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What American Liberalism is Missing

royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
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6/29/2012 9:36:39 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I started reading Public Philosophy by Michael Sandel, a Communitarian philosopher, who notes that the fundamental problem with American liberalism's appeal is the lack of reference to a common good or civic virtue. Sandel argues that since the early 1900s, the Democratic Party has been the party of moral and civic progress, but that the notions of atomistic individualism that it now promotes (via philosophical liberalism) have been unable to attract lower-class voters who search for higher meaning and a sense of community in their lives. He contends that the last successful Democratic president who was able to tap into the public's yearning for civic virtue was JFK, who argued against such things as welfare.

I think that the point is interesting and seems accurate to me. Conservatism generally has two strands (as Sandel notes): one philosphically liberal and one communitarian. Political liberalism only has one strand, the liberal strand, and thus is unable to unite its base and attract other voters (ike made a similar point yesterday).

Some of the policies that liberals promote highlight this problem, especially welfare. I am opposed to the current form of welfare because I think that giving out handouts constrains individual liberty insofar as it places the welfare of the individual at the mercy of public officials and because the people who receive free checks are not doing anything for the community in return. However, I dislike the idea of abandoning the poor. I think a better solution would be to have the state (assuming it exists; hopefully it doesn't) or the community provide those individuals with work in exchange for benefits. I think this would solve the problem that Sandel was discussing in the first part of his book insofar as it provides these individuals with a stake in the community and also promotes participation and thus civic virtue. I also think that fewer people would be able to object to this scheme on the grounds of "laziness" and "welfare queens" because they would also be receiving services from these individuals.
Lordknukle
Posts: 12,788
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6/29/2012 9:58:01 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I'd suggest reading the "Death of Liberalism" by Chris Hedges.

He outlines that supposedly the liberal class was founded with noble interests of the poor at heart, but has been taken over by corporations, war mongerers, and now is solely interested in preserving the furthering of the free market, at the expense of the working class. In other words, his main conclusion is that the liberal class doesn't have the balls to stand up for main issues.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
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6/29/2012 10:24:27 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/29/2012 10:23:42 AM, darkkermit wrote:
the best way to help poor people get a job.....is to give them a job. THAT'S BRILLIANT!!!

Actually, the end goal is not to "get them a job" but to pull them out of poverty.
Lasagna
Posts: 2,440
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6/29/2012 12:54:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/29/2012 9:36:39 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
I think that giving out handouts constrains individual liberty insofar as it places the welfare of the individual at the mercy of public officials and because the people who receive free checks are not doing anything for the community in return.

So they are helping the community out if they get a job at McDonalds? Or trying to sell insurance? I have noticed that this notion of giving back to the community through getting a job is as bogus as it gets. I'd say that most of the jobs available at entry-level really don't help the community at all, and many even provide disutility on balance. Working at a restaurant, for example, allows people to waste resources that should have been spent more intelligently at home. Once you assimilate this point, a lot of the status quo political arguments unravel rapidly.
Rob
Lasagna
Posts: 2,440
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6/29/2012 12:57:41 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/29/2012 10:25:24 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
Jobs are not intrinsically valuable in themselves. They are merely a means to several ends.

No they aren't, and like I said most of the positions that our capitalist society has generated only serve to fulfill greed and do not help society at large on balance. The doctor, the electrician, the plumber... there are good positions but for every good one there are several bad ones. Sitting on unemployment for a reduced wage (thus consuming less) is more beneficial to society than working a bunch of sh!t jobs and spending a whole lot more money which forces others to have to work even more sh!t jobs just to support your spending.
Rob
royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
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6/29/2012 12:59:00 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/29/2012 12:54:02 PM, Lasagna wrote:
At 6/29/2012 9:36:39 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
I think that giving out handouts constrains individual liberty insofar as it places the welfare of the individual at the mercy of public officials and because the people who receive free checks are not doing anything for the community in return.

So they are helping the community out if they get a job at McDonalds? Or trying to sell insurance? I have noticed that this notion of giving back to the community through getting a job is as bogus as it gets. I'd say that most of the jobs available at entry-level really don't help the community at all, and many even provide disutility on balance. Working at a restaurant, for example, allows people to waste resources that should have been spent more intelligently at home. Once you assimilate this point, a lot of the status quo political arguments unravel rapidly.

I don't think that the government would be providing McDonalds' type-jobs to these people. The state or community (whichever exists) should be employing people in public works projects.
royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
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6/29/2012 1:02:27 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/29/2012 12:57:41 PM, Lasagna wrote:
At 6/29/2012 10:25:24 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
Jobs are not intrinsically valuable in themselves. They are merely a means to several ends.

No they aren't
Um, what purpose do jobs serve?

They serve society by providing services.

They serve the individual by providing employment and income.

They serve civic interests by giving people who are employed a stake in society.

Jobs are not valuable in themselves. Therefore, they cannot be ends. They are simply means to other ends.
, and like I said most of the positions that our capitalist society has generated only serve to fulfill greed and do not help society at large on balance. The doctor, the electrician, the plumber... there are good positions but for every good one there are several bad ones. Sitting on unemployment for a reduced wage (thus consuming less) is more beneficial to society than working a bunch of sh!t jobs and spending a whole lot more money which forces others to have to work even more sh!t jobs just to support your spending.

You're missing the key points, namely the stake in society and civil participation, reduction of arbitrary interference in lives, etc. Nobody is obligated to spend money that they earn; they can easily save.
royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
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6/29/2012 1:08:37 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
For the record, Sandel does oppose the integration of corporate culture into civic life, so I'm not sure that your objections (which center on giving those individuals commercial work) even attack what he proposes.
Lasagna
Posts: 2,440
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6/29/2012 1:20:10 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Conservatism, in almost any culture in almost any time period, is pretty much the default position of evil. It is the part of the culture which resists change to tradition (traditions being beliefs that aren't logical but which are upheld "just because"), which has increased pride/nationalism (IOWs self-superiority over other nations), which highlights the government over the rest of society, and which generally insists on the most Drakonian measures possible (e.g., anti-gay rights, anti-drug rights, anti-homo rights, etc.). Conservatives in almost any time period will be the first to push ethics aside in order to achieve the goals, whatever they may be, of the government over the people.

Liberals in this country have an obvious moral edge, but what they seem to lack in my eyes is practicality. Perhaps it is just the specific arguments I engage in and the perspective I hold personally, but the conversations I hear and engage in are constantly about liberals not being realistic. They are utopian; idealistic; they are unable to make the tough choices which conservatives must make to keep this country running. Conservatives are constantly being portrayed as realists that have done the economic studies and understand the intricacies of the free market. They also understand the harsh realities involved in international politics and are heroically implementing military strategies to keep us safe (which the liberals would tear down if they had half a chance and destroy the country).

I don't see that liberals are missing any moral component since they are already the more ethical of the two ideologies. The problem is that the utility of ethics has never been fully realized. Ethics is a luxury, to be enjoyed in the likes of the 60s and 90s when economic concerns were at a minimum. Capitalism could be described simply as "the economic system with the most conflicts of interest." The institutions with the most power to affect the economy are also the ones which will be stripped of wealth if the economy starts doing well. Think about that. And this phenomenon runs all the way through the micro-level too, with the dentist making the most money off of unhealthy teeth and the auto-mechanic making the most money off of broken vehicles.
Rob
Lasagna
Posts: 2,440
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6/29/2012 1:25:43 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/29/2012 12:59:00 PM, royalpaladin wrote:
At 6/29/2012 12:54:02 PM, Lasagna wrote:
At 6/29/2012 9:36:39 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
I think that giving out handouts constrains individual liberty insofar as it places the welfare of the individual at the mercy of public officials and because the people who receive free checks are not doing anything for the community in return.

So they are helping the community out if they get a job at McDonalds? Or trying to sell insurance? I have noticed that this notion of giving back to the community through getting a job is as bogus as it gets. I'd say that most of the jobs available at entry-level really don't help the community at all, and many even provide disutility on balance. Working at a restaurant, for example, allows people to waste resources that should have been spent more intelligently at home. Once you assimilate this point, a lot of the status quo political arguments unravel rapidly.

I don't think that the government would be providing McDonalds' type-jobs to these people. The state or community (whichever exists) should be employing people in public works projects.

I am just as excited at the prospect of setting up the unemployed to BE employed in positions of help throughout the community as you are. Unemployment is a phenomenon that is extraordinarily bizarre if you think about it, and with rates at 10% it becomes downright fascinating. Of course the libs blame the market, the conservatives blame the libs' socialistic institutions, and we go nowhere. I have my opinion on the subject which I think you all understand. But you realize that if the gov't was to set up people working in this way, the market would respond in force. Who the hell would want to work at McDonalds anymore? What happens if we pay them a decent wage? It would be chaos!
Rob
Lasagna
Posts: 2,440
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6/29/2012 1:29:14 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 6/29/2012 1:02:27 PM, royalpaladin wrote:
At 6/29/2012 12:57:41 PM, Lasagna wrote:
At 6/29/2012 10:25:24 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
Jobs are not intrinsically valuable in themselves. They are merely a means to several ends.

No they aren't
Um, what purpose do jobs serve?

They serve society by providing services.

They serve the individual by providing employment and income.

They serve civic interests by giving people who are employed a stake in society.

Jobs are not valuable in themselves. Therefore, they cannot be ends. They are simply means to other ends.

You've been on DDO too long; that was me AGREEING with you. Agreement is when one person hears the other's thoughts and thinks the same thing; this doesn't really happen on DDO all that often but stranger things have happened...

, and like I said most of the positions that our capitalist society has generated only serve to fulfill greed and do not help society at large on balance. The doctor, the electrician, the plumber... there are good positions but for every good one there are several bad ones. Sitting on unemployment for a reduced wage (thus consuming less) is more beneficial to society than working a bunch of sh!t jobs and spending a whole lot more money which forces others to have to work even more sh!t jobs just to support your spending.

You're missing the key points, namely the stake in society and civil participation, reduction of arbitrary interference in lives, etc. Nobody is obligated to spend money that they earn; they can easily save.

Reduction of arbitrary interference in lives? Have you ever worked a job before?
Rob