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.
The company I work for has several branches in Europe. I work a lot with my counterpart in Netherlands, and you will find the deal there no bargan. His basic income taxes are SO much higher than mine that I can buy good coverage for less than the differences. Add to that the fact that they are now charged for 'insurance' coverage above the high taxes they pay makes it no bargain.
And VAT. He comes to US on business a couple times a year and buys clothing for his family because it's a lot cheaper.
Be careful about 'happiness' scores. Attempting to cross culturally quantify a pretty much undefined attribute is not very hard science (consider too that hunter gather groups often score well on 'happiness' with NO medical care, no secondary education, no government benefits).
Whenever I come to the U.S as well it is always a pleasure to get the cheaper alcohol without the sin taxes and probably that goes for all my countrymen. A few of us may bemoan the higher taxes as well like your Netherlands friend. But no provincial or federal party here could get elected on following the American model of health care and removing those extra taxes that pay for health care. There has to be something to that.
I'm glad you can get good coverage for yourself, but don't you worry about the people who are left out in the cold?
The odd thing is the overall per person health care costs are lower in Canada with an all inclusive system than the costs in a supposedly free enterprise system.
I recently saw a show about a country (can't remember which one) that studied both of our systems and came up with an even better model. So there is always room for improvement.
The confusing tax code is exactly why we need to go to a fair tax. That way ALL people pay their share..including illegal immigrants who currently get away with using resources that they do not contribute to..All people buy stuff..rich people buy more than poor people.
Also, 14% of Romney's millions contributes a lot more to our "government income" than 20% of a 30K salary. Especially when you consider that most people get their tax bill back at refund time..some will get back MORE than they contributed. Sound fair.?
there it is
I think it depends upon where you start:
Are you a Liberal because of your atheism, or
are you an atheist because of your liberalism ?
Liberalism reenforces atheism, and atheism reenforces liberalism.
That you find yourself in the political minority here at A/N is a result of your own dissociative inconsistency:
At the beginning you say:
“I see most Liberal Democrats as a welfare mongering, hate spewing, illogical people. The party is generally filled with people with blinders on...”
and at the end:
“Thanks for listening and please don't consider this an attack on anyone that is a liberal.”
I think you are a troll.
Defending Rush Limbaugh on A/N is not consistent with the acceptance of reason and measured thinking necessary to truly embrace atheism.
I too am an atheist who is also a fiscal conservative (Republicans are NOT fiscal conservatives). I support limited government that does not spend what it does not have.
A government that neither gets in my way, nor attempts to protect me from my own stupidity.
When I was much younger I considered myself a liberal (also considered myself a god believer). But then I began to realize that while liberals talked 'freedom' (as do Repub style conservatives), all they really meant was people 'freedom' to behave in the way that they (the liberals) approved. At the same time they were all for a government who 'took care' of people while limiting peoples' options, enforced a kind of correct-think, decided it knew better than you what to do with your money, and bought off people with all sorts of government handouts that the government cannot actually afford, 'paid for' with incredible, productivity destroying debt, and hidden by a sustained policy of currency devaluation.
I'm reminded of the cartoon where one pig in the barn is saying to the other '... and best of all, the food is FREE..'
Good points, but you seem not to have the same understanding of liberalism that I do. It is not an attempt to grab and coerce, but adherance to a social contract in which a collective is valued over the individual. I can see how that would be scarily repulsive to an individualist conservative of the Ayn Rand bent, but there's no getting around, except temporarily, the fact that we are a social species. We thrive collectively, and suffer individualist cheaters because they too add something beyond thier selfish intent as long as they don't become too prominent. Such conservatism has a valid place in a working society even when dogmatic adherance to its purity is locally harmful to the other individals it directly opposes. It's a part of the cost of doing business, like the brake on a machine that does nobody direct good while siphoning off collected energy, but without which the machine would accelerate out of control. It does seem a shame when conservatives are blind to the fact that they exist as a necessary drag on the system and instead identify with the engine, which is by definition progressive.
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.