Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Joe Visionary from Canada and I have been having a wonderful discussion about politics both on my blog and his. This is why I started this thing, the guy has some wonderful points but what I really don't think that he realizes is just how alike we really are, the only difference is that he seems to want the government to mandate a better society, and I want people to be free to choose it for themselves.
He also doesn't seem to have come to the realization that most politicians are inherently greedy and corrupt and therefore incapable of mandating anything that would truly be in the best interest of society. They tend to mandate things that will be in the best interests of their campaign contributors and therefore their own bottom lines.
Anyway, this is the discussion from his blog that we started here a couple of posts back, if I did it right, there should be a link on the title to his blog so you can read the article that he originally referred me to. Joe is a little more articulate than me, his thoughts perhaps a little more organized, but in the form of a true liberal he insists on taking the conversation away from the discussion at hand and off into left field. Read this if you have the time and tell me where I said that I advocate the legalization of child abuse.
OK, I see your point, but did you miss all of the times in my blog where I say I support people's rights to do what they want up to the point where they begin to hurt someone else? In a free society it is the role of government to protect the citizens from each other, not themselves. If a corporation is exploiting their workers or the environment in the name of excessive profits I have no objection to the government stepping in and putting a stop to it. What I do have an objection to is the government stepping in and attempting to control people's personal choices that affect no one but the individual making the choice.
The flip side to this amount of personal freedom is accountability. For example: I smoke, no one forced me to start smoking and I wasn't a victim of unscrupulous advertising that targets children, if I was that is my own fault for being such a stupid child as to fall for such a scam. (I should have said here that the knowledge that smoking was harmful was freely available to me even as a child but I didn't in the original comment, that could be where Joe was coming from) If I get lung cancer I should not expect the government to step in and pay my medical bills, nor should I expect to win a law suit against tobacco companies. It was my choice, and I should be held accountable. As a result of this type of thinking, you and I can both be allowed to make our own choices, and when we make bad ones we will have no one but ourselves to blame. Why make those who make good choices pay for the mistakes of those who make bad ones?
That is where the cooperative nature of civilization comes in. I have the right to choose who I decide is indeed less fortunate than me and help them if I wish. This adds accountability to the system. Carbon copy government application forms and talking heads behind desks at welfare offices only allows those unscrupulous among us to more easily cheat the system. It takes a lot more guts to go to your community and say that you need help than it does to go to a government office and fill out the necessary forms to receive a handout.
Joe Visionary said...
Thank you for your comment. Furthermore, I didn't intend on pointing you to this blog because you irresponsibly advocate freedom. I can certainly see that you don't: you believe that one must be accountable for the freedoms they enjoy.
However, none of this makes allowance for the fact that we're born naked and ignorant.
What am I talking about? Consider: you state about your smoking that
I smoke, no one forced me to start smoking, and I wasn't a victim of unscrupulous advertising that targets children. If I was, that is my own fault for being such a stupid child as to fall for such a scam.
As the husband of an early childhood educator (ECE), as the Co-Chairman of an active Parent Council, and as the father of three kids I can tell you that a child is largely a blank slate that needs loving concern in their maturation.
Kids can be heartlessly manipulated as those who've been abused in the many ways possible. My wife was a sexually abused child who had predatory creeps teaching her that it's OK to be molested by in-laws.
The first clue she had that this may not be so was when she asked why her divorced father didn't molest her.
This is probably very similar to the many kids in warring countries where soldiers ('freedon fighters') give guns to kids.
My point: kids only know what we teach them until they've gotten old enough to know better.
So what should we do about this? The Libertarian stance would suggest that this is probably OK. But can you see how much damage we would have to undo if we allowed open season on kids?
In the past we assumed that a nurturing family environment would protect a child from this kind of abuse, and for the most part that is true.
But does that mean that it's tough luck for those kids who don't have a stable loving family?
In many ways that is exactly what happens, and so these neglected and/or abused kids eventually grow up, with little discipline or love for his/her neighbour. This in itself can cultivate sociopaths, but if you add to this by making them poor and unemployable, you can understand exactly who it is that sticks a gun in your face and asks you for your money. And consider yourself lucky if s/he doesn't pull the trigger anyway.
In any co-operative society (even back into prehistoric tribes) there has always been a mechanism to have orphaned kids looked after, some more successful than others. This is infinitely preferrable to letting them loose without guidance or discipline, because as I'd pointed out in my essay, they gravitate to either end up in jail, banished, or living on the street. None of this is desirable.
Moral of the story: you can't hold kids fully accountable when their conditioning may be a complete jumble of contradictory edicts handed to them by shameless opportunists. This is why there is 'Young Offender's' legislation - it allows for the sloppy maturation that is all too common.
If you don't like Young Offenders legal allowances because you figure kids are literally getting away with murder, then let me tell you, you DON'T want a Libertarian approach to the maturation of kids.
Ok Joe, once again, point taken. The one thing about libertarian thinking that you are forgetting to consider (don't feel bad, it seldom occurs to people on the left) is the self discipline instilled by spirituality. While I am no raging bible thumper, and I am definitely not an advocate of government sponsored or god forbid, mandated religion, we who believe in a higher power do not need the government to teach us morality.
Take one short look at the people in power these days and ask yourself, "Would I want these people teaching my child morals?" I wouldn't. A belief in almost any religion on the planet, not just Christianity, will teach a person self discipline and compassion. Compassion that is given willingly will always be better than that which is mandated by the government.
I agree that most people are selfish, and would watch a starving child die and never bat an eye. I am not one of them. There are many people that are not a member of the every man for himself crowd that hold high the ideals of freedom. Give these people a chance to teach by example and there will be no need to force others to feel.
As far as your argument regarding unfortunate children all I can say is fiddlesticks. Sorry, not very articulate of me but it's all that comes to mind. Once again, the position I take allows people "personal" freedom, in other words the gov't doesn't step in until a person begins to hurt others. If someone is harming a child wouldn't that fall into the hurting others category?
As far as your wife is concerned, I am deeply sorry that she had to experience that horror, but never did I say that I believe in someone's right to molest children. I would favor the death penalty for child molesters.
I am not preaching an anarchy in other words, I am merely stating that a person should have the right to choose their own road, and right or wrong, reap what they sow, instead of sitting around expecting the gov't to save them when they screw up. Simply put, in a free society it is the job of gov't to protect the people from each other, not themselves. I am not opposed to a lot of the programs that you probably favor. I do not oppose the government stepping in when a bigshot is picking on the little guy, but I also do not favor the little guy milking the situation for all that it's worth either. I do not oppose gov't programs aimed at helping the unfortunate, as long as they are indeed unfortunate and willing to at least make an effort to help themselves.
As far as the blank slate argument goes, once again, fiddlesticks. Children are not blank slates and if yours are then I'm sorry that you were blessed with such boring children. (It's a joke, please don't take it personal, I'm sure you have wonderful children) If children are blank slates then tell me how two children, raised by the same parents, can turn out so different from each other as adults. My sisters and I agree on little yet we were raised in a two parent family with both of our natural parents. While I agree that environmental influences contribute greatly to how a person matures, a person is born an individual and different people handle situations differently. I have several friends that came from broken homes as children, some were abused, some weren't, some were neglected, some weren't, some grew up and went to prison, some grew up and went to work. There is really no pattern that I can discern so I am led to believe that these people simply took the upbringing that they were given and did different things with it. Some chose to learn from the mistakes of their parents, some chose to emulate them.
Once again this brings me back to accountability. If a person abuses a child, they should be held accountable. Nowhere in my libertarian ideals is there room for child abuse, and I have no idea where you get the idea that I would advocate a level of freedom where such things were allowed. That would not be libertarianism, that would be anarchy. Anarchy would be fine for my kids, anyone caught abusing them would be killed, but that does nothing to protect other kids, nor does it do anything to promote civilization. I would never favor a system allowing someone to step on others just because they could, as I've said before, I only advocate "personal" freedom, once a person does something that crosses the line into someone else's territory, that is where the gov't needs to step in and do it's job.
Here is an example: I believe that drugs should be legalized. I think that the "war on drugs" is pointless, expensive, and unwinable. In my point of view this is a problem that given the freedom to do so would alleviate itself. Those people responsible enough to do drugs socially and not in excess would go on doing so without persecution. Those that insist on abusing drugs in massive quantities, or using particularly dangerous drugs would soon overdose or starve to death and would therefore remove themselves, and their drug problem from society.
Harsh, you say, but the simple fact of the matter is this: I did not make these people choose to do drugs, they did so on their own and therefore have no one but themselves to blame, and it should not be my responsibility to rehabilitate them so that they can go out and do it again. As far as the poor unfortunate children of these junkies, they would be better off. How, you ask? With the money freed up from no longer fighting this pointless war on plants the gov't would have more than enough money to provide for foster care or adoption of these kids, it's what they usually end up doing for the children of druggies anyway, only now they wouldn't have to provide for their parents as well.
I'm sure that you and I will never see eye to eye, Joe, but I think that we see eye to eye on more than you think, we just have different ideas on how to accomplish the same end. I believe in compassion, and given freedom to make our own choices I believe that most people would choose more carefully than they currently do, considering the fact that there would be no gov't safety net to catch them. This would make a lot less compassion necessary, and that would be good for us all. As far as what was still necessary, good people holding bad people accountable for their evils will do far more to promote compassion, I believe, than a gov't mandate taking from those who made good choices and giving to those who made bad ones. That only fosters resentment.