The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Free minds and free markets

It has not escaped my notice that my posts don't prompt the level of discussion that Fleming's posts do. Bill's posts are entertaining; I don't dispute that. They are also pretty "liberal" in drift. And that's one of the reasons Bill is a moderator here.

The quantity of comment his posts bring probably has a lot to do with the political bent of the majority of those who post comments. I am told that we have tons of viewers, but only a dozen of them ever comment. I guess that's typical, although I'd sure like to see a vigorous debate of issues here.

I feel somewhat, uh, adversarial, in this crowd when I say, for example, that I advocate repeal of Social Security and Medicare. I feel much more comfortable when I advocate the freedom of choice in what one should be able to do with one's own body (or someone else's, with permission, of course). Free minds and free markets.

I think it is evident that government ruins just about everything it touches. Problem is, there is no parallel paradigm for comparison, so folks think that government's promises that the solution to problems is to make new laws and spend new money make sense. Its self-promotion is always couched in the language of improvement of folks' lives. The reality is always the stealing of the fruits of folks' labor and the creation of new punishments. The proposed health care system is a glaring example.

Another is the fact that in 30 minutes I have to leave my place of employment in Spearfish and go to Rapid City to spend another night in jail.


Bill Fleming said...

Has there ever been a time in our Nation's history, Bob where the the type of freethinking/freemarket society you envision has flourished?

Perhaps more to the point, is there a place on earth now where such an ideology can be observed to be working in practice? Or is yours more of a utopian/theoretical construct?

It has been my experience especially with poor people in struggle, that their baseline concern is the well being of the group and that their generosity one to another is not one of stealing the fruits of one's labor, but rather in sharing it. I'll argue that such is the baseline core value and survival strategy of the fundamental human social unit, as well as in many other animal species as well.

It's "nature's way" if you will.

p.s. Those "sleepovers" have got to suck, huh? How many left to go?

Bill Fleming said...

p.s. to be clear, Bob, I've got more than just liberals commenting here.

Howie, Ellis, Jones, Powers, Wasson, et al.

Perhaps the reason there's not much debate is that those people don't rally want it?

caheidelberger said...

Bob, I appreciate your willingness to apply your philosophy consistently. When I advocate a single-payer health coverage system, most of the conservatives who "rebut" me by calling me a socialist don't have the guts to take their position to its logical conclusion and call for abolishing Medicare. (Neither did a single Republican in the House Energy and Commerce Cmte. when Rep. Weiner offered them the chance to do so on July 30.)

Still, I'll suggest to you that we would enjoy a net increase in liberty across the country. It's hard to have free minds and markets when you're so worried about going bankrupt from a hospital stay that you don't dare leave a job you don't like for other entrepreneurial opportunities. Think of health coverage like police (o.k., maybe that's not your favorite comparison) or fire protection: if each of us had to maintain our own fire hydrants and constantly train to catch muggers and rapists on our own, we'd have much less time to engage in starting our own businesses and thinking elevated thoughts here online.

Liberty is my goal, too... but liberty is achieved only within the framework of cooperation in society. Life in the state of nature might be fun for a two-week hike on the Centennial Trail, but it eventually turns solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Bill Fleming said...

p.s. forgot to mention LaFong and Sibson, and of course, you and Sanborn.

In short, I think there are quite a few "non-liberals" (whatever that means) who show up here, Bob.

I agree that the conversation could perhaps be more productive... but hey, everything has to start someplace, some way, you know?

The impulse I keep having to resist is to just throw down and say. 'To hell with it, you know what? You guys lost the election. Now shut the f**k up and get out of the way while we clean up the GD mess you made over here.'

Sometimes I think my stifling of that instinct is actually what makes me a liberal. You know, my actually giving a sh*t what the rest of you think?

Sometimes I think instead maybe we "libs" should just go into lock and load mode and kick some righteous ass.

Taunia Adams said...

Switch to decaf, BF. Your words seem quite animated tonight.

Corey and BF both sound like bleeding heart liberals. *snick Damn you kids for wanting the same for everyone, especially health care , which is coming right up there with food, shelter and clothing.

Why does health have to be a luxury?

Bill Fleming said...

I hear ya Taunia. I've got a little indigestion tonite, actually. Maybe a bug or something...

Taunia Adams said...

Hope you're feeling better soon.

You're one of the good ones, and we need you to keep the ball rolling.

"If you're blue and you don't where to go to

Why don't you go where fashion sits?"

Like the old days.

caheidelberger said...

My sympathies, Bill -- I feel that same urge myself... and I wonder if exactly that desire to hear what the other guy is thinking is what's holding Obama and some others back.

Thad Wasson said...

Trying to solve this problem in 5 minutes while ignoring the previous decades of damage done by our elected officials. But, here goes...

Since we have accomplished all the goals set by the government in the 2003 Iraq war, I would bring the troops back stateside. I would also remove our troops from Kosovo. South Korea would be third. Shift those funds to domestic issues.

I wish I could comment more but my children are sneaking out of the house.

Bill Fleming said...

Good start, Thad. Come back when you get the kids handled.

caheidelberger said...

Oh man... don't tell me Thad Wasson is going to challenge my sensibilities by being another consistent conservative. This could be interesting. (Now if only South Dakotans voted for consistency....)

David Newquist said...

First, having to repair to Hoosegow Hall after work to go nighty-night seems more than a tad counterproductive and pointless, but our justice system is not exactly driven by rational examinations of what effects should be produced and what measures will produce them. When young people ask if I have been to jail, I quickly say yes. Then even more quickly explain that when I was a very young man who went on western jaunts with friends, we often stopped in remote jails and spent the night in exchange for scrubbing down the jail and, perhaps, doing a little maintenance in the mornings before going on our way. I can only imagine what it must be like to spend the night under official, judicial circumstances.

As for repealing Medicare and Social Security, I can envision such an eventuality bringing a whole bunch of Hugo Chavez types to life in our own country and heading into an ultimate clash between the haves and have-nots. I suppose my own "progressive" orientation toward those programs and healthcare is rooted deeply in my experience as a soldier. It was during the time of the draft, and a typical basic training unit consisted of people of every educational and economic level--college graduates to men who had to have someone write their letters home, from men whose families were millionaires to men who whose families could never afford to go to the doctor or dentist unless there was a dire emergency. And then the expenses were not affordable.

This was also during the post-Korea period when the armed services had a special commission set up to study what had caused some American POWs to become turncoats. They chose to remain in North Korea rather than return to the U.S. (but not for long). The answer was in the obvious. North Korea seemed to offer more freedom, opportunity, and respect than anything they had experienced in their own country up to that time. Our understanding in the military at that time was that dealing with the turncoat issue was a top priority with President Eisenhower.

Among my duties was to be one of the medical monitors in my unit. As we did not have medics assigned, medical monitors were given oral thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, some training in first aid, and a pad of sick call permission slips. It was also our job to monitor men in the unit for any signs of injury, illness, or distress. For many the Army was a salvation and a revelation. Men learned systematic hygiene and had ailments and injuries treated as preventive measures rather than as matters of emergency. They also learned the implicit fact that the "free market" was free only to those with wealth and power, and the lesser souls on the socio-economic scale were excluded. In the Army, they received a demonstration that equality meant not being negligible and expendable, and that it meant that one person's life was not considered any more or less valuable than other persons. A truly free market is not limited to the privileged classes.

Ultimately, that's what Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and proposed health care reform is about: freeing up the market. It is a matter of organizing society on functional equality and freedom, taking it out of the dog-pack and chicken-flock scheme of social organization, which serves only the Alpha strata and the higher orders of the pecking order. In other words, it is a matter of pursuing the democratic concepts of equality, freedom, and justice into the marketplace.

Such equality and the means to attain it is a matter of repugnance to many. And that seems to be what we face today.

Thad Wasson said...

One child down for the afternoon nap, the other two watching tv.

The federal government is determined to have free trade with other nations at any cost to us citizens. However, other nations have no concern for the U.S.A. So what happens is a race to the bottom for wages and "employess" if that is what they are called in China. So we have massive unemployment and the entrylevel jobs go overseas. The cost of SSN and Medicare rise because we have fewer contributing because these jobs are not around.

I am not a protectionist but South Dakota needs a leader who will make these other nations trade fairly, and not dump their products. Not only will the 2 DEM leaders not say anything, but our 1 REPUB is silent on this issue also.

Michael Sanborn said...

Of course, Bob, there is the possibility that your posts and my posts get fewer responses because:

A. We post less frequently
B. We post more convincingly

Or maybe Bill is better at provoking responses...that would make him provocative, wouldn't it?

Just a thought.

Bill Fleming said...

It seems to me a "Forum" should invite conversation. If I were only interested in my own point of view, I wouldn't host (or co-host) a Forum. I'd just hole up in my ivory tower and issue screeds, polemics and diatribes like Sibby and Bob Ellis do.

Michael Sanborn said...

The problem with late-night posts is that folks can't tell when my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek.

Bill's posts are written in a manner that invites comment. That's a good thing.

Bob Newland said...

(In answer to the first comment in this string)

Yes, Bill, the free market flourished until the 1960s, in ever-decreasing measure. The decrease parallelled the increase in government interference with the free market.

During that period there was, of course, much abuse of human rights as delineated by the Constitution and the First Ten Amendments thereto.

It is my contention that the free market could have been left much more intact while government moved to protect the rights of individuals to practice marketing freely.

I think we could have, for example, abolished slavery without abolishing a person's right to keep about 98% of the fruits of his labors to spend on that which he desired.

Instead, government at all levels now consumes about 65% of one's labor's fruit if one is diligent about sending government all it claims it is entitled to.

Bob Newland said...

Now, having skimmed all the comments, I am gratified by the responses, both in quantity and in quality.

I appreciate that. Looks like all I had to do was whine a little about not being noticed and people started throwing grease at what they considered a squeaky wheel.

Get ready. I am about to postulate on health care. Stay tuned.

Taunia Adams said...

Hurry, Bob.

I found something I'd like to respond with, cause we already know your position.