Say something outrageous!

I think that might be the secret of attracting comments. People want to respond to dazzling statements, whether they agree or disagree with the statements themselves. So, here’s one:

Conservatives and libertarians are right about government!

Here’s how they’re right: Entitlements and giveaways do create unrealistic expectations and lazy habits. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon for years, in schools and in society in general, but my fellow liberals don’t seem to think it’s a serious enough problem to deserve discussion. Only grumpy right-wingers say anything about government programs killing initiative. Why’s that?

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16 Responses to Say something outrageous!

  1. Walter Rigo says:

    How about something controversial? You haven’t said anything outrageous in this space. “Conservatives and libertarians are right about government.” Not outrageous. Neither is the explanation you give. Government kills the spirit. Makes people sluggish and thuggish. And liberals other than you ignore that fact. Are you sure you’re a liberal?

  2. I posted the statement as “outrageous” because it’s outrageous coming from a liberal. But I HAVE seen people being shockingly lazy when they get everything handed to them. I’ll give you a very recent example from the realm of public education. Let’s pretend it’s “a friend” who told me this:

    I teach at an alternative school that offers very small classes, so the kids get lots of attention and help. One student’s mother called us and asked why there’s no bus to pick up her daughter and deliver her to us every day. I explained that there IS a bus that picks up kids at the main high school and drops them off before our school day begins. “But she has to walk to the high school first,” said the mom, “because we live within walkable distance.” “Right,” I said. “These are reluctant learners!” she answered. “The town should not make it harder for them to get to school. My daughter has trouble getting out of bed in the morning. She needs help.”

    Our alternative school is in the business of helping the students do well, but “having trouble getting out of bed in the morning” is something we can’t solve. The parent has to work on that. We’re already providing substantial help, once our kids arrive, but there has to be SOME degree of effort from them and their parents–we can’t do all the work and expect them to “succeed” without lifting a finger.

    It’s back to the question of unmotivated kids, a problem that is always with us but seems to be growing. And even though I’m a liberal, and willing to see tax money go to social welfare and education, I agree with right-of-center folks who claim that giving people TOO much help doesn’t really help anyone.

    • Walter Rigo says:

      I repeat what I said before. Are you sure you’re a liberal? You sound like a commonsense conservative to me. How do you qualify as a liberal?

  3. Peg says:

    LLS, I have been mystified for years as to why liberals don’t appreciate this simple principle. It seems so straightforward to me, I am unable to explain it.

    YOU are the one calling yourself a liberal; YOU give us the explanation! 🙂

    • Peg, the question is bigger than it might seem. My first-attempt answer is, “Liberals don’t acknowledge the abuses and excesses of government because those abuses and excesses are not ‘helpful’ to their main argument. They (and yes, I’m part of ‘They’) believe that government should do more than protect life and property; it should also counteract harsh inequities and do what it can to alleviate suffering. If the anti-government or smaller-government contingent is able to get Gov’t Abuses and Excesses on the discussion table, liberals know that they’ll spend their time saying, ‘Yes, but . . .’ and never really getting a chance to advance their interests.”

      That’s pretty much what is happening these days, isn’t it? More and more “likely voters” are sick of government abuses, excesses, and failures, so liberals feel like they’re running in very wet mud.

      But the question is bigger than just “Why are liberals so blind?” because liberals aren’t the only ones who won’t admit the obvious. Know what I’m hinting at? Here’s more than a hint: Conservatives and libertarians are every bit as prone to ignoring unhelpful realities. And my ilkmates and I shouldn’t be the only ones challenging right-side myopia. How often do you see “your people” questioning their own assumptions?

  4. Peg says:

    People can be blind, irrespective of their ideology. I do think, however, that on average, conservatives and libertarians tend to be more objective. After they got blasted in the last two elections, they finally started looking at what they were doing wrong … and the Tea Party movement was born. They realized that they had to analyze what was wrong with our government, state it straightforwardly – and
    not count on politicians on their side who had been there term after term to do anything about it.

    Some on the right, IMHO, still don’t get it. Specifically, I am thinking of those who champion conservative social values. While I do not, and I realize that I cannot expect the world to be exactly as I see it, I think that these people send a mixed message. You cannot promote self-sufficiency, the government staying out of people’s lives, etc. in the business world and in everything other than social values – and then tell people that the government will be intimately involved in their love lives and decisions about their bodies, etc. These folks are entirely able to believe what they wish to believe for themselves and their own families – but not for me and mine. Until they realize this and have candidates who are clear about this, they will have a tough time winning the votes of independents – and people like me, too.

    • Peg, I’m hoping to meet you half-way on the question of human beings’ self-imposed closed-mindedness, but you have me at this disadvantage: I started with the “outrageous” statement (coming from a liberal) that “Conservatives and libertarians are right about government,” which is a pretty big concession (meant to get the ball rolling). In return, you’ll acknowledge only that “People can be blind, irrespective of their ideology”–then you say your people aren’t as clueless as mine.

      The struggle here is in getting each side to acknowledge its own blind spots. It is with some difficulty that I admit that “my people” do the same dumb stereotyping and rationalizing that we accuse “your people” of doing, but I’m sitting at midfield, watching you maneuver along your own 20-yard line.

      I’m not discounting the fact that you’ve ventured out a distance from the end zone, however.

  5. Peg says:

    LLS – not sure what you want me to say. Should I lie about what I believe?

    Not everything in the world is equal; just the way it is. You cannot weigh every flaw on one side with one on the other. I do believe that, on average, libertarians/conservatives are more objective and rational than liberals. Liberals tend to be more idealistic. Idealism has its pluses, to be sure; sometimes conservatives are not hopeful enough and do not dream enough. Still – I think that when it comes to seeing things as they are, they do have the edge.

    I do think that both sides have plenty of “crazies and whackos” for sure. Frankly, however, I tend to not read so much of either of them on a regular basis. I have little enough time as it is, so I don’t want to waste it on idiocy …. still, every now and then I check in, to know what is “out there.” Surely both sides have people that astound me with their bias, their hate, their prejudice and their woeful lack of solutions.

    Anyway – this is what I believe. Of course it is your right to disagree – but – I won’t alter what I think is so in an effort to find balanced “equity.” As many have said; life isn’t always fair and equal.

    • Peg, I don’t want you to lie about what you believe. Actually, you WERE pretty clear about where you think many of your friends are mistaken:

      “Some on the right, IMHO, still don’t get it. Specifically, I am thinking of those who champion conservative social values. . . . I think that these people send a mixed message. You cannot promote self-sufficiency, the government staying out of people’s lives, etc. in the business world and in everything other than social values – and then tell people that the government will be intimately involved in their love lives and decisions about their bodies, etc.”

      So I retract the charge that you’re still too close to your own goal line. How about this challenge, then: Do you disagree with anything in the libertarian agenda? Or, more in line with what I said about a common liberal blind spot (government intrusiveness): In your opinion, do libertarians have a blind spot–something staring them in the face that they’re in denial about?

  6. Old School Grump says:

    Here’s an “outrageous” proposition to consider:

    The best way to solve our nation’s economic problems? Encourage immigration! I mean legal immigration, and lots of it. And all types–from the smart people who come over here to earn advanced degrees but then aren’t allowed to stay (because of our stupid policies), to the poorest Mexicans who, whatever else you want to say, show a damn sight more initiative, risk-taking, and willingness to work than much of our native talent.

    That said, we don’t have to be patsies about it. In fact, we should be pretty ruthless about who we accept and what we require of them. And children should have to speak English in school, sink-or-swim. People get all mushy and sentimental about immigration, as if that “huddled masses yearning to be free” bit were an actual policy. It isn’t, and it never was. Immigration policy can and should be self-serving (in an intelligent way, one can hope).

    We need to do this 1) to build our math and science and engineering talent pool, and
    2) to build our population. The looming Social Security and Medicare shortfalls are due to the dropping ratio of workers to retirees. Tinkering with pay-in and pay-out formulas is needed too, but it won’t be enough, this is an actuarial problem, we need more people in the system.

    What are the odds that this country can have a genuine discussion on The Practical Benefits of Dramatic Immigration Reform? Ha ha. The conservatives get too much mileage out of playing the illegal-immigrants-are-destroying-our-country card; the liberals have too much of their self-image wrapped up in “give us your huddled masses yearning to be free so we can coddle them,” and the Tea Partiers, well, that’s just hopeless.

    • Grump, about those hard-working Mexicans you admire: I admire them, too, and anyone else who is eager to make a better life by earning it. But maybe the difference between hard-working, low-pay immigrants and non-working, no-pay Americans is that the Americans can’t AFFORD to work for the pittance that immigrants accept. The pay offered to the guys who stand out on the street corner, seeking a job-for-the-day, is not enough to support a family–unless you double up, triple up, or worse, in an overcrowded house or apartment, as many such workers do. Is this “the secret” of a stronger American economy?

      The streets where I live (in SW Connecticut) are crowded at night with cars bearing New York State license plates. My guess is that people are crowding into housing units that aren’t equipped to handle the load, parking-wise, sewer-wise, and otherwise. People can’t afford the homes unless they pack their friends in with them and charge rent. Add in the large numbers of day laborers who don’t have cars but who do need shelter, and you’ve got a whole lot of sardine-packing taking place.

      Do I admire such people for their determination and willingness to adjust? I sure do. But is that any kind of national solution–expanding the labor pool at a time when jobs are scarce? You know there’ll be backlash from unemployed Americans who see the existing jobs paying even LESS because of the increased numbers in the labor pool. What do we do with those folks? (It sounds as if you believe the only problem with them is that they’re lazy. I don’t agree.)

      Note: I turned this into a new entry of its own. Title: Welcoming the huddled masses.

  7. Peg says:

    I actually agree with most of what Grump has to say. Most of the people I know are the ancestors of immigrants. They came here with little or nothing – worked hard, and prospered. And, as Grump said, they learned English and adapted to our culture – not the other way around.

    If people wish to come here, work hard, obey our laws and be decent citizens, I say, “welcome”! Happy to sell some of these folks a house, too 🙂

    Let’s change our immigration laws so that it is easier for people who fit this description and want to come here to come here.

  8. Pingback: Welcoming the huddled masses | Last Liberal Stand

  9. Peg says:

    LLS, re: libertarians. As far as I can determine, there is not one clear-cut “one size fits all” set of beliefs that all libertarians hold. I am someone who thinks that it is all right for society to have some accommodations to assist people – assuming that the vast majority would like to have it. Yet, some libertarians balk at way more government than I do. Not sure exactly where the dividing lines are – only that not everyone is on the same page.

    • In a way, Peg, you’re making my point–though I’m not sure I knew the point when I started–when you say that “there is not one clear-cut ‘one size fits all’ set of beliefs that all libertarians hold.” You’re saying, in other words, that it would be simplistic to assume that all libertarians are in lockstep with one another on all issues.

      Okay, so I wasn’t trying to establish that clarity with respect to libertarians OR conservatives. But why not apply it to them AND liberals? And I quote, sort of: “There is not one clear-cut ‘one size fits all’ set of beliefs that all liberals hold.” The generalizations about any group are only approximations. The stereotyping and wholesale dismissing of “the other guys,” whoever they are, is silly.

      You may well already understand this. But it seems to me that right-siders delight in generalizing about “idiot socialist Dems,” while left-siders delight in villainizing “greedy, self-deluding, heartless right wingers.” What follows from that cheap-shotting is not exactly honest conversation.

  10. Peg says:

    You are preaching to the choir, LLS. Of course there is a huge disparity among what “liberals” believe, too.

    I share fairly similar beliefs with some liberals – and think others are from Mars. They do not think the same stuff!!

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