Saw this on twitter. Cannot be said better.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Reblogged this on A Celebration of Reading.
No. The difference between equality in the eyes of a “conserative” or “liberal” is the extent to which equality is applied.
Conservatives typically reject the idea that the right to equality extends beyond the administration of the law into areas like food, clothing, shelter, health care, and education.
Liberals typically affirm that the right to equality does extend into those areas. Indeed, that is the definition of social justice – equality beyond the administration of the law.
Whether humans actually have a right to food, education, health care, etc is another discussion.
I’ll definitely be using this image. A great example of the misunderstandings related to equality.
I would say the big difference is that conservatives believe that human beings have no intrinsic value, or better, that the only value people have is economic (i.e., if you can’t afford healthcare, you don’t deserve healthcare). I believe people have value beyond that. So I would agree with your point to that extent. However, I don’t believe that providing basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, etc.to those in need is A RIGHT in the Constitutional sense but rather that it IS RIGHT in the moral sense. I would rather live in a country in which no children starve than a country with the most billionaires.
Thanks for commenting!
“conservatives believe that human beings have no intrinsic value”
Then they wouldn’t believe in any human rights, period. But they do believe in certain human rights, therefore your premise is wrong.
Anyway, what exactly gives someone or somethings rights? Does dirt have rights? The Mona Lisa? Ants? Seeing-eye dogs? Pre-natal humans? Post-natal humans?
“I would rather live in a country in which no children starve than a country with the most billionaires.”
So would I. What’s your point? Are you implying that if we took all of the wealth from billionaires and gave it to the hungry, we’d have no more hunger? Our government spends 111 billion USD on food-related welfare programs each year. A US Census Bureau polled revealed that only 4% of familes below the poverty line said their children were hungry. Do you really think that remaining 4% is hungry due to lack of funding?
You know, it’s funny. You begin by asserting that conservatives believe in human rights, then you seem unclear as to who is deserving of rights anyway. But it’s moot. Rights and intrinsic human value are two different things. Rights are the fundamental societal laws upon which governmental laws are built.
By intrinsic value I mean the moral obligation we have as a society to ensure a dignified quality of life for the unfortunate among us, not only because profits and sometimes entire industries have been built through the exploitation of these people, or even because all of us are potentially subject to such a fate, but because I believe all human beings are deserving of dignity and it is largely within our power to do so. Conservatives demonstrably do not share this view as they have opposed every movement of civil and social progress since this country’s founding, from the evangelicals in the time of Thomas Jefferson through slavery, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement and on to immigration and marriage equality today. Whether it’s unions, social and education programs, or extended voting hours, anything that’s designed to empower regular people engenders the ire of conservatism.
As for “taking” from the billionaires, that’s an presumption. I favor programs that statutorily tie employee wages to productivity, close corporate tax loopholes (which give us the 2nd lowest effective–as in actual–corporate tax rate in the developed world) and establish targeted tax cuts that encourage and reward businesses for hiring employees at good wages, promoting internally, engaging in profit-sharing, investing domestically, etc. I also support laws that forbid paying bonuses to corporate executives whose businesses are unprofitable.
Lastly, I’m not sure where you’re getting your statistics from, though I suspect it’s some Right Wing blog or research group like the Heritage Foundation. It’s cherry-picked data (the left often does the same) which typically makes their findings useful only as propaganda. I will say, however that any examples of failed or ineffective programs are only illustrative of the failures of those specific models and not the philosophy as a whole in much the same way that the thousands of businesses that go bankrupt every year are not an indictment of private enterprise.
“Do you really think that remaining 4% is hungry due to lack of funding?”
BTW, this is a false argument called begging the question.
Since it apparently was not clear: I was asking YOU “what exactly gives someone or something rights?” Which of the items in the list do you think have rights? Why or why not?
You have defined conservative as “someone opposed to any Ken Jones’-approved social change”. Fascinating. I can see why you don’t like conservatives.
I do presume that you advocate taking from billionaires. The social reforms you advocate demand it. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing some specific ideas for dealing with wages. This kind of discussion interests me.
“I favor programs that statutorily tie employee wages to productivity.”
1. I assume that by “productivity” you mean “the value the employee provides”? Some service jobs don’t produce anything quantifiable.
2. Determining an employee’s value is very difficult for those most familiar with the employee’s work, let alone a bureaucrat who knows nothing about the work. I can’t see how this would be anything but a complete failure for all but the most menial and repetitive (and thereby measurable) jobs.
3. If you want to tie an employee’s wages to employee’s value, you don’t have to do anything. The free market already does that. What you’re really after is a system in which no person finds him or herself in an uncomfortable financial situation. Is statism the answer? Statism can fix a problem in the short term, but over the long term it ends up hurting everyone. (Except the bureaucrats, of course.) It is the inevitable result of destroying incentives and removing freedoms.
“close corporate tax loopholes (which give us the 2nd lowest effective–as in actual–corporate tax rate in the developed world)”
The most effective way to reduce loopholes is to simplify the tax code. I don’t see liberals trying to simplify the tax code. Ironically, the simplest tax system, a sales-tax only system, is rabidly opposed by many on the left.
“hiring employees at good wages, promoting internally, engaging in profit-sharing, investing domestically, etc.”
Again, why not let *good* employees get hired at good wages, get promoted, get profit-sharing opportunities, etc? Why not let companies choose whether its worth investing domestically? The 3D printing industry and DIY / maker movement has done far more to increase local manufacturing than the government ever will. Manufacturing will return stateside, because privately developed technologies are making it more desirable.
“I also support laws that forbid paying bonuses to corporate executives whose businesses are unprofitable.”
I assume you mean, “executives whose businesses are unprofitable and are responsible for that unprofitability”? First, how would the government know better than the shareholders (you know the people who risk to lose their investment) whether a CEO is worth a certain salary? Second, the only CEOs I know of that got bonuses they didn’t deserve are those running companies in bed with the government. The same government that thinks it’s the economy’s savior because they know how to artificially prop up the economy by printing money out of thin air.
The data concerning food security among the poor can be found here:
I am not saying that we should eliminate all welfare. My contention is that abuse and neglect are probably the chief causes behind some of the worst living conditions in America. Simply dumping more and more billions of dollars into welfare spending isn’t going to change that. You seemed to resent me implying that you want more money dumped into welfare. (Even though social equality demands it.) What kind of welfare reform do you want if not increasing funding?
First of, I appreciate your willingness to talk about this stuff with me. I often find that when I say something conservatives don’t like they tend to hurl a couple of insults and bail on the discussion (you may have experienced the same with people on the left). We’ve thrown a few barbs back and forth but it’s predominantly been a topical discussion, which I genuinely respect, even though I don’t agree with many of the opinions you’ve expressed. The only way out of this mess our country is in begins with open and honest discourse.
I do believe all living things have a basic right to be, meaning we shouldn’t destroy living things needlessly. And the more living things are capable of feeling pain, fear, etc., the more humanely they should be treated. But rights as we mean in this discussion I explained in my previous post.
I actually define conservatism as the social philosophy of preserving traditional customs, morals, beliefs, and the established power structure. And American conservatism specifically as the sociopolitical and economic philosophy of a relatively small and unobtrusive federal government, a low tax rate particularly for businesses, a minimally regulated private market, and an emphasis on self-reliance for individual success and maintenance. I disagree with it because in application it tends to be exclusionary, indifferent to inherent social and systemic discrimination, and resistant to progress and changing norms.
It’s simply a metric used to measure output per labor cost, generically referred to as man/hours. Some businesses, by their nature, measure productivity weekly, monthly, quarterly, even yearly, whereas others, such as manufacturing, measure it by the second. But being unable to measure productivity in some form or another would spell death for almost any business.
According to the Bureau of labor statistics, the Congressional Budget Office, Economic Policy Institute and Census Bureau, since 1979 American productivity has been steadily increasing but wages have remained stagnant.(Check the sources at the bottom of the article, some of the links are pdfs and excel sheets so I couldn’t link them directly):
The U.S. economy has doubled in that time (since 1990 actually) even with the Great Recession. The difference between the growth in the economy and the stagnant wages, despite increased productivity has gone almost entirely into the pockets of the corporate execs and investors. This has led to a concentration of wealth that is debilitating too the economy.
That’s the part I don’t understand about the conservative perspective. if history has shown us anything, it’s that wealth and power naturally concentrate into the hands of a few, many times to the destruction of economies and even nations. Therefore we NEED artificial deterrents to this natural concentration.
“The most effective way to reduce loopholes is to simplify the tax code. I don’t see liberals trying to simplify the tax code. Ironically, the simplest tax system, a sales-tax only system, is rabidly opposed by many on the left.”
I agree about a simplified tax code. But by that I mean primarily cutting corporate loopholes that allow them to hide money overseas and reward them for outsourcing jobs along with certain subsidies. As for a sales tax system, that’s actually a regressive tax as low income families and individuals spend a higher percentage of their income (usually all or nearly all) on things like food, clothing, and gas that would be subject to the tax. The wealthy spend a relatively small percentage of their income on these things, meaning that they would be taxed a substantially–sometimes exponentially–smaller percentage of their income. I suspect that’s the intention of whoever dreamed up the policy in the first place. Also keep in mind that unless we’re planning to gut everything, including the military, the sales tax would be astronomical, maybe even 40-50%. At the very least it could be high enough to disincentivize people from buying things which might not be good for the economy.
The reason a business wasn’t profitable doesn’t factor into employees not getting bonuses, the same should be true for executives. Though I think business OWNERS, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are a different story; they can do what they want. It’s literally their business.
I don’t favor “dumping” money into failed social programs either. And I’ll be the first to acknowledge that many of these social programs are inefficient, ineffective, and either rife or susceptible to corruption. Most, if not all, are in need of fundamental changes. But I don’t think that because these programs don’t work as drafted we should simply de-fund them. These programs should be designed to prepare, motivate, and assist people to become self-sustaining and productive participants in the economy.
P.S. While I haven’t gone through the full report yet, I didn’t see anything about your 4% of families quote in the intro or report summary of the source you cited. It did say that children were food insecure in 4.2 million households however. Is that what you meant?
Otherwise it says :
“In 2009, 85.3 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.7 percent (17.4 million households) were food insecure, essentially unchanged from 14.6 percent in 2008.”
At any rate, if only 4% of families had hungry children (though that would still be at least 12 million kids) that would be evidence that the program is working.
This is a good discussion. Thank you.
Who decides whether destroying life is warranted or not? Also, I don’t really see how your position leads to a right to health care or education. I’ll just say up front that I don’t really think you have a justification for what you call “rights”. It just seems good to you, and perhaps is culturally acceptable. (Feel free to prove me wrong.) But if rights are determined by mere opinion then why really call them *intrinsic* rights?
That is an excellent description of what you call conservatism, though I disagree that only liberals desire “progress”. Remove the first sentence of your paragraph, by the way, and you basically have classical liberalism. Conservatism is classical liberalism plus Christian values and mores, it would seem. Anyway, I confess I do not call myself “conserative” because, although I am a Christian, I consider many aspects of modern conservative social and political philosphy unbiblical.
To name a few issues I have with conservatism:
1. The relentless pining for the “good old days” in the 1950’s or earlier. This is very myopic—only a white would pine for that time period.
2. As a corollary to #1: The emphasis on increasing societal morality, as though God will bless us because we’re well-behaved. This is unbiblical. Good behavior doesn’t bring one into God’s kingdom (which is not of this world). Faith in the Messiah does. This, not a moralistic society, is the true goal of the church.
3. Treating America as though it is a “chosen nation”, like Israel 2.0. This is horribly off-base theologically, but I won’t get into the details.
4. The love-affair with foreign interventionism. As John Robbins, one of my favorite Christian political philosophers noted, conservative foreign policy is best titled “political Messianism”.
5. The disinterest in environmental stewardship. Admittedly, this is only the case among some conservatives. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the “crunchy conservative” (see the book _Crunchy Cons_), but I associate with this conserative demographic more than others.
As a small business owner who obsesses over efficiency, I guess I define productivity differently. If you simply mean man-hours—sure, this is measurable. Anyway, as imperfect as capitalism is, it does allow for a middle class, which can’t be said for any other known economy.
Regarding wealth concentration:
1. Is it inherently immoral for person A to have more wealth than person B? Is there a moral basis for saying that person A *owes* person B something (ignoring any business contract).
2. I think this is unavoidable in any political/economic system, but capitalism has the added advantage of providing the freedom to move higher up the totem pole.
3. Obviously serious economic corrections can occur that damage entire industries and regions, but we need to ask why the “bubble” existed in the first place. Was it due to corruption or external manipulation (e.g., government subsidies that created artificial demand)? I think the Austrian school of economics has argued persuasively that the very business cycles Keynes sought to fix with deficit spending were in fact exacerbated if not created by government manipulation of markets.
If a tsunami wipes out the fishing industry on some island, that is tragic, but does it really require us to reconsider a free-market system? Detroit wouldn’t be in the mess it is in if market forces had forced residents to find work elsewhere. (Yes, I know, moving isn’t fun… but it can be done!)
If a company is hiding their taxable income, by all means they should be called out. I have no idea how easy that is to do, mind you.
A salex tax doesn’t preclude prebates to those living below the poverty line. This is proposed by the FairTax, which is certainly the most well known sales-tax-only system being proposed.
The 40-50% sales tax claim doesn’t consider that prices are already artificially inflated due “hidden taxes” and compliance costs caused by our current tax system. This has been well documented—again, check out the FairTax. In other words, given our *current system*, a 40% sales tax might be necessary to needed revenue. But the under the fair tax, income and prices would be very different. Its apples and oranges.
I agree with your last two sentences. Then again you may want to extend welfare into health care and education, which is a double-edged sword (especially with health care).
The 4% could have come from many places, but perhaps it came from page 6 – averaging “very low food security”, which the document defines earlier as meaning “normal eating patterns were regularly disrupted”. Anyway I do not doubt that people get fed due to welfare. I just question whether certain liberal politicians are truly interested in helping the needy versus implementing whatever programs will win them votes – including programs that result in dangerous cycles of dependency.
Wow, that was long.
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