Archives For Conservatism

Old Moose & I tackle one of the great questions of the cosmos… can you really trust the American voter to make the right decision?

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There really is awesome stuff to talk about that doesn’t remotely involve Donald Trump… Here’s some inspiration for Conservatives that I just stumbled across on the fruited plains of Youtube. It’s Britain’s Iron Lady on one of the most trotted out and emotionally effective of Liberal arguments…

BAM, Maggie! BAM!

Caution on GOProud

Goose Nissley —  February 9, 2011

In my channel clicking endeavors, I occasionally stop on MSNBC for a few moments. It’s sense of what it’s like to be a liberal for a while. The experience alternates between fascination, education, the occasional LOL, sympathy, and the random wave of indignant disgust. But earlier tonight my short glimpse of Lawrence O’Donnell’s interview with the big shot of GOProud was slightly disconcerting.

GOProud is a group of Gay Republicans that’s made some waves recently by its high profile attendance of the CPAC conference coming up later this week. You could tell the liberal O’Donnell really liked this GOProud poobah guy, which was a bit of a warning sign right off the bat. The host noted in celebratory fashion that groups like the Family Research Council had abandoned CPAC in protest of GOProud’s attendance in force. The response of the groups’ leader was forceful condemnation of those ‘bigots’ who he claimed ‘made a career off’ opposing gays.

The joyous back and forth between Keith Olbermann’s replacement (does O’Donnell have a discernable personality by the way?!) and a guy putting himself forward as a new Conservative leader brought into sharp focus a real conundrum for Conservatives – one I think is going to become even trickier in the months ahead.

I find myself generally agreeing with Sarah Palin’s comments to CBN (although they were… intriguingly… presented at best!) that she welcomes gays at CPAC. Obviously, we shouldn’t shun or be fearful of gay people. But take a close look at the earlier comments from GOProud’s leader. Aye, there’s the rub.

When he refers to the ‘bigoted views’ of those making their livelihood bashing gays he was referring to groups like the Family Research Council. Not exactly bastions of hate speech. But they are groups that strongly fight for traditional marriage. I foresee, prophet that I am (ha), a real problem here. Needless to say, there’s not a lot of compatibility between the view of GOProud’s leader and the vast majority of social conservative’s belief system.

Acceptance is a tricky thing. Many Conservatives stand ready to accept gays into the ranks of their movement, yet will groups like GOProud accept standing with folks who don’t share their beliefs on marriage? Who believe their lifestyle is wrong? I guess we’ll see…

Nancy Pelosi - The Financial Times

You can’t help but slap your forehead repeatedly and think to yourself… this health care bill is going to smack the economy around at a time when it really isn’t prudent. All we have to do is look across the Canadian border and across the pond to see this won’t work! And man, how did we let Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Charlie Rangle be in the position to pull this off? Our post-Obamacare TWG Special dwells on some forehead smacking, but also speaks to the hope we have for a Conservative renewal… N*Sync and Peter Pan somehow make appearances as well…

Two accomplices get arrested for a number of crimes. The police have enough information to assure they both get a two year sentence. But they think they could connect them to another, much bigger crime, so they make both criminals an offer. If one informs on the other, he’ll go free, while the other will certainly get a ten year sentence. However, if both inform on each other, the police will have enough to ensure they both get five years.

The above scenario is commonly given to explain one principle of what has come to be called Game Theory: that when everyone works in his own best interest, it is possible to end up in a far worse position than if everyone had worked in the best interest of the collective. In the above situation it is always in one’s best interest to inform. If the other prisoner informs, you only get five years instead of ten, and if he doesn’t inform, you go free instead of getting two. Nonetheless, when both prisoners follow their best interest by informing, both get five, whereas paradoxically both could have gotten only two if they’d kept their mouths shut.

Conservatives, Libertarians, and Classical Liberals* tend to hate the above conclusion. And perhaps hate is too soft a word. It is an anathema to liberty, and one is a despised Communist merely for thinking it. As we all know, unbridled liberty is the source of all prosperity. America won the Cold War, after all, by each of us concerning ourselves only with our individual prosperity, whereas those collectivists sank into economic malaise, which ruined the Soviets, and would have ruined China if they hadn’t reformed their economic system to be more free-market. At least, this is the prevailing wisdom among modern Conservatives.

The above argument does a serious disservice to the principle of individual liberty and small government. It reduces what is essentially a moral argument into utilitarianism. Classical Liberal thought is based on the idea that people have foundational rights, that these rights allow one to choose to do anything which is not directly belligerent to another person’s rights, and that no one’s rights may be morally infringed for the benefit of any number of others. The utilitarian expresses the last principle differently: that when no one’s rights are infringed, any number of others will benefit. Now, if we were to apply that to, say, our first amendment rights, we would arrive at the conclusion that we are permitted freedom of speech because it benefits society. But from here it is no great leap to conclude that where freedom of speech does not benefit society, it need not be granted. No such conclusion could be drawn from the moral argument, that no amount of benefit to society can ever justify the suppression of speech. For this reason, the moral argument is superior to the utilitarian: it isn’t weakened when the collectivists put forward arguments along the lines of the prisoner paradox.

What then should the response to collectivism? Friedrich von Hayek, perhaps destined to be considered the greatest of the 20th century’s Classical Liberals, wrote extensively on this topic. In his work, the Road to Serfdom, the argument was put forward that the level of regulation necessary to achieve any benefits from collectivism would effectively end human liberty. Our choices would all need to be made for us by central planners, because we wouldn’t comply with the best interests of the collective on our own.

Put another way, let’s return to the first scenario. The reason this situation is regarded as paradoxical is because it is always in one’s best interest to choose the option that leads to prison for five years, whereas it is never in one’s best interest to choose the option that only leads to two years. Even if both prisoners are allowed to get together and talk out their options, and they both see that a better outcome is assured if both of them keep their mouths shut, and they agree to this course of action, it still remains an even better option for each one to double cross the other. If the first double crosses the second, he gets even fewer years than the two he’d agreed to earlier, and if both double cross, he gets five instead of ten. The paradox of this situation is that if each individual is allowed to have any individual choice whatsoever, his best choice leads to the worse result, and his worst choice leads to the better result. In order to obtain the better result, these criminals can’t be allowed any say in the matter, and a central planner must step in and choose to make both of them keep silent whether they want to or not. So long as they have any kind of individual choice, this problem cannot be resolved.

The Classical Liberal’s only recourse then is to try to eliminate any personal involvement in situations where these kinds of paradoxes occur, and they do occur often enough in our economy. When given a choice between an economic disaster or the loss of personal liberty, abstain altogether! I’ve harped on health insurance before, and have said most of what I think needs saying, but I think it provides a good example of how we ought to approach these problems. When health insurance is used as a payment mechanism for general medical care, the quantity of medicine you individually purchase has very little correlation to the premiums you pay, so frugality is not rewarded: you may as well use it to cover as much as you can; your costs will be divided among so many people that it’s hardly noticeable. But when everyone adopts this mindset, the costs of hundreds of millions of people splurging adds up, and premiums are forced to skyrocket just so insurance providers can break even. There’s still no point in being frugal, because that won’t lower your premium by more than a minuscule fraction of a cent, and even if everyone else in the country acted in the best interest of the collective and lowered their consumption, that only returns us to the position we were in at the beginning, where everyone is encouraged to buy lots of medicine for cheap, once again leading everyone to splurge. Just abstain: get catastrophic coverage, a cheap policy with a very high deductible, but pay for day to day expenses out of pocket and you’ll probably be able to save money. (That is, provided Washington gets its act together and allows tax-free personal health savings accounts.)

And, incidentally, this is another reason why the people in Washington trying to pass their insurance regulation “reform” bill (which I still doubt is going to make it into law, although the Dems are apparently more suicidal than I gave them credit for when I wrote after Scott Brown’s election and are trying to go Kamikaze to get it passed) are writing a simple disaster. The use of insurance as a funding mechanism for ordinary, expected health-care expenses puts everyone in the above paradox, which is causing the higher premiums we want to prevent. Abstention from non-catastrophic insurance is the only solution, yet the bill in question makes it illegal to abstain. This leaves us with one of two choices: premiums can go up forever, or a (death) panel of central planners will make our decisions for us, based on our value to the collective. The Democrats swear the latter will never happen, so in other words they plan on reducing premiums by forcing the market to raise premiums. Brilliant.

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*Try as I may, I cannot find an appropriate word for the philosophy upon which the idea of a limited government is founded other than Liberal. The word Liberal, from the Latin root meaning “free,” was applied first to the same people as invented the idea of defined and limited government powers as a vehicle for protecting freedom. This Classic Liberalism finds its expression most clearly in modern fiscal conservatives, whereas fiscal liberals, being statist and all too often authoritarian, do not deserve the term. Doubtless calling conservatives liberals and liberals illiberal is confusing, but it needs to be done, as the alternative is becoming more problematic. Fiscal conservatives, being unable to call liberals illiberal, have taken to calling them by names of other historically illiberal groups: socialists and fascists. This is not precisely accurate, and illiberals are all too ready to point out minor distinctions between their views which are supposed to deflect the accusation. A wider, blanket term for statists is required, and that term is illiberal. But to use that term, the fiscal conservative must also become comfortable with calling himself a Liberal.

TWG Turns 5,000

Goose Nissley —  March 6, 2010 — 1 Comment

The TWG Podcast surpassed 5,000 listens this week. Here’s Goose with a celebratory look back and some favorite moments…

The Top 5 Most Listened to Podcasts….

#5TWG 19 – January 1st, 2009

#4An Angry Young Obama Supoorter – March 4th 2009

#3Sarah, Rush, and the NRA – April 5th 2009

#2Longfellow, Punto, and the Pandemic of Partial Nudity -December 14th, 2008

#1Pigs, Pelulas, Dan Gladden, and Obama’s Bowling – March 22nd, 2009

Subscribe to TWG on ITunes here

Or via our podcast feed here, and be the first to know when new content comes out

Look, the day IS historic. This man is the embodiment of victory over decades of terrible injustice doled out simply because of skin color. He represents the triumph of tolerance (the good kind) and hard work. For this, today did deserve hearty celebration.

*8 and 3/4 month pregnant pause*

However, it ought not be forgotten that there are other potent truths this man represents. He is the product of a campaign that ran on a platform of two planks. Plank 1 – Bush had destroyed life as we once knew it, and I can fix all the problems George W. Bush has visited upon your life. And Plank 2 – I am the embodiment of hope and change. I will instill hope because I will bring change. We need change because George W. Bush has ruined your life. See Plank 1.

And when one strays from the essential and ultra-fluffy two themes of Obama’s run for the White House and gets into the policies he does espouse, you find a man who believes we need to spend more money to fix huge budget shortfalls. You discover a President that is fervently pro choice and an advocate of the gay agenda. Your inquiries will meet a Chief who’s clung to an uber-liberal marching order so tightly in his caeer, as to render his high-flying rhetoric about bi-partisanship today of similar veracity to a Britney Spears program on abstinence only sex education.

So, not to be Johnny Raincloud – but the next four years may seem a bit like a longer version of the biblical battle when Joshua made the sun and moon stand still so the Israelites could beat the tar out of the Canaanites. (Oh Yasar Arafat, where have you gone…) Eloquent explication does not equal success. And a singular speech about happy-dappy-handholding across party lines does not erase a year of self-serving sandblasting of those whom the speaker disagrees.

*Large intake of breath*

I think in the song ‘Desert Rose’, Sting says something about dreams that are tied to a ‘horse that will never die’. That’s some food for thought.

***

Today’s not all bad though – I finally made it to the exercise room in my new appartment complex tonight. I even figured out how to use most of the weight machines the first time I tried. I imagine the sense of victory I feel is something askin to what Roosevelt and his Roughriders experienced after charging up San Juan Hill.

***

It’s been almost a month now since the last audio installment of This Week with Goose, and I extend my hearty apologies for visiting this travesty upon you (or not visiting a travesty on you depending who you talk to). The good tidings – the next volume is already in the works and will be avaliable later this week.

Have a tremendous mid-week!