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In Politics Two Wrongs Still Don’t Make a Right

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I find it puzzling that I consistently see the same wrongheaded argument being presented to me by my Democrat friends in their desperate efforts to excuse the excesses of the Obama administration. I’ll bring up something like massive troop deployments in Afghanistan and Pakistan or unprecedented deficit spending and corporate bailouts, and their rote reply seems to be that I can’t criticize Obama because of all the terrible things that Bush did. Further, because I’m a Republican I must be complicit in whatever crimes Bush committed and therefore am disqualified from questioning or criticizing Obama.

What they seem to miss here is that if the things Bush did were wrong, then aren’t the same things still equally wrong when they are done by Obama? Aren’t they even more wrong when they are done by Obama on a larger scale? Bush overspent and created deficits. Obama has already doubled his spending in a few months. Bush deployed hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our interests are at best debatable. Obama has done the same and is talking about a deployment more than double the size of Bush’s biggest commitment to the region. I defy any Obama supporter to identify a qualitative difference between the excess spending and troop deployment of the Obama administration and that of his predecessor. There is certainly a quantitative difference. Obama has dramatically spent more money and put more lives at risk for less reason. If I’m disqualified from criticizing Obama because of Bush, then why aren’t Democrats disqualified from criticizing Bush because Obama has done the exact same things and worse?

Their second error is the repeated assumption that because I bear the “Republican” brand I must have supported every Republican and every act of a Republican going back to my infancy. Apparently I have to shoulder the blame for everything both Bushes did wrong and presumably for the sins of Reagan, Ford and Nixon as well. Never mind that I actively protested Nixon’s administration, wrote scores of articles critical of Bush and his policies during the last 8 years, and voted Libertarian in every presidential election since 1980. Does this mean that conversely they are going to accept responsibility for the Carter’s loss of the Panama Canal, the Drug War, Vietnam and Jim Crow laws? Somehow I doubt it.

Their belief that all Republicans are the same ought to be embarrassing, if they had any sense of shame. Their victory in the last election gives Democrats a certain level of arrogance and a tendency to gloat which is truly unappealing and apparently makes them immune to any obligation to think with any subtlety about political issues. They just can’t grasp that Republicans are a diverse group. They assume that we’re all warmongering, Bible-thumping reactionaries who are apparently on the verge of becoming domestic terrorists — or so Obama’s Department of Homeland Security seems to believe. My actual beliefs seem to matter nothing to them — as a Republican I can’t possibly be pro-choice, non-religious and generally opposed to unnecessary wars. They would certainly never believe that I know thousands of other Republicans who are politically active, share those views and were critical of Bush over these and many other issues.

You would think that some simple self-examination would enlighten them. Lyndon LaRouche, the Unabomber and Louis Farrakhan are or have been active members of the Democratic party and remain largely on the political left. Does that mean that all Democrats share their views? There are even large factions within the political left and the Democratic party which don’t agree with each other. Most of the Democrats I know aren’t outright socialists or communists, but those philosophies thrive within the progressive wing of the party. Nativism and strong anti-immigrant beliefs are common among union Democrats, but many other Democrats remain liberal on the immigration issue. If their party isn’t homogeneous, why do they assume that all Republicans are the same?

This idea that the sins of one administration or political faction do not excuse the abuses of another also extends to foreign policy and seems to confuse the left in that area as well. When dealing with the issue of Iran, they always seem to fall back on blaming the United States because we put the Shah in power. Apparently we have to excuse the sins of the current regime because of the wrongs done by the Shah. Never mind that they killed more political dissidents in their first two years in power than the Shah killed in 17 years and have done more to limit freedoms for the general population, and especially for women, than the Shah ever did. It’s the same with Israel. Because Israel is militarily aggressive and inhumane, it excuses every action of violent excess from the terrorist groups and equally aggressive and inhumane neighbors like Syria and Iran. Somehow Arab violence doesn’t count because Israelis deserve it.

What they seem not to grasp is that wrong is wrong and right is right, regardless of the political persuasion of the perpetrator and regardless of the actions of others. You can’t pick and choose between murderers and madmen and say that the crimes of one are excused because of the crimes of another. You can’t excuse the policies of someone you voted for and criticize someone you opposed for policies which are exactly the same. While there may be different standards of what is right and wrong, whatever standards you choose to accept have to be applied uniformly. If you don’t follow that rule and instead live by a subjective double standard which applies one set of rules to those you like and another to those you dislike, then you should expect rational people to brand you as a hypocrite and dismiss your political opinions.

So please, the next time I criticize Obama or your favorite terrorists or Hugo Chavez, please keep in mind that the things they do should be judged on their own flaws and merits. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and nothing done by someone else excuses or justifies them.

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Aw, poor baby. Dave, to a lot of Chinese, all us white devils look alike. To people who aren’t in the GOP, you all look alike. And to a lot of Republicans, all those jackass Democrats are alike, too.

    Having been in both parties as a activist, I know.

    Couldn’t you have spent three pages on something else – like how it is getting to look more and more as if the Sri Lankan government is murdering off its own civilians – and nobody gives a shit because they’re all huffing and puffing and whining their pathetic asses off about the “poor Palestinians?”

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Good lord, Ruvy. The Sri Lankan government has been murdering its own citizens for 20 years. It’s not exactly a revelation. Plus it helped MIA launch a nice singing career.

    I think there’s some value to trying to sort out the current political polarization in the US. It’s a hell of a lot easier an issue to address than man’s inhumanity to man in Sri Lanka.

    Dave

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dave your comment didn’t show up in Ruvy’s thread. But yet, it goes to the last page as if it is there. Too bad I wanted to reply based on what little I saw in ‘fresh comments’. Maybe it’ll come around tomorrow.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    “If their party isn’t homogeneous, why do they assume that all Republicans are the same?”

    If ‘their’ party isn’t homogeneous, what kind of question is that?

  • Zedd

    Dave,

    You didn’t quite flesh out what the “wrong” was.

    Bud, for starters, I don’t think that the issue with Bush was that he spent money. Just a thought…. Also you write assuming that it is universally accepted that government spending is WRONG.

    = What the heck is this article about?

  • Clavos

    I don’t think that the issue with Bush was that he spent money…

    Then why do the Dems keep bringing it up?

    And in any case, it was definitely an issue for those who favor conservative fiscal policy and small government.

    In that respect, Bam’s administration is a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

  • Lumpy

    For me the issue with both administrations certainly comes down to the insane spending which has doomed the US even if some fools want to pretend there is some magical way out of the great black abyss of debt.

    The article does mention other issues like foreign wars. and I coild bring up others where this double standard applies.

    But worse than this common hypocrisy is the absolute blindness of many democrats to the devils bargains they have made with unions and globalists and others whose interests are directly contrary to those of the US public. They will whine all day about the evils of corporate lobbyists while embracing union lobbyists who are as bad or worse.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jordan-richardson/ Jordan Richardson

    The fact is that King Barry has brought non-violent fascism with a smiley face to this nation.

    The fact is that you have’t the foggiest fucking idea what fascism is, champ. The notion that you’d compare ANY American president to such a political system is hilarious and continues to show your utter lack of perspective and respect for history.

    Not that I’m the least bit surprised, of course, but come on. What about your life is so God-awful that you continue to spew such hatred, Arch? What exactly has gone wrong with you, specifically? Are you missing meals? Have you lost your job? Are your children starving to death in your arms? Is your home being shelled by rocket fire night after night? Are your friends being raped and shot in the head in the middle of the street?

    I know I’m a broken record ’round these parts, but from my point of view the majority of BC Politics posters seriously lack perspective. Hell, I know I do. At least I can admit it.

    There’s an Ameri-centric point of view here that’s just gone hog wild in a world that has moved far, far beyond these elements. Generally non-contentious issues like health care and environmental issues become “political issues” where people take sides and damn the scientific facts. It becomes less about helping people and more about being right.

    So again, Arch, what exactly do you have to be so fucking wound up about? You post comments on a website with others you’ve never seen face to face, you probably sit in a nice comfortable chair and have probably polished off a pretty decent meal. You probably have a pretty decent bed to sleep in, maybe even a few friends to hang out with from time to time when you aren’t frothing at the mouth with raw fury. You probably have some spending money, too, and maybe can buy a book or a beer or maybe even both whenever you feel like it. Sure, the guy you want running things isn’t in office…but do you REALLY believe that everything in your world is going to go to shit? Or do you, in a strange and eerie way, kinda hope it does just so that you can be proven right?

    Sometimes I think a good majority of people that comprise the regular posters in this section would rather be right than happy. I guess that’s why it’s generally always the same crew, always chirping about the same things with the same lines drawn in the sand. And hell, I’m no better when I drop by here and put in my own two Canadian cents.

    You say “Fuck Obama!” That’s fine. But what about “Fuck Ignorance!” or “Fuck Fear!” or “Fuck Paranoia!” or “Fuck Sandals with Socks!” or “Fuck Poverty!”

    There are so many better, more important things to be angry about, Arch. Like Hugh Jackman, for starters.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Are you missing meals? Have you lost your job? Are your children starving to death in your arms? Is your home being shelled by rocket fire night after night? Are your friends being raped and shot in the head in the middle of the street?

    Jordan, you illustrate brilliantly the disconnect between the complacent left and the principled right. People like Arch and I may disagree on many things, but we agree on the fact that life is more than being fed and housed and not being killed. If that’s your standard for existence, then you are a sad and pathetic drone who deserves the world which Obama wants to create for you.

    I’d like to know what the “better, more important things to be angry about” if liberty and individual rights are of no interest to you.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave,

    It’s not quite the contrast you’re painting: “principled right and the complacent left?”

    Be serious now. The Left has been nothing if not complacent about human rights – and that’s a principled stand. The disagreement has to do with how far those rights ought to be applied – universally or only to SOME Americans, as Archie and his crew would have it.

    Roger

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I don’t see where Archie suggested that only some Americans should have basic rights. And I certainly don’t believe that. What is inescapable fact is that this administration, even more than the last one, is hell bent on taking away a great many rights from most Americans and people like Jordan are happy to accept that if their bellies are full and they get 350 channels of cable.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s implicit, Dave, in much of the conservative view: it’s all about America and fuck everybody else. And on the more radical version of it – it’s all about some Americans and fuck the rest of them (because either they’re lazy, or idiots, or whatever).

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    BTW, Dave,

    There’s one thing that started to dawn on me since I started posting on BC: human rights and freedom – as universally applied as possible – are more important values to me than anything else. And I believe the New Left, properly understood, is more about that than anything else – or at least ought to be. And I do view this as a very principled position.

    The Right would do itself a great favor if it made a serious move towards extending human rights and freedom to all parts of the globe. It’s one important, if not the most important, area where they ought to join forces.

    Roger

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You must be kidding.

  • STM

    Jordan asks: “So again, Arch, what exactly do you have to be so fucking wound up about?”

    Mate, Arch and Dave are worried about rights.

    They think they’re going to lose some.

    The main right Arch is worried about – from what I can gather – seems to be the right to want to pay through the nose for getting sick.

    Also, the possibility of bankruptcy brought about by a hospital stay seems like a peculiarly American right, especially when accompanied by things like job loss and debt crystallisation and falling living standards generally as we tackle the global financial crisis.

    But hey, IMO, $1000 a month out of your kick for basic health care cover that doesn’t cover everything … that’s the price of liberty!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Also, the possibility of bankruptcy brought about by a hospital stay seems like a peculiarly American right, especially when accompanied by things like job loss and debt crystallisation and falling living standards generally as we tackle the global financial crisis.”

    Exactly, we regard these rights as unalienable. And we’re proud of them.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Mate, Arch and Dave are worried about rights.

    They think they’re going to lose some.

    They find greed to be an important ‘right’. (Dave also cares about the right to liberty, as long as it shuts the fuck up and doesn’t try to outdo greed.)

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    It’s only natural that Dave’s top priority is the ‘right’ of the greedy to exercise their liberty to use everyone else.

  • Baronius

    Republican administrations have been spreading rights to the Warsaw Pact, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Dems have been sucking up to oppressors like Cuba, Egypt, and North Korea. You want to talk about human rights?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dave, I have to admit I didn’t actually read your article yet. Or even the comments. I just felt like yelling at a Libertarian, for some reason.

  • Baronius

    OK, let me be fairer. There are two different conceptions of human rights. Look at FDR’s “Four Freedoms” and you’ll see what I mean. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are traditional Bill-of-Rights-type human rights. When the right talks about human rights, that’s what they’re thinking of. The third freedom is freedom from want, and that’s typically what a leftie thinks of as freedom. (Both sides pretty much agree on freedom from fear.)

    So when you start complaining about human rights, ask yourself, do you mean the right to education and health care or the right to speak and pray as you choose? Reagan pushed for the rights of Russian Jews. Carter praised the Cuban health care system.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    There’s one thing that started to dawn on me since I started posting on BC: human rights and freedom – as universally applied as possible – are more important values to me than anything else. And I believe the New Left, properly understood, is more about that than anything else – or at least ought to be. And I do view this as a very principled position.

    It’s an irrational position, because the set of “rights” the left wants to protect is very limited and does not include the most basic and fundamental rights on which our republic was founded. The three rights are life, liberty and property. They have taken life and associated needs and placed them above all the others on the assumption that people will give up liberty and property rights if their life is made more comfortable and safer. It’s a good bet politically, but it is an incomplete, inadequate and ultimately oppressive vision of the rights to which all men are entitled.

    The Right would do itself a great favor if it made a serious move towards extending human rights and freedom to all parts of the globe. It’s one important, if not the most important, area where they ought to join forces.

    So you advocate world conquest and forced liberation of other nations? Although I understand that viewpoint, increasingly the libertarian right has come to reject the idea of international interventionism. It may be a mistake, but I think there are limits to what America can justifiably do to liberate others by force.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    They find greed to be an important ‘right’. (Dave also cares about the right to liberty, as long as it shuts the fuck up and doesn’t try to outdo greed.)

    Cindy, you’ve confused a love of greed with the belief that people should have the right to benefit from the fruits of their labor. I suppose you prefer that people should work hard and have all of their production seized by the state for forced redistribution?

    It’s only natural that Dave’s top priority is the ‘right’ of the greedy to exercise their liberty to use everyone else.

    Again you seem confused. I believe in the right of everyone to use everyone else – if you interpret voluntary mutual exchange of goods and services to be “use”.

    Dave, I have to admit I didn’t actually read your article yet. Or even the comments.

    Because self-righteous ignorance is the best defense against thinking.

    I just felt like yelling at a Libertarian, for some reason.

    Not surprised. Anarchists find Libertarians threatening, because our philosophy can actually work in the real world and theirs never can.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave,

    “fundamental rights on which our republic was founded.”

    You presume those to be the alfa and omega, I only a starting point. America may have been a starting point, but it’s definitely not that end all and be all.

    So yes, I do believe in universal health care and other such things you may regard as inconsequential and secondary. What does it say for us as a nation when we allow the least of us fall by the wayside?

    Also, I wasn’t taking about any military intervention but more in terms of setting an example.

    As to Baronius’s trying to press for a distinction without a difference – Why should the right to pray or worship whatever god be contradictory or antithetical to health care, among other things? As usual, Baronius is very keen about highly abstract rights such as freedom of speech or the freedom of one’s convictions, but he fails very miserably when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the concrete, the matter of improving the lives of the many. It’s a high moral stance but applicable only from a far. Because on Baronius’s view of things, those who don’t somehow measure up deserve everything they get: those are the wages of all those who don’t do well in the capitalist system. So let them rot.

  • Arch Conservative

    “The main right Arch is worried about – from what I can gather – seems to be the right to want to pay through the nose for getting sick.”

    You’re right STM. I’d much rather have the right to die of brain cancer while waiting 8 months for an MRI while King Barry, with his shit eating grin tells me every day on MSNBC just how great he is and how great our new healthcare system is.

    What am I so wound up about? The fact that our current president is an asshole. Say what you want about Bush but he wasn’t the petty, narcisstic, arrogant, condescending douchebag that Eight Ball Barry is.

    The guy’s a fucking world class jerkoiff and there’s no getting around that.

    Wether he’s hamming it up with Hugo Chavez or wastefully spending yet another billion dollars he never ceases to piss off millions.

    1-20-13

  • Baronius

    Roger – You have complained in the past about people addressing a third party rather than stand up to the person they’re arguing with. Please do me the courtesy.

    You don’t seem to understand about my position. I believe that it is our duty to help the poor. I don’t believe that government is the best means to help the poor.

    And I don’t think that health care is antithetical to free speech (which is to say, I’m not completely insane). The point of the distinction I was making is that, when most people claim the higher ground on human rights, they’re either talking about the First & Second Freedom, or the Third, and not considering the other side.

  • Irene Wagner

    1-20-13
    The Mayans thought we’d have all had enough of it by then, too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Baronius,

    All sides and points of view should be considered, Baronius. I’m well aware of that. And I’m also aware that some of the rights of the privileged might have to get abridged (somewhat) to afford the rights of the many. The term for this is distributive justice – and the best example is of offering equal protection under the law, even to those who can least afford it. So yes, there is some balancing act involved (because we can’t depend solely on charity and the goodness of the human heart). You and I apparently differ on this; you think it will do the job; I disagree.

    Further, as I indicated in an earlier comment addressed to Dave, I don’t regard the Constitution as either final or definitive document – a good start, perhaps, but not the epitome of justice.

    So here’s another point of difference. I don’t regards the American society or the American experience as representing the culmination of what’s possible. We can do better.

    Roger

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Oh Dave, I wish I had time to sling some mud back at you. But I am off to Cooper Union Square to plot with other people who believe “…that people should have the right to benefit from the fruits of their labor.”

    (okay here’s mud in your eye Dave, just a tad–irresistible)

    I suppose you prefer that people should work hard and have all of their production seized by the state for forced redistribution?

    Yeah, right Dave…that’s what I prefer!?! I think the state has seized your mind. You’re babbling.

    Does the earth look blue from your planet Dave?

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Oh, I should have put the event. Never know what kind of people might be reading. They could be foolish, like me.

    Haymarket Books presents FIRE THE BOSS: The Worker Control Solution from Buenos Aires to Chicago

    With the authors and editors of Sin Patrón: Stories from Argentina´s Worker-Run Factories: lavaca collective, foreword by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis

    7 pm tonight in NYC for anyone who is around. I’ll save you a seat.

    (p.s. Mark, I’m going to try to make a video.)

  • Baronius

    Roger, this is why we need to be careful when we talk about rights. The traditional 1st/2nd-Freedom-type rights aren’t distributive. The 3rd-Freedom-type rights are. That’s part of the reason I don’t believe that health care, for example, can be called a human right. A human right is something that doesn’t cost anything. My right to religion doesn’t infringe on your right to religion. If I had a human right to health care, it would be my right to your property. Even recognizing our responsibility to our fellow man, I can’t make that jump.

    You have a right to your goods. We have a right to your goods. I don’t see that I have a right to your goods.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Cindy, reflecting back to your earlier comments about “greed” I think I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re a communist and not an actual anarchist. You seem to subscribe to the maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I said, Baronius, it is a balancing act. There’s got to be some give and take. Even rights to property I don’t regard as absolute and inviolable. That’s what distributive justice is about. Taxation is already a form of distributive justice at work, to greater or lesser extent.

    Consequently, it’s my position that some rights, especially since they’re not absolute, may have to be abridged for in order to make room for other rights.

    It’s just a matter of degree, because the practice has long ago been established (as each of us, you, I and everybody else, are willing or unwilling members of a civil society.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The problem, Roger, is that too many of the things you’re calling rights are actually services, and there’s no requirement that those services have to be provided and paid for with the money of other citizens taken from them by force.

    Dave

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Cindy, you seem to have forgotten your coding; back to html school with you!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think, Dave, it’s a matter of time and of getting used to.

    “Right to education,” “health care”?
    I’m certain that “civil rights,” once upon a time, sounded odd to the ear. No longer.

    You do have a general kind of point, however. And we should tread carefully here lest the concept becomes diluted.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Roger, education and healthcare aren’t rights. They are services which we as a society have chosen to authorize our government to provide (well, we have with one and we probably will with the other). We made a decision that society would be better off with an educated population. They have hence become accepted entitlements, but that does NOT make them the same as rights. Rights are inherent and unalienable. Entitlements exist at the whim of the government and the people.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    And who decides what actually is ‘inherent and unalienable’, Dave?

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Baron: “A human right is something that doesn’t cost anything”.

    With respect, bollocks, Baron old boy … it costs a shit-load to buy a gun, or guns, and all that bloody ammo.

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

    I see health-care as a basic right and part of the citizen/government contract in return for all the taxes I pay. I’d rather my government spent on that than upping its military expenditure (which is considerable here for a small country since we are still the Deputy Sherriff acting for the US in the south pacific and indian ocean regions).

    I also see education as part of that contract between government and people … and as a basic human right.

    If I want to pay over the odds for a private education for my kids (and I did, but only once they were ready for high school), that’s a different thing.

    But I like the idea that everyone at either a state or private school here is studying the same curriculum and has the same opportunity (in reality in this country, that’s part fallacy as we all know the kids in the well-off neighbourhoods do better than those in the lower socio-economic strata) – but at least what’s on offer is the same chance if you can grasp it.

    And it’s provided free, by the state.

    And it’s a right, not a service.

    I couldn’t live in a country where a decent education wasn’t considered a right. I bet most of you feel the same on the other side of the big, blue pond.

    So how does that thinking jell with the notion that these things are services, not rights?

    It doesn’t, does it?

    Remember, too, the Constitution isn’t some kind of holy grail. It was written 200 years ago by men, for man, with admonitions from some of the founding fathers that Americans should absolutely change it (for the better, one would suspect) as they saw fit as their new society evolved.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    STM/Dreadful:

    It is somewhat of a slippery slope, this “rights” business. It might help to identify perhaps some basic – “inalienable” rights and derivative ones.

    One could look, of course, at the business of education, not just as a government service but as obligation; to call it a right makes that obligation more compelling.
    It’s complicated further by the fact that at least primary-level education is compulsory: the parents are required to put their kids through public school in lie of other other arrangements (private schools or home-education).

    Some rights are recent – the right to privacy, for example, because privacy wasn’t of such a value in the past as it is today.

    Some states are “right to work” states – another interesting concept.

    So it’d seem that Baronius’s identification of rights as “something you don’t have to pay for” is too simplistic. The right to (adequate) self-defense doesn’t come free of charge, and not everyone can avail themselves of this right; public education is taxed; so are your water services (though air and water are supposed to be free). Even “equal protection under the law” is taxed directly or indirectly – as part of the obligation the state has to all its citizens (but in this case, regardless of one’s ability to pay).

    Anyway, I just threw some complications.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Ha, didn’t see this until now.

    Dave,

    but we agree on the fact that life is more than being fed and housed and not being killed

    Life is what you make it, sir. I would agree with you, too, that by the standards of our most fortunate existence we are indeed granted lives that are more than “not being killed” and so forth. Of course, this shows our perspective, doesn’t it? And that perspective (or lack of it) was the basic architecture of my point. Before we can strive for more out of life, we must have the very basics.

    Now that’s a helluva tangent from the point I was making in addressing Archie so vigorously, but I suppose it can’t be helped.

    you are a sad and pathetic drone who deserves the world which Obama wants to create for you.

    Interesting comment here. First of all, it relies on the relatively absurd notion that Obama wants to create a “world” of some design, as though his presidency is going to upset or utterly change the apple cart of corruption, greed, slavery, and warfare that you Yanks have got rolling along pretty swiftly down there. Let’s face facts, dude: he’s not going to change anything about the structure of human life on this earth. At all. You will still be able to earn money, you will not be a socialist, corruption will still be the rule of law in Congress, and so forth. No worries, Dave. It’ll be business as usual and he’ll keep the seat warm for the next right winger to take office, brag about shrinking the size of governments while growing the coffers of corporations, and keep the downward spiral going until even Canada hates your ass.

    I’d like to know what the “better, more important things to be angry about” if liberty and individual rights are of no interest to you.

    Poverty, war, the environment, racism, etc. You’re working with a political mythos, Dave, admit it. You have yet to define anything CLEAR about where this anger is directed and it’s all small potatoes by the standards of the majority of the world. I know, I know…you don’t care about the majority of the world. You only care that your “right” to own a second home and have a hot pool boy is maintained. Honestly, Dave, and I mean this sincerely: fuck that.

    Life is more. You’re damn right.

    Jordan are happy to accept that if their bellies are full and they get 350 channels of cable.

    Let me know when I should start worrying about YOUR rights being taken away, Dave. Seriously. Present something tangible, something that matters in the grand scheme of things, and I’ll discuss it with you. No hyperbolic statements, no stretched facts, nothing like that. Just good, honest discussion without political paint all over it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I see health-care as a basic right and part of the citizen/government contract in return for all the taxes I pay.

    Stan, it’s either a basic right or it’s part of the social contract. It can’t be both. The social contract picks up where fundamental rights leave off, and is flexible and negotiated between the people and their government. Rights are inflexible and non-negotiable and exist outside of and above the social contract.

    I also see education as part of that contract between government and people … and as a basic human right.

    Again, a contradiction. As a society you decided to provide education because it was better for the society that you do so. That means that education came after the more basic rights which government is supposed to recognize and protect.

    Either that or you believe that ALL rights are consensus rights, and that means that you accept the idea that government can take your life, your liberty and your property at the whim of the majority, which means you accept and delegate the possibility of tyranny to your government. I don’t.

    And it’s provided free, by the state.

    It’s free? None of your tax money goes to education? Wow. How did they manage that?

    The truth is that you pay for it with your taxes and that makes it a service, not a right. The right you have is to delegate the provision of that service to the government. The service itself is not a right.

    I couldn’t live in a country where a decent education wasn’t considered a right. I bet most of you feel the same on the other side of the big, blue pond.

    Not exactly the same. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a country where I didn’t have the option of paying through taxes or direct payment to the school to educate my kids, but I accept the fact that it’s a service which I pay for rather than engaging in some fantasy that it’s free and a right.

    So how does that thinking jell with the notion that these things are services, not rights?

    It doesn’t, does it?

    No, it doesn’t. Because you are living under the illusion that your income belongs to the government and your salary is just a gift from the state.

    Remember, too, the Constitution isn’t some kind of holy grail. It was written 200 years ago by men, for man, with admonitions from some of the founding fathers that Americans should absolutely change it (for the better, one would suspect) as they saw fit as their new society evolved.

    The Constitution, like any set of laws, recognizes and protects rights, but does not grant them. Rights are superior to and exist independent of any human law. They are natural to the human condition.

    Dave

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Arch: “Do you consider it a right that someone from the government should wipe your ass?”

    No, Arch, you rude American b.st.rd, I don’t. We don’t have donkeys here anyhow.

    On topic, I have top cover private health-insurance too. But because I don’t live in America (thank christ, if some of the comments on here are any example), the thought process in regards to this might be somewhat different.

    Even though I pay my own way, like all Australians, I still pay tax to fund the universal health care program in this country – which entitles me to use whatever bits of it I need to and whenever I need to.

    It’s not free, though. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. It’s just a whole lot easier easier and waaaaay fairer. And everyone gets the right to decent treatment, not just those like me who can pay above the odds.

    America is the only place in the civilised world where a large proportion of people find the idea of UHC unpalatable, and an improper use of taxes.

    I don’t suppose it would ever occur to you that you’re wrong and the rest of us are right?

    It’s a bit like the bloke locked up in the asylum who thinks everyone but him is mad.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Interesting comment here. First of all, it relies on the relatively absurd notion that Obama wants to create a “world” of some design, as though his presidency is going to upset or utterly change the apple cart of corruption, greed, slavery, and warfare that you Yanks have got rolling along pretty swiftly down there. Let’s face facts, dude: he’s not going to change anything about the structure of human life on this earth. At all. You will still be able to earn money, you will not be a socialist, corruption will still be the rule of law in Congress, and so forth. No worries, Dave. It’ll be business as usual and he’ll keep the seat warm for the next right winger to take office, brag about shrinking the size of governments while growing the coffers of corporations, and keep the downward spiral going until even Canada hates your ass.

    Well, if we can get Canada to hate us then we really will have succeeded. But the truth is that Obama does want to change the basic structure of how many things are done here in the US. He wants to massively increase the power of the state to interfere in almost every aspect of our lives, increase the role played by central government planning, and reduce our liberties substantially. All of that while still preserving the corruption you mention and probably expanding on it.

    And you’re wrong about the next right-winger to sit in the White House. There’s a pretty good chance that if we do manage to get Obama out we’ll put in a much more radical and reform-oriented Republican administration which will actually change how things are done. If we’re ever allowed a shot at it, anyway.

    Poverty, war, the environment, racism, etc. You’re working with a political mythos, Dave, admit it. You have yet to define anything CLEAR about where this anger is directed and it’s all small potatoes by the standards of the majority of the world.

    Your poverty, war and racism all stem from the denial of basic rights by government. Fix that and you fix the symptoms you mention.

    I know, I know…you don’t care about the majority of the world. You only care that your “right” to own a second home and have a hot pool boy is maintained. Honestly, Dave, and I mean this sincerely: fuck that.

    Again, you focus on irrelevancies becasue you can’t face the reality of how much you have already given up, and you seem to gloat over the fact that Americans are apparently trying to catch up in the race to give up liberties.

    Let me know when I should start worrying about YOUR rights being taken away, Dave. Seriously. Present something tangible, something that matters in the grand scheme of things, and I’ll discuss it with you. No hyperbolic statements, no stretched facts, nothing like that. Just good, honest discussion without political paint all over it.

    Read my articles, Jordan. That’s what they’re all about.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    America is the only place in the civilised world where a large proportion of people find the idea of UHC unpalatable, and an improper use of taxes.

    I don’t suppose it would ever occur to you that you’re wrong and the rest of us are right?

    Stan, in actuality neither approach to health care is wrong or right. They are both valid choices. Some nations have opted for universal healthcare, some like Australia have a hybrid system. Even the US provides a universal healthcare safety-net. We have just chosen not to go as far as most other nations, leaving more choice up to the individual. That doesn’t mean that we reject other ways of resolving our healthcare needs in concept, we’ve just chosen a different route.

    Dave

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Dave: “Stan, it’s either a basic right or it’s part of the social contract. It can’t be both … rights are natural to the human condition.”

    Who says, Dave?? You??

    Now let’s see … who made up those rules?

    First, it’s 2009, not 1688 or 1776, so whoever decided that the rights you talk about were the ONLY basic and intrinsic human rights rights probably doesn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of convincing anyone in the civilised world that those are the only things natural to the human condition in the 21st century.

    We live in a different world.

    In 1066, no one would have thought that the notion of free speech (against the government, or the monarch) was a basic human right. It actually wasn’t considered so. We know it is, but it wasn’t then and you would have had a harde job of convincing a lot of people that it was their right.

    If Americans think the right to bear arms is a basic right, Australians believe the right to carry their Medicare cards is a basic right. Seriously, what’s the difference? Both offer protections to the wellbeing of the person, both have been paid for by the individual (one way or another) and are potential lifesavers.

    I consider education and health care to be my rights, even if you don’t … and I don’t live over there so I’m not constrained by this bollocks.

    In fact these things ARE regarded by the government here as basic rights, along with those you consider natural to the human condition. We are the government – our representatives working on our behalf and with our mandate.

    I understand and appreciate the ideological wellspring of your thought, which is why I think you’re making sh.t up as you go along, again, Dave, tossing everything in that libertarian marinade before it goes on the grill.

    At best, it’s hair-splitting and semantics. Just because it doesn’t fit the libertarian notion of what consitutes a right natural to the human condition as defined by the founding fathers, the Saxons, the Bible, judeo-christian religious tradition, English law, Thomas Jefferson and John Locke, doesn’t mean it isn’t a right.

    Plenty of people with equally valid notions of what constitutes a right natural to the human condition have appeared in the years between.

    And on my salary. Why would you think I’d even consider it a f.cking gift to the state. I willingly give them a portion of it so they can do the things I elected them to do.

    There’s a fair difference there.

    No taxation = no government = anarchy.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave: “Stan, it’s either a basic right or it’s part of the social contract. It can’t be both … rights are natural to the human condition.”

    Who says, Dave?? You??

    Well, I certainly agree. But the reason we say this is that for centuries man has made a study of man and again and again those who have engaged in that study have come to the conclusion that certain rights are natural to human existence.

    First, it’s 2009, not 1688 or 1776, so whoever decided that the rights you talk about were the ONLY basic and intrinsic human rights rights probably doesn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of convincing anyone in the civilised world that those are the only things natural to the human condition in the 21st century.

    The date doesn’t have anything to do with whether rights are valid or exist or not. The basic natural rights underly all the other “rights” you talk about which derive from them. You can rename things and argue about the date, but that doesn’t change the reality of it.

    We live in a different world.

    I don’t.

    In 1066, no one would have thought that the notion of free speech (against the government, or the monarch) was a basic human right. It actually wasn’t considered so. We know it is, but it wasn’t then and you would have had a harde job of convincing a lot of people that it was their right.

    Not knowing that you have a right does not mean that the right does not exist.

    If Americans think the right to bear arms is a basic right, Australians believe the right to carry their Medicare cards is a basic right. Seriously, what’s the difference? Both offer protections to the wellbeing of the person, both have been paid for by the individual (one way or another) and are potential lifesavers.

    The right to bear arms derives directly from the basic right to life and to protect that life from external threats. Your healthcare card derives from society’s interpretation of the right to life by a more indirect method. It’s still a valid entitlement because your society agreed on it, but it’s not as close to the root as the right to self defense.

    I consider education and health care to be my rights, even if you don’t … and I don’t live over there so I’m not constrained by this bollocks.

    You can call them rights if you want, but they’re still services you contract with government to provide for you because you believe that they are good for society.

    In fact these things ARE regarded by the government here as basic rights, along with those you consider natural to the human condition. We are the government – our representatives working on our behalf and with our mandate.

    If they were basic rights then you would be entitled to them WITHOUT paying taxes. If you chose not to pay taxes would the government give you free education and healthcare?

    Compare that to free speech or freedom of religion. Do you pay taxes to have free speech? Do you expect government to subsidize your church with tax dollars?

    I understand and appreciate the ideological wellspring of your thought, which is why I think you’re making sh.t up as you go along, again, Dave, tossing everything in that libertarian marinade before it goes on the grill.

    Not really, Stan. I’m just looking at these things rationally. There really is a functional difference between services the government provides to which you are entitled as a citizen and rights which do not derive from the government or the social contract.

    At best, it’s hair-splitting and semantics. Just because it doesn’t fit the libertarian notion of what consitutes a right natural to the human condition as defined by the founding fathers, the Saxons, the Bible, judeo-christian religious tradition, English law, Thomas Jefferson and John Locke, doesn’t mean it isn’t a right.

    Like I said, you can choose to call it a right, but there are clear functional differences between the “rights” granted by government and rights which exist whether government is involved or not.

    And on my salary. Why would you think I’d even consider it a f.cking gift to the state. I willingly give them a portion of it so they can do the things I elected them to do.

    So again, you admit that you are paying for services with your taxes.

    Dave

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    #33

    Dave,

    That’s true. I love that idea ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ Sounds a bit like how a family works doesn’t it? Perfect. I’m open to other things too. But really I think that idea is pretty darn good.

    It’s the stuff in the middle that I don’t like about what Communists believe: the socialist state, supposedly needed to enforce the interests of the proletariat, the withering away of that state. Communists don’t really think about authority enough in my opinion.

    Funny though, in the Paris Commune, for all the different politics, people cooperated to quickly implemented a lot of sane ideas. I think anarchists, Communists, socialists, are three different visions of the same drive toward human sanity. I don’t see it as any surprise that they could learn from each other and cooperate. I am interested in working with these other people, and their visions, as allies. This is how I think the world will change–recognizing the similarities in the main and working through the differences–not by staunch rejection based on ideology.

    Anyway, the world that Anarchists and Communists desire to create looks very much like the same thing to me. But Communists seem focused on Marx’s ‘formula’ for how to get there. I don’t think that is a good thing. Anarchists are trying to realize that world directly–without an intervening authoritarian state.

    I’m pretty easy-going Dave. I’m likely to go along with whatever kind of Anarchist ideas work at the time when we see what is needed. I like the Anarchists without adjectives sort of thinking. Unless the adjectives relate to private property (anarcho-capitalism, agorism, individualism, etc.) Private property is unacceptable in a free society. No way around it; it could never be justified.

    Feel free to call me a Communist though. I mean you call Obama a Communist, don’t you? You have a pretty open definition going on there. But recognize that I do have problems with some of the ideas. Still, I do like Communists an awful lot– the ones I’ve met or chatted with, so far.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    That’s true. I love that idea ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ Sounds a bit like how a family works doesn’t it? Perfect. I’m open to other things too. But really I think that idea is pretty darn good.

    It’s not how my family works. I teach my kids responsibility and self reliance and that seems to work quite well.

    But clearly, you’re a communist, so you can stop pretending to be an anarchist.

    It’s the stuff in the middle that I don’t like about what Communists believe: the socialist state, supposedly needed to enforce the interests of the proletariat, the withering away of that state.

    You don’t like the withering of the state? So you’re an authoritarian too? The hypothetical withering of the state — which never really happens — is one of the few positive ideas in communism.

    Communists don’t really think about authority enough in my opinion.

    Odd, in my experience they’re all about authority.

    Funny though, in the Paris Commune, for all the different politics, people cooperated to quickly implemented a lot of sane ideas.

    Like executing thousands of innocents solely because they were wealthy and productive. I think we see where you are coming from.

    I think anarchists, Communists, socialists, are three different visions of the same drive toward human sanity.

    And yet all three inevitably end in tyranny. I think it’s the tyranny you really like.

    I don’t see it as any surprise that they could learn from each other and cooperate. I am interested in working with these other people, and their visions, as allies. This is how I think the world will change–recognizing the similarities in the main and working through the differences–not by staunch rejection based on ideology.

    Why should we NOT reject ideologies which are proven failures?

    Anyway, the world that Anarchists and Communists desire to create looks very much like the same thing to me. But Communists seem focused on Marx’s ‘formula’ for how to get there. I don’t think that is a good thing. Anarchists are trying to realize that world directly–without an intervening authoritarian state.

    And yet, what they get is that authoritarian state anyway.

    I’m pretty easy-going Dave. I’m likely to go along with whatever kind of Anarchist ideas work at the time when we see what is needed. I like the Anarchists without adjectives sort of thinking. Unless the adjectives relate to private property (anarcho-capitalism, agorism, individualism, etc.) Private property is unacceptable in a free society. No way around it; it could never be justified.

    And yet it is the primary and fundamental basis for a free society. So you’re fine with any society so long as it is not free.

    Feel free to call me a Communist though.

    Already did.

    I mean you call Obama a Communist, don’t you?

    Actually not yet. I think he’s a state-corporatist, which is quite different but maybe just as bad.

    You have a pretty open definition going on there. But recognize that I do have problems with some of the ideas. Still, I do like Communists an awful lot– the ones I’ve met or chatted with, so far.

    You should meet and chat with some of the ones I’ve met and chatted with. The ones that sent people I knew to the gulags and mental institutions.

    Dave

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Dave,

    It’s not how my family works. I teach my kids responsibility and self reliance and that seems to work quite well.

    ‘From each according to his ability to each according to his need.’

    What does that statement mean to you Dave? This is very interesting. It’s like we have two completely different pictures in mind while imagining that idea.

    I guide children toward responsibility and self-reliance as well. So, why do you think we still have such a different idea of what that would look like?.

    It’s as if you can only see through a Capitalist’s eyes. You can’t seem to imagine beyond that. I’d guess you think that the statement means something like a few hard-workers should support a lot of lazy people.

    It’s sort of this cutout that you apply to the world and that’s the only way it makes sense to you. As if everything would stay the same and only the economics would change.

    Here is how it works in a family Dave. The children aren’t fending for themselves, nor are the aged or the infirm. When your wife is ill and in bed you don’t tell her ‘too bad…take care of yourself’. You feed your children…they probably partake in the work around the home (even if it’s some authoritarian arrangement–like ordering them to–rather than a natural growth of responsibility as a normal event that all people do). If your parent were ill you would support her/him. Older children would babysit younger ones.

    That’s not how your family works Dave?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “In 1066, no one would have thought that the notion of free speech (against the government, or the monarch) was a basic human right. It actually wasn’t considered so. We know it is, but it wasn’t then and you would have had a harde job of convincing a lot of people that it was their right.”

    I like your point, STM. Just goes to show how perceptions change over time.

    Same with the right to privacy I alluded to earlier. It wasn’t considered important in times past. But today, it is a right.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    By the same token, certain “rights” considered sacrosanct by some – because so posited by the founders – may comes to be abridged or regarded as less than absolute, such as the right to property, for instance. They’re already abridged and subject to eminent domain, e.g.; and land ownership is not absolute either but held as a fief – can’t think of the proper legal term. And one would certainly be hard put to argue it’s an unalienable right, when it’s more a reflection of existing or dominant social arrangements and often resulting from fortuitous circumstances – such as who was the first to stake the land, or who was more powerful to take possession of it and dispossess the previous occupant.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    I’ll read the rest of your post later, Dave. I started, but it seems very hostile. I realize that I brought it on myself for being snarky in my earlier comments. But, still I was being critical in a friendly sort of way (or I thought so). You are just intentionally distorting and being plain mean.

    You’re like a crazed McCarthyite.

    (I don’t think Les Slater would want to throw anyone into a gulag. I like him and every other Communist I’ve talked to since.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Not knowing that you have a right does not mean that the right does not exist.”

    Correct, but that’s no argument as to what some may consider as “rights” you disagree. Your disagreement, in short, may just be a reflection and a function of your inability to see far enough.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “There really is a functional difference between services the government provides to which you are entitled as a citizen and rights which do not derive from the government or the social contract.”

    I would tend to agree, Dave, and add “fundamental difference.” What’s considered “natural rights” give rise to a social contract and installing the apparatus of the State; and if the state fails in this respect, it’s reason enough to abolish the state. So the idea of “social contract” has mostly to do with the state undertaking the protection of “natural rights” for all against any and all encroachment, including by the state itself. The derivative rights are those which follow, by extension, from “natural rights.”

    There is somewhat of a confusion, then, when you do speak of “the social contract” apart from this meaning – to refer to other “government services,” as you have put it.

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Lol. Dave, you’ve hilariously gone back to madly dissecting posts and commenting on each bit.

    None of which make any more sense than any of your other answers.

    You’ve might have the hide of an elephant, but your answers look robotic to me.

    A liber-bot.

    Same sh.t, different day :)

    Bit quiet up there in Austin today mate?

  • http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/sundaysurfer/index.php STM

    Dave: “Not knowing that you have a right does not mean that the right does not exist.”

    True. Most Americans don’t realise they have the right to free healthcare, although more and more of them are startying to realise that the right not to have lunatics take potshots at you is another of those fundamental, inalienable human rights.

    One that can only be achieved by canning the absurd 2nd amemdment.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That could well be a good argument, STM, against firearms. Since they’re so costly and obviously not affordable be every Tom, Dick and Harry, the right to self-defense is not equally distributed throughout the society: only the well-to-do can afford adequate protection.

    So either abolish firearms or arm everyone to the teeth at government’s expense.

    I wonder now how this proposition would sit with the NRA crew which, if I’m not mistaken, tends to regard itself as a kind of private, social club.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Dave, our disagreement essentially stems from our basic fundamental differences in the types of liberty we desire.

    You appear to desire liberty from certain things, like government, so that you can conduct business as usual, earn a decent wage, and take care of your family. I, on the other hand, desire positive liberty.

    Your philosophy stems on the notion of freedom from being prevented to accomplish your goals. A good example of this would be in the corporate world, where a corporation would utilize the principles of liberty to ensure that they have no interference from government or outside forces to maximize profit.

    I, on the other hand, would prefer a society in which we all have the freedom to earn what we work for, and so forth. The individual must have the right to fully develop themselves and exercise their freedom. Workers should own and control the means of production and all that Red stuff, I guess.

    I would add, however, that any such liberty passed down to the masses by the government would be more akin to a loan of freedom because the power ultimately rests with the politicians in such a case. So while you would like a government, albeit it small one, to provide protection from things that would inhibit your ability to earn, live freely, and earn some more, I would prefer a lack of government entirely.

    Now, that’s a dream, but what the hell? I’ve been called worse.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Sorry Big C,

    I didn’t forget my html. I just got flustered. It registered for a moment how many Daves there are in the world and I went berserk.

    Nice site btw for info on CSS.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Jordan, have you ever seen The Corporation? It might interest you.

    THE FILM, IN 23 CHAPTERS, ON YOUTUBE

  • Jordan Richardson

    Own it. Great documentary, it should be required viewing in schools.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Jordan, A teacher is doing that in Essex, Ontario – The Corporation in the 8th grade classroom.