Monday, June 14, 2004

From a Man of the Left

This came over the transom this morning. I've interpolated some brief
responses.

Bill,

You are a man of the Right, I am a man of the Left.
However, I think you assume that Liberals are all
moral relativists and anti-elitists. Nothing could
be further from the truth.

>>Thanks for writing, Mr. Perry. I do not assume that all people who call themselves liberals are moral relativists and anti-elitists. My claim would be that the liberal tendency -- a tendency exmplified to a greater or lesser degree in individuals who classify themselves as liberals -- is towards erosion of standards, confusion of things that are distinct (e.g., equality of opportunity and equality of outcome), absurd exaggerations of sound principles (e.g., taking freedom of speech to license any sort of speech; the ACLU's interpretation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment to rule out a tiny cross on the seal of the City of Los Angeles, etc.)<<

Both I and John Gallagher are "meritocrats" who
believe that work, skill, intellect, and integrity should
be rewarded while stupefaction, shoddiness, ineptness,
and laziness should not.

>>As John made clear to me the other night when I ran into him at the Caffeination Plantation. I conclude that you and Gallagher do not fully exemplify the liberal type. Of course, much depends on how exactly we are using 'liberal' and 'conservative.' The people I call 'liberals' are people that oppose things that strike me as very close to common sense, e.g., limited government, a free market under the rule of law, individual responsibility, reasonable laws few in number but rigorously enforced, strong national defense, a tax code that doesn't reward vicious behavior and punish productive behavior, and so on.<<

Dislike of idiocy and moral shoddiness are not the sole
"preserves" of the Right. Indeed, I believe the Right has
actually been the more morally/ethically hypocritical
of its own values than the Left. Examples: Bush's
Socialistic rewarding of Iraq reconstruction contracts
to cronies with no bidding process, Bush's profligate
fiscal policies, Bush's own shoddy history where he
had no real jobs but just ran one company after another
into the ground.

>>I think it is important to discuss issues and ideas rather than people. When I call myself a conservative, that is not to be taken as an endorsement of everything (or even most things) about any particular individual. Bush, after all, is no real conservative: he thinks the Federal government should be involved in education at the local level, which I find absurd. And I assume that most liberals would want to distance themselves from Clinton's perjury, subornation of perjury, pardoning of Marc Rich, refusal to take the terrorist threat seriously, etc.<<

The Right have simply become "plutophiles" who
worship wealth acquired under ANY circumstances
and who believe in Socialism for their cronies whilst
the rest of us are thrown in the capitalist Skinner
Box.

>>Again, to be properly conducted, the debate must be conducted at the level of ideas. Give me an example of a conservative thinker who advocates the "worship of wealth acquired under ANY circumstances..." You cannot refute conservatism by pointing to a deficient conservative anymore than I can refute liberalism by pointing to a guy like Clinton.
Your rhetoric is heating up as your letter proceeds, and now you are coming close to slandering your opponents. Not good, but it is a liberal-leftist tactic.<<


Welfare mothers are excoriated for stealthily acquiring
$5 of malt liquor with their government stipend but what
of the members of the House of Reps. who have been
writing themselves autographed checks on empty
accounts in the House Bank since 1980??

>>Please don't confuse criminal and/or immoral behavior with conservative doctrine. Again, it's about ideas, not people. What conservative thinker advocates fiscal irresponsibility? Conservative advocate exactly the opposite!<<

I assure you that there are a great many Liberals like
John G. and myself who are very far from the limp-
wristed "nannie-state" Liberals usually characterized
as being the ONLY Liberals there are.

>>Do you deny that the liberal tendency is toward bigger and more intrusive government? But this debate will not achieve any real concretion until you tell us exactly what liberalism is on your understanding of the term. For example, do you agree with Gallagher that wealth redistribution is a legitimate function of government? If yes, what exactly are the arguments, and what would your tax scheme look like? Why call yourself a liberal at all? As you know, contemporary liberalism has little to do with classical liberalism.

I am glad that you are are 'meritocrat.' So will you join me in opposing that anti-meritocratic abomination the euphemism of which is 'Affirmative Action'? Thanks again for sending me your thoughts.<<


Regards,


John Perry