En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/01/21/0636

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January 21, 2009 6:36 AM - Woozle

Woozle said...

(Started answering earlier; Firefox crashed, had to start again. This version's going to be a bit shorter, which is probably a good thing.)

I think we're agreed that "equal rights for incompetents" would be a bad policy. I think we also agree that individual problems can neither be ascribed 100% to society nor 100% to the individual; we presumably differ in where the lines should be drawn -- i.e. where society's obligations end, or possibly where society's non-obligatory wish to help out becomes counterproductive.

Re Pausch: Some brick walls are just too damn much. I've lost friends that way. I wouldn't argue for knocking them all down -- "change for the sake of change", or because we're "bored" of having to climb walls -- but I've personally climbed enough unnecessary walls myself, and watched others do the same, to have a pretty good idea of when leaving a wall there just for the sake of having a challenge is just plain stupid.


"Are you suggesting there is a positive economic impact to light rail?"

I should certainly think so. Got Data?

"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)..."

That's not the primary reasoning behind the light rail we've been trying to build around here for the past two decades (downtown Durham has been quite pleasant to drive through ever since we got rid of most of the one-way streets*). We want it to ease the commuter traffic on NC147 and I-40 (which comes to a standstill at certain times of day), and to make it easier to take recreational trips to neighboring cities. Having traveled a lot in England, I really miss the way you can just hop on a train there and be somewhere far away in minutes or hours -- and I think it would do a lot for the economy in any part of the country where such a system was available.

(*I don't know if that was a liberal or conservative bad idea, but you can chalk one up for change not always working and another one up for liberals being perfectly willing to go back to an older way of doing things if a newer one clearly doesn't work).

(Related: I should think conservatives would favor reviving a good old-fashioned solution like passenger rail, which used to be the default for intercity travel -- or perhaps conservatives actually have some criteria by which they evaluate which traditions to keep? In any case, chalk another one up for liberals being willing to return to older ways... indeed, sometimes being the advocates for such.)

"And many newer lines (Houston being the prime example) are under-used and poorly planned." Well of course Houston -- it was designed by Texas conservatives. We had one of those as a President recently, an' he dint do so good. [rimshot]

But seriously: poor planning means that it was poorly planned, not that the idea is bad. (Any tool can be misused.) My understanding is that light rail works well in many metro areas, and my personal experience with it (Atlanta, DC, Boston, and SF) has been positive.

"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."

I'm delighted that freight is coming back into demand again -- I remember suddenly realizing at some point that there used to be far more tracks downtown than there are now, and lamenting their loss. As it is, though, the right-of-ways still have plenty of spare capacity for some extra tracks, which could be making money carrying passenger trains.

(I could go off on a rant about Amtrak's lameness, but I'll spare you.)


Abortion: "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."

If I were to agree to a compromise on this, it would be mostly for the sake of compromise, not because we have come to an agreement on principles. However, such an agreement might well be worth it, if "progressive conservatives" could agree to work with us against their more radical elements -- the abortion clinic bombers, the doctor killers, the threats and verbal abuse of abortion-seeking women, the shouting of "baby-killer!", the endless Biblical quotes, the misleading propaganda...

...in exchange for which we might arrive at a set of reasonable (if not ideal) rules, we'd no longer constantly be arguing about it, and we could turn our energies to more pressing issues (of which there would certainly be no shortage).

And I'd want to see how other pro-choice folks felt about it; there may be some harm in a compromise which I'm overlooking.

But the possibility exists.


"On gay marriage we range between full acceptance to at least allowing legally equivalent civil unions." Well that's a good start...

Personally, I favor getting the government out of the "marriage" business altogether; the concept of "marriage" should be a purely social one, and things like visitation, insurance, etc. -- the legal rights which currently come with "marriage" -- should all be based on establishing a legal relationship between the members of a family (which needs to be much easier to do than it is now).

However, now is probably not the time to move in that direction.

Again, the possibility exists there for a compromise.


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

That being the case, why do we hear so few conservative voices speaking out against them? You could do wonders for "conservatism"'s reputation among liberals just by taking a stand on that issue.

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

Well there certainly is no liberal pro-war movement; if they're not conservative, then who are they?

I'm speaking mainly of those who supported going into Iraq, supported staying there, supported "the Surge", claimed that leaving would be an abandonment of America's duty and the end of civilization... and who now want to invade Iran.


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

The question of whether adoption is a viable alternative is perhaps outside the scope of this discussion... I still don't understand why "every fetus is sacred" when there are so many of them, but perhaps this is something which can't (yet) be discussed rationally? Some of us are hard-wired, perhaps, to be innately horrified by abortion, while others are not? That seems like an avenue worth exploring, if I haven't mis-extrapolated the basis of your position here.

"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."

Agreed... though perhaps not even "loosening" but just making the rules less ridiculous.

"Mentioning abstinence as the most ideal choice in the context of a broader sexual education program should have no negative effect."

That's a part of any decent sex-ed program, yes.

"I’d like to see your data that abstinence-only results in higher rates.

Just a quick search of my RSS feeds pulls up these:

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

I hate to pick on this, because it's important to admit when we really don't know -- and if I jump on you every time you admit you don't know something, you're not likely to do it again -- but if you don't know how to make the stigma happen, why are you proposing it as a workable solution?

Here's an idea for progressive conservatives, then: push for some "focus-group"-style research into what makes kids rally around a cause. What's likely to get kids to believe, at a gut level (not just "pledging"), that abstinence is really in their best interest? Can this belief be instilled without working against against the idea of falling back on proper contraception if they do decide to have sex?


"Conservatives that are pro-life put that principle first."

Then why are they so keen on the death penalty? (to name only the most obvious contradiction)

"we still believe our primary principle is morally superior to yours."

Does moral superiority trump effectiveness? Or are they the same thing?

"...I promise nothing you and I discuss will ever change my mind on that..."

In other words, it is non-rational -- which is not intended as a dismissal. When people feel strongly about something, and aren't capable of altering those feelings, there is some virtue in avoiding upsetting them needlessly -- even if their upset cannot be defended rationally.

Mind you, "some virtue" does not automatically trump a clear need... but it might be sufficient grounds for a pragmatic compromise. It would help to understand the reasons why your mind (and presumably the minds of many others) cannot be changed by rational argument.

Do you think it's hard-wired? Cultural conditioning? Other?