Comments: I REALLY DON'T THINK I'M THAT SNARKY

Thank you and I look forward to the discussion! Normally I would be looking for a debate, but I'm too tired for that these days. I really just want to know what you think. Travel safely!

Posted by Sis B at April 5, 2009 02:22 PM

I am not a Republican because so many Republicans are, as you put it, "Democrat Lite".

Your premise is that the Constitution sets the limits of government.

A question for you and those on your side: Does it still make sense to adhere to an 18th century document plus amendments in the 21st century? Can't blind traditionalism be dangerous?

(I have my own answers, but I'd like to hear what others have to say.)

A question for your opponents: Is the Constitution too constricting? What extra powers does the government need, and why? Or is the Constitution already sufficient? Is the Right misinterpreting it, and if so, how?

I've noticed that people on both the Right and Left claim to be the true heirs of the Founding Fathers. This reveals a shared premise: a belief that the Founding Fathers more or less embody the ideal. But one must be careful, as iconic associations can be crutches: e.g., "I am right because I think some famous person would agree with me" or "I am right because I think my beliefs are in accordance with some famous document". Take away those crutches. Forget the glory of the Founding Fathers and their writings. Are your arguments valid for today? Can you convince someone who has never heard of the Founding Fathers or the Constitution that your ideas are the ones America needs? Without relying on the emotional appeal of the past, can you demonstrate that you are objectively correct?

Posted by Amritas at April 5, 2009 04:42 PM

BTW, the "you" in my comment above referred to Sarah, not Sis B.

Thanks to Sis B for asking good questions! We may have answered these before, but they are always worth re-answering, as our answers can change over time. Mine certainly have ...

Posted by Amritas at April 5, 2009 04:46 PM

BTW, the "you" in my comment above referred to Sarah, not Sis B.

Thanks to Sis B for asking good questions! We may have answered these before, but they are always worth re-answering, as our answers can change over time. Mine certainly have.

Posted by Amritas at April 5, 2009 04:46 PM

Absolutely looking forward to this...

Posted by Sarah's Pinko Commie Friend at April 5, 2009 05:09 PM

I don't know . My ultra conservative friends seem to know exactly how to "fix" things as do my liberal friends, but I just don't know anymore.

Sorry I can't be of help.

Posted by Judy at April 5, 2009 06:36 PM

Darn, I was all set to use the word hippie-commie. :)

I am a reformed Republican who can't bear to be a Democrat, so that leaves me as an Independent.

I believe the government should do as little as possible. They should listen to what the people want, not what they think is best for us. (Can you say 90% NO votes as far as public input on the original TARP funds, yet they still voted it through)

Politicians are in it for themselves and their buddies. The little people will continue to take a screwing until we stand up and vote out the people who do not do as their constituents want.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by meadowlark at April 5, 2009 07:39 PM

The Constitution itself is a doctrine that is vague. What powers the government have largely depend on your interpretation of the constitution. The two extreme views are: 1) Broad scope of powers that marginally relate to commerce and the general welfare. 2) Minimalistic view that creates a mere truism of the elastic cause, and limits the commerce power to only a narrow view of interstate commerce (just the journey for example). Anything in between would lead to a debate over the elastic clause, or the degree to which Congress can regulate interstate commerce.
A conservative, economically speaking, and this is my opinion, would look to the free market as a base, and only intervene in instances where either positive or negative externalities need addressing. Education +, pollution -. I'll give you more if you find this insightful.
You could make the argument that although the constitution gives our government power we shouldn't exercise it because it would lead to a bad outcome, i.e. not pareto optimal (or any other example of what you could argue is not a good outcome).

Posted by John Limberakis aka Econotics at April 5, 2009 10:34 PM

On the founding fathers debate:
This is relevant if you are an orginalist... but even then you had two competing camps: 1 - Hamilton and broad powers (banks, bonds, programs etc) and 2 - anti-federalists, better known as Jeffersonians who favored extremely limited federal government. They passed the Constitution as well thinking it would be used for their concept of limited government. The federalist papers are also a mixed bag.
In analyzing public policy I tend not to care about factors such as these - whether or not our founders knew what was best is a mildly amusing premise - after all it was our founding fathers who compromised on "universal suffrage" and found it in their wisdom to judge slaves and freed slaves as 3/5th people. I base my opinions on principles like GDP growth, economic soundness, and freedom. I suppose the most important power the founders gave us is to govern, in a democratic-republican fashion, how we see fit.

Posted by John Limberakis aka Econotics at April 5, 2009 11:11 PM

To Sis B:
Conservative is a blurred term now-a-days. If you base your definition of what is conservative on Bush, or a Southern Republican, you are socially conservative (not favoring social freedoms - forget abortion here temporarily) and economically a mixed bag. Southern Republicans favored big government from 2000-2006 when they lost power. They are a coalition of the religious right, the dwindling number of Reagan Democrats, and businesses. The coalition is falling apart... Many conservatives did not approve of the expansion of big government during 2000-2006 but were complacent in it.
I think the new, not neo, conservative is like me, a Western Republican. Socially libertarian (Except perhaps for abortion) and economically responsibly libertarian.

I'd love to post later on my beliefs but I wanted to get those three posts on the table first. Frame the perspective if you will...

Posted by John Limberakis aka Econotics at April 5, 2009 11:37 PM

I think that this has to be answered on two levels. The unemotional intellectual level is all well and good - and I want to hear it! - but in my opinion, reverence for the Constitution is the only thing standing between America and European (or Hawaiian) style socialism. If you want to see what America looks like without this reverence, look at what's happening in America's universities:

http://www.rishon-rishon.com/archives/071696.php

The natural inclination of most people is that when there is a problem, government should DO SOMETHING, or at least TRY. Nobody respects the importance of Organic Systems

http://www.rishon-rishon.com/archives/031769.php

They magically "just work" and nobody gets any credit. When people live with them, as they do with capitalism, to the extent that we have it, they just take for granted all the good stuff and want to "fix" the stuff they don't like.

At the most abstract level, government should be in charge of the laws which create the right kind of organic system. I am not a "real" libertarian because I don't think that the absence of government means capitalism. The absence of government means Somalia. Capitalism, like socialism, is a government creation - just a different kind of creation, one created by laws, not bureaucracy.

In addition to setting up the capitalistic system, I would add to government responsibility functions that capitalism doesn't solve well (or at all): Defense, the courts, roads, the electricity grid, etc. Even in these cases, government should be kept to a minimum by contracting out parts of these services that can be effectively provided by the free market. This is the area where things get blurry, and I am willing to investigate and debate where, exactly, the line should be drawn.

I am also in favor of the government getting involved with social welfare. I am not willing (at least in rich countries) to let people die in the streets because they made bad choices, or because of circumstances beyond their control. I think that these services can usually be provided by the free market, with government getting involved in the form of vouchers.

Finally, I do think that the government should subsidize education. This, too, should be provided in the form of vouchers, to let the free market provide it in the most efficient way, and provide parents with as many choices as possible.

Having said all that, the US Constitution deals with very few of these issues. Mostly, what it deals with is the division of power. The US has three levels of government: local (not provided for by the constitution), state, federal; and three branches of government: executive, legislature, and judiciary. When the US Constitution was written, democracy was not at all taken for granted, and the most important question to the founders was how to keep a dictator (or monarch) from taking power. Their solution was to disperse power as widely as possible. I don't think that there's anything in the Constitution which prevents European-style socialism in America.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at April 6, 2009 02:55 AM

I have lots to say about this (you know I do), but I'm still exhausted from this weekend.

And I'm sorry, Sarah. I just can't agree with you on Rambo. I can't. I'm glad you're willing to look past that and remain friends on our common ground. :P

Posted by airforcewife at April 6, 2009 09:27 AM

I just wanted to say that in my answer there was a typo...I said something like in the best of all situations you would live in another country...I meant county...(see in my best of all worlds it would be even more regional than state). I was talking to the hubs about it last night, and he said he thinks there shouldn't be public schools either, but there should be public funding for education, it should just all go through the voucher system...I liked that idea.

Posted by CaliValleyGirl at April 6, 2009 09:30 AM

Got my response up. Just in case the trackback didn't work here it is...

http://www.unliberaledwoman.com/?p=1278

Posted by BigD78 at April 6, 2009 05:53 PM

Seriously, do you have any idea how hard that was to write without using "commies, fags, and libtards?"

Posted by Chuck at April 6, 2009 10:54 PM