En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/20/1002

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January 20, 2009 10:02 AM - Mike

Mike at The Big Stick said...

1. You see the people who succeed as evidence that the system works, but you see the people who fail as being responsible for their own failure.

I think people who ‘fail’ (and maybe we should define the word fail: it is not necessarily a ‘failure’ if you have to live in an apartment instead of a house, for example) are often the architects of their own problems either through a lack of effort, bad decision making, whatever. Of course there are many examples of someone who ‘fails’ through no fault of their own. The construction worker who has a good job and gets hit with a forklift, then loses his job, benefits and home…that is a ‘failure’ that he did not create and as a society we should help him. His coworker who wants to be a foreman but can’t read blueprints is going to ‘fail’ at getting that promotion. Is it the responsibility of society to help him get it? No. He needs to get more training and then he can hopefully achieve what he wants. The problem is that liberals see all failures as ultimately the fault of the system.

In the example of the construction worker wanting a promotion, to follow liberal logic we need to find out if he went to a poor school or was he not told about how to get more training or is the cost of that training too high or does he have kids at home so he can’t go to night school…..if at any point they see a roadblock then he needs help.

This is probably a groan-inducing point, but the best line I heard in the late Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture was when he said that the brick walls we come to in life are not there to keep us out but to allow us to prove how bad we want something. I think the liberal attitude is that whenever we see a brick wall Uncle Sam should knock it down for us.

Show me how improving light rail would be less economically significant than improving (already dominant) freight rail.

Are you suggesting there is a positive economic impact to light rail? That’s not why cities build them. They do so mostly to try and keep their downtown areas free from congestion (which doesn’t work) and to cut down on car-based pollution. And many newer lines (Houston being the prime example) are under-used and poorly planned. There is far more economic impact to adding heavy freight lines than light rail. Our current heavy rail system is overburdened and increasingly longer transit times cost shippers real money.

"Hence my original statement cautioning you to not cite conservatism or liberalism in practice but to think of a more ‘idealized’ version of both."

If we're talking about an idealized form of conservatism (even if it's not specifically "progressive"), I am all for that. In most of what we have been talking about, however, it seems to me that the American Conservative movement has taken what I would consider to be an anti-[ideal-]conservative tack.

I'm not sure this type of conservatism exists anymore, but if it does it's become part of what is now called "liberalism".

How does "progressive conservatism" view these issues?

I would say on abortion, we’re willing to leave the first trimester alone for now. The rest should be off-limits except for the Big Three.

On gay marriage we range between full acceptance to at least allowing legally equivalent civil unions.

The majority of conservatives, not just progressive conservatives, are opposed to the Creationism / ID movement. It’s a blight on conservatism right now.

I’m not aware of any specifically conservative ‘pro-war movements’. Please elaborate.

"I guess the real question is that if you yourself believe that a first trimester abortion is no different that using a condom or taking the pill, what evidence do you have to prove most others getting abortions don’t feel the same way?"

* Again: if a woman really did feel that callous towards her potential child, would you really want her raising it?

I’m not asking her to raise it. I’m just asking her not to abort it.

Having sex while female and fertile does not constitute an agreement to have children.

I disagree completely on that point. Unless you’re using birth control that specifically says ‘100% effective’ then the person is agreeing to accept a certain level of risk and they are responsible for the outcome.

I think there should be more adoption, yes -- but that's just one of the things conservatives need to work on fixing before you can start arguing for returning to a more restrictive approach to adoptionThe current approach -- criticizing for not using the alternatives, while actively working to take the alternatives away -- is rank hypocrisy.

I agree. Conservatives certainly need to do better in that regard. It would also be nice to have liberal help…although unfortunately liberals tend to be mostly obstructionist with adoption (although there is some hope that allowing gay marriage will soften this stance because those couple will want children.)

"So long as there are other options that would pose no long-term burden on the mother (adoption, adoption, adoption) then the mother is in fact practicing ‘birth control’."

You're speaking of a hypothetical, here. My understanding is that the adoption process is slow, ugly, and hard on the kids and parents.

Again, we just need to make that process better, not disregard it. I have friends who have adopted and they spent thousands of dollars and countless hours under review. This can be approved, but it will also require a loosening of liberal social work standards to a degree.

"I don’t believe in abstinence-only education, though I see no problem with holding it up as the most ideal solution."

O rly? So, the fact that IT DOESN'T WORK isn't a problem? The fact that IT RESULTS IN HIGHER PREGNANCY RATES doesn't make you think twice about it?

What I said is that I don’t believe in abstinence-only education. Mentioning abstinence as the most ideal choice in the context of a broader sexual education program should have no negative effect. Also, I’d like to see your data that abstinence-only results in higher rates. The only thing I have seen is a report that is has no impact (good or bad) and that the rising rates for the control group were the same as the rest of the population.

You cite the lack of social stigma as a prime cause of the higher pregnancy rate, but do you have any evidence for that? How do you explain the higher rate among blacks, who live in the same society? How are abortion rates in highly religious-right areas of the US, where the "stigma" approach is being heavily applied, versus coastal metropolitan areas which tend to take the other approach?

The stigma needs to come from their peers, not a top-down approach. I don’t know how to make that happen.

In other words, they spend so much energy trying to enforce rules that they don't notice they're failing to advance the principle.

Conservatives that are pro-life put that principle first. Have we failed in pursuing second, third and fourth principles? Yes. But we still believe our primary principle is morally superior to yours. I will agree with you that we can do more to facilitate adoption and that we failed on abstinence-only education but on the principle of life and when it begins and how it should be protected once it has been created, I promise nothing you and I discuss will ever change my mind on that. Maybe on that point I am not very ‘progressive’ but I never said one has to be 100% progressive all the time.



  • Mike doesn't answer my question "What would you accept, hypothetically, as evidence of shortcomings in the system?".