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View Diary: Frank Rich on Fox's Shepard Smith (263 comments)

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  •  I've often said (11+ / 0-)

    that I espouse very liberal views for very conservative reasons.

    First, I believe in doing things at the local scale. I believe local problems are best solved through the initiative of local residents. I believe in local business, responding directly and efficiently to the needs and tastes of its community. I think that, on a small scale, direct democracy is a good thing; no one knows better what a neighborhood needs than the residents of that neighborhood. This is why I object to policies that favor large corporations over small, locally owned businesses; that force uniform planning and development standards on communities at the expense of continuity with local institutions and traditions; and that raise obstacles to financing of small-scale projects, making it impossible to get things done without a rich and powerful "fairy godmother."

    Second, I believe in self-sufficiency, of being able to provide for one's own basic needs, which is why I'm dismayed by corporate practices that uproot the livelihoods of entire communities, sometimes entire regions, and by our flight from manufacturing goods for domestic consumption and profligate spending on imports.

    Third, I believe in neighborliness, and so I deplore the blasting of the American social fabric into 300 million individual, self-interested "consumers" with no responsibility for one another's well-being, as well as the aforementioned corporate disregard for communities.

    Fourth, I believe in the family. My parents have been married since 1963 and raised my sister and me in a loving, welcoming, morally authoritative (not authoritarian) home. I saw what divorce did to the families of many of my friends growing up. In our atomized society, I believe we should do everything in our power as a nation to provide more opportunities for shared bonds of kinship and mutual support. Therefore, I support gay marriage without qualification -- for that matter, support any sort of household arrangement entered into by mutually consenting adults. Why shouldn't we allow two men or two women to share ownership of property, tax benefits, health insurance and hospital visitation rights? For that matter, why shouldn't we allow five heterosexual single mothers to do the same, so that three can work while two take care of the kids? Or a nuclear family with a bachelor uncle, or any other extended family? And why do we allow such a low minimum wage that all the adults in a family -- and sometimes one or more of the kids -- are forced to work to support the family at or above subsistence level? I believe it's a good thing for children to be looked after full-time by a parent; I don't care which one, and I don't believe this should be used as an excuse to force women out of the workplace. But for a parent to stay at home, it has to be economically feasible.

    Fifth, I am not a moral relativist. I believe that morality (as distinct from custom or convention) is absolute, being rooted in our common humanity and the fundamental principle of not causing harm to other human beings. I consider certain actions to be objectively, unequivocally wrong. I believe that human rights are a moral imperative, and I believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to be the best expression of them to date. Consequently, I'm dismayed whenever the government allows, let alone encourages, any person or entity to profit from the exploitation, deception, manipulation or neglect of another. And I believe we need to reestablish our moral power in the world by implementing a foreign policy in which we protect our own prerogatives without violating the prerogatives of others.

    Sixth, I believe in a competitive market economy. But a purely laissez-faire economy doesn't remain competitive for long. An effectively functioning market economy has to be regulated in such a way as to preserve numerousness of participants, freedom of participants to enter and exit, products of comparable quality, and the availability of complete and accurate information to buyers. In our economy, many participants grow so huge as to be able to distort market forces, create barriers to entry and generate a fog of misinformation. Current lingo calls these entities "too big too fail." I call them too big to exist. I'm all for reducing waste, but government has to be large enough to keep the largest businesses under control. When corporations outgrow government, they effectively become government -- witness United Fruit and the East India Company. And while government is at least nominally obliged by its mission statement to look after citizens' interests, corporations are under no such obligation.

    Seventh, I believe in fiscal responsibility. Deficit spending in good economic times is reckless to the point of immorality. The government should tax and spend just enough to carry out its core mission of establishing justice, ensuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare by providing an economy of scale that allows us to obtain more value than we could achieve with a smaller effort. There is too much government spending that doesn't meet this standard of utility. That being said, our military budget is preposterously outsize, relative not only to the spending of other nations but to our own needs; and thanks to the damage wreaked on communities by indifferent corporations, our spending on welfare is far above where it ought to be, too. Military and welfare spending are drains on our ability to generate and reinvest capital; we need to rebuild our domestic manufacturing sector to create the kinds of stable jobs that reduce the need for welfare payments. The goal of every anti-poverty program should be to make itself obsolete. Then there's personal fiscal responsibility. Should we be buying so much on credit, just because it makes the GDP look more impressive? Should companies be allowed to offer riskier and riskier loans for more and more unreasonably priced homes? And should every household be trying to provide for all its needs alone, without any cooperation? Privatization is inherently wasteful. A single community park provides more benefit for its cost than two dozen yards with pools and playground sets. A neighborhood movie theater is better than a hundred home theater systems. And a clean, safe, punctual public transportation system in a well-designed transit-oriented neighborhood offers vast savings, in the long run, over single-occupant cars running willy-nilly over a sprawling landscape.

    Eighth, I believe in noblesse oblige. You can probably identify better than I the chapter and verse in which it's said, "From those to whom much is given, much shall be expected." Nothing has been expected of the luxury class in this country for the last 30 years except that camera crews be let in occasionally to film their opulent homes for entertainment programs. Thirty years of productivity gains, and three-fifths of Americans have nothing to show for it but stagnant wages and increasing unemployment. All the gains have been reaped by those at the top, and hoarded. This is why I believe in a steeply graduated income tax with a high marginal rate on luxury incomes. The 1950s and early 1960s, supposedly a golden age of broadly shared prosperity, featured among other things a 70 to 90 percent top marginal income tax rate. I believe we could manage 60 percent on household incomes over $250,000 today. Things can hardly get any worse.

    And speaking of productivity, ninth and last, I believe in rewarding work. No one who puts in a full week's work in a job that's essential to the smooth running of our society should be unable to support his or her family, period. And I believe that if all the gas station attendants, fast-food cooks, grocery cashiers and vegetable pickers in America stayed home tomorrow, we'd be hurting a lot more than if all the hedge fund managers took the day off. But without the right to unionize freely, working people will never get the rewards they've earned.

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:07:14 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  comments like this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bablhous, Matt Z

      make me wish there was a hotlist for comments.

    •  Nice comment, Geenius (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      Your tax comments are kinda scary to me but even though I'm "conservative" I find much to agree with.

      I'm particularly drawn to the concept that if you do a fulls day work that you should be able to have enough food, shelter, transportation and healthcare for you and your family.  The problem is that conservatives don't think like this and progressives tend to only come up with ideas from 60 years ago.

      It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) and/or Digital Socialism, if you are aware of either of these ideas.

      We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

      by theotherside on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:07:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not aware of either nt (0+ / 0-)

        "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

        by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:20:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here are some links that I think (0+ / 0-)

          you would be interested in given your comments on what you believe in:

          Essentially, the basic income guarantee ensures that all Americans have a certain income that ensures nobody is in poverty.  There is a group that is something like the US BIG group that promotes a version of it.  I won't link to it because they don't have any means test or work requirement and is something I could therefore not support.

          Digital socialism, as far as I understand it, is to allow technology to create a collectivist body in a voluntary fashion.

          Here is a  link on it:

          We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

          by theotherside on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:16:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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