Monday, June 24, 2013

At Their Own Liberty: Individual Initiative and Destruction

Visitors from around the world flock to San Francisco and often find the city too cold. Residents laugh at that. The tourists come at the height of summer. Yet San Francisco seems warmest in the autumn.  That October day was no different; perfect weather for game three of the World Series. The Series was entirely a Bay area event that year with San Francisco’s Giants playing their rivals, the Oakland Athletics. The A’s had won the first two games, but game three was being played in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and the Giants were hoping for a home-team advantage.
I was sitting at my desk in my bookstore when the computer screen flickered briefly. I tried to hit the two keys on the keyboard that would save my document, but the keyboard wouldn’t hold still long enough. The screen went dark and the lights inside the bookstore went out.
A roar drowned out the sound of the rush-hour traffic. At four minutes past five the afternoon traffic was always heavy, but this wasn’t traffic; it was the city itself—the entire city—groaning as it was lurched from side to side. Waves moved under my feet, I was surfing on land. The waves clearly came from the south hitting the front of the shop and flowing through it. Books on the shelves lurched first toward me, sprang back and then jerked in the opposite direction.
How many more minutes would go by before it would stop? What seemed so endless at the time was just 15 seconds in duration.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Logical Contradictions of Left and Right.

Some people still fall for the idea that conservatives are for "limited government." I've been arguing for years that they are not. My view is that they are socialists of the soul to remake man morally. In this sense they are like our socialist comrades who want to use the state to achieve the goals they lay out. They only differ on the ends, not on the means.
We classical liberals talk about the means. We argue that the means must be considered and that it wrong to use force against peaceful individuals who are not violating the rights of others. We might disagree over times when such use might be necessary but our assumption, at the beginning of the debate, is that such a thing is wrong on the face of it, and if done must be justified by reams of evidence.
The conservative and the progressive doesn't have this problem. They don't worry about the means, only about the ends.
Many people have assumed that conservatives actually do support small, limited government. They make that mistake because some people identified as conservatives actually had a liberal streak and supported such ideas. Goldwater and Reagan were two prominent examples. Both men understood the basic liberal principles and were liberals to varying degrees’ though I think they were convinced too easily on when to make the exceptions.
The Libertarian wants small government across the board—at least the real libertarians do (I exclude the racists, the nationalists, and such from this category). The Socialists, both of the Conservative stripe and the Progressive one, sometimes want limited government and sometimes don't. They appear inconsistent. They are inconsistent if you look at the means only. If you look at the ends they usually aren't inconsistent. Where the libertarian differs is that he is not only consistent when it comes to ends, but to means as well.
Michael Medved, who used to write mediocre film reviews, and now writes bad conservative columns, realizes that conservatives look inconsistent. At the rabies-infested site he writes:

And how do we resolve some of the apparent conservative contradictions? -We want smaller government and fewer public employees at the same time we want to hire more soldiers, cops and border patrol agents. -We favor choice in education, but oppose choice in abortion policy. -We emphatically support the institution of marriage, but don't want government backing for gays and lesbians who seek to get married.