Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Which political side is really the selfish side?
Published on September 28, 2003 By Draginol In Politics

Michael Moore and I share two things in common. We're both from Michigan and we're both grew up in the midst of Big Three blue collar workers.  But that's where the similarities end and the different readings on what the "majority" of Americans think about things.

Michael Moore seems to have two basic beliefs:

(1) The majority of Americans have liberal opinions.

(2) Conservatives are all about "me me me me".

To extrapolate on that, he essentially feels that most Americans are good honest folks but that a small minority of greedy bastards (called Republicans) get a big advantage over the majority of Americans because they put themselves first and everyone else second.

Unfortunately for Moore, reality doesn't work out very well. As a crude characterure of American beliefs, you can see what he's getting at. But the reality, expressed in the policies and results of the Republican and Democratic parties do not work out so well.

The Republican view could generally be expressed as "Just keep the government out of my way so that me and my family can live out our lives without interference."  The Democratic view could generally be expressed as "We're all in this together!"  Certainly the latter slogan is more eloquent than the former.  And Moore latches on to that idealism without recognizing the actual result of policies.  Many people, myself included, believe the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  If good intentions determined the inherent value of a political ideal then sure, the liberals would be kicking butt.  It's easier to be a liberal than a conservative because liberals have a monopoly on warm fuzzy thoughts while us bastardly conservatives are stuck having to live and work in the real world.

In social policy, the conservative adage could be "Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime."  Self-determination, self-reliance are the go words of the conservative movement. Society is made up not of groups but of individuals and the best, strongest society is made up of healthy productive individuals.  Social policy by a government, if any at all, should focus on allowing individuals to be all that they can be.  It also recognizes that not all individuals are going to make the cut and is willing to the chips fall.

By contrast, liberal social policy, the other half of the adage "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day."  Policies like Affirmative-Action, Welfare, Unemployment benefits, High minimum wage, Free health care, and so forth all fall into this trap. They worry about the "today" without recognizing that they aren't helping empower individuals so that they can take care of themselves over time.  Their policies, given enough time, would turn us into a nation of dependents.

Conservatives recognize this and strongly oppose this. They also oppose this because it tends to be conservatives who foot the bill.  So it's a double whammy. Conservatives are forced to pay for a misguided social policy that robs their fellow citizens of the incentive and ability to fend for themselves.

And for this, Moore and his ilk deride conservatives as "greedy" or "selfish" or more to the point about "me me me me me".  But which group is really the selfish group? The one that objects to having money they earned confiscated so that it can wreck society with the slow poison of welfare or the one that demands that they get free money?"

Moore may indeed believe that most Americans have liberal views. But he's quite mistaken. It's understandable for him to believe that. He spent a lot of time in union towns. Unions exist (today) principally to extract more "Stuff" for Union members even if it has a long term cost (such as eventually causing manufacturing jobs overseas -- and then having the gall to blame the manufacturers for moving overseas when it was incessant union demands that made it a competitive necessity).  To me, union attitudes are quite "greedy". But not to Moore. To him, it's a lot easier to point to a few fat cats at the top living it up than to recognize the thousands of union workers around him who use pressure tactics to get artificially high compensation. They destroy their futures to live in the now in other words. This is quite in line with liberal policy.

When Moore began to hang out with other liberal minded people, the environment changed from union people to the more stereotypical "intellectual" liberal who evaluates the value of an individual based on his or her intentions rather than deeds. And over in hollywood, the left dominates.  And so, no doubt in Moore's world he can say "When I was with my poor friends in Flint Michigan, they had liberal views and when I hang out in Hollywood it's the same thing."

I'm working on a political strategy game called The Political Machine. It's based on actual census and polling data and I can assure Moore that the majority of Americans hold conservative social and political views. The only reason why elections are so close is that Republicans have failed to attract moderate or mildly conservative voters. Many Democrats ("Truman Democrats") are quite conservative in outlook but vote reliably for Democrats.

But Moore is right about one thing: The long term bodes well for Democrats. But only because he's dead wrong about which side is about "me me me me me".  Democratic policies tend to focus now on giving free stuff to individuals. And so people vote for the party that's going to provide them (me me me me) with free stuff.  Hence, even many conservative elderly voters now vote for Democrats.  It's not conservatives demanding free stuff, it's the liberals. Conservatives just want to be left the hell alone.

on Sep 29, 2003
Well said, Brad, well said.
on Sep 29, 2003
Of course the other side would counter with "It's not about me me me me - it's about all of us contributing to one anothers success." Of course, they'd do it in a manner befitting a screach owl, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

It always comes down to one thing when you talk about the left vs the right. Personal responsibility. You are either responsible enough to take care of yourself and your community - or you aren't.

I'm quite happy to say this Republican is fully able to fulfill my duty.

Great post.
on Sep 29, 2003
Oh my god. Brad, my friend I can't believe you are making statements as general as these and passing them off as commentary. Your views are so skewed here I had to read your post over to make sure I was reading correctly.

I appreciate the comparison between your views and Michael Moore's, but you couldn't be farther away from the truth on some of your points.

The way I read this post, I think I can boil down the basic gist: Republicans are the ones who are the foundation of the hard-working structure of America, while the Democrats are the advocates of the people looking for a handout. Boy, you are sadly mistaken.

I come from a family of working-class people who's roots are spread across the entire nation. Now, by no means are we poor, but I'll be damned if we didn't work hard for everything that we have earned in our lives. And I'll have you know, that we, the working-class of America are also helping to foot the bill of these so-called misguided social policies that you claim are burdening the conservative right. Last I looked, about 40% of my paycheck went to pay for all of the programs that the cities and states (and nation) provide for the people that are less well off than you or I.

My best friend's sister spent three years on welfare taking care of her then 4-year old daughter by herself while she tried to get her life back together after her deadbeat boyfriend left her. I'd gather that those three years for her and her daughter were more difficult than anything you have encountered during your life while building up your small empire (more on that later). If it were not for the public assistance welfare program, she may have well been another alcoholic mother bringing in another socially inept child into our society. Instead, she used that help to better herself. She went to school. She got a shitty paying job to help get by along with her welfare cheques. She fought, and she overcame. She went to school and got a Masters degree in sociology. Recently she's gotten four job offers to work for various centers (what they are escapes me at the moment) making a decent sum of money. Her daughter, now in the sixth grade, is sharp as a tack and is a straight-A student in school.

Now you tell me that these worthless social hand-out programs do not work. Oh, and guess what? When she starts working, she is also going to help pay for these programs. *Everybody* gets taxed. Those taxes are what pays for all of this shit.

I was out of work for 9 months during the tech-crash of the early 2000's. If it were not for unemployment benefits, my family and I would have been living on the streets. In the San Francisco Bay Area, one can not get by on unemployment benefits alone, so I had to take two jobs under the table as well as my unemployment, AND my wife working a job just to make ends meet. I'll tell you what, if it weren't for the help from the state, I would have been totally screwed. But thanks to that, I was able to stay afloat until I found a decent paying job in the tech sector again, and was able to support my family without assistance.

How can you even begin to claim that "Conservatives recognize this and strongly oppose this. They also oppose this because it tends to be conservatives who foot the bill. So it's a double whammy. Conservatives are forced to pay for a misguided social policy that robs their fellow citizens of the incentive and ability to fend for themselves."? That is such a gross generalization and representation of being a party-liner that it makes me ill. How are conservatives forced to pay when liberals are not? You seem to be doing fine, with your new house and $35,000 Corningware basement, but you say that you are being robbed to "help a 'brotha out?" Give me a break. If anything, due to the amount of wealth that you have, you are probably better off than most, because you probably have a lot of write-offs which reduces your tax liability. Me on the other hand, who is living checque to checque, don't enjoy that benefit.

I'm sure you've busted your ass to get to where you are Brad, and good for you. Without innovators like you, America would not be the place it is today. But let's face it, not everyone is fortunate enough to have had a good education. Not everyone grows up in a nurturing household where praise and encouragement are given like butter on bread. Some people have very shitty lives. And some people genuinely need help. The people who work and slave for people like you are truly the foundation of America. Ask yourself this: Would Stardock be the company it is today without all of the bright people working for you? Absolutely not. But where would we be without our construction workers and gas station attendants and grocery store workers and whatnot? These are people that, although not visionaries like you, are people just like you and I. They work for a living, and because they're not making vast sums of money, sometimes need help.

In the end, we all pay for it. Unfortunately, like everything out there, there are people who abuse the system and shed a bad light on the programs that are there to help people in their time of need. I'm just as pissed off about those people as you are, but it is short-sighted to say that it has anything to do with party-lines. I'm a fairly liberal person, and have been told so by others, but I do NOT believe in a free hand-out. When my wife was giving birth to our first child, she had to stay in a four-person room, because we couldn't afford a private room. Fine. But she had to share it with a crack-addicted forty year old black woman who was giving birth to her ninth child. The baby was born addicted to crack. The woman actually had the GALL to start crying when Child Protective Services told them that they were going to take the child away from her. So the woman calls up her dealer and has him deliver drugs to her so she can do them AT THE HOSPITAL!!! Guess what, here's the kicker: all of this medical care was courtesy of people like you and I. She didn't pay a dime for her stay in the hospital. Me, I got a bill for $70,000 from the hospital for our three day stay. I think rather than blame the problems on the programs that are there to help people out, and use party politics as a vehicle to attack these socially and politically inept systems, we need to scrutinize the individuals using them, and cut them off at the first sign of abuse.

I think that would be the best form of empowerment.

on Sep 29, 2003
Ultimately, any brief article is going to have to deal with generalities.

In general, the top 10% of tax payers are overwhelmingly conservative in fiscal policy. Outside entertainers of various sorts, it's a big part of the temperment needed to amass significant capital.

Liberals believe in equality more strongly than freedom. Conservative tend to believe more in freedom than equality.
on Sep 29, 2003
BTW, beware of taking general statements and turning them into absolutes, "Mr. Frog". I believe in a basic safety net.

The biggest takers from the troft today are actually the elderly. 65 years was "really old" in 1933 when the average life expectancy was 51. But now, a person who lives to 50 can expect to live to 80. As a result, we have people living for many years on social security and medicaid that is vastly beyond what they paid in.
on Sep 29, 2003

Your game sounds interesting.

During the 1996 presidential campaign, I wrote a game for the MSNBC website called Dark Horse: The Virtual Campaign Game. In it, you got to play a candidate running for either your party's presidential nomination or for President in the general election.

We were given pre-release polling data from NBC, broken down state-by-state. So, if you took a particular stance on gun control, for example, it might help you in one state and hurt you in another. Whenever there was a primary, your statements and stances on the issues would be ranked against each issue in the state; for general elections, whether you win or lose the electoral votes of a particular state was decided similarly. Certain issues carried more weight in a given state than others, and the results at the voting booth took that into account as well.

Anyway, it was a fun game, but we ran into a few problems when the data we had couldn't be used to calculate all the simulations we wanted. We did figure out ways around it, though; if you hit any snags and want some advice from someone who's been there, let me know. Otherwise, good luck, and let us know when we can play it!

on Sep 29, 2003
Wow we've got more than just galcivers and stardockians here now, ECM came all the way over from brain-terminal
on Sep 29, 2003
"we need to scrutinize the individuals using them, and cut them off at the first sign of abuse."

Those are usually the people who need help the most I'm afraid. Subsidizing poverty isn't the right answer. To bad it's been the liberal one.
on Oct 01, 2003
> Democratic policies tend to focus now on giving free stuff to individuals. And so people vote for the party that's going to provide them (me me me me) with free stuff.

I think you're being a wee bit cynical there. In Canada, what makes such a government successful with the populace is that they make people feel more secure. An illness can't wipe out a lifetime's worth of hard work (in the U.S.: diabetes + a layoff can mean never having health insurance again), an economic downturn won't mean that you starve, an education system and social support means that we are personally much safer and don't have to incarcerate such a large amount of the population (US incarceration rate is 7x the Canadian), we don't have guns all over the place, etc.

Of course, there is a substantial cost to all of this. Canadian taxes are much higher, and in general, a safer society means people take fewer risks, which means that a lot of money producing opportunities are lost. As a whole, we Canadians are poorer, but are willing to make such a tradeoff for greater security. And suprisingly enough, it's the middle+ classes that are often the most adamant because they have the most to lose (even if they will be footing most of the bill). Of course, there's a lot of disagreement, but I'm talking generalities.

I could go on, but my point would be lost. Voting for a government that makes society better for "other people" make sense even if it will cost you, if you consider that someday you might be that "other person". That is not to say that the right-wing side is wrong. There are many arguments that can be made for either side. It's just sad to see another person deciding that "my way is the right way and others must see that they are wrong", rather than "I have a way that I prefer, and I will try to persuade others to prefer that same way".
on Oct 01, 2003
Very well put, Tom West. I usually vote for the party who is going to bring more security, including health security. I know that for the moment it costs me, since I'm seldom sick. Yet the sense of security is worth it.
on Oct 02, 2003
From what I have seen is conservatives look at the $100 in my pocket and say, "Imagine what he could do with that money."
Liberals look at the $100 in my pocket and say, "Imagine what we (the govermant) could do with that money."

While the liberal view is noble I also think it assumes that the goverment knows better how to spend my money then I do. I tend to find this rather insulting.

During the lead up to the invasion of Iraq their were many comparisons between the US and EU. One thing I heard that stuck with me was when a worker in Europe was talking about how Americans work too hard. He said how in Europe there was no reason to work so hard since the more money you made the more repressive the taxes became. The day that it becomes not worth it to work hard in America is the day that She will cease to be the greatest country on Earth.

I'll stop now before my blood starts to boil.