Friday, October 19, 2012

Regressivism Defined - Part 1 - Acquiring a Political Philosophy

Prior to examination of a particular political philosophy, it is generally helpful to discuss the manner in which an individual might acquire such a philosophy. Let's try a little thought experiment.

First imagine that this individual (say Bill Maher) was born into an orthodox Jewish family in Israel.
Now imagine if this very same individual was born into a Wahhabi family in Yemen.
In both cases "Bill" would be a religious fundamentalist, and that religiosity would almost completely inform his political outlook. In fact, you could easily imagine the Yemeni Bill as a potential suicide bomber, blowing himself up in an Israeli preschool to the shout of "Allāhu Akbar".

Obviously, their political outlooks are complete opposites. Why does this happen?
Yes, they're brought up in different cultures, but each should have some idea of others condition?
Wrong! In both cases, Bill's exposure to alternate viewpoints is severely limited.

This occurs even in the cases of "westernized" Islamists, since they simply force their outside world to fit into their predefined frame of reference.

Note that this would not be a significant problem if the culture in question did not deprecate reasoning, instead of relying on faith or emotion. This tends to create a lack of empathy, or even legitimacy, for other points of view.

Which brings us to Regressivism and the outlook of Regressives.

For a Conservative or Libertarian, it's pretty much impossible to not be exposed to the Regressive point of view. It permeates the popular culture, from TV and movies and music, to the news media, to primary and secondary education. From birth to death.

Since they're exposed early in life, almost all non-Regressives have a good understanding of the day to day workings of the Regressive philosophy. And yet they freely choose not adopt the Regressive philosophy for themselves (of course there are occasional exceptions - Ed Schultz comes to mind...)

The end result is that non-Regressives generally feel that Regressives are wrong, but well meaning.

A Regressive, however, can traverse their early life, and perhaps their entire life, with little or no exposure to non-Regressive ideas. Like the Wahhabi Bill, their exposure to alternate viewpoints is severely limited - all they have to do is to not listen to Fox News or talk radio, and their frame of reference is pretty much set.

Because of this relative isolation, Regressives can also force their outside world to fit into their predefined frame of reference. Reasoning is diminished and much of their thought process becomes "faith based".

But not religious faith. Marxism has been implemented many times, failed every time, and killed tens of millions. And yet may Regressives still have "faith" that it will work, it just needs to be implemented in the "right" way.

The end result is that Regressives do not believe non-Regressives are well meaning, but rather evil and driven by nefarious motives.The same way the Wahhabi Bill would view the Orthodox Jew. You see this all the time - non-Regressives are for dirty air and water, Oil Companies and Big Pharma, greedy Jewish bankers and shopkeepers, pushing granny off the cliff, millionaire and billionaire capitalists with their corporate jets who just want to steal from the rest of us. And on and on.

Why the term "Regressivism"?
The general overriding philosophy needed a name, nobody else had named it, and it fits.

The 20th century saw the rise and fall of the Marxists and Fascists, and now the 21st century is witnessing the spectacular failure of the Progressives, starting in Europe and moving to the U.S. All these statist systems have been found to conflict with basic human nature. We've learned and "evolved".

And yet there are still a great many people whose political philosophy makes them believe that Regressivism is the most "just" system, and despite clear evidence, will work if we can eliminate the "obstructionists" and ensure everybody contributes their "fair share" (e.g. it hasn't been implemented "correctly" yet). Essentially, to "devolve" (i.e. "regress") back to the first half of the 20th century, to the glory days where Marxists, Fascists, and Progressives cross-pollinated and collaborated while perfecting their associated "workers paradises".

Of course it's also a word play, in an attempt to better reflect the true nature of Progressivism, as it now can be understood.

Note that I do not include "Liberals" in this category, at least in the form of "Classical Liberalism", which has both personal and economic freedom as essential ingredients.
However, many (most?) modern "Progressives" misclassify themselves as "Liberals", even though their political philosophy clearly falls on the Regressive side.

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Using "Single Payer" to ban abortion?

Imagine you're a guest on "Real Time with Bill Maher", and the discussion turns to government run health care.

And so you ask the audience "Who's in favor of 'Single Payer'?", and of course they scream enthusiastically in approval.

Next, you ask "Who knows exactly what 'Single Payer' involves?" Probably about half will nod in the affirmative.

'Single Payer' means single payer, meaning that the Federal Government will pay all health care costs. "YES!".

And that it will be ILLEGAL to go outside this system.

"Well, okay I guess".

And since the Federal Government pays all the bills, the Federal Government sets the rules about which services they will provide. "Sounds fair".

And a government panel, appointed by the President, will decide upon these rules.
So in effect, President Obama is controlling your health care.

"I'm cool with that."

And if George W. Bush were president, he would also effectively control your health care.

"Holy crap!!!"

The post demonstrates several concepts:

1) Regressives, who favor a strong central government, are basing this position to a large degree on emotions, and are not thinking one step ahead.

2) Their position is inconsistent with multiparty democracy, where power, once concentrated, can be turned around and used by your political opponents in ways that you may dislike enormously.

3) For social conservatives, this is probably the only way that abortion will ever banned, or even strongly limited, on a nationwide basis. Overturning  Roe vs. Wade would only turn control back to the states, where perhaps only a handful would take strong action.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Occupy Wall Street vs. Tea Partiers

While both movements are characterized by distributed (or non-existent) leadership and therefore unfocused objectives, that does not mean the movements are not driven by consistent political philosophies.

In general, the Tea Partiers philosophy is Capitalism - AKA free markets, free enterprise. i.e. economic freedom. This is why they've been embraced by Libertarians and most conservatives.

For Occupy Wall Streeters, on the other hand, the overriding philosophy is one of anti-capitalism. i.e. economic slavery, which puts them squarely within the Regressive movement.

Note that both the Tea Partiers and the OWSers have considerable dislike for Wall Street - Tea Partiers because of the proliferation of "crony capitalism", and OWS because of insufficient levels of crony capitalism (i.e. government control).

Some Presidential debate questions

1) Government experts recently admitted that a single program (Medicaid) wastes up to $100B per year. For comparison, the proposed tax increase on the "wealthy" would bring in an estimated $70B per year.

Q: Is it moral to raise taxes on anyone when the government wastes so much money?
[re-frames the debate]

2. In the 2008 election cycle, approximately 75% of the donations from Wall Street went to Barack Obama and the Democrats. Analysis of census results shows that the wealthiest U.S. districts vote for and donate to the Democrats.

Q: Why do the Republicans favor the wealthy, while the wealthy favor the Democrats?
[exposes a false narrative]

3. President Obama constantly tells us that his stimulus program "created or saved" millions of jobs. Labor department statistics indicate that almost half those jobs were in Texas.

Q: Why did President Obama create so many jobs in Texas, even though they didn't even vote for him?
[exposes a false narrative - credit Jonah Goldberg]

4. About 80,000 prisoners were taken in the Afghan war. Of these, about 800 were sent to Guantanamo Bay (1%), and 3 were water boarded. Now, instead of taking prisoners, suspected terrorists are blown to bits using drones, sometimes along with their families.

Q: Is the new Obama policy a more moral position than the old Bush policy?
Provocative bonus Q: Does President Obama deserve another Peace Prize for taking it? 

5. The top 5% of earners make 28% of the income, but pay 40% of federal taxes (income, payroll, etc.)
Q: What would be their "fair share"?

6a. According to the non-partisan United States Congress Joint Committee on Taxation, the "Buffet rule" would raise about $5B per year. That's about 0.4% of the recent budget deficits.

Q: Who will pay the other 99.6%?

6b. Going back to the Clinton era top tax rate of 39.6% would raise about $70B per year, or 6% of the deficit.
Q2: Who will pay the other 94%?
Q3: How many jobs would this create?
Q4: If this strategy creates a lot of jobs, why not raise it to 100%?
Q5: If this is so important, why didn't Democrats enact it when they had total control?
[puts things into proper perspective]

7. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care act forces insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.

Q: Why can't this provision be extended to home and auto insurance?
Then people wouldn't have to purchase home insurance unless their house burns down,
or auto insurance only if they have an accident.
People would save a lot of money they can use to buy stuff, which will improve the economy.
[Free lunch theory]

8. There have been surveys that show up to 40% of Republicans to be "birthers".
There have also been surveys that show up to 40% of Democrats to be "truthers".

Q: Which is worse, a) believing someone was born in another country, or b) believing they murdered thousands of Americans, and caused two wars that killed 10's of thousands?
[based on media reporting,  a) is clearly much, much worse]

Bonus Q: Who was the original "birther"?

9.There are many claims that, in general, women make less money than men for performing the same job.
Q: Why would any employer hire a man?

Q: Should the 12 million or so illegal aliens in this country be given amnesty?
Q: Why would anybody immigrate legally?

Q: Why do the states with the largest tax levels also have the largest budget deficits?