Thursday, May 31, 2007

Answering Justin

Justin at asks us if FDR was a socialist. Heres my response:

I think your question needs to be clarified. Theres no question his programs were socialistic. Another problem I have is that your question seems to imply that if your readers answer "yes" it is a refutation of Roosevelt. Too much of political debate today labels somebody something as an argument in and of itself. By asking this question I think you are obligated to critique socialism. Plus, this question asks us to bite off more than we can chew. But Ill try. Enough of criticizing your question, I get the point anyway and Ill answer it.
If you technical about political philosophy I would say FDR was a "reform liberal". I use the term liberal in the Hobbesian sense that we are all liberals. Think of the "classical liberalism" that our country was founded on. (legitimate government, free markets, individualism, limited government, and individual rights) Reform liberalism basically says that the market is not sufficient enough to provide for people and laissez-faire capitalism is chaotic and does not work. This can be distinguished from socialism in that it still loosely maintains a market based economy unlike pure socialism. But for the sake of the discussion I will refer to it as socialism.
The only way I will say that FDR was a socialist is you are saying that any intervention in the market is socialist. If we are using that definition every elected official is a socialist. So the only way somone cannot be a socialist is if they support pure laissez-faire economics.
Herbert Hoover's laissez faire ideology was outdated. It had a place in 18th and part of 19th century America but not after the industrial revolution. Adam Smith and the early capitalist thinkers dreamed up capitalism before the industrial revolution. In the early 1900's because of technology there was pollution and more of it than anyone could of ever imagined. The economy was now production based with people working for wages instead of working on farms. Airplanes were invented. Regulation of airplanes was very practical. Air traffic control prevented planes from crashing into one another. My point is that with all the massive changes going on in America it is ridiculous to expect our economy to go completely unregulated.
Another point I want to make is that regulation is good for capitalism. Regulation gives consumers greater faith in the economy making them more likely to invest. For example, post ENRON, the TECH industry really really wanted regulation so people would trust the tech sector once again. FDRs regulation of banking and other industries actually helped them. Regulation is not always the nemesis of business. If your like me and are a capitalist you should thank FDR.
I think Justin brings this point up because of recent books being written about how the New Deal made the economy worse and the economy was set to heal itself under Hoover, and FDR only had a good economy because of the War buildup. I dont buy it. The laissez-faire framework was outdated and was a cause of the depression. FDR brought the economy into the 19th century. (by the way, the original definition of neoconservative was somebody who basically accepts the New Deal as neccesary but fights aditional regualations and supports some deregulation. Irv Kristol is the original neoconservative in this regard, whereas Bill Buckley represents the old right. Of course God only knows what neoconservative is supposed to mean today. So color me a neocon.) Bigger Government was a neccesary evil.
The New Deal did a lot of good things. I really like the programs that employed people. During the depression as we all know it was impossible for many to find jobs. When so many able-bodied people are unable to work the public (government) has got to move.That isnt to say everyone in the country should be employed. A conservative understands this is impossible. FDR understood this as well. (Contrast that with the Bush crucible of "When someone hurts, Government has got to move")Yes folks, thats our "conservative" President George W. Bush) Anyway, it is unacceptable to have millions and millions of people not working. Hey, if someone has no source of income, what kind lifestyle do you think they'll choose? Very likely crime and degeneracy. I like his regulation of business because it gave them a stability and restored faith in our economy.
What is wrong with the New Deal? To answer my own question, a lot of things. The minimum wage has the opposite effect of what it is intended to do. Social Security taxes are levied from the employee and passed on from the employer. That is money workers could be using themselves to retire. Also Social Security is a crazy promise to begin with. It demands perfection. "Nobody should fall into the cracks," they say. Even if we didnt have Social Security, very few retirees would be in extreme poverty. They would know they have to plan for it. Even if a few do fall into hard times, I do not believe heaven and earth should be moved to save a couple of people. No matter how many Government programs are created there will always be poverty. As Rudy Giuliani recently said, "The Democrats want a society with no risk." Roosevelts programs however were mainly intended to be temporary assistance. That idea did not last long.
Was FDR a socialist? In a sense. But our economy is capitalist with a small degree of socialism which makes it the best in the world.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A quote that should be forever enshrined

I think one of the main problems with punditry and politics is the idea of team spirit - that people feel they are on one team or another, and that they have to do what serves that team. And that is the death of honest thinking.

-David Brooks
I guess Ive always felt this and am glad to see it expressed in a clear way that I am incapable of. Since Ive started blogging Ive found that I mostly attack right-wing opinions and opinion-makers. But I also try to point out why these opinions dont fit my interpretation of conservatism. The fact remains, Im more interested in attacking the nonsensical right. Why is that?

Most conservative bloggers do seem like team players, going after liberals while holding off on their comrades. Theres nothing wrong with attacking the left, God knows its a target rich environment. If I was a more competent blogger I would do the same. To begin my psychoanalyis, I guess I resent the way right and left wing pundits tell you day after day how their side is great and the other side is just horrible. Probably evil too. Ive always admired those who have the courage to criticize their own side.

Maybe the cause of my one-sided criticism is that most liberal arguments are already so far from my worldview that I just shrug my shoulders and move on. For example, I already know that leaving Iraq is a horrible idea. Ive just never been compelled to write all sorts of angry posts calling the Democrats traitors. They simply have a different take. The fact that liberalism is the nemesis of so much of what I think actually makes me think about it less. It angers me less, and inspires my thoughts less. Let me use the example of Tom Delay. Ive let my thoughts on Mr. Delay be known several times. He has used his office to offer extreme partisan hatred. Delay's rhetoric about "tax and spend liberals" met the most obvious hipocrisy. I can talk about several appropriations bills that had 4000+ earmarks. I care about limited government and fiscal restraint. Delay never did. I was amazed that guys like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity gave him a free pass. I respected those conservatives that were the square pegs in the round holes. and called Delay on his big spending ways. He will always be vindictive, nasty, self-absorbed and represent everything wrong with the Republican Party. The point is, Im more likely to go after those their tear down conservatism from the inside. Liberalism will never represent me. As a man of the right, my concern is the intellectual health of my side.

This doesnt mean liberals never get under my skin. A lot of liberals I talk to drive me nuts. This is merely an explanation of my style and a salute to intellectual honesty.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Why Im moving away from Giuliani

I was ready to sign up with Rudy. I was ready to give him money. But as the campaign progressed he dissapointed.

My reasoning isnt for any of the arguments that are popular in the media. You know, (he isnt pro-life, etc.) if you want to read that go look at what everybody else is saying. I have a different take.

Rudy's campaign started out with a coherent position on abortion. It was the classic Goldwater/libertarian argument:-personally opposed
-oppose public funding
-Governmnent does not have a role
Im not romanticizing this view. In fact, Im pro-life. Also, Ive decided a long time ago that I can support somebody who I disagree with on abortion, but agree with on other issues. And do it enthusiastically. Rudy's position on abortion unraveled into incoherence in the ensuing days of that infamous Hannity and Colmes announcement of his run. He said he supported public funding. In the debate he was all over the map on Roe V Wade. This did not upset me because his view was pro-choice but because of how poorly communicated his position was. If Rudy's communications game, and his message control are this bad, he would be a disaster as General Election candidate.

Second of all, Rudy has proven to be just another politician. Im looking for a candidate that has specific, detailed pro-growth policies. Rudy has failed to give us a plan on entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid. He has failed to explain to us how he would reform the tax code. It is a personality-cult rather than a campaign of policy proposals.

Thirdly, can you actually imagine a President Rudy? I cant. John Chait's TRB article a few weeks ago points this out, "In recent weeks, Giuliani mistakenly said that it was unclear whether North Korea was further along toward a nuclear bomb than Iran, casually lumped together Shia Iran and Sunni Al Qaeda, and confessed he didn't know enough about the Bush administration's approach to terrorism detainees to take a position." This does not affirm the view that Rudy somehow knows how to fight the War on Terror. Let me go out on a limb and say he lacks the intellectual fortitude to be Commander in Chief. Also, look at his confronation with Ron Paul. Paul made the argument that U.S. foreign policy is a cause of resentment and a cause of terrorism. Rudy said he was "unfamiliar with that argument" Do we really need another President that lacks intellectual curiousity?

Rudy always had a problem with his socially liberal views. He could play them down by doing a number of things: 1) play down your support for abortion while promising to appoint conservative judges (fails on one count) 2) be fantastic on Economic issues (fails on that) 3) Be Rudy on the War on Terror (Problem is weve overplayed his skill on that issue.)

If the Rudy '08 campaign would have handled his socially liberal views well, while being a champion of pro-growth, free market economics it Rudy would be my man. Instead of swinging for the fences, Rudy's lackluster campaign has chosen to bunt. Very, very dissapointing. This campaign is not what it could be.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sarkozy closes it out

Nick Sarkozy is now up 55-45. Madame Royal is now finding out that xenophobic, anti-american rhetoric aren't enough to win. Her left-wing economics do not garner enough support to put her over the top. They are just not popular anymore. Sarkozy should treat his mandate as one for pro-growth policies. I think Sarko's law and order mentality will make it clear that immigrants are expected to be part of France. I think he understands the dangers of extreme multiculturalism.

Heres my prediction. Sarkozy will turn France around. It will boast one of the best economies of the third world. The 85% voter turnout in the first round says that the French are mad as hell and they arent gonna take it anymore. He will have a mandate for change. Sarkozy will go down as one of the great statesmen of the 21st century, and others in Western Europe will follow his lead.

I hope Sarkozy can make France proud of itself again. I love France I always will. I remember learning the language and how its architecture and culture are the envy of the world. Vive le France!