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Flip the Script

I participated in a discussion panel with several thoughtful, open minded, curious liberals who really, truly, want to have a better understanding of conservatives. It was terrific. My suspicion/hope is that there are a lot more liberals out there in the world like the folks I talked with than like the crazies who make the nightly news.

My previous post, How American Popular Culture Misunderstands Conservatism,  was the “script” of the comments I made in the discussion.  I described how I think the liberal and conservative versions of empathy differ, and how American Popular Culture is biased in favor of the liberal version.

A comment I received the next day from one of the liberals in the group expressed frustration with the general nature of my remarks, and hope that future discussion would get out of the abstract into practical solutions.  Here’s the comment. My response to it follows: 

I felt stuck last night as

From my more liberal point of view, things which might be considered the “commons”  can’t move forward without us (conservatives and liberals) agree on how to handle it collectively.  We need both sides to figure out how to best keep our collective health care costs down while also providing good care for everyone.

It is why climate change, for me, is such an issue right now.  (I’ve been a climate activist now for 2 years).   We can’t move forward until we all move forward.  We need policies to insure that our common air, water, soil continues to support us.  It is clear that unchecked capitalism is destroying our ability to have a sustainable future.

So, I’m thinking if this group continues, we might want to get out of the abstract where we were last night talking about empathy and get into the juicy issues sitting before us.


I get that a lot. It’s infuriating.

If you want to get out of the abstract and talk about solutions then my solution for this….

“We need both sides to figure out how to best keep our collective health care costs down while also providing good care for everyone.”

…is this:

Join Medi-Share, or something like it (look it up).

In other words, get the government the hell out of the medical/insurance industries altogether. It has no business whatsoever being anywhere near those places. It’s presence there violates the spirit and intent, if not the letter, of the Constitution, which is to say, of the concepts and necessary ingredients of liberty itself.

It seems you assume fixing health care is the government’s job.

It’s not.

But the proper role of government is an “abstract” idea.

So let’s set it aside, focus on “real” issues, and put the government in charge of 1/6 th of the entire economy.

Look, I don’t mean to be combative.

It’s just that in my experience when people complain that the discussion is too abstract what they’re generally really doing is circumventing or leapfrogging any thought or debate about whether or not the government has any legitimate business mucking about in our every day life decisions and jumping right into the details of how it will do exactly that.

Abstract questions like the role of government or Liberal vs conservative empathy are the crux of everything. They are the whole debate. They are the “juicy issues.”

Skipping over those “abstract” questions concedes 95% of the argument to liberals and then quibbles with them over the deck chairs on the now sinking ship.

It reminds me of an old joke about marriage:

My wife wanted a cat. I did not want a cat. So we compromised. And got a cat. (And the only discussion was about which kind of cat we got.)

So if you want to talk about Obamacare then let’s flip the script. Let’s agree that the government will get completely out of anything and everything to do with health care or insurance. And let’s restrict the conversation to ONLY private, non-government approaches.

As for climate change. In my lifetime I’ve seen similar chicken little scenarios over 1) global COOLING and the coming ice age, 2) “The population bomb” that said we were going to run out of food and millions would starve to death, and 3) that we were about to run out of oil.

All three were defended by “science.”

And the left’s proposed solutions for all of those predicted catastrophes were the same as they always are: More Government control of the “threatened” industries because it has “experts” who “know better;” and less liberty and less autonomy for everyone. (Because we all know how good the government is at running things.)

The predicted doomsdays for all three of those calamities came and went long ago.

And yet here we are with global warming, plenty of food, and more oil than ever. The exact opposite of all three sky-is-falling scenarios.

Am I saying we can be careless, cavalier, and wasteful? Of course not.

What I AM saying is that the first thing the left needs if it wants its pet programs to gain any traction at all is a huge boost of its own credibility. It needs to do a lot less preaching and condescending, and a lot more listening.  It needs to show a lot more respect, tolerance, openness, and inclusiveness toward diverse views than it has for the last few decades.  It needs to actually practice what it preaches. 


6 thoughts on “Flip the Script

  1. It would be interesting to trace the thought processes that turned your interlocutor into a climate activist only two years ago. Bit late to the party, unless s/he is very young. Funny how doomsday scenarios attract the left, maybe because nothing justifies a drift towards totalitarianism like the end of the world. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416551/campus-rape-and-emergency-its-always-excuse-authoritarianism-kevin-d-williamson

    Of course, when the personal is the political, your personal belief in the apocalypse looms over your politics in a way that it wouldn’t in the case of a Rapture believer. But I’m feeling uncharitable towards the left these days. (see comment to your previous post).

    I have a few thousand words on the global warming scam, but that’s perhaps for another comment.

    In the meanwhile, Pointman nailed it a few years ago. The post is long, but I know you are up to it!

    “Science was to be used as the battering ram to effect what was in essence political change, which would also make a lot of people a lot of money. If you weren’t a scientist, how on Earth could you possibly raise any objections to it? A hitherto obscure and nascent area of science obligingly allowed itself to become a compliant and willing whore to politics and it was lavishly rewarded for its services. It was to be thug management with its usual characteristics of arrogance, hypocrisy, lies, intolerance, deceit, intimidation and ruthless self-interest.”


    Posted by Sigdrifr (@Sigdrifr) | February 12, 2017, 10:40 am
  2. Wow, I thought we had sworn-off the use of narrow, one-dimensional, linear thinking ? “In other words, get the government the hell out of the medical/insurance industries altogether. It has no business whatsoever being anywhere near those places. It’s presence there violates the spirit and intent, if not the letter, of the Constitution, which is to say, of the concepts and necessary ingredients of liberty itself.”

    The belief in Laissez-faire utopian solutions is just as linear as liberal dirigisme. The ‘magic’ mechanism of the market doesn’t work in every situation, especially in medical insurance.

    Both Hayek and Smith warned of this fictional panacea.

    Probably nothing has done so much harm to the liberal cause as the wooden insistence of some liberals on certain rough rules of thumb, above all the principle of laissez-faire.
    Hayek, “The Road to Serfdom” p.18 U of Chicago Press 1972

    Far from advocating a “minimal state”, we find it unquestionable that in an advanced society government ought to use its power of raising funds by taxation to provide a number of services which for various reasons cannot be provided or cannot be provided adequately by the market.
    Hayek, “Law, Legislation, and Liberty” 1982

    I am the last person to deny that increased wealth and the increased density of population have enlarged the number of collective needs which government can and should statisfy.
    Hayek, New Studies

    The Framers couldn’t have conceived of a modern medical system, because in their day, going to a doctor was as likely to kill someone as help them. Washington was bled with leaches numerous times on his deathbed.

    Complex systems need complex and not simplistic, reductive solutions.


    Posted by tomrossman2017 | February 11, 2017, 4:37 pm
    • I’m a libertarian libertine that has fought the long retreat for 40 years. Cherry-picked quotes from Hayek notwithstanding, I too have become more pragmatic and realize that a laissez-faire social organization is not going to happen in my lifetime on this planet.

      But it seems overwhelmingly obvious that in the USA at least, the Federal government has grown so large that it is a menace no matter which party is in charge of it. It approaches 30% of GDP and a significant number of people employed as a permanent self-interested single-party voting bloc. I won’t even go into state and local politics, but they too have grown enormously, expensively and intrusively (I mean, soda taxes? plastic bag bans? subisidized street parties?). So at this point, ANY attempt to starve the beast and drain the swamp has my support.

      While I appreciate your point about the limitations of medical care in 1790, the very word you use: “system”, shows that you are under the thrall of the fatal conceit. Until Bismarck, there was no “health care system”. It’s an autocratic notion that underlies the welfare state monster that we live in.

      If your concern is that some people are unable to pay for expensive procedures and care, then that could be handled by free-market catastrophic insurance, rather than the fascist (literally, Kaiser & cronies came up with the employer-provided, tax-advantaged plan as part of the 1930s military-industrial efforts to raise the Depression and then win WWII). If the issue is that people are too poor, ignorant or feckless to pay for their own preventive care (vaccines, dental, blood pressure management, weight control), then a subsidy to individuals (e.g., health spending accounts) would better fit our current mobile global knowledge-worker economy than a system designed for people working lifetime factory jobs, who retired at 65 only to die 5 years later. That system is truly broken, and only Rand Paul has outlined a plan that comes to grips with much of it. There are other systemic problems too (the power of the FDA springs to mind, Federal funding of medical research is another, the certification guilds, etc.), but enough for now.


      Posted by Sigdrifr (@Sigdrifr) | February 12, 2017, 10:59 am
      • The point I am making is that belief in a magical market mechanism of Laissez-faire utopianism is just as much a fantasy as belief in the magical power of a completely government run system. That is a 100% linear approach to a complex problem. The reason that both Adam Smith and Hayek had deep suspicions about Laissez-faire systems is that they have never been successfully implemented, anywhere and they completely ignore that aspect of human nature that drives some people to game the system to their advantage and the detriment of the wider populace. Smith in particular held a very negative view of the motives and actions of businessmen of his day – see Thomas Sowell’s Conflct of Visions for a more exhaustive treatment of that issue.
        As Locke said, “where there is no law, there is no freedom.” The problem with most Libertarians is that they have linear, narrow, one-dimensional dogmatic views of the world that are completely contradicted by reality and the great thinkers in the history of Liberty. I have yet to meet a Libertarian who has actually studied what Locke, Hayek and Smith wrote.
        Far from data mining, the Hayek quotes were thoroughly representative of his thinking, in fact go read The Constitution of Liberty for yourself, it will be quite revealing. He has long lists of areas where he believed that government not only should act, but was morally required to act. Milton Friedman as well.
        Lastly, your extrapolation of my ideas from the mere use of the word ‘system’ is another example of your narrow thinking. Use whatever word you would like, it was description not prescriptive, as is clear from the context. I’m sorry I don’t have the correct shibboleth to be admitted to your club, but since it is all mere vapor and fantasy, I feel ok about that. Cooperation and competition are both essential to an efficient and effectively functioning society, embracing one without the other is, has and always will be a recipe for disaster.


        Posted by tomrossman2017 | February 12, 2017, 11:41 am
    • You make some great points. I love the quotes you included. I agree that a balanced approach is needed.

      I’m away from my computer for about a week. I hope to be able to reply more productively when I’m back home.

      But thanks again for your thoughts. You’ve added to my understanding.

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by The Independent Whig | February 12, 2017, 11:18 am
      • Thank you for your feedback. This is one of the most productive, intelligent conversations I’ve seen on the web. Even though we disagree sometimes, it is always thought-provoking. In fact, as I am a huge fan of Hayek, the real Hayek not the reductive version so many employ, in his essay ‘Why I’m not a Conservative’, Hayek says that if anything, he would call himself a Whig, after the original Whigs of John Locke’s day which plowed the difficult terrain in preparation for the flourishing of modern democracy.


        Posted by tomrossman2017 | February 12, 2017, 11:51 am

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