Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The blogger returns... briefly?

This is an e-mail exchange that has been going on with a conservative friend of mine. I will update if it continues to be interesting.

On 10/16/07, B wrote:
Subject: Re: Environment


Next time you are wondering why we can't save the environment....throw on an episode of COPS late on a Saturday night. Everything becomes much clearer.


Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 - From: Freak Politics

Actually the reason we can't fix the environment is because seemingly intelligent people like you vote for ass clowns like Fred Thompson... to quote rolling stone's latest article...

"You have to see it to believe it, the effect that Fred Thompson has on certain crowds. Reporters who describe his public appearances as "bland" and "uninspiring" and "vague" and "blurry" do so because they're looking for the wrong thing; they're looking for theatrics, for fire and brimstone, for that candidate who can get crowds howling for blood. What Thompson inspires is something much more appropriate for Americans of the TV age: He gets audiences purring in a cozy stupor. Their eyes glaze over and they end up looking like a bunch of flies happily lapping up their own puke."

If you'd like to read the whole article...

On 10/17/07, B wrote:

Lets review the alternatives:


Obama - Bright, well-spoken, but not enough political experience yet. I am also concerned that he intends on raising taxes to give more money away to lower income households.

1. Give stuff away doesn't work, and doesn't motivate people to work harder
2. Taxing those who make more and giving to those who make less sounds a lot like socialism. I find myself being hard working and upper middle class, but having to watch my spending carefully. Why? Because we tax too much and give it away. Don't believe me? I live in on of the poorest states in the nation....but has the highest taxes. This sense of entitlement in America has to go....

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2007 - From: Freak Politics
cc: C

I agree on Hillary, though she is better then anything the GOP are putting up. She would destroy Rudy in a debate. "Crank Mad Catholic!!!"

Also, you should re-assess the "give away stuff doesn't work, and doesn't motivate people to work harder." statement. The welfare reform that was bi-partisan (though a big win for Clinton) changed the landscape of welfare in the United States. It was coupled with job training and educational entitlements. In short, it worked. A huge success! Also, this administration and the Rep Congress before 2006 did more "welfare spending" then any Democratic administration has. The difference is it is corporate welfare and contracts handed out under the guise of "public-private partnerships." These PPPs, if you study public policy, only work when heavily regulated by the government. This administration is not a fan of the deadly R word. Don't think we have privatized government services? Halliburton, Blackwater (when did the Marines stop providing embassy security?), there is a conference this week in Austin where there is talk about how to privatize services in our National Parks (how do you feel about that C?). The list goes on and on.

You're right; giving stuff away doesn't motivate people to work harder. Look at how lazy, bloated and inefficient corporate America is becoming. There is a reason why our efficiency lags behind even France! The difference between corporate welfare and individual welfare is that you are helping people who because of a number of factors cannot help themselves. If the market (invisible hand and all) truly function, corporations should not need government assistance to succeed. I support eliminating all corporate welfare (include subsidies for agri-business and no-bid contracts for government contractors, etc). I draw the line at services targeted at small businesses. By and large those work quite well. If you are going to have tax incentives for Con-Agra and mega corporate farms, I think family farmers should get them too. You will not find one analysis that says that family farming is less efficient.

Racism, classism, unequal educational opportunities, the devaluation of education in poorer communities, the lack of successful role models, etc, etc, etc. The list a barriers to success for the people who are the recipients of "welfare" goes on and on. You're right, hand outs don't work. But hand ups do. The data is there, though you won't hear any of it watching a GOP debate (or a Democratic debate, really). The GOP claims to champion individual rights. I can dig it; if the playing field is level. You should not hold yourself up as an example of someone who has overcome any form of adversity. You and I come from incredibly fortunate backgrounds. Our parents are very well educated, they were role models in the importance of education, we went to top notch public schools, we were taught that working hard makes the difference. That AIN'T the norm. Social services are necessary, if for no other reason than to deliver the type of America that is discussed at Republican Debates.

Just some thoughts…

On 10/17/07, B wrote:


Welfare: I would not call this a resounding success. If people are going to receive benefits, they should have to work to some degree.

Giving stuff away: You have conveniently (Democrat move) shifted the subject matter away from the people to corporations. If people aren't motivated, they won't work harder....the same for corporations. I have no problem with corporations paying CEO's millions of dollars, if the company is profitable and returning monies to their investors. I agree Corporate welfare needs to be assessed though.

"Racism, classism, unequal educational opportunities, the devaluation of education in poorer communities, the lack of successful role models, etc, etc, etc. The list a barriers to success for the people who are the recipients of "welfare" goes on and on. " People still have the opportunity to make choices, and the longer and longer excuses are being made, the less water they hold. While I do not discount these situations exist in all too much frequency, in cannot be used as excuse to be a criminal, not work, use drugs, not care for your family, or any of the other activities that continue to plague our social services system. Take a look back fifty years ago, and I guarantee you saw a fraction of this occurring. I am tired of the Democrats trying to make people feel guilty for being successful, and thus obligated to "share the wealth." People should feel their own obligations to help their fellow man, but not have to pay 30% of their income in take care of people that make bad decisions, not people just caught in bad situations, but people that continue to make bad decisions and rely on others to help them.


Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2007 - From: Freak Politics
cc: C

Part one: You should look at the welfare reform from 1994... it really should be called workfare.

Part two: If people don't have skills they can't get jobs, motivation or not. You are right people should not get handouts. We need to use entitlements to empower people and create an incentive to learn, get trained, get jobs and move up. But in the mean time it is unacceptable for the "richest nation in the world" to let them fall through the cracks. The "sink or swim" mentality exists only in the United States. Even China doesn't have uninsured children! There is a segment of the population that will never be a productive part of society. That is true in every country. But ask yourself, why is that segment so much higher in the United States then other industrialized nations?

Part three: Ask African Americans how peachy things were 50 years ago. How about Hispanics? How about the rural poor? You are assuming a level playing field and level access to opportunity. Democrats don't hate rich people. Most of them are pretty darn rich themselves. I guess it is just a difference of opinion on the role of those who are most fortunate (and yes, you fit in that category) to care for their fellow man. If you feel guilty because of your status in the great order, that is your deal. I don't feel guilty at all, but then again I believe that my 30 percent in income tax is used to, among other things, provide old people and the poor and young poor and lower-middle class kids with health insurance. I feel it is my obligation, as a human being to not only share my wealth and help out those who are less fortunate then I am in this country, but everywhere in the world. That is a difference between you and me and it doesn't make me a better person then you. I hope you don't think I'm judging your beliefs.

There is a lot of validity in the idea that individuals need to help themselves. Trust me, I live in Texas, the most libertarian place I have ever been to. But there are homeless people who are homeless not because they are lazy but because they suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues. These people cannot help themselves until they are helped by others. Some believe that charities can serve that purpose, and I agree that they have a large role to play. But LBJ said it best: "I know that government cannot resolve all problems. It cannot make them happy or bring them spiritual fulfillment. But it can attempt to remedy the public failures which are at the root of so many human ills." You disagree with that and I respect that.

Here is my point. You and I agree that we want to spread prosperity to as wide a portion of the population as possible. We just disagree on the best way to do that. You want individual responsibility and I want to empower people so they can take that responsibility. I think we can both agree that we don't want to pay a penny more in tax then we have to. I think we can also agree that government has at least some role to play, even if we disagree on exactly what role that is. I come from the line of belief that government can be (not is, but can be) the best engine for empowerment. FDR, in his speech when signing the New Deal legislation said: “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” I think if conservatives could acknowledge that the government has a role to play and liberals could acknowledge that there is a certain amount of individual responsibility inherent in success then there could be a substantive policy debate that would produce fruitful results. To be honest, all I see is a shift in that the Democratic Party has become the party of fiscal austerity (it was Nancy Pelosi that re-instituted the PayGo system in Congress). Yes, there are still people like John McCain (who, by the way, is the best Rep. on policy) who still talk like fiscal conservatives, but they are becoming increasing rare. Discretionary spending (what your peeps like to call PORK) skyrocketed between 1994 and 2006. It didn't just double, I mean it skyrocketed!

And yes, there are still liberals that have never met a problem that they could throw money at, but Obama, Edwards and Clinton are not them. Really the only Dem running who is, is Dennis Kucinich. And he doesn't even show up on most polls of Dems. That is pretty telling.

Being President isn't about saying no. Ronald Reagan didn't say now and George W Bush didn't say no (as much as I wish they would have). Look at the political spectrum. In many ways Nixon would likely have been a Democrat in the current political climate. He created the EPA, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and so much more. He believed in a robust, but measured federal government. He expanded LBJ's Great Society.

We'll find solutions to our problems, but until then... Everyone sing!

Happy days are here again,
The skies above are clear again,
So let's sing a song of cheer again,
Happy days are here again.
All together, shout it now!
There's no one who can doubt it now.
So let's tell the world about it now,
Happy days are here again.
Your cares and troubles are gone,
There'll be no more from now on!
(repeat first chorus)