‘The Conscience Of A Liberal’

The title is, of course, the name of Paul Krugman’s blog. It is also a topic to which I’ve given some thought lately. As difficult as it is for me to contemplate whining aloud, these are days in which no one… no one except another liberal, or perhaps an old person, a person of color, a disabled person, an unemployed person, a homeless person or an underfed young person… wants to associate with people who call themselves liberal. So I’ll try hard not to sound whiny about this.

I received two comments today from a person who may or may not be a person of good will. He (I presume it’s a ‘he’) styles himself as one of the classic figures in Ayn Rand’s fiction (though with the name respelled), and came by here specifically to challenge me on my post “Dead Men Working” regarding how in the world I could think it was the government’s responsibility to support people in their old age. After I deleted his first comment, he posted again, expressing mystification as to why I would put up a blog but not be interested in debating him on the subject.

All I can say… and I say it to you, dear readers, not to him… is that I do not blog for him. The answer to his question is so obvious to you that I don’t even have to state it. Of thee I sing… and to thee I sing.

It is not my job to educate the hard-edged politically immutable. I believe his stance is not merely wrong but just short of immoral, and I understand from past experience that there is no way either of us can change one iota of the other’s viewpoint, even with thousands of words of discussion. I suspect he is young. I am not. I choose not to waste my precious time and limited energy on him. Perhaps when he reaches retirement age, he will understand… but more likely he will not, because he will have been among the fortunate who acquired the resources necessary to a comfortable retirement. I leave him to his comfortable retirement, and his self-assured notion that anyone could provide such comfort for himself or herself by diligence and skill. The concept “there but for the grace of Dog go I” is not expressible in his framework, and I refuse to try for the hundredth time after 99 failures over many years to convey that notion. If that is unfair of me, so be it.

There are literally millions of blogs out there today. At least three vendors provide free online blogging software to allow any person so motivated to put up a blog, and it just isn’t that hard. I have also read that conservative blogs are in the substantial majority, so there is really no reason for me to cover my opponents’ viewpoints: they are more than adequately covered, and no one’s free speech is being infringed in any way by my deciding that this blog is entirely and only a lefty blog.

I categorized this post as “Personal” and “Politics”, in honor of the classic and frequently symmetrically stated feminist doctrine that the personal is necessaarily political and the political is, in consequence, personal. So it is for me. I am utterly unapologetic about my position.

(See my new Commenting Rules page; they are rules only in the loosest sense of the word, but I hope they make clear why I’m doing this thing at a time when most people are either still busy grabbing money or else absorbing “reality” TV.)

Here I stand, and here I make my stand. Any who don’t like my stand have plenty of places to preach their own dogma… but they shall not do so in this place.

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  • MandT  On Monday June 13, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    OMG! David Duff in disguise again. Clever old troll….:)

    • Steve  On Monday June 13, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      I don’t think so, MandT. This guy didn’t write anything like Duffy, and I don’t think Duffy is philosophically a Randian. This was someone I’ve run across before on other left-leaning sites, taking over comment threads and diverting them to his philosophical bullshit. He’s young, he’s got it all figured out, and he’s going to tell everyone… elsewhere, not here.

  • upyernoz  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 8:49 am

    randians are fun!

    the bottom line is that people fuck-up. even good people make bad choices sometimes. the question is: should they starve to death or go untreated for cancer because they made a mistake?

    because that’s basically what it will come down to for at least some people if there is no safety net. and because there’s no profit to be made in giving food to the poor or providing expensive medical care to people who can’t afford it on their own, if the government doesn’t do it no one will (at least not to the scale that it’s needed).

    • Steve  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 11:52 am

      ‘noz, I know I don’t have the same combative spirit shown by many lefty bloggers, but I’m just tired of the bullshit. If people reach the age of adulthood without even the remotest notion of the degree to which they are abjectly dependent on the society and the people around them, and hence how much they owe as a duty to society and people, they should just be taken out and shot. I have no patience with unsympathetic or indifferent people. I guess that’s, um, illiberal of me. 😈

      • upyernoz  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm

        i do think i like arguing more than most, but that’s why i went to law school.

        the fun thing about randians (and actually all flavors of libertarians) is that their entire philosophy rests on a dichotomy that doesn’t really exist. they generally want private businesses to be free of all government regulation, but government regulation is what allows private enterprise to exist. for some reason, the regulations relating to incorporation, the rules governing private contracts, protection of intellectual property are all government regulations that “interfere” with business but that libertarians seem fine with. i’ve never heard of a libertarian clamoring for the abolition of the uniform commercial code even though those regulations interfere with far more businesses than the EPA does. when push comes to shove, all libertarians are either ignorant of the legal infrastructure that allows capitalism to exist or they are intellectually dishonest, pretending to hate all government interference with business, when really they are just fine with anything that has the primary purpose of promoting business interest at the expense of everything else. rather than being principled, defending abstract ideals as rand portrays them. they are really little more than an interest group for the richest most privileged segment of society. in their own way, they are looking for a government handout (in the form of pro-business subsidies through regulation) just as much as any of the welfare queens they parody.

        see, wasn’t that a fun rant?

        • Steve  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

          ‘noz, it was indeed a fun rant. And it was fun in large measure because of who you are. The fact that you like to argue, rant, debate etc. shows in the fact that you do it consummately well. And of course it’s an admirable skill set and personality trait in an attorney.

          I have (had?) a great deal of talent and inclination as an IT professional. I was good at it, I enjoyed doing it (most of the time), and I made decent money, considering I spent only about half my time doing contract work and the other half pursuing outside interests… managing a musical ensemble, being on the executive committee of the local Sierra Club, etc. Here’s the point: the same analytical skills that made me a good IT professional would almost have made me a good attorney… but I lack the personality for contending in real time in a courtroom. Stella is a trained mediator, one of many skills she acquired subsequent to becoming an LPC, and one which I wish she would pursue more actively as part of her livelihood. All the reports are that she is very good at it in all the ways that count. But I’m not sure I want to deal with her frame of mind when she comes home from a day of mediation. Contentious encounters are not my favorite thing! 😆

  • Bryan  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 9:59 am

    The bit that annoys the hell out of of me is that the “government” is just “giving” people Social Security checks and Medicare insurance, as if people haven’t been paying for them their entire working lives.

    When you are self-employed and over 15 cents of every dollar you make is being paid into the Social Security Trust Fund for that Social Security check and Medicare coverage, you know it isn’t a “free, gift of government”.

    • Steve  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      Bryan, meanwhile, if you’re self-employed (as you are, and as I was for decades), you can’t collect unemployment, you are your own collection agency when clients don’t pay, you have to deal with your tax obligations in ways that employed people never give a thought to… and still the randies drone on about self-reliance and not taking assistance from the gummint, not even what you put into it. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke common fairness.

      Some years ago I made up a hand-sign: palm out, thumb separate, index separate, middle and ring together, pinkie separate, and associated it with the phrase “Die young and penniless.” Thus to all uncaring people!

  • c  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 10:27 am

    As Ebeneezer Scrooge used to say —“reduce the excess population!” Perhaps your friend Galt would have us close down all the schools and universities. After all, anyone who has children whould make sure they have the funds to have them educated by private tutors or else not have children at all. Right? 😉

    • Steve  On Tuesday June 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      c, IIRC, old Scrooge also said, “Are there no workhouses?” He meant, of course, sweatshops in which indigent children, often orphans, worked long days for scant wages or food, and with no hope of betterment in their futures. I can’t say that’s the case about liberterrorians, but it’s certainly something of which Republicans seem fond, often taking work offshore to places that tolerate that kind of child abuse. A pox on them… the perp’s, not the kids.

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