A Terrific Read
Pilfered from AlexC at Three Sources:
"Consider this an invitation. Are these propositions meaningful? Are they helpful? Are they simply wrong? As a liberal, how would you change them or modify the list? As a conservative, how would you draft a similar list for conservatives?"
-- Geoffrey R. Stone, What it Means to be a Liberal
I will take up this invitation University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, speaking not for conservatism, but for my own brand of libertarianism. First, let me comment on a couple of his propositions.
Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others...Liberals are skeptical of censorship and celebrate free and open debate.
I agree that this is the liberal ideal. In my experience, liberals are not as open-minded as I would like, but open-mindedness is a difficult ideal to uphold. I am pleased to see open-mindedness listed first.
Later, he writes,
Liberals believe government has a fundamental responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support government programs to improve health care, education, social security, job training and welfare for the neediest members of society. It is liberals who maintain that a national community is like a family and that government exists in part to "promote the general welfare."
I believe that in reality what has helped the less fortunate is economic growth. Today's elderly are affluent not because of Social Security, but because of all of the wealth created by private sector innovation over their lifetimes. Government involvement in health care and education is an impediment to progress in those fields. Job training and welfare are demonstrable failures. I think that treating a national community like a family is a grave intellectual error. A national unit is an institution that creates a legal framework for a large group of strangers to interact. A family is a small group that interacts on the basis of personal bonds. Strengthening government serves to weaken families and other vital civic institutions. If Professor Stone is truly as open-minded as he says, then he ought to examine what economists have found about the sources of economic growth and the ways that poverty has been alleviated over time.
The TrekMedic rejoices:
A-ha,..so the Clinton-esque Village doesn't raise a family, it really does bring forth another generation of village idiots!