The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Conservatism

Name 10 things the government does well

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A dear friend of mine left a challenge in a comment.  Here ’tis:

Other than the military, can you name 10 things that the government has done really well, better than the private sector?

It’s an important question, for skepticism toward all government (rather than reform of bad government) is not only common, but at the root of a couple of major political outlooks.  And because it’s important, it seemed worth a post of its own.

Here’s my quick response. Maybe you can do better:

You betcha. Off the top of my head, I’ll give you twenty, most of which are under-funded for the work they do:

  1. The FAA. Crashes are a rarity here, thanks to equipment safety tests and massively successful air flight controlling.
  2. Medicaid: private sector insurance companies make money by ditching their customers when they get very sick. Medicaid picks up the castoffs.
  3. Social Security: What if Mr. Bush had succeeded in privatizing SS before the markets crashed? Can you imagine how many old people would be working at WalMart, since their SS would have been cut in half? And did you know that before SS, thousands of older Americans simply starved to death?
  4. SCHIP: Healthcare insurance for children who would not otherwise have it – enormously preventive of school absence, long-term illness, loss of physical and mental development
  5. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brooks: it’s “incredibly stupid” to hope Obama fails

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David Brooks, a thorough-going conservative and an admirably ethical political writer, took a question on C-Span that was embedded with racial and (what will seem to some unstable characters as) murderous overtones:
clipped from thinkprogress.org

David Brooks
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Today on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, conservative columnist David Brooks ridiculed those on the right who have said they want Obama to fail. During the segment, a caller — who claimed to be phoning in from “a club” in Georgia full of “all white folks, all millionaires and good Republicans” — begged Brooks to “come on board” with Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Fox News to “get on Mr. Obama’s case.” “We got to bring that man down,” the caller said, adding, “We just cannot have eight years of this black man.”

BROOKS: It’s tremendously important to put color and prejudice aside and see him for what he is, which is just an incredibly impressive smart man. […] And I just think it’s incredibly important to root for the guy, whether you agree with every policy. […] But the idea that we shouldn’t be rooting for our president strikes me as not only, I don’t know about unpatriotic, it’s just stupid. We should be rooting for our president because it’s rooting for ourselves.

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It’s a wise admonition. Every American should decry talk like “We got to bring that man down,” and “We just cannot have eight years of this black man.”  That’s Klan talk, despised by people of good will across the political spectrum.

Brooks’ pleas to “put color and prejudice aside” and to cheer for whatever can be cheered for strikes me as remarkably sensible, and even good.   Conspiratorial animus rarely makes us better.

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Glenn Beck: If you trust what I say “you’re an idiot”

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Mr. Beck sees himself as “a rodeo clown.” Ironically, he trades in slanted information that many listeners —mistakenly— take seriously.
clipped from thinkprogress.org
beckf.jpg Today, the New York Times has a front-page article on the success of Glenn Beck’s Fox News show. According to the Times, Beck has become “one of the most powerful media voices for the nation’s conservative populist anger.” Although he says he believes every word he says, he doesn’t think smart people should actually listen to him:

Mr. Beck says he believes every word he says on his TV show, and the radio show that he still hosts from 9 a.m. to noon each weekday. […]

“At the same time, though, he says he is an entertainer. ‘I’m a rodeo clown,’ he said in an interview, adding with a coy smile, “It takes great skill.” […]

“He added later: “I say on the air all time, ‘if you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.’

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Is it honest to call it “socialism?”

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Morning Joe

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The S-word is back.

For example, watch Morning Joe get exercised about the stimulus proposal’s tax refund to people of low income, followed by analysis from ThinkProgress:

clipped from thinkprogress.org

Joe Scarborough: Obama’s Trying To ‘Buy Off People’ With ‘Pure, Straight Socialism’»

SCARBOROUGH: “You’re not going to get Republicans to line up and support tax cuts for people who don’t pay taxes […] It’s not even welfare. […] If you want pure straight socialism, if you want to buy off people, do that.”
There are enormous problems with this analysis. First, Americans benefiting from the tax cut do pay taxes — sales taxes, payroll taxes, social security taxes — even if they don’t pay income tax. In fact, those in the lowest income bracket pay about 4.3 percent of their income to federal taxes. […]The tax credit isn’t some kind of charity; it’s one of the most effective kinds of tax cuts in terms of stimulating the economy. Moody’s chief ecomomist Mark Zandi showed that the refundable tax credit gives the economy a far greater “bang for the buck” than non-refundable tax cuts, corporate tax cuts, or making Bush’s tax cuts permanent, the “solutions” proposed by conservatives:
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Follow the link for Zandi’s numbers.

Meanwhile, if the tax refund plan is indeed a refund, and if can be shown to be among the most quickly effective tax changes for stimulating the economy, isn’t it what we’re looking for?

And didn’t they teach us in high school that socialism was when the government owns the means of production?  Just how is it that tax refunds accomplish that?

I don’t recall learning that when poor people spend tax refunds at American businesses, capitalism is on the way out.  It would seem just to have just the opposite effect.


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What’s next, GOP?

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An exciting era of American history has begun.  Bipartisanship (even post-partisanship) is on the front burner.  The President is trooping down to the Capitol today to listen to Republicans.

Competence is in; cronyism is out.  Effectiveness is in; ideology is out.  Diplomacy is in; war is, well, less.  A new wave of young people have energized government.  A new wave of non-white participation has democratized government.

But the most powerful in the GOP read their recent trouncing as a sign that they’re not conservative enough.  As the thoughtful conservative David Brooks writes in the NY Times:

David Brooks

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In one camp, there are the Traditionalists, the people who believe that conservatives have lost elections because they have strayed from the true creed. […]

To regain power, the Traditionalists argue, the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin.

Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are the most prominent voices in the Traditionalist camp […]

Only one thing is for sure: In the near term, the Traditionalists are going to win the fight for supremacy in the G.O.P. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 28, 2009 at 10:48 am