A Philosopher's Blog

“Democrats & Republicans: The Philosophy of the State”

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on November 1, 2012

I was asked to contribute a piece on political philosophy to Florida A&M University’s Living Well series and here is what I wrote:

Election Day is almost here and every U.S. citizen must reflect on the similarities and differences between each presidential candidate before casting a vote. This requires more than a quick scan of party platforms. Instead, a deeper focus on the philosophy behind Democratic and Republican party rhetoric will help the average citizen make a more informed decision on Nov. 6. While many believe philosophy has little impact outside of academics, the campaign trail has shown the importance of really knowing the core philosophical values that guide each candidate and will ultimately determine America’s fate for the next four years.

Similarities

Lost in the heat of partisan politics is the truth that most of us share the same values as a people.  In fact, both parties share core philosophical views traceable to the European and American thinkers of the Enlightenment Period (about 1600-1800) such as Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The English philosopher John Locke is probably the philosopher who most influenced American politics in his case for the right to life, liberty and property. In addition to these cherished ideals, Locke also believed legitimate government relies on the consent of the citizenry through majority rule. Interestingly, Democrats and Republicans are united in the once radical view that government exists for the good of the people.

Differences

Self-Interest vs. the Common Good

Many of their differences, however, stem from deciding what role the government should play in serving this good. Republicans tend to take a more conservative approach and accept the philosophy of Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations. Smith’s view, commonly known as laissez-faire capitalism, encourages individuals to act on the basis of self-interest in a free and competitive market that best serves the good of all.  Furthermore, Republican views on the role of government are best attributed to the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau: “that government is best which governs least.” Rather than have the state direct the market, Smith spoke of the market’s “invisible hand” as a metaphor to describe the self-regulating behavior of the marketplace.

While Democrats also embrace capitalism, the philosophy of the current Democratic Party was shaped by the Great Depression and the New Deal. From their standpoint, this economic disaster was caused by allowing the invisible hand of the market to act with little restraint or regulation.

As such, Democrats tend to favor having the state play a prominent role in regulating the economy. This allows the state to serve the good of the people by checking the excesses of self-interest in favor of the common good.  Republicans contend checking of excesses can harm the public good by choking the economy. Thus, Republicans generally favor less state influence over the economy.

The Democrats, as exemplified in the New Deal, generally take the view that the state has a positive, active and significant role to play in securing the good of the people. Specifically, the Democratic Party believes the state should be altruistic in its support of programs like federal student aid, welfare, and healthcare.

While the Republican Party also holds to the idea of the state having an active role in the public good and in caring for citizens during times of need, they generally embrace the idea that the role of the state should be more limited and it is preferable for people to rely on personal success than private charity.

A very strong version of this view is put forth by the Tea Party. Interestingly, they explicitly acknowledge the influence of philosopher Ayn Rand. In her collection of essays titled The Virtue of Selfishness, argued that we are morally obligated to achieve happiness. As she saw it, ethics based on altruism (the moral view that we should act for the benefit of others) would prevent people from achieving happiness. This is because altruists would be wasting their resources on other people rather than using them to achieve their own happiness. Her solution was that people should embrace what philosophers call ethical egoism—the moral view that a people should exclusively act in their own self-interest. While this might sound harsh, the justification is that this creates a better society in which people can succeed by their own efforts without being dragged down by supporting others and without being trapped in dependence.

Thus, some of the key philosophical distinctions between the Democrats and the Republicans involve their views of what role the state should play in securing the general good. The Democrats advocate a more extensive role for the state in securing this good while the Republicans claim the general good is better served by a more limited state. This disagreement is often dramatically exaggerated in political rhetoric, which makes it all the more important to remember that far more unites us as Americans than divides us as Democrats or Republicans (or independents).

I’ll be doing a Twitter live chat as well:

Join LaBossiere on Twitter for a live chat on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. to answer your questions about political philosophy. Follow FAMU_1887 via hashtag #LivingWell101.

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43 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on November 1, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Pretty well balanced overall, but a few quibbles:

    1) “the state should be altruistic” This sort of “altruism” consists of forcibly taking property from some and giving it to others. I would argue that it is different in kind than individual altruism and should be labeled differently.

    2) “preferable for people to rely on personal success than private charity” This probably should read “public charity” as Republicans favor private charity.

    3) “This is because altruists would be wasting their resources on other people rather than using them to achieve their own happiness.” You are fundamentally misunderstanding Ayn Rand. Rand’s argument is that by focusing on your own personal development you will actually contribute more to society than if you focus on helping others. It is analogous to the “invisible hand” of the free market. For example, if you are a neurosurgeon you do more good by being in the operating room than by helping out at a soup kitchen. This was Rand’s point.

    • WTP said, on November 1, 2012 at 8:07 am

      For example, if you are a neurosurgeon you do more good by being in the operating room than by helping out at a soup kitchen.

      Exactly. The title of the subsection is “Self-Interest vs. the Common Good”, as if these two things are mutually exclusive like two opposing sports teams. Another good analogy would be the pre-flight safety talk cabin crews give. They always make a point that if you are traveling with a child or person of limited capacity, should oxygen masks be deployed you are to first put on your own mask before assisting your companion. This is somewhat distrurbing to strict moralists.

    • biomass2 said, on November 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

      TJ: I tried to read Rand’s monstrosity years ago. Forced my self through 200 pages, put it aside, and forgot it. I imagine that copy is on a shelf in some college dorm now. Your post made me think about why her ideas didn’t sit well with me then. In honor of you, TJ, I’m going to offer a link you might find interesting, ‘and’ I’m going to pull out a large chunk that I believe is relevant to this blog post. The whole article is worth reading.

      http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/03/where-ayn-rand-went-wrong-opinions-columnists-shikha-dalmia.html

      “. . .But is self-actualization through productive work–the ultimate goal of this liberation for Rand–all there is to a happy life? . . . . . . . . . . . .
      “Smith spent his whole life examining and reconciling both the self-interested and the “other-interested” side of human nature. Rand, on the other hand, effectively put these two sides at war–limiting her usefulness in the fight to stop the growth of government in the bargain.
      “Rand sought to provide an individualistic and moral defense of capitalism–not a practical and collectivist one. She understood better than anybody that by unleashing the productive potential of individuals, capitalism delivers untold social benefits. But these benefits weren’t the primary reason to defend capitalism, she insisted. Rather, it is that capitalism frees individuals–especially those with exceptional abilities, the Howard Roarks and the John Galts–to reach their highest potential.
      “By grounding capitalism and economic liberties in the psychic needs of individuals as opposed to, say, GDP growth, Rand avoided the collectivist trap under which individual rights are dependent for their legitimacy on serving some broader social purpose. However, this great virtue of her approach turns into a great vice in the context of her broader message, which seems to regard anything beyond a perfunctory interest in the
      well-being of others as vaguely illicit.
      Unlike Smith, Rand failed to fully recognize that though human beings are not constituted for self-sacrifice, they have an innate need to see others prosper. Hence, there is something crabbed and withholding in her writings, as if she is going out of her way on principle to avoid giving any assurance that everyone in fact would be better off under capitalism. Other libertarian theorists–Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises–avoided this flaw. But Rand regarded their defense of capitalism as insufficiently pure. And to the extent that it is Rand’s–not their–case for capitalism that sticks in the popular imagination, it might enhance–not diminish–the allure of government over free market solutions to social issues such as health coverage for the uninsured.
      “Most people read Rand when they are young and are deeply moved by her, only to outgrow her by mid-life. Her adherents like to blame this on the moral pusillanimity and irrationality of the readers. But the real problem is perhaps with Rand herself: Her ideology of self-actualization speaks much more to the concerns of the young than the mature–again, because she ignores the “other-interested” side of human nature.
      Consider what she wrote in her essay “The Ethics of Emergency”: “The proper method of judging when or
      whether one should help another person is by reference to one’s own rational self-interest and one’s own hierarchy of values: The time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in one’s own happiness.” This statement certainly doesn’t preclude helping others so long as they are important to us. But it doesn’t tell us whether we should make them important to us in the first place.”
      . . . . . . . . . . . .
      Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation and writes a bi-weekly column for Forbes.
      ____________
      Selected pieces:
      ” However, this great virtue of her approach turns into a great vice in the context of her broader message, which seems to regard anything beyond a perfunctory interest in the
      well-being of others as vaguely illicit. ”
      “Unlike Smith, Rand failed to fully recognize that though human beings are not constituted for self-sacrifice, they have an innate need to see others prosper.”
      “Most people read Rand when they are young and are deeply moved by her, only to outgrow her by mid-life.
      “. . .she ignores the “other-interested” side of human nature.
      Consider what she wrote in her essay “The Ethics of Emergency”: “The proper method of judging when or
      whether one should help another person is by reference to one’s own rational self-interest and one’s own hierarchy of values: The time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in one’s own happiness.” This statement certainly doesn’t preclude helping others so long as they are important to us. But it doesn’t tell us whether we should make them important to us in the first place.”

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      1. An interesting straw man. Are you expressing the view that taxes are theft? If so, both parties would be full of thieves. Romney certainly would not eliminate all taxes nor would he eliminate the redistribution of resources.

      2. They do favor success over any type of charity, but “public” would be a better choice here, as you say.

      3. That wasn’t Rand’s point. You are casting her as being a utilitarian (that is, that each following his/her self interest will maximize the general good) when her writings make it clear that she is an ethical egoist. Biomass2 laid out the support for this.

  2. WTP said, on November 1, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    An interesting straw man
    Mike can find the straw (man) in someone else’s eye but miss the bale in his own. The point is not about all taxes, but about taxes for fulfilling altruistic goals. As for would not eliminate all taxes nor would he eliminate the redistribution of resources, the “nor” part is unnecessary. By their very nature, all taxes are a redistribution of resources. I would expect someone with a PhD in philosophy to be able to see these difference.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on November 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Adam Smith. Read the last sentence. This is Rand’s point.

    As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Smith was essentially a utilitarian-he claimed that self-interest would lead to the general good (ethical egoism at the individual level, utilitarianism at the broader level). But Rand does not have that view.

      Quoting Smith does not prove anything about Rand. You should just accept that Rand was what she was.

      • WTP said, on November 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm

        Quoting Smith does not prove anything about Rand.
        Of course quoting Rand speaks to beliefs of Republicans. Obfuscate and pounce. Is that in Alinsky’s book?

        • biomass2 said, on November 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

          Quoting Rand speaks to the belief of Rand. Those beliefs may morph over time, but they’re more relevant to the beliefs of Rand than they are to those of Smith. And vice-versa. Quoting Rand may speak to the beliefs of the tea party, a wing of the Republican Party esp. ^if^ those beliefs accurately mirror Rand’s views.

          This is interesting:
          http://ariwatch.com/PresidentialElections-1.htm
          Was she a Republican or a Libertarian? She voted for Roosevelt in ’32. She was fooled. She didn’t vote for him again. She didn’t vote for Eisenhower or Reagan (abstentions). As strongly anti-wars as she was, could she be a true Republican?

      • magus71 said, on November 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

        Rand’s view from my understanding is that she is against alturism as a way of thinking because she believes it means you always put other people before yourself, even if it is harmful to you. She wonders whether she is obligated to give a dime to every single person who asks for it.

        From my old blog: http://magus71.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/jesus-vs-nietzsche/

        • biomass2 said, on November 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm

          In Rand’s own words, from the Forbes article above”

          “The proper method of judging when or whether one should help another person is by reference to one’s own rational self-interest and one’s own hierarchy of values: The time, money or effort one gives or the risk one takes should be proportionate to the value of the person in one’s own happiness.”

          Boiled down to its basics, that statement seems to be saying “I can determine whether I should do “A” based on my own rational(?) self-interest and what I think is right and important. What I get out of doing “A” may be equal to but no greater than the happiness I derive from the act.”

          A great rationalization of greed and even worse, don’t you think? If you think buying and buying and hoarding and investing are in your best interest and giving is not, you just won’t give,and your conscience will be clear. . .and you’ll be happy.

          That thought process is familiar. If I think like Bernie Madoff , if I think cheating people who trust me out of millions will make me happy, well, then, by the gods, I should do it. Or try this: If I think like Jerry Sandusky, if I feel I’ll get great pleasure from raping young boys at no great risk to myself, I should go ahead and do it. Even if I think there may be some risk, if I reason that the pleasure I derive may be greater, I should do it.

      • T. J. Babson said, on November 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        Quote from Ayn Rand. She implicitly claims man’s well being is her goal:

        Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.

        http://www.libertarianquotes.net/R/Ayn-Rand.html

        • magus71 said, on November 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

          Mike,

          Has any economic system in the history of the world contributed more to the welfare of man than capitalism?

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm

            Interestingly, Marx would agree with the implied claim in that question (that capitalism has contributed the most).

            The obvious and easy answer is that it has. I’ve not advocated socialism, communism or the dictatorships that masquerade as socialism. The most I can be accused of is wanting an actual free market and a system that has checks and balances to prevent excesses of destruction and damage.

            • WTP said, on November 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm

              The most I can be accused of is wanting an actual free market and a system that has checks and balances to prevent excesses of destruction and damage.


              No, the most you can be accused of is sophistry and being disingenuous in saying you have not advocated socialism when in fact you often advocate many socialist ideas under the guise of “fairness”. You talk of wanting “actual free markets” but what you consistently advocate are market controls, i.e. “balances to prevent excesses”. Capitalism already has these balances in the elasticity of supply and demand. It is the attempts to make things “fairer” that have created the excesses that created the current economic crisis and most economic crises of the past. If you want to see excesses of destruction and damage, look the more socialist economies of the world. Again, you do not understand fundamental economics well enough to be pontificating on the subject.

            • T. J. Babson said, on November 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm

              “The most I can be accused of is wanting an actual free market and a system that has checks and balances to prevent excesses of destruction and damage.”

              And free birth control and abortions for all.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm

              Not at all.

              I do support having insurance cover birth control on the same grounds that I favor “free” wellness coverage. Of course, these things are free in the sense that the bathroom on the Delta flight is “free” (that is, covered by the cost of the ticket). I also support it on the grounds that it saves the insurance companies money-covering birth control is a money saver.

              As far as the state supplying birth control for free, the evidence (see the source I cited elsewhere) is that it also saves the state money. Spending some to save more is just good business. Of course, not everyone gets it for free. Nor should they.

              As far as abortion goes, I consider it morally undesirable. But, like other types of killing that people do in their own interest (such as innocents being killed in war) I do regard it as potentially morally defensible (that is, less bad than the alternative in some cases). As far as it being free for all, that is not the case. Nor do I support it being free for everyone.

              As far as it being free for some, the rather unpleasant argument for that is that making it free for some is a money saver for the state and society. I do have a moral issue with this, since I would prefer that there were no unwanted pregnancies and hence (nearly) no abortions (some might still be needed in the case of saving the mother’s life).

              I favor birth control because I 1) value choice and 2) morally dislike abortion. Better and more widely available birth control means less abortion.

              While there might be some fun in casting me as a fool and a knave…and I do have my foolishness and occasional knavery…I’m generally a decent person who sometimes thinks things through carefully.

            • WTP said, on November 1, 2012 at 11:27 pm

              I also support it on the grounds that it saves the insurance companies money-covering birth control is a money saver.

              Of course the insurance companies couldn’t figure this out for themselves. They’re too stupid. They need a philosopher king who knows all to tell them how to run their business. Kind of like the philosopher kings who chased State Farm’s home insurance out of the state with their pricing regulations. All to protect the consumers, you understand. Now a loyal State Farm customer like myself, who is obviously too stupid to make decisions for myself, must purchase insurance from someone else. To make it up to us consumers, the state of Florida started its own insurance company, Citizens’ Insurance. Of course, now the taxpayers are on the hook, but that’s all part of the big plan. Eventually the state can regulate all the insurance companies out of the state and have all that business for themselves.

              This right here is where you socialist bastards are now directly impacting my life, getting involved in telling me who I can do business with. Who the #@$& are you to inject yourselves into the market place? And yes, Mike, despite all your protestations to the contrary, you are a socialist SOB. You either have no idea what you are talking about and are thus a fool, or you are an Alinsky fellow-traveller.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm

            I’ll be on at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm (EST) at @FAMU_LivingWell

            Have a beer.

    • biomass2 said, on November 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      A shorter version of what I presented above:
      “Smith spent his whole life examining and reconciling both the self-interested and the “other-interested” side of human nature. Rand, on the other hand, effectively put these two sides at war. . . . . . . . . . ..
      “However, this great virtue of [Rand's]approach turns into a great vice in the context of her broader message, which seems to regard anything beyond a perfunctory interest in the well-being of others as vaguely illicit.
      “Unlike Smith, Rand failed to fully recognize that though human beings are not constituted for self-sacrifice, they have an innate need to see others prosper. . . . . . . . .
      “Her ideology of self-actualization speaks much more to the concerns of the young than the mature–again, because she ignores the “other-interested” side of human nature.”

      //////Ms. Dalmia has interesting credentials. As noted above, she writes opinion pieces for Reason, a ‘libertarian rag’ :) , and for Forbes magazine, a self-proclaimed “capitalist tool.” How could you not like that? Most importantly, her head seems to be sitting more firmly on her shoulders than, say, the heads of the RNC, the DNC, the left and right arms of the MSM, or the talking heads, or just your run-of-the-mill ideologue.

      • T. J. Babson said, on November 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm

        This is a good critique of Rand’s philosophy, which I agree is deeply flawed.

        My only claim is that Rand would agree with Smith’s statement that “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.”

        The neurosurgeon does more good in the operating room than he does in a soup kitchen. The philosopher does more good in his armchair than by tutoring inner city kids.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm

          Smith, I think, recognized an important challenge: reconciling individual interest (and freedom) with the general good. We have competing interests and if we were all able to act freely on our interests, we would be infringing on each other (Hobbes, Locke and Mill recognized this). Somewhat ironically, viable liberty requires restrictions on liberty (see Hobbes war of all against all). The main challenge is sorting out how much limitation is needed to allow everyone a just degree of freedom.

          Smith had faith in the invisible hand. However, looking at Hobbes’ and Locke’s arguments about why we need a state, it makes sense why the invisible hand would not work and that we have to rely on visible hands.

          • WTP said, on November 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm

            Again you misrepresent. Adam Smith believed good government was essential to the prosperity of society. But that government should be limited to enforcing contracts, setting standards, providing public goods such as roads, protecting intellectual property, regulating banking, etc. He even favored a graduated income tax. However, he was opposed to governments regulating markets.

        • biomass2 said, on November 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm

          Would you agree that Rand’s flaws is her failure to, as Dalmia writes, “, , , reconcil[e] both the self-interested and the “other-interested” side of human nature”? That she “. . . seems to regard anything beyond a perfunctory interest in the well-being of others as vaguely illicit.”? Would you agree the Smith sentence that you quote presents a Smith’s less ^hardline^ view of the relationship between the more fortunate and the less fortunate among us?
          Responses to your concluding sentences: 1/No. If he’s less than competent, he’d be doing much more good in a soup question. 2/ I don’t know what the philosopher is doing in that armchair?:) The possibilities boggle the imagination. . . But , believe it or not, there’s much to be gained by “tutoring inner city kids”. What do you have against the poor? Is any activity, performed at any level of competence , of more value to the society than anything that benefits the poor in some way?

          • biomass2 said, on November 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm

            “. . .that one of Rand’s flaws. . .”
            “. . .presents Smith’s less. . .”
            “. . .in a soup kitchen. . .”
            ” I don’t know. What is the philosopher doing in that armchair? ”
            Strike the last sentence, please

        • magus71 said, on November 2, 2012 at 6:05 am

          I prefer Milton Friedman’s description of Rand: “an utterly intolerant and dogmatic person who did a great deal of good.”

      • T. J. Babson said, on November 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm

        It would be interesting to compare Rand and Nozick:

        Many libertarians appeal, in defending their position to economic and sociological considerations – the benefits of market competition, the inherent mechanisms inclining state bureaucracies toward incompetence and inefficiency, the poor record of governmental attempts to deal with specific problems like poverty and pollution, and so forth. Nozick endorses such arguments, but his main defense of libertarianism is a moral one, his view being that whatever its practical benefits, the strongest reason to advocate a libertarian society is simply that such advocacy follows from a serious respect for individual rights.

        http://www.iep.utm.edu/nozick/

        • WTP said, on November 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm

          A serious respect for individual rights is the means to economic success, not the ends of it. By guaranteeing individual rights, a society is guaranteeing that the numerous economic decisions that make up a functioning economy are made by those with the greatest knowledge and the greatest risk/reward factor. Also, numerous decisions made by a large number of people are far more likely to find a more optimal solution than those made by a bureaucrat or even a committee of bureaucrats.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on November 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Quin Hillyer:

    Approach number one: One side of the debate advocates a large, energetic, active, powerful national government. It believes central planners can use their “expertise” to direct many aspects of economic affairs, and that stern regulators are needed to protect Americans from numerous ills both natural and man-made. Capitalism is seen as fraught with danger, and while its energies are appreciated, its “excesses” must be severely harnessed and sometimes redirected in order both to avoid recessions and to make sure nobody grabs too big a “slice of the pie.”

    The Constitution, according to this outlook, is antiquated, almost hopelessly so – except insofar as its “spirit” can be discerned and applied to meet changing circumstances. In that way, the Constitution is “alive” – ever evolving under the beneficent care of learned and appropriately progressive judges. It doesn’t protect rights that pre-exist government; instead, judges use the Constitution’s spirit to ascertain which rights should be “doled out” (in the words of one Supreme Court justice) by the government. In other words, the government, not a Creator, grants rights, insofar (and only insofar) as those rights are seen to be conducive to the betterment of society.

    In matters military and diplomatic, the posture from this side is humble. The United States of America might generally have good intentions, but it bears copious guilt as well, and its projections of power can be just as dangerous and destabilizing as anybody else’s. The U.S. armed services must therefore be restrained, and their size limited, because peace is best secured when foreign nations do not see us as a threat. And peace must indeed always be our watchword, peace above all.

    Finally, in matters cultural, civic life must be strenuously protected from the ravages of faith run amuck; faith is fine in the private realm, but it is a threat to people’s feelings if allowed to invade the public square. Freedom of “worship” must be protected, of course, but except with regard to direct and formal prayer, churches have no more, or no more special, rights to shirk government’s dictates than do any other associations. And, of course, faith especially should not interfere with a woman’s right to control her body, or with “humane” decisions about when life becomes a burden either at its beginning or at its end. Or, for that matter, with anybody practicing whatever conception of marriage they so desire.

    Approach number two: The other side of the debate believes that government, especially the national government, must be strictly limited to powers and duties assigned to it by the Constitution ratified by the people. Freedom is paramount, in the form of “ordered liberty” – the “order” being maintained through laws firm and clear, but not numerous. Individual citizens, not the government, are usually the best judges of their own best interests. And free enterprise and capitalism are seen as a bit messy but overwhelmingly productive and constructive. Capitalism might require a safety net, but not a harness.

    The Constitution is revered, not just because wise Founders created it (which they did), but also because its structure is sound and its principles are noble in and of themselves. Its meaning remains fixed, unless and until the people themselves change it via the formal amendment process. And it does not grant rights, but merely recognizes universal human rights that are ours by the grace of God.

    In diplomacy and military matters, this side views the United States as indisputably a force for good in the world. While armed forces should be used sparingly and only with clear objectives, the American military should be, far and away, the strongest in the world – because honorable peace in maintained through strength.

    In matters cultural, traditional values are seen as the bedrock of society, and faith must be allowed wide latitude for public expression. And the entirety of enlightened civilization rests on two foundations: the recognition that human life is a sacred gift from God; and the celebration of the traditional family unit, grounded in the age-old ideal of marriage between man and woman. On the former point, life begins at conception, and innocent life must be protected in all its stages.

    Conclusion: There are, of course, other differences between these two approaches, but these are the main ones. The scope and nature of the choice is clear. The substance of the choice is for each individual to decide.

    http://www.twelve23.org/quin_hillyer/view/1634/two_visions_clash_in_this_election

    • biomass2 said, on November 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      Is “grab[bing] too big a ‘slice of the pie’” a nice way of describing what the major financial insitutions and rating agencies were doing with their mortgage-backed securities? :(

      • WTP said, on November 18, 2012 at 10:33 pm

        No. You have no idea what you are talking about here.


        The bursting of the U.S. housing bubble, which peaked in 2006, caused the values of securities tied to U.S. real estate pricing to plummet, damaging financial institutions globally. The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of government policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled sub-prime mortgages based on the theory that housing prices would continue to escalate, questionable trading practices on behalf of both buyers and sellers, compensation structures that prioritize short-term deal flow over long-term value creation, and a lack of adequate capital holdings from banks and insurance companies to back the financial commitments they were making.

        • biomass2 said, on November 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm

          What did I say?”. . .what the major financial institutions and rating agencies were doing with their mortgage-backed securities?”
          Your source writes :” . . .overvaluation of bundled sub-prime mortgages based on the theory that housing prices would continue to escalate, questionable trading practices on behalf of both buyers and sellers. . .”
          Who enabled the “overvaluation?” Big banks, through “deceptive ratings provided by Moody’s and S&P.

          As I see it, your source, whatever it is, , specifically supports the idea that the AAA ratings that Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s assigned to bundles of mostly BBB bonds contributed in a major way to what happened.

          • WTP said, on November 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm

            Who enabled the “overvaluation?”

            It’s right there in the post:

            The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of government policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled sub-prime mortgages

            Sources easily available if you cared enough to do a simple google search. Inquisitive minds and all (via wiki):

            9 “Money, Power and Wall Street, Part 1″. PBS Frontline ©1995-2012 WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
            10 a b c d Michael Simkovic, “Secret Liens and the Financial Crisis of 2008″ American Bankruptcy Law Journal, Vol. 83, p. 253, 2009.
            11 Ivry, Bob (September 24, 2008). “(quoting Joshua Rosner as stating “It’s not a liquidity problem, it’s a valuation problem.””. Bloomberg. Retrieved June 27, 2010.
            12 Keller, Christopher. “Executive Compensation’s Role in the Financial Crisis”. The National Law Journal. Retrieved 2 November 2012.

            Back on the ignore list you go.

            • WTP said, on November 18, 2012 at 11:55 pm

              bold fail…try again for the important parts:

              The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of government policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled sub-prime mortgages

            • biomass2 said, on November 19, 2012 at 7:49 am

              So. What did I write ,WTP?

              “Is “grab[bing] too big a ‘slice of the pie’” a nice way of describing what the major financial insitutions and rating agencies were doing with their mortgage-backed securities?”
              Did I, anywhere in there, excuse government’s role in the problem? Ummmm?

              Your quotation includes the phrase “overvaluation of bundled sub-prime mortgages”

              http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2012/08/27/repeal-of-glass-steagall-caused-the-financial-crisis

              How about all caps, boldface and italics combined next time? This latest seems rather tepid.

  5. [...] “Democrats & Republicans: The Philosophy of the State” (aphilosopher.wordpress.com) [...]


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