Family Matters

I really wish my father were here. Then I wouldn't have to depend upon my friends (that's you, M.B.) and anonymous readers (that's you, Sean) to pat me on the head and tell me how naive I am. "Taxes are bad because they take money from the people who have earned it and make it impossible for them to start new businesses, hire workers, and generally benefit the economy all around." My father loved this argument when he was talking about trying to get his auto shop to make some (any) money, but for the last fifteen years of his life, he worked for the surgery department in a public university and spent the greater part of his time at the V.A. hospital, being paid by, um, the government. He was also, in his younger days, adamantly opposed to any government-supported health care system; by the time he died, he had revised his thinking on this somewhat. The bureaucracy, waste and corruption of the insurance system had convinced him that the poor--whom he spent the greater part of his time caring for, particularly in the emergency room--would never get proper health care without a publicly-funded structure. Yes, Sean, emergency rooms care for those without insurance, but it is only because doctors like my father treat them for free. Should he not have been compensated by someone for all the hard work that he did taking care of them? Oh, yes, he was: the taxpayers who paid his salary at the V.A. He certainly never made any money out of his private practice; he was too busy caring for the veterans and the poor.

It all depends on what metaphors we use or, as George Lakoff would put it*, our frames. It is not that conservatives care for their country while liberals do not, or vice versa. It is that both are working within a particular frame that carries with it certain entailments. Conservatives and liberals have such a hard time talking to each other because they are inhabiting different frames. So, when a liberal (like Obama) says we need to "spread the wealth around", liberals (a.k.a. progressives) hear him saying that we need to take responsibility for our community and help each other reach our fullest potential together, while conservatives hear him saying that we should reward the weak for their lack of discipline. Liberals think of taxes in terms of making an investment: in our future, in our children's future. After all (in liberal thinking), all of us, rich and poor, benefit from (to give Lakoff's list) "the interstate highway system, the Internet, the scientific and medical establishments, our communications system, our airline system, the space program." Conservatives, on the other hand, think of taxes in terms of a burden from which it is best to be relieved. Liberals hear this as an excuse for not participating in the upkeep of the community. And so forth.

How is it that we are not able to hear each other? As Lakoff would say, blame it on the metaphors.

On the one hand, we are all working with an overarching metaphor of the nation as a family. We have "Founding Fathers." My great-aunt was a life-long member of the "Daughters of the American Revolution."** We "send our sons" to war.

On the other hand, we are working with entirely different ideals of what makes a good family.

The conservatives' model is that of the strict father family: "The world is a dangerous place, and it always will be, because there is evil out there in the world. The world is also difficult because it is competitive. There will always be winners and losers. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good, not what is right. Therefore, they have to be made good. What is needed in this kind of a world is a strong, strict father who can 1) Protect the family in a dangerous world. 2) Support the family in the difficult world, and 3) Teach his children right from wrong."

This model (like all metaphors) carries with it various entailments. It is not the role of the father to coddle his children, otherwise they will become weak and not be able to care for themselves when they grow up. Rather, he is to instill in them a sense of discipline and obedience so that they will learn to work hard and support themselves. "In this model...a good person--a moral person--is someone who is disciplined enough to be obedient, to learn what is right, do what is right and not do what is wrong, and to pursue her self-interest to prosper and become self-reliant. A good child grows up to be like that. A bad child is one who does not learn discipline, does not function morally, does not do what is right, and therefore is not disciplined enough to become prosperous. She cannot take care of herself and thus becomes dependent. When the good children mature, they either have learned discipline and can prosper, or have failed to learn it. From this point on the strict father is not to meddle in their lives. This translates politically into no government meddling."

Translated into policy on social programs this means that it is immoral to help people by giving them things (health care, education) that they have not earned "because they will not develop discipline and will become both dependent and immoral." In terms of taxes, it means it is moral to cut taxes and reward those "whose prosperity reveals their discipline and hence their capacity for morality." Mapped onto foreign policy, this means that, as the strict father in the family of nations, it would be immoral of us to allow other countries to "tell us what to do." Children do not talk back to their father; they obey him. We, "being the best and most powerful country in the world--a moral authority--know the right thing to do. We should not be asking anybody else."

Contrast this with the liberals' model of the family: "Both parents are equally responsible for raising the children. The assumption is that children are born good and can be made better. The world can be made a better place, and our job is to work on that. The parents' job is to nurture their children and to raise their children to be nurturers of others. What does nurturance mean? It means two things: empathy and responsibility. If you have a child, you have to know what every cry means. You have to know when the child is hungry, when he needs a diaper change, when he is having nightmares. And you have a responsibility--you have to take care of this child. Since you cannot take care of someone else if you are not taking care of yourself, you have to take care of yourself enough to be able to take care of the child. All this is not easy. Anyone who has ever raised a child know that this is hard. You have to be strong. You have to work hard at it. You have to be very competent. You have to know a lot."

This "nurturant parent" model, like the "strict father" model, has certain entailments. Parents want to protect their children from things like crime, drugs, poisonous additives in food, dangerous working conditions, devastation of the environment, and, yes, terrorist attacks. Because taking care of children is such hard work, it is morally-imperative to take care of oneself, too. One wants one's children to be happy and fulfilled; it is therefore imperative that they have the freedom to do so. Freedom is constrained if there is no opportunity and prosperity, so these are values for the nurturant parent as well. Opportunity and prosperity are dependent upon a vibrant community life, therefore "community-building, service to the community, and cooperation in a community become values. To have cooperation, you must have trust, and to have trust you must have honesty and open two-way communication. Trust, honesty and open community are fundamental progressive values--in a community as in a family."

Doubtless, to a conservative, this all sounds like so much wishy-washy naivete. I can just hear the responses (this is me now, not Lakoff): "Don't you know that it's a dangerous world out there, with people who hate us and want to take our lifestyle away from us? We have to fight to defend ourselves against them. And do you really think coddling children in this way is any way to teach them to work hard, do their homework, and be able to earn a living when they grow up? People get what they deserve and if you want our country to be weak, then you deserve to be conquered by [fill in the blank of current enemy]. You just want to give away everything that we've worked so hard to build." And so forth. The clash of metaphor continues.

Oh, and by the by, I don't do my son's homework for him. I think he should learn to do it himself. But both my husband and I will help him if he asks for help, e.g. in proofreading or checking his answers.


*All quotations from Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate (2004).
**Which means I am eligible, too. My father was very proud of this fact, although it was my mother's aunt (a librarian) who was most active with the DAR.

Comments

  1. "pat me on the head and tell me how naive I am"

    I have not been figuratively "patting you on the head." If I were asked what physical action might be a metaphor for my comments, I would sooner use "shaking hands" than "patting head" because handshakes are a courteous and respectful greeting.

    "..tell me how naive I am"
    Everyone is naive about something. No shame in that.

    Secondly, to disagree with anyone about anything is to usually imply some naivete. No insult in that.

    Thirdly, if my ideological opponent is going to impute to me condescension, well at least that's better than saying I have bad intentions.

    "Taxes are bad"
    Conservatives wouldn't say, "taxes are bad," but rather "high taxes are bad."
    Some tax is necessary.

    "Taxes are bad because they take money from the people who have earned it and make it impossible for them to start new businesses"
    Conservatives wouldn't say "impossible." Rather they would say, "more difficult."

    To take an example: Domestic corporate taxes are three times the rate of Ireland. This means we will lose business to Ireland.

    Sean

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  2. Sean,

    Apologies. Most conservatives I talk to tend to impute a fair degree of naivete to liberals. After all, if we could see things clearly, we wouldn't be liberals, right? I'd much prefer a handshake.

    "Some tax is necessary." Ah, here is where we differ. Define "necessary" with respect to taxes. I think health care and public education are necessary. I also rather like our national parks and I doubt we could function without our interstate highways. I also believe in funding for the arts and sciences, including, yes, databases of Gregorian chant (a bargain at $200,000, if I remember the figure correctly). I'm rather keen our our space program, our national museums, our public universities. I think our workers deserve to be able to put money into a governmentally-supported pension plan (a.k.a. Social Security). I accept that the world is such that we need a strong military. And I think that when people fall on hard times, they deserve to be able to look to the State for help.

    Many of our businesses have moved overseas already, and we've had eight years of Republican tax cuts. I'm having a hard time seeing the difference. Also, some of the things that taxes pay for benefit corporations as well as workers, e.g. the initial development of the Internet over which we are having this conversation. It is only governments that can afford to pay for such large public works projects.

    I'm glad you were able to access your account so that you're not Anonymous anymore.

    Fencing Bear

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  3. What would you say is the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives?

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  4. "Many of our businesses have moved overseas already"

    Yes, and we'll see more of that under an Obama administration.

    "..and we've had eight years of Republican tax cuts"
    I don't think so. The last two years we've had a Democrat congress.

    But yes, if a Republican hadn't been in the White House, our economy would be in a lot worse shape than it's in.

    Both sides are to blame for the current economic crisis, but Democrats are more to blame.

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  5. "Define "necessary" with respect to taxes"
    Fifteen percent, 20 at the most.

    Enough to fund our military and a couple other departments, like the court system and the FBI.

    The more local control, the less waste and corruption.
    Therefore, I'm for more state power at the expense of federal power.

    One of the things that make America great is that states be free to make their own rules. Thus states can compete against each other economically. Economic competition makes society stronger.

    Another thing that makes America great is Christianity.

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  6. "believe in funding for the arts"

    I am an artist, but a fundamental truth is that art does not make one a better person.

    Art can be used for good or ill.

    Art does not make it less likely one will lie, cheat, or steal.

    If localities vote to fund certain public works of art - fine.

    I certainly don't believe in national public funding for art.

    What a town in Utah would like as art differes from what San Francisco would like.

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  7. "What would you say is the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives?"

    Our metaphors. See above.

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  8. Sean: "What would you say is the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives?"

    Fencing Bear: "Our metaphors"

    Yes, sure. But specifically?

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  9. "Yes, sure. But specifically?"

    Our metaphors. Do you disagree with the way in which Lakoff characterizes the conservative and liberal perspectives? Thus far, it seems to me that we've been arguing pretty much exactly the way that he predicts.

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  10. I'm about to teach a class, so I will get to Lakoff later, but here is what I mean by "specific": an essential and fundamental difference between liberal and conservative is:

    liberals value "follow your heart"
    over "do your duty"

    conservatives value "do your duty" over "follow your heart"

    I like this not only because I believe it to be true, but because both sides can agree to it.

    Clarity first, agreement (if ever) later.

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  11. Okay, if you put it in those terms, I would say, conservatives value "follow your interest" over "care for the community," while liberals value "care for the community" over "follow your interest." Conservatives believe in Adam Smith's Invisible Hand. They believe that if they act in their own interest, without regulation, that everyone will benefit. Liberals believe that they may have to sacrifice some of their own comfort for the good of the community. So, basically, I'd put your definition exactly backward: conservatives value "follow your heart [i.e. your own self-interest]" over "do your duty [i.e. work for the benefit of others]," while liberals value "do your duty" over "follow your heart."

    It may interest you to know that the conservative argument goes back to Bernard Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits, first published in 1714. I don't have the text at home with me now, but you can get a fair idea of his argument from the article in Wikipedia. I know this text because I've taught it in my History of European Civilization section.

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  12. "when a liberal (like Obama) says we need to "spread the wealth around" ... conservatives hear him saying that we should reward the weak for their lack of discipline"
    That's misrepresenting conservative thought.
    Conservatives most certainly did NOT hear him say, "we should reward the weak for their lack of discipline." I am conservative and I did not think that. And I discussed it with my conservative friends and none of them thought that.
    This is why I don't think you have ever been a conservative and why I guessed that you don't read conservative sources.
    Conservatives believe that it is not the place of govt to spread the wealth around.

    "all of us, rich and poor, benefit from (to give Lakoff's list) "the interstate highway system, the Internet, the scientific and medical establishments, our communications system, our airline system, the space program.""
    I would privatize all of those industries (but for security purposes keep federal oversight of the airlines).

    The interstate has already been built, but I would eliminate federal funding for its upkeep and thus make it the responsibility of each state.

    Mayo Clinic is the top hospital because of its business practices, not because of govt subsidy.

    "Conservatives ... think of taxes in terms of a burden from which it is best to be relieved"
    That's misrepresenting conservative thought.
    This is actually what conservatives think:
    That govt governs best that governs least.
    also:
    A govt that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.

    LAKOFF
    "The conservatives' model is that of the strict father family"
    The statement has some truth, but Conservatives would not use the word "strict," and they would include mention of a mother.
    Conservatives believe the idea family has a mother as well as a father.

    "Children are born bad"
    Conservatives, especially religious ones, would say, "the heart is intrinsicallly deceitful," NOT, "Children are born bad."
    Conservatives, especially religious ones, would say that children are a blessing and gift from God, and are more likely to have many of them.

    "What is needed in this kind of a world is a strong, strict father"
    I say again, conservatives would not use the word "strict," but they would agree that strong fathers are good.

    As alluded to above, missing from Lakoff's description of the conservative metaphor is the role of the woman.
    Conservatives are for both male and female, masculine and feminine, husband and wife, father and mother.

    But it is true that the conservative model for the macro (including govt) is masculine.
    Conservatives would say that a liberal govt is a case of the feminine not moderated by the masculine.

    "Translated into policy on social programs this means that it is immoral to help people by giving them things (health care, education) that they have not earned "because they will not develop discipline and will become both dependent and immoral.""
    Conservatives wouldn't use the words "moral," "immoral," or "discipline." Rather, they would point out that to give people hand-outs is to make them worse off.

    Polls show that people don't value a dollar they receive via welfare as much as a dollar they receive by having earned it.
    Conservatives would stress that hand-outs hurt people's dignity.

    "In terms of taxes, it means it is moral to cut taxes and reward those "whose prosperity reveals their discipline and hence their capacity for morality.""
    As I mentioned before, what Lakoff says has some truth in it. But none of my conservative friends would use the word "morality" so much (if at all) in making our arguments for conservatism. Nor would they use the word "strict."

    "Children do not talk back to their father; they obey him"
    That's misrepresenting conservative thought.
    Conservatives would put it this way: Conservatives are for children respecting their parents (both mother and father). Conservatives encourage open communication among the family.

    "We, "being the best and most powerful country in the world--a moral authority--know the right thing to do. We should not be asking anybody else.""
    Conservatives would put it this way: America doesn't always do the right thing; America is not perfect; but on balance America is the best, most moral, most ethical country in the world.
    With regard to asking the advice of other nations, we are strong enough to be able to do so.

    "Contrast this with the liberals' model of the family: "Both parents are equally responsible for raising the children"

    Conservatives would say the role of the father is different from the mother, but conservatives would say that both parents are equally responsible for raising the children.

    "The assumption is that children are born good"
    I agree that liberals assume people are born good.
    And I agree that conservatives don't.
    But remember that I said conservatives don't believe people are born bad. Conservatives believe people are born with potential in either direction.

    The following is attributed to the liberal mindset, but that is a mistake; nothing about it is either particularly liberal or particularly conservative. In other words, I don't think either liberals or conservatives can claim it:

    "The world can be made a better place, and our job is to work on that. The parents' job is to nurture their children and to raise their children to be nurturers of others. What does nurturance mean? It means two things: empathy and responsibility. If you have a child, you have to know what every cry means. You have to know when the child is hungry, when he needs a diaper change, when he is having nightmares. And you have a responsibility--you have to take care of this child. Since you cannot take care of someone else if you are not taking care of yourself, you have to take care of yourself enough to be able to take care of the child. All this is not easy. Anyone who has ever raised a child know that this is hard. You have to be strong. You have to work hard at it. You have to be very competent. You have to know a lot.""

    Another paragraph follows, about which I can say the same thing: This is supposed to describe liberals as opposed to conservatives, but it seems to me to be pretty non-partisan and just plain common sense:

    "Parents want to protect their children from things like crime, drugs, poisonous additives in food, dangerous working conditions, devastation of the environment, and, yes, terrorist attacks. Because taking care of children is such hard work, it is morally-imperative to take care of oneself, too. One wants one's children to be happy and fulfilled; it is therefore imperative that they have the freedom to do so. Freedom is constrained if there is no opportunity and prosperity, so these are values for the nurturant parent as well. Opportunity and prosperity are dependent upon a vibrant community life, therefore "community-building, service to the community, and cooperation in a community become values. To have cooperation, you must have trust, and to have trust you must have honesty and open two-way communication. Trust, honesty and open community are fundamental progressive values--in a community as in a family.""

    I'm reminded of reading some rather overly obvious travel guides, which had statements like, "The people of [such and such nation] work hard - but they like to enjoy their time off as well. They love their children and dote on them." And I'm skimming this and thinking, "Tell me something DISTINCTIVE about them."

    Then about the previous two paragraphs that purport to describe liberals: "Doubtless, to a conservative, this all sounds like so much wishy-washy naivete."
    To which I would reply: No, not in the least. It sounds like a travel guide that is rather too elementary, one that states the obvious.

    END OF LAKOFF EXCERPTS
    "I can just hear the [conservative] responses ... People get what they deserve"
    Again, this is a demonstration of a lack of understanding of the conservative mind.
    Conservatives wouldn't categorically say, "People get what they deserve," especially not if they're Christian.

    "Oh, and by the by, I don't do my son's homework for him"
    No need to be so defensive. No one said you did. I certainly didn't.


    ---
    Can we agree on these two statements?

    Liberals are for high taxes; conservatives are for low taxes

    Liberals believe people are born good.
    By contrast, conservatives, while they don't believe people are born bad, do not believe people are born good.

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  13. How about this? Liberals believe that higher taxes may be necessary in order to pay for the programs and services that it takes to support our infrastructure, while conservatives believe the money will be provided by private interests. Which seems to me that it is the same people paying however you slice it (i.e. the ones with the money). Where we disagree is on the incentives to do so. Do we require everyone to contribute by law (i.e. through taxes), or do we rely on people's altruism? As I see it at the moment, we do both. We're quarreling over percentages.

    I'm not sure how much I agree with Lakoff on the "born good" question. I am, after all Christian, so I know we are born with original sin. I find it interesting that you read most of his description of the liberal family values as conservative or both. I'm going to have to post on this properly, I think.

    On whether we should have less federal government and more state control, most of the money that goes into our public education system is at the state or city level. It's the property taxes I pay to the city of Chicago that go to fund our schools, not the taxes I pay to the U.S. government. The point is, we (our society) has to pay somewhere.

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  14. This is in response to Family Matters:

    Physiologically, we may even be different-- there are some people who like roller coasters and others who hate them.

    People who are physiologically highly responsive to threat are likely to advocate policies that protect against threats to the social unit: favouring defence spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq War.

    In contrast, people who are less startled by sudden noises and threatening visual images are more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism and gun control

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/09/18/scitory118.xml
    (link to report of this study--there are many reports, maybe I'll look for more)

    Obama supporters are enthusiastic about Obama--McCain supporters are more simply party-liners.
    Obama supporters are electing a leader. Republicans are electing to be followers.

    and response to previous comments:

    "2. It takes away some of the incentive to become rich.
    One of the reasons America is great is that, by comparison with other nations, it's easier to become rich here."

    ok, maybe due to the fact I"m working 15 hour days, all these posts look a little blurry, but I will say,
    working in film and tv a lot of the people I work with and know make more than 250K a year. good grief,
    some make it in a month or even a week. And yes, we liberal Hollywood people are liberals. More
    accurately actually, progressives. (Even Arnold I'd say).
    Do you think a tax on that level of income is any dissuasion to a throng of aspiring actors, directors, etc--any incentive against trying
    to make that kind of money? No, that's silly. People will strive to get rich no matter, so an argument that higher
    taxes will take away that drive is nonsense.


    "Because Christianity is conservative."

    Because the religious Right is conservative. More Old Testament than New Testament. (Tradition!)
    Moral punditry is not the same as Christianity.

    Now I have to go to work....

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  15. and you know what, at the terrible risk of retaliation I have to say, yeah, maybe I'm (we're-the liberals) hostile. We've been bullied by the Right for 8 years and feel the same elation when the school bully has been finally been stood up to.
    Everybody cheers.
    and yes, I like roller coasters!!

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  16. "conservatives value "follow your interest" over "care for the community," while liberals value "care for the community" over "follow your interest.""

    We disagree on a definition of liberals and conservatives.

    You disagree with my fundamental differentiation that liberals value "follow your heart" over "do your duty" while conservatives value "do your duty" over "follow your heart"

    And I disagree with your attempt at a defining statement that conservatives value "follow your interest" over "care for the community," while liberals value "care for the community" over "follow your interest."

    I disagree with your assertion that conservatives value "follow your interest" over "care for the community" because both liberals and conservatives believe their ideology is best for both individuals and society.

    Conservatives would not agree that they care for their own personal interest over the interest of the larger society; certainly they wouldn't say that they do so more than liberals.

    "Conservatives believe in Adam Smith's Invisible Hand"
    I agree.

    "They believe that if they act in their own interest, without regulation, that everyone will benefit"
    This is not quite true; there are too many absolutes in your statement.
    Though conservatives favor far fewer regulations than do liberals, few conservatives are for no regulation at all.
    We can amend your statement to:
    Conservatives believe that if people compete economically, without a lot of regulation, that society will benefit.

    "Liberals believe that they may have to sacrifice some of their own comfort for the good of the community"
    So do conservatives. As an example, conservatives are over-represented among law enforcement and military. These people are certainly sacrificing some of their own comfort for the good of the community.

    "So, basically, I'd put your definition exactly backward: conservatives value "follow your heart [i.e. your own self-interest]" over "do your duty [i.e. work for the benefit of others]," while liberals value "do your duty" over "follow your heart.""

    I've mentioned my "follow your heart/do your duty" dichotomy to many liberals over the years and a large percentage of them recognize it to be true. I'm disappointed you are not among them.

    For the past several years, my ears perk up when I hear the phrase "follow your heart," whether I hear it in movies, novels, essays, or wherever. Sometimes it is not discernable whether the source is liberal or conservative. But when political bias is apparent, it's almost always (perhaps 95%) a liberal source.

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  17. "Liberals believe that higher taxes may be necessary in order to pay for the programs and services that it takes to support our infrastructure, while conservatives believe the money will be provided by private interests"

    Close, but not quite.

    How about:
    Conservatives believe that government's main (and perhaps only) purpose is protection (the military for protection from others; police for protection from each other).
    Liberals believe that government's primary purpose is social welfare.

    And this:
    Liberals are for more federal control at the expense of the power of the states; conservatives are for more state power at the expense of the power of the federal govt.

    "Where we disagree is on the incentives to do so. Do we require everyone to contribute by law (i.e. through taxes), or do we rely on people's altruism?"

    If we were a society of secular humanists, a good case can be made that we would not be able to rely on altruism, and therefore must turn to government.
    But we are (thank God) a Christian society, and have always been a Christian society, and that is a key factor in what makes America uniquely good and great:

    God is the source of all good.

    Even the good that comes from non-Christians is from God; it's just that the non-Christians don't recognize it as such.

    Given that premise, of course most of the good in the world comes from and through Christians.

    Christian groups and Christians individually give more to the needy than non-Christians.
    Conservatives give more to the needy than liberals.
    And Americans give more to the needy than the citizens of other nations.

    Conservatives give more to the needy because of the good influence of Christians, who are the soul of the Republican party and conservative ideology.
    Americans give more to the needy because of the Republican party; conservatism is what makes America great.

    And America is the last best hope of the world.

    The less Christian a society is, the more it helps its needy through govt programs.
    The more Christian a society is, the more it helps its needy through charity (the private sector).

    The two reasons why it's best if we help our needy through private sector:

    1. Charity is more efficient than govt programs - there is less waste, red tape, and corruption

    2. Charity contributes to the morality of society in general:
    We know that giving charity is good for us. But if the govt is already providing for the needy, we are less likely to give charity. That is bad for us as individuals because giving charity is good for our souls.

    Also, receiving charity from the private sector is better for the needy among us than receiving govt welfare. Because private sector charity is mostly Christian (like Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, etc) and these organizations save souls at the same time they are feeding and clothing bodies. And that's a good thing.

    "Do we require everyone to contribute by law (i.e. through taxes), or do we rely on people's altruism? As I see it at the moment, we do both"

    We do both because of compromise between conservatives and liberals. When liberals are ascendant, private charity slows and govt welfare grows. When conservatives are ascendant, it's the opposite.

    The rest of the world is more liberal than America. America is unique because of its conservatives.

    Canada and Western Europe is what America would look like if the liberals had their way.

    If the liberals had their way, America would be ideologically indistinct from Europe.

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  18. "If the liberals had their way, America would be ideologically indistinct from Europe."

    This actually doesn't bother me, being a) married to an Englishman, b) a professor of European history, and c) a descendant of Europeans. Oh, and an Anglophile (both personally and aesthetically). You need to read more in my previous posts, particularly the ones on my researches this summer at the British Library and in Belgium if you want to understand my perspective on Europe.

    Also, economically, the thing I noticed most this summer in Europe was how weak the dollar is with respect both to the pound and to the Euro. No, I'm not planning on moving to Canada or Europe any time soon, but I don't take either example as a concern in the way that you do.

    Oh, yes, and without Europe, the United States wouldn't be Christian, whatever the reason that the Muslims were there to be defeated by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours-Poitiers.

    "I've mentioned my 'follow your heart/do your duty' dichotomy to many liberals over the years and a large percentage of them recognize it to be true. I'm disappointed you are not among them."

    Sorry to disappoint. Maybe all liberals are not the same.

    "Conservatives believe that if people compete economically, without a lot of regulation, that society will benefit."

    So what regulations are you proposing that we dispose of? Health and safety regulations for our workers? Environmental regulations? The Indians have given us a good example of what happens when you do this: have you read about what is happening to the sacred Ganges? Consumer protection regulations? Perhaps we want to go back to the days described by Upton Sinclair. Even in the Middle Ages, when government was mainly about war, there were regulations on, e.g. the selling of meat. When you say "fewer regulations," which ones are you meaning are bad?

    "'Liberals believe that they may have to sacrifice some of their own comfort for the good of the community.'
    So do conservatives. As an example, conservatives are over-represented among law enforcement and military. These people are certainly sacrificing some of their own comfort for the good of the community."

    Good, I'm glad we agree on this one. So, basically, both liberals and conservatives care deeply about their country, are equally patriotic and want only the best for our nation. Agreed?

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  19. Sean: "If the liberals had their way, America would be ideologically indistinct from Europe."

    "This actually doesn't bother me"

    I wasn't implying that it did. I was just pointing out the difference between liberal and conservative.

    "Maybe all liberals are not the same"

    I didn't imply that they were.

    Though certain attributes tend to cluster around certain ideologies. For example, liberals tend to be young, female, vegetarian, practitioners of yoga, and have piercings in addition to ear piercings (such as nose and navel).

    "what regulations are you proposing that we dispose of?"
    Regulations that redistribute wealth, that restrict gun ownership, that establish a minimum wage.

    "Health and safety regulations for our workers?"
    Many of them, yes. "Health" is a broad term. For example, under the umbrella of health, some businesses have paid for breast enlargements for employees.

    "Perhaps we want to go back to the days described by Upton Sinclair"
    Ideologically, we should go back to the 50s, the days of "Happy Days," Ritchie, the Fonz, and Potsie. (Except minus the racism.)

    "both liberals and conservatives care deeply about their country, are equally patriotic and want only the best for our nation. Agreed?"
    To be completely truthful and fair, we would have to recognize that, on balance, conservatives are more patriotic than liberals.
    This is not to say that the most patriotic liberals are not as patriotic as the most patriotic conservatives; they are.
    Neither is it to say that most liberals are not patriotic; most are.
    But taking the average, there is no doubt that in the realm of patriotism, conservatives beat liberals.
    ------
    The Lakoff model of liberalism fails to mention that liberalism raises the metaphor of the feminine above the masculine.
    In the liberal world view, the feminine is superior to the masculine.

    Liberalism is thus much more emotional than conservatism.

    ONE REASON WHY "SPREADING THE WEALTH AROUND" IS NOT A GOOD IDEA
    As shown by polls and recent election results, roughly half of us tend conservative and roughly half liberal.
    If Obama is elected, we'll all send a portion of our money to his administration and he will (along with the Democrat-controlled congress) decide on what programs to use our money. As Obama is very liberal, he will use our money on mostly liberal programs. This will be against the wishes of roughly half the country.

    Conservatives are for people keeping more of their money and doing with it what they want: The are for letting conservatives contribute to conservative causes and liberals to liberal causes.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks, I'm glad you think 43 is still young. That's made my day! Does this mean if I stay liberal, I'll never need to worry about growing old? Who knew it was so easy?! See "Competition, Morning of, Day Two" for how I felt about that earlier this month when I was about to go fence 14-year-olds.

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F.B.

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