Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My (dear conservative) Friends

I have a few questions for you and you have to answer the questions with factual answers. "because he said he wants to give every citizen health care" isn't a good enough answer.

1.Can you tell me why Barack Obama is a Socialist?

2. Do you realize that we already practice some forms of "redistribution of wealth" in this country?

3.Do you understand what a social democracy is? Please define it for me.

4. Why do you insist on using the word "socialist" as a pejorative? Many of our allies succesfully practice this form of government. Imagine me, as your freind, saying you are a horrible parent, your form of parenting is less superior to mine since you decided not to breastfeed, co-sleep, feed you child only organic vegetables. It would be an insult would it not?

To my liberal/progressive freinds, can you tell me how you have dealt with your conservative family/friends using this term? I'm having trouble discussing it with co-workers and could use everyones help.

thanks

114 comments:

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  2. djinn, did i get that right? that we already practice a redistribution of wealth in this country?

    i'm kinda naive when it comes to that stuff. i know what's going on i just don't have all the snappy terms for it.

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  3. 1. He's not a pure socialist, but he's quite close to being a socialist on the political spectrum. The more a person is in favor of socialized healthcare systems, organized labor and higher rates of taxation for businesses and the wealthy, the closer they get to being socialist. There are many other factors, but I won't go into them here. They're easy enough to find online.

    2. Naturally--the progressive income tax system is a form of redistribution, but most conservatives are already against that anyway. Further increases for the upper tiers of the progressive system are thus not particularly appealing to conservatives.

    3. A combination of socialist and capitalist elements in a politically democratic society. In some ways, it could be argued that we already have this in the U.S. to a small degree.

    4. "Socialist" is very close to "communist" on the political spectrum. You already know how fond Americans are of communism, and no one would say that any state that claimed to be communist was ever successful at it. In any case, if socialism is a transition state between capitalism and communism, and a goal of that state is greater equality of wealth and power, and that equality is achieved via government mandate, it's going to rub a lot of people the wrong way.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on these questions, though.

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  4. well mfranti...good question! my family and friends have mostly already switched over to the democrat/green party. (phew! it was lonely for a while!)

    i would start with talking about money distribution under the republican leadership (yikes!) which would lead to trickle down theory which could lead to discussing how we're a plutocratic corporate nation. one example is how food subsidies primarily go to rich farmers making over a million a year. some democrats are proposing that more tax funds go towards small family farms supporting the growth and consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables. i'm sure there are MILLIONS of more examples and you probably know them much better than me!!

    My mom just became a democrat because she's literally sick and tired of the same old republicans not doing anything about the environment. they seem to always choose big business over clean water and air; more freeways over frontrunner (which has recently been pushed back.)

    good luck with the conversations you'll be having!

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  5. is it possible that social democracies are the middle ground between communism and capitalism, both of them not being effective?

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  7. "Naturally--the progressive income tax system is a form of redistribution, but most conservatives are already against that anyway."

    why are they against it?

    has it been proven to work elsewhere?

    excluding abortion, and other moral voting issues, why do ma and pa franti from IA feel that it is in their best interest to vote republican?

    I understand the rich voting that way, but not average middle class (to be specific folks with a combined income of 40K)

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  8. Hmmmm...good question (your last one about middle ground). I think that's possible. My leanings have become much more democrat through this campaign, but don't tell my dad that. :)

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  11. Jessica, I won't tell anyone if you don't tell anyone. It'll be our little secret.

    btw, did you serve a European mission? I know Gita did and it helped shape her views on other forms of government.

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  12. "Much luck? A little, but some people are just"

    what? what are some people?

    djinn, i asked quimby to come and offer her opinions on this too.

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  17. djinn, as much as i appreciate your humor, i don't think calling folks stupid is going to change their mind.

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  20. i'm trying really hard to understand the conservative mind.


    perhaps, my conservative readers need to ask me questions?

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  21. A few more points to think about, most of which I plan to elaborate on in my own blog at some point or another:

    There is indeed already many forms of "wealth redistribution," the most insidious of which is the economic concept of cost externalization. If progressive taxation and other liberal economic measures are theft, as most economic libertarians claim, then is it not theft when the real cost of a product is externalized onto others--typically the poor in society? How is it not theft for financial services companies to privatize profit (conservatives are always talking about eliminating taxes on investment) but to seek to socialize risk (through bailouts when their own decisions brought their industries to the brink of collapse)?

    Socialism is the abolition of private property. Neither Obama nor any other Democrat (nor any real liberal of whom I'm aware) advocates that we end private property. Thus the claim that Obama is a socialist is a canard.

    Yes, social-democracy could be loosely defined as a mixed economy--taking aspects of capitalism and socialism to try to minimize the weaknesses of either.

    Sadly, none of these points tend to get through to those who will not hear.

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  22. I think that you should first figure out what your friends mean by socialism and why they consider Obama a socialist. Only then will you know what the actual issues are.

    Once you know those, then maybe some sort of dialog can take place.

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  23. Saying that socialism is actually very close to Communism is like saying that Republicanism is actually very close to fascism.

    I am firmly convinced there is something in the American psyche that is inherently classist. The poor have been so demonised - they're lazy, they're incompetent, they're morally inferior - that even poor people don't like poor people. Coupled with the myth of "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps", there is an entire segment of the population that will never be economically wealthy, but still wants to protect the economically wealthy because, hey, today I'm just an unlicensed plumber who owes a couple thousand in back taxes and police fines, but tomorrow I might have an income of a quarter of a million dollars. After years of trying to work it out, I'm still no closer to why it is that the poor and middle class in America are still so willing to screw themselves over to give the wealthy a helping hand.

    You know how this child of a public school teacher got through university without any debt? Income redistribution - my grandpa was an American farmer who made more money through farm subsidies than he ever made on the free market. I was one of the lucky ones; in my very poor town only about 5% of my graduating class was able to go on to a 4-year university or college.

    On the other hand, in socialist Australia, my husband was able to go to university because of a government scheme where they pay your tuition and you pay them back once you've established a career. His father - a farmer - never recieved a subsidy from the government because farmers just don't over here.

    Both systems are income redistribution - we both went to university because of income redistribution - but in the US system, the money is more likely to go to people who really don't need it. (Very few subsidies actually go to family farms; most are corporate farms.) Whereas, in Australia, anyone who gets the grades can expect the government to pay their way through university.

    We could also talk about health care. My grandfather, a WWII vet, got all of his medical expenses paid twice, once by Medicare and once by the VA. On the other hand, my brother-in-law, a very smart guy with a PhD in physics and a great business idea, had to stay at a mind-numbing job with very little job security purely for the health insurance - he couldn't afford to start a business and pay out of pocket for insurance for his family of 5. So, how is that encouraging innovation and business? In Australia he'd be able to quit his job, start his business, and know that the government could pay for any unforseen medical expenses - and probably also get a government grant for living expenses in the short-term.

    But hey, let's not look at the facts. Let's just say that socialism is a teensy tiny baby-step away from Communism. And if you're gullible enough to believe that - If you vote Republican, Heil McCain!

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  24. yes, djinn, that's why i asked the questions i asked.

    see, i think that socialist is just the term du jour, last week it was terrorist, next week, un-patriotic, and the week before the election,adulterer.

    it's whatever the tv/radio/magazine tells it's audience it is.

    anyways, i'm frustrated becasue i don't see what they see and i want to understand how they can support policies that actually harm them.

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  25. Socialism is practiced in the Scandinavian countries, and to a lesser extent in other european countries such as France and Germany, to a smaller extent in Great Britian and Canada. The socialist countries have the highest standards of living in the world, and the highest reported happiness ratings. You could try dropping that on your friends.

    You could also show them the Gini index, which shows how income inequality is rising in the United states, in that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and explain why this is an all-around bad idea. Countries with high concentrations of wealth in a few families are what we normally think of as third world countries, and it seems we're headed that way. There's a very simple reason for this, the more people that have money to spend, the more money gets spent, the more people work to support those services that are bought, and so forth.

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  26. it appears i have more progressive friends than conservative friends.

    please, come-out, come-out, wherever you are...

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  27. The problem is, at this particular point in time, right now, when the government just handed 700,000,000,000 to Hank Paulson and buddies to bail out his extremely wealthy friends (i.e., upper bank/investment bank/insurance management) there aren't many conservative arguments out there that you can make with a straight face.

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  28. "Socialism is practiced in the Scandinavian countries, and to a lesser extent in other european countries such as France and Germany, to a smaller extent in Great Britian and Canada. The socialist countries have the highest standards of living in the world, and the highest reported happiness ratings. You could try dropping that on your friends."

    Do you have any evidence to suggest (e.g., pre-socialist data of the same kind) to suggest that these standards of living and happiness ratings are correlated with the advent of socialist policies in these countries?

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  29. "Saying that socialism is actually very close to Communism is like saying that Republicanism is actually very close to fascism."

    Many people wouldn't disagree with that statement.

    Socialism is closer to communism on the political spectrum than any other -ism we're discussing here, or that is typically discussed in American politics. If communism is as far to the left as one can go on the political spectrum, then the various shades of socialism are the next thing to the right, if I'm not mistaken.

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  30. I disagree Steve-o. Socialism and Communism are two entirely different beasts. Deep sigh. What kind of communism? Marxism? WHere the cost of an item depends entirely on the amount of labor to make it? Leninism, where, uh Lenin wins? Please explain.

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  31. You disagree with what, djinn? I didn't say socialism and communism were the same thing. I said that socialism was the next -ism on the political spectrum, just to the right of communism. If that's not correct, I'd like to know what is correct.

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  32. whoa!

    i'm speaking of social-democracy, like in sweden, not the soviet communism of our youth.


    and what is just to the left of conservatism?

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  33. "and what is just to the left of conservatism?"

    Moderation.

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  34. For the most part, M is right. "Socialist" is just another boogieman term. It has no real meaning in the statements of most people who use it to scare people.

    The problem with rationally discussing Communism and Socialism is the striking divide between theory and application. Neither the U.S.S.R. nor Maoist China anything remotely resemble the principles of Marx.

    Putting aside such quibbles, we need to recognize that there are more than just two poles to this discussion. Not only is there the liberal/conservative poles which we are more explicitly discussing (shared versus private property). There are also the authoritarian/libertarian poles. They form a grid. Putting aside Marxist theory and the minutia of theoretical versus application, most scholars I've read say that the difference between Communism and Socialism (both nearer the liberal pole) is that Communism is in the authoritarian quadrant, while Socialism is in the libertarian quadrant. Their opposites are fascism (conservative/authoritarian) and I believe anarchist is the other (conservative/libertarian). Modern Republicanism is also in the conservative/authoritarian camp. Actually, the political spectrum in the U.S. is so compressed, that all but the most "extreme" Democrats are also in the c/a quadrant, though slightly closer to the center than their Republican peers.

    Again, that has no bearing to the use of the term socialist in everyday political discourse, where "socialist" is meant to imply "atheist-homosexual-pillaging-monster-under-the-bed-who-will-eat-your-children-if-you-don't-vote-Republican."

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  35. Very good comments, derekstaff.

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  36. cheers to derekstaff. Beautifully said.

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  37. djinn, why did you delete all of those comments?

    derek, you rock.

    steve, i assume you are a conservative, can you tell me what you think of d's comments?

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  38. mfranti, if you're referring to derekstaff's comments, I think they're 100% correct, and well written.

    I consider myself conservative for the most part, but being a Republican is not something I consider to be part of that identity. Republicans have strayed far from their conservative ideals over the last couple of decades. If you stop to think about it, it's not difficult to see how Republicans use words like "socialist" to demonize their Democratic opponents. It's not much different, in my mind, when Democrats refer to members of the Bush administration as "criminals", "thugs" and the like. Easy to demonize your opponent, and you're rarely asked to explain yourself. I consider people who hear these words and latch onto them fairly weak-minded.

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  39. 1. Barack Obama is not necessarily a socialist, but he does have socialist tenets. Identifying them as such does not necessarily call him out as a Socialist - just accurately identifies which philosophy they stem from.

    2. Yes

    3. I believe a social democracy is a mixed economy that leans more left.

    4. Socialist defines the ideal from which an idea comes from. Those of us who would prefer fewer socialist tenets in government call them socialist to identify them as such. They are undesireable to us - thus the negative connotation.

    Here is that political spectrum derekstaff was referring to. I actually come out pretty moderate. Apparently I am even more moderate than Hillary Clinton! (but it didn't actually ask her the questions. They used her statements to assume what she would say)

    I think that calling Obama a socialist is similar to calling McCain a pure capitalist (ie. no regulation whatsoever). Neither is completely accurate, but both serve the purpose of scaring people into voting for your side. On a spectrum, I would actually put pure capitalism to the far right, conservatism more toward the center, social democracy more toward the center on the other side and socialism on the far left. I agree with quimby who said communism and fascism are extremes.

    It is extremely frustrating as a conservative to have watched GWB and other Republicans market themselves as conservatives and then so fully screw over the American people with practices and programs that are NOT conservative (for example - the bailout, out of control spending, etc.). True conservatives are boiling mad over all of this. And yet, because these Republicans painted themselves as conservatives (and duped us along with everyone else), conservatives are taking the heat. I don't think anyone really understands what it means to be conservative anymore.

    mfranti, you said that you are trying really hard to understand the conservative mind. If you are interested, this article explains it well. I really couldn't have said it any better myself.

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  40. Here's an interesting take on "wealth redistribution"

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14805.html
    RNC shells out $150K for Palin's fashion

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081022/ap_on_el_pr/palin_family_travel
    Palin charges state for family travel expenses


    The Palins are worth, what, $2 to $3 million? But why should she pay for her own clothes or for her family's travel expenses when she can, you know, "redistribute" state wealth? How can the McCain campaign not see the hypocrisy?

    I'm all for a state-funded shopping trip! Who's with me?

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  41. Stephanie, which of Obama's "tenets" advocate the elimination of private property?

    BTW, you are correct that the definition of conservative has been blurred by the rise of the neocons. But don't mistake: it is the old-fashioned paleocons--the George Wills, Ron Pauls, Milton Friedmans, Grover Norquists, William Buckleys etc--who have ceaselessly called for the expansion of privatization and further deregulation so that markets would be completely unshackled. It is the old-fashioned conservatives who have paved the way with their economic theories for the rampant consumerism, materialism, selfishness, and lack of social responsibility. We've gone so far to the right side of the spectrum that modern conservatism--paleo and neo--has embraced the extreme capitalism of the right end, and the moderate position is decried as "extreme left-wing" and "socialist," as that grid indicates. It is those who call themselves conservative without understanding the true positions of the conservative leaders they follow who do not understand.

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  42. derekstaff, not all socialists advocate the complete elimination of private property. Socialism also refers to the nationalization of industries and creation of a nanny-state.

    Too bad it was Clinton who effectively dismanted the protections of the Glass-Steagall Act and Democrats who blocked Republicans from investigating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It would be nice to blame it all on the "conservatives", but "consumerism, materialism, selfishness, and lack of social responsibility" owns no party.

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  43. "Socialism also refers to the nationalization of industries and creation of a nanny-state.

    It would be nice to blame it all on the "conservatives", but "consumerism, materialism, selfishness, and lack of social responsibility" owns no party. "

    stephanie, nobody here is blaming the conservatives for this mess we are in. it's been a joint effort between the citizens and government and business. a perfect storm.

    what is a nanny state? where is obama trying to nationalize industry?

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  44. Notice that it was Democrats who aided the Republicans in dismantling the regulatory body, not liberals. You make a common mistake in conflating the two. As the grid shows, most Democrats are not really very liberal. They've largely adopted the conservative ideology which has led to those profound social, economic, and moral problems.

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  45. Nationalization of industries is indeed socialism, as it eliminates private property in certain sectors. Of course, I'm not aware of any economic sector which Obama is trying to nationalize.

    The "nanny state" is another boogieman term which has no real quantifiable meaning, and the purpose of which is only to create fear. Thus socialism refers to the nanny state to the extent that people are willing to create elastic definitions to suit their own purposes.

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  46. MFranti, I thought those deleted comments were just too mean-spirited, and so tried to write something that didn't include the word "stupid" quite so often. Do over!

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  47. derek,

    thanks for reminding me that dems are not liberals. i make that mistake too. i'm lazy i suppose.

    i think what my problem is with stephanie's pov is that liberals are trying to dismantle our country and turn it into the former soviet union.

    first of all, i can only think of one real liberal in the senate, bernie sanders (correct me if i'm wrong) and second, progressives like me and quimby and derek are only trying to make our country a better place by (wishing) for successful policies that support the citizens interests.

    and...we are not afraid. let me say that again, i am not afraid of the what if's. I am hopeful for the what could happen.

    there's an underlying current of fear in your logic stephanie and this really worries me.

    a government should be afraid of it's people, the government should be afraid of it's citizens.

    you are angry. so are a lot of middle class folk because you work so hard but can't get ahead(student loans and medical bills eat up significant portions of your income,jobs go overseas to india, etc) but you(generally speaking) are angry at the wrong things...liberals, blacks, gays, etc. you think they are taking away from you when really, it's the party you vote for. you think you are voting in your best interest for the "conservative candidate and policies" when really you are voting against your best interest. you are voting for things designed to keep the rich rich and keep you, middle class you, you in an oppressive (debt ridden) state.

    i hate to say that. i hate to insult you but it's true. the conservatives use fear and scare tactics as a billy club to get your vote. the prey on your fears and they feed them.

    instead of offering hope and faith in your country by showing you what it could become. they show you where to be afraid of "socialists, libeals, immigrants, welfare, communists, big cities, elitists [my favorite] harvard,)

    do you need a longer list?

    christ's way is the way of hope and faith. right? his gospel is about the good news, right?
    is not about fear of the unknown, rather, about hope in the good things to come. it's about love and charity and believing in what you cannot see. the saviors way, is not to beat people over the head with a bunch of scare tactics.

    this is why i cannot get on board with the conservative mindset, because it goes against what i've learned about the savior and god.

    ok. i'm tapped for now.

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  48. ps

    i am on board with fiscal conservatism but i'm a also believer in investment.

    so i believe in investing in the people with universal healthcare that cost's a lot of money up front but will pay off in the long term with better health for the citizens in the long run.

    i'm a believer in investing in our educational system...

    do i really need to explain myself here? because it all seems like commons sense to me.

    no matteer how it get spinned by the right, just plain common sense.

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  49. To be fair, I don't think Stephanie herself is only offering fear. And I think paleocons have more integrity and aren't the fearmongers that the Neocons are. Stephanie has made clear that she doesn't buy into the neocon line. The problem is simply that those who consider themselves "true" conservatives deceive themselves. They don't really understand the full scope of conservativism. Even Stephanie here has admitted on FMH that she approves of some level of social welfare (I believe it was in reference to Chandelle's situations). But the "true" conservatives, the ones I listed before, ideologically believe federal welfare circumvents the markets and should be abolished. She and other common-sense conservatives admit there needs to be regulation, but the party line on regulation is that it infringes on freedom and private property, that it hampers the market. These conservative leaders convince their followers that any mention of regulation or the public good is "socialist," all because these average, decent people have allowed themselves to be convinced that they themselves are "conservative."

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  51. i should be more fair and state that i was using a combination of stephanie and other "conservative" bloggers when i made my comments.

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  52. stephanie, nobody here is blaming the conservatives for this mess we are in. it's been a joint effort between the citizens and government and business. a perfect storm.

    As the grid shows, most Democrats are not really very liberal. They've largely adopted the conservative ideology which has led to those profound social, economic, and moral problems.

    Hence, conservatism must be the problem.

    a government should be afraid of it's people, the government should be afraid of it's citizens.

    This is and should be true, and yet I don't sense this is what is going on. When GWB and congress tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the people rose up and killed it. The first time the House tried to pass the bail-out, the people rose up, and it was defeated. The second time, it was passed because it was "necessary" because politicians and "people who know" said it was. We as a nation just ate it, and I am angry about that. This economic mess is the #1 reason why I am angry. There were a few staunch conservative Republicans in the House who held strong and voted no. But, most just rolled over.

    I'm angry at Republicans who pose as conservatives and then don't act conservative, and when things fall apart, "conservatism" gets blamed. I'm angry because most people just take what they are fed by the media and don't get what really happened in the subprime meltdown (I am working on a post about it), and, like derek, blame it on conservative principles. It was social engineering, improper deregulation, and greed. Social engineering is a product of the left, the improper deregulation was accomplished by both parties (but is a conservative principle), and greed is on the part of every dishonest and unethical person involved. The fact that conservatism is taking the fall, and that liberalism somehow is going to make it all better, makes me angry. The fact that supposedly Democrats are going to save the day with more social engineering just makes me laugh.

    so are a lot of middle class folk because you work so hard but can't get ahead(student loans and medical bills eat up significant portions of your income,jobs go overseas to india, etc) but you(generally speaking) are angry at the wrong things...liberals, blacks, gays, etc. you think they are taking away from you when really, it's the party you vote for. you think you are voting in your best interest for the "conservative candidate and policies" when really you are voting against your best interest. you are voting for things designed to keep the rich rich and keep you, middle class you, you in an oppressive (debt ridden) state.

    This isn't really true (particularly the part about blacks and gays - I just find that offensive). Yes, I am angry at the Republican party. No question the Republican party has screwed me over. But, they didn't screw me over with conservative policies - they screwed me over by NOT acting conservative. And that is why I am so angry. The bailout and economic aftermath is what has put me over the edge. These are not conservative principles - they are socialist. "Conservative on the way up, socialist on the way down". I think it ought to be conservative on the way down, too. Let the wrongdoers eat their own lunch.

    You both bristle at me conflating liberal with Democrat and yet you conflate Republican with conservative no problem.

    I have hope and faith in the gospel, but not in the government.

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  53. But Stephanie, countries with lots of what you call social regulation work really really well. People have higher standards of living, get healthcare, are happier. Why, if it's so bad?

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  54. Social welfare actually benefits the economy. Consider that the basis of the economy in the Western world is now consumerism (not production, not innovation, pure old spending money).

    1. Welfare payments give more money to poor people, who are more likely to have to spend the bulk of it, thus contributing more money to the economy. Whereas, wealthy people are able to save/invest/etc, which does very little (relatively speaking) to stimulate the economy.

    2. Money spent on health care by the government frees up more money for the citizens to spend on other things. Not to mention, study after study also shows that government-funded healthcare is much more cost-effecient than the US system, not only for the government but also for the people. (Americans spend something like $1 in every $6 on health care. That's not good for the economy.)

    3. Having confidence that the government will be there with a safety net in times of financial hardship means that individual people can continue spending instead of retreating from consumerism.

    And for those of us who don't need or want to spend every cent we get, social welfare programs help expand our bank accounts, giving a nice cushion for unforseen expenses or allowing us to save for the full cost of expensive purchases without having to assume debt - which benefits the economy when everything goes belly-up and debt is no longer widely or cheaply available.

    Regulation and yes, even nationalisation of certain industries can also be beneficial. Personally I feel that every country should have one nationalised bank. Because this bank will not be commercial there will be no stock-holders which means that it won't be as competitive, and most people will probably choose to remain with a commercial, non-nationalised bank because the services or costs will be better; but having a nationalised bank would provide some safeguards to the rest of the banking system and (hopefully) keep some checks and balances on the financial system.

    The bail out was necessary. (When the market crashed in 1929 only 2% of Americans had stocks and look at the chaos that caused.) But it should have come with more of a buy-in for the government, so that we, the taxpayers (or rather, you the taxpayers, I have to file US taxes but don't earn enough to pay them on my foreign-earned income) would actually get something back eventually, rather than just be in the red. Look at the Swedish example in the early 1990s.

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  55. wealthy people are able to save/invest/etc, which does very little (relatively speaking) to stimulate the economy

    I don't agree. My husband's salary is paid by wealthy investors. Wealthy investors are the ones who enabled "poor" people to purchase homes using subprime mortgages. Wealthy people rarely just stick their money somewhere where it isn't used. They are the ones who fund start-ups. These "rich" small business owners making more than $250K/year likely reinvest a good portion of that profit to grow their businesses, which means that they can hire more people and offer more benefits.

    Money spent on health care by the government frees up more money for the citizens to spend on other things.

    How? Money spent by the government = money spent by taxpayers. If you think "the citizens" are going to have more money to pay for other things because the government is paying for their healthcare, then you make the assumption that someone else's tax dollars are paying for their healthcare.

    I think that a number of other systems would be more cost-effective for the government and American people than what we have now. Eliminating HMOs would be a good place to start.

    Having confidence that the government will be there with a safety net in times of financial hardship means that individual people can continue spending instead of retreating from consumerism.

    This is a VERY socialist idea. The idea that the government will save you. That "someone else" has your back. How is the government going to save you? How is it going to have your back? By taking that money from someone else. Why should someone else be responsible for saving for your emergencies?

    And for those of us who don't need or want to spend every cent we get, social welfare programs help expand our bank accounts, giving a nice cushion for unforseen expenses or allowing us to save for the full cost of expensive purchases without having to assume debt

    I don't really understand this at all. How do social welfare programs expand our ability to spend? If they are paid for by our own taxes, then they don't. It's just a shift in who is paying the bill when. However, if you assume that someone else is paying for those programs, then that would leave you with more in your pocket.

    I have a hard time with the idea that someone else should pay for my welfare. I should be responsible for my own welfare.

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  56. Stephanie, you are working on the assumption that taxation elsewhere works like taxation in the US. It doesn't. My overall tax burden here is less than it would be in the US with the same income. The top taxable rate here is only slightly less than the top taxable rate in the US, and when you add in other American taxes (state, payroll, property, certain capital gains taxes, etc., which we don't pay here), it is probably the same or less for most tax payers. Thus, the average person doesn't pay more in taxes, but gets more from their taxes.

    How does this work? Quite simply, because we are not a superpower. I was thoroughly trashed and accused of being anti-American on fMh for suggesting that the US shouldn't be a superpower but I stand by that: A superpower must spend far too much money on the military-industrial complex which leaves less money to be spent on the general well-being of its citizenry. Do away with superpower status and all of the worry that comes with it (namely, worry that you MUST stay on top, which means you MUST spend more on military, etc.), you have more money to spread around to the people - thus increasing their standard of living (the US actually rates fairly average in international indices for standard of living - refer to the UNDP reports).

    Yes, it's "spreading the wealth." But is that a bad thing? Already in the US we "spread the wealth", we just spread it up (to major military industrial companies like Haliburton, to investment firms, etc.) instead of across.

    You are saying, "Every man for himself!" I think that's a sad way to live. We are a community. We are all in this together. Why is it a bad thing to help each other out, to rise up together rather than to create these pockets of wealth and opportunity that allow a few people to rise to the top while the rest struggle down below?

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  57. Quimby, the federal government expanding its control and taxation will not elimiate the local and state taxes in the U.S. I told you on fmh that I could see your point with a system that works more like Australia, but the U.S. doesn't.

    No, I am not arguing every man for himself. I am arguing that the government does not need to take from one man to provide for another man. That does not create community.

    Look - ideally, I am for the United Order - the law of consecration. But, I am not for it as a government system until Christ reigns. Under Christ's rule, if everyone is honest and ethical charitable, it really wouldn't matter if we had socialism, capitalism or even communism. However, given the dishonesty and greed and general idleness of the natural man, I think that capitalism (with proper regulations) protects individuals from the dishonesty, greed and general idleness of other individuals better than socialism does. I think socialism is more oppressive because the ability to concentrate power is more readily available.

    Personally, I have covenanted to live the law of consecration, and I do.

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  58. Wait - You can actually sit there with a straight face, considering the financial upheavel of the past few weeks which was caused largely by deregulation, and say that it PROTECTS people better?

    There is really no response. None. If you honestly believe that, in light of all of the evidence to the contrary, particularly considering the past few weeks - You are simply being an ostrich.

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  59. So, my pov is that capitalism (with proper regulations) is the best system to benefit individuals. Granted, we have A LOT of problems in the U.S. right now, but I don't think they are the result of capitalism. They are the result of improper government interference (HMOs were enabled by government legislation and have ruined our healthcare system, the government lowered the requirements for mortgages as a way to "help" poor people and opened the door to all sorts of dishonest and unsavory characters to exploit the system). We need change. But, I think that change is government acting in its proper role - not taking over everything.

    You appear to feel that socialism is the best system to benefit individuals. I understand your arguments, but I disagree. I still respect you and your opinion, but I just don't think that socialism offers enough protection to the individual.

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  60. Quimby, I didn't say that a completely unregulated market protects people better. I said that capitalism with proper regulation (to provide the protection against dishonesty) protects people better. And, yes, I can say that with a straight face.

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  61. HMOs were enabled by government legislation and have ruined our healthcare system, the government lowered the requirements for mortgages as a way to "help" poor people and opened the door to all sorts of dishonest and unsavory characters to exploit the system)

    our heathcare is the mess it is because the ins co and drug co's own the legislators. there's too much profit in healthcare.

    omg! i don't even know where to start.

    and please stop saying it was poor people who defaulted, there are plenty of high end homes up on the auction block these days.

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  62. In the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, it was actually the Republicans asking for more regulatory oversight, and the Democrats who were mocking them (because it would interfere with their social engineering). However, look who is taking the fall: the Republicans. It is mind-boggling.

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  63. Stephanie, one of these days, when I have some free time and could be bothered, I'm going to look up some stats to disprove your whole "poor people caused this problem" theory. My guess is, you'll find that poor people are actually very good at repaying their mortgages (decades of experience in microfinancing in the developing world shows, for instance, that poor people are much better at repaying their loans than wealthy people in the developed world) and that the bulk of the problem was caused by middle class or upper class people who borrowed heavily and continually on their properties (eg, "Oh, well, I'm $100,000 in debt, but it doesn't matter, I'll just take out a third mortgage.")

    Poor people aren't the enemy. It's sad that you seem to think they are.

    Governments have an incentive to care for me. After all, if they don't, I can vote them out of office. That's the brilliance of the system - they don't care for me, I can tell them exactly what I think of them.

    Bankers and capitalists, on the other hand - no incentive. They don't have to care about me and I have no recourse if they totally screw me over.

    So, yeah, I trust Government before I trust Big Business.

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  64. mfranti, I'm not blaming the poor people. The standards being lowered, coupled with deregulation, allowed other people to overextend themselves. Improper regulation in the securities market (enabling credit swaps) is what really brought the whole thing down because the mortgages themselves were not sound. But, it was the Democrats who lowered the standards with the intent to "help" people. It didn't go so well.

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  65. you might need an education in credit default swaps and the totally underground betting that was going on.

    "this american life" did a really good peice on it. look it up online.

    did you forget about bush's "ownership society"?

    just because teh dems pushed for lax regulation to help poor folks, ultimately, it was the lenders that agreed to give them a 250k loan with a 40k income.

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  66. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/08/20040809-9.html

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  67. Yes, Stephanie, conservativism is indeed part of the problem, because at root it does not believe in protecting the disadvantaged from exploitation from the powerful. You don’t support “every man for himself,” but conservativism very plainly does. It is inherently darwinist: pay the minimum possible, keep the most possible for yourself. You try to deflect blame by saying it isn’t conservativism which is the problem, but instead greed. The reality is that conservativism is based on greed. Rand wrote a book entitled The Virtue of Selfishness. Friedman insisted that corporations had no responsibility aside from maximizing shareholder value. Paleocon author Neil Boortz has as his motto “Avaritia est bonum.” Translated from Latin: greed is good. They are one and the same. And not just among the Neocons who dominate the Republican party today. I understand and respect the fact that you are not affiliated with the Republicans, nor did I ever claim you were. I appreciate the fact that you do not approve of the Neocon crony capitalism or corporate welfare. But you have been deceived about “true” conservativism. the respected “true” conservatives I mentioned in my prior comment, as well as those I examples I showed above show that the “true” conservative agenda is itself morally bankrupt and the root of the “improper deregulation and greed.”

    Risking a threadjack here, but I can’t let this go. What exactly is social engineering? If social engineering is the use of government power to try to direct the path of culture and society, then conservatives are every bit as guilty of social engineering as liberals. Think their efforts to use government to stem the tide of acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual relationships (criminalizing sodomy, banning homosexual marriage). If you want to believe homosexual activity is sinful, fine. But if you’re honest, you will admit that is every bit as much social engineering as anything liberals have done.

    Since you made the common conservative implication about progressive policies being “stealing” from someone to give to another, I’m going to bring up economic externalities again. If you regulate to prevent that externalization, conservatives cry about private property rights and liberty. If you force the externalizers to pay for those costs, they talk about government theft. And if you sue the externalizers, they cry tort reform. What does conservative theory propose to do about those who externalize the cost of their activities on others?

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  68. Fine, derekstaff, then I'm not a "true" conservative.

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  69. Quimby, the federal government expanding its control and taxation will not elimiate the local and state taxes in the U.S.

    Stephanie - That's irrelevant. I am advocating redirecting funds that are currently going to the military industrial complex (a large percentage of which are going to private contracters - there's that income redistribution again!) and moving those funds out of the hands of those private contractors and into the hands of individual people (via tax reform, social benefits, health care, etc.)

    You might argue, "But the private contractors provide jobs." But in response I would argue, "But isn't that socialism? Aren't you conservative types all for keeping more money in the hands of the people?"

    Peace begets prosperity.

    And Derek, a huge thank you for the very valid point that conservatives practice "social engineering" too.

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  70. Stephanie, I’d daresay that the pov of everyone here is that capitalism with proper regulation is the best solution. Nobody here I know of lives on a collective and has given up property. But the agenda of the “true” conservatives would dismantle that proper regulation. If we follow them, we’ll end up in a very precarious state.

    The only action Republican’s wanted regarding Fannie/Freddy was investigations into whether or not there was improper and even illegal connections between Democrats or the Democratic party and F/F. I believe that would have been a valid investigation, and I’m disgusted Democrats fought it. But lets not pretend that a political investigation was a call for regulation. Two entirely different things.

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  71. Here's a pretty good (opinion) article that says the same thing I am trying to say (more eloquently) - it wasn't capitalism that caused this financial mess. It was improper regulation.

    If there is a term like social democrat for someone like mfranti who prefers a mixed economy leaning toward socialism, is there a term for someone like me who prefers a mixed economy leaning toward capitalism? Or is that just conservative?

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  72. There is such a term.

    Its liberal.

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  73. So who is a "true conservative" running for office who advocates completely dismanting all regulations?

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  74. Well, I'm not liberal, so there must be another term.

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  75. I am advocating redirecting funds that are currently going to the military industrial complex (a large percentage of which are going to private contracters - there's that income redistribution again!) and moving those funds out of the hands of those private contractors and into the hands of individual people (via tax reform, social benefits, health care, etc.)

    Actually, I wouldn't mind reducing military expenditures and returning that back to the people who paid the taxes to support it.

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  76. Saying that it was improper regulation rather than capitalism which caused the economic crisis is like saying that it wasn't the lion which caused people to be eaten at the zoo, but rather the unlocked doors.

    The lion is going to hunt. That is what it does. Lets not allow the conservatives continue to tell us that all our problems will be solved if we just stop putting those pesky bars in the way.

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  77. derek, so you completely reject capitalism?

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  78. Bob Barr and Ron Paul both advocate deregulation. Many of McCain's advisors are avid deregulators. Most of the Utah Republican Party are deregulators (except when mining disasters make mine regulation politically expedient, or when it comes to alcohol). And the great majority of conservative pundits, think-tanks, and advocacy groups advocate deregulation.

    Why aren't you liberal? Because liberals are socialist boogiemen?

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  79. I already said I believe in using capitalism. I just believe it should be properly caged, and that pretending capitalism untamed is the answer to everything is amoral and disastrous.

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  80. That is a good question, derek, and I'd like to answer it after I take care of these kids I have neglected all afternoon.

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  81. Oh, come on, Stephanie, you're going to tell me that real world family is more important than our pontification and virtual posturing?! Where are your priorities?
    ;)

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  82. I, for one, am enjoying all this pontification and posturing, even if I can't keep up with it. I don't think I've ever seen so many replies to a blog post.

    I agree with most of what Stephanie has said, by the way. Her understanding of the mortgage situation is similar to my own.

    I'm now running for the hills so the evil socialists won't find me.

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  83. See, we're not so far off, you and I - we both believe that tax funds should go to the people; it's just that I believe they should be redistributed via social programs and you believe they should be redistributed via lower taxes.

    So, why do I believe in social programs?

    Part of it is just plain economy of scale - If you have socialised medicine, the government, through its sheer bulk, can buy in vast discount and pass it on to the consumer. For an example look at the French system for prescription drugs - the same drugs that cost an American $200 or $300, cost a French person $5 or $10 (if that). Why? Because the French government demands it: "We will do business with you but only if you give it to us at this rate." And because of the bulk involved in the sale, the pharma company finds it is still well worthwhile. So, by putting us all under the same umbrella, costs per individual go down while the amount of money that the average individual pays for their health insurance (via taxation instead of out of pocket or via copay arrangements) generally either remains the same or goes down.

    Part of is because I'm a touchy-feely Commie and I think people deserve a fair go: By providing across the board social programs (which the US already does to some extent - see public education) you level the playing field. I think this is particularly important for children: Children should not be punished (via poor education, poor health care, etc.) because of their parents' poverty. It is beyond heartless to look at a family that is living at or below the poverty line and say, "I don't really care that you can't go to the doctor when your child breaks his leg, it's really none of my business." But that is what the American system does to families every single day. You might say - "But I don't. If I know a family that needs help, I help them." Well, good for you. But what about all the families you don't know? Who is looking out for them?

    If we really believe that families are the fundamental building block of society, why are we spending so much time trying to tear down family structres we don't agree with, instead of trying to build up all families? Why are we wasting millions of dollars fighting against something as trivial as gay marriage, while we let entire families starve or go without adequate medical care? It's insane.

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  84. Okay, here is what I most identify with: Libertarian conservatism.

    This describes how I feel: "the tension between liberty and morality" . . . Conservatives hold that shared values, morals, standards, and traditions are necessary for social order while libertarians consider individual liberty as the highest value.

    I believe in as much individual liberty as possible with as little governmnet intervention as possible. The reasons I can't be a true libertarian are 1. Government's role is to protect its citizens (either from outside forces or just protecting one citizen from another. This includes laws concerning conduct, proper regulation on markets, etc.) and 2. I don't think that all the liberties of adults are in the best interests of children, so I feel that we adults need to sacrifice some of our liberties to protect and provide opportunities to children to maximize their individual liberties.

    The main reasons I don't feel I can't be a modern liberal in the United States are:
    1. American liberalism seeks to use the power of the state to effect change upon society. Liberals want a lot more government involvement than I want. I don't think government's role is to effect change - mainly because that change isn't agreed upon by everyone and often is in contrast to what I feel is right.

    2. [American liberalism] is distinguished from classic liberalism and libertarianism, which also claim freedom as their primary goal, in its insistence upon the inclusion of the right of a citizen to the necessities of life, and in a broader definition of equality. This sounds good on the surface, but this is where I find American liberalism to be a slippery slope. I think that liberals define the "necessities" of life more generously than I do. I don't the government needs to provide a minimum standard of living for everyone, and I don't agree with "spreading the wealth around".

    3. In late 20th century and early 21st century political discourse in the United States, "liberalism" has come to mean support for freedom of speech, separation of church and state, reproductive rights for women, civil liberties, equal rights for gay people, a welcoming attitude to immigrants, equal rights for the disabled, and multilateralism and international institutions. Many of these are "buzz words". Freedom of speech is used to protect things like public libraries not being able to block pornography so that children can access it. Separation of church and state is used to try to remove God from everything. Reproductive rights for women is used to justify abortion as a means of birth control. A welcoming attitude toward immigrants is used to not stop illegal immigration. These aren't all things I support.

    Some of the other positions of modern liberals (progressives) that I don't support are the idea of a "living constitution", single-payer universal health care, extreme environmentalism, federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, affirmative action, excessive gun control (I am okay with outlawing automatic weapons).

    In practical application (just from observations of talking with liberals and conservatives), I see some differences:
    1. Conservatives (or libertarian conservatives) are concerned with the individual - what is the best choice for the individual to ensure individual freedoms? Liberls are concerned with society as a whole - what is in the best interest of society, even if it limits individual freedoms?
    2. Conservatives expect to be responsible for themselves. If they fall, they expect they will have to pick themselves back up. Liberals expect society to be responsible for themselves. If the fall, they expect society will be there to pick them up (or they want to work toward a society that does).

    Overall, mfranti, it seems that the things that bothers you the most is this "fear" I have. Why am I afraid of liberals gaining control of all 3 branches of government? This is why: American liberalism seeks to use the power of the state to effect change upon society . Of course liberals want to use the government to effect the change that they feel is in the best interest of society, but I don't agree with many of these changes. So, the idea that a group of people could gain power and use the government to make changes that I think are wrong scares me. I prefer the libertarian conservative approach that individual liberty is the highest value - except that we need a few shared values, morals, traditions to maintain social order. So, the government's role is not to effect change but to preserve liberty.

    (And I readily recognize that my position on same sex marriage seems to run counter-intuitive to that. This is one of those areas where I feel the tension between liberty and morality.)

    Stephanie

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  85. I'm afraid this might be a thread-jack in and of itself, but there were a few things I read that gave me pause.

    The first is the "myth" of "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps". I am actually one of those cases.

    Admittedly I can't relate to the absolute poorest part of the population, thanks to the Bishop's storehouse I never starved as a kid, and thanks to my grandparents I always had a coat, but growing up there was not enough money for us to really live a comfortable life. My father was constantly laid off by the companies he worked for and my mom made peanuts at her job. I got a job delivering papers at 14 and with the exception of my mission (thanks ward donors for helping finance that) I have had a job ever since. Through the use of student loans I was able to obtain a master's degree and I have a decent job.

    My issue with wealth redistribution is that I did not and am not working 60+ hour weeks to give my money to someone else. Aside from church-related welfare, I have not taken a hand out. I figure my obligation to the government for loaning me funds is repaid through the interest they charge me on the loans. Since we make most of our decisions based on personal experience, I lean fiscally conservative in my political choices as that is how I've had to live my life.

    I also wanted to comment on Quimby's pollyanna statements regarding Australia. I served my mission in Australia and have first hand experience dealing with many of its social classes. At the time I was there, there was rampant unemployment.

    I personally spoke with several small business owners who were voluntarily closing their doors because they were going to make more money on the dole than if they stayed in business. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Howard government.

    The medical treatment we received there was not what we would get in America, and that may be because we weren't Australian citizens.

    I think it's less to do with the lack of super power status that makes Australia seem to run so well than it is the abundance of natural resources.

    Don't get me wrong, I still call Australia home and I will always overlook its citizens' foibles, but it's not exactly the model of social democracy Quimby makes it out to be.

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  86. Yes, Anon., your 2 years mission experience serving a mission in Australia sure beats my 12 years experience studying, working, and living here.

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  87. Anon, I appreciate your alternative view. Thanks for sharing. I'm wondering what you think non-LDS people should do in your parents' situation, since they were able to rely on Church welfare for help. You had the Church's help in financially supporting you while growing up and in supporting you on a mission, but if you hadn't had that help do you think you would have turned out as you did today? What should be done for people who need that kind of help but don't have the support of a church?

    - Jessica

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  88. You know, Anon. I have several problems with what you said:

    1. You mentioned the "Howard government" which leads me to believe you served your mission sometime in the past 12 to 13 years, when he was PM. Thing is, in that period, unemployment in Australia has never been above about 8%. It's incredibly difficult to measure unemployment accurately from one country to another because each country uses a vastly different system of measurement, but 8% is certainly not "rampant". In fact, one quick google search shows that the current US unemployment rate is about 7.6%; and most economists who study these things agree that the US unemployment rate is always underreported compared to other OECD nations.

    2. The only thing I said in my statements that mentioned Australia specifically was the HECS scheme for tertiary education; and I only gave a very brief factual outline of what it does. Are you disputing what I said? Having studied in Australia, and having a husband who studied in Australia, and currently having a niece and nephew studying in Australia under the same scheme, I dare say I know a teeeeeeensy bit more about it than you do.

    3. I really didn't go into the health system at all. But, you know, if you wanna, I'll go there - as will 93% of Australians, who are satisfied with health care in this country. (I dare say the US figure wouldn't be more than, what, 55%, since a full 45% of people don't actually have health insurance.) There is a high prevalence in my family of a certain birth defect which, if left untreated, leads to moderate to severe mobility problems. US diagnostic testing for this defect includes putting the infants' feet together - if they go together, the common wisdom is the child is fine. Australian diagnostic testing for this defect includes an ultrasound - and it's a damned good thing because my baby's feet went together quite easily, but she still had the condition. So, yeah, considering she's now a fully mobile toddler in large part because of treatment she recieved in Australia that she wouldn't have recieved in the US, I'll take the Australian system.

    4. You mentioned shop-keepers closing up shop to go on unemployment. That may well be the reason they gave; but considering unemployment payments now (not however many years ago when you were serving your mission) are about $200 a week (while full-time minimum wage payments are about $400 a week), I'd say their businesses were already in pretty big trouble. Because, really, $200 a week? Who's going to close a profitable business for that? You can survive on it but you certainly wouldn't choose to.

    5. Again, I reiterate: I never claimed Australia was a "model of social democracy". I much prefer the Scandanavian system, but since I haven't lived there and I have lived in the US and in Australia, I'm comparing what I know.

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  89. Sorry - it's actually 15% of Americans that don't have health insurance, not 45% - Which is still too bloody high as far as I'm concerned, but then, you know us Commie types, we actually believe that health care is a right not a privelege. (You know, kind of in keeping with the idea of having a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" - Pretty hard to have a right to "life" if you don't have a right to the things you need to keep that life going . . .)

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  90. I found this article which I thought was quite relevant to the discussion at hand:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/michaeltomasky/2008/oct/23/barackobama-johnmccain

    It references this article, from - of all things - a Murdoch-owned paper:

    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/opinion/op_ed/view/2008_10_22_We_can_t_afford_McCain_s_tax_cuts/srvc=home&position=recent

    A passage:

    In a recent talk, former Gov. Mike Dukakis observed that most people used their federal tax rebates last spring mainly to pay down credit card debt. Much of what they did buy was probably made in Asia, he added. So the rebate had little impact on the U.S. economy.

    Hard-pressed states, on the other hand, would spend their share of a fiscal relief package right here at home and, as Dukakis points out, we’d have something tangible like better bridges to show for it.

    This is a particularly good time for states to invest in college buildings, school construction and infrastructure. With the housing market collapse, bids on public construction are likely to come in low. Massachusetts alone has 534 structurally deficient bridges and a big backlog of long-postponed projects at state colleges.

    Last spring’s federal income tax rebates totaled $140 billion. Massachusetts’ population-weighted share of a package this size would be $3 billion - enough to avoid last week’s cuts and repair almost half those bridges.

    John McCain’s across-the-board spending freeze would rule out increased aid to states. Instead, he proposes major cuts in the capital gains taxes. But there’s no evidence that low taxes lead to economic growth.


    When the Murdoch press starts saying that taxation can be a good thing - Wow.

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  91. Ah. The links didn't work. Go to www.thedailybeast.com, it's #9 on their Cheat Sheet.

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  92. Hmm. I actually agree with Dukakis, although not necessarily for the same reason. I opposed the tax "rebate" because it wasn't actually a rebate for most people (including me) - it was just money taken from someone else and given to me. I didn't feel good about that. But, I agree with Dukakis that we need to spend more money where money is needed.

    I just read Obama's site where he talks about fiscal responsibility. mfranti, I daresay, between FD's post and Obama's claim that he will reduce the national debt, I just might be feeling a little more comfortable and a little less scared.

    One of the things that has just killed me about GWB and Republicans the last 8 years is how they ran up the national debt during such prosperous times. Cutting taxes but then increasing debt because you just keep spending like a madman is not a good plan (particularly when it has been used to fund things like the Iraq war instead of health care for children). Yikes! Did I just say that? I am starting to sound like Quimby . . .

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  93. That's okay, Stephanie, come over to my place tonight and join me for a nice serving of baby toes . . .

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  94. Ahhh, the libertarian argument. What a bunch of idiots. Trying my hardest to get along as usual. The modern world is composed of a very complex web of rules, regulations, and taxes -- always teetering. One push--like is happening now--blame on Greenspan and Gramm--and it can go down in flames. You don't like government, perhaps you should move to some friendly country without one, like Liberia or Malawi or Afghanistan. Get a frickin' clue people! These are incredibly important issues. You don't want your kids to starve to death,, then learn some real economics. We're all in it together and Government costs money. Pay your taxes gratefully or move to some place (such as those I already suggested) that won't put such burdens on you, but might kill you moments after entry. If you don't believe me listen to Alan Greenspan's mea culpa. What a tremendously wealthy fool.

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  95. "In a recent talk, former Gov. Mike Dukakis observed that most people used their federal tax rebates last spring mainly to pay down credit card debt. Much of what they did buy was probably made in Asia, he added. So the rebate had little impact on the U.S. economy."

    Goods don't have to be made here to have a positive impact on the U.S. economy. Consider the logistics and transportation companies who move goods around. Consider the retailers who sell these goods. Consider the fact that having cheaper goods for sale means that people can buy more of what they want/need. There are positives for the buyers, the sellers and those who enable sales in this equation. Millions of Americans work in these industries, and Dukakis is either ignorant of this fact or doesn't feel that retail is as noble a sector of the economy as manufacturing.

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  96. Okay,Stephanie, responses to why you’re not a liberal:

    Re: point 1

    If you support gay marriage amendments, then you are also trying to use government power to change society. As I noted earlier, gay marriage bans are just as much “social engineering” as anything liberals do. Using government to prevent change in society is itself change.

    re: point 2

    Yes, we do believe in helping the disadvantaged, a responsibility well attested in virtually all religious scripture. We are commanded to “share the wealth.” The dog-eat-dog philosophies of conservativism and libertarianism is not so well marked.

    re: point 3

    Buzz words like “pro-life” and “family values?” Oh yea, those are another side’s buzz words...

    That is a lie that liberals don’t allow libraries to restrict porn (I work in a library in a liberal city and with a largely liberal staff and library board; we do not allow porn to be viewed on our computers, and the computers). It is also a untrue that liberals are trying to remove God from everything; conservatives seem incapable of recognizing the difference between separating Church and State to keep both strong and “removing God from everything.” Allowing the two to mingle perverts both. Keep an eye on my blog for a longer dissertation on that.

    Regarding your “practical applications”:

    If Conservatives are so concerned with individual liberty over social, why do they want to restrict freedom of conscience (mingling government and religion, interfering on marriage issues)? They are just as willing to restrict individual liberty when they feel social well being aside.

    Putting that hypocrisy aside, lets stop making such artificial distinctions as those you listed: We need to recognize both the importance of individual liberty and social well-being. Both are important for a vibrant society.

    Your line about people being responsible for themselves is short-sighted. We are all interconnected and interdependent. We are, according to virtually all world scriptures, our brother’s keeper. I’m not impressed by an ideology under which we should only be concerned about ourselves. You yourself have admitted that we should help others, and yet you support an ideology which says we should not. Why not ditch the cognitive dissonance and embrace an ideology which accepts the responsibility to help others and recognizes that we all benefit when we lift up the downtrodden?

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  97. Did Stephanie just say that? That's it, I'm sending out our crack team of socialsit missionaries to strike while the iron is hot. I don't want you listening to Fox News before we can get you fully indoctrinated!

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  98. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism

    hmmm...you might have "liberal" in your ideas after all,stephanie.

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  99. we love stepahnie!

    cos she's so willing to engage and think.

    we love her for that. yay

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  100. Jessica-Marie, your question about those who do not have access to religious charities (like the bishop's storehouse) is well worth considering. It is also worth considering whether "faith-based" charities actually can cope with all the needs of society. I know some Utah conservatives who insist that Utah's religious communities can handle the welfare load, given the prominence of the LDS Church. Given that Utah had the fifth highest rate of households suffering food insecurity in the U.S. (2006 statistics), I doubt it. The reality is that while religious charities did a marvelous job taking care of what we now call welfare in the early history of the U.S, the industrial revolution created upheaval in the social system and the distribution of wealth. Religious charities have never shown any evidence of being able to cope with the human costs of that upheaval. Only government has the power to restrain the excesses of capitalism (externalization on the environment, workers, and public) in a post-industrial, corporate economy.

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  101. derek, you reminded me that my home puter was too slow last night to reply to jessica.

    jessica, you ask a great question. i'm one of those people that used state assistance and some church assistance during those scary days after i moved to utah.

    perhaps, i could write down my thoughts as a reformed "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of person.

    some of us need help at times and it doesn't make sense to me that some "charity" or church is going to solve the problem. for a few, sure, for the many, no.

    hmmm...i have more thoughts than i thought i did.

    get back later.

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  102. Because, derekstaff, I would rather start with the side I embrace more fully and work within that framework to accomplish what I feel is right (some call this a "common sense conservative" but usually use it in a derisive manner) rather than embrace a side with so many things I disagree with and try to effect change there.

    Thanks, mfranti. I'll go ahead and assume you are sincere and aren't just trying to get me to "keep playing" after djinn just called me an idiot.

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  103. hmmm..i missed djinn's comments.

    i will say i'm a bit put off by them but...i don't think they were directed at you personally.

    djinn-be nice. minds wont change if you call them stupid.

    lovehugskisses all around. even to those that disagree with me.

    mmmmmmwwwwwwwaaaaaa

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  104. Socialism is something that we've debated about at length, especially on Politicalds. Right, Stephanie? :) I'll just sum up my thoughts here.

    I consider myself to be a democratic socialist. It's the system I've always lived under and it's the best I've seen yet in this world. It's not perfect, but I feel it provides the best stability, safety, and opportunities for a society, while not infringing on rights and freedoms. I know that most conservatives disagree with that, since they view their tax dollars being pooled into "spreading the wealth around" or towards something such as health care as an infringement on their personal freedoms.

    There are greedy, money-hungry people in socialist countries as well, believe me. It's certainly not just in the US. The way I look at it, people should be able to do what they want with their paycheque. But a socialist system -- the modern, democratic form that we see being implemented in Canada and Europe today and NOT the USSR or North Korea -- is the best way to ensure that my fellow countrymen's greed won't have the power to take away my right to see a doctor, get paid sick leave, maternity leave, or the opportunity to go to college, among other things.

    I'm not a political scientist and I'm not real good at analyzing all the technical details of each different form of gov't. You can easily complicate it, but I just focus on what works. Socialism, when it's done right, works. And every single person benefits from it, from cradle to grave. The standard of living and quality of life in the countries that have it are living proof of that.

    Honestly, this whole "Obama is a socialist" hype makes Europeans raise their eyebrows. We're certainly long past any fear about the socialist system that we live under. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Our system in Norway may need some tweaking here and there, but there ain't too much that's broken. But I think that a lot of Americans are starting to wonder if their system isn't in need of some major repairs. Honestly, though, I can't imagine the US become a socialist country anytime soon, even if Obama turns out to be Karl Marx. There's still way too much fear and opposition among the general public to make it work.

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  105. FD, thanks for your thoughts. You live under a social-democracy, one of the best in the world, i'd say you know what you are talking about.

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  106. a socialist system -- the modern, democratic form that we see being implemented in Canada and Europe today and NOT the USSR or North Korea -- is the best way to ensure that my fellow countrymen's greed won't have the power to take away my right to see a doctor, get paid sick leave, maternity leave, or the opportunity to go to college, among other things.

    Brilliant way to put it, dissident. And it should be noted that this form of socialism you're talking about is not truly socialism--it is capitalism with plenty of checks balances.

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  107. why didn't i post this on fmh?

    i'm a chicken? yeah. that's it. a chicken.

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  108. Even from the early days of the country, public money went towards charities which provided what we would term "welfare". These groups were generally started by women - often by wives of Presidents or Congressmen, who would then lobby Congress for funding to provide food, clothing, housing, etc. to the poor, widowed, orphaned, etc.

    So, welfare - at least in the US - has never been the sole domain of religion or private donations. Government has always played a role.

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  109. Djinn here, I heard, through the ether, that my name was being used in vain. Where, Stephanie, did I call you an idiot? (In a current comment.) I explained that the deleted comments were too mean-spirited; so please don't hold me guilty for the invisible. If you are referring to my comment that libertarianism isn't a philosiphy that works in the modern world, please reference Alan Greenspan's comments over these last few days where he said, blatantly, that he was wrong wrong wrong, and compainies would not regulate themselves, rather the top tier would skim off all the profit and leave the carcass for the rest of us to deal with. This has been known for centuries. It even has a name, the tragedy of the commons.

    if you do not wish for me to comment on your blog, Mfranti, just ask.

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  110. Stephanie, I did not realize you took my libertarian ccomment so much to heart, but coupled with the Greenspan Mea Culpa, it was too much for my evil heart to pass by. Please feel free to call me idiotic as much as you desire; however, a bit of evidence would be a nice dressing. One two three go!

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  111. Also notice my current avatar is a rat. A rat with a loverly pearl necklace, but still a rat. Feel free to speculate.

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  112. Quimby (and others of similar political persuasions), what do you think of this? It doesn't make me too keen on adopting universal healthcare like Australia has.

    djinn, I might have taken that idiot comment a little too personal. I apologize.

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  113. Stephanie, everyone is appalled at that decision. But it's worth keeping in mind this was an immigration decision - I doubt the decision would be any different in the US, even without subsidised medicine. (American rules for immigration are much tougher than Australian rules for immigration, and the US also has a health component that must be met.) It's also worth remembering that this decision is under review and almost everyone seems to think it will be reversed and this doctor and his family will be able to stay.

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