Monday, March 15, 2010

Left and Right, Looking at the Other

RealClearPolitics - In Praise of the Rotation of Power

Gap in world view of Democrats, Republicans

A couple of articles, one from the right and one from the left, trying to find the center. Naturally I think the one from the right has a better plan, but I'd like to make a couple statements in prelude.
  1. Both of them pretty much assume that there isn't such a thing as "correct and incorrect" -- there are just different views, largely capable of being aligned along the traditional left-right divides, and truth is "someplace in the middle". I believe that science, religion, philosophy, and our founding fathers would all reject that general concept. The search for truth, beauty, happiness, a better world, and the perfect Scotch are all admirable. The muddy middle will never provide any of those. (lest we settle on blended whiskey!)
  2. The whole assumption that humans of any sort -- by virtue of a brilliant national system, lots of conversation and study or just blind luck will arrive at something clearly best and agreeable to anything like "all" is at best wishful thinking and most likely simple hubris.
 By faith, we are a fallen race in desperate need of eternal salvation, by science we are momentary side effects of a completely random universe, froth on an unknown sea of probability, by philosophy, it is questionable if either we or what we think is knowledge exists at all.

There is nothing as scary as humans who by their own supposed intelligence, study, insight, breeding or position feel that they have cornered some piece of "truth". Before a set of ideals gets to be taken seriously as "truth", I'd like to see something over a billion people subscribing to it and at least a couple millennia of practice, so we can see how things are working out for it and any other pretenders to the "truth crowd".

If multiple scientists or technologists can do experiments that are repeatable or build machines that work to verify their truths, I'm willing to let them into the technical truth door much quicker.
Let's take the left view of "the problem" first:

Republicans generally assume:
-- Don't do anything that interferes with business; i.e., hands off the free-market system.
-- Health care is a business and must be strictly run as such; health care is thus a privilege that one must earn.
-- Clear incentives must be given to business so that it will offer health care to its employees and will be motivated to operate it as a business.
-- Government is the enemy; for some, it is the devil itself; it must be fought tooth and nail because it can't be trusted to do anything competently and effectively.

These are the sorts of attempts at stating your oppositions opinions that give straw men a bad name.

  1. Today's Republicans are at best a tiny fraction less to the big government left than Democrats. There is NO "gulf". For our founding fathers, "left" was "control" of ANY sort -- monarch, dictator, socialist, fascist, communist, etc., Right was "chaos" ... anarchy, no government at all. "Don't do anything" is way off the mark.
  2. Healthcare can be a business without it either being a privilege. I'm not sure what their point would be other than contrast, but health care is a PRODUCT / SERVICE and SOMEONE has to pay for it. 
  3. I don't think Republicans care so much if a business gives it's employees health coverage. The decision for business ought to be primarily a business decision -- can health benefits be provided at a rate that is going to make them a useful incentive to finding and retaining the kind of employees that we want?
  4. As I said in 1, any sort of Republican today is WAY off anything like this position. It is a completely gross overstatement of a position that not even the most libertarian hold. 

In sharp contrast, Democrats generally assume:

-- Business must be strongly regulated because it cannot be trusted to act in the public interest.

-- Health care is not a business because when one is sick, one cannot shop for alternatives. Health care is a fundamental right for all, not a privilege for those who can afford it. Even those with coverage are not treated fairly by for-profit health-insurance companies.

-- Incentives must be offered to not-for-profits so that they will be motivated to enter health care.

-- Big business is the enemy. It is not true that business is always more efficient.

I can see why the liberals are liberals!:

  1. Well of course business doesn't explicitly act in the public interest. Adam Smith: "It isnot from the benevolence of the butcher the brewer, or the bakerthat we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." Liberals have come to doubt the foundation of the American economy that you can BETTER trust people and business acting in their self interest than you can trust government bureaucrats and elected officials, the former with the most job security outside of the SOTUS, and the latter intent on purchasing their next election with others tax money and contributions from their friends. 
  2. What is health care, what is insurance, what is emergency surgery, what is elective. There aren't that many "emergency abortions" compared to the total, nor that many emergency prescriptions for Viagra for that matter. We already treat emergency health care as a fundamental right. The fair is in August (in this town). Other than that, I'm afraid that even the most left wing will eventually grow up enough to understand that fact that "life is not fair". "Progressives" apparently find the transfer of 15% of the earning power of even the poorest young person to elderly people that are as a group much more wealthy to be "fair". That does not make it so, any more than the treatment of everyone by insurance companies, the government, the weather, nor life in general can be expected to be "fair".  Welcome to this planet. 
  3. Why would "not for profits" react to "incentives" as opposed to people with jobs? Liberals seem to think that they can tax productivity like crazy, and nobody will react to DISincentives. What gives? How many hospitals in the US are connected to churches? Do liberals need "incentives" to do good? I thought they were just naturally good, and conservatives were naturally bad. This is making my head hurt. 
  4. Big business certainly is the enemy of most democrats today, but it has little to do with big business. "More efficient than what?" is the operative question. When hiking and attacked by a bear, you don't have to outrun the bear, just the guy you are hiking with -- that is why conservatives never hike alone and are kind to slow friends. If one wants to tax, regulate, demonize, create vast uncertainty in the markets and treat business like a pariah, it is possible to be enemies. Business doesn't have to ALWAYS be more efficient, it just has to USUALLY be more efficient than a giant government with officials buying votes and bureaucrats with cushy lifetime jobs, huge benefits, and very little motivation to do anything. If "not for profits" need incentives, imagine how much of an incentive a government workers are going to need to outdo people in business that might see their stock go up and get paid for performance! Business doesn't need to be "always more efficient", it just has to be more efficient than government on average!

I DO want to give credit where credit is due -- the idea of attempting to get at some of the core differences is the only way forward that I can imagine.

Now on to Charles, whom I'm afraid is way too charitable to liberals, but again, his general direction is good. Please read all of both articles, especially Charles, he is a MUCH better writer than I.

  • He points out that BO is following the Bush strategy 100% in Iraq and is in his 2nd attempt at an improvement in Afghanistan and has instituted a "surge". The left is extremely sanguine -- there is no outcry, no talk of not giving money for the surge, no talk of the "costly wars". All is well. The rotation of power has legitimized the wars. I find this to be wishful -- were a Republican to take over as President in '12 and there be a need to deploy troops, I'd assert that the left would yet again become "anti-war". Anyone with a memory could realize that there was no principle involved there other than political gain at the expense of the troops and the safety of the country. Indeed, there was no outcry from the "anti-war" left over Slick Willie sending troops to Kosovo. Charles is magnanimous, the left in this country has demonstrated already more than once, and I'm sure will demonstrate again that partisanship no longer even comes CLOSE to stopping at the waters edge!
  • His points on things like the Patriot Act being legitimized like the wars is probably well taken as well. Although again, I'd argue that Democrats will simply change their stripes if power changes again. 
  • I find his discussion of the BO attack on Reaganism to be likely disingenuous. Where the standards of the Senate, strongly espoused by the Democrats and the media in '05 during the conflict over appointments, to be followed, the election of Scott Brown would have been the end of BOcare. However, THAT "rotation of power" has now been usurped. As we look at 2005 and listen to what was said both by the Democrats and the MSM at that time, we can see that they are actively attempting yet another coup much like their campaign finance push. For REPUBLICANS anything going through the Senate must take 60 votes, including a presidential appointment. For DEMOCRATS, if you can pass BOcare with 51, you can pass ANYTHING! Same as campaign finance -- Republicans must follow campaign finance rules to the T else the MSM outcry drowns all other activity. Slick Willie and especially BO have completely ignored any regulation at all and raised and spent to their heats content -- including from foreign sources. 

Reading both is an interesting contrast however. The left, even in it's supposed attempt to "look at both sides" is pretty much absolutist, while Charles seems to be bending over backward to see how lefties can completely come to understand reality once they have experienced policy under their own guy. If only it were so. 

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