Saturday, September 03, 2005


by Tom Bozzo

Rana at Frogs and Ravens:
If anyone's been wondering why I've not had anything to say about the adminstration, or its woeful response, or its misguided priorities, or its callous-eat-cake-play-guitar-buy-$3000-shoes-while-babies-are-dying-in-the-street attitude, or its foul-minded, craven, soulless defenders, it's because

Scrivener at Scrivenings:
The Republican Party has simply jumped the shark. They are nothing but a horrible, satirical parody of ... well, I was going to say a political party but let's be honest, the leadership of the GOP are just horrible parodies of human beings. Grover Norquist is an evil fucking sonofabitch, and he's nothing compared to that smirking shadow of a man that sits in the White House.
Kash Mansori at Angry Bear (I've taken the liberty of quoting very liberally from the post, but it's well worth a read in its entirety):
Liberal versus Conservative Beliefs About the World

Liberals like me tend to believe that when that happens, our society as a whole will be better off if the rest of us try to help out those individuals who have suffered from circumstance. This doesn't mean that we think that we can elimninate suffering, or ensure that nothing bad ever happens, or that we should insulate individuals from the consequences of their own actions. But when things outside of an individual's control devastates their life, we think that it is compassionate and good and just - and even in our own enlightened self-interest - to help out.


Why Government?


Taking care of society's hard-luck cases is just such a public good. If you help out someone who's suffering through no fault of their own, then I benefit, even if I haven't contributed toward helping that person in any way. Our society is made more fair and just and more stable, and I will be able to rest slightly more easy knowing that if it is my turn to suffer the bad luck next time, you have demonstrated that you will help me out. In fact, everyone in society will benefit from your good works, even though they didn't contribute.


In Practice

So what does this mean in practice? It means that liberals support government policies that provide help to those who have suffered from the powerful forces that buffet each of our lives but are outside of our control. As I said, that doesn't mean that liberals want to try to completely insulate everyone from anything bad ever happening... just that when bad stuff happens that individuals have no control over, we think the government should help out a bit.

Most policy differences between Conservatives and Liberals can be seen in this light. This difference explains why:
  • Liberals believe in a strong and well-run national government that has the resources and organization to provide effective help to the victims of disasters such as Katrina. Conservatives have planned and executed the down-sizing of such federal government responsibilities.
  • Liberals disagree with the new bankruptcy law, which has made it financially much harder on individuals who go bankrupt, since we recognize that the vast majority of bankruptcies are due to plain bad luck - job loss or medical emergencies, in particular. Thus we think that individuals who face these personal disasters should receive some shelter from the corporations to whom they owe money. Conservatives apparently believe that the corporations need more financial protection than the hard-luck individual.
  • Liberals think that government provision of a good education to all people is an important way to help take care of those individuals who happen to be born to the wrong parents or in the wrong part of town. Conservatives tend to believe that education should be more up to the private sector and the private choices of parents, regardless of the fact that many parents do not have the means or inclination to provide a good education for their children.
  • Liberals think that the government has an important responsibility in assuring access to health care for all people, whether they are rich or poor, as a way of assuring that all of us will receive the medical help that we need when tragedy strikes. Conservatives tend to think that the government should have a minimal role in health care - if you are faced with medical bad luck, you should deal with it on your own.
  • Liberals believe strongly in progressive taxation, which provides a subtle redistribution of income toward those members of society who have suffered from a bad draw in life. Conservatives tend to advocate flat taxes, or minimal taxes, both of which minimize the progressive nature of the tax system.
  • Liberals believe in helping people who are laid off from their job, recognizing that this is typically due to mismanagement or broader industry trends, not due to the failings of the individual worker. Conservatives tend to believe that when a family suffers financially from a job loss, nearly all of the burden of coping with that loss should fall on that family.
  • Liberals believe in the social safety net more generally, for example to provide a guaranteed income to the elderly in the form of a stable and sure Social Security system, so that all of our senior citizens can count on a certain income level regardless of the luck that they face. Conservatives want to have the welfare of the elderly depend more on their good or bad choices, and - more realistically - their good or bad luck.
And that's why I'm a liberal.

Addendum: A follow-up post is here.
I don't agree with many of the differences you've posted between libs and cons.
I understand that this may not be fair to all conservatives. For instance, I don't think you want incompetent government, whatever its size. But, from a policy perspective, Bushism is mainstream conservatism. So if you want to be disassociated with the tenets of Bushist conservatism, I charge you with taking your party back.
Don't worry, I'm on it. And as a non-Christian, I'm sure I will be making large impact in the near future.
oops. should've had a ;).
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