Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Liberal Equation

I was listening to the radio this afternoon, and listened to self-described radical Mort Sahl talk about wealthy liberal support for liberal causes - that it was because liberals felt guilty over being wealthy.

It so much doesn't match my views about liberalism. Perhaps I'm not wealthy enough to experience liberal guilt, but since I've never felt bad about improving my position, don't expect to feel bad if I improve it further, and yet fully expect to someday be both wealthy, and liberal, I think there must be more to it than Guilt.

It seems to me that I hope to become wealthy for two reasons - one is for my own comfort, the other is because that positions me to help others, and that mere fact is a portion of the Liberal Equation - if you accept these premises, then you are probably a liberal.

First premise set: I gained my position through a combination of hard work and luck.

By 'Luck', I mean that entire combination of factors that you had no control over - being noticed by a boss, being born into wealth, having the right editor take a chance on your work, by lumping all these things into the category of 'luck' there becomes an obvious implication.

That one *could* be just as able, just as qualified, just as worthy, and yet not achieve the same thing.

Second Premise set: That my wealth, my taxes, and my actions, in addition to improving my life, improve the lives of others.

Seems obvious - it means I can and do help others via my personal actions *and* via the actions taken on my behalf by the government.

Third Premise set: The wealth, taxes, and actions of others, in addition to improving their lives also improves my own.

I am not unique. My actions and taxes help others, their actions and taxes help me.

It seems to me that a sane liberal accepts all of these premises, and a sane conservative rejects one or more of them.

The first set is the most obvious - luck implies that there are people just as worthy as oneself that never achieved as much simply because didn't get as many breaks.

Many Social Conservative consciously or unconsciously reject this premise.

Either A) They believe they got where they are through hard work - alone, or
B) they may grant that they got 'breaks', but those were through the Grace of God.

Either of those implies something much different from mere luck and hard work - most obviously, if you don't have what I have, it's because you don't deserve it is much as I do, either because I simply worked harder than you, or because God recognized my worth as being more than yours. I can see why to you it might *look* like luck, but it's not.

The second set tends to be rejected by fiscal conservatives. Liberals assume something that the fiscal conservative may even consider arrogant - that we *can* help others.

It's a fundamental disagreement - at best the fiscal conservative doesn't believe tax monies are ever the most efficient way to help, at worst he simply believes we can't help via financial means, in either case using the government to help is a waste.

The third set is the reason I call myself a Greedy Progressive - as other people rise in quality of life, their quality of life improves my own, and vice versa. Some 'Guilty Liberals' may donate to causes to assuage guilt - I never have.

It's an Investment - I hope I'm not going to benefit directly since that would indicate that I myself have fallen upon hard times - but the better off everyone is doing the better off I am doing. I don't care if I keep up with the Jones, I *do* care how *I* am doing, and it turns out the Jones and I benefit from each other.

But that seems to be the minimum set of assumptions to make a sane Liberal. That there was luck involved with doing well, that you can help others do better at little cost to yourself, and that the investment in others turns out to make your life better as well.

If you accept those three things, you are probably a liberal. If you don't accept any one of them, you're probably a conservative.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How to lose any competition

Play your weaknesses against the other guy's strengths.

Sometimes, if you're good enough all around, you can get away with that for awhile, but the longer you sustain pitting your weaknesses against the other guys strength, the more you're going to lose doing so.

Which brings us to economics.

Why in the world would we keep playing on an economic platform that is based in oil, when that's just not our strength? We are the worlds 3rd largest country, the 4th largest population (4.5%) and we have the worlds 12th largest oil reserves (1.6%) and the 6th largest gas reserves (3.2%)

If we were trying to sustain the 'average' lifestyle the rest of the world has, this would put us at a disadvantage. We're trying to sustain a better one than most of the world has, at the same time when a lot of other nations are trying to raise their lifestyle to match the standard we have set.

That means oil is becoming a losing proposition, and it's doing so at a pretty fast pace, and trying to maintain our lifestyle based on that oil is going to put us at a disadvantage.

If we play fair, and don't go to war, then we're going to spend a larger and larger percentage of our money to maintain our standard of living. I don't know how that's working for you, but I've been looking at last years heating bills, and my gs bills, and I can't afford it.

If we don't play fair and we go to war to protect our supply, then we have to pay to maintain large military forces in other countries. Taking Iraq as a thumbnail estimate, that costs us about $4,100 per household. Again, I don't know how that's working for you, but I can't afford it and I can't convince myself that the bill is never going to come do.

So, if we can't afford to buy oil, we can't afford to seize oil, and we don't have enough of our own oil to sustain our lifestyle, then it would appear that oil is not the answer.

So, any attempt to drill our way out of this with offshore drilling seems to me to be throwing good money after bad. Unfortunately, we don't have the time and money left to keep dicking around with this.

It's time to start pitting our strengths against the problem and start using our brains. Solar, wind, whatever it takes so that we can start selling energy rather than buying it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In other news: Does Joe Lieberman think he's just that good?

I just have to ask myself, after watching Joe Lieberman explain on Meet the press this week how, if he spoke at the GOP convention he was "And frankly, I'm going to go to a partisan convention and tell them, if I go, why it's so important that we start to act like Americans and not as, as partisan mudslingers here in Washington."

Really Joe?

Since the great GOP revolution in 1980, the Republican Philosophy has been that you don't simply beat Democrats in the polls.

You destroy them.

You lie about them releasing rapists.

You pursue impeachment charges for personal failings.

You photoshop them with Osama Bin Laden.

You grant huge amounts of money to swiftboat them.

You generate fear by manipulating homeland security levels to make people think a terrorist attack is imminent.

Rather than compromise a single whit, you threaten to 'go nuclear' and rewrite the senate rules mid-session to eliminate the filibuster. (And by the way - wouldn't life be so much easier now if the Dems had stood firm and *let* them? Instead we now have a media that takes it as a given that when Democrats are in charge, it takes 60 votes to pass anything in the Senate, and when Republicans are in charge Democrats are routinely blocking bipartisan compromise by filibustering legislation that should easily pass with the required 51 votes.)

You explain to Lobbyists that, if they want to work with you, they will give *no* support to the Democratic Party. None - don't hire Dems, don't talk to them, *nothing*. And you bloody well keep them in line on that too.

Basically - sometimes explicitly sometimes not, the GOP plan has been to destroy Dems, burn them out, shoot the escapees, and salt the land they lived on as a warning to the next ten generations.

And Joe Lieberman is going to sell them on the glories of Bi-Partisanship? Seriously?

No wonder the Republican Party thinks Democrats will sell out everything to talk to the enemies of the United States - the ones they talk to keep coming back to the table no matter how many times the GOP abuses that trust.

Joe Lieberman *is* the Neville Chamberlain of bipartisan politics, and this fact needs to be made explicitly clear - don't let him negotiate for or represent the Democratic party.

Neville Chamberlain was not a bad man. He was a man that assumed a certain degree of honesty in his allies, rivals, and adversaries - a degree of honesty that is a reasonable assumption, most of the time. They may lie to you while negotiating, deceive, cheat, beg and steal, but if you get fooled it's your own fault and at the end of the day they will hold to what was agreed to.

It assumes a certain investment in the status quo - you're going to have to negotiate again, so you need to maintain that ability to be negotiated with, down the line. Chamberlains fundamental failure was that he never recognized that, so far as the Nazi's were concerned, they were never going to be so weak as to need to negotiate with Britain ever again. Thus, whatever the result of the negotiation, it needed to be held to only so far as that was convenient for Germany.

The GOP has no intent to be held to any standards of behavior that result of any meeting of the minds betwixt them and any Democratic 'ambassador', any longer than is convenient to the end of being the sole political party with meaningful power in the United States, ever again. That has been their stated goal, and the leadership that espoused that goal has not changed.

They fete upon Joe Lieberman for no reason other than that Joe Lieberman is of use to them in achieving this goal, despite their setbacks of the last congress. They don't regret their actions, they have no respect for an alternate point of view, they have no particular respect for Joe Lieberman.

Which, unfortunately, he does not seem to realize.

Joe - you are not going to secure "Peace in our Time", or even bipartisanship.

Ted Stevens: Welfare Queen?

It occurred to me watching "Now"'s coverage of the Ted Stevens indictment, there is something really disgusting about the *concept* of an Alaskan senator that brings home the pork.

Here is a supposedly Republican state, anti-taxes all the way, whose oil assets bring in so much money they can afford to not only have no income tax *and* no sales tax, but in lieu of an income tax they can actually pay their citizens a rebate.

Now - I'm fine with that. Their oil money, if they don't feel a need to invest in infrastructure like everyone else, that's their option.

But that the same GOP that complains about welfare queens is content to run an entire state like one? Because they're evidently perfectly content to sit and take *my* money for bridges to nowhere, and thank "Uncle Ted" for bringing home the Pork?

It's been long known that the wealthy Democratic leaning states tend to contribute to the federal budget, and the poor states that lean Republican tend, in balance, to be recipients of federal largesse. Since I'm a Democrat in a predominantly Republican state I can both be okay with this on the general principle of believing in the concept of Welfare as a rule, and accept the benefits of that welfare with a simple thanks.

But Alaska takes it rather far to the extreme even for my tastes. They actually say they are anti-tax, and have the nerve to waste money on what even they admit are pork projects?

Why has this never been a Democratic talking point?