil fuel subsidies and farm subsidies.

27. Intriguing. Wouldn’t this system end up being regressive? Poor people need to spend a larger percentage of their income than rich people do. Furthermore, federal government spending was about 20% of GDP in 2004 – how would an 11% consumption tax be able to cover that? Or would we keep medicare and social security taxes (which would make this system even more regressive)?

Anonymous said...

Your blog doesn't like something about my first few points, so I uploaded a doc that can be viewed here:

Anonymous said...

Tea Partiers have more racist attitudes: