En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/05/21/1103

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May 21, 2009 11:03 AM - Woozle

Woozle said...

Oh yeah, right -- give me *one* example of anything true that Coulter has said. Bonus points if it's something that I can't find Fox News parroting.

Reading the Douthat/Salam article; will get back to you when done.


May 21, 2009 4:12 PM - Woozle

Woozle said...

PART ONE (apparently this comment is too long -- which means it must be longer than any of my previous comments, as I have never run into this 4096 character upper limit before -- so I've had to split it into 2 parts.)Going through the Douthat/Salam article, there's not really all that much for me to agree or disagree with. It's written by conservatives for conservatives, and thus the overall background patterns of conservatism are "subtracted out"; the article is about what the authors believe is wrong with conservatism, but we are left to assume the parts they agree with -- which means it's not really the best place to go for a quick backgrounder in the conservative philosophy.

I suppose I could pick a small bone with their approach to change: as with current efforts at reform, they seem to focus more on image than substance ("how can we change the way we convince people to go along with the things we've decided we want to do?" rather than "what do our supporters want us to do, and how can we do it?"). They don't seem to get the idea that a party's actions must reflect a set of underlying values, and that those values are determined by the people who belong to that party -- not by a pre-set agenda engraved in stone.

Or maybe that's what Republicanism is all about -- following edicts engraved in stone, even as they lead you over the cliff?

[Addendum: the article finally does come around to admitting that the GOP is "out of touch with its base", which sounds more or less equivalent... but then it goes back to looking at demographics -- which has more to do with manipulating statistics to get the most votes than it does with finding common cause with your supporters. Maybe this is the distinction that the GOP mindset fails to grasp?]

I'm on page 2 before I see anything I can really object to:

...bad-but-popular liberal ideas like ... hiking taxes on the wealthy to fund a health care entitlement.What's this obsession with protecting the incomes of the rich? As has been pointed out at great length, the highest taxes under the Obama plan will still be vastly lower than at any time since before Reagan. It's not so much "hiking" them as "nudging them just the tiniest bit back towards some semblance of sanity".

For that matter, conservatives have yet to demonstrate that there's anything wrong with a universal healthcare entitlement. I understand that you don't feel qualified to explain why you think it's a bad idea, even though you still think it's a bad idea regardless of any arguments to the contrary. Okay.

Now we come to the "two-parent family" thing (what, not "one man and one woman"?). Am I to understand that the nuclear family is an essential element of conservatism (whether classic or progressive)?


May 21, 2009 4:14 PM - Woozle

Woozle said...

PART TWO (umm... three parts?)I also have a bone to pick with some of the equivalences he draws with regard to "family":

Having lots of kids is not the same as having faith in the future... unless you mean a blind, unthinking faith. I have faith in the future (as I understand "faith"), but I know that that faith will not be realized if we do not make responsible decisions now. That statement should be something any conservative can relate to.

And yes, having too many kids is irresponsible.

Population cannot expand indefinitely without causing "the innovation and entrepreneurial zeal that make America the world's economic leader" to "slowly wither" due to overcrowding and exhaustion of resources.

"Without a youthful population, the costs of supporting retirees are unsustainable". This is wrong. I know some of the standard assumptions behind this idea, but I can't tell which particular fallacies he is buying into. Even if it were true, it's like a Ponzi scheme; we can't keep the bubble going indefinitely. See above.

The world (and the US) is already crowded enough, thanks -- and I'm speaking from one of the less-crowded parts of it. I don't care if it does mean a bit of economic hardship (and I don't see how the truth could be anything but the reverse of that); I don't want to survive only to watch the world growing more crowded and unpleasant (and, if you add in the rest of GOP philosophy, intolerant and ignorant). I'm willing to do a little extra work to make up for the kids that won't be there to take care of me in the future, if that's really what it comes down to -- but I don't think it does.

Now, if the GOP were talking about creating more places for people to expand into -- be that seasteading, colonizing the Antarctic, greening the deserts, building space colonies, whatever -- all forward-looking, progressive ideas -- then we might talk about reproductive incentives for those who move into any of those new spaces which prove to be "homesteadable". (I suspect it would be quite unnecessary, however.)

I agree, though, with his criticism of the "don't expect any sympathy" attitude, if I'm reading it right. Failing to provide basic universal health care for kids is no less irresponsible than having too many of them. We may not need huge families, but we do need our children to grow up healthy and well-educated -- and the predominant GOP attitude has always been "tough luck" to those who can't afford proper healthcare or education.

Paying couples to have children, however, is exactly the wrong thing to do. It adds incentive to reproduce, which is the last thing we need, while not doing anything at all for the child's long-term welfare, nor doing anything to help existing families, nor focusing on those who need help the most. I'm not sure how much more wrong it would be possible to be.

As for the "two-career family" issue: I agree that it's a problem, and most of his proposals seem within the scope of reason and possibly even what I would call "progressive". I'm not sure he's covering all the important territory, but it's a good start.

I can't really see liberals disagreeing with those ideas, though -- which gets into one of the GOP's problems of late: if liberals like it, then the GOP can't embrace it. This small-minded, zero-sum thinking is why the GOP is choking and dying right now.


May 21, 2009 4:18 PM - Woozle

Woozle said...

PART THREE (...amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as...)The authors are also correct that the healthcare system needs to be redesigned from the ground up (as Obama & co. are now apparently trying to do), rather than patched to handle the "bug" posed by the existence of the uninsured.

The authors' ideas about welfare reform are a little weird. Why on earth would we want to spend government funds to make "less-educated single men" "more desirable marriage partners"? (How about spending that money to, say, educate them, for example?)

Analyzing the rest of this article would take more time than I have, but in any case it's pretty much off-topic; the topic is "What is progressive conservatism? Please give examples." The article helps a little bit with that; we have some useful ideas on health care reform and family support, and at least some ideas (however odd) with which to start discussion on welfare reform...

...but I don't see anything that would make anyone say "YES! This party's policy recommendations clearly make more sense than those of the other dominant party, and they consequently have my support."

Where's the beef?