Why Liberals Make Me Crazy

Does anyone else have this autonomic reaction? Every time I find myself discussing something with a liberal an involuntary shudder courses through my body. Oh, I don’t mean classic liberals or liberal in the sense of open minded. I mean contemporary political liberals.

Part of it is that liberals are genetically wired to be annoying. They might insist that it is not so much genetics as it is an inescapable result of their childhood. Counseling is, of course, recommended by other liberals…followed by mediation. Blaming others (parents come particularly to mind), and society in general, is encouraged. This will be preceded by general denial. Among the annoying aspects of the liberal demeanor is the utter inability to recognize how annoying they are.

Ever try to have a conversation with a liberal? You need a damn book on what you can and can’t say without drawing that “you jerk” look. Then there are the nuances that some things can be said in certain contexts but not in others, and some people can use certain words, but other people can’t. There must be volumes of footnotes I’m not aware of. You start off trying to make a point and end with a lecture on your verbiage rather than the substance of the discussion. Good God. Oops. Am I allowed to say “Good God” or is reference to the almighty verboten? Can I say verboten or is that an offensive term? Where did I put those footnotes?

But, enough of these pet peeves and on to the main thesis. The most annoying thing about liberals is that they’re not liberal. The one valid reason to tolerate liberals would be if they were, yes, liberal, and added progressive dialogue to the exchange of ideas. But, let’s be honest. Contemporary political liberals are among the most reactionary of thinkers.

“The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society.” Reactionary derives from the French reactionnaire. The French usage arose during the French Revolution and referred to “a movement toward the reversal of an existing tendency or state and a return to a previous condition of affairs.” Wikipedia definition, usage and history.

Once a derogatory reference to conservatives, the term now equally applies, and in the same pejorative sense, to 21st century American liberals, or self-misnamed progressives. Following the French Revolution and into the industrial revolution, “reactionary” was most commonly applied to those who sought a return to agrarian societies governed through monarchist structures with landed gentry, all in coordination with the dominating authority of the Church. The reactionaries failed to understand, or accept, fundamental and permanent social and economic changes that rendered wistful visions of a return to the past impractical.

In much the same vein contemporary liberals (I refuse to call them progressives because they are not) wistfully, and often inaccurately, reflect back on the successes of the 1930’s and/or 1960’s for future direction. It is noteworthy that the time frame from pre-French Revolution to the height of the industrial revolution is not much different than the time frame from pre-New Deal to the present. And, similarly dramatic social and economic shifts have taken place. I’ll use one example here, though there are many.

Liberals, blind to societal and economic shifts in the past half century, bemoan the movement of industrial jobs offshore and the decline of labor unions. Hear this. We have moved past the industrial age where smokestack industries provided our economic life blood and where trade unions were necessary to protect the rights, health and well being of industrial workers. Today’s America is based in service, information and technology. We are no longer the world’s smokestack. Nor will we be again.

The emergence of American affluence, combined with a consumer base that demands value priced luxuries, required that industrial sources move offshore. Demanding that business be regulated, taxed or otherwise coerced to return industrial jobs to our domestic shores is nonsense. Those corporations, if pushed to that brink, have the very real option of re-incorporating elsewhere, continuing to produce in cheap labor countries and leaving only a sales/marketing subsidiary on our soil. What they will not do, cannot do, is return industrial jobs to the United States where labor costs will price them out of the competitive market created by value driven consumer demand.

Just as the French reactionaries failed to recognize the progression from an agrarian to an industrial economic base, today’s liberals fail to recognize the movement of the American economic base. It is a natural progression that industrialization has given way to our current state and that our affluent society should acquire goods for our consumption from less affluent societies. Whatever you may think of the moral implications, it is simply a fact that exists and will not be reversed by the outdated democratic-socialist ideals of governmental intervention or union organizing.

There are dozens of similar examples where the liberal mindset is stuck in assumptions that were valid half a century ago but no longer hold true. To insist that yesterday’s truths are today’s truths is to spit into the wind of progress. It is the equivalent of listening to an oldies radio station and thinking that it represents current musical trends. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were great – in their time.

Liberals by now must be saying “No, it’s the conservatives who are reactionary.” So what’s your point? Conservatives are supposed to incorporate a reactionary element. Liberals are supposed to be the force driving a society forward. That’s the push-pull of progress. One force pushes forward, while another force pulls back and says not-so-fast. The result is cautious progress, something we Americans experienced through much of our history.

When a society has only two major forces, both of which are dominated by reactionary elements, there is no push to the push-pull of progress. We now face the extraordinary dynamic of one major force pulling us back and to the right and the other major force pulling us back and to the left. There is no progressive force pressing us forward.

[Author’s Note: Don’t fear. “Why Conservatives Make Me Crazy” is under construction. Stay tuned.]

Author: ELIJAH SWEETE

Contributor, aka tidbits

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43 Comments

  1. I consider myself a liberal. You’re certainly correct that we can get a bit holier-than-thou about things. This is a good reminder that my goal is to be a liberal as in open minded not a liberal as in PC policeman longing for the good old days of the 60′s. I do still believe liberal progressives need to keep the push on to keep moving forward. The conservatives have been more effective in recent years at their reactionary positions and push in that direction than we have been at moving forward in a positive way. It stings a little, but a good opinion piece to help keep us on the moving forward for the right reasons path.

  2. The type of liberal you describe is annoying, however I find conservatives tend to think of anyone left of them as not just liberal, but that type of liberal you just mentioned. The reality is, the far lefty PC gestapo with a lecture ever ready that you described barely exists because they annoy everyone. Sure you have certain enclaves of them, but its not like they wield any real power. Name a powerful political version of what you described please. I can name several on the right that no only represent far right nut jobs, but they ALSO have massive political/media clout. So basically my advice to you is to stay out of Berkeley/SF, or the watered down local version you have near wherever you live, and you won’t have to worry about these far left annoying liberals. And if they happen to be around the dinner table every xmas/thanksgiving, my condolences.

  3. They cracked up in the 1970s (and their counterparts in the UK, for example, managed to crack things up even more badly then) and they were repudiated in 1980, and they’ve been (rightly) on the defensive ever since. Now add to that the bogus moral high ground they invent and their extreme intolerance of dissent, and it’s now.

  4. Slamfu said, “Name a powerful political version of what you described [PC liberalism] please.”

    Hate crime legislation.

    But, my real point wasn’t about the PC Police. That was mostly intended to be a humorous introduction. The real point was about looking to the past for solutions without realizing the world has changed and solutions that worked once may not be in keeping with the reality we face today.

    Btw, I agree that many conservatives believe anyone left of Attila the Hun is a lefty. They are obviously wrong. Hopefully I’ll remember that when I fleece conservatives in my upcoming OP on their approach.

  5. Great great piece :)

    Intolerant liberals are quite annoying.

  6. Elijah Sweete wrote:

    Liberals by now must be saying “No, it’s the conservatives who are reactionary.”

    It’s no surprise they’d be wrong or dishonest about this, too.

    Since Reagan was elected, and even before, it has been the Left that has been reactionary (including how PC is implemented), regressive (they often believe a return to pre-1974 ought to happen at any time), retrograde (Sixties viewpoint or even mentality as well as political goals), and frequently revanchist (they’ve been seething for multiple decades now about Reagan and the rise of the modern Right that they, the Left, incubated, and have tried to reverse contemporary progress and reform when they have the chance, as when they were given it in 2009-2010).

    I could think of and add more R words also as correct descriptors.

    It’s because so many liberals are this way that, e.g., linking to the following (as with, say, the Trustees reports on Social Security and Medicare) is a lost cause — in fact, I suspect it is an annoyance to such people that are so resentful about the real world, especially the West and above all else, the U.S.A.

    Meanwhile, they continue to want the opposite of what’s coming, notably with the modern welfare state.

    http://www.twq.com/02spring/hewitt.pdf

    and then, of course, the apogee of US liberalism and the biggest crash:

    http://www.manhattan-institute.....Siegel.pdf

    and the Europe that liberals here wish to emulate has long been known to have worse economic problems and future demographics than we will have. (We also haven’t neglected our military and relied on another, superpower, nation to protect us while we over-promise and over-spend even more money domestically.)

    (Pre-Greece!)

    http://www.insead.edu/v1/proje.....nsions.pdf

    Oh, well.

  7. Slamfu: Actually, some of those liberal havens can be nice places to live as well as visit. At least, so long as they’re not truly crazy, as we are starting to see in the news in San Francisco, the most glaring example. And, of course, so long as the rest of our tax money isn’t being wasted (misused — misappropriated) on such nonsense.

  8. Well said, and I look forward to your post on conservatives.

    Regarding liberals bemoaning off-shoring by greedy corporations, I have also been pondering this for a while now. It seems to me that a true progressive, being a global thinker as well as mindful of the plight of the poor, would want those in most need to have access to jobs. Of course, this is exactly what a free, global labor market accomplishes as companies seek the cut labor costs by moving to poorer counties.

    Now, it’s true that companies may get away with abuses in those other countries that they may not have gotten away with here, and that is something we should address with our trade policy. I’ve argued before that we should not allow any import that was not produced under US labor standards including an adjusted minimum wage. However, that is a separate issue than whether a company should be located here or there.

  9. Methinks somebody has too much time on their hands. ;-)

  10. Great piece and I too look forward to why conservatives make you crazy.

    I was listening to the radio last week (to Sirius POTUS I think) and someone made the comment that using the traditional definition of conservatism as “resistance to change” liberals are often actually conservative depending on the issue (social security and medicare as examples). As traditional liberal goals are achieved liberals act very conservatively towards them. Maybe progressivism is a better word for whatever it is that liberals have become, although I don’t think that term is particularly descriptive.

  11. Btw Elijah, your point about the limitations of labels (liberal, conservative, etc.) is well taken. I just look at the issues and the positions taken on the issues and decide who is part of the solution and who is part of the problem – then I label the various players according to my own insight. Some of those labels aren’t repeatable in respectable company however, which is why I won’t use them here.

  12. Gosh, I sure hope the Mrs wasn’t looking over your shoulder as you typed out the title bar…..as I recall, you said she was very much the liberal.

    On topic, liberals have no ability to annoy me. One of the advantages of being libertarian is that we don’t need the participation or permission of any other political group to go about conducting our lives.

    Life is blissful when you can simply ignore the utterances of others.

  13. “Am I allowed to say “Good God” or is reference to the almighty verboten?”
    Relax, mainstream religion isn’t a protected group ;-).

  14. Yes, but mentioning God is offensive to many “protected groups”! :)

  15. Don’t you suspect that EJS would find many conservatives uninspiring and unremarkable, particularly when it’s their nature to be defensive and “reactionary” (if that behavior hadn’t been swiped by the intolerant Left)?

    On a higher note for liberals, when it comes to government, at least (not necessarily to wise government, economic, or social policy), the descriptions of optimists versus pessimists by Martin Seligman (the “Learned Pessimism,” from so many years ago, psychologist, whose career includes teaching “Learned Optimism”) as a stellar example. Liberals are optimists. “We should do it!” (often ignoring the facts) Conservatives, pessimists: “Do you realize what could go wrong?”

    (Eons ago: “Dangerous animals, inclement weather, danger! Stay in the cave! What kind of person would want to venture outside it and risk disaster?”)

  16. tidbits
    i too await your conservative piece, but I do find your reactionary label for liberals who hearken all the way back to the 1930s rather ironic. This criticism comes from the right who tout the Federalist papers, an economic sales job, as the only legitimate way to view our constitution. You do see that irony, don’t you? I often find conservatives buy into their own rhetoric to the degree where self-analysis is lacking. It’s true for some whack-jobs on the left too, but the general malaise of non-self-examination seems to be more ubiquitous on the right. If one must talk to those caught in the 1700s, one must point out changes that change your cherished rhetoric.

    As to the 1930s, let me point out the obvious, America changed then on a fundamental level. The “general welfare” clause of the constitution was implemented for the first time, and conservatives have fought that change ever since.

    Feel free to rift off this theme if you wish.
    I’m waiting with bated breath. : )

  17. “but the general malaise of non-self-examination seems to be more ubiquitous on the right”

    It’s almost better to imagine it’s “non-self-examination” then the alternative – which would be examination… and satisfaction.

  18. “the general malaise of non-self-examination seems to be more ubiquitous on the right.” – Hemm

    I’d say it’s pretty universal among the political ideologues on both sides.

    As to liberals hearkening back to the 1930′s, as I said in the piece, the job of true progressives is to hearken forward, to pull on the oars. It is the job of conservatives to drag the anchor.

    When conservatives want to drag us back to the era of their choice and liberals want to drag us back to the era of their choice, you have two anchors, one on the left side of the boat and another on the right side of the boat, with no one pulling on the oars.

    And, yes, I’m taking all these comments in for the upcoming discussion of conservatives.

  19. You need a damn book on what you can and can’t say without drawing that “you jerk” look.

    Ever had a conversation with a Conservative, who starts talking about ‘those’ kind of people, without realizing you are one of them or are very close to one of them? You know, when they start saying stuff about how black people can’t be trusted because a lot of them are criminals, gays are all out to convert people and your children aren’t safe, or how they should’t hire that woman because, well you know how women are and she’s gonna wanna quit as soon as she pops out a kid? Even though you literally feel like throwing up in that moment, your expression is confined to mild shock. Reacting to your surprise, the Conservative starts making comments about PC and, ‘Aw come on! You know everybody is thinking the same thing!’ That has happened to me, on SEVERAL occasions.

    I don’t bother lecturing people like that, though. What is the point? They actually think they are right, and there is no way you will ever change their mind about that. I guess it makes me an intolerent liberal that I find that stuff offensive. However, stereotypes are PERSONAL. They are used to negatively judge you, dismiss you, and I do take them personally.

  20. tidbits

    thanks kind sir for your reply.

    one parting comment and then I’ll wait.

    if the conservative function is to be that of a boat anchor, how do they plan to make progress, any kind of progress?

    thanks

  21. Zzzzz,

    Thanks for the hard push back on my comments about political correctness. I’d say there are degrees and nuances. Intentionally degrading others crosses the line. That’s not just PC; it’s also common decency. I do object to many of the extremes found in PC however.

  22. When a society has only two major forces, both of which are dominated by reactionary elements, there is no push to the push-pull of progress. We now face the extraordinary dynamic of one major force pulling us back and to the right and the other major force pulling us back and to the left. There is no progressive force pressing us forward.

    IMO, this comment skirts why it is in the interest of more than just the center to break out of the two party system. Conventional wisdom is that the opponents of the two party system are centrists who want to be able to have policies that are a compromise between the two positions.

    However, forcing people to choose, without deviation or compromise, between one of two ideological planks also works against others who want to go in an altogether different direction. For example, those want policies that they consider progressive, but find that the party that is suppose provide a voice for their views doesn’t work for them, are also shut out by the two party system.

  23. dps,

    I did not take the position that there should be a centrist breakout from the two party system. That may be the conventional wisdom, as you put it, but it’s not part of my thesis.

    My thesis is that we need a truly progressive force to counterbalance the reactionary forces of conventional conservatives and conventional liberals. Could that progressive force come from centrist pragmatists? Yes, but that is not the only answer as your comment makes clear.

    I actually find myself in agreement with you, except that, in my view, you conflated my thesis with the “conventional wisdom.”

    Anyway, yours are good thoughts as always. Thank you.

    E. S.

  24. E.S.

    Good column. I look forward to the conservative version as well. Having said that, allow me to take issue with your progressive versus conservative approach.

    I’m wondering why you think the Federal government is the right instrument of “progress” and why you implicitly seems to think that “progress” is good. Some is and some isn’t and most contains elements of good and bad.

    FWIW, my struggle with strong partisans of both stripes is an unwillingness to look at facts or to dismiss facts that fail to fit their world view as biased or cooked in some sense. I also struggle with the tendency of both groups to confuse facts with conclusions. As an example, the CBPP chart that claims that all future debts are the fault of either Bush or the economy or the silly argument that tax cuts increase revenues are both examples of quoting conclusions rather than seeking to understand the underlying dynamics and what the actual facts are.

    I’m naive enough to believe that almost all disagreements are driven by a different understanding of the facts or a different prioritization among competing values. In a way, I admire liberals who simply say…I think the rich should pay a lot more in taxes because I believe they owe society half of their income. Those who hide behind complex and flawed analyses to make conclusions like, the Bush tax changes favored the wealthy are very frustrating because one winds up suspecting they are really of the first sort and wishing they would just admit it.

    The same arguments can be found on the right without a doubt. Those who deny the earth is warming or insist that somehow the data was cooked to suggest it is are in the same camp.

  25. “I’m wondering why you think the Federal government is the right instrument of “progress”…” – SteveInCH

    I didn’t say that, Steve. Government is an instrument that can contribute to, or impede, progress. My idea of progressivism would clearly include areas where the government should avoid intervention and other areas where it could be useful. A truly progressive and open minded view does not begin with assumptions about what the answers should be (that’s the presupposition fallicy that underlies both modern conservative and modern liberal thought – liberals thinking gov’t is the answer and conservatives thinking gov’t is the problem – niether is entirely true).

    Progressivism begins with a realization of current reality, followed by a vision for what the future could be, followed a plan to pursue that better future. To assume that government should be the instrument would be to foreclose other, and in many instances better, options.

    _____

    “,,,and why you implicitly seems to think that “progress” is good.” – SteveInCH

    Progress is more inevitable than morally good or evil. If one understands that progress will happen, a progressive should seek to direct it in a manner that best serves the interests of the constituent group. For example, current “progress”, unaltered, will see the United States fall behind China as world economic leader, will see the US become enslaved to our unsustainable debt and will likely see a steady erosion of international credibility and power.

    If we have the will to understand the reality and the global progress that will occur without intervention, then we have the opportunity to intervene to shape what the future holds to our benefit. Or, by not acting, we can accept being the natural victims of global progress that leaves us behind. The world will progress whether we like it or not. The question is whether we will shape it or whether it will be shaped by others and imposed upon us.

  26. Thanks for the clarification ES. It was helpful. I guess I don’t think of progress and action as synonyms.

    I guess, in my view, you’ve simply invented your own definition of progressive (concerned with trying to make things better). I think that’s a totally acceptable definition but not one in common usage. I think one can also believe that a return to a previous policy (or time in your formulation) would be progress (in the sense you are using the word) relative to the current state or the trend line.

    I also think your definition may get hung up in practical application by what the definition of “better” is. To take a simple example. Let’s assume that the ACA will increase the number of insured and raise the costs for most people currently insured. I don’t want to debate whether that is a true characterization but to assume it is for the sake of argument.

    Does the ACA then constitute progress? It rather depends on how you prioritize the different effects. Said differently, actions taken in complex systems tend to have multiple and complex results. Thus, the definition of progress may have more to do with which results you project and how you value them as opposed to a desire to impede good or do evil.

    Just my .02.

  27. Thanks for your comment, Steve.

    I agree that progressive thought is not necessarily a groupthink, unlike modern conservatism and liberalism are. People [progressive thinkers] will disagree about positive outcomes and courses to follow.

    But, the desire to go backward to some false idyllic is unrealistic. The world will not go backward no matter how much one group or another wants it to.

    Edit Added. Very hard to complete a thought. We have a bobcat and baby bobcat in the back yard drawing lots of attention. Just wanted to add that history is a good educator, but not necessarily a good place to retreat to as the world changes around us.

  28. ” I guess I don’t think of progress and action as synonyms.” – SteveInCH

    Steve, I truly hope this doesn’t offend. It’s not meant to. As I read the above from you, I couldn’t help thinking: what a classically conservative perspective.

    ES

  29. This article is mostly, but not entirely, pointless.

    “You need a damn book on what you can and can’t say without drawing that “you jerk” look.”

    This is a statement designed to inflame for no reason, and pointless without examples. As far as I know, the author is a major league a**hole who deserves those looks.

    “Contemporary political liberals are among the most reactionary of thinkers.”

    I will give you this (although I don’t think “reactionary” is the proper term). Liberals do so very often harken back to JFK/FDR and that is frustrating. There is factual evidence pointing out that many of FDR’s policies extended the Depression, yet they can’t objectively look at that period and question the effectiveness of the Alphabet Soup of programs.

    “Liberals, blind to societal and economic shifts in the past half century, bemoan the movement of industrial jobs offshore and the decline of labor unions. Hear this. We have moved past the industrial age where smokestack industries provided our economic life blood and where trade unions were necessary to protect the rights, health and well being of industrial workers. Today’s America is based in service, information and technology. We are no longer the world’s smokestack. Nor will we be again.”

    But they are right! This is a HUGE problem! This country cannot be sustained on a service, info & tech economy. It simply cannot! If it could, we’d be creeping out of this recession, and we are not. Service jobs don’t pay anywhere near the wages of manufacturing, and there aren’t enough technology jobs to go around, even if our colleges were able to close the knowledge gaps required. Our economy is no longer self-sustaining, and the only way it can become so again is if we actually started making things again. I find it woefully ignorant for anyone of any sort of intellect believing otherwise. I could write volumes on this topic alone …

    “Demanding that business be regulated, taxed or otherwise coerced to return industrial jobs to our domestic shores is nonsense.”

    Yeah, absolutely. Punishing corporations is definitely wrong-thinking.

    Now HERE’s a couple things that frustrate me about liberals to no end, something the author didn’t even cover:

    Liberals, by and large, don’t understand the simple principle of “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL)”. Large social/public benefits need to come from somewhere, they need to be funded by someone, they do not materialize out of whole cloth, and there is no bottomless vat of cash that can be tapped to pay for such things. I hear so many times “the government should pay for …”, well, the government is US, it is our tax dollars, and it (we) simply can’t do everything and anything.

    The other point they (and any other non-moderate thinker) miss is the notion of cause-and-effect. When you implement a program, or give a tax break, or add a law, or do pretty much anything else, you will get an effect. The inability to at least attempt to understand the possible effects of a policy, no matter how well-intentioned, is a hallmark of all non-moderates. If you feel sorry for the homeless and start handing out dollar bills on the street, will you actually help them get out of their troubles, or will you enable alcohol/drug abuse and encourage more to hang out on the streets looking for handouts? If you give free healthcare, will you improve health or will you end up with rationing, politicization of health care, national bankruptcy, and a populace that doesn’t take care of itself?

    Getting back to the article, overall I’d have to say it isn’t really worthy of TMV. This site should be better than this.

  30. Contemporary political liberals are among the most reactionary of thinkers.

    A great post, Elijah. You’ve definitely nailed the animating premise of a certain set of liberals–the notion that restoring, say, the tax rates of the 70s or the union clout of the 50s would not only work but would transform society. Don Quixote is the local poster boy for this belief.

    But they don’t all say that. Roro will give us the tax rates of the 70s not because they worked back then, but simply because she has a long list of programs she wants to fund. JSpencer, HemmD, and their ilk are less likely to justify policies by pointing to their past success than by contrasting them against a present failure. Corporations are evil, for example, therefore pro-labor policies are good. Kathy K doesn’t engage issues at the level of policy at all, she simply demands outcomes that meet her sense of fairness.

    I wouldn’t say they’re all reactionary, but they’re all reactive, by which I mean they seek to fix narrowly-defined problems rather than improve the system overall.

    But their most profoundly illiberal trait is their authoritarianism–their seemingly limitless willingness to compel other people to fix problems they spot. Conservatives have an authoritarian streak of their own, to be sure. But as you say, they’re supposed to; they don’t call themselves liberals.

  31. Bah. tidbits, I’m disapointed. Oh well.

    The only “book” you really need to tell you whether or not you’re being a jerk is the one that says “hey, don’t be a jerk, and if you are, don’t be surprised if someone notices and thinks less of you for it”. It always amazes me how difficult that is for some. Again, oh well.

  32. A great post, Elijah. You’ve definitely nailed the animating premise of a certain set of liberals–the notion that restoring, say, the tax rates of the 70s or the union clout of the 50s would not only work but would transform society. Don Quixote is the local poster boy for this belief.

    Most manufacturing jobs payed crap and were extremely dangerous prior to Unionization, after they paid decent wages, offered benefits and were substantially safer…
    This is what created the middle-class…
    If Walmart, Target and the other large chains were unionized, wages and working conditions would improve for millions of Americans…
    Or we can keep doing what we are doing and keep reading stories like this:Cable worried about poverty, not Netflix

    “We have to be sensitive in making sure we have a product that consumers can afford,” said Pat Esser, president of privately held Cox Communications, speaking at the industry’s biggest yearly event.

    Investors and analysts, with a few exceptions, can often be heard worrying more about how the cable industry will cope with cheaper entertainment packages from rivals such as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc or Google Inc.

    Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt, however, was one of the executives focusing on the hazards of a bad economy.

    “There clearly is a growing underclass of people who clearly can’t afford it,” he said. “It would serve us well to worry about that group.”

    Even with the economy on shaky footing, Viacom CEO Phillipe Dauman and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes remained particularly bullish about cable’s prospects.

    Dauman said it was “remarkable” that cable was one of the last things that customers cut off during the recession and was a testament to the value that cable offered.

    One man’s employee is another man’s customer…

  33. Life expectancy of U.S. women slips in some regions

    Women in large swaths of the U.S. are dying younger than they were a generation ago, reversing nearly a century of progress in public health and underscoring the rising toll of smoking and record obesity.

    Nationwide, life expectancy for American men and women has risen over the last two decades, and some U.S. communities still boast life expectancies as long as any in the world, according to newly released data. But over the last decade, the nation has experienced a widening gap between the most and least healthy places to live. In some parts of the United States, men and women are dying younger on average than their counterparts in nations such as Syria, Panama and Vietnam.

    Overall, the United States is falling further behind other industrialized nations, many of which have also made greater strides in cutting child mortality and reducing preventable deaths.

    In 737 U.S. counties out of more than 3,000, life expectancies for women declined between 1997 and 2007. For life expectancy to decline in a developed nation is rare. Setbacks on this scale have not been seen in the U.S. since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918, according to demographers.

    Heaven forbid that the DFH do something about this, cause no one else will…

  34. Mr Sweete,

    Would racist crap like this have a little something to do with the PCness of most liberals?

    Give us your cash, B–ch!

  35. “If we have the will to understand the reality and the global progress that will occur without intervention, then we have the opportunity to intervene to shape what the future holds to our benefit. Or, by not acting, we can accept being the natural victims of global progress that leaves us behind. The world will progress whether we like it or not. The question is whether we will shape it or whether it will be shaped by others and imposed upon us.” ~ Elijah

    Well said. Allowing the downward status quo to continue coasting is in fact progress, but it certainy isn’t the sort of progress desired by progressives. Progressives want to see a country that regains it’s conscience and it’s bearings. That will never be accomplished so long as the corporate state dictates all the terms. It’s the difference between short term and long term thinking and planning.

    As to Steve’s loose-knit equating global warming denialists with those who believe that income inequality is a problem in this country? Everything old is new again…

    “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailments of all republics.” ~ Plutarch

    This spells it out quite well:

    “As inequality rises, two phenomena almost always occur: The wealthy develop a sense of entitlement, and they increasingly seek to insulate themselves from the rest of society. As a consequence, they become less dependent on public services and less connected to the concerns of the rest of society. Inevitably, this leads [them] to oppose tax increases that would fund enhanced public amenities. Instead, they use their wealth to obtain political influence that solidifies their privileges. At this point, the divided nation becomes polarized and the government becomes incapable of decisive action.” ~ Bruce Judson

  36. As my name was invoked in an above comment about what I represent or think, let me be clear about my perspective concerning the US government’s role in our nation’s well-being.

    Any discussion of the gov’s role must be examined objectively and historically because the process of change as to it’s role has become a competing mythic interpretation by BOTH sides. Memes of what the Constitution “meant” are demonstrated in both the Federalist’s papers and the Bill of Rights. The difference here is simple.

    One meme was a sales pitch while the other was incorporated into the legal document. Quoting a salesman’s spiel to say the Constitution means this or that is a dubious and unfounded leap in logic. By the same token, the Bill of Rights for “all men” meant that and only that. Blacks, women, and the unlanded need not apply for voting rights or any of the other “guarantees.”

    The wisdom of the Federalist papers lasted all the way up to our third president when Hamilton’s National Bank effort crashed against Jefferson’s hard line interpretation of what the government was authorized to do. Conversely, Jefferson himself exceeded authority granted by the Constitution by speculating in a little land deal just a few years later.

    Elijah may well wish to make his list of liberal and conservative foibles based upon their philosophy, but I would argue that any form of opinion not based upon our founding is just another remake in our own biased subjectivity. With all due respect to tidbits, I would say he must first attempt to justify the fact that the legal system has become separated from the “Justice for all” clarion call of the original documents. John Adams defended the British soldiers from the Boston Massacre because it was the just thing to do, not necessarily the expedient thing to do. Compare that with the secret renditions of today’s legal system before you decide what is really the appropriate way to interpret your own opinion.

    With respect to all in this conversation, please consider your own bias and feel free to point out mine. It’s the only way we will approach the truth.

    IMHO

  37. Although I agree in general with the OP, as I said in my first comment, but in light of subsequent discussion I do want to suggest a slightly different way of looking at the difference between liberals and conservatives, if you will excuse a rather long comment. I think it’s a bit of a simplification to say that conservatives look to the past and liberals (should) look to the future. No one really is opposed to progress in the literal sense. Progress is, by definition, good. No one is opposed to improved standards of living or improved healthcare or better education. Therefore, Elijah, I do think that by your definition of progressivism, which is progress by whatever means is appropriate, pretty much everyone is a progressive.

    But if you ask a liberal about how progress happens, both how it has happened in the past and how it will happen in the future, he will likely point to major systemic changes mostly imposed by government: the New Deal, equal rights legislation, unionization, ACA, etc. If you ask a conservative, she will tell you that the progress we’ve made over the past several centuries is mostly the result of a free society, economically and otherwise. When free people interact, making agreements that are in their mutual benefit, progress happens. Government’s role in progress, according to a conservative, is mostly passive. It is an enabling factor, but not the driving force for progress.

    To take it one more step into the abstract, if we’re not comfortable with the big-government vs. small-government distinction, I think I would say that liberals see the world as having much to gain, while conservatives view the world as having much to lose. For a conservative, the progress we’ve made in our history is not inevitably ours to keep. A major wrench thrown into the system has the potential of unintended side effects that can do a far greater degree of harm than the progress it intended to achieve. On the other hand, liberals often speak as if the world cannot get much worse and therefore major change is needed urgently.

    A good example of this was ACA. To a liberal, leaving the system the way it was, allowing some people to remain uncovered by insurance, would be a gross injustice of the highest order. Conservatives pointed to the good things about our healthcare system and the fact that they may be put at risk by a major systemic change. Furthermore, conservatives argued that ACA further jeopardized our fiscal sustainability (this is the argument that I found most compelling).

    An objection to my way of thinking may be raised that conservatives do sometimes propose large changes, such as Ryan’s recent proposal. But in general conservatives may do this for two reasons: either to undo recent changes that they view as too disruptive but whose unintended negative consequences may still be avoided (ie. repealing healthcare reform), or addressing the unsustainability of the current system (ie. Ryan’s proposal). It is consistent with the conservative view that I outlined that we want to avoid major systemic changes that result because of unsustainability, and to make changes, even major ones if necessary, to avoid potentially catastrophic future systemic disruptions.

    So who is right, conservatives or liberals? In this I agree with the OP, that the push-pull is essential. Ideally, each of us would understand the exactly correct balance between push and pull to achieve cautious progress and we would all walk in lock-step to achieve that progress. However, being imperfect beings, we all have our own biases that cause us to either be too cautious or not cautious enough. But, as a group, through the exchange of ideas and the democratic process, we are more likely to achieve a productive balance. In practice, there are some things that can interfere with that balance, and it is possible for the two ideologies to drift so far apart that any balance is unacheivable, but I’ll leave those issues to address another time.

  38. All,

    I just wanted to say that this comment thread IMO demonstrates the intellectual strength and personal insight of TMV’s commenters.

    Thanks to everyone who has participated or will participate going forward.

    ES

  39. I did not take the position that there should be a centrist breakout from the two party system. That may be the conventional wisdom, as you put it, but it’s not part of my thesis.

    My thesis is that we need a truly progressive force to counterbalance the reactionary forces of conventional conservatives and conventional liberals. Could that progressive force come from centrist pragmatists? Yes, but that is not the only answer as your comment makes clear.

    I actually find myself in agreement with you, except that, in my view, you conflated my thesis with the “conventional wisdom.”

    Yes, aware that you were making a different point and I was seeking to try and make the case that the root cause of your discontent was the two party system. Progressives, like conservatives, represent too broad range of views to forced into one platform. You might be agreeing with me, but to recap…

    Most of what I hear about the need to break out of the two party system comes from a center that is sick of partisanship and being forced to choose between two candidates, neither of which represent their views. (Which I regard a as the “conventional wisdom”, but perhaps that is biased by what I read.) However, I think it is not just the center that is hurt by the two party system, but progressives and conservatives also.

    I think that to have a “voice” in the political system you need a breakout from the current system. (Even if the Democratic party were to magically be reformed to meet your views, there are others who would then be shut out. One party will not represent the views of half the country.)

  40. E.S.

    FWIW, I wasn’t offended. Action can create progress or regress in my view. It is often better to take stock than to “do something.”

    A wise man once said to me. “If you have 10 problems and you wait, 8 or 9 of them will go away but 1 or 2 will become serious issues.”

    The corrollary for me is that if you act to solve all 10, you will solve the one or two but create even more problems from the 8 or 9 that would have gone away on their own. Determining which is the better outcome is difficult. Arguing to never act is wrong but arguing to always act on every perceived problem is also wrong. Which is worse, who knows

  41. SteveInCH,

    May I respond to something you said earlier about me making my own definition of progressive. It was an interesting point, so I looked it up in my old paper dictionary. I think the dictionary definition is pretty close to what I intended.

    Progress, n., 1. a moving forward or onward. 2. forward course, development. 3. improvement, advance toward perfection. v.i. 1. to move forward…2. to continue toward completion. 3. to improve; advance toward perfection.

    Progressive, adj. 1. a moving forward or onward. 2. continuing by successive steps. 3. marked by progress, reform or improvement; 4. favoring progress as through political reform. n. 1. one who favors politiical progress.

  42. ES

    Thanks for posting. I think the definition of progress as opposed to change is still the sticking point.

  43. All,

    I just wanted to say that this comment thread IMO demonstrates the intellectual strength and personal insight of TMV’s commenters.

    Thanks to everyone who has participated or will participate going forward.

    ES

    And I would like to add that we get much better discussions when even potentially contentious issues are positioned evenhandedly by the OP, rather than with guaranteed flame-war rhetoric.

    Thank you very much for that, and the same evenhanded approach in your ‘Why Conservatives Make Me Crazy’ post.

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