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Onion: Romney haunted by helping sick get health care

April 21, 2011 1 comment

My favorite part:

“The major strike against Mitt Romney is that he not only tried to help people get medical care, he actually did help people get medical care,” conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg said. “No other Republican in the field has that type of baggage. And in the end, in order to defeat President Obama, the GOP needs someone who has a track record of never wanting to help sick people.”

via Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source.

Like a lot of good Onion stories, it’s funny because it has a grain of truth to it.

Whether Romney suffers in the 2012 primaries because he worked some pragmatic utilitarianism into his policies as governor will be the big test for the GOP. Does the party truly care about governing? Or just putting down “liberals”?

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Categories: politics Tags: ,

John Locke: Not lost in dogma but full of practical thought

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Pardon the pun, but seriously — I didn’t even watch “Lost,” and I knew there was a character named after this great philosopher.

In any case, this is the start of a promising series at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, perhaps because Locke’s libertarian streak is far less rigid and unkind than Rand et al.

A Bleeding Heart History of Libertarian Thought – John Locke – Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

Categories: philosophy, politics Tags:

Libertarian hearts bleed … for themselves

April 15, 2011 2 comments

The Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog continues to disappoint. Today, it’s a whiny post that suggest that if Ayn Rand had just been left-wing, she’d be recognized as brilliant. Oh, woe is us.

The commenters, thankfully, have hit this softball over the fence. (Yes, I chimed in.)

Come on, guys — if you’re not going to present the unique nonpartisan point of view you were promising, give it up. So far, this isn’t “bleeding heart” libertarianism. It’s just “frat boy” libertarianism, using renegade academics to excuse a selfish lifestyle.

Two Hypotheses Concerning Ayn Rand – Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

UPDATE: The post disappeared. Fortunately, I have it cached:

1. If Ayn Rand’s novels had exactly the same feel, tone, and style, but were left-wing rather than whatever-wing she is, she would be considered one of the world’s greatest novelists by the literati who right now hate her writing.

2. If Ayn Rand’s novels had been left-leaning, the literati who now hate her as a person would excuse most of her moral faults (manipulativeness, drug-addiction, etc.) rather than condemn her as a bad person.

By the way, I don’t intend 1 and 2 to be a defense of Rand so much as a criticism of others.

For some evidence in favor of 1 and 2, see this study by Drew Weston.

If the post comes back up, let me know, and I’ll take down the re-creation. Utilitarians are happy to abide by reasonable copyright restrictions.

UPDATE 2: The post has been clarified and reposted. I think my comment is still valid, though perhaps the “frat-boy libertarianism” comment is a little harsher than it should be. The rest of the comments under the new post are frankly better than mine. Consensus: Rand was a mediocre writer who rose to fame because she had a unique view of the world.

That said, Mill isn’t exactly a fun read. At least Rand tried to do something unique.

Categories: philosophy, politics

Libertarians and capitalists, natural … enemies?

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been disappointed in Bleeding Heart Libertarians so far. It’s mostly arguments about whether so-and-so is a Left-Libertarian or a Gaussian Blur. (Yes, I’m confusing academic jargon with Photoshop terminology, but really, does it matter?)

But this post is intriguing, pointing out that a knee-jerk defense of our current economic system isn’t necessarily part of a good libertarian’s daily life.

Embracing Markets, Opposing “Capitalism” – Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Key quote: “The economic system we have now is one from which peaceful, voluntary exchange is absent.”

 

Hope for libertarians? Maybe?

March 4, 2011 Leave a comment

An intriguing new blog has popped up, and Andrew Sullivan kindly took notice.

It’s called Bleeding Heart Libertarians, a term I think I once used in casual conversation and should’ve copyrighted while I had the chance. One of its early posts hints at some common ground with utilitarians: “A commitment to social justice does not logically entail a commitment to having government pursue justice through a heavy-handed, direct strategy.”

In other words: We as a society should be working for the social good. But not necessarily through government.

Promising stuff. It’s a little too academic in some places, but the ideals behind it are promising.

 

The GOP’s love affair with gay folks; or, why libertarians fail

February 13, 2011 1 comment

While CPAC splintered over whether homosexuals and/or Dick Cheney should have a place to speak, “conservative gay group” GOProud hosted a fun party with pseudojournalist Andrew Breitbart and inebriated singer Sophie B. Hawkins. A really happy dude from Reason, the ostensibly libertarian but now GOP-leaning magazine, was there with a microphone to talk with Breitbart, Hawkins, former GOP honcho Michael Steele (sadly, not the Michael Steele from the Bangles) and a few others:

The message: “See! We’re just as cool and tolerant as liberals! People just have negative stereotypes of us!”

Some of the interviewees were sincere and obviously pleased that it’s easier to be gay and Republican these days. To go from being technically outlawed by ancient sodomy laws to being accepted by at least part of both major political parties is indeed remarkable.

But before libertarian-minded conservatives go overboard with the self-congratulation, they might want to ask a few questions:

1. Does this grand party of tolerance extend to Muslims? Looking your direction, Mr. Breitbart.

2. If gay workers face workplace discrimination, can the government step in and help, or would that be left for the free market to decide?

3. If everyone is so wrongly painting political groups with a broad brush, can someone explain why Sophie B. Hawkins and the interviewer are griping about some unnamed people who would want to take the guns out of the home of her neighbor, who is presumably law-abiding and sane? Are we not allowed, even under this great tent of tolerance, to discuss gun laws that might prevent a repeat of Virginia Tech or Tucson without yanking every lawfully registered gun out of everyone’s hands?

4. Do the Democrats get any credit for decades of unpopular arguments that helped the folks in the bar walk around and proclaim themselves to be gay without fear of recrimination?

5. Did the person trumpeting gay rights as the greatest civil rights crusade of our time ever walk in anyone else’s shoes?

And the last one really gets to the problem. What we’re seeing here is a gangplank mentality. Hey, the GOP let us in, at least at this nice social gathering in a Northeastern white-collar town, so we’re all good after years of being victimized. The fact that so many people in this room make their living by slandering scientists, independent economists and Europe … well, that’s not a problem.

What grates most in this video is the parade of people playing the victim card — not for being gay, but for being “conservative,” as if that’s the same thing. We’ve learned over the passing decades that homosexuality is simply reality for some people, same as having brown skin or big hands. Being “conservative,” parental and societal influences aside, is mostly a choice. At the very least, one’s political beliefs could be — should be — easily swayed by reason.

The people in this video are tone-deaf to the realities that (A) other people of many persuasions face discrimination and (B) being accepted at a GOProud party doesn’t mean everything is fine and dandy in the party to which they’ve pledged allegiance. They think they’re being oppressed by vague forces of anti-conservative prejudice while they party with a guy who’ll stop at nothing to smear “liberals” who fought for the freedoms they’re currently enjoying.

But to cite a more modern take on the “gangplank mentality,” these guys are in the “IGMFY” school. I got mine … you can guess the rest.

And this is why libertarians, even when they’re taking laudable stands for social liberty, fail to win over us utilitarians.

A brief response on accusations of socialism

January 26, 2011 1 comment

Last night, Rep. Paul Broun (Ga.) tweeted the following: “Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism.”

The responses have been amusing. But I think Mandy Patinkin put it best in this scene:

Quick reminder: Name-calling, particularly inaccurate name-calling, is not a utilitarian value.