Saturday, April 30, 2011

Core Truths of Conservatism

It's not that I am incapable of understanding the point of view of those who disagree with me. I believe I have a good grasp of the core truths of conservatism. I see them as the following:

  1. Centralized decision-making is inefficient and ineffective. Society is too complicated for a top-down plan for how to improve things. It works much better to decentralize power, and give lots of people little bits of power, and the opportunity to try things out, see what works and what doesn't, and change plans in light of new information.

  2. Helping out those in need can backfire. First, it can create a culture of dependency, in which people don't learn to do for themselves. Second, it can encourage people to "play victim", pretend to be in worse shape than they are in order to get free handouts.

  3. Progressive taxation can discourage hard work and risk-taking. If you take from people based on how much they have earned through hard work, innovation, and risk-taking, you discourage those qualities. People may feel that it isn't worthwhile to try to accomplish great things because they won't reap the rewards, anyway.

  4. Government bureaucrats have an incentive to work to justify their own existence, rather than to improve things.

  5. Free enterprise naturally directs activity toward those things that people value. The fact that people are more willing to spend money on X than on Y means that they value X more. When you let government decide how the people's money is spent, there's no guarantee that it is being spent on things that people really value (as opposed to thinking they should value it).
Permalink 1:44 PM

I Have Anger Issues

I find myself angry all the time about politics, and I don't know what to do about it. Now, I can perfectly well accept honest differences of opinion about what goals the country should be pursuing, and what's the best way to pursue those goals. What burns me up is that we aren't HAVING any honest discussion about such things. One party, it starts with an "R", has made tremendous progress through dishonesty. In 2010, they got into office by lying to people. They lied about the origins of the deficit, they lied about the Democrats' health care plan. They spread malicious lies about Obama not being born in America, about his being a secret Muslim, about his wanting to institute "Death Panels" to decide who deserves to live or not. They raised fears of Obama instituting "Sharia law" in the US. They complained about Obama bowing to foreign heads of state. They accused Obama of wanting to brainwash children when he spoke to them in schools. They have accused Obama of wanting to set up internment camps for political dissidents. They have accused Michelle Obama of being totalitarian for trying to get children to eat healthily and exercise. They complain about Obama not making a proclamation about Easter. Lying, innuendo, propaganda, slander. These have become the primary tools of the Republican Party.

It really burns me up. And it upsets me that so many people who I respect go along with it, and say nothing in protest. I don't know what to do with this anger. I really don't.
Permalink 1:41 PM

Dear Miss Manners

Dear Miss Manners: I have a number of good friends and loved ones who support a political philosophy that I believe will bring misery to untold millions, ravage the natural environment, and rob our society of hope for the future. It seems to me that adherents of this political philosophy tend to be mean-spirited, vindictive and contemptuous of both compassion and truth. Should I say anything?

Gentle Reader: I know how frustrating it can be to see one's friends participate in the destruction of all one holds dear. But the power of one person to change the beliefs of another is unfortunately limited, especially when those beliefs touch on politics or religion. You must weigh the very small likelihood that your words will change the world for the better against the much greater likelihood that those words will cause ill feeling among your friends without changing their minds in the slightest. Enjoy your friends and don't try to improve them.
Permalink 12:40 PM