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I've been chattering about the meaninglessness of the words "liberal" and "conservative" for years. Now, here's another log for the fire:

Find a real, dyed-in-the-wool, rock-ribbed Republican who's not a member of the fanatic fringe (yes, there still are people like that). Then ask him/her the following question:

Given two sets of parents, one of whom believes their children should be as free of rules as possible since human nature will eventually make them control their behavior and the other believing a strict set of regulations and structure is necessary to their success in the world, which of these parents is "liberal" and which is "conservative?"

If past behavior is any guide, the Republican will reply that the first set of parents are unfit as parents and plainly wrong in their philosophy - therefore, they are liberal.

Now, ask him/her the following:

Given two presidents of the United States, one of whom believes corporations should be as free of rules as possible since the forces of the free market will make them control their behavior and the other believing a set of strict regulations is necessary to prevent abuse of the citizens, which of these is "liberal" and which is "conservative?"

The paradox of the right-wing position is pretty clear. If regulating the behavior of children is a mark of a good parent, why is doing the same thing to corporations wrong? It's clear that the right-wing philosophy, by opposing regulation, is the "liberal" path while the left-leaning preference for regulation is far more "conservative."

We've seen time and again what happens when industry isn't regulated. The desire for profit in our culture amounts to a disease. Therefore, if government doesn't take action to limit the exploitation of resources, pollution of sources of water and air and products that endanger the health and welfare of society, industry will take the path of least resistance, whatever that may be. In the same sense that a kid has to have parenting, a corporation has to have supervision. Although creativity (innovation) is to be encouraged, structure (regulation) is a necessity for growth. Oddly, the Market, also known as God by some Wall Street types, is said to hate uncertainty. Well, what can be more uncertain than unregulated and untrammeled greed as a way of life?

I would suggest that Republicans acknowledge their "liberalism" and embrace it. It might spare them from another campaign of hypocrisy and venom.

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