Thursday, May 28, 2015

Differences Between Left and Right

What Dennis Prager says below is right but he fails to look more deeply.  He fails to ask WHY Leftists claim man is basically good.  And the answer is plain enough.  Leftists don't like the world they live in so want to change it.  And a claim about human goodness is very helpful in that cause.  It undermines conservative caution.  And it is conservative caution that stands in the way of them getting their perverse way.

If Leftists really believed in human goodness, would they slaughter the vast numbers of people that they do when they achieve untrammelled power (e.g. in the French revolution, the Soviet horror, Mao's China etc).  Clearly, they  have utter contempt for other people

Equally clearly, therefore, it is pointless to argue with Leftists about human nature. Their claim is a convenient pose, nothing more.  It makes them look good and undermines caution about the likely outcomes of their crazy schemes.  They are not going to abandon that in a hurry.  Their arguments do need to be refuted for the sake of the uncommitted middle but nothing will persuade them

Most Americans hold either liberal or conservative positions on most matters. In many instances, however, they would be hard pressed to explain their position or the position they oppose.

But if you can't explain both sides, how do you know you're right?

At the very least, you need to understand both the liberal and conservative positions in order to effectively understand your own.

I grew up in a liberal world -- New York, Jewish and Ivy League graduate school. I was an 8-year-old when President Dwight Eisenhower ran for re-election against the Democratic nominee, Adlai Stevenson. I knew nothing about politics and had little interest in the subject. But I well recall knowing -- knowing, not merely believing -- that Democrats were "for the little guy" and Republicans were "for the rich guys."

I voted Democrat through Jimmy Carter's election in 1976. He was the last Democrat for whom I voted.

Obviously, I underwent an intellectual change. And it wasn't easy. Becoming a Republican was emotionally and psychologically like converting to another religion.

In fact, when I first voted Republican I felt as if I had abandoned the Jewish people. To be a Jew meant being a Democrat. It was that simple. It was -- and remains -- that fundamental to many American Jews' identity.

Therefore, it took a lot of thought to undergo this conversion. I had to understand both liberalism and conservatism. Indeed, I have spent a lifetime in a quest to do so.

The fruit of that quest will appear in a series of columns explaining the differences between left and right.

I hope it will benefit conservatives in better understanding why they are conservative, and enable liberals to understand why someone who deeply cares about the "little guy" holds conservative -- or what today are labeled as conservative -- views.

Difference No. 1: Is Man Basically Good?

Left-of-center doctrines hold that people are basically good. On the other side, conservative doctrines hold that man is born morally flawed -- not necessarily born evil, but surely not born good. Yes, we are born innocent -- babies don't commit crimes, after all -- but we are not born good. Whether it is the Christian belief in Original Sin or the Jewish belief that we are all born with a yetzer tov (good inclination) and a yetzer ra (bad inclination) that are in constant conflict, the root value systems of the West never held that we are naturally good.

To those who argue that we all have goodness within us, two responses:

First, no religion or ideology denies that we have goodness within us; the problem is with denying that we have badness within us. Second, it is often very challenging to express that goodness. Human goodness is like gold. It needs to be mined -- and like gold mining, mining for our goodness can be very difficult.

This so important to understanding the left-right divide because so many fundamental left-right differences emanate from this divide.

Perhaps the most obvious one is that conservatives blame those who engage in violent criminal activity for their behavior more than liberals do. Liberals argue that poverty, despair, and hopelessness cause poor people, especially poor blacks -- in which case racism is added to the list -- to riot and commit violent crimes.

Here is President Barack Obama on May 18, 2015:

"In some communities, that sense of unfairness and powerlessness has contributed to dysfunction in those communities. ... Where people don't feel a sense of hope and opportunity, then a lot of times that can fuel crime and that can fuel unrest. We've seen it in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and New York. And it has many causes -- from a basic lack of opportunity to some groups feeling unfairly targeted by their police forces."

So, poor blacks who riot and commit other acts of violence do so largely because they feel neglected and suffer from deprivations.

Since people are basically good, their acts of evil must be explained by factors beyond their control. Their behavior is not really their fault; and when conservatives blame blacks for rioting and other criminal behavior, liberals accuse them of "blaming the victim."

In the conservative view, people who do evil are to be blamed because they made bad choices -- and they did so because they either have little self-control or a dysfunctional conscience. In either case, they are to blame. That's why the vast majority of equally poor people -- black or white -- do not riot or commit violent crimes.

Likewise, many liberals believe that most of the Muslims who engage in terror do so because of the poverty and especially because of the high unemployment rate for young men in the Arab world. Yet, it turns out that most terrorists come from middle class homes. All the 9/11 terrorists came from middle- and upper-class homes. And of course Osama bin Laden was a billionaire.

Material poverty doesn't cause murder, rape or terror. Moral poverty does. That's one of the great divides between left and right. And it largely emanates from their differing views about whether human nature is innately good.



Progressivism: Rhetoric versus Reality

Contemporary supporters of an expanded role for government are increasingly moving away from calling themselves liberals and toward referring to themselves Progressives, so it is worth considering what the ideology of Progressivism entails.

Progressivism began in the late 1800s as a political movement that advocated expanding the role of government. Before the Progressive era, Americans viewed the role of government as protecting individual rights. The Progressive ideology argued that the proper role of government should go beyond protecting individual rights to include looking out for people’s economic well-being.

Progressivism is explicitly designed to use the force of government to take from some to give to others. In its early days, Progressives envisioned the state reining in the economic power of people like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt to prevent them from exploiting those with less economic power. Even this vision makes clear that the goal of Progressivism is to impose costs on some for the benefit of others.

The Progressive ideology is now firmly ingrained in the political system, and everybody recognizes that the government routinely takes from some to give to others. Because this is how our government now works, Progressivism encourages people to engage in politics to increase their chances that they can be on the receiving end of those transfers.

Meanwhile, the idea that some might be using their economic power to exploit others has fallen by the wayside. It’s not that Progressives don’t think this can happen; it’s that the Progressive transfer state recognizes claims made by anybody, regardless of whether they were harmed or exploited by others.

Welfare programs transfer wealth from taxpayers to recipients without any thought that the recipients deserve the transfers because they are being exploited by taxpayer. Instead, coercive wealth transfers are the “compassionate” thing to do. But the rich as well as the poor see Progressive government as a source of economic support. Giant corporations receive subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory protection even though when Progressivism was born, its core idea was to transfer from them rather than toward them. Progressivism leads to cronyism.

While the idea of Progressivism was to expand the role of government to both protecting people’s rights and looking out for their economic well-being, the actual result of Progressivism has been that because it provides economic benefits to some by imposing costs on others, it violates people’s rights rather than protecting them. Progressive regulations limit people’s freedom of choice, and Progressive tax and transfer policies take the property of some for the benefit of others.

Despite its compassionate-sounding agenda of looking out for people’s economic well-being, the political philosophy of Progressivism justifies a government that violates the rights of some to provide economic benefits to others.



Liberals Respect Me

By Walter E. Williams

During the early years of the Reagan administration, a Washington news conference was held for me for my first book, "The State Against Blacks." Before making summary statements about the book, I offered the reporters assembled that they could treat me like a white person. They could ask me hard, pressing questions. They could demand proof of the arguments that I was making.

People such as former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and former Chairman Julian Bond and the Rev. Al Sharpton can make ludicrous statements. An intimidated news media just swallow the nonsense. They are probably afraid to challenge, lest they suffer guilt feelings of racism or be seen as racists for demanding that a black person back up his comments with facts.

You say, "Give us some examples of ludicrous statements." Sharpton, commenting on black history, said, "White folks was in caves while we was building empires." Mfume said of George W. Bush, "We have a president that's prepared to take us back to the days of Jim Crow segregation and dominance." Bond said, "The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side." When those statements were made — and after other utterances of nonsense — I did not hear of any reporters demanding evidence. Racial etiquette or politeness requires that no pressing questions be asked of liberal blacks.

A number of people have made angry responses to statements made in my column a fortnight ago, titled "Some Odds and Ends." I pointed out that liberal Democrats claim that conservative Republicans have launched a war on women as a part of their overall mean-spirited agenda. Assault, rape and murder are the worst things that can be done to a woman. I said: "I would be willing to bet a lot of money that most of the assaults, rapes and murders of women are done by people who identify as liberals or Democrats, particularly in the cases of murderers.

Most crime, except perhaps white-collar crime, is committed by people who vote Democratic." People have demanded to know what my evidence is. There are bits and pieces of evidence that show that most murderers are people who politically identify as liberals or Democrats. Whether these people also vote their preferences is not so evident.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice report "Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008," blacks accounted for 52.5 percent of homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008 ( It appears to be a fact that most murders are committed by blacks. The next fact appears obvious: Most blacks identify politically as liberals or Democrats. In fact, the 2008 and 2012 elections showed that at least 95 percent of blacks were Democrats. If one adds whites and Hispanics who also identify politically as liberals or Democrats, I think there is no question that liberals and Democratic Party sympathizers commit most of the murders in the U.S. None of this is to say that whites are crime-free. Whites are a greater percentage of our population and commit most of every type of crime except homicide and burglary (

I'm pleased that readers have demanded proof from me about my comments. Similar proof is not demanded from liberals who accuse Republicans of warring against women. I would ask several questions. Do Republicans include in this attack their mothers, wives and female children? What are the weapons Republicans use? Are failing to believe in late-term abortion and wanting to require parental knowledge and permission prior to a minor's receiving birth control medication or an abortion tantamount to warring against women? Finally, are Republican women involved in the war against women?

Far more important for me in all of this is that liberals unintentionally treat me like a white person. Unlike their response to other blacks, they demand that I back up my statements. For that, I thank them.



Drudge: Fast Track Authority for Obama is Republican Suicide

On Friday, the Senate voted 67-32 to give President Obama "fast track" negotiation authority for long anticipated deals with 11 other Pacific Rim nations.  Fast Track Authority is a powerful means of getting trade deals done quickly.  When a deal is negotiated Congress will have the ability to ratify or reject, but no ability to change any trade deals the President negotiates and presents for Congressional approval.

Internet-media mogul Matt Drudge blasted this development in a series of Tweets, calling this the "night of Republican Suicide" and quoting:

"Twisted DC: Electing Republicans is guarantee of MORE powers for Obama... Of course none of them read 'secret' bill!"

Drudge then attacked Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, who supported this bill, characterizing this as "you have to pass the bill before you can know what's in it."

We tend to agree with Drudge, its a very bad idea to give Obama these powers.   The President has demonstrated many times he has a socialist philosophy and doesn't understand economics, trade nor capitalism, and his negotiating skills have proven wanting.  To put him in a position to make long term trade agreements is foolhardy.  But while Drudge laments the extra political power, we are anticipating long term disadvantage in international trade with our most dynamic trade partners.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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