1/26/2006

Less Accountabilty= More Steeples


("Passion of The DeLay", About.com)
My commie mother used to say that where government fails, religion inserts itself into the void. Responsive and appropriate government should be the primary goal of ANYONE wishing for AUTONOMY of the mind, body, community... A society can have huge but unresponsive bureaucracies that amount to effectively the same 'unmet needs' scenario, only with a higher price tag for the people. Small but efficient government gives one more 'personal' resources to expend on their own needs, like healthcare. Big government that provides little constitutes a socially oppressive cost-benefit ratio while simultaneously leaving, AGAIN, the void. Indeed, what we have at present offers neither the 'savings' of small government nor the 'quality of life' provisions one would expect from such bloated bureaucracies. And on this, liberals need to be clear if we are to set our identities straight regarding the stereotypes about our 'vision'... because it is one of pluralism and need- responsiveness, it is often hijacked by even our own into a vision of 'confused messages of hippie potheads who want to spend your money on touchy-feely projects'. THIS VIEW MUST BE CHALLENGED...(continued)
I return to my ramblings last week where I attempted to describe my irritation with careless labels, and the confusion that people have about them- and of course my contention that WE are not what OTHERS say we are on the 'left', THAT is a power we give up unnecessarily... I revisit these things because it seems glaringly important that we on the left understand and explore the implications of what we purport to believe, stand for. Argue about. It ain't anarchy and satanism, contrary to the wingnuts that attack 'freedom'.
Those that think their sloppy adherence to 'isms' qualify them to spew bullshit in our general direction need to be challenged. Those who cannot answer questions, but are very good at the How Things Should Be Speech should have their preachiness held up to the light.

That post last week provoked yet another pissing contest- only this time not with the ‘you must hate god because you read the Constitution’ folks. But with a colleague who frequently touts the virtues of his own peculiar brand of Libertarianism. By peculiar, I mean uses government services and lives in a ‘community’ with rules on everything from grass length to house color, hardly the image of a free wheeling individualist... I indulge this armchair pundit on his 'hypotheticals' from time to time, because paradoxical/dichotomous belief systems intrigue me as the product of a commie mother and libertarian father...

I am not new to the debates on individual vs.societal good and the types of exchanges that ensue. My commie mother approached it as an epidemiologist, with her argument for bureaucracy hinged on public health matters. My father began his antics when he decided to defiantly grow pot at our suburban home, believing many of the 'criminals' he treated to be participants of 'victimless crimes'. Who the fuck was the government to tell a woman she can't perform oral for money, anyway? "Who does that hurt?" Would be the discussion of the unrelated drifters that seemed to move in and out of our house. Damned if I knew.
But getting back to this guy, some of his examples of the libertarian world view included letting New Orleans flood victims “suck it up and stop looking to the fucking government” and “Parents should not be forced to use seatbelts, thats an intrusion on parenting”. On the surface, I understand these arguments and how they relate to individualism and self determination, but maintain that such matters were the impetus for expansive government in the first place. I mean, you gotta love those freak-ass libertarians, but while they interact in fine form in the hypotheticals, why is it so hard to get answers to basic questions like “If your platform opposes treatment for those incapable of self determination due to being mentally incapacitated, what happens to the person who does not have a proxy or default designee but who is in need of healthcare services? Do they linger on indefinitely in limbo? Who pays for their care? Not the government, you say. Perhaps the Church? Who?”
Suburban Libertarian says that they just fucking die, is all. On seatbelts?
"Darwin. If you are too stupid to buckle your kids, who needs more stupid fucking people around?" He says, like he expects me to slap him.
Then the matter of the victims of Katrina. “Communities should be in charge of their own rescue, their own relief.” “Who can coordinate such a massive relief effort? Who, in the absence of a responsive government (which is not what we have) would have the resources to pull that off? The local corporation? Again, another vote for the Church. By default. He had no idea on WHO could coordinate large scale relief but had many ideas about how neighbors could band together to feed the shut in elderly with a casserole rotation. When pushed, he answered "Well, Non Profits then". "Many non-profits would be crippled without a governmental funding stream as in cash cow programming" "They could get grants." "Yes, grants from those that dictate how to use the money. Like churches and agenda- thumpers?"
"No, from secular libertarians."
"What are the reveue profiles for them like? And do they tithe?"

There are many who believe we should go back to the 1800's version of charity.
But we know that the mandate of most churches is not an explicit statement of existing to ‘provide for the general welfare, ensure the blessings of liberty, common defense, etc.”
Who DOES have that mandate? Clearly, the fuckups who get our money to uphold it, whether efficient or not, corrupt or not, responsive and participatory or not- one cannot confuse matters of regime ineptitude with the basis for eradicating governmental bureaucracy. One cannot point at the failures of government and presume to remedy them with a Libertarian view. The fact that we permit our individual rights to be stripped is not the architectural flaw of our ‘liberal’ welfare state, but rather the fact that the ‘participatory equation’ is a near absent variable and transparency is not commanded. The law can remedy much of the criticisms, if favored over the perpetuation of an elitist status quo.

This guy claims to oppose all violations of the separation of Church and state. And on this, we agree on principle. I am not anti-religion, I am anti STATE religion. STATE media. STATE propaganda. STATE for its own SAKE.

He believes that the erosion of civil liberties is the result of the coffers of the religious right. Is it not ironic that the minimalist model proposed would effectively nudge more people to the church to fill the gaps by his vision of smaller government? Hence, more coffers, less civil liberties? Power to the pious and all that?
After all, for many years the churches were the providers of relief, and the criticism was made that this places an undue burden on recipients to subscribe to their dogmatic offerings ostensibly ‘in exchange’ for the favor of being viewed as ‘worthy of relief”. Is that what we should return to?
Social welfare was a response, not an invention. It is a fluid idea that shifts, but must not be eradicated. Liberals are protective of this feature because it is the best mechanism for a more open autonomous society.

38 comments:

Eli Blake said...

The problem with the conservative view of the world, is that using absolute logic leads to the unthinkable (well, what was unthinkable until logic led to it).

If one believes in 'social Darwinism,' then

1. one believes that there are a better breed (or race, class, tribe, nationality, whatever you want to put here) of people which is evolving differently, and in a superior fashion, from the rest of the population.

2. one is indeed, as you point out, obligated to opposed social welfare, since this dilutes or slows down the natural process. This slowing down is a bad thing, because in keeping the inferior people around longer, it holds back the progress of the superior breed of people who would otherwise displace the inferior ones completely (survival of the fittest). Church or charitable welfare, while having the same effect, is less bad because a) it develops some of the more 'noble' characteristics of the superior breed, and b) the spigot can easily be turned off if those in the superior class wish it.

3. In order to keep evolution of the superior breed of people moving ahead, it is absolutely necessary that there be no mixing of the gene pool. If that does happen, then the offspring must be classified and live with the inferior breed of people, since then their 'defective' genes don't slow down the evolution of the 'superior' breed (and as far as any of the 'superior' genes end up being spread among the 'inferior' breed, that will be good for them.)

4. Since slowing down the natural process is bad (see #2) then anything which would accelerate it, must be the opposite (good.)

Now, fill in 'Aryan' for 'superior breed,' and follow this chain of logic, and you can see how the unthinkable became the inevitable.

Robot Buddha said...

Yet another winner. Thanks.

"Libertarians" annoy me. It's an infantile worldview. They want to be left alone to do what they want; but Mommy and Daddy are always in the other room. And parents are obliged to clean up the shit that lil' Libby smears all over the walls, or to pull the fork out of the light socket.

tp said...

Point well made, Eli.

It never fails that those that evoke "Darwinism" to excuse psychopathology/blatant neglect are ALSO quite comfortable when their own hands are out though! Are those that heed the call suckers, bringing down society? Its so absurd.
Their dire straits are of course ALSO superior. (their problems are somehow different, they are not the lazy welfare mothers they criticize, they are true victims, deserving of taxpayer rescuing)They almost always imagine themselves and their relations to be part of this 'superior' category. If not, their noble desire to be rid of the 'baggage' would decline considerably.
Its the convincing that this is 'good for the whole' that is so counterintuitive to their arguments for individualism. I think Darwinism is at times the sinister rationale for an inability to command both effective governing and personal responsibility simultaneously.
Perhaps what evolution has in mind is an acknowledgement that emotion and empathy are HIGHER level functions, that community is essential- I put liberals at the top of the food chain myself! (kidding)

Lew Scannon said...

Liberals? I prefer the term Progressive, as in progressing society as a whole, not just the top percentile. Progressing to a sustainable lifestyle, as opposed to a simply consumptive one. Progressive, as opposed the "faith-based" repressive regression of the Republicans (which you covered so well). The Republicans are willing to repeal all the progress that was made in the last century to a more oppressive society where dissent and decency are replaced by corruption and incompetence. Tax cuts and more Hummers for the rich while giving the top percentile all the incentive in the world to eliminate as much as of the middle class as possible. Move jobs overseas where deplorable working conditions are acceptable because the guys in charge are getting corporate handouts under the table, and then sending our troops to kill and die to defend that archaic business model.
Don't call me a liberal, I'm a progressive.

CV Rick said...

I've found Libertarians to be microcosmically so. There aren't any successful national libertarian models, and in fact all pseudo-libertarian regions devolve quickly into clannish skirmishes and feudal power competitions, replacing the 'freedoms' they seek with a more oppressive regime. This is a concept that, rather than arguing against, Libertarians merely moan, "That's not true."

It's a juvenile system, unworkable in practice, and marries well with Randian pseudo-philosophy of objectivism.

Let me know if you ever get through to those people . . . I end up alienating them.

Anonymous said...

"It's a juvenile system, unworkable in practice, and marries well with Randian pseudo-philosophy of objectivism."
Excellent!

Lily likes Rand- lets see her get all pissy.

Aethlos said...

I'm falling in love with lily.... i think it's the scintillating vocabulary... but it could be the attitude... or could be rand, cartalk, and the durants... Lil, what do you do with yourself when you're not online? You sharp...chic. And why can't i find my way back to your other blog... how many people are on this one? where'd those profiles go? vanished... with my sanity

Lily said...

Well Rick in fact I apparently alienate them as well :), I recently asked a self professed libertarian-leaning guy complaining about the two party system to consider the ballot access question being challenged in PA by both the Libertarians AND the Greens but evidently there are many who TALK about third parties but are not interested in doing much about the hurdles. Talk does not help the 'third party' cause on any side.
What frustrates me are the living room activists, the ones that have such venom for others but typically cannot manage to vote some years let alone get involved in the political process. If one is detached by choice, fine, but I refer to the ones that attack others.

As for Rand- I think most of us have read her books or are at least familiar, we can enjoy them without subscribing to her view. I have read Nietzsche as well but certainly don't love HIS take! Perhaps I need to add Ehrenreich, Chomsky, Zinn, Piven, and Gutierrez to my profile so as not to mislead on my views...

lily said...

Aethlos- I told you, sit on boulders and read about muskrats.
Car Talk actually got me arguing with the Suburban Libertarian because of the show where they talked about the 'pilot'program testing a 'driving habit tracking device' that can be installed in a dashboard to determine one's 'rate' class. This intrigued the hell out of me. Would you accept a behavior monitor in exchange for a big rate discount? If it saved lives? What price would you put on your freedom to break the law when no one's looking?
A beamer with a conscience, that would be hellish.

Kvatch said...

"Libertarians" annoy me. It's an infantile worldview. They want to be left alone to do what they want; but Mommy and Daddy are always in the other room.

Agreed--Annoy me almost as much as bi-sexuals. Make up your damn minds. :-)

Lily, Your libertarian's argument about rate classes and monitors is not valid, I think because it assumes that driving is a right, and this is where libertarian arguments often fall down. Driving is a privilege, and insurance companies are free to do what they want including insisting that you drive like a granny in exchange for their product. Libertarians often forget that non-enumerated rights guaranteed by the 10th amendment only apply to the point where they do not infringe on other rights.

tp said...

I wonder about Lew's point about 'liberal' versus 'progressive'. I guess both words have baggage...

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

I am but a simple unfrozen caveman lawyer. Your big words confuse and frighten me.

Neil Shakespeare said...

I am unworthy of relief. Actually, the only relief I seek is from these Bush cocksuckers.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

when religion inserts itself, it's a very good idea if religion wears protection. can you give me the address of the hippie potheads? thanks to the NSA, things is really tight around here.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Rex, Neil, and Gisher= The Axis of Adolescence...

Drew said...

Most libertarians I've met seem confused. I comment regularly on one's blog. He wants to wear his libertarianess around his neck like it's some socio-political bling-bling, but when you read through all the Bush loving, left hating crap he publishes, it becomes painfully apparent that he is nothing more than a faux-individualistic neoconservative that is more confused about his identity than Tom Cruise.

I personally hate labels. Particularly the word liberal. I try to ask a conservative to define what constitutes a 'liberal', but they usually cannot. They just point to the more vocal left wingers like Pelosi, Reid, Dean, Moore, ect. Or they equate the term with Communism. Kinda a cop out if you ask me...

granny said...

Boys watch where you put your appendages.

Letting the poor and weak die off sooner rather than later is the whole ideology behind compassionate conservative.

windspike said...

Lily, I love that you admit you had a commie mother. And, she sounds wonderful. Now if we all came out about our backgrounds, we could understand better whom we are dealing with. I am convinced that if you meet someone's parents, it will explain a lot about the behavior of the person you know. Which places in to play this question: Why are the current batch in the whitehouse so ethically and morally corrupt? Becuase their parents were/are.

Thanks for popping over to my location. I'm going to put you on my must watch list and perhaps blog roll you.

Blog on Sister.

Frederick said...

Me thinks if these folk would put half the stock they've recently put into "...He shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.'(Article 2 Section 3)and focus it a little more on forming, "a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." All this crap would work itself out. And they call themselves "Constitutionalists." Revisionist wingnuts would be a better name.

Brandon said...

RE "Liberals? I prefer the term Progressive, as in progressing society as a whole,"

Lew,I agree with everything you said, except for one minor detail.

I think it's time to reclaim the word liberal. We allowed Reagen and his merry band of Orwellians to bastardize the term into a political insult, a philosophical dirty word, when in fact it shares a common heritage with the term liberty.

I grew up in Brooklyn, but at the age of 17 I moved to Wisconsin, home of the original Progressive Movemenmt. In fact, our Secretary of State is Doug LaFollette, a first cousin three times removed from Robert LaFollette Senior, who was an important Governor and United States Senator from the State of WIsconsin and an influential Progressive while the movement and the party still had a fair amount of influence. And before I say anything I should add that Secrtary Doug LaFollette is one of the most honest politicians you could ever hope to find, a geneuine liberal who wants to use government for the benefit of the people.

However... a lot of people forget that both, the Progressive Party and the Libertarian Party are offshoots of the Republican Party. In the case of the Progressive Party and the overall Progressive movement, it arose as a response to corrupt state and federal government. It also offered a number of economic and political reforms.

Unfortunately, the old Progressive Party had certain racist tendencies. It basically assumed that Progressive Whites knew what was best for everyone else. A case in point being Woodrow Wilson, who despite a number of enlightened policies, had been a proponent of Progressive policies but held truly racist ideas. Luckily this tendency was not absorbed when the Democratic party assumed most of the Progressive Party belief system.

So what happened to the racist wing of the Democratic Party? Sad to say, but it joined the Republican Party. The transformation began in the 1960s with the civil rights movement, when racist, conservative bigots decided that they were uncomfortable as Democrats. Only a few years, later Richard Nixon and his ilk played the race card, effecively splintering conservative racists from the Southern wing of the Democractic party into the Republican Party.

But I've digressed.

Personally speaking, I think we need to stop allowing the far right to define the terms and the debate and start defending both liberalism and its policies. And in the porcess we might want to consider doing to the terms "conservative" and "Neocon" what Reagen did to "Liberal" in the 1980s. Moreover, we might want to help the reich...ur ah...right wing fracture even further if that's what it has a mind to do.

Peace,
Brandon


PS
Now that I think about it, there's a certain irony here. The Progressive movement arose as a response to economic injustice and corrupt government. Considering how bad the Republican party of today has become, you just have to wonder--how long will it be before the REAL, small government conservatives finally wake up and realize that the religious fanatics and Neocons--who are neither new nor conservative--have in effect hijacked their party.

Answer. Probably not too long. On this morning's broadcast of the Kathleen Dunn Show (a very civilized and balanced call in talk show on our own Wisconsin Public Radio) one of the guests was Bob Barr, who spoke for nearly thirty minutes against the Patriot Act, and the Domestic Eavesdropping program.

For some time now I have suspected that there are hairline fractures within the Republican Party that will eventually begin to splinter the GOP, and I think those hairline fractures may be widening. Something has definitely changed when a dyed in the wool conservative like Bob Barr can find common ground with Liberal Democrats who are concerned about issues like privacy, the First Amendment, habeus corpus, posse comitatus and due process of law. And then there are the moderate Republicans who are getting a little sick and tired of watching from the sidelines while their party is being hijacked by the Christian Reich and social darwinists.

Again, Peace
Brandon

tp said...

Well said, Brandon and agreed, I have always preferred 'liberal' for the reasons you state, the baggage I referred to earlier but on the other hand the right wing have effectively transformed it into a dirty word, and we roll over and let them define us. They do this with feminism as well, broadly categorizing the movement as anti-child, anti-baby etc. when it is really about choice and mobility. While there are some feminists that focus on abortion for example there are many that look broadly at choice, to include a spectrum of parenting options. But they would have you believe that a feminist wants to abort on the delivery table and have lesbian man hating orgies perhaps with power tools. (Not that thats a problem, especially if I can film it. KIDDING)

Its the way they operate with terminology. "Liberals" are immature spoiled bratty over educated people that have no clue about the blue collar world and just want to bring home every little stray kitty they find. Bleeding hearts, spenders, ENABLERS. Liberals would permit the world to live on welfare, or a pseudo-communist state that would crush enterprise. Its the same erroneous song thats been playing for years and it WORKS. We LET it work.

People are so protective of the idea that they work hard and nobody should get a free ride in their minds. But they have no trouble with the free riding CEO or corporate welfare. How do these overpaid cronies help the economy? Pollution clean up?Oh yes, they create jobs.

The bonusses are not for saving money and cutting jobs and outsourcing and loopholes NO the bonusses are for their great contributions to TRICKLE DOWN AND "Rising tide raises all boats" economics...right. If giving the keys to the capital to industry worked so well, why do we have the problems we have?

Brandon said...

We have a name for it. We call it "corporate socialism." The whole thing is really quite absurd when you think about it.

When we talk about giving government/tax payer dollars to PEOPLE who are in desperate conditions, we call it "socialism" or "communism." We denegrate the recipients as "lazy," or "unambitious." or "welfare cheats."

When we give the same kind of money to corporate hogs (who shouldn't even qualify as individuals under our Constitution), it becomes "good economics" or "sound fiscal policy."

As a matter of choice, I think it's time that we pass a Constitutional Amendment that would clarify the issue. Indviduals deserve individual rights. Corporations do not.

The reasons are obvious.

If one of us were to commit a crime, say murder, we could be punished as an entire entity. Our minds and bodies(every cell, system, and organ in a human body), could be incarcerated. Or even executed.

But if a Corporation knowingly kills people through negligence and greed, how do you enact the same kind of punishment? Can you execute a corporation? Can you jail a corporation? No. When an individual is imprisoned, every cell and organ in his or her body is incarcerated. When you execute an individual every cell and organ in the iondvidual dies.

The only way you could carry out a similar procedure ob a corporation would be if you were to jail every indvidual from the part time janitor on up to the CEO and Board of Directors, who represent the cells and organs of the corporation.

Ditto to executions. You could only execute a corporation by killing every indvidual from the bottom to the top who works for it.

You can't treat a corporation as an indvidual because corporations cannot be held accountable as an indvidual can he held accountable. This is strange, because the right talks about personal responsibility while the corporations they support can never really be responsible for anything.

Brandon said...

I really don't understand why so many right wing men are threatened by strong, intelligent women. If they were as bright and as strong as they calim they are they wouldn't be threatened at all and would welcome contributions from women. Period.

It just doesn't make sense. I think some of these guys would like to go back to the days when we painted pictures of mammoths on cave walls and clubbed the ladies over the head whenever they get out of line.

I'm glad there are so many intelligent people out there working to benefit society and the world at large that we can afford to silence and repress half the population based on gender

Brandon said...

Sorry. calim shoud read claim.

lily said...

Brandon,
Thank you so much for your contributions on this, and I agree on many of your points which you will probably note in my fresh post- it speaks to 'caveman' gender roles too, oddly!!! I also think that it serves the interests of many people to have us believe that strength makes us 'bitchy' or 'in need of a good ***' as was told to me recently on another blog. They want to keep things the way they are because THEY benefit from our complacency!!

Am I rageful about corporate behavior? Misused public resources?? Wasteful, incompetent government?Hell yeah!! Why shouldn't we be? They talk out of both sides of their mouths- 'free enterprise' but subsidies? Tax breaks? They perpetuate distorted models that fit their agenda but even they do not permit to work as planned..
Even a 'do no harm' mandate/accountability would help versus these ridiculous fines for violations. I say the fines are a higher proportion that relates to profits, no more of this slap on the wrist nonsense. Great and helpful points.

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