Random Things That Struck Me This Morning

1.  I want to say something about this, but I can’t quite work my mind around it.  It seems spot on, but I don’t know that I want to call it a liberal/conservative split.  Hmm.  Maybe we’ll come back to this.

2.  The perjury bothers me, but the refusal to answer questions bothers me more.  Conservatives, please tell me that you’re also concerned about whether Bush understands that he’s not above the law.  I mean, my conservative friends, you do get that, if we don’t all play by the Constitution, we’re not really America any more, right?  We just can’t have one branch of the government decide it can be above the Law.  Right?

3.  More evidence that fat people are ruining it for everyone.  We make our friends fatter and we’re abusing our children with our fatty fatness.  Never mind that the government’s own studies suggest that people who are “overweight” live longer than the folks who meet the government’s ideal.  Even obese people are only going to lower the life expectancy of Americans two years over the course of the next century.  Two years.  Over a hundred years.  Still Jennifer Chait is convinced that many of the people her age aren’t going to live to see their grandchildren.  Well, yeah, maybe if everyone waits until they’re forty to have kids and then their kids wait until they’re forty.

Here’s a handy tip from me: If you’re concerned about the health of Americans, encourage everyone to eat better and exercise more.  But if you find yourself out in public staring at the fat people you find so disgusting and then rushing home to talk some more about how gross they look, don’t bother to pretend you’re concerned about their health.  We can all see that the problem is that you believe you should be surrounded by a world filled only with pretty and it offends you that some folks don’t give a shit about surrounding you with said pretty.

37 thoughts on “Random Things That Struck Me This Morning

  1. Thats exactly what it is, a Liberal/Conservative split. At the root of Conservativism is an abhorrence to taxes. They can dress it up as some sort of pious adherence to Constitutional principles, but in the end, they just don’t want to kick in. That drives every movement of the conservative machine, and I hate to say it, but I really think they feel that the desire to keep all of their money justifies almost any policy that insures it. That narrative was indeed spot on.

  2. Mack, I don’t think that’s the only underlying motive of conservatism. It’s one of them, sure, for some conservatives, but it’s tied in with something else. And that is that liberals and conservatives have two very different ways of defining community. I don’t know whether the difference is learned or develops out of something innate, but it’s there. Conservatives consider community to be bounded by personal contacts; for them, only the people they know (from family, neighborhood, congregation, or through outreach taken by family, neighborhood, congregation) are part of the community. Liberals consider the community to include even those they don’t know, whose lives are tied to their own through region, society, economy. Conservatives talk about doing good out of love for those they help. Liberals talk about doing good out of justice for all. These are two very, very different viewpoints. Look, I’m a liberal (in this sense). To me the this aspect of the conservative mindset seems to embrace an existential loneliness, a profound lack of interconnection. I’m sure that to them, this aspect of my mindset betrays lovelessness. I think that they’re wrong about me, and I’m open to being convinced that I’m wrong about them. But I don’t think conservative = greedy, necessarily. I just think conservative = disconnected.

  3. Not a bad perspective at all, NM, but I see it as something more primal: Fear. Greed is rooted in fear. The fear that there is “not enough.” If i give some of mine to the greater good, i will have to do without something i might need. It also fear that makes them not consider those outside of their comfort zones. I don’t mean to imply that conservative people are evil or stupid, but that after years of hearing their arguments, it always comes down to “show me the money”, or rather, let me keep my money.

  4. hey can dress it up as some sort of pious adherence to Constitutional principles, but in the end, they just don’t want to kick in. That drives every movement of the conservative machine, and I hate to say it, but I really think they feel that the desire to keep all of their money justifies almost any policy that insures it.

    Niiiice mischaracterisation. I’m against taxes. But I’m NOT against “kicking in” nor do I want to “keep all my money”.

    Statements like these you’ve made here are no less inflammatory than “liberals don’t accept personal responsibility” or a lot of the other bullshit mischaracterisations I see floating around out there.

    I don’t mean to imply that conservative people are evil or stupid,

    But you did a fine job of it anyway.

  5. Whatever, Kat. If you could at least once put up an argument instead of feeling personally attacked, perhaps I might learn where the holes in my logic are.

  6. Yeah, nice one, Mack. Sticking with your original contention, let’s see..

    “They don’t want to kick in”
    Implying that they don’t already “kick in” far more than, say, the lower 50% of wage earners, who pay about 4% of taxes.

    “Greed”
    It’s so easy to be generous with other peoples’ money. If someone works hard for money, long hours, putting off, planning, etc, don’t you think they should have an interest in benefiting from that personal sacrifice? Isn’t it greedy that those Scrooges in the lower brackets don’t pay a higher percentage?

    “give some of mine to the greater good”
    This goes with the assumption that the money that is taken (not given) IS going to the “greater good” and not down some inefficient, beaurocratic sink hole to buy votes.

    “let me keep my money”
    Damn Skippy, because I worked for it and no one else has a right to the fruits of my labor because I am not a slave.

    Or at least that’s how it should be.

  7. If you could at least once put up an argument instead of feeling personally attacked, perhaps I might learn where the holes in my logic are.

    Okay, fine…I’ll put up an “argument”, even though I’d assume you already KNOW what I mean, seeing as how we’ve had this “argument” 20,000 times already.

    I am a conservative. I believe in free will of all people. That means that I believe everyone is entitled to make his or her own choices about what to do with his or her own life. I also believe in the consequences of those choices.

    As far as the money angle goes, I believe that if you put in the hours to make the money, you should decide where it goes.

    Now, of course, I’m also a Christian. That means that I believe that we should take care of the least of these among us. But I believe that is MY responsibility, as directed by Christ. I think it is an anathema that so many think “oh, I’ll just pay taxes and let the Government take care of the poor” or “oh, I’ll just pay tithe and let The Church take care of the poor.”

    Such attitudes are onerous to me. As is your assumption that simply because I choose to follow a stewardship model I and others like me are greedy.

    You have faith in a Government Of Your Friends and Neighbours. I do not. That doesn’t mean I’m greedy. It just means I channel my efforts and my money through a different conduit.

    Regardless, your statements here seem sanctimonious and contrary to debate.

  8. To continue with my one-note soliloquy, let’s forget this crap about “giving”. Taxes are taken by the threat of force, regardless of what the money is used for. Now, we can all try to affect where that is, through our vote and political action, but it is still taken.

    Just as if a mugger takes your money at the point of a gun.

    If he takes it to feed his messianic children, he will still shoot you if you don’t give it up.

    That’s still robbery and it’s still wrong.

  9. First of all, conservative households give away more money to charities than liberal ones by FAR.

    Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism
    by Arthur C. Brooks
    “For example, conservative-headed families in 2000 gave about 30 percent more money per year than liberal-headed families on average, while (in these data, at least), earning 6 percent less income.”

    And anytime I see people mischaracterizing conservatism in terms of “generosity” I love to pull out one of PJ O’Rourkes best works, How to Explain Conservatism to Your Squishy Liberal Friends: Individualism ‘R’ Us

    In fact, charity is an axiom of conservatism. Charity is one of the great responsibilities of freedom. But, in order for us to be responsible-and therefore free-that responsibility must be personal.

    Not all needful acts of charity can be accomplished by one person, of course. To the extent that responsibility should be shared and merged, in a free society it should be shared and merged on the same basis as political power, which means starting with t he individual. Responsibility must proceed from the bottom up-never from the top down, with the individual as the squeezed cream filling of the giant Twinkie that is the state.

    There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money-if a gun is held to his head.

    When government quits being something we use only in an emergency and becomes the principal source of aid and assistance in our society, then the size, expense and power of government are greatly increased. The decision that politicians are wiser, kinder and more honest than we are and that they, not we, should control the dispensation of eleemosynary goods and services is, in itself, a diminishment of the individual and proof that we’re jerks.

    Government charity causes other problems. If responsibility is removed from friends, family and self, social ties are weakened. We don’t have to look after our parents; they’ve got their Social Security check and are down in Atlantic City with it right no w. Parents don’t have to look after their kids; Head Start, a high school guidance counselor and AmeriCorps take care of that. Our kids don’t have to look after themselves; if they become addicted to drugs, there’s methadone, and if they get knocked up, t here’s always AFDC. The neighbors, meanwhile, aren’t going to get involved; if they step outside, they’ll be cut down by the 9mm crossfire from the drug wars between the gangs all the other neighbors belong to.

    Making charity part of the political system confuses the mission of government. Charity is, by its nature, approximate and imprecise. Are you guiding the old lady across the street or are you just jerking her around? It’s hard to know when enough charity has been given. Parents want to give children every material advantage but don’t want a pack of spoiled brats. There are no exact rules of charity. But a government in a free society must obey exact rules or that government’s power is arbitrary and freedo m is lost. This is why government works best when it is given limited and well-defined tasks to perform.

    The preamble to the Constitution states: “We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare…” It doesn’t say “guarante e the general welfare.” And it certainly doesn’t say “give welfare benefits to all the people in the country who aren’t doing so well even if the reason they aren’t doing so well is because they’re sitting on their butts in front of the TV.”

    A liberal would argue that those people are watching television because they lack opportunities, they’re disadvantaged, uneducated, life is unfair-and a conservative might actually agree. The source of contention between conservatives and liberals, the po int at which the real fight begins, is when liberals say, “Government has enormous power; let’s use that power to make things good.”

    It’s the wrong tool for the job. The liberal is trying to fix my wristwatch with a ball pein hammer.

  10. Ex, it’s not nearly that simple. We can start with obvious of getting places on publicly funded roads, getting a free public education, and, for the entrepreneurial minded people, access to a publicly educated workforce. Look, I’ll make no argument that there isn’t waste in the Govt. I think we can fix alot of that. We never will if we continue to refer to the Govt as an inherently evil entity.

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  12. it’s not nearly that simple. We can start with obvious of getting places on publicly funded roads, getting a free public education, and, for the entrepreneurial minded people, access to a publicly educated workforce. Look, I’ll make no argument that there isn’t waste in the Govt. I think we can fix alot of that. We never will if we continue to refer to the Govt as an inherently evil entity.

    I’ve never said it was evil. Wasteful, overlarge, redundant, full of corrupt and powermad individuals, yes. “Evil”–no.

    What on earth makes you think that conservatives and libertarians are going to eagerly embrace The Government if half the country is writing us off as “greedy” and “refusing to kick in” while demanding our financial input with the threat of force?

  13. I don’t care about ‘charity’. I can’t love everyone and neither can anyone else. I care about justice. I can be just even to those I don’t love, and so should you. That’s my point. As long as conservatives refuse to see that the gov’t isn’t in the charity business but in the justice business, no conversation about govt can be all that meaningful.

  14. Justice. If only everyone got the justice they deserve.

    The guy who decided he’d rather party than study.
    or the one that thinks his employer owes him a living for little work
    or the woman who shows up late and leaves work early because of her kids.
    or the girl that’s knocked up three times, by three different men, by the time she’s 20.

  15. As long as conservatives refuse to see that the gov’t isn’t in the charity business but in the justice business, no conversation about govt can be all that meaningful.

    Is it truly the “justice” business? I don’t see the act of taking something which doesn’t belong to you in order to benefit a third party as “justice”.

    Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is being excused from the consequences of what you deserve. Grace is being treated well in spite of what you deserve.

    If the government were TRULY in the “justice” business, it’d be a nightmare for most of the liberals who want to see things like Universal health care, etc.

    Justice and Fairness are not the same thing.

  16. Ex, it’s not nearly that simple. We can start with obvious of getting places on publicly funded roads, getting a free public education, and, for the entrepreneurial minded people, access to a publicly educated workforce. Look, I’ll make no argument that there isn’t waste in the Govt. I think we can fix alot of that. We never will if we continue to refer to the Govt as an inherently evil entity.

    I don’t think the government is inherently evil, I think it’s inherently incompetent.

    If you’re now advocating that government should be reduced to those things you listed, then I’ll send you a Libertarian bumpersticker. Come on in, the water’s fine.

  17. That’s a very limited concept of how justice, mercy, and grace are separate things. Not everyone shares it.

  18. That’s a very limited concept of how justice, mercy, and grace are separate things. Not everyone shares it.

    I agree. I know ethicists, ministers and rabbis who’ve been chewing over this subject for their entire lifetimes.

    All the more to my point, though. Without an agreed-upon operational definition of Justice/Mercy/Fairness/Grace/Charity , etc. how can we call others “greedy” when they merely approach the question from a different angle?

  19. I personally am not calling anyone greedy. Well, maybe some people. But not anyone engaged in this discussion. I’m trying, in between bits of actually having to work, which are probably making me a lot less coherent than I’m trying to be, to point out that I don’t think greed/generosity is an illuminating dichotomy in dealing with different political beliefs. But that goes both ways. It’s wrong for Mack to say that conservatism = greed, but it’s equally wrong for you to say that gov’t program = charity.* We none of us get to say “my most perfect interpretation of my ideals trumps my most negative, ungenerous interpretation of yours.” We none of us have the right to say “you need to agree with me in my interpretations because yours are so clearly wrong,” which is sort of the way your definitions of justice, mercy, and grace comes across. We ought to try to take seriously each other’s explanations of why we hold the positions we do, so that we can find ways to talk to each other about our disagreements.

    Now I’m going to have some lunch.

    *Or for Exador to say that taxation = theft, but that’s not an argument I’d rather have today, if Ex doesn’t mind.

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  22. Mack is exactly right. The root of conservatism is selfishness. And it’s completely ludicrous to keep handing the reins of government to a bunch of people who think government is itself the problem. That’s like putting the PETA activist in charge of the butcher shop — it will be closed for business in no time.

    By the way, Tman, that Arthur Brooks “Who Gives” nonsense has been debunked every which way to Thursday. It’s partisan propaganda that makes a bunch of selfish conservatives feel superior to liberals, which they obviously need to do when faced with the devastation of their own policies. “Yeah, our government sucks but we GIVE MORE TO CHARITY! Nyah nyah myah!” Too bad it’s not true.

  23. The guy who decided he’d rather party than study.
    or the one that thinks his employer owes him a living for little work
    or the woman who shows up late and leaves work early because of her kids.
    or the girl that’s knocked up three times, by three different men, by the time she’s 20.

    And here’s something that’s so thoroughly a bailiwick of conservatism that I wonder if conservatism (Or at least Republicanism and the fake brand of Libertarianism practiced by Republicans smart enough to know they should be ashamed of the label) could exist without it.

    1. Think of the most outrageous examples possible
    2. Pretend they’re the norm.

  24. “The root of Conservativism is an abhorrence to taxes.”

    Nope. The root of conservatism is the concept of benign neglect. The perceived “abhorrence to taxes” is merely a visible symptom of same.

  25. On second thought, to say that benign neglect is the “root” of conservatism is too strong. It is, certainly, a governing principle, however.

  26. SoBeale,

    Arthur Blanks entire thesis has been debunked “every which way to Thursday”? Would perhaps have some sort of link that would confirm this? I’m not saying it hasn’t, just that I haven’t seen where it was debunked. I thought that it was obvious beyond just the Blank analysis that people who are regular Church goers give more to charity than those who don’t, and the majority of regular churchgoers appear to lean more conservative than liberal.

    It’s partisan propaganda that makes a bunch of selfish conservatives feel superior to liberals, which they obviously need to do when faced with the devastation of their own policies.

    Conservatives and liberals both can be selfish, neither has a monopoly on this negative trait. But the point I’ve been trying to make is that conservatives seek to “conserve” the rights of the individual over the rights of the group. \

    Since no one asked, I’m going to quote some more from that O’Rourke article to further elaborate on what conservatives seek to conserve.

    The individual and the state

    The first question of political science is-or should be: “What is good for everyone?” And, by “everyone” we must mean “all individuals.”

    The question can’t be: “What is good for a single individual?” That’s megalomania, which is, like a New Hampshire presidential primary, the art of politics, not political science.

    And the question can’t be: “What is good for some individuals?” Or even: “What is good for the majority of individuals?” That’s partisan politics, which, at best, leads to Newt Gingrich or Pat Schroeder and, at worst, leads to Lebanon or Rwanda.

    Finally, the question can’t be: “What is good for individuals as a whole?” There’s no such thing. Individuals are only available individually.

    By observing the progress of mankind, we can see that the things that are good for everyone are the things that have increased the accountability of the individual, the respect for the individual and the power of the individual to master his own fate. Jud aism gave us laws before which all men, no matter their rank, stood as equals. Christianity taught us that each person has intrinsic worth, Newt Gingrich and Pat Schroeder included. The rise of private enterprise and trade provided a means of achieving we alth and autonomy other than by killing people with broadswords. And the industrial revolution allowed millions of ordinary folks an opportunity to obtain decent houses, food and clothes (albeit with some unfortunate side effects, such as environmental da mage and Albert Gore).

    In order to build a political system that is good for everyone, that ensures a free society based upon the independence, prestige and self-rule of individuals, we have to ask what all these individuals want. And be told to shut up, because there’s no way to know the myriad wants of diverse people. They may not know themselves. And who asked us to stick our nose in, anyway?

    The Bill of Rights tries to protect our freedom not only from bad people and bad laws but also from the vast nets and gooey webs of rules and regulations that even the best governments produce. The Constitution attempts to leave as much of life as possibl e to common sense, or at least to local option. The Ninth Amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Continues the 10th Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    It is these suit-yourself, you’re-a-big-boy-now, it’s-a-free-country powers that conservatism seeks to conserve.

    And by the way, the current president and the Republican party have done little to nothing to represent conservative voters.

  27. 1. Think of the most outrageous examples possible
    2. Pretend they’re the norm.

    I’ll think of that uniquely conservative Bailiwick the next time liberals bitch and moan about:

    a gun death
    some illegal immigrant who’s husband is a soldier
    an old lady eating cat food because she can’t afford her medicine
    a welfare recipient who ‘just had a stretch of bad luck’
    etc
    etc

  28. Since this discussion originally had to do with universal health care, here are the examples given:

    The guy who decided he’d rather party than study.
    or the one that thinks his employer owes him a living for little work
    or the woman who shows up late and leaves work early because of her kids.
    or the girl that’s knocked up three times, by three different men, by the time she’s 20.

    So, apparently all of these people do not deserve medical treatment if they get sick? The tardy woman and her children don’t deserve cancer treatments if she or the children have cancer, perhaps? Or the girls 3 children do not deserve medical treatment because of the “sins” of the mother?

  29. Hello, interesting post. Are you saying it doesn’t bother you in the least to see so many unhealthy children and adults? It has nothing to do with “pretty” it has to do with health. I write lots of nice flowery health articles myself — I use “please” and “you can do it” and all kinds of what I think are helpful words to people who may want to get fit. It seems to not work. I think it’s the right of everyone to be who they want to be but I do think it’s a shame when a kid is picked on for being overweight or can’t run around a park because they’re so out of breath. I love all my friends regardless of how they look. I don’t think this is a “pretty” or petty issue. In very few cases has fat been proved useful.

  30. Well, then, I completely disagree. I think you’re confusing an effect for a cause. You’re saing, “Because people are so fat, they are unhealthy–therefore, if they lost weight, they would be healthy.” This is patently untrue. In fact, it is the complete opposite that is true: “Because people are unhealthy, they are so fat; therefore, if they became healthy, they would lose weight (thought they might never be thin).”

    I am all for encouraging all Americans to eat better and exercise more. We could all benefit from that. But, as I pointed out in my post, the government’s own studies show that people who are overweight live longer than people who are not. Also, the government is trying very hard to claim that people are getting fatter and fatter without acknowledging that it has, at least twice, over the period it claims we’re getting fatter in, moved down the weight at which a person is considered “normal.” That means, thirty years ago, a man could weigh 200 pounds and not be counted as “obese.” Now a man can’t weight 180 pounds without being counted as obese. That means there are a lot of folks whose weight has remained stable even as they have seemed to become fatter. And the government predicts that obesity will lower Americans’ life expectancy by two years over the next century.

    In other words, fat is as much a political issue as it is a health issue.

    And I think it’s really strange that you don’t see this.

  31. I do think it’s a shame when a kid is picked on for being overweight

    Whose fault is THAT?!? The overweight kid or the unmannered kids doing the cruel taunting?

  32. Oh, can we make it please be the overweight kid’s fault? I vote for that, because then I don’t have to feel guilty that one day in third grade I picked a (physical) fight with a girl in a leg brace.

  33. No, it doesn’t, not at all. But it makes me think your great grandma Teckla must have been one touch cookie.

  34. “Whose fault is THAT?!? The overweight kid or the unmannered kids doing the cruel taunting?”

    I absolutely think it’s the kids doing the taunting fault; it doesn’t mean it’s not a shame though. It’s a shame some aren’t more accepting but the fact that it’s a shame won’t change how stupid and mean some people are. What does matter is the overweight kids feelings and overweight can be prevented easier than rudeness (in my experience stupid mean people stay that way).

    You’re saing, “Because people are so fat, they are unhealthy–therefore, if they lost weight, they would be healthy.”

    No, it’s one piece of a larger puzzle. You’re right about me not highlighting that. There’s more to health than weight. Still, it is one issue that can cause real damage. When I worked with patients I saw many health issues that were complicated by weight (but also many complicated by other things) — so good point.

    Also, about government reports I’d also say you’re right. They change their minds on a weekly basis. There are just as many reports and studies funded by government money that report both sides (i.e. fat = healthy or not). Maybe that’s the real issue at hand. That would call for an entirely different sort of post/article. After working in the hospital and seeing the stuff I’ve seen there’s stuff I won’t change my mind about. I honestly do think it’s healthier to not be obese. But you do bring up excellent points that I’ve been thinking about all day so thanks.

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