A Critique Of The Right And The Left


Aside from the very perplexing contradiction of folks on the Left claiming that they are not socialists but then supporting increased taxes on the rich in order to increase transfer payments to the poor, I think that most people on the Left and Right generally agree on some basic things:

  1. Do well in school
  2. Be kind to others
  3. Work hard
  4. Pay for what you take
  5. Return what you borrow

I suspect that I’m not unlike many other Liberal families that teach their kids these basic time tested tenants.  In fact, it’s parenting 101.  Much of it is taught without even being realized, and other, specifically taught on purpose.

My dad gave me a job on my 10th birthday.  He did that on purpose  Later, when I was older, he bought me a lawn mower and with it, gasoline and oil.  I mowed what seemed like the whole of our street.  Again, he did that on purpose.

As a younger child, I would draw silly simple Crayon sketches, glue some Popsicle sticks around them as frames and go knock on all the old people’s doors to sell ’em.  Dad saw the money and became very angry.  This was a lesson that I’m sure he didn’t realize he was teaching.

The point is, we teach our children to be productive responsible people.  Often times, that lesson includes allowing the child to do without.

Again, dad.  I called him explaining that my heating bill was due and I needed the money.  He agreed to send me $20.  Neither the amount nor the USPS was gonna be good enough.  His response; “Work it out”.

And through all of this, we were taught as kids to give.  We often contributed to the offering plate at church.  We always collected quarters on those quarter charts.  Even now, my kids are squarely instructed in charity and the tender mercies of giving.

I firmly believe that all of these things are taught by conservative parents and by liberal parents.  Take care of yourself and take care of others.

What I don’t understand is why Liberals don’t expect that of other people; specifically other adults.

In short, it is simply NOT okay to live off the productive life of another human being.

I don’t teach my kids that and I don’t expect YOU to teach your kids that so why would I allow that behavior to permeate society?

This I don’t understand.

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5 comments
  1. nickgb said:

    Why would you ever give into the collection plate, then? You’re only helping to support people off your productivity.

  2. pino said:

    Why would you ever give into the collection plate, then? You’re only helping to support people off your productivity.

    Good morning nick,

    There are two critical differences. The first being that me giving money to the collection plate is a voluntary act as opposed to an open ended continuation of the increase of transfer payments. Further, there is no expectation that my contribution is contingent on YOU contributing to the same said plate. The second, and perhaps more pertinent of the two is that the programs I donate to in the offering plate are better designed than, say, unemployment benefits or simple welfare payments.

    I would imagine you would agree that the life lessons we were given by our parents, things like a “job well done”, “finish what you start”, “never steal” and “share” are more valuable and contribute to our success in life than virtually any amount of money they may have left us. I acknowledge that a strong contributing factor to poverty is the missing of these lessons. And the vast majority of these programs don’t address getting out of poverty, they are simply designed to make poverty more comfortable. The programs I contribute to work to get people OUT of that poverty.

  3. nickgb said:

    I should have been more clear with my point. You wrote: “In short, it is simply NOT okay to live off the productive life of another human being.” How does that square with people accepting benefits from church programs?

    As for your second paragraph, are you actually saying that your church programs instill people with those life lessons you think are missing? Ignoring the pretty naive view that poverty is caused by lacking such values, I don’t see why church programs are any more likely to fix that than government programs (which include, for example, worker training and tax incentives for hiring people off of unemployment).

    • pino said:

      How does that square with people accepting benefits from church programs?

      Fair enough. And perhaps I should have been more clear as well.

      I don’t object to a helping hand; we all are going to require assistance at some point. I object to the simple transfer of money without any explicit expectation that the receiver has to, in time, get himself out of his condition.

      are you actually saying that your church programs instill people with those life lessons you think are missing?

      At my specific church, yes. There are two specific charities that do such things. Programs that provide bridge loans and bridge shelter to folks who are told they have to take demonstrable steps to begin to provide for themselves again. Education is made available, job skills are made available and so on.

      The other program is close to the same but really focuses on providing homes and food for families with children.

      Further, our church is very active with folks in a small school in Africa. This program has no such structure to help the underlying conditions that contribute to poverty there. We are simply making life easier. I have a harder time contributing to that charity because I don’t think it’s helping the larger problems.

      Ignoring the pretty naive view that poverty is caused by lacking such values

      How do you think people become poor?

      I don’t see why church programs are any more likely to fix that than government programs (which include, for example, worker training and tax incentives for hiring people off of unemployment).

      First, the programs aren’t church programs; they’re private charities that our church contributes too. Second, there are very very few things that government is able to do as well as private entities. Very few. And teaching people not to depend on the government is for sure not one of ’em.

  4. There is a disconnect between the values we want, and creating a society that allows those values to prosper. If the very wealthy get that way in part by controlling others and earning more off their work, then there are two alternatives. The socialist says the very wealthy are essentially stealing from the workers — going against the values you list — and therefore the state should confiscate their wealth and give it to workers. The liberal says that kind of solution does more harm than good; rather, the state should work to try to make sure everyone has the opportunity to succeed if they adhere to those values. That means focusing on assuring equal opportunity as much as possible, and allowing vast differences in outcomes if: a) they reflect different levels of skill, imagination and/or effort; and b) the overall success of the economy is not harmed by those differences — and due to incentives, actually enhanced.

    Unlike socialists, liberals accept very rich and the existence of the poor. Rather than wanting to equalize outcomes, liberals want to focus on making sure everyone has the opportunity to succeed and aren’t harmed by the wealthy ‘controlling the game.’ Most conservatives actually share all those concerns (few conservatives want to cut regulation completely, end all social welfare programs or anything like), but disagree on the scope of both the problem and the proposed solutions. In short, if both look at this as problem solving rather than casting it in terms of ideological absolutes there is a lot of agreement. They disagree on the interpretation of the data and the efficacy and side effects of proposed solutions, but there is a lot of common ground. So I see most conservatives and liberals as more alike than different. Socialists and radical capitalists, however, tend to be blinded by ideology. Socialists are so keen to recognize how wealth and power allow the rich to control society that they ignore the side effect of intrusive, expansive and corrupt government. Radical capitalists are so keen to see the dangers of government they ignore the fact that markets aren’t magic.

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