How to Talk to a Liberal: Challenge Their Premises

Rush Limbaught often makes the point that conservatives need to stop arguing with liberals on policy solutions and start questioning the premises that underly their arguments.

As I look across these blogs, and so many others, I feel awash in class envy and hatred, and within that, an assumption that big government is a good thing for ordinary people.

Republicans have been such poor stewards of conservatism these last eight years, especially the mute President who just left office, who quite unlike Reagan and even Bush the elder, simply refused to explain conservative principles, challenge his critics -- and arguably failed to be a conservative on key issues, like the budget and immigration policy.

But reading about "taxing the rich" and "closing income gaps" is nothing more than a euphemism for confiscation. And on top of it, cheering on the expansion of the federal government into every corner of our lives -- it all seems shocking. What happened to the passion for indvidual freedom? Distrust of government and the centralization of power? These used to be characteristics of liberal as well as conservative thought -- they are rooted in the country's founding and in the thinkers who influenced them, like Rousseau and Burke.

Now we might as well read the Communist Manifesto as read these blogs... read about the proleteriat rising up to appropriate the means of production... transforming private property into the property of the people... appointing a dictatorship of the proleteriat, with the Party as its vanguard... throwing the jackboot of capitalism onto the ash heap of history!

Why did so many of us give up on the founding American principles? Why should we accept that people have given up on them? I urge posters on this board to challenge the premises and assumptions behind these malign arguments, and show how market economies really work for everybody when the right balance between state power and individual freedom is struck.

Krauthammer did a good job of challenging assumptions -- Obama's -- in his column today.

It slipped by everybody, but in his speech to Congress Obama pinned the cause of our economic decline on expensive health care, energy policy, and education policy. Krauthammer paraphrases and replies:

(Obama says) The "day of reckoning" has now arrived. And because "it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament," Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care; a cap-and-trade tax on energy; and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.

Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.

In the speech, Obama did not mention as causes the "credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system... improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan's Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers."

 

And now, true to Thomas Sowell's formula in The Vision of the Anointed, we have a crisis, and the anointed have the solution, and anyone who questions his solution is benighted.

In that book, Sowell questioned many liberal assumptions and shibboleths himself. So rather than argue about with liberals on this blog about the distribution of wealth:

"To say that 'wealth in America is so unfairly distributed in America,' as Ronald Dworkin does, is grossly misleading when most wealth in the United States is not distributed at all. People create it, earn it, save it, and spend it."

Exactly.

To me "rich" means having so much money that you don't need to get up in the morning and go to work if you don't want to.

But I don't want those people punished. I want those people spending or investing their money, and the rest of us being able to keep as much of our money as possible so we can all do the same.

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I am in the center. I

I am in the center. I understand when Rush says "rugged individualism." However, when you have for 8 years the threat of religion in government, neoconism, cronyism, tax cuts for the rich as the jobs leave the country, laissez-faire and not solving problems, when you see this country drained of 1 trillion dollars going to Iraq, cities and states going broke, more people without healthcare and losing pensions, and when they hold on to a job and their pay is cut do to competition from third world countries; just what do you expect? It really has been a farce. As I said on the other post, the Midwest voted for Obama, even though Ohio is republican. It is not that hard to understand. We were ready to vote for the devil himself to get away from failed policies.

I don't expect big government, but an effective government. And both parties are guilty of pandering to lobbyists and just total incompetence. 

And furthermore you had Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and others ignoring the deficits and debt. And all of a sudden they are just bad. Even Cheney said "deficits don't matter." These people are a joke.

And just a few minutes ago a gal on the Bill O'Reilly show said "the stock market when down 20% under Obama." So that means if the stock market is down 50%, I would assume the stock market went down 30% under Bush. Oh, they left that out. And that is how the games are played. So, how can one vote for a bunch of liars. 

Good Points

No one who criticizes Obama needs to defend Bush against the same blunders. I don't. And I agree, conservatives like Rush and Hannity let Bush off the hook way too easily.

Let's also not confine the problem to Bush. How about the House and Senate Republican leadership for 6 years, completely punting on fiscal responsibility?

Without credible leadership alternatives, Americans turned to a charismatic public speaker with a deep distrust of market economies. But rather than rely on a fearless leader to rescue our sorry asses, I think we all need to lead our so-called public servants and get them to do some simple things that will help us all. Like to stop spending us into oblivion, and help the private sector create jobs, help America complete in the world.

Lets challenge a few of your assumptions

A few of your assumptions that I'd like to challenge:

1) the idea that government should look out for the interests of the working classes equals "class envy and hatred,";

2) there is some bright line between tax rates that are fair and those that are confiscatory - and only you can identify where that line is;

3) "the rich" need to be defended from the Obama Administration  - this despite the fact that "the rich" played a huge role in getting Obama elected.

  • According to the CNN exit poll, voters making $200K or more per year voted for Obama 52%/46%
  • over 40% of Obama's campaign donations were over $2,300, and 10% were for $4,600 - the max. In other words - donations from "the rich".
  • Looking at  joint fund raising committees, which have upper limits of tens of thousands of dollars - Obama had 6 times the number of maxed out donors than did McCain

Why do "the rich" need protection from the man they helped to elect - the one who said on the campaign trail that he was going to raise their taxes?

4) The executives that looted their companies while the SEC stood idly by...the mortgage brokers who sold homeowners contracts with concealled ticking timebombs insider them...Jim Cramer and the rest of the cheerleaders who encouraged people to invest in the stock market bubble - in what sense did any of these actors "create wealth"? Where I come from, "creating wealth" is NOT synonymous with lining your own pockets, and gambling on the bigger fool theory is not a sound business practice.

 

 

 

Funny you should ask!

Why should the rich scream for protection when they voted for Obama? Good question, and I wonder where they were when Obama said for two years that he wanted to tax them to death.

But now Cramer, Peretz, Brooks, Buckley and others are asking just that. Even Whoopi Goldberg on The View today complained about being taxed in every direction -- federal, state, city, county -- and said, "Back off me!"

Your second point is also a good one. There is NO bright line between rich and non-rich, and I certainly presume to know where it is. Neither are the rest of the human beings who presume to tell you and me that we're rich because we had a good year, or our parents saved some money in their lifetimes. If I'm not qualified to say so, neither is Barack Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, or Barney Frank -- or George Bush. Quit punishing earnings, savings, investment. Figure out how to manage a budget.

I know there's a lot of anger out there, but it seems to me like misplaced anger. You say, "Executives looting companies while the SEC stood by." Damned straight. But do you think the solution to this is a bigger SEC? You think Obama and Barney Frank are going to run it any better? Any better than Barney Frank ran the banking committee after the Democrats won the house in 2006?

Bush, Bush, Bush, Bush Bush. Muscle jobs have been leaving the USA since Nixon was President. Do you think Obama is going to somehow de-globalize the economy and make Ohio the king of steel again, and restore to Detroit Ball Bearing to its hey day? The bottom line is that China will not pay more steel because it's made in Ohio, and if they and other foreign buyers don't buy it, we can't make enough money selling it. The economy is a global affair now, and Presidents of both parties have said so for two decades. We have to figure out how to compete, head on, in those markets.

I totally share your frustration with both parties. But you can't expect politicians of any stripe to ever be much more than soundrels. And you can't expect business people to try to do anything more than make a buck. Government does have a role to play in protecting everyone's private property and the "general welfare," as our founding documents say. Everyone -- regardless of class, race, religion, etc.

Finally, your assumption that government (i.e., politicians) "look out for the working class" is, pardon me for saying so, exactly the kind of naivete that propelled Obama into the White House. Politicans look out for themselves (their money or their egos) first, their contributors second, and the rest of us last. That goes for both major parties, though there are no doubt some exceptions. Government is not an entity; it is a large and complex and powerful organization, like a corporation. But unlike a corporation, it is not subject to any discipline other than the ballot box, until and unless it takes that away, as has been known to happen. And unlike a corporation, it cannot compel you to pay it money that you have not agreed to pay.

History shows us time and again there is no power more dangerous, capricious and difficult to check than that of government. If you're disappointed in the markets, fine. Let's fix them. But don't put your faith -- blind faith -- in government.

I view the president as a CEO

I view the president as a CEO of our country. If you think your ideas of republicanism is better, then why do we have more people without healthcare and more people losing jobs that will never come back. All I ask for is an answer. If you have free trade (and actually the market dictates this anyway) then you have to compensate for it. You just don't throw people out on the street. It does no one any good. Unless, you like more welfare. So I have stressed on these forums that you need energy independence, infrastructural spending, mandatory vocational training, embryonic stem cell research, science, and innovation. You do anything to create jobs. Even if it means subsidizing science as they do in other countries. It is South Korea that has advanced further with battery technology. It is China that is building the largest nanotechnology facility. It is Singapore that has taken our scientists for embryonic stem cell research.

You seem to ignore and or excuse the shenanigans of the Bush administration, in which Bush could not run 3rd grade. We have lost 8 years in correcting any problems in this country and let this country deteriorate. And of course Limbaugh, Hannity, and others were nowhere to be found.

As I have said before. I expect the president to be CEO. If our jobs are going to leave the country, then find out a way to make up for those jobs. After all it is our people who lose the wages, the healthcare, the pensions, and they cannot support the tax system, the cities and states if they are sitting on welfare. Now that is the presidents responsibility. No matter what the markets say. 

Again, all you want is some sort of laissez-faire as if that does anything. And it does nothing. We have seen laissez-faire for 8 years. And we have seen a president for 8 years saying "free trade is good" as factories close. Now, if you understand economics, then you know this is nuts. Now come up with something better, and be credible. Stop playing games with middle class jobs.

You talk of "muscle jobs" as jobs we can just throw away. They are leaving at a higher rate as each day goes by, with no alternative solution. Again, to get this in you head. We all lose, the cities and states lose, and the federal government loses with loss of revenue. And after the muscle jobs, white collar jobs will leave too. I view all jobs vulnerable in this globalized world. Other countries are dealing with this and we are not.

You, like most republicans misunderstand the things I say on globalization. I have not talked of de-globalizing or protectionism. In fact, I want to fight globalization head on with new innovation and create new industries. Again you look at the areas of devastation in this country and those are the areas that need jobs. And please just don't say tax cuts. Because there is no guarantee that new jobs created will stay in this country. So again, the trick is to create jobs that will stay in this country in times of globalization. And I expressed my view on this in the first paragraph. But as we are in a globalized world, we cannot compete with third world wages, and companies that outsource avoiding middle class wages, healthcare insurance, pensions, social security, and OSHA standards.

I want the best for our country. And so far, practically every republican still does not get it. 

And as far as government and discipline. Your right. We could not fire a president full of deceit, a liar, ignorant, arrogant, and totally incompetent. In private industry you fire the CEO. And we had to put up with an idiot for 8 years. An idiot who took ideology and ran this country into the ground. It was his way or no way. It was trickle down and "guns and butter."  No compromise. Well, how about some management for once.

There is nothing complex in seeing the loss of jobs with free trade. Any idiot can see what it is doing to our country and our middle class. Hence, the party for the rich.  But of course we had a president who said "America, has no problems." So what else can we expect.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keN12U2coK8

Funny you should ask!

Why should the rich scream for protection when they voted for Obama? Good question, and I wonder where they were when Obama said for two years that he wanted to tax them to death.

But now Cramer, Peretz, Brooks, Buckley and others are asking just that. Even Whoopi Goldberg on The View today complained about being taxed in every direction -- federal, state, city, county -- and said, "Back off me!"

Your second point is also a good one. There is NO bright line between rich and non-rich, and I certainly presume to know where it is. Neither are the rest of the human beings who presume to tell you and me that we're rich because we had a good year, or our parents saved some money in their lifetimes. If I'm not qualified to say so, neither is Barack Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, or Barney Frank -- or George Bush. Quit punishing earnings, savings, investment. Figure out how to manage a budget.

I know there's a lot of anger out there, but it seems to me like misplaced anger. You say, "Executives looting companies while the SEC stood by." Damned straight. But do you think the solution to this is a bigger SEC? You think Obama and Barney Frank are going to run it any better? Any better than Barney Frank ran the banking committee after the Democrats won the house in 2006?

Bush, Bush, Bush, Bush Bush. Muscle jobs have been leaving the USA since Nixon was President. Do you think Obama is going to somehow de-globalize the economy and make Ohio the king of steel again, and restore to Detroit Ball Bearing to its hey day? The bottom line is that China will not pay more steel because it's made in Ohio, and if they and other foreign buyers don't buy it, we can't make enough money selling it. The economy is a global affair now, and Presidents of both parties have said so for two decades. We have to figure out how to compete, head on, in those markets.

I totally share your frustration with both parties. But you can't expect politicians of any stripe to ever be much more than soundrels. And you can't expect business people to try to do anything more than make a buck. Government does have a role to play in protecting everyone's private property and the "general welfare," as our founding documents say. Everyone -- regardless of class, race, religion, etc.

Finally, your assumption that government (i.e., politicians) "look out for the working class" is, pardon me for saying so, exactly the kind of naivete that propelled Obama into the White House. Politicans look out for themselves (their money or their egos) first, their contributors second, and the rest of us last. That goes for both major parties, though there are no doubt some exceptions. Government is not an entity; it is a large and complex and powerful organization, like a corporation. But unlike a corporation, it is not subject to any discipline other than the ballot box, until and unless it takes that away, as has been known to happen. And unlike a corporation, it cannot compel you to pay it money that you have not agreed to pay.

History shows us time and again there is no power more dangerous, capricious and difficult to check than that of government. If you're disappointed in the markets, fine. Let's fix them. But don't put your faith -- blind faith -- in government.

Rephrasing my questions isn't answering them

Nice job of not answering any of the questions I posed.

Why should the rich scream for protection when they voted for Obama? Good question, and I wonder where they were when Obama said for two years that he wanted to tax them to death.

Here is the answer: they are not screaming for protection. Do not confuse the talking heads on CNBC for "the rich" - they need a scapegoat to cover up their own malfeasance. David Brooks - well, I guess you didn't see his column this week where he expressed his reluctant admiration for the seriousnus of purpose and methodology employed by the Bush Administration.

70% of the rich, like 70% of all Americans, have a favorable opinion of Obama.

Your second point is also a good one. There is NO bright line between rich and non-rich, and I certainly presume to know where it is.

Then why is it in both of your posts yesterday you talk about confisactory taxation - apparanetly you DO think you can tell where the bright line lies between just and unjust taxes. I've noticed a lot of people lately behaving as if going back to the tax rates we had in 2001 is the end of the world, and I cannot understand what is the justification for thinking that what we have now is just - but too high and probably in need of lowering - whereas what we had back then is outrageous and unjust.

I know there's a lot of anger out there, but it seems to me like misplaced anger. You say, "Executives looting companies while the SEC stood by." Damned straight. But do you think the solution to this is a bigger SEC? You think Obama and Barney Frank are going to run it any better? Any better than Barney Frank ran the banking committee after the Democrats won the house in 2006?

One thing I know absolutely for certain is that the market itself is not going to stop it. And so yes, I want the SEC and the FBI to step in. Note necessarily bigger, but better. For starters, not politicized, not thinking that their job is to pursue one party's political agenda. Second, beliving they are part of the solution, not the problem. Third, properly trained. Did you see the Madoff whistleblower on 60 Minutes this week? He couldn't believe how dim the SEC investigators were. They knew nothing about finance, all they could do was check to see if the paperwork had been filled out correctly.

Bush, Bush, Bush, Bush Bush.

I didn't mention Bush. But, since you do - why did your side connive in putting such an inappropriate person in the White House, and then why didn't you intervene to stop your puppet from ruining the economy. Why should we think your judgement next time around is going to be any better?

I totally share your frustration with both parties.

I'm not frustrated with one party.

But you can't expect politicians of any stripe to ever be much more than soundrels.

Yes, you can. Reagan, Kennedy, and Eisenhower, to name just three in the second half of the last century. As a nation we have not lost our capacity for greatness.

And you can't expect business people to try to do anything more than make a buck.

There are fair and foul means of making a buck - it is high time we start paying attention to this distinction.

Finally, your assumption that government (i.e., politicians) "look out for the working class" is, pardon me for saying so, exactly the kind of naivete that propelled Obama into the White House. Politicans look out for themselves (their money or their egos) first, their contributors second, and the rest of us last.

First, there is a rather large contradiction between this statement and with your opening, but lets put that aside. The Democratic Party understands something that the Republican Party has overlooked: there are more voters in the working clases and middle classes than there are in the upper classes. Address their issues and you will have success at the ballot box. The Republican idea of addressing their issues was to cling to trickle-down concepts. Well, those are well and truely discredited now - the only think that has trickled down is piss.

Obama announced on Thursday his firm commitment to getting a health care reform bill by the end of this year - the working clases and middle classes took notice. He gets it.

History shows us time and again there is no power more dangerous, capricious and difficult to check than that of government.

Nice platitude, lets explore it, restricting ourselves to United States History. Race-based slavery - ended by the Federal Government. Women's voting rights - extended by the Federal Government. The segregated South - ended by the Federal Government. The Great Depression - ended by the Federal Government. The Nazi attempt to control Western Europe - ended by the Federal Government. The Japanese attempt to control SE Asia - ended by the Federal Government.

The most dangerous, capricious and difficult to check power in America is the GREED and stupidity of the financiers, who are still withdrawing millions of dollars per year from the companies they control while the economy collapses around them.

 

He Gets It?

I already conceded tha the government has a role in protecting our rights under the Constitution and looking out for the general welfare. You list several good examples of that. And as for fighting wars -- there is no greater responsibility for government than defending the country from its enemies.

To respond to my charge about the pernicious nature of government and concentrated power, you begin by saying, stick to American history. That completely misses the point! American history is a relatively happy story of government, precisely because our founders believed in limited government. They were mightily suspicious of power, and very protective of private property and individual freedoms. That we have avoided totalitarianism is largely due to where we started from and the resilience of our principles. But if we abandon those principles -- limited government, private property, indidivudal freedom -- and go with Obama into world of group rights, activist government, regulated property, heavy taxation, perhaps even regulated speech, all bets are off.

Greed is a not a power. It's part of human nature. It is at work in government as well as business. There are thousands of pages of regs on the books to check it, several agencies, and committes in Congress. We had S/Ox during the last scandalous crash in 01, regs on LBOs after 87, and numerous other waves of regulations on the financial industry since the SEC was created after the Great Depression. And still, human genius, and greed, find a way to game the system -- and as you point out, take advantage of weaknesses in the system. (No, didn't see the 60 Minutes piece, but after reading your post, I will. Sounds amazing).

This collapse, however, was not the usual one. It represents a massive failure of our regulatory institutions, the House Banking Committee, and yes, Bush, and his Treasury Dept., and Alan Greenspan's Fed. Republicans and Democrats.

Does Obama get this? If so, where's his banking plan? This is probably the single most important element to putting the economy back on firm ground, and yet we hear about programs for everything else but this. Do you think his priorities are straight?

This is what he gets: He knows most people don't understand finance and economics, but they're scared witless, and want a white knight to save them. He wiill be that knight, and he's successfully painted a target on the backs of wealthier Americans.

You can hate Bush all you want. You can hate the people who voted for him in 00 like me, and cut us off for life. Which ever way we vote, you will vote the other way. To help confuse you on this score, I also voted for Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, Bush I, Rudy Giuliani (as Mayor), and Mario Cuomo.

Why is Canada's banking system in such good shape?

If limited government is the principle to uphold above all others, how do you justify the Department of Homeland Security monstrosity created during the Bush Administration?

Who is going to stop people from taking advanages of the weaknesses in the system, if not regulators? Has it escaped your notice that we had first Enron and now the current mess under the current system of lax regulation???

Why is Canada's banking system in such good shape?

As for the question of where is the banking bill, I imagine they are still trying to craft something pallatable - the restructuring is going to be difficult and painful. On Wednesday they showed the plan for stress-testing, which is going to be a necessary first step.

There is no silver bullet that is going to solve the banking crisis - it is going to require a process, and that takes time.

To paraphrase Thomas Friedman, the people looking into the banking situation are like Roy Scheider in the "Jaws" when he first saw the shark: "we're gonna need a bigger boat".

And yes, I absolutely think Obama has his priorities straight, It is you, who once AGAIN worries about the "plight" of the rich that I have my doubts about.

What is at stake in this

What is at stake in this discussion and other discussions going on here and elsewhere is nothing less than the continued existence of the Republican Party as a vehicle for governing in this country. 

Intellectually, if the Republican Party in its current incarnation is unable to articulate a set of workable solutions that can appeal to those outside it's base at this moment in this crisis then for all intents and purposes it's days are numbered as a governing party.

People said 9-11 changed everything. Nonsense. 

This economic free-fall we find ourselves is changing everything for real. Blue chip stocks are worth less than my morning bagel. The US Government is taking major positions in banks to keep the whole shebang from crumbling. This makes 9-11 look like a walk in the park and I write this as a New Yorker who can still remember the smell of the rubble that lasted for months downtown.

This is a unique moment for the Right and any person seeking to downplay just how seriously the stakes are is either lying to themselves or simply cannot see the existential fork in the road that the Right faces at this juncture.

It goes beyond Rush to the heart of what the role of government is supposed to be.

And if what Obama is proposing fails, I assure you, each and every one of us up shit creek and the only solution at that point will infact be, guess what, even more government intervention.

What Rush is advocating is essentially political suicide. He's got the kool-aid ready and none of his followers can muster up the courage to say "This is madness."

 

This sure "feels" like a critical period.

I can't really give you any proof. But I know this feeling from many times before. And the last week or so has really felt like a critical shift. It's like the feeing you get when midway through the second half, your team scores a goal and the score goes from 2-1 to 3-1. At that point the game isn't technically over. But you just know how it's going to end. It just "feels" over. And 99% of the time it is. Your team slows down and bunkers in to wait for the final whistle. And then it's over.

I felt this same feeling the week that the economy tanked and Paulson had his deer in the headlights look. I just knew the election was being decided, and that Obama was winning. Up until that week, there was always a remote possibility that McCain would somehow dodge the bullet yet again, and pull off a miracle. After that week, we were all just waiting around for the final whistle to blow on Nov 4. No one had any doubt what the outcome was going to be.

I'm not sure when the GOP will officially be declared dead. But I'm sure the events of last week and probably the next two weeks are going to decide the matter. The party will probably survive in  some form until the 2014 midterms. But it's final fate is being decided right now. I just feel it in my bones.

Someone needs to man up next week and give the radical speech that turns it all around. Romney? Palin? Bloomberg? If they wait much beyond that, I don't believe there will be anything left worth saving.

They didn't pass the Community Reinvestment Act

or have Chris Dodd and Barney Frank trying to run their banks

Classic non-response response

CRA, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank - your favorite bogeymen but ultimately completely irrelevant to the issues at and and nonresponsive to the question of finding solutions.

NRN, << There is no silver

NRN,

<< There is no silver bullet that is going to solve the banking crisis - it is going to require a process, and that takes time.>>

And one of those processes is to stop the fear in having people lose their jobs, whether it being recessionary or outsourcing. Everything in this crisis is related. If you fear losing your job, you are not going buy a house or buy into the economy. As I am sure, you already know. This is a point for others to know. 

Let's take this logic further

Okay, we should not tax people (rich, middle, poor) to pay for government. Let the people and their innate intelligence figure out out to solve their own problems. I'm in. Get government out of the way. Let's go.

But your post really just focused on social spending. Very limited. I find that many Republicans talk about cutting taxes and social spending.....then STOP.

Let's go further if we're really about small government and getting out of people's way. First, we need to rethink the 700 foreign military bases we have in 120 countries. Now if we trust people to solve their own problems, why are we funding the Pentagon to the tune of $500-billion a year? And these are just maintenance costs. Never mind the billions$$ in supplementals we give the Pentagon each year for extra-curricular activites. Let's get the government out of the business of building an empire.

The next obvious issue is this War on Drugs that got ramped up under Reagan. Now why aren't we trusting the people to make decisions about what they out into their body? Why not let the market find a reasonable balance between pleasure, consenual madness, neigborhood rehabs... Currently we have a huge government funded prison system that in some states has 1-in-25 people locked up. Most for drug offenses. So if we're talking getting government out of the way, here's another good example to extend your logic. Remove the War on Drugs, and you remove another bottomless pit of government spending...and gove more freedom to people.

If Republicans are choosing to start the small government mantra as a tactic to erase the Big Government reality under Bush....then as you say, we must challenge all premises.

Totally agree with you on the

Totally agree with you on the so-called "War on Drugs."

Defense is another matter. I don't know that we do or don't need bases all over the world, but our relatinoships and treaty obligations have to be considered before we make big moves in that area. And we need to be careful not to think we can simply secure our country against aggression by putting up walls.

So keep this conversation going....

Discretionary military spending accounts for the biggest part of the national budget behind Medicare and Social Security. And don't forget the pension and VA obligations we have for all retired military for the rest of their lives.

We need to be careful not to think we can simply secure our country against aggression by putting up walls.

This kind of thinking is similar to Democrats who feel we must be careful thinking we can just let the market fix itself. This is another reason why the GOP is just another side to the same coin. Not much choice here.

You either believe in letting people fix their own problems or you don't. Supporting an enormous standing military in far off lands is Big Government.

A free marketer will tell you that trade between nations is the most effective form of peace. Who wants to fight when everyone is working and making money?

Very tricky, but I'm not buying

You liberals are full of tricks, trying to conflate the need for a standing military (of whatever size necessary to protect the nation) with a big nanny state.

The trouble is that our Constitution establishes the need for the first, but not the second. We shouldn't have a military any larger than it needs to be to protect the homeland and fulfill our treat obligations. Unfortunately, that's a pretty big military footprint. Dont like it -- there's always Canada. There you can have your free medical care, all the dole you want, de-criminalized pot, and by protected from the Chinese, North Koreans, Ruskies and Jihadis by your southern neighbors. And if you don't think we have enemies who would hit us if they thought they could get away with it, we disagree there, too.

And yes, the free marketers have a point. I doubt China and US relations would be as sanguine as they are without the trade between us. Are you old enough to remember the cold war, and even the China relationship before Nixon? Perhaps if Russia and the USA were trading billions worth of goods and services, Russian warships wouldn't be docking in Venezuela.

The trouble with trade is, of course, the job loss it causes in the more affluent tranding partner. And yes, government needs to manage this through the safety net. I suppose you will suggest to me that this where the Democrats get it and the Republicans don't -- except that there is a debate within BOTH parties.

It's worth re-vsiting the Gore vs Perot debate on YouTube, it's sobering for those on both sides of the argument.