Is There Any Good on the Right?

Those on the right - no matter what their nationality or race - who dare to share conservative values are dismissed as stupid, ignorant, mean-spirited, war-mongering, selfish, greedy, hateful, nativist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, bigoted, intolerant, fascist, misogynistic and hypocritical.

Those on the left are clear to let you know that they are none of these. The left views themselves as better, kinder, smarter and more moral than those on the right. And since they are, there is no need to talk to, be in the same room with or vote for such mean-spirited humans.

The left cannot ascribe good intentions to the right. If they do, then the ideas of the right must be seriously considered. Instead of dismissing Herman Cain as stupid, inauthentic, or mentally inferior, the left would have to explain how his positive attitude about America allowed him to transcend any lingering racism and be successful. They would have to explain what it is about leftist ideology that sees racism everywhere (here, here, here) while the right acknowledges pockets of racism while projecting the hopeful message that it can be overcome.

If conservatives are just racist bigots the discussion is over. If they are good people with different ideas, the ideas have to be addressed.


Decision: Vision

Ultimately the election comes down to which vision for America are you going to support. The vision that is for liberty, individual rights, independence, a market economy and all of its attendant risks and downsides or the vision that favors collectivism, group rights, dependence, statism and all of its attendant risks and downsides. One side understands that everything can't be perfect but given the trade-offs, we do the best we can. The other side seeks to undo every aspect of the pain, struggle and inequities of life on their march toward Utopianism.

If you vote for Ron Paul, you may feel pure and be able to morally preen in front of your fellow man, but you will be wasting your vote. A vote for him, although cathartic, may reveal a lack of understanding of our political system or an I-don't-give-a-damn attitude. We are not Britain or some other parliamentary system where coalitions are built after the election. In America the coalitions are built prior to the election which coalesce as the two-party system. You must vote with the system we have not the one you wish we had. (A valid retort is: "If you don't vote for Ron Paul, it may reveal that you have given up on correcting the slide away from Americanism.")

Come to a decision about which movement better represents your notion of the correct way to run a government.

If you think that the primary function of the government is to act as the social welfare agent that reduces virtually all risk and mandates that the country should operate largely as a collective commune by running our schools, healthcare, retirement and virtually everything else, then you have a choice.

If you think government should provide national protection, preserve individual liberty and protect private property, you have a choice.

If you think that the government should create a hostile business climate that drives jobs and business overseas forcing more layoffs here at home, then you have a choice.

If you think a government should have limited powers, duties and responsibilities and think that government is best when it governs least, then you have a choice.

If you think government should make decisions based on a grievance culture that is always angry and must constantly agitate race, gender and class issues to maintain power, you have a choice.

If you ascribe to the idea that everyone should be free to pursue their happiness, you have a choice.

Utopians and fundamentalists flagellate and complain that none of the candidates suits their purpose. Well, the only candidate or party that you will fully agree with on every issue is candidate 'you' and the party you head. Otherwise, life is full of compromises and voting is just one such compromise. Believers in an afterlife can put off Utopia for another time. Athiests are just stuck with sucking it up and realizing that Marx was right that human nature would have to change radically in order for us to enter the land of milk and honey any time soon. And 3000+ years of documentation of human activity suggests there isn't a lot of evidence that human nature is making any sweeping changes.

But there are clear differences between the two parties in America. And neither is perfect. If you want perfect, go to church. But candidate Obama was very clear that he was none too happy with Americanism and wanted to make fundamental changes to the fabric of America.

So go ahead, cast your vote.


Silver Spoon

The LA Times reports on a speech by the President at a community college. He proudly announced that he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. So how did he afford the elite schools that he attended?

Apparently if your parents have worked hard and are able to pay for your education you are 'born with a silver spoon in your mouth' and you are 'out of touch'. But if you take that money from others you are 'given a chance' and 'making the economy stronger'.

Why is one necessarily viewed with suspicion and contempt while the other is unquestionably ennobling?

What is it about taking - not just receiving, but taking via taxation - money from others that makes this an ennobling act that elevates an individual in a way that receiving voluntary charity from one's parents doesn't?

How is getting money from the state less of a silver spoon than getting money from your parents? The result of each is the same.


Job Killer

Is there ever a condition where laying off staff is a good decision? What if you owned a company and the market changed and you had to lay off people? Could we all point to you and blame you for firing people for your own gain? After all, saving the business would accrue to your benefit. Heck, you might even be paid a bonus for keeping the company afloat so that it can hire again some day.

Should buggy whip companies still be employing people? Should Kodak not be able to adjust workforces because their share of the market has diminished? Do you have the same level of anger for the lost jobs at places like Solyndra? And do you ascribe those cuts as Obama slashing jobs for his own gain? Was giving Trade Adjustment Assistance money to each employee buying votes or could it in any way improve his political aspirations? Should elected government officials be giving money out to potential voters? Did Obama gain by getting $1.09 Million worth of lobbying out of Solyndra? Since money allocated to the company from government loans was paying the bills, did Obama and fellow Democrats gain from the campaign contributions of Solyndra employees?

We could tit-for-tat all day long. No policy or plan will be perfect. That is where spiritual people who believe there is an afterlife have an advantage over the secularist. The believer postpones utopia to the afterlife. A person of the left and secularists are compelled to create Utopia here on earth. Everything will not turn out perfect for everybody. Sometimes companies have to lay off staff. There are many left-wing Obama-philes who lay off people all the time.  And sometimes they are not very nice about it.  Heard of Hollywood anyone? It is just that they don't get demonized and drug out in front of the world by the right because the right act like grown ups and understand that sometimes businesses have to adjust to real life conditions.

The left's paper of record, The New York Times, is struggling with this right now. The company is having to make hard decisions about whether they can afford to continue with their current pension scheme. Of course, the dogmatic Utopians are wailing about how this means the management is a pack of wolves that is trying to make a killing on the backs of the proletariat. So not only is Romney a job slashing dog, but so is the NYT when they are faced with the financial realities of running their business.


Is the Tax System Fair?

In 2009 the top 1% of earners (those earning more than $343,927) paid 36.7% of all federal income taxes. The top 10% of earners (those earning more than $112,124) paid 70.5% of all federal income taxes. That leaves only 29.5% of the tax burden for 90% of the tax payers to pay.1 Is that unfair?

If this was a ten member bowling club that had to pay a $1,000 lane rental fee, it would be as if one guy paid $700, the next four guys in line paid $275 and the other five split the $25. This might be desirable based on their income or ability to pay – that is, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need – or some other concept of spreading the wealth around, but is it fair?

Let’s look at it a different way. Let’s say you and a coworker are paid the same. But what if your boss decided that he was going to take $300 out of your paycheck and give it to your coworker because he had children and therefore had greater needs. Would you be satisfied with your boss telling you that you just need to pay your fair share? And that if you don’t, you are selfish or mean spirited? Giving this charity may be a moral thing to do, but should it be coerced? By a government?

It might be a nice thing to do. It might be charity. It might be giving to one person based on his need while taking from another based on what he has. But it is hard to argue that it is fair.

The different visions of the role of government are at the root of this contention over the “pay your fair share” stuff. The left hates inequity in results more than it loves liberty. It views the role of government as the gatekeeper that should make sure outcomes are the same. And when the left uses the word fair, they often mean equalized.

Obama has said many times that he is not interested in whether things like the Buffet Rule actually increase revenues or help to reduce deficits. As he told Joe the Plumber, he – and by extension government since Obama was running for the top government position in the nation – needs to “spread the wealth around.”

Where this becomes demagogic is when Obama says things like the Buffet the rule "could raise enough money" so that we "stabilize our debt and deficits for the next decade." As has been demonstrated, and as is confirmed by Obama’s Treasury Department’s own numbers, it does little to nothing to stabilize anything. Obama is trying to have it both ways. He wants to make it seem like this is some sort of fiscally responsible thing to do when he knows that it won’t do anything to stabilize deficits. It seems more likely that it is intended to be part of the fundamental change to the American fabric that was promised during the ’08 election.

This was confirmed by White House aide Jason Furman when he clarified the President’s comments by saying that that the tax was never intended "to bring the deficit down and the debt under control." It is “a basic issue of tax fairness.” Well, if having the upper 10% of income earners pay almost 3/4 of the taxes collected isn’t “fair”, what is? Could this be a euphemism for egalitarianism? For political, economic and social equality?

This notion of “fairness” proffered by the left makes no sense in any other venue. But if we understand it to be what Obama himself has said he desires, a fundamental change, then it makes sense. Americanism, in large part, places liberty higher on the list of values than other things such as equality of outcomes. Those that established America valued liberty above other things and they said as much in the Declaration of Independence by identifying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They also identified individualism and small government as important values.

Unless one thinks that the authors of the American founding documents were a bunch of uninformed, ignorant dunderheads, surely they understood the tradeoffs inherent in valuing individualism, small government and liberty above other things with respect to the role of government. And we know they did by their writings. They leaned heavily on a religious people who were elevated by decent moral codes to handle the areas of life not handled by a lean government.

Much of the fundamental change being discussed and implemented today, however, seems to seek to have the government take on the role of churches and charity. Why this isn’t seen as the ultimate breaking down of the wall of separation between church and state might be a mystery until one understands the different visions that motivate the left and right.

The left appears to see its role as that of church and state: the work of the Good Samaritan is the work of the state; charity is to be fulfilled by the state; ensuring that nobody does too well or too badly is the work of the state. It is not that these endeavors are to be shunned or left undone, but one must ask whether charity should be the role of a secular government?

As a recent example of this inclination, Justice Ginsburg, a SCOTUS Justice of the left, told an Egyptian interviewer that she likes South African Constitution (SAC) better than the US Constitution (USC). The SAC claims numerous “positive rights” such as housing, healthcare, food, water, and Social Security. In contrast, the USC has a concept of rights which takes the form that government and individuals will not prevent anyone from taking various actions. That is, the USC defines rights as things that are not an imposition upon others and do not limit the rights of others whereas the SAC defines rights that necessarily must be monitored and provided by the government, that infringe upon the rights of others and require taxation for the provision of certain goods and services. It is a clear example of the differing visions of the left and right; of collectivism and individualism; of dependence and liberty.

So just because the right sees limits to the role of government does not therefore mean that they are craven, hateful and mean-spirited. They just have a different vision about what the role of government is. That it should be limited. That it should honor individuals. That it should champion liberty. They share this vision with many of those who established America in the first place. And that is pretty good company to keep.

1 http://www.ntu.org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html


Representing Anger

Should leaders who speak on behalf of a group elevate rather than debase?

On the one hand there is Martin Luther King Jr. who was a man who inspired and elevated mankind. On the other, Al Sharpton who unapologetically acted as the mouthpiece for a black teenage girl who falsely claimed that she had been raped by white men, who called a Jewish landlord a “white interloper” that resulted in an attack on the landlord’s store that left eight people dead, and who was the focus of a 67-count indictment over financial problems.

Which of these men makes an impression that is elevated? Aren't those for whom Sharpton purports to speak for concerned about the lack of dignity and elevated behavior? When the black community compares and contrasts those that speak on their behalf, are they equally proud of having MLK and Sharpton speak for them?

Is there a point where one's unapologetic past so sullies one's reputation that they no longer can represent a group? Shouldn't the group be proud of the person speaking on their behalf? Doesn't it seem that a spokesperson should make a distinguished impression on others? Wasn't this one of the great characteristics of MLK who concerned himself with the content of his and other's character?

Apparently the more angry you are, the more authentic you are as a leader of a group. Only angry women, blacks, hispanics, poor, etc. seem to be qualified to speak on behalf of their group. Why aren't Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Shelby Steele, JC Watts, Juan Williams or Clarence Thomas considered 'leaders' of the black community? Why aren't Sarah Palin, Ann Romney, Michelle Malkin, Michele Bachmann or Laura Ingraham considered spokespersons for women?

Because they are not angry. Which also means they aren't on the left.