TCS Daily


Stuck on 1968

By Arnold Kling - January 27, 2006 12:00 AM

"Worldviews are more a mental security blanket than a serious effort to understand the world."
-- Bryan Caplan, The Logic of Collective Belief

Most people who were liberals in 1968 still are. Liberals. In 1968.

Recently, economist Jim Miller used the term moral free riding to describe adopting a precarious ideological position when it has little personal risk. George Mason University economics professor Bryan Caplan says that such free riding is the normal state of affairs. He argues that people are insulated from the consequences of their beliefs by the fact that the typical voter has a low probability of influencing the outcome of an election.

Caplan, in a book that eventually is to be published by Princeton University Press, argues that most people do not work very hard to arrive at worldviews that are logically consistent and factually supported, because the reward for rational beliefs is too small. He writes: "we should expect people to...believe whatever makes them feel best. After all, it's free. The fanatical protectionist who votes to close the borders risks virtually nothing, because the same policy wins no matter how he votes."

Of course, I may be as guilty as anyone of believing whatever makes me feel best. But I believe that I have put considerable effort into examining and correcting my worldview. I am no longer a liberal (in the contemporary sense of the term), because my calendar did not get stuck on 1968.

If 1968 were an influential thinker, it would have many disciples who share its folk beliefs. Those folk beliefs are the mental security blanket still being clutched by my liberal friends, even those who are not old enough to remember 1968.

I want to contrast the way the world might have appeared to a reasonable liberal in 1968 with the way events have unfolded since then. Afterwards, if you still prefer the folk beliefs of 1968 to my views today, so be it. But at least you have an opportunity to reconsider.

The Conventional Wisdom

The Conventional Wisdom among well-educated liberals in 1968 included the following:

  • Anti-Communism was a greater menace than Communism.
  • The planet could not possibly support the population increases that would take place by the end of the twentieth century.
  • Conservatives stood in the way of progress for minorities.
  • Government programs were the best way to lift people out of poverty.
  • What underdeveloped countries needed were large capital investments, financed by foreign aid from the rich countries.
  • Inflation was a cost-push phenomenon, requiring government intervention in wage and price setting.

The degree of confidence in these beliefs was so strong that liberals in 1968 came to the overriding conclusion that:

  • Anyone who is not a liberal must be incorrigibly stupid

Given the state of knowledge in 1968, I can understand why an intelligent person might have believed in the Conventional Wisdom at that time. However, since 1968, considerable evidence has accumulated that challenges the Conventional Wisdom. In some cases, the evidence turned out to be so overwhelming that beliefs were quietly discarded from the Conventional Wisdom.

A rational response to this record of powerful evidence against the Conventional Wisdom might be to reconsider one's views, as I have done. Instead, it seems to me that liberals have become more close-minded and more dogmatic.

In 1968, liberals thought that that Communism could work reasonably well for some countries. The Soviet Union was thought to be ahead of us in engineering. Many liberal intellectuals considered Communism a viable option for achieving development in the Third World. A reader of Noam Chomsky's article in the August 13, 1970 New York Review of Books would have thought that North Vietnam's regime, while not perfect, was closer to the ideal than any other existing government. Anti-Communism, on the other hand, was seen by the Conventional Wisdom as only a pretext for misbegotten wars and hysterical blacklists of Hollywood screenwriters.

Since 1968, we have seen:

  • a mass exodus from Communist Vietnam (the boat people)
  • a large exodus from Cuba (the Mariel boat lift)
  • the collapse of Soviet Communism, revealing that the system did much broader and deeper damage than most people realized
  • an unmistakably large gap between North Korea and South Korea in terms of material well-being and personal freedom

In 1968, the Conventional Wisdom was that we would see mass starvation in another decade or two. It was still the conventional wisdom a dozen years later, when Julian Simon wrote a contrarian book arguing that population was The Ultimate Resource. Among economists, Simon's views have gained adherents, and almost no economist believes that food scarcity is a material threat (although politically-induced famines are still possible).

In 1968, we were just a few years removed from the passage of Civil Rights legislation that ended Jim Crow segregation in the South. Conservatives had opposed the Civil Rights movement, and were caught on the wrong side of history.

Rather than declare victory, the Civil Rights movement declared perpetual war. Meanwhile, policies that might really help minorities, such as school vouchers to release them from the obligation to attend failed public schools, have become anathema to liberals.

Another perpetual war that began in the 1960's was the War on Poverty. The programs that were enacted in the name of this war had little effect. Nonetheless, poverty had been greatly reduced over the past forty years, thanks to economic growth and the escalation of income.

Arguably, government welfare programs served only to corrupt the poor. In the case of foreign aid, a consensus is in fact emerging that aid serves to entrench corrupt governments. Instead, the keys to prosperity are institutional more than material.

Friedman on the Fringe

In 1968, Milton Friedman was on the fringe of respectability. His Presidential Address to the American Economic Association in 1967 could not have been more defiant of the conventional wisdom. At that time, economists thought that the economy could be "fine tuned" by government to achieve any desirable unemployment rate, with a "trade-off" that allegedly involved accepting higher inflation. Inflation, in turn, could be curbed by government action to control, or at least influence, the price- and wage-setting decisions of private firms.

Friedman argued instead that there is a "natural rate" of unemployment to which the economy will tend, regardless of how government manipulates aggregate demand. He warned that attempts to use monetary and fiscal policy to drive the unemployment rate lower would only result in ever-accelerating rates of inflation. Moreover, he argued that the only cure for inflation was control over the rate of growth of the money supply.

In 1968, Friedman's views were far from the mainstream. When Paul Samuelson wrote an article for the Canadian Journal of Economics on "What Classical and Neoclassical Economic Theory Really Was," he sneered that for modern economists trying to understand monetarism was like being a farmer who had lost his jackass and having to ask, "If I were a jackass, where would I go?" In short, Samuelson considered Friedman a jackass.

About this time, "fine tuning" began to fail, and inflation started to rise, just as Friedman had predicted. In 1971, President Nixon tried the Conventional Wisdom and adopted wage and price controls. The results proved disastrous. Finally, in 1979, President Carter in desperation allowed a new Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker, to attempt the monetarist cure for inflation. The result was successful.

Today, it is Milton Friedman's views that are conventional wisdom, and the 1960's Keynesians who are the jackasses. For me, seeing this unfold (I was a freshman economics major when President Nixon tried wage-price controls in 1971, and I was a newly-minted Ph.D in economics working at the Fed in the early 1980's) was a major life experience. Somehow, many liberal economists of my generation managed to forget they ever believed in wage-price controls and hang on to the rest of their Conventional Wisdom security blanket. But I also noticed the other ways in which the Conventional Wisdom failed to match reality.

Do conservatives make mistakes? Yes. Do liberals always get things wrong? No. But if I were still a liberal, I would want to be aware of -- and correct for -- a number of biases in thinking.

One bias is what Caplan terms in his book "pessimistic bias." People (not just liberals) tend to underestimate recent economic progress and future prospects. Pessimistic bias can be seen in doomsday environmental scenarios, claims that middle-class incomes are stagnating, and other liberal tropes.

Another bias is what Caplan calls anti-market bias. Liberals are excessively distrustful of markets and overly confident about the use of government power. The assumption is that government power will always be administered with wisdom and benevolence. I would be the first to admit that markets are not perfect. And government programs are not always failures. But liberals exaggerate market failures and overstate government successes. Anti-market bias leads people to concede government too much power, with liberals actively cheering government expansion.

Another bias is the view that other people cannot be trusted to make their own decisions. Liberals who send their own children to private school believe that poor families should not be allowed to make the same choice. Liberals make their own choices regarding health care, but they believe that others should have their health care decisions made for them by government.

I admit to having the opposite inclination. I do not believe that government can be trusted to make better decisions for individuals than individuals can make for themselves. It seems to me that if liberals had paid attention since 1968 rather than remaining in an ideological deep freeze, they would have seen the evidence that took me along the path to libertarianism.

Arnold Kling is author of Learning Economics.

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38 Comments

"Anyone who is not a liberal must be incorrigibly stupid"
Republican presidents and candidates have all been considered stupid and/or lazy, too, since at least Dwight Eisenhower. Maybe longer than that. That's all the further my memory goes back.

Decisive
Conservatives have evaluated their life experiences and those of others and made DECIDED to follow a path based upon standards they have defined.
Liberals, it seems, refuse to accept standards continuing to explore all avenues of life no matter how destructive and no matter past history.
Conservatives must be stupid in their view because they are aparently no longer searching for life's alternatives.
I submit conservatives have accomplished their research, reviewed the evidence and made a decision. Is that stupid?

Conservatives are stupid
Nice point. I,too was a liberal in 1968, when I was 14, and stayed over there until McGovern ran for president. I remember thinking, "this guy stands for everything I'm supposed to but he makes no sense!". I discovered Atlas Shrugged and libertarian philosophy professors that year, and grew up. But today, despite having earned degrees in philosophy and law, reading three newspapers a day and at least one non-fiction book a week, my liberal friends treat me as though I were a drooling idiot. Funny thing, though: if you question their assumptions, point out the error of those assumptions, they throw their hands in the air and say, "let's not talk politics". Go figure.

Growing Old v. Growing Up
First of all Arnold, thanks for the great article. It brings the saying to mind by, Winston Churchill (?) about that when you're 20, if you're not a socialist, you don't have a heart but by the time you're 40 if you're not conservative, you don't have a brain.

To me, one aspect about growing up is that constant interaction with people of all sorts (especially commercial interaction, when it comes to how people treat their own and other people's money) shows an astute observer that human nature has a benevolent and malevolent side. Moreover, it can be remarkably consistent. To entertain the left as a young, idealist person, the benevolence and simplicity of life's dilemmas is greatly romanticized and highly hyperbolized.

The act of paying attention and being ground in the meat-grinder of experience reveals some ugly truths about issues such as "morality". One of the sad parts of human nature, especially when it comes to the criminal mind, is to make bad acts justifiable or relative. Since the 60s (Thanks to Szasz) we have a society and culture that wants to make everything relative and that allows us as individuals, private and public, to justify our means and ends. We're unmoored from truths about our natures, and that's dangerous, but the premise of the left.

Like the previous poster, I was young in 1968 (10 years old) and thought what was going on on the campuses was unnecessary and disrespectful. Seemd to me "intelligent" people didn't have to be savages to make their points. I have many friends stuck there, who see injustice and oppression at every corner and never saw a government program they didn't love and that could be a staging ground for the next one.

At age 14, I discovered Rand, and what society was doing became less important. Her thoughts were liberating and also demonstrably cognizant of the truth about human nature. Once I began to think in terms of less idealism and what truly motivates people, less bothered me. Must say, my liberal friends, seeking their peeves and programs as a lot more uptight than I am.

Thanks again Arnold.

1968
Arnold,

Re; "Most people who were liberals in 1968 still are. Liberals. In 1968."

Outstanding line! And an excellent essay.

I too was once a liberal. Today, I guess you could describe me as a pragmatic libertarian. I believe in individual freedom, and I believe in doing what works.

Moral vanity plays a big role
As a freshman at UC Berkeley in 1970, I had a huge self interest in my antiwar "philosophy": If I didn't remain in school I would be off to the rice paddies. It was quite easy to make a virtue out of a necessity. And as one who loved to tramp the High Sierra, my radical environmentalist friends and I contemplated snowshoeing into the Mineral King Wilderness area to sabotage Disney bulldozers to disrupt their planned development of a ski resort there (that never came to be). We were pampered, inexperienced twerps convinced of our own brilliance -- but more importantly -- convinced of the venality 'businessmen' and conservatives in general. We were babes without a clue. It pains me to think back on our foolishness.

Travelling through Central and South America for several years in the mid- to late-1970's taught me enough about the personal and societal effects communism and fascism to appreciate the United States forevermore. Working and raising children in Silicon Valley taught me enough to appreciate my Catholic upbringing and my father's work ethic. In addition to the Churchill saying, the other one I like is Mark Twain's: "When I was 14, I couldn't believe how ignorant my father was. By the time I turned 21 I was astounded at how much the old man had learned."

A few things now seem self-evident to me:

1. Take responsibility for your decisions. Being insulated from the consequences of your choices devalues your choices, makes them suspect.
2. Look to the past to test ideas not to some idealized future. There is no substitute for experience.
3. People vote with their feet and pocketbooks. Watch what people do -- not what they say.

It's damned hard to be a liberal if you follow these rules.

PDQ

New paths
Marjon,

Society needs those who are willing to try new paths - the risk takers. If they succeed we can honor them, and perhaps even follow them. If they fail, we can point to them and say, "okay, that path goes nowhere".

My question is, are modern liberals risk takers? - or just another breed of conservatives who have yet to see that their risk taking leaders haven chosen a path that is a dead end.

No Subject
I liked your posting, but there is one point that I think you got wrong.
You write that conservatives opposed civil rights in 1968. As a matter of fact, Republicans always supported civil rights for blacks in the south, and that was always opposed and blocked by Southern Democrats. The South at the time was, politically almost entirely in the hands of Democrats at every level of office, and segregation was upheld and supported by the Democratic Party.
It is true that within the Democratic Party liberals favored civil rights, but to say that conservatives opposed them in the country as a whole is not true.
Even in the South, opposition to segregation developed in part from annoyance of business owners at their inability to hire qualified and available blacks due to the restrictions of segregation.
The politicians who opposed civil rights, like Faubus and Fulbright and so on were all Democrats and not exactly conservatives. Senator Byrd is around today and is, I think, a liberal Democrat, yet he was an official in the Ku Klux Klan in 1968, or perhaps a bit earlier.

excellent article
I concur with several of the observations. My older Vietnam-era brother is a die-hard liberal and talks just like he's living in the 60's...to this day! Good grief, he still carries on about Vietnam and how no one would listen to him. Often he is totally irrational about the current administration. One day I came to the conclusion that what he was really mad at - was that no one cared what he thought. And the reason he was so opposed to the invasion of Iraq - it wasn't about HIM. Ugh.

Another relevant quote.
Einstein's definition: "Insanity, making the same mistake over and over again and expecting different results" seems also appropriate.

Look at most of the liberal failed ideas, (wellfare, school reform, you name it,) all the policies that "should have worked but didn't." The liberal idea is "Let's try it again but this time spend more money."

Sorry, not true
People called Nixon all kinds of things. Stupid was never one of them. People said Bush Sr was standoffish and counrtry-clubby, but not dumb.

On the other hand, I keep hearing Hugh Hewitt says all liberals are dumb, so I guess if he says it, it must be true.

excellent discussion
This is a good discussion, but it leaves me feeling marginalized. I'm constantly impugned as being a liberal, constantly defined by points that do not apply. The problem here is everyone seems to have a similar definition of what a liberal is, and it tends to derive from the definition created by conservatives. Liberalism is different than conservativism, and libertarianism, in that it is not an ideology, it does not have a single definition.

The people all these posts refer to, liberal acquaintances and whatnot, I would guess are probably pretty ignorant of politics and the issues. I encounter it myself, their heart is in the right place, but for some reason they get it wrong. Its most common in discussions about the Bush Administration. There are a great, great number of things to criticize the Bush Administration about, but my liberal friends tend to pick points that don't make sense. I can't count the number of times I cringe at a point a person makes, I try to explain their point isn't technically correct, but if they just phrase it differently, phrase it this way it is valid, but they just don't get it. Its not a liberal problem, its an educational problem, they don't really pay enough attention, or seek multiple views to gain balance. They're comfortable in their irrationality.

Frankly, this is a bigger problem among the entire populace. Conservatives and libertarians can get away with it because they have a solid ideology with solid positions and talking points. But most people are not boxed in these categories, they just go with the flow and don't give it a lot of concious consideration. Most people are moderate. Well, this is changing somewhat because of the style of Bush. He tries to force everyone to pick a side, with him or against him, there is no discourse or middle ground with Bush. But thats a different discussion.

I would hope that the future of liberalism is a melding of liberal and libertarian ideas. Free markets, with very limited government intervention. Grand socialism is not a good thing, but limited socialism can be a good thing. The liberal values of peace and altruism are very important. Personal responsibility, self-govern (thats my favorite word right now), self-scrutiny. It shouldn't come from the government, it should come from each one of us. At the very least it should be the personal characteristics of our leaders. America's biggest problem right now is corruption. It is a way bigger problem than, and causes much more damage to our country, than even terrorists.

Open Mind
It's nice to observe a person with an open mind.

You are a libertarian
You sound like a classic liberal or libertarian (libertarian in my book does not mean anarchy, it is LIMITED government).

"...liberal values of peace and altruism..."

They are not just liberal values. Sounds like Christian values, too.

"Conservatives and libertarians can get away with it because they have a solid ideology with solid positions and talking points."

So you agree modern liberals have no clue what they stand for except chaos?

I was a liberal
I was in college during the late '60s and was a devout liberal. I differ from Arnold's view of the conventional wisdom of that period regarding using government programs for lifting up the poor (Great Society programs notwithstanding). We did not trust government or any kind of institutional authority. We believed in being a light unto oneself, and in the virtues of self-reliance. Remember the romantic notions of "getting back to the land" and joining communes and dropping out.

I really believe the liberal movement left me behind when it became the modern liberal movement that believed government was the agent of change. I think those who thought along the lines I described have become classical liberals. Life taught us about personal responsibility and accountability and also that the true American philosophy of individual freedom and self-government were the best chances of having freedom - not the belief that a central government could be the great playing field leveler.

Stuck
A conventional, predictable, 1/2 truth argument.

Good point
Yep, Nixon sure got the least of "dumb" arrows. But, after his first house race, he was so hated that "dumb" was lost in the noise. JFK v Nixon on brains? Why, JFK, you'll remember, was proof that even a genius could not spell. Who was "smarter": Nixon or McGovern? But, yeah, the answer to that was probably more about "smart" worldview than personal attributes.

Bush Sr.? I agree. Second least dumb. Quayle took all that heat. Though you'll remember that Sr. got the same hilarious flack as Jr. for verbal left-handedness. :)

And Ford? Bumbling, right? Literally could not walk and chew gum at the same time. Remember the glee from the press when he tripped leaving a plane?

Ah, Agnew couldn't have gotten many "dumb" charges after he mopped up on the campus boomers in a TV debate.

"no one cared what he thought"
:) Read some Eric Hoffer on that. Describes it, if not explaining it. Entertaining stuff.

Too good for the soul
I suspect that the obdurance of 'new left' first principles has been accentuated by the synthesis of psychotherapy and a social/political orthodoxy. The social-therapeutic worldview promoted by the 68'ers invokes a strange passion play of mortal persecution and transcendence. But their transcendence is thought to derive from pristine self knowledge which imbues a certain 'consciousness' and 'authenticity'. This consciousness is innocent and primitive, it is both personal and global. And so self love is like altruism because the path to self love entails conflict with the same forces of persecution that have been active throughout western history - hence the 'personal is the political'.

The 68'ers' presumption of moral supremacy and habit of flamboyantly adorning themselves with 'issues' and ascetic pretenses may be a reaction to the irreconcilability of these premises.

20==socialist 40==conservative
I wonder how much of the truth of this is grounded on these aspects of modern childhood:

1) There *is* a free lunch. Anyone who claims otherwise has no credibility with me, as for all ..16,17... years of my existence, there's been a free lunch. Personal experience doesn't lie. What other state of existence could there possibly be?

2) Hey! I just found out today about the world beyond my home and school. There are people who have it bad, really bad. Help! Save them! Quick!

reality kicks in
It's not Bush that's forcing people to pick sides. That's reality.

socialism
There is no fashion in which involuntary socialism, small or large can be a good thing.

socialists
You claim that you aren't a liberal.

OK.

Name three policies that you support, especially economic policies, that the average person would not label liberal.

Open mind
I treasure a memory of explaining open-midedness to a liberal friend. I told her that an open mind is not measured by what conclusion you come to, but rather by the willingness to fairly consider multiple arguments before coming to a conclusion. She stared at me open-mouthed for a minute or so and then told me that she would not read the P.J. O'Rourke book I had offered her.

Priceless

"Conservatives are nincom****s."
This idea was the true trap in which liberals had & have enmeshed themselves. Liberalism for so many is no longer about ideas than it is about human value. It's about us & them. It is a kind of bigotry. That is why facts are irrelevant to liberals. Changing ones mind would be agreeing with the great unwashed. Forget it. A liberal would rather be wrong than be thought to be as base as "them"

Ignorant arrogance
I would suggest those stuck in 1968 are arrogant, ingorant risk takers.
There are thousands of documents and stories from the Bible to Oedipus to Romeo and Juliet to... which have attempted to describe what will happen if you go down 'that' path.
They were unfortunate in the sense they had sufficient numbers in the culture who felt the same, weakening cultural inhibitions.
Their numbers have permitted them to remain arrogant and ignorant.
Fortunately, we now have the internet which will bypass the media gate keepers and help to unite those who have become less arrogant and ignorant.

going down for the third time
All this unhinged screeching from the left that we see in this forum, in Alito's interrogation, the MSM, and elsewhere is good news. The rapacious beast has finally been mortally wounded and its death throes are an ugly, but welcome, phenomonen.

And yet liberals as you describe them win almost every battle.
And yet liberals as you describe them win almost every battle.

I think that the success of GW Bush is based on being so “liberal” himself that the democrats have had to get down right goofy to stay left of him. Consider the Madicare drug bill the agriculture bill, energy, fuel cells etc, etc, etc.

How do we end the march towards socialism? I think that Freidman is right given a vote people will choose socialism no matter how bad the results it appears to the average person as a chance to vote himself some money from the pockets of the rich.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0123/p25s01-cogn.html

Chances
Who gave the 'average' person a chance to vote himself some money from the pockets of the rich?

Stuck on 1968
I remember 1968. I was in college and did everything in my power to avoid being drafted, which is, apparently, a conservative virtue.

One of the principles I remember from that time is that government had a huge streak of venality running through it and that it could not be trusted. It would lie, spy, repress, and even kill Americans that disagreed with its views. The agent orange we used in Vietnam is still causing birth defects to this day.

I believe that observation about American government was valid in 1968 and is equally valid today.

Another principle I remember from 1968 is that corporations would suck your soul dry if it would profit them a dime. Watching today's conservatives (and most professional politicians) sucking up to this poisonous tit, in the name of free markets and free enterprise is truly astonishing, a real head in the sand approach to life. Corporations are not interested in free anything or in moral anything, either in 1968 or 2006, and will game the system to their advantage anytime and anyway. To a large extent one could argue that the only real winners in the Iraq adventure and the Katrina catastrophe are the profiteering corporations.

So there's two principles of the 'liberals' from 1968 that stand the test of time.

But wait there's more. 1968 was the time of the birth of environmental concerns.

The article argues that there is no starvation in the world. Well maybe there's none in Chicago where the author might notice if he didn't have his head so deep in the sand, but there sure is elsewhere. There are eleven million people in the Horn of Africa currently starving, partly due to political unrest, but mainly due to drought and desertification. The UN reported that 852 million people were undernourished in 2004 to the extent that their physical and mental development was damaged, but I guess that's not enough to be a trend. Let's just mention a few other facts: 90% of the large fish in the oceans have disappeared in the last 50 years. Major fisheries have collapsed. Scientists also see us at being at a tipping point for significant negative climate change with perhaps a twenty year window in which we can do something to prevent these massive changes.

I was an environmentalist in 1968 and remain so today. I hope you folks keep your heads in the sand, because that way you'll never see what hit ya. Remember the movie Soylent Green (where people were the ultimate resource)? Well that's where we're headed.

'Liberals' stood for equal justice and equal opportunity in 1968. These were their bedrock principles and remain so today. They may not have always articulated it very well and may not always have made the correct policy choices, but that does not invalidate the principles.

I think it is criminal that these principles of equal justice and equal opportunity, of protecting the environment, and of opposition to a non-transparent, corrupt government selling out to godless corporate interests are laughed at and scorned today.

You guys will never know what hit ya, but since I have remained steadfast to the 'liberal' truths of 1968. I will at least see it coming. I'll have a chance to get out of the way while you dinosaurs get extincted, erased, scratched, eliminated and become a mere footnote in the long march of history.

Yes, Conservatives ARE nincom****s
berrytackle, you're providing a perfect example of why conservatives ARE nincom****s. These points are applicable to conservatives foremost. A kind of bigotry, facts are irrelevant, refusal to change ones mind... This is the classic strategy of conservatives- define your opponent. You're probably a fan of Ann Coulter, she does this very well. These things you say describe conservatives, not liberals, and it is your strategy to deflect these criticisms onto your opponent. You have no right to ***** about the discourse in politics today when you're using the favored, disgraceful tactics of neo-cons. Liberals have to respond to it somehow and liberals are not nearly as good as conservatives at smear attacks.

I know you'll accuse me of just mouthing liberal talking points and blah, blah, blah, but what I say is the truth, whether you can accept it or not.

By the way, what is your point anyway?? That you know how to hate and call names, and blame other people for it?

and bob wonders why people think he's a liberal
It's probably because all he can do is insult people and mouth liberal talking points.

He also declares that any fact or opinion that he disagrees with is nothing but hate speech. More liberal talking points.

Starvation in Africa
"There are eleven million people in the Horn of Africa currently starving, partly due to political unrest, but mainly due to drought and desertification." - lsmft2001

If you really believe this, then you really are "stuck in 1968" and all the other fantasies of modern liberals.

There is more than enough emergency aid and food assisitance from the UN and independent agencies that are available to these people to keep them from starving. That they are not getting it is *entirely* due to politics and the barbarism of the warlords who run things there. They want people to starve, for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with "drought and desertification".

Risk Takers
RandyB, you seem to be assuming that conservatives are NOT risk takers. However, most small businessmen and entrepenuers are conservative, and they are definitely risk takers.

Liberals want to take risks with OTHER people's money and lives with their pet government projects that almost alwyas fail. Conservatives want to chose their own risks. I'll take the conservative position every time.

Liberals....
BobJones says that he "would hope that the future of liberalism is a melding of liberal and libertarian ideas. Free markets, with very limited government intervention. Grand socialism is not a good thing, but limited socialism can be a good thing."

To simulataneously say that one can meld liberalism and libertarian ideas, but then say that limited socialism is good, truly reflects his confusion. Furthermore, to attribute personal responsibility to liberals is truly flabergasting! Liberals are the king of blaming others, and tend to rail against any standards for individuals (well, except for standards that support their world-view, such as diversity, political correctness, and secularlism).

Bobjones tries to say that there is no consistent definition of a liberal, but actually there is. A (modern) liberal is somebody who thinks that government can do a better job at XXX than the individual. Just substitute whatever you want for XXX.

A true conservative knows that private individuals usually do the better job, when that is possible. But conservatives know that government does have a roll in reflecting societal morals, and can, if necessary, help enforce such morals, but should encourage individuals to do so whenever possible without government coercion.

-Bob

lsmft2001 is stuck...
It is clear that lsmft2001 is so far beyond reality, that he can't see beyond his liberal talking points. Making corporations into evil boogeymen is so ridiculous as to be juvinile. He should actually get out in the real world and see what makes it tick.

As to his predictions of catstrophe, we've heard it all before. The world was not supposed to be able to even support 3 billion people, and yet, we are going far beyond that. Remember when liberals were complaining about global cooling? They will always find some monster hiding in the corner. Too bad they don't realize that we conservatives see it as not only misinformed, but truly LOONEY!

-Bob

rfbodi is ...
Here's a quote from someone who knows much more than me:

Do you even understand the argument? I'm not saying that we need to preserve the snail darter because it is a valuable organism in and of itself, but because we are screwing over ourselves when we smash and poison our environment to such a degree that as innocuous a creature as a small fish is unable to survive. I'm being greedy, not altruistic. It's a position both sides ought to understand.

People are trying to argue that we are not currently overpopulated, which is ludicrous. We're seeing rapid habitat destruction and a wave of extinctions all around the globe; we're seeing environmental catastrophes that are killing people. If we were in a sustainable balance with our fellow species, we would not be seeing these ongoing and irreversible losses. If your priority is humanity über alles, are you working to conserve energy and slow global warming? Why not? Do you realize that pumping CO2 into the atmosphere and overfishing the oceans and deforesting the tropics is going to reduce the number of people who can live here in peace and prosperity?

It's exasperating to see so many people pretending that holding humanity in the highest esteem means you've got the right to trash your home…your only home.

He's says it so much better than I can.

strawmen
Someone else posted something on this thread, so it brought me back here. I see some comments taking me to task, so I'll respond.

Marjon and Mark, you guys prove my point. I disagree with how you define a liberal. No doubt you would call me a liberal, but most of the time when you throw out a definition of a liberal, I disagree with it. But I understand it, you take your cues from Bush: how to attack, how to be misleading, strawman techniques.

marjon: "So you agree modern liberals have no clue what they stand for except chaos?"
No, I do not agree. Your statement is absurd. I suspect you say it simply for purpose of making a jab. Liberals know what they stand for, and liberals as a group vary widely about where they stand on things. It is the nature of liberalism. Liberalism is not an ideology with solid positions and talking points, as I said. Liberals are not sheep following the herd.

""...liberal values of peace and altruism..."
They are not just liberal values. Sounds like Christian values, too."
Indeed, I would tend to agree, but the power base in Christianity today certainly does not value peace and altruism. Christians have traded war and conformity for the chance to ban abortion and gay marriage in their support for Bush. Its really quite disgusting, but I'm sure you guys disagree, because you're sheep.

Mark: "It's not Bush that's forcing people to pick sides. That's reality."
Come on Mark. I know you're blind with loyalty for our war President, but you have to admit the influence he has on our country, even the bad ones. I take from your statement you agree people are picking sides, who would you say is forcing this, if not Bush? Who has the power in our government? Who sets the agenda? Who is our highest leader, who would have the most influence?
I was saying this about Bush 4 years ago, thats how easy it was to identify in his character, in his speeches. Today its even more obvious. I'd go as far to say its unanimous, except for the few holdouts like you who still have the fervor of cult-like loyalty.

"There is no fashion in which involuntary socialism, small or large can be a good thing."
What is involuntary socialism? If you don't want it, don't take it. Please expound more on your position on this. I know you don't like to type much, that way its harder to criticize you on the content of your words, but please, offer something useful.

Mark, I'm going to think about your question, policies I support that the average person would not label liberal. I know they're there, but I got to find them.

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