Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Ammo for the Drug Warriors

Many people seem to think that the more liberal persuasions would not prosecute the drug war as vigorously as the any-excuse-to-trample-civil-liberties conservatives.

I would argue that one would only need to look at this article and remember that it is the liberal persuasions that pushed mandatory car seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws.

Remember: Conservatives think you are too degenerate to choose what drugs to take, and liberals think you are too immature to choose what risks to take.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Comedy Can Be Enlightening

I have been reading Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg. The primary premise being that Fascism is an essentially Socialistic enterprise, and that it is not a fit label for modern Conservatives.

But if Fascism was a product of the same thinking that founds much of current Liberal thought, then what about the recieved wisdom that Fascism and Communism are opposite ends of the political spectrum? Hadn't Hitler and Stalin hated one another?

The point lies in Bolshevism being the Marxist Socialism for the benefit of the international working class, Nazism was Socialism for the benefit of the German race, and Italian Fascism was Socialism for the benefit of the Italian nation. All pursued the notion that the State was the highest expression of human will.

So if the difference is not night/day, dog/cat, then why were they so set against one another? Often the smallest differences create the biggest fights. That's when I remembered this Emo Phillips bit (press on to the second half):

I was in San Fransisco once, walking along the Golden Gate Bridge, and I saw this guy on the bridge about to jump. So I thought I'd try to stall and detain him, long enough for me to put the film in. I said, "Don't jump!" and he turns... You've heard of the elephant man. He was kind of like that, he had a, well, you could say he had the head of a horse. And my heart went out to him. I said, "Why the long face?"
He said, "'Cause all my life people have called me mean names like horses-head or Flicka or chess-piece or Trigger..."
I said, "Well, don't worry about it, Ed. It can't be that bad."
He said, "My girlfriend's suing me!"
I said, "For palomino?"
He said, "Why was I put on this Earth?"
I said, "My friend, anywhere else you wouldn't stand a chance."
He said, "Nobody loves me."
I said, "God loves you, you silly ninny."
He said, "How do you know there's a God?"
I said, "Of course there's a God. Do you think that billions of years ago a bunch of molecules floating around at random could someday have had the sense of humor to make you look like that?"
He said, "I do believe in God."
I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?"
He said, "A Christian."
I said, "Me too. Protestant or Catholic?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me too! What franchise?"
He says, "Baptist."
I said, "Me too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"
He says, "Northern Baptist."
I said, "Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Baptist."
I say, "Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist or Northern Conservative Reform Baptist?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist."
I say, "Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Eastern Region?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region."
I say, "Me too! Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 or Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"
He says, "Northern Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."
I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over!

If only both Hitler and Stalin jumped off of bridges.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Assessment by Relatives and Absolute

Lately I have been challenged to look at my values and to consider how I assess whether something is good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. The debate of what is good or bad will certainly not be settled here.

Even if one were to debate with a person who agreed to a standard of good and bad, I have found that there is still room for disagreement. That comes from whether the measure of good is done as an absolute measure or as a relative measure. Must the option that is chosen be good in the absolute or is the best possible just going to have to be good enough?

I write these to stimulate thought, and something just went click. In the above paragraph, I used the term “best possible” to illustrate the difference of absolute vs relative. I am starting to think that the essence of the conflict is when one decides that necessity dictates settling for the less than perfect. The course of deciding how to pursue my values is leading me to examine where I accede to necessity. Consistency has been hard to find.

I would like to be absolute in my votes for elected representatives. I want to have people who are in sync with my libertarian social and economic views while maintaining a proactive stance on national defense. While I am wishing, I want a Mustang, current or classic doesn’t matter, for my birthday. Since neither is going to happen, I’ll just pick my way through the candidates and keep my Kia tuned.

In this primary season, there is another route by which necessity sneaks in. It is all well and good that one candidate has your vote, but can he get enough votes to get where he can actually do any good? Do you back the long shot that is everything you want or should you support a more popular candidate that is two steps forward, one step back? Sometimes, if you are clinging to the Perfect Candidate, the only thing you will get is the satisfaction of having sent a message. Just hope that they listen. The flip side is having to swallow the less than perfect things your less than perfect candidate is doing in office. Remember, a pilot following the shallower dive is still going to put the plane in the ground.

Everyone has faced situations that had gone FUBAR through no fault of their own and the best they could do was minimize the damage. The boss from hell would still scream that he should fire you for the damage you failed to prevent. Now, if you were the cause of the FUBAR your ass deserves to get canned. Otherwise, I believe that one should be rewarded for achieving the best possible results. Let the best possible be decided by spirited debate, but I do think that one should avoid allowing class resentment color one’s opinion.

I’ve come the long way around to the idea of executive bonuses in companies that post losses. Provided the executive did not create the FUBAR, then I believe that he should be rewarded for achievements that approach the best possible results. This would have particular justification if the exec were brought into shore up a failing company.

Other judgments about the executive could be made. Everyone could admire the class of an executive who says, “Thanks, but I’ll pass,” when her company is really hurting or laying off workers. Another type of team player would say, “Thanks, but hold onto it until we’re in the black.” That would mean deferred compensation. Lastly would be the one who taker the money right off. She might be entitled by her contract, but it is still mercenary. Then again, the Board would have known she was mercenary.

I often think that a person is defined by then choices in priorities. I see now that the most reliable way to gauge what I value as a high priority is how much I am willing to settle for less than perfect. The more important to me, the less willing I am to compromise. The frictions in life come from dealing with those, namely everyone, whose willingness to compromise doesn’t correspond with mine. If we are individuals, then our priorities will differ.

And that’s just life.