Sunday, September 06, 2009

Typical Conservatives

It seems that everywhere I look, even the most conservative and fiscally responsible voices in our mainstream media have this kind of approach:
David Walker sounds like a modern-day Paul Revere as he warns about the country's perilous future. "We suffer from a fiscal cancer," he tells a meeting of the National Taxpayers Union, the nation's oldest anti-tax lobby. "Our off balance sheet obligations associated with Social Security and Medicare put us in a $56 trillion financial hole—and that's before the recession was officially declared last year. America now owes more than Americans are worth—and the gap is growing!"
So what do they propose?
Mr. Walker identifies the disease as having a basic cause: "Washington is totally out of touch and out of control," he sighs. "There is political courage there, but there is far more political careerism and people dodging real solutions." He identifies entrenched incumbency as a real obstacle to change. "Members of Congress ensure they have gerrymandered seats where they pick the voters rather than the voters picking them and then they pass out money to special interests who then make sure they have so much money that no one can easily challenge them," he laments. He believes gerrymandering should be curbed and term limits imposed if for no other reason than to inject some new blood into the system. On campaign finance, he supports a narrow constitutional amendment that would bar congressional candidates from accepting contributions from people who can't vote for them: "If people can't vote in a district not their own, should we allow them to spend unlimited money on behalf of someone across the country?"
As for health care, Mr. Walker says he had hopes for comprehensive health-care reform earlier this year and met with most of the major players to fashion a compromise. "President Obama got the sequence wrong by advocating expanding coverage before we've proven our ability to control costs," he says. "If we don't get our fiscal house in order, but create new obligations we'll have a Thelma and Louise moment where we go over the cliff." Mr. Walker's preferred solution is a plan that combines universal coverage for all Americans with an overall limit on the federal government's annual health expenditures. His description reminds me of the unicorn—a marvelous creature we all wish existed but is not likely to ever be seen on this earth. (emphasis added)
Despite being overt advocates of socialism, here's how they label themselves:
Despite an occasional detour into support for government intervention, Mr. Walker remains the Jeffersonian he grew up as in his native Virginia. "I view the Constitution with deep respect," he told me. "My ancestors and those of my wife fought and died in the Revolution, and I care a lot about returning us to the principles of the Founding Fathers."
I'm working on a new editorial which I hope will effectively challenge this all too typical attitude and approach.


Blogger Burgess Laughlin said...

My view is that there is nothing in conservatism (the ideology of God, Tradition, Nation, and Family) about protecting individual rights. Conservatives, thus defined, are leftists, that is, they are people who undermine rather than protect rights.

Fiscal responsibility becomes a serious issue only after a government is dedicated solely to protecting individual rights. First the why; then the how.

I am looking forward to your editorial. It is much needed.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Paul Hsieh said...

You should e-mail Walker your PJM piece on "government waste"!

5:12 PM  
Blogger Amit Ghate said...

Burgess, that's the basic thrust of my editorial. (Though I don't use the term leftist, and based on your definition, don't know what the distinction between left and right would be.)

Paul, that's a good idea! Turns out he's on facebook, so I sent him a message there.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Burgess Laughlin said...

Meaning of Right and Left?

For a lengthy discussion of the epistemological issue of defining "right" and "left," I recommend Ron Pisaturo's view. Or go directly to the comments section of that post to see his summary.

And, for a concise definition: "Rightists vs. Leftists" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon here.

My understanding is to classify individuals by their views at each level of their philosophy (politics, ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics):
- Their choice between individual rights and statism.
- Their choice between the underlying issues of rational egoism vs. altruism.
- Their choice between the underlying issues of reason vs. mysticism.
- Their choice about the nature of the world: one "lawful, natural world vs. two worlds (or "dimensions").

When pushed polemically, most intellectuals fall into one axis or another (e.g., statism, altruism, mysticism, and supernaturalism of some sort even if "secular"). All leftists -- conservatives, progressives, and totalitarians -- fall into this axis. They differ only in degree and their particular targets. Of course, with particular individuals there are always mixed cases.

6:02 PM  

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