Why is it assumed that just because someone is an atheist, that they have to be a liberal? In essence, There are 2 sets of issues in politics. Fiscal and Social. That is at the extreme basic level..Money and Morals, if you can call them that. What happens if you have a 50/50 view with each of the major parties? What if you believe in low taxes and limited government? Well, then you are a Republican, right? What if you are an Atheist, but believe in low taxes and limited government? That does not make you a liberal.
I think that Atheists and homosexuals always think they have to align themselves with Democrats, because they are the opposite of "right-wing religious wackos"..To me that is not the case. I see most Liberal Democrats as a welfare mongering, hate spewing, illogical people. The party is generally filled with people with blinders on that think they have to oppose anything with an "R" in front of it. They think that all repulicans are going to overturn Roe v. Wade and impose religious rule on the country. I am sure there are those types in the Republican party, maybe more than we think..but, all in all, I doubt they could ever get anything like that through congress. So, you basically have to think about what issues are important to you, and what issues are likely to be pushed on the agenda. There is no perfect party for me..I have generally considered myself a Libertarian, but they have a few "planks" that are based in religion also..only difference is, they believe in personal liberty FIRST.
I guess most people choose which things are more important to them and align with those. Being without religion does not make me necessarily ANTI-religion. I could care less what people want to believe as long as they don't infringe on my rights doing it.
That being said, I choose to focus on Fiscal issues, and not social ones when I vote. Religion should stay out of politics. I am FISCALLY conservative, and SOCIALLY tollerant.!! I have gay friends, I have religious friends, I have preacher friends, I have minority friends. Strangely, I don't think I have atheist friends..at least none that claim to be...and none that really know I am. Only my family. I guess I am a closet atheist, but that is my business. It is no ones business what my beliefs are. I believe that being without religion is not a stance that I have to make a major part of my existence..I don't have to make sure others think like me..or make sure that I am an activist for the cause. To me, it is not a "cause", it is just who I am.
But, I most certainly am NOT a liberal. I believe that the current administration has done more to harm this country in 3 years than the previous bunch did in 8 years. I am also NOT a Bush fan, didn;t vote for him either time..he was a borderline Socialist himself. Thanks for listening and please don't consider this an attack on anyone that is a liberal. It is your decision alone, I just implore people to think and not just accept the "default" position..just because someone is a christian does not mean they are stupid in all aspects of thought.
We are a social species and we do suffer from cheaters. In fact, evolutionary psychology and other research suggests that cheater detection are parts of our mindset (there have been experiments that presented a problem either as a cheater detection, or as a generic logic problem... people were much more successful at the cheater version). Even other primates have to deal with cheaters.
But pre-empting cheaters is not the same as viewing the (non voluntary) collective above the individual. History has shown that without being continually cut back, government becomes more and more intrusive, and more and more can be conveniently justified as 'for the public good', though actually it's really the whim of whatever group is in power.
There is a need for principle of law, but the problem is that the law should not, cannot be all things to all people. Once you've provided for national defense, and provide a trustworthy legal structure for citizens to defend their rights, person and property, you've pretty much filled the necessary role for government to play.
Beyond this point, the government gets into areas where it is not sustainable or justifiable, either financially or morally.
Is that how you define general welfare?
Jay H gives us his interpretation of history:
"History has shown that without being continually cut back, government becomes more and more intrusive, and more and more can be conveniently justified as 'for the public good', though actually it's really the whim of whatever group is in power."
But this has nothing to do with liberalism, because no liberal believes in bigger government for the sake of bigger government. What this observation of yours has to do with government is that humans have the unique human urge to improve the human condition, and most of us realize that government is the tool we can utilize to accomplish the improvement of the human condition, or, as you put it, “the public good”.
When government gets co opted by those who view its purpose as advancing some other condition, we then have conflict.
Right now, in our country’s history, liberals are struggling to return government purpose to improving the human condition from those who hold that the purpose of government is to improve the business condition.
Government becomes “more intrusive” when it begins to serve the interests of those who see the purpose of government as something other than improving the human condition.
It isn’t “cutting back” government that is necessary. Redirecting government is what is needed.
So much of our government today is operated to actually prevent the improvement of the human condition. Opponents fight health care for all, advocate war before diplomacy, work to improve the Corporate condition by eliminating rules put in place to protect the very environment in which humans and all living things must exist.
So much effort and money put to fighting the very idea of improving the human condition. Labels get hurled as epithets : “Socialist” “Marxist”
jay H is persistent however:
"Once you've provided for national defense, and provide a trustworthy legal structure for citizens to defend their rights, person and property, you've pretty much filled the necessary role for government to play".
Individual rights are advanced only when the human condition is improved, not vice versa.
It isn’t so much that we have to limit government to filling the bare necessities of life, it is that we have to overcome the conservative’s limited view of government.
It's not necessarily part of traditional liberalism but is very much a part of American liberalism. What has happened though is that our definition of liberalism has become more and more a set of rules imposed from the top. My break from considering myself a liberal came with the realization that it is an inherent problem that the more power a government has, the more it feels entitled to choose what citizens do and think. And whichever particular group currently holds power is the one that makes the rules (EVERYBODY makes rules for the 'public good' if you haven't noticed).
There are two problems. First humans do not handle power well. Organizations extend their influence (and can always find plenty of justification). This happens with corporations, religions, and especially governments (since they are the most violent of the three). The second problem is that not everyone (not by a long shot) buys into the same vision. They don't buy into the same priorities, they are not happy with the same 'solutions' (it should be noted that in many cases there is no logically provable right solution, there are a range of approaches, each with different appeal to different people). So as soon as definition of a solution gets codified, you no longer have freedom. You have a totalitarian (maybe benign, probably not because it becomes more violent out of necessity as not everyone is willing to accept the decisions of the overlords)
An example is the principle of free speech. It's not that no speech is ever harmful, but that as soon as the government can suppress 'harmful' speech, the definition of harmful varies according to who is in power. Government does not get 'redirected' to be nice... we have thousands of years of human history to prove that. And government is FAR from an antidote to rampant corporations, government actively provides the armies and police, the laws and even bailouts that empower the abuses. In a true free market there would be no tax breaks, no corporate welfare (not for oil companies, not for 'green' companies), no protectionist regulations which prevent competitors from getting a foothold.
Government has neither the wisdom nor the moral authority to weigh in on every matter of private life, or even accurately determine what the best 'human condition' is or especially how to make it happen. This in itself is a re-definition of the purpose of government, it certainly was not in the goals of the founders of the US government. They were most concerned with making a workable system without the abuses of government power that they had lived through.
Even the metric of 'human condition' is pretty subjective. I highly regulated environment where everyone has the same resources (but by definition has no room to improve their lot) may be what you want, but it sure would suck as I see it.
At one humanist meeting I was at there was literally nearly a fistfight between two elderly women. One had, with her husband, been a communist, and hunted by the FBI during the red scare days, the other was a refugee who fled Hungary hunted by the communists. And yet they were both humanists.
Before we get too caught up in debates of fairness, public vs. private, “takers” vs. “makers” and so forth, it might be useful to consider how much of an individual’s personal material success is really individual, and how much stems from the public inputs. How many of the great Silicon Valley entrepreneurs learned computer programming in public schools and later in public universities? How many of our leading technological inventions (example: the internet) began as federally-funded research projects, if not research done outright by government scientists? How many of our most successful businessmen, inventors, senior managers and entrepreneurs are first-generation legal immigrants who received not only asylum but public-assistance upon first setting foot in the US? How much of the leading research in American universities is done through public funding – and how many new businesses are started by professors and their former students based on government grants? And how many small businesses first become profitable through the government’s Small Business Innovative Research program? How many defense contractors profit from government spending – and then put money back into the economy through first-tier and second-tier suppliers? How much money begins as tax dollars and then percolates through the economy as recipients of subsidies spend their “handouts” as consumers?
While it is not fair to heavily tax high-achieving people out of envy of their success, neither is it fair to regard their success as having been strictly private. They are almost certainly the beneficiaries of investments and services for which they did not pay – for example, their public educations.
Government will never replace free-enterprise, but it can and should lubricate the great wheels of the private sector. Government has a legitimate and necessary role as insurance agent, as broker and ombudsman, and occasionally as caretaker. Government can and will make grievous and asinine blunders, misunderstanding the economy and sometimes creating onerous regulations, artificially picking winners and losers. But neither does the market necessarily always make wise choices, even in the long run. The public sector has no monopoly on stupidity. Instead, we’re best off with a tension and counterbalance between public and private concentrations of power, so that neither can become preeminent.
Growth of government power, as a stifling of human creativity and an abridgment of personal freedom, is a real and significant threat; we should not deny it or whitewash it a some necessary cost of progress. But we should also realize that ANY concentration of power is likewise such a threat. That power can be in corporations, in churches, in political action committees, in unions, and in any agglomeration of influence when individuals band to act as a collective. Small government can lead to greater freedoms ONLY when the smallness of government is not replaced by the opportunistic entry of some other entity that grabs power. I want my government to be large enough to forestall the unbounded growth and intrusion of other sources of power – but no larger.
I'm not going to disagree with all of your points, but I would make a few points.
The silicon valley crowd, and other wild successes did not make money because of government (other than the basics which I also accept... education opportunity, a legal system that will protect peoples rights and property). Beyond that, though the wealth was created by free transactions, free markets between people who produced and others who purchased (and in many cases utilized what they purchased to create even more markets and products).
Surely if there were total anarchy, if contracts could not be enforced, these opportunities could not exist.
It is also true that the mad rush of development grew in part out of DARPA, but this was pretty much an anomaly. People got to play with ideas without being directly accountable, without needing government permission to try things, and created something that the government never would have produced. (For example the potential anonymity of the net... if the government had designed it, it would never have been so free-wheeling. Identity, an internet license, would have been job one. I don't know how many here remember the early 90s when the government started to get spooked and was moving to impose draconian restrictions on encryption. Phil Zimmerman, creator of PGP was investigated by a federal grand jury simply for releasing the program. Counter groups like cypherpunks, where I was active, sprung up to try to distribute the technology as quickly as possible as the Clinton administration was moving to criminalize strong private encryption without a government back door. It was only the eventual realization that business was not possible over the net without strong encryption that the government backed down.)
I can see your point about cyphers Jay, criminalizing that would have been bad. Government does not belong everywhere. And with a profit only measure for success then private is better.
However if you take into account public welfare like clean energy, healthy food, accessible healthcare and stable retirement funds, the private sector fails worse than the government. They have failed real real bad.
Government fails a lot but has an end goal of public good. Corporations fail a lot and a few people get rich to great public detriment.
I don't want government everywhere either but profit cannot drive everything.
A genuinely free market is impossible. Just as it is the nature of government to rapaciously enlarge its authority, to intrude into daily affairs and to impose its vision of what is "moral" or appropriate, exactly the same is true for any organization, for any group of people banded together into a corporation or other competitive entities. Either one competitor emerges victorious, producing monopoly; or several competitors collude, effectively also producing a monopoly.
If monopoly is inevitable, the question is, who should be the monopolist? What sort of monopolist is the least evil? Is it private, or public? I will leave that as a question to ponder.
I have.. a brain...
and some folks just could care less about labels but use them all the time
u fell for the network news mainstream propaganda while folks like this just smash the banks
Please do not think for a moment that the Republican party is at all fiscally conservative. They and the Democrats are simply two sides of the same deficit spending coin, same game just different pockets and different priorities.
Then to cite a single example of a failed enterprise in the "pressing need" for Green energy and failing to note the billions of dollars spent on corporate welfare to fossil fuel energy corporations is not presenting the situation fairly, IMO
I think you miss my point. First, failed or not was not my criteria (though Solyndra, Solon, Evergreen fall into that category, and Fiskar and Tesla simply would not exist without direct and indirect corporate welfare). Exxon should not get tax breaks and welfare even though they are hardly failing. Corporate welfare distorts the economy and certainly corrupts government as companies suck up to politicians to get favorable special rules and licensing, tax breaks and credits and special handling.
The government simply cannot go on like this. We are spending much of our current government income paying interest on previous idiocy, it's time really stop this perpetual snowball.
A nation has a high priority to keep solvent.There is a very finite amount of resources that the government can spend.
You are right about one thing. Oil will fade as a power source. Over that period of decades a lot will happen. (I am reminded of a newspaper article from the 1890s which expressed fear that cities would be unlivable by the 1950s due to the piles of horse manure in the streets.) Markets develop in unpredictable ways over time, and throwing money at them will not make it work faster; indeed it's more likely to drive development into dead ends. If the government had decided to through huge amounts of money into Apple in 1992, they still couldn't have built the iphone, much less at an affordable price. And that was just 20 years ago (it wouldn't have even worked 10 years ago). Technology progresses from the combination of unexpected developments across many fields as well as changing market conditions that bring prices into line. This simply cannot be done by government fiat.
What is happening is that 'green' companies are forming to basically extract government money (the powerful ethanol agribusiness lobby started as government support for 'bio fuels' and now has so much power the subsidies cannot be politically stopped).
First Solar's economic model was based on selling overpriced solar cells to Germany (when government forces consumers to eat the 10x to 15X price differential between solar produced electricity and market electricity), and even that wasn't enough to remain profitable. Tesla motors actually does not make a profit, it operates by government market distortion that forces other car companies to pay for electric cars if they don't produce enough (now that they are starting to produce, even that extortion may collapse). And even as it is, money put into corporate welfare, whether 'green' or 'smokestack' is money extracted from the economy, and in actuality is money acquired by adding to our national debt. It's not free money.
The thing is though, as years go by and market forces change, stuff comes out of the market place that was completely unpredicted just a few years earlier. It's often the unexpected solutions that are the best.
BTW: I found this 'household budget' interesting, it's simply 8 zeros off the national budget:
Annual income 24,700
Annual spending 37,900
New Credit card debt 13,300
Existing Credit card balance 153,500
Savings from recent belt tightening: 585
On what planet could this be considered 'sustainable'??