Posts tagged ‘Liberty Papers’

"How Do I Explain This Election to My Kids" Is Much Easier for a Constitutionalist

Last night, Van Jones (among likely many others on the Progressive Left) lamented, "How am I going to explain the election [Trump's victory] to my kids?"

Well, as someone who has always respected the Constitution, I would tell my kids that the folks who wrote the Constitution spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the system robust against tyrants.  Their solution was a system of checks and balances that prevented a single person in the Presidency acting against the general wishes of the country.  The President is bound both by Congress and the judiciary, but also by law (particularly restrictions in the Bill of Rights).

The last couple of Presidents, with the aid of a sometimes supine Congress and judiciary, have pushed the boundaries of these limitations, expanding Presidential power, and in certain spheres attempted to rule by decree.  Folks like Van Jones were way up in the forefront of folks cheering on this power grab, at least under President Obama, as long as it was their guy grabbing for power.  What should Jones tell his kids?  Perhaps he could say that for well-intentioned reasons, he helped increase the power of the President, but in doing so forgot that folks he disagrees with would likely someday inherit that power.

As I wrote years and years ago:

  • Technocratic idealists ALWAYS lose control of the game.  It may feel good at first when the trains start running on time, but the technocrats are soon swept away by the thugs, and the patina of idealism is swept away, and only fascism is left.  Interestingly, the technocrats always cry "our only mistake was letting those other guys take control".  No, the mistake was accepting the right to use force on another man.  Everything after that was inevitable.

Sarah Baker has some nice thoughts along these lines at the Liberty Papers, but I will leave you with her first one:

This is how libertarians feel after every election. We learn to live with it. So will you.

Politics and Ideology

A week or so ago I wrote an article for attempting to summarize the climate debate.  Despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that I was clear about my personal position in the debate, I thought it was a fair outline of the state of the debate.  In retrospect, one reason I thought it was a useful article is because nowhere in it did I use the words "liar", "myth", "conspiracy", "___-funded", or "scam."  I did not hypothesize about either side's motivations or sources of funding or engage in any sort of ad hominem attack.  In short, while I sometimes said people were wrong, I never said they weren't well-intentioned.

Which is why I enjoyed this post from Chris at the Liberty Papers, which used as a starting point my wondering why my opposition could not be treated as well-intentioned, honest disagreement rather than some sort of scheming.

 they are arguing from ideology not from reality. They believe in what HAS to be true, because their ideology says so; not what reality, or experience, proves to be true.

Their ideology is core to their perception of their identity, and their sense both of self worth, and the worth of others. Their judgement and reason are based on it. Everything is filtered through this ideological prism, because it HAS to be, for the health of their own psyche.

For someone whose entire perception of self worth depends on their adherence to an ideological precept (“I am a good/better person because I believe this morally better thing”), then anyone who disagrees with this precept must be stupid, ignorant, defrauded, deluded, or evil.

There is no room for honest disagreement in this. To preserve their self worth, and sense of identity, there can be no doubt, and no acceptance of any possibility of error. There is one true path, which they follow, and anyone who deviates from it is apostate.

If therefore, one cannot dismiss opponents of their ideological precept as stupid, ignorant, defrauded, or deluded (and in the case of clearly intelligent, well informed people, presenting reasoned arguments against your precepts, you obviously cannot); the only thing you can challenge is their motives.

This certainly rings true to an extent.  I guess my thought is that there is no we-they here.  To some extent we all have a share of this tendency.  I find myself, all the time, wanting to immediately accept evidence that confirms my world view and trying to find reasons why I should not have to accept evidence that seems to contradict that view.  I am more or less succesful in fighting this depending on the day of the week.

But what I have no tolerance for is the demonization of opposition as a substitute for fact-based rebuttal, and even better, working to understand what differences in core assumptions lay at the heart of the disagreement.  The healthiest possible discussion is to trace competing arguments back to the point where both sides can say, yes, here's where we diverge.  I would like to think my climate article last week was a good example of doing this.

You Mean It Was Just A Money Grab? I'm So Disillusioned

Via the Liberty Papers:

U.S. states have not lived up to their commitment to devote a major portion of their huge legal settlement with the tobacco industry a decade ago on anti-smoking efforts, health advocacy groups said on Tuesday.

In the 10 years since the landmark deal, the states have received $79.2 billion of the settlement and another $124.3 billion from tobacco taxes, but have spent only about 3 percent of it "” $6.5 billion "” on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, the groups said in a report.

Gee, I really thought the settlement was about health care and tobacco education, and now I find out it was just a crass money grab?  Who could have ever predicted that?

Those who have read my novel will recognize the sarcasm.