Monday, August 17, 2009

Grand Political Visions; or, If I Ran the World...

A fair number of people in real life ask me, "Hey, Davin, where the heck are you politically?" I want to say "conservative-ish", but some recent developments in the conserative party (in particular people like Huckabee) make me kinda doubt that, and saying "Buckley-Goldwater conservative" is a great way to make people go "huh?" With that in mind, I'm going to call myself "classical liberal", and point anyone who asks to this particular post. Specifically:

  • National government should dedicate its time and money to a few national-interest things, and do those things well. This means things like a strong military (though not necessarily big or pervasive) and well paved cross-country roads. This does not include providing for businesses (see below) or people.
  • Free market capitalism, pure supply and demand, raw profit motive is the most efficient way to distribute limited things among unlimited wants, and does a remarkable job of addressing various societal ills that would normally be fixed by fiat. If, for instance, women are paid 75% of the wages men are for the same amount and difficulty of work, then a company would be insane to hire three men; instead for the same money, it would hire four women, get more work done, and drive its competitors into the dirt. This would increase the demand for women workers, and to attract them companies would raise their offered wages, eventually getting to general wage equality. The same can be argued if black, gay, etc., were substituted for women.
  • The most complete intellectual threat to free market capitalism may be socialism, but the most immediate threat is capitalists looking for a political advantage by government. These capitalists seem to be trying for a sort of neo-mercantilism, protecting companies in-country and imagining outflowing wealth is lost, not invested or traded.
  • The government's job in international affairs is to project national interests. If these happen to overlap with international ones (e.g. a sort of Pan-Europe-U.S.-Japan free trade agreement), fine.
  • People aren't saints. The reason free market capitalism works so well is because it does not require people to be saints; in fact, one could argue that free market capitalism, understood a certain way, plays to the greedy instincts of others to sate your own greed. In theory, all deals should have both/all parties walk away from the table thinking "...sucker!", because everybody's gotten something he values more for something he values less (else why make the deal?).
  • Political and economic systems that claim to do it better than "dog-eat-dog" free market capitalism usually don't. Just look at the utopian societies of the 1800s and early 1900s, various African basket-cases, the old Soviet Union. Even more benevolent cases like Sweden lag in comparison with the rest of Europe.
  • Utopianism, whether in this life or the next, is for suckers.
  • Leave well enough alone in the case of social issues.
  • ...But come at me in a drug-addled stupor and don't be surprised if your head hurts when you're lucid again. (Self-defense, by hand, knife, or gun, is always in style.)
  • Precision of language helps everybody.
  • You can't necessarily say everybody's a minority (unless you mean a minority of one), or an oppressed class, or a blue-collar union man, or whatever. But at the end, everybody's a consumer.
  • Rationalism is awesome.
  • Goldwater had it right when he said "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" (Let's not get into how such a quote could be corrupted by terrorist-types, however)
  • Alinsky and Luntz are both morons.

I'll elaborate on various points here at random in later posts.

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