Mike Polioudakis, from “Democrats and Liberals”

2018 05 29

Mike Polioudakis


“Liberal” and “Conservative” now don’t mean what they originally did and don’t mean what they should. I like the ideals of original Conservatives and original Liberals but hate how the words are used now and how the ideals were gutted. This essay first describes Democrats and Republicans. I dislike both. Then it explains what “Liberal” and “Conservative” meant originally and how they changed.

If you wish only depiction of Democrats and Republicans, read the material that begins at the first stars below (**), and then go to the second stars. If you wish to read more “straight through” but don’t like the length, I marked with a hash tag (#) a lot of material that you might skip. The term “state” usually does not mean a state in the United States such as Oregon but government in general. The term “Party” refers to a major political party in the United States such as Democrats or Republicans. The term “party” refers to any political party in the political process.

This essay is my opinions. The point is to help you think. I don’t assess many particular issues such as the Iran nuclear deal. I give general Republican and Democratic views. Other essays of mine do assess issues. This essay is not a diatribe or academic article. I do not support points with citations. I do not intend to be rude but my annoyance shows. I repeat often for convenience.

The real issues behind all the silly games: (a) whether enough true democracy can survive; (b) whether Americans can do enough good, through politics, to keep America good enough for decent people; and (c) whether enough Americans can think well enough to be adept good citizens.

Neither the Democratic nor Republican stance is enough. You have to accept that both sides have good and bad ideas. Don’t accept propaganda because it lets you feel righteous, enables your anger, or says you will be better off. You have not done your duty because you bothered to vote for the lesser evil.

Think out your deep values. Think where you got them, how realistic they are, and how good they are for our times. How do they apply to politics or should apply? See the world realistically yet hold on to idealistic hopes. This essay is more about getting you to do all this than about Parties.


First Stars: ***** Read all sections except what is marked with # to show optional.


Briefly (1): Patrons and Clients. Democrats, Republicans, and the American people play a political game of patrons and clients, a game at least 5000 years old. Some gaming happens in all governing including democracy, and a good democracy can survive much gaming, but not too much. We are on the edge of too much.

The core of the Democratic Party: (1) People who see themselves as modern, hip, cool, sympathetic to all people and especially people unlike them, humanists, kind, and smart, such as some business people, academics, professionals, artists, and homemakers. Since World War 2, the core has been educated. At least since John Kennedy in the early 1960s, most of the core has come from the secure middle class and upper middle class. The biggest client group of Democrats used to be working people but many left for the Republican Party in the 1970s. Democratic clients now: (2) groups that are hard up, marginal, feel fear, or feel discriminated against such as the poor, Blacks, women, Native Americans, LGBTQ people, Hispanics, and immigrants. Some Democratic clients have half-way good jobs but they still feel insecure, fear falling into the hole of poverty, and don’t trust Republicans to give them more security; for them, Democrats are the lesser of two evils.

The Republican core: (A) big business owners, wealthy people, powerful people, and upper class people. The original clients were: (B) upper middle class people, professionals, medium sized business owners, secure middle class people, and many White people. They see themselves as tough, realistic, civic minded, willing to sacrifice for the whole, disciplined, and knowing better than others what is morally good and practically good for the nation. They know the value of wealth and power, and think they know decency better than other people. Republicans now also have clients from groups that once had little in common with the core but gained common cause after the turmoil of the 1950s to 1970s: (C1) working people, middle class people, many Whites, and many Asians, all with steady jobs; (C2) working people and middle class people who have half-way good jobs but fear falling into the hole of poverty, think Democrats will undermine what security they have, and hope Republicans give them enough security; (C3) people who feel they pay more in taxes than they will ever get in services, especially taxes to support rivals such as immigrants and Blacks; (C4) successful immigrants mostly from East Asia and South Asia; (C5) people who fear Blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants; (C6) people who fear the poor, people with bad jobs, and people with only half-way good jobs; (C7) and people who believe fervently in their version of traditional religion, mostly Christians.

Parties help clients with tax breaks, welfare, corporate welfare, entitlements, harsh drug laws, lax drug laws, allowing abortion, fighting abortion, trade protection, free trade, stopping immigration, helping illegal immigrants, suppressing gays, allowing gay marriage, etc. Clients return favors with money and votes. Democrats and Republicans help clients not only through direct positive help but by hurting the other political Party and by hurting rivals of clients such as other families and other groups.

Both Parties offer ideologies that attract some clients and exclude others. Despite claims, the ideologies have little to do with ideals or with a realistic picture of the world. The ideologies do not say what the Parties really do. The ideologies distinguish Parties and signal to voters how a Party can help them and can hurt rivals. Both Parties claim the roots of their stances in revered books such as the Bible and in thinkers such as John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. In fact, their ideologies have little to do with such respected sources.

Democrats claim descent from Liberals while Republicans claim it from Conservatives but neither Party really is like claimed ancestors. “Liberal” and “Conservative” should not be used for current Parties. Partisans use the terms only as code and they misuse the terms. Whenever someone says “as a Liberal” or “as a Conservative”, almost always he-she does not know what the terms really meant.

I use socio-economic class and ethnicity as the most important feature of clients. Socio-economic class and ethnicity form the backdrop against which other identities play out. Women, Gens X, Y, and Z, and “Millenials” will get more active in politics but that shift won’t strongly affect politics for a while. When changes come, still changes will act mostly through class and at least somewhat through ethnicity.

By carefully looking at issues and situations, often we can see ways in which politicians and the Parties have helped the country as a whole. Our National Park system s is a great gem of human history. Often, in real life, it is hardly possible to do better than what was done, and any shortfall is due not to simple greed but because politicians have to slog through a bog that was there long before they stepped in it. That essay is not this essay. This essay is needed first. This essay uses broad strokes, big groups, and simplistic attitudes. This essay criticizes and complains. This essay does not use “perfect” as the one standard by which to judge but it does openly lament. If you don’t like my limited view, my tone, then dig deeper into what really could be done to make it better.

Briefly (2): Parties and the Future. Both Parties claim that all their policies aim at the greater good of America and only at that goal. “If our programs do help a client, the needs of the client coincide with the welfare of America. Double help, to the client and America, shows the wisdom of our basic stance. If gain to a client did not also help America, of course our Party would not help that client at the cost of hurting America. Helping clients is an indirect but sure way of helping America, usually the only way to help in particular real situations.” Both Parties claim the other Party is killing America: “Our programs stop the other Party from killing America, and so we save America”.

In fact, both Parties almost always put success, gain for clients, thwarting the other Party, and thwarting the clients of the other Party, above the welfare of America. They use ideas such as “America”, decency, realism, practicality, and social justice, as ploys. Neither Party has a clear idea of what helps America as a whole. Both Parties throw money at their clients without regard for what happened in the past from throwing money and without regard for the country. Only if the good of America by luck coincides with gain to a Party and its clients does America really benefit. That is a slim thread on which to hang the future of America, and it has frayed noticeably since 1981.

Despite many voters moving to the Republican Party in the 1970s and despite its success in elections, the Republican Party is the minority party. Most people are not Republicans. Al Gore beat George W. Bush in the popular vote, and would have won the Electoral College if the voting in Florida had not been hinky. Barack Obama won the popular vote. Hillary Clinton easily won the popular vote despite Donald Trump’s crazy claims. Trump won the Electoral College with strategy. Republicans since Reagan have been great at nasty strategy. Both Parties gerrymander, but Republicans took the art to its lowest level, and Republicans win many offices due only to gerrymandering. (If you don’t know how Republicans do not have the most votes but still win most offices, see my other essays or email me.)

Many (likely most) young people don’t wish to vote Republican because they don’t believe that wealth, big business, a giant house, trophy spouse, and a lot of gadgets alone can make us all happy; they wish to do something for the world besides personal success; and they sense sexism, racism, class-ism, and moral hypocrisy. The Republican Party has not been “the party of decency” for a long time. People of all ages don’t vote Democrat because they don’t believe Democrats can offer have anything realistic and comprehensive, do believe Democrats will spend hugely on clients to get almost nothing back for the nation as a whole, and Democrats will burden us with more confusing PC and regulations. People vote Republican from default rather than choice.

Neither Party represents general American needs well because neither Party has a vision of a better America, better world, and a better America in a better world, a vision that Americans can believe is remotely true. (1) Neither Party has a realistic and inspiring vision because (a) neither Party accepts reality, accepts all the relevant facts; and (b) neither Party has much vision at all anyway. (2) The old leadership lost control over clients, and clients can’t accept the whole picture, clients won’t accept all the facts, and clients have little vision beyond their issues. See Briefly 3 below. Both Parties happily offer distorted visions so as to entice enough clients to win elections and keep power.

The world has changed much since 1961 (Happy Days), 1974 (silliness and chaos), 1981 (Reagan), 2001 (9/11 and Bush), and 2008 (Obama). The world will change much after Trump, and not as his followers wish. So far, America has not faced up to changes and the new world. The “new normal” will not return to the American Dream of the 1950s or 80s. America has enough wealth to make a better new normal than almost anywhere in the world if we can learn how to use capitalism and politics to bring about near fairness and to reward people tolerably well by merit. We can’t get perfect fairness but we can be fair enough. People will have smaller houses, and many will live in apartments (clean, quiet, safe, efficient, friendly-to-nature). Young Americans seek a new normal that gives reasonable fairness, acceptance of non-harmful social diversity, hope to raise a family securely, and hope that their children can do as well or can do a little bit better. This is not too much to ask.

America has not done what is needed to make the best of our huge human and natural resources so we can have a reasonably fair and secure new normal. We squandered. As long as Parties seek victory by catering to clients rather than face the real world and help America as a whole find a better reasonable fairer new normal, political Parties will continue to make it all worse. We will not find a new normal and our place in the new normal.

It is not clear if voters who “went Republican” in the 1970s and 1980s can accept a new normal that is not like their old wrong dreams, if they can accept new more realistic dreams. Even if they can’t, their offspring can. I do not expect Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, and the Millenials alone to rise up and save us but they can do better than their ancestors, if only because they have no specific political ax to grind. They want a clear idea of the new normal even if the new normal is not up to the dreams of 1962 and 1986. They don’t care which Party gives an accurate honest picture of the new normal as long as the picture is true enough. They want a safe reasonably fair new normal and don’t expect a paradise of Left or Right. They want a new normal that is workable for them, and know they need an honest picture to find their own best place in the new normal. Party propaganda and terror fantasies don’t work anymore, and young people know it. Seeking their new normal might be exactly what America needs.

As always, the near future depends on whether fear, anger, desperation, striking out, and “my group” prevail or realistic goals, modest ideals, and some sharing prevail. The future depends on how the political baton gets passed and if the new generations can make a good new normal.

If Democrats can find a coherent realistic vision of the new normal, a better America, better world, and a better America in a better world; undo Republican strategizing; convince people that Democrats will not spend like crazy on clients while doing little long-term good; and convince people that Democrats can help nature, help the needy, and promote justice without miring everyone in regulations and hyper PC; then Democrats will lead. If Republicans come up with a similar realistic vision, and Democrats do not, then Republicans can win, but they will have to give up many voters that entered the Party in the 1970s and give up many Republicans who simply have an unrealistic vision of the world now and of our place in the world now. Whichever Party comes up with the new vision, the vision is likely to be the same in essence as if the other Party dreamed it, and likely to look much like the middle ground that both Parties now disdain.

Briefly (3): Don’t Let Clients Run the Show. Neither Party is angelic but the leaders of both Parties were fairly adept from World War 2 until 1970 at guiding clients to the best interests of America as a whole. Especially since 1980, traditional leaders have not been able to guide clients. Client blocs don’t need a majority to control the Party if the Party needs them to win. They are the tail that wags the dog. Clients “double down” and “push single issues”. What they wish for often does NOT coincide with the best for America as a whole. Leaders know all this but have to go along anyway.

From World War 2 until the about 1970, labor controlled the Democratic Party but leaders of the Party could guide labor along lines that helped the whole nation. After about 1970, as working and middle class Whites and Asians left the Democratic Party, Blacks controlled the “swing vote” for Democrats. Democrats have had to cajole Blacks for fifty years. Loss of mass Black support was not the only reason Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election but was one of the biggest. The coalition victory of Barack Obama might have been the last big hurrah of Blacks nationally. Starting in 2024, Hispanics likely will replace Blacks as the swing voters for Democrats in many places. Because Hispanics assimilate better than Blacks, the policies of the Democratic Party might become more middle, mainstream, and fiscally sound – maybe might.

Since 1980, after Reagan, White and Asian working and middle class people have wagged the Republican dog. After the Religious Right rose in the late 1980s, the coalition of it and the working class and middle class took over. Backed by rich people, using skillful tactics, they have elected local officials, Senators, Representatives, and Governors. George Bush 1 lost in part because he was not their man. They were the power behind Newt Gingrich. They almost got President Bill Clinton removed over what is a mere trifle compared to Donald Trump. They stopped John McCain from the Republican nomination for President in 2000 and they elected George Bush 2 instead. Sarah Palin was their darling. They keep Rightist cable TV channels and radio going. They stopped George Bush’s brother, Jeb, in his bid for the Republican nomination. The old Republican guard lost nearly all control when Donald Trump won. The coalition that formed in the late 1980s keeps the US out of global accords on environment and climate, keeps us out of trade agreements, gnaws constantly on abortion, and ignores realism in trying to deal with drugs and crime.

Clients always have a grievance and often a grudge as well. Clients want something really bad that they are entitled to and-or they desperately want to protect what they have against greedy others who are set on taking it. Clients feel entitlement, fear, anger, and hate. Even people fighting against abortion (for the unborn) and people fighting for various positive rights such as for LGBTQ (gay) rights follow this pattern. When clients succeed, they feel righteous, invincible, and eternal. When clients don’t get enough, they “double down” on entitlement, fear, anger, hate, and greed. Even clients with a genuine need and who otherwise are good moral people act like this.

Since 1980, entitlement, fear, anger, hate, and greed have been the biggest forces in American politics – even if Americans are good people apart from politics. Those emotions in others make me fearful and angry, feel entitled to more wealth to make sure my wife and I are secure, and make me ready to lash out. That is what mutual bad feelings do to all people and all groups, in a vicious circle.

Clients, no matter how just their grievance and how good they are otherwise as people, rarely can place their situation in perspective and see beyond themselves to what is best for America. Think of groups that you love and you despise. Do you really want your favorite group by itself to run the country based on its agenda and its leaders alone? Do you really want feminists, Blacks, rich people, intense believers of any religion or of atheism, business people, or upper middle class pseudo-Liberals, to run the whole show all by themselves? How would you get clients to cede control to good leaders? How do you get people to accept all relevant facts? How do you get good leaders, especially leaders who can stand up to clients and the Party? What are your visions?

Some Facts to Keep in Mind, Mostly Economic.

This section is quite long. It is broken up into topics by dashes.

-On the whole, American capitalism works very well. It provides more services and material goods to more people for lower costs than ever in the history of the world. Without the security that it gives to Americans, we could not have democracy. Capitalism does not fail us so much as own self-induced blindness and blind politics fail us. I like American capitalism.

American capitalism does have some flaws, mostly with what economists call “imperfect competition”; and the flaws lead to problems with unemployment, bad jobs, profit, and costs. Economic flaws and problems worsen problems with socio-economic class and with groups such as those based in ethnicity, religion, age, national origin, gender, and region. We must face these issues but, sadly, we have not, and likely we will not in the near future.

Even so, we should not judge American capitalism primarily by its flaws and problems. We should not try to change it deeply to ease political pressure. We should not adopt big scale socialism. We should not adopt business fascism as favored by Republicans and China. We should not try to make capitalism do more than it naturally can do by trying to make the economy grow fast, as with “stimulus packages” and “corporate welfare”. We should keep it going in a natural way and use it for good government.

Democrats stress the problems without understanding how problems arise from the flaws and without considering how the underlying economy can support programs or cannot support programs. Without knowing how the problems are rooted, Democrats cannot give realistic strategies for dealing with the problems and instead they simply “throw money”. Democrats do not consider the role of human nature in how problems arise and persist. Democrats stress the harm of poverty and discrimination, and insist we use all the resources needed to cure them without thinking why they recur, why previous cures have failed, and what we might really do. Heaven forbid that marginalized groups play any role in their own harm. Paradoxically, Democrats assume the Republican-dominated economy is always strong enough to support any Democratic tinkering and to cure all problems through Democratic tinkering. We must solve problems directly by large state programs and only that way. Democrats insist helping business does not solve problems and it does give rich people ever more advantage. Democrats take this view because it appeals to clients such as Blacks, women, immigrants, and the poor, and this view allows them to fight Republicans and Republican clients. Democrats are wrong that state programs can cure all problems and will not hurt the economy. The economy can support only so much. Some problems we cannot cure, especially we cannot cure them through state money, and can only manage.

Republicans simply deny the flaws and problems. The flaws and problems are only temporary or come only from weakness in human character or weakness in the culture (attitude) of a group, such as from laziness and from wishing to get something without working. Problems come from wishing the state to support some self-styled disadvantaged group and from using Democrats to get the state to give to it. Otherwise, the economy would be flawless and would give everyone a good job and good life. Anything that helps business and the business class also automatically helps the whole nation and should be supported. Anything that hinders business and the business class hurts the whole nation and should be thwarted, including Democratic programs and clients. Although Republicans insist there are no flaws that lead to real problems, still Republicans also insist the economy never does as well as it could and so it always needs state support for business. Without constant-and-increasing state support for business, the domestic economy will flounder and the US will be weak globally. Republicans do not insist the state support business only to counter Democratic stupidity but because state support for business is necessary in itself. Republicans take their view because it appeals to clients and it helps them to hurt Democratic programs and clients.

Both Parties see errors in the view of the other Party but don’t see their own errors. Both Parties are overall wrong and often make matters worse. Both Parties make it hard to figure what is really wrong, what to do about it for the long term, and to really do something.

-As every major moral and religious teacher tells us, morality (goodness) is not the same as wealth or power.

An individual person can be good without wealth or power. Jesus told a young rich man to give away all his wealth to follow God, and Buddhist monks own nearly nothing. With individuals, wealth, and caring about wealth, can hinder goodness. (Yet, as Aristotle showed in his “Ethics” and Samuel Butler showed in “The Way of All Flesh”, most people need some wealth to be good. Still, we get the ideal of “morality first, and above all” for individual people. We admire Mother Teresa.)

What applies to individuals does not always apply to nations. If a nation does not have enough wealth, or the wealth is distributed badly, the nation cannot be good. A nation needs a minimum amount of wealth per person to be good, and the wealth has to be fairly evenly distributed. “Per person” does not refer only to average wealth where many people are poor and some are rich but requires that the large majority have enough. A moderate gap between rich and middle can be good. A big gap can be put up with if most people have enough and the gap does not always grow. I don’t guess how much wealth per person or family is needed for life now. It should buy modest food, water, shelter, education, security, medical care, and legal services; and allow hope for advancement due to talent, effort, and character. We wish this for our children more than us.

If a nation has enough wealth, the wealth is not distributed in wrong ways, its people have the correct character, the nation has the correct institutions, and the nation has adept leadership, then the nation can be good. In fact, it can endure much bad and recover. Enough nations have come close enough to the conditions so as to make good places to live, at least for a while, even now. I like Canada, Thailand, and America. I hear much of Europe is good.

Having much wealth and power does not usually make a nation bad if the nation meets the conditions for being good. Wealth is not inherently bad and usually it is good. Having much wealth and power can help a nation, especially to overcome temporary bad distribution of wealth and bad leadership.

A bad distribution of wealth and-or power makes any nation bad, bad in ways that wealth alone cannot overcome, bad in ways that more wealth cannot overcome. As with persons, doggedly seeking wealth or power, and doggedly seeking ever more, makes a nation bad. Bad nations seem to become worse as they become wealthier and more powerful. You can find examples in history. A nation needs power to protect its wealth, wealth can make power, and power can make wealth. But to make your life primarily through wealth and power leads inevitably to corruption and evil. You, and the nation, cannot make up for seeking wealth and power 95% of the time by serving meals in a soup kitchen 5% of the time, or by making sure the right political candidates get into office.

Sadly, now, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, too often America, and too often Muslim nations, are trying to get ever more wealth, power, and glory.

America has enough wealth, qualifies in other good ways, and doesn’t yet disqualify in bad ways, to be a good nation. America has been a good nation for most of its life, and still is mostly good. We need to find ways to hold on to this lucky legacy and to improve on it. More real wealth does help.

Dangers for America now are: (1) a bad distribution of wealth even though we have enough wealth; (2) the feeling of a bad distribution of wealth regardless of the real distribution; (3) the urgent feeling that America must hold the upper hand in the world; and (4) the false ideas that wealth alone can cure all our problems automatically or more wealth alone can cure all our problems automatically.

America now does NOT have an unfair horrible bad distribution of wealth. It does have a more unequal distribution than in the recent past, the inequality is bad enough to be a serious issue, and inequality will get worse rather than better.

America shifted its distribution of wealth and power from what it had in the 1950s through early 1970s. The shift has been due largely to entry into the world economy, an entry that was ineptly managed. We did a poor job of adjusting to being merely the richest nation in the world, and the bad adjustment badly affects the poor, working class, and middle class. This shift in wealth bolsters the fear that already we have a bad unfair distribution and the distribution will soon be horrible. Distribution will be so bad as to hurt our children. It bolsters the fear of falling into the hole of poverty, especially for our children. We feel fear, anger, and hate. Fear, anger, and hate lead us to political acts that make us not a good nation or that make us a bad nation.

Republicans wrongly say wealth alone, especially more wealth alone, can make us a good nation, and Republicans pursue ever more wealth in the false hope that it alone will do the job. For Republicans, quantity of wealth overrides any distribution, even one that is obviously bad and getting worse. Simple quantity of wealth supersedes decency because wealth is supposed to make decency: rich makes right and poor makes bad. Republicans say they pursue morality along with wealth but I see little to show that any morality they pursue really helps make a better nation. Direct pursuit of wealth alone usually leads to both bad morality and a bad distribution of wealth. Usually the dogged direct pursuit of more wealth leads to no more wealth, or less wealth, for the nation as a whole, than we get from simple natural economic growth without deliberate help. Acting to pursue wealth alone as the solution to all problems, while shouting about decency, really is a way to avoid moral choices and avoid thinking. By not even thinking about a good distribution of wealth, Republicans boost the feeling that wealth already is so badly distributed that the American people and America the nation cannot be good. Their stance makes groups fear other groups, and so helps make the nation bad.

Democrats wrongly say the matter is entirely about distribution. They do not see any ties between the amount of wealth and its distribution; do not see how people feel threatened by modest redistribution even in a nation that has much. They do not see that redistribution can undermine total wealth and the working spirit. They say the state must ensure correct distribution, only the state can do the job, and the state must do the job by direct strong interference. We cannot rely on a well-running economy with modest adjustments to do the job. The state must take money to give to the downtrodden and poor even if the money does not lead to much improvement over a long time, and even if transfer of wealth makes people unhappy and makes things overall worse. The state takes money from the working and middle classes. The upper middle and upper classes wriggle out but hate Democrats for trying to take their wealth and privileged position. Democratic policies can diminish wealth a little, and can “rock the economic boat”. But, contrary to Rightist dogma, Democratic policies don’t often lead to much less total wealth and sometimes expand total wealth a bit. Their policies also lead people to fear that too much wealth will be taken unfairly, and to fear that unfair taking will lead to a permanent bad distribution of wealth and power in favor of others. This bad outcome of redistribution did happen in other places, and so fears are justified. Democratic policies lead to backlash; and their policies increase feelings that we never have enough wealth and that what we do have always is badly distributed. Democrats also often make the nation worse.

Modern capitalism gives us enough wealth if we can make sure wealth is distributed fairly (or not badly) and can make sure people feel it is fairly distributed. We should avoid much state forced re-distribution of wealth. We should seek better distribution within the normal operation of the economy. This can be done. It takes leadership that we have not had.

-If a person has talent, develops the talent as through an education, works hard, gets some recognition, and he-she wishes more income, then that person deserves more income and likely will get it. I leave luck out of consideration. If a person has less talent, he-she deserves less income and usually gets less. If a person does not develop talent, he she deserves less, and usually gets less. If he-she does not work hard, he-she deserves less, and usually gets less. Usually, even if a person has the other three features, but has a bad attitude or character, he-she gets less. Some jobs need a bristly character but that is not relevant here. I don’t go into what happens with interactions such as a person with only modest talent but who works hard, or big talent but no ambition.

Value on the market does not always coincide with what we see as intrinsic value, social, moral, artistic, religious, or intellectual value, or character. They all go together somewhat but not enough. Physicists are more important than TV stars but get paid less. Physicists get paid more than janitors. Some people do have major talent, develop their talent, and work hard, but still don’t get paid as much as people with mediocre talent who catch on. I can think of fifty classical musicians and jazz players who should have made more than pop idols. Likely the most talented character actor ever in movies was Walter Brennan; he often carried his movies; but he never made as much as stars with less talent. This effect is annoying but doesn’t derail what I say here. George Gershwin deserved all his wealth.

You do not deserve a good job because you are an American. You do not deserve a good job because you are in a social group that has had high incomes such as White male graduates of “name” schools. You do not deserve a good job because you are in a social group that was-and-or-still-is disadvantaged such as an ethnic, religious, or gender group, such as Blacks and women. You do not deserve a good job because you have talents that your group values but the world as a whole doesn’t, such as “class”, taste in clothes, dance moves, owning a pit bull, blaring music, ironic detachment, skill in twisty ideology, wit, artistic insight, always knowing the current and next big thing, a taste for racist sexist bitter hater violent music, or skill in resentment and anger.

In America now, anybody who has ability can get a good education, if he-she has only a little help from teachers and institutions. With the Internet, you can get a good education almost free. You can get a good education in a field that pays well or any field that you wish. Not all fields pay well even to people with great talent and skill.

The problem is not in getting an education in a field that pays well. The problem is getting recognized and hired for your talent, education, work ethic, and character. You need to be certified.

Usually getting recognized means not only a diploma but a diploma from a source that is recognized and reliable, and that lets you climb the ladder from one reliable institution to another, one reliable diploma to another, one good job to another. You need to attend schools that offer fairly high quality education and build character, people trust to do both, and people know about. There are exceptions but I don’t go into them here. It doesn’t matter if the reliable school is a “name” school, it matters that the school is reliable enough and people know so well enough.

People do not get diplomas entirely according to individual merit. Biases enter, such as by wealth, class, ethnicity, culture of ethnic group, gender, religion, speech, area, and image.

Americans now cannot trust our public schools to develop the talent of students well enough, teach skills needed by employers, teach the skills needed in a democracy, and teach clearly what a good attitude is versus a bad attitude. Employers and the public don’t trust the products and diplomas of many public schools now.

Biases could be overcome well enough except for the problem with public schools. Because we can’t trust public schools in general, biases become powerful, going to a well-known reliable school becomes important, and children from disadvantaged groups often can’t go to those schools.

Even with biases, for the large majority of people, the system succeeds. More talent, education, work, and good character lead to greater income, and the reverse. Anyone who has lived outside the US and some countries of Europe, such as Germany, knows how much fairer education and jobs are here and in good countries of Europe. You cannot blame all failure on discrimination, not even in America.

As a society, we can and should do better. We need to make sure that nearly all public schools can be trusted to make a high ratio of students with competence and without a bad character.

Even then, not all students have natural talent and not all are guaranteed good jobs.

-Resources and output are limited, including jobs, houses, spouses, air, water, schools, safety, guns, and justice. We cannot have everything. America is lucky to have much. Over time, our economy grows, and so usually we get more, and we get more per person (average), but still we cannot have everything. We have to learn how to make the best of what we have now and how to make the best of more when it comes naturally.

-Everything has a cost. There is no free lunch, battleship, home mortgage, education, tax break, police protection, fire protection, shopping mall, business promotion, civil right, human right, or freedom. If we wish for something, or we wish for more, then we have to be willing to pay the cost. The cost can be money, effort, time, anguish, blood, sweat, tears, other goods foregone, worry, or all of them.

-You personally pay for everything the state does. The following people do not pay for you: “them”, the government, those guys, other taxpayers, rich people, business firms, stupid people who can’t get out of paying their taxes, neighbors, workmates, friends, Democrats, Republicans, Whites, Blacks, and Asians. You are one of “them”. You are the state. If the state pays, you pay. If the state does good things, you should be honored to pay. Even if the state does stupid wasteful things, you pay. If you have to pay, it is better to pay for good things.

If someone else pays less, you pay more. If you pay less, someone else pays more.

The only way for both to pay less is to reduce government services. That sounds great to taxpayers who all feel they pay more than everyone else, pay too much, and don’t get what they pay for. But, in fact, most people could not live without nearly all the services that they get from the state, and would “raise hell” if services were cut. If you want services, somebody has to pay. Paying should be as fair as can be. If you get services, you should pay for them, unless you are genuinely poor.

-A state in which each citizen personally does not pay his-her fair share, in which some citizens do not pay their fair share, in which even a few citizens think they can get others to pay for them, is a bad ugly state and cannot be a real democracy. If people feel like that in America, then America is bad and ugly and is not a democracy.

In real life, you can get others to pay for you. Real life is real life, even in America. Getting others to pay for you is a big part of what real politics is about. Some rich people and business firms think they are clever not to pay taxes. Regular people think they are clever to get tax breaks and to get benefits from programs, making other people pay for them. But, if you do get other people to pay for you, then you are not clever but are bad, ugly, and undemocratic, even in America.

In real states, when ordinary people (first people) get something free by making other people (second people) pay for them, usually the first people pay in other ways, such as by paying for things that the second people get. Poor people get welfare but they also pay a big share of their income in sales tax. Middle class people get a lot in education subsidies but they also pay for welfare. Then, people think: If he-she gets something, then I want something too, and I want more. If I get something, he-she will want something, usually more than me. I must win the war of privileges. People work hard for an advantage and to make sure their party gives them an advantage. People don’t work to make a fair system.

Soon, nobody is sure who really pays how much for what, who pays more or less overall, who gets more and who less, whether what we get personally is worth the cost, whether what he-she gets is worth the cost, whether what we all get is worth the cost, and if anything is fair. Everybody is sure that he-she is getting screwed and every other guy is getting a better deal at our expense, a better deal that he-she doesn’t deserve but we do. We play hard, often viciously, at privilege, jealousy, patronage, and “ins and outs”, as we do now. That is bad ugly and undemocratic too.

The biggest step to a better system is simple, clear, transparent, fair taxes and programs; with good ideas of how much overall each person pays and each group pays to the state and gets from the state. We don’t have that.

-When we pay to get one thing, or more of it, we have to accept less of other things. That loss is a kind of cost but people overlook it. (People teach this lesson to children but usually don’t remember it as adults. This widespread forgetting is a big cost of bad statecraft.) If we want to spend more time with friends, we spend less time with family, and vice versa. If we wish to earn more at work, we have to spend less time with family. If family is better than work, then we spend less time at work, make less money, and are less important in our arena. If a state builds more roads, it hires fewer teachers. If a state wants more social justice, it has to enforce social justice, and so it has to offer fewer tax breaks. If we are clear about the trade-offs and we are happy to make the trade-offs, then fine. Often, a voluntary trade-off leaves us better off in our view such as when we quit working on the lawn to play golf or quit cleaning to sit and watch a movie on TV.

Still, no trade-off, no wheeling dealing, no magic, no political schemes, can give us everything we wish at little cost and with nothing foregone.

We have to decide what resources we have including time, effort, health, family members, and friends; what we want including family, friends, and success; how much; at what cost; what we will give to get it; and what we will give up to get it. This is called “allocation”.

-A situation in which whatever one person-or-group gains another person-or-group loses is a “zero sum game”. Poker usually is a zero sum game. Strip poker usually is a zero sum game if you think only in terms of articles of clothing. If we give to one group, we take from another. If we give more in Social Security, we spend less on the military and on corporate welfare. If one person gets a good job, then another person loses a good job.

A situation in which, by interacting (playing the game), most people gain more than they lose, and all the players together gain more than all the players together lose, is called a “positive sum game” (the total sum of gains exceeds the total sum of losses). A social gathering is usually a positive sum game. Strip poker often is positive sum if you think in terms of enjoyment rather than articles of clothing. Business firms should be positive sum games for employees through division of labor. Academic departments are supposed to be positive sum games. Playing with your children often is positive sum. Free fair trade is always positive sum, for reasons that I don’t go into here.

In a good economy in a good state, politics is not a zero sum game and the economy is not a zero sum game but both are positive sum games and should together form a larger positive sum game. By buying, selling, working, doing your job well, hiring, firing, opening, closing, managing, developing, investing, and “entrepreneur-ing”, people are better off and have more than if every family took care of its own needs all by itself without “outside” jobs. Everybody gains when everybody merely does his-her job. I like that. Do you really wish to hunt squirrels and chop wood? Wouldn’t you rather make wagons and then trade those to other people who would rather hunt squirrels and chop wood?

Over time the economy grows, often faster than people have children and faster than land runs out, so people also have more and are better off. Then, if one person gets a good job, the total number of good jobs has gone up. If one person opens a bar or a bakery, another bar or bakery doesn’t have to close. If one company makes computers, other computer companies don’t have to go out of business. For most of its history, America has been in a firm positive sum game.

The idea of a zero sum game is one hard version of the ideas that resources are limited, and that what one person gets another person loses. The idea of a positive sum game, in the real world, also includes the idea that resources are limited but the idea is not so obvious in a positive sum game, and it would take too long to explain why. “Resources are limited and we must make choices” (allocate) is true even in a positive sum game and even when the economy grows.

In a good economy, positive sum games usually lead to a good distribution of wealth, or at least they do not lead to a bad distribution of wealth. If an otherwise healthy economy leads to a bad distribution of wealth, something odd is going on, often bad politics.

-People get used to the benefits of the positive sum game that is a good economy, and so don’t feel they are in a positive sum game even when they have been and still are, even when a positive sum game built the good economy that we now live in. Sometimes people notice the benefits of a positive sum game when the economy grows as after a big invention (computers, smart phones, self-driven cars) or during the recovery after a recession. But usually they don’t notice even then that they are in a positive sum game where everybody helps everybody else just by doing his-her job. At a grocery store we get cheap food all the time without thinking where it came from, so we forget what life would be like if we had to grow our own apples and had to hunt rabbits for dinner.

Even when the economy is in a positive sum game over the long run, and when a positive sum game is “running in the background”, still, in the short run of a decade or so, the economy acts and feels like a zero sum game. For most practical purposes, the economy is in a zero sum game for most people. Their feeling of being in a zero sum game is not bad faith or bad imagination. Then, the acts of most players (people in the economy) are based on their correct feeling that we are in a zero sum game over the time span that counts for them. How they play depends on what is going on in the background including politics, and how they feel. If they feel secure, they will be patient, cause no damage, and cause benefit by working in the positive sum game that runs in the background. If they feel insecure, if they fear and hate, then they are hasty, cause damage, and often undermine the positive sum game that runs in the background. They “screw things up”.

Even when the economy is growing, and people know it is growing, because good effects take a while to kick in, people often feel they are in a zero sum game even when they are in a positive sum game. Only in real boom times do people feel they are in an overall positive sum game. Because boom times don’t last and can’t last, the feeling is an illusion and it misdirects us from appreciating the real positive sum game that is the whole economy and that is running in the background. The feeling of a positive sum game that we get during booms would not be an illusion if we applied the feeling to the real positive sum game that is running in the background but people don’t have the predisposition to see that way and it is hard to teach them to see that way. People focus on what is wrong rather than what is right.

This feeling of being in a zero sum game even when really we are in a positive sum game is not always bad. It can be alright if: we are really in a positive sum game “running in the background”; the economy is not contracting quickly; people feel the game is fair whatever sum it is; feel everyone has enough even if some people have more; people feel that people with more talent, drive, education, etc. get fairly paid more; people feel people with less talent, drive, etc. get fairly paid less; people feel there are not many “slackers” who ride for free (none is best); and people feel owners actually contribute something. When people don’t feel the game is fair, etc, then, even when the economy recovers and-or grows, people feel they are in a bad zero sum game, and then people fear and get angry.

It is easier to get people to think they are in an unfair zero sum game than in a good positive sum game, even when a good positive sum game runs in the background. It is easier to make people fear based on bad fantasy than to lead people to hope based on pretty good reality. This is another reason why we have to be completely honest about flaws and problems, even when it is hard to do something about flaws and problems.

In the real world, the economy and state are not always in a positive sum game. They can go backwards so that we lose wealth and security. They can stall, sometimes for decades, so that we are in a zero sum game or worse, as in the Great Depression and Great Recession. They can stall for a big ratio of people, usually the working and middle class, even while other groups benefit and go forward, the upper middle and upper classes. Those are unusual conditions but they scare the hell out of people.

Since about 1975, people have felt the game is always zero sum, is not positive sum, and is not fair etc. So, they play quite hard: what another player gets they lose; and what they get, they take from another; when one person gets a good job, then another person loses a good job; when my child gets a good job, another child loses a good job; when my child loses a good job, it is only because another child got his-her good job by hook or by crook. People and business firms try to get security and payments from the state. People hate deeply that someone can live and raise a family off their taxes. People hate that some people can make a good living simply by owning something while having no other talent. People hate that someone can make a good living simply by performing a skill that is not so hard to do but takes a graduate degree to get a license for and to get a job for. People hate when they invest a huge amount in the education of their children and their children can’t get one of those good jobs. This is not a sweet pretty situation. It often gets ugly and morally bad. It harms democracy. It does not have to get ugly, if we know what is going on and we have good adept leaders. We have not had them.

We don’t usually notice we are in a positive sum game, so we mistakenly think we are stalled when we are not stalled or not as stalled as we think. As a result, we wish for constant interference by the state when constant interference would do little good and more likely would do harm. Political parties claim they can make the economy grow as in a positive sum game, and so make everybody better off. Again: The programs that arise from the claims, such as tax reductions and corporate welfare, almost always do more harm than good. We are almost always better off letting the economy grow naturally in its own natural long-term positive sum game, the game that we don’t notice. The best policy-and-action is to build a solid framework which reduces uncertainty but does not eliminate uncertainty, and lets business people and citizens make good long-term decisions.

Interfering during bad situations such as the Great Recession following 2007 is justified when it is based on sound economics. Obama’s ideas to help us then would have produced excellent results if they had been carried out, and even what was carried out was needed and it did what was needed. The problem was that his programs for helping America were “gutted” by Congress people on both sides of the aisle putting “pork” and personal gain ahead of the general welfare. We lost a golden opportunity to invest in infrastructure that badly needs it, to invest in new technology, give people real jobs, and give people real job skills. Be sure to blame both Parties.

Even when we are not in a bad situation, Parties always claim, as a ploy, that we are bad off, and only their ideas can get us out. It seems we are always in a bad situation. Their policies rarely are based on sound economics that apply to situations that we really are in. Too often, their policies are not based on sound economics almost regardless of the situation, and so could not get us out even if we were in the bad situation that they imagine we are in.

Learn how to assess what situation we are in. If it really is not good enough, think what we might do to make it better, realistically. Remember that “wait, and do nothing for a while” is a real option. Recall that, “help the poor, working class, and middle class until we all weather the storm” is an option. Think for yourself. Don’t believe what the Parties say either about the situation or how to make it all better. If one Party happens to agree with you, fine. To figure this out for yourself, you do have to learn a little economics. If our system of taxes and programs were simpler, all this would be easier to figure out. As it is, I wish you luck, and feel free to advise me.

-Like it or not, we compete with our neighbors in jobs, status, beauty, prowess, popularity, etc. “Mean girls” and “mean boys” are real. Like it or not, competition is not usually about what we have without regard to what other people have but what we have-and-don’t-have compared to what they have-and-don’t-have. Competition is everywhere and it is “comparative”. The slang term is “keeping up with the Joneses” but the effect is wider than that. Comparative competition is a big force in what turns positive sum games into zero sum games. If we could know what enough is, see we have enough, and be happy with the enough that we do have, we could easily see that we are in a positive sum game. But we never feel as if we have enough because we always need a little more than the other guy, so we always feel as if we are in a zero sum game. More problems arise on top of the feeling of competing with neighbors, and we get a “double dose” of zero sum game and all the nastiness that it brings.

Not only are mean people real but so are friends, good neighbors, good citizens, good Samaritans, and good politicians. Some people, often those who take religion seriously, know what enough is, know when they have enough, and are content. We have to consider it all, negative and positive. This topic is too much to go into here. I have written about this topic elsewhere.

-Again: Schemers in both Parties often offer plots in which their programs increase the economy and so we are not in a zero sum game, we are in a fast-growing positive sum game, we can afford it all, nobody loses, nobody loses by what the schemers gain, seemingly nobody pays, and everybody gains, even if a particular group gets most of any supposed increase. Supposed tax reductions are usually like this. You pay eventually through increased state debt even if you think you pay less in taxes now. This scheming works so seldom that we should assume it never works at all. Always assume it is a scam. Don’t fool yourself by your own wishful thinking. Don’t let politicians “lead you around by the nose” through your own wishful thinking. You do real damage that way.

-As a nation, we need to look at what we can afford in total right now without any more debt, and then we should decide how much each program gets within that total. We should never forget that we can’t afford it all, and we should always take into account who loses and who wins. This is important.

-Nothing in “we can’t afford it all right now” says we can’t afford more later if we wait for the economy to grow naturally and we have more real wealth then. I don’t mean get now and pay later, go into debt. I mean the opposite: If we wish more, then wait to get richer later, and buy it later when we can afford it and we can make a new allocation.

The idea “we can’t afford it all right now” is not a ploy to keep putting off real need, a ploy never to act on real need, never to give tax breaks to working people, never to help nature, never to seek social justice, never to fund the police adequately, and so always to use wealth for other desires that partisan politics prefers but that are not as good. “We can’t afford it all now” means we must allocate wisely.

“We can’t afford it all right now” does mean we cannot afford all the weapons that we wish for, all the social justice that we deserve, and all the corporate welfare that rich people dream of. We have to accept limits and trade-offs even with those.

Nothing in “we can’t afford it all right now” says favor business over social needs or vice versa. Nothing says favor the military over private activity, or vice versa. Nothing says state projects are more efficient than private enterprise, or vice versa. Sometimes social programs give a better return on investment than business welfare or military spending. Sometimes the state fulfills a need better, more effectively, and more efficiently than private action, and vice versa. We have to use experience, analysis, judgment, and wisdom rather than ideology and propaganda.

-People deliberately misunderstand tax breaks. People pretend tax breaks are neutral; tax breaks do no harm but only help the people who get the break; tax breaks never hurt anybody else; or, if tax breaks do make other people pay for the receivers, the loss is never much. None of that is true. All is harmful wishful thinking.

Tax breaks have four harmful effects:

A tax break to anybody is (1) an unearned gain to the receiving person (and group). (2) A loss from the pool of total tax revenue. Whatever someone gains in a tax break, (3) someone else has to pay to make up for (1) benefits given to the recipient and (2) for lost revenue.

(4) In addition, the people who pay are at a disadvantage compared to people who receive, usually a double or triple disadvantage. (a) They pay both the costs noted above while the receivers get benefits that the payers paid for. (b) So, receivers gain by comparison while payers lose by comparison. When the people who receive compete with the people who pay, as is often the case, then the people who pay not only lose (pay) but they also (c) support their competitors against themselves.

To clarify effects 1, 2, and 3: Suppose the owners of red cars legally can write off the interest payments on their car loans, and don’t have to pay licenses and taxes. Then, the owners of cars of all other colors have to pay more in taxes to make up for the benefits to red car owners and for lost revenue. Likewise, if house buyers write off interest on their taxes then everyone who is not buying a house, including poor renters, has to pay more taxes to make up for the benefits to the house buyers and the lost revenue. If some people deduct state and local taxes from federal taxes, then everybody who cannot deduct those taxes, mostly poor people and working people, has to pay more in taxes to make up for benefits that better-off people get and for lost revenue. There is no way around this effect.

4 continued: Often, a tax break to one group is not only a boon for them but effectively punishes other groups by comparison, particularly rivals. Tax breaks for big business in effect hurt small business, and, in effect, small business pays for the tax breaks that hurt them and help their big business rivals. When a giant corporation gets its local taxes and its state taxes absolved, then local small business has to pay more to make up the difference; local small business goes along because it hopes the new factory brings in more local customers to make up for their additional tax burden. Most tax breaks for working people with good jobs, for middle class people, and upper middle class people, in effect punish poor people and working people, if only because middle and upper middle class people can take advantage of tax break while poor working people and poor people cannot. If Whites can claim a tax benefit more often and-or can claim a bigger benefit from a tax break than can Blacks, then, in effect, the tax break punishes Blacks – and vice versa. If two-parent middle class families can claim a tax break more often, or can claim a bigger tax break, than can single-parent families, then, in effect, the tax break punishes single parents. If upper middle class people claim tax exempt savings for retirement when poor people have to spend all their income on food, rent, and sales tax, then upper middle class people have an advantage, and poor people pay for them. There is no free lunch, not even for middle class people, upper class people, and people of any color. Don’t make it worse by making the poor and working class pay for you. Don’t make it worse by making poor Whites, poor Blacks, women, single parents, working people, and the lower middle class, pay for you.

To use a tax break to favor a group such as single parents is awkward and prone to error. If you use the tax code that way, you should be clear what you are doing and should be aware who you hurt indirectly. Even if, by a miracle, you make the tax break fair, you make the tax code more complicated and make everybody more suspicious of everybody. Be careful about hurting the poor and working class because they can’t take all the tax breaks that other people can and can’t take tax breaks to the same extent that others can. They suffer by paying for others, through what they don’t get, and by paying so others can compete better against them.

Poor people, people who make little income, many working class people, and some middle class people, can’t benefit from most tax breaks. So they lose by comparison, lose again when they have to pay more in taxes (or more later on the national debt) to allow for reduced taxes to people who make more, and lose yet again when the tax break helps rivals permanently to out-compete them. You can’t get enough money back from your taxes to pay for health insurance if you don’t pay enough in taxes to begin with to cover the cost of health insurance (or don’t make enough so deductions from your effective income yields a tax reduction big enough to cover the insurance). If poor people don’t own their houses and-or can’t afford to fix houses, then what good are tax breaks for installing high quality weather proofing or solar panels? If poor people don’t have any money left over for college tuition, then what good are tax breaks for college tuition? What good are tax exempt savings accounts for college tuition, even for a state school? All that happens is that poor people pay for the people who can afford these tax breaks. What good are tax exempt savings accounts for retirement if all your money has to pay for food and for sales tax so you have nothing left over for an IRA or 401K? Tax breaks help only people who already make enough so they don’t need help. Tax breaks help the secure middle class, upper middle class, and upper class at the expense of poor people and people of modest income, and tax breaks make the poor less able to compete.

It is better to make all people pay for health insurance, retirement, and school according to income than to use a fake scheme based on tax reductions. It is better to use direct-pay according to need and merit.

Tax breaks pass legislatures because: they are easier to pass compared to fair, well-thought-out, well-wrought programs; tax breaks can be sold as fair when they are not; tax breaks can help the well-off middle class and upper middle class, those people vote, and those people have connections; and tax breaks help rich powerful people. Voters and rich powerful people return favors with political support. Tax breaks give advantage when seeming not to. Tax breaks hurt while seeming not to. That is exactly what rich and powerful people, and legislators, wish for. It is a shame to do that to poor people and insecure people. You should demand legislators tell you who can benefit and cannot benefit from a tax break, divided by income classes.

-A sales tax is highly “regressive”. People that make less income pay a much higher ratio of their income than people that make more. Poor people pay a clearly higher ratio of total income in sales tax than do middle and upper middle class people. A sales tax is unfair and immoral. It is a “negative” tax break that privileges rich people more than poor people. With computers tracking almost all income, it is now just as easy to use income taxes as it was to use sales taxes in the past.

I do not have a pipeline to God but I am sure God hates the regressive sales tax, especially on food, medicine, school supplies, and primary homes; God will punish legislators who pass sales taxes; and God will deal harshly with citizens who vote for those legislators. I am not joking.

-Once any tax, tax break, program, or benefit gets going, it is almost impossible to end, even if we all can see it is not worthwhile. This observation applies to individual people, families, groups, business firms, and groups of business firms. Business firms hold on to their special benefits as much as any welfare junky, and with as much evil in their eyes. I don’t explain why it is so hard to end.

Taxes, breaks, programs, and benefits cause problems that we did not foresee. They reduce the total tax revenue available. So, other good causes and programs can’t get funded and don’t get funded. This is an instance of having to forego something (a good program) to get something else (a bad program). This is an overlooked serious cost of taxes, tax breaks, programs, and benefits. Because taxes, breaks, programs, and benefits are so hard to end, the attendant problems tend to pile up continuously.

People and groups are adamant about avoiding taxes and getting their share of breaks, programs, and benefits. Everyone feels that “I personally must pay less in taxes, and get as many breaks, programs, and benefits, as the ‘other guy’; and, if possible, I must get a better deal”. People go crazy when they think they suffer a disadvantage. They go crazy when a tax is imposed on them and not on the other guy or not as much. They go crazy if the other guy gets any break, program, or benefit, and they don’t get the same or get at least as much in some other break, program, or benefit. This frenzied comparison is a lot of what politics and the game of clients is all about.

The US has a huge body of confusing conflicting taxes, tax breaks, programs, and benefits. They do help sometimes but mostly they interfere with the market and with overall benefit from the economy. The welter of programs makes it hard to figure out what is going on. People in a welter assume the worst and act on that basis. They assume the other guy is getting a better deal, I am getting cheated, and I have to pull all my political strings to get un-cheated and get the best of the other guy. Political Parties know that people react like this, and they promote this reaction so they can gain people as clients by giving them a little help or a promise. So, the welter promotes partisanship and deadlock. Both Parties are equally responsible.

(There are plausible reasons for a big conflicting body of taxes and programs. The reasons have to do with indirectly increasing some kinds of security and indirectly reducing some kinds of uncertainty and risk. The reasons are not nearly strong enough, so I dismiss them here.)

-Even in robust capitalist economies, at least 5% of people who are healthy enough, have at least some education, and will work, cannot find work. The reason has to do with “Imperfect competition” and with “structuring” of markets but here I can’t go into what those are. I do a little below. This flaw is one of those that I mentioned above, one of the biggest. See my other writing about economics.

Statistics about employment are misleading. When the government says we have 5% unemployment, really the US has 8% or more. Germany is similar to the US, and Japan used to be. In most countries, even in advanced capitalist countries, the real rate of unemployment is higher than in the United States, always at least 8%, and often above 15%. The business cycle affects the rates of unemployment but real (structural) unemployment never goes completely away.

Even in the United States, rates of unemployment are high enough to affect society and politics always. Real unemployment has a strong bad effect in countries such as England, France, and Greece. Listen to a song by The Clash called “Career Opportunities” (“the ones that never knock”).

-In addition to real unemployment, many employed people in the US do not have jobs with security, enough pay to raise a family, and many benefits. Too many people have “bad jobs” with low pay, no benefits, and low security. Bad jobs used to be reserved for kids in school or just out but now many adults hold those jobs and try to raise a family on them, such as in fast food. The ratio of bad jobs to good has been rising; more people have bad jobs while fewer people have good jobs. I don’t know the ratio because it changes often but, as best I do know, at least 20% of jobs in America are bad jobs yet people try to raise a family on those bad jobs. This too is one of the flaws that lead to problems that I mentioned above.

-The following point has nothing to do with how much formal education a person receives, whether a person really needs a diploma to learn a job well, how much college costs, and whether we have to send all children to college now. Beginning at least since 1970, the intelligence and training needed to get a good job has increased. Now, a growing number of people are not smart enough to get a good job, or much of any job, even if they are healthy, willing, have a good character, and have a diploma. A diploma is no guarantee of intelligence, education, character, or a job. Being a well-adjusted good American is no guarantee of any job. This trend cannot be explained away as due only to prejudice. Many people don’t have jobs not because somebody doesn’t like their skin but because they are not smart enough and-or they have a bad attitude. Education can help some of these people but not all, and they are not getting focused education. Now there are enough of these people to affect society and politics, and their numbers are growing.

I put this point in language that is un-PC but needed: Many Americans now are too stupid to get a good job or any job, and education won’t help enough. Many Americans now are such assholes that nobody will hire them for a good job or any job, education didn’t help them before, and more education won’t do them much good now.

-Because some unemployment and some bad jobs are unavoidable, even for people with skills and a good attitude, even in a rich healthy economy as in America, we need something like welfare.

But, if we give enough support so decent unemployed people can live tolerably well and raise a small family modestly, then a great many other people, who otherwise would have been forced to work, will not work, and they will choose welfare. Welfare will bloat, and then fail. If we reduce the payments so that recipients can only scrape by, and we limit the number of children to be supported on welfare, we penalize decent people who would rather work, and penalize children. We sustain the cycle of poverty. We really are caught between a real rock and a real hard place.

There is no simple way out. History has shown that giving support to many recipients does not work, and often makes things worse. History has shown that we cannot be nasty enough on people to force all people to find work, and so to eliminate welfare. We cannot ship all the people on welfare off to Mars and so leave only people who already have good jobs. For reasons that I don’t go into here, if we did ship off all the people on welfare, then we would have another group of people who lost their jobs and needed welfare. We cannot educate all the people on welfare so they can all go find jobs; even if we gave them all PhDs, not all could find jobs. We must have some welfare, and we must manage it well. We have not managed it well.

Republicans hope to end welfare by being really nasty to people on welfare. Democrats wish to expand welfare availability and benefits so all people on it get an education and get a good job, and then, when everybody has succeeded, there will be no more unemployment and bad jobs, and we will hardly need welfare. Democrats say it is worth putting up with cheaters for a while until everyone gets enough skills to get a job, and then the only people left on welfare will be handicapped people. Republicans would rather starve decent parents and their decent children than let one cheater get by. Neither way works. Pause to let sink in why neither way works.

Pause to see that the problems from this flaw do not fall on all social groups equally.

Pause to think that the problems fall on children of any social group more than on adults.

Think how bad adults have learned to use the plight of children to blackmail good people.

Pause to think about what you would do. Likely you are a citizen or resident. You should have realistic and humane ideas about fellow citizens. I have offered ideas elsewhere and I don’t repeat them here. I do repeat points of this synopsis when needed in this essay because people tend to selectively forget the facts and ideas. They recall only what supports their biases.

-Education can help with all these problems of employment and with good jobs and bad jobs but it cannot alone solve the problems.

People don’t even get the help that education might give because American schools have not kept up with what is needed and have let quality fall. Since about 1975, American schools split into two camps: (1) Good schools for upper middle and middle class people, mostly Whites, East and South Asians, with some successful other ethnic groups; and (2) bad schools of poor Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks. The bad schools are as bad as anywhere. The problem is not only money but also due to parents’ attitudes about education, willingness by parents to get involved, and attitude to education and life by the communities around the schools. The culture (attitude) of the parents and local group makes the biggest difference. Problems with schools interlock with divisions in socio-economic class and by social group.

-This section begins a series of sections about how much Americans should make in their jobs in the new world economy and what Americans feel about how much they should make. The material comes in three groups. The first group below is an introduction and synopsis of the lessons. The second is a brief version while the third is the long original version. The long version is marked with hash tags (#) and you may skip it if you wish.

-Group 1: Introduction and Synopsis: Americans now show three bad features, and the bad features mutually support each other. Historical changes reinforced the bad features.

(1) Americans have a big sense of entitlement as Americans, entitlement of me versus other Americans, of my group of Americans versus other Americans, and of Americans against other nations. Americans, feel they deserve a good job, security, to be boss, wealth, power, respect, deference, social standing, and legal standing, simply because they are Americans or they are a particular kind of American such as a White man or a Black. If they do not get what they feel they deserve, they feel cheated and angry. In a self-perpetuating cycle, people also work themselves up to feel cheated and angry to justify feeling entitled. There is no end to what people feel they are entitled to get. To get part of what they feel entitled to, people connive with other people who they feel are “in the same boat”, their “gang”, to get ahead of others and to deprive others.

(I am not in the group who feel Americans have wronged all the world and so we should apologize to all and sundry. Americans have much to be proud of, much more than to be ashamed of. We bear the torch for all that is good about Western culture and society. We do lead the free world. We have made mistakes but not any worse than any country and usually less. We have helped not only our friends but our enemies. Many nations owe their peace, prosperity, and future to us. I have no problem with a little pride and with good strong leadership. That is not what I am talking about. The cure for both chic shame and stupid insolence is reality. See the movies “Syriana” and “Sicario” and think hard.)

(2) Americans do not have a realistic sense of how their economy works, how the world economy works, and the place of socio-economic class and social groups in the economy and in politics. We do not live in the real world no matter how much we claim to be realistic and practical. Not even Republicans who take so much pride in being hardheaded, realistic, and practical live in the real world. Not even Blacks who take so much pride in being picked on live in the real world. We live in a bad fantasy world in which we can find excuses to do what we wish.

(3) The American Dream is not one dream but has been several dreams over time. It has changed to fit different eras. It was one dream in 1955, another in 1985, and is becoming another dream now in 2018. The Dream both reflects conditions and it gives people reasons to act. Reasons can be straightforward or they can be ploys and excuses to do something we wish to do for other reasons. Since about 1981, rather than serve as a straight positive draw to good acts and a good lifestyle, the American Dream has allowed us to excuse doing what gets us ahead, gain more power, wealth, and security than neighbors. The American Dream can return to being a straightforward positive force, and it seems that is happening with some young people. Become a part of that.

(4) Several big changes in American economics and politics, and in world economics, happened since the end of World War 2. The changes added to the attitudes described above. I describe the changes below and in other parts of this essay. I repeat his material as needed in context so please be patient.

The complex of bad ideas and bad acts in the modern Dream hurts people, America, and the world. It blocks learning more about reality and so getting better.

Two lessons:

(1A) Stop feeling entitled. Nearly all Americans now feel entitled. They are like people in old countries of Asia and Europe who feel entitled and superior because once the country had an empire. Now, ALL Americans, all socio-economic classes and social groups, feel entitled. The American Dream now is not about developing your talent to get what your talent can bring but about harvesting the entitlement that you supposedly already have. You have to stop all this. Figure out what is reasonable for a person of your talents and training, strive to get that, and strive to get better from that base.

(1B) Fear, anger, resentment, “us versus them”, and “me superior, you inferior” are all part of feeling entitled even if we are not aware of those attitudes along with feeling entitled. Those attitudes and a feeling of entitlement reinforce each other. To stop one, you have to stop both. So, stop all that too. If you are not afraid then you won’t feel the need to be entitled and you won’t do bad things to protect against your fear by using entitled as an excuse. The most often repeated message of the Old and New Testaments is “fear not”, and that message features often in Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. It is hard to stop feeling afraid in our fearful world. To undo these feelings, sometimes it is easier to start with entitlement and work backwards to what drives you to feel entitled. One way to get over fear and entitlement is to see reality as clearly as possible, which leads to the next point.

(2A) Stop being led by bad ideas and bad propaganda that let you get away with things, including let you get away with anger, hate, fear, hurting other groups, feeling entitled, and acting badly. Learn reality. Learn what the real world is like. The real world is far from fair but that doesn’t mean you can’t live in it. Even if the world is grossly unfair to you and your people, the best response is not usually anger and a sense of entitlement. Don’t believe the propaganda of your political party, class, ethnic group, gender, age, national, religious, regional, or any group. Learn for yourself. It would be better if you could get accurate information from respected sources but likely you can’t. You can get some information from the Internet. Bother to search. Bother to learn.

(2B) Learn about the “new normal”. Learn what the new normal is so you can make a decent living in it and be a good person in it. Learn what American labor and American goods are worth on the world market. Learn what standard of living Americans can reasonably expect given various levels of ability and skill, and types of character. Learn about the new normal not only so you can get along in it but so you can shape it to be a better new normal for the whole country and whole world. This approach is not only idealistic but practical. You and your children have to live in whatever new normal that you find and create.

-Group 2: Short Version. Start with the American Dream. To dream of a better life, especially for your children, is good as long as the dream is within reality. Dreams are by definition not real so it seems a bit odd to say a dream must be realistic but is not odd if the dream might come partly true, and, anyway, people understand. A realistic dream leads people to work hard, seek their betterment, and, through their hard work, make the whole country better. On and off, the stylized American Dream has served like this. Martin Luther King’s “dream speech” served like this when people paid attention to what he actually said rather than read into it what they wish. He had a dream for all of America, not only Blacks, and the dream was of a reasonably just society where people were judged by their character. He did not dream everybody would own a big house, drive a big car, be the boss, have everybody else turn a head in respect, and get revenge on their former oppressors by turning the tables.

In contrast, if the dream is unrealistic, no matter how appealing, then people feel bad when they don’t make it, feel bad when they (often wrongly) think other people do make the dream, feel cheated, want revenge against the people who do make the dream, and get political help to make the dream for us and to make sure our rivals don’t make it. People do this not only as individuals, or primarily as individuals, but as groups.

“We Whites are supposed to have the American Dream before any other group but we don’t. All our children should be the owners, managers, doctors, lawyers, and bosses, but they aren’t. Some of them now can’t even find any jobs. The jobs that used to pay well for us like plumber don’t even pay enough now to live. This failure can be only because Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, immigrants, and some women, are dragging down the whole country, especially us, and we have to do something about them, so our children get their due. We will join the Republican Party and make sure it wins for us first.”

“We Blacks see a lot of Whites and Chinese get the American Dream of power, respect, and prosperity but we Blacks do not; they are always the owners, bosses, managers, professor, and lawyers but we never are; they always come out ahead and we always come out behind; they always look down on us and disrespect us; so they must be cheating and putting us down; we want what they’ve got; and we want Democrats to take it away from Whites and Chinese and to give it to us Blacks. White people and Chinese owe it to us and they had better give it to us.” “Chinese” means all Asians; it is something like “chink” used to be.

Disappointed Muslims feel this too, and aim it at all Westerners.

When people think like this, the dream is not about justice but about economic and social power even if it is often phrased in terms of justice.

Political parties (and social groups) use unrealistic expectations, disappointment, and resentment to make, recruit, and control clients, to use their clients against rival parties and clients. Political parties foster unrealistic expectations just to do that. Political parties deliberately do not give people realistic views of the economy, world, how much people can expect to earn, how much people can expect to advance or how much their children can expect to advance, why many people cannot expect to advance far but can expect to live decently, why some people fail, why some groups have a harder time, what political parties can and can’t do for them, and what political parties can and can’t do to rivals. Political parties excuse misinformation by saying they keep hope alive, wish to keep people working hard for their families, and, through hope and work, to lead the people to make the country better. Without hope, even sometimes unrealistic hope, nothing truly good can be done. That is merely excuses. The primary goal of giving people only an unrealistic view of the world is not to give them hope but to use people. Democrats, Republicans, and recruiters for extreme Muslim causes, all use basically the same tactic even if they hate to admit it.

We must base the dream close enough to reality so people succeed in the dream largely due to talent, character, and a little bit of luck, and people do not succeed largely to talent, character, and bad luck. People have to see what they can hope for realistically and what they might achieve. Reality has to be a big force in the dream. With the American Dream now, people should accept that the world has changed and accept what the world is now – the world is not that bad and usually is pretty good. People need to see and accept the new normal. People have to see how to get along in the new normal. If we see reality, we do much better and we avoid many problems. We dream good dreams. If we don’t see reality, we burn in the guts, dream bad dreams, and fight.

We should see the reality behind the dream not only by what we figure out for ourselves but also from what parents, teachers, and leaders of religion, labor, business, and politics tell us. They all should add to an accurate full picture. If they don’t know, if they tell us fantasies, or lies, then we feel bad, fight, and dream bad dreams. If they don’t know or won’t tell us, we have to find out for ourselves. Luckily, if we are diligent, we can find out about the real new normal on the Internet and from talking to young people. But having to find the new normal not from trusted elders but from the Internet leaves at least a residual burn in the guts.

-To get a better sense of the new American Dream since 1981, a little history helps. I make these points in more detail just below and again in several places, so here I only mention them. You will get tired of these points, for which I apologize, but they are important enough so it is better to repeat and be sure than to be efficient and allow people to overlook.

From after World War 2 until about 1975, America had a period of great comparative prosperity, likely the greatest comparative prosperity that any nation has known in the history of the world. We were far ahead of all other nations in making and selling manufactured goods. Americans developed unreal ideas about the world and world economy, about what it means to be an American, and what Americans are entitled to. This is the time of the classic American Dream and of sweet TV shows about family life and town life, such as “Leave it to Beaver” and “Andy Griffith”. The Dream at the time was not realistic but it was not harmful either. It was hopeful, sharing, and trusting. The flip side of the dream, where a little dark reality showed through, was in rock-n-roll music and in films noir (crime movies).

After 1970, the rest of the world began to catch up, and America fell behind somewhat. Americans did not really feel the pressure until about 1975, after crises in the supply of petroleum that most people under the age of 50 would not remember. A flood of working people and middle class people, mostly Whites and Asians, moved from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Rather than revise our view of the world, get more realistic, build a better economy and infrastructure, and succeed, Americans got confused and worried. This was the setting for the movie “Dazed and Confused”. Ethnic groups and other social groups fought and retreated into looking out for themselves. We looked for ways to regain and to guard our superiority. We bought and sold a lot of bad drugs. This was the time of the highest crime rates in the history of America. Crime rates are far lower now but Americans still act as if they are in more danger now than then.

By 1981 and Reagan, first America panicked and then it went into an unrealistic self-serving euphoria. America began to recover in some ways but it had not changed its basic economic structure and class relations, so recovery was not resilient, and recovery was due more to surface tricks than to deep real renewal. A crash in the early 1990s caused George W. Bush to lose the Presidency.

Some Americans did prosper in the confusion. Although they were not many, other Americans wrongly took them to be the new normal, the new standard, the new Dream. This was the time of junk bonds, the invasion of cocaine, crack, and meth, new ethnic criminal gangs, new biker gangs, corporate cliques, academic cliques, ups and downs in the stock market, yuppies, preppies, network for success, worship of success, McMansions, the movie “Wall Street”, and TV such as “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and “Miami Vice” (see how Raj is dressed in the first episode of “The Big Bang Theory”). This is when Donald Trump really grew into what he is. The Emperor, Count Dookoo, General Grievous, and Darth Vader are partly throwbacks to the 1930s but they also look ahead to people in the 1980s and 1990s.

The American Dream that developed in the 1980s and 90s is unrealistic, bad, and harmful. It is based on an unrealistic feeling of entitlement; on the willingness to screw other people and groups to get your supposed due; a gang mentality in which social groups mass to use politics to get what they feel entitled to; and the “culture wars”. The combination of selfishness and group is found in both criminal gangs and American politics after 1981. Americans have felt unrealistically entitled since the 1950s but not like the bad feeling of entitlement that grew in the 1980s and 1990s.

To discredit even good programs such as Social Security, Republicans always label helping programs as “entitlement” and Republicans complain how Democratic clients such as Blacks, Hispanics, women, and the poor feel unrealistically, impractically, and unfairly entitled, and how giving to them hurts the whole nation. Republicans should stop tarring good programs and good people with the same brush as bad programs and bad people. Some programs do stem from a bad sense of entitlement or selfish people swell them from a bad sense of entitlement but not all programs that help people. If Republicans wish to perform a real public service, they should sort this issue out and focus on condemning bad programs and bad people.

Republican criticism is true for bad programs and people but it hardly goes far enough. Far too many Americans, including especially far too many Republican clients, especially those born before about 1975, also developed an unreal, impractical, and unfair sense of entitlement, and will gang up to get theirs. And they do “get theirs”, their entitlements, tax breaks, and programs that benefit the upper middle class, and corporate welfare. They get as much through their entitlements as poor people, Blacks, and women get through their entitlements. Corporate America and the upper middle class feel as entitled to a superior near-opulent lifestyle as poor single mothers feel entitled to get enough food, security, and quality education to raise two children.

After the late 1980s, America saw a few repudiations of, and alternatives to, this bad new Dream but no alternatives appealed to the American public as a whole until about 2005. The alternatives did appeal to people born after 1980 and eventually some alternative version will become American culture, the new American Dream, and the new normal. “Grunge” and the new folk of the 1990s and early 2000s are two repudiations and alternatives. I cannot avoid mentioning “Friends” and its copies. “That ‘70s Show” is really about sensibilities of the 2000s, how poorly they would have fit into the dark times, but how much better they are for real humans seeking real jobs. Jimmy Buffet is still going strong, on Broadway. “Alt” country and the “new” country, even big “cowboy” hats, are about getting along, at least in your own religious and ethnic group, and about having reasonable expectations for family and love - and they are about having some simple human fun – which had disappeared in the 1980s. In the middle 2000s, a new pop music arose with all the same themes, and about not putting up with selfish career-oriented people. The best representative likely is Taylor Swift. The best non-art representatives might be Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton. Even the “what would Jesus do” movement was a big step in the right direction by the right people.

New attitudes are not all good and don’t all work. You cannot be a lingering grunge-y, retro-hippy, a “new folk-y”, or an aging preppy go-getter in the real world for long. You can’t be a success by wearing a cowboy hat or baseball cap. People still need good jobs. They get jobs in big organizations such as business firms, law firms, schools, and the state. For those jobs, you have to present yourself the right away and need true competence. For that, you have to think the right way. This might be why we have so many zombie movies and TV shows now. People need to eat the brains (jobs, ideas, lifestyles, and lives) of other people just to keep stutter stepping. In ads for a real estate association, think of the “not you” people who missed out on the house you got even though they look almost exactly like you. Still, in the end, all the zombies are killed off or are made friends with, and tough but decent people remain.

I do not here go into details of the situation for Black Americans and their response such as “Black Lives Matter”. Not all, but many, Blacks could become part of the new normal and the new sensible America that developed apart from the bad Dream of the Reagan and post-Reagan era.

Even in new corporate America, people born after about 1980 have a sense of new normal that differs from what spawned the bad dream that lingers on in people born before 1970. Their new normal sees most economic and political realities even if it interprets them in terms of helping me get a good job. Their new normal does not lead everybody to be the ideal spiritual person of his-her dreams but it does give enough to work with if you are not greedy.

I give a bit of how I see the new normal here and I give more in other essays. You can get a good sense of America and of what to expect if you often remind yourself to stick to reality and not believe what politicians, political parties, people tell you.

In fact, America has a lot going for it, more than any other place in the world, and much more than most places in the world. Even in America, especially in America, the new normal is pretty good if you can be realistic about it. You can live decently and productively. Even if you fail, often you can recover. You should not feel disappointment or resentment if you don’t make it big in accord with the unrealistic bad new American Dream of the 1980s and 90s. You are entitled not to success but a fair chance, and most people now, even Blacks, Hispanics, and women, get that. We can do better, and we have a good base to build on to do better. You should and can get a modest piece of a fairly good American pie if you stick to reality, don’t feel resentment, don’t go crazy with entitlement, and don’t allow yourself to be used.

I do not lionize Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, or Millenials, but, as far as I have seen, they are more level-headed about economic and cultural realities than their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. They know they have been misled. They know what they see is not as they have been told. They have seen the bad results of not being realistic. They want a realistic idea of the new normal. They feel they can negotiate within the new normal for a fairly decent life if they can see the new normal realistically. They feel most people can find a decent life in the new normal as long as we do not panic and are not greedy. I cannot give them much help because I am too old but I think they can get the information they need, and I hope they do.

-As noted, a series of events made the false American Dream of the 1980s both more unrealistic and yet more gripping. The events enhanced feelings of fear and entitlement. Changes made people not seek a realistic better view of America but entrench in unrealistic fantasy. Because I develop the points below several places elsewhere in the essay, I summarize them here only as much as they are needed.

(1) From about 1945 to 1975, due to World War 2, America accidentally had a privileged position of wealth and power. America built a lifestyle, and an expectation of a lifestyle, based on that unusual world position.

(2) Beginning after 1970, the rest of the world caught up and sometimes surpassed America. Whatever wealth and power America wished to keep, America would have to keep it by competing with the rest of the world in the context of a world economy and world power arena. America was slow to adjust and it adjusted badly. In fact, we still have not adjusted fully and realistically.

(3) “Real wages” is what a person can buy with his-her wages, not dollar amounts. America grows in economic productivity every year. Growth in economic productivity should mean more real income on average for most people in America. Mostly, before about 1975, real wages did grow due to growth in productivity. From 1975 through now, that did not happen. Instead, real wages for the poor, working class, and middle class stagnated. At the same time, income increased for the upper middle class and upper class. Due to their income increasing, and from other factors, wealth concentrated into the hands of the upper middle class and upper class. Especially wealth concentrated into the hands of the top 1% of rich people. Of course, all people use their wealth for political power.

(4) During the 1970s and early 1980s, America had a “panic attack”. People returned to politics based on ethnic groups and social groups. Working and middle class Americans left the Democratic Party for the Republican Party. Americans grew less realistic and more demanding. Americans developed a new Dream that included more selfishness and a greater sense of entitlement.

(5A) Costs of some important big life items went up much faster than growth in productivity and in real wages. Because real wages stagnated for the poor, working class, and middle class, of course the costs went up faster than their wages. The increase in the costs went up faster than inflation and largely drove inflation. The increase in the costs is partly responsible for the stagnation in real wages. The costs are for education, housing, land, health care including dental care, insurance, and transportation.

(5B) The upper middle class and upper class not only did not suffer much from the increase in the costs but benefitted. The increase in these costs helped preserve the economic and power situations of the upper middle class and upper class. Their control over providing education, housing, medical care, etc. was largely responsible for concentration of income and wealth.

The response to these big changes was not “What in the world is really going on? Let’s figure out what really is going on, and do something about it. Let’s do something realistic that does not undermine the American way of life, American democracy, and American capitalism. Let’s use America’s bounty to give a reasonably fair chance at a modest life to anybody who is honest and will work hard. To do that, we need accurate information and good ideas. Likely, we will have to work together too.”

Instead, the response was “Even despite these changes, America is getting richer and some Americans are getting richer. I want that. I deserve all that. I am entitled to all that. If I can’t get all that directly only by myself, I want to be part of some person or some organization that can get it, and through which I can get my big entitled share. I want to be a part of a rich powerful business firm or school, and I want rich powerful political allies. I am more likely to get a big share as part of a wealthy powerful group, so I will make sure I am a member, and I will behave accordingly as a member. I will change to become that person. Whatever anybody gets from the state, I want more. Whatever anybody gets on the job, I want more. As for other people who don’t get a share or a fair shake, screw them. They had their chance. As for other nations, they better give us their resources. We must stay ahead of them in all ways. If they don’t cooperate, we will squeeze them hard.” I don’t see how this can be the American Dream of 1965. This is the culture of entitlement and bad gangs. I hope it is not the American Dream now. You can be realistic without having this kind of dream. In fact, if you have this dream, you cannot be realistic.

# -Group 3: Long Version. The sections marked with the hash tag are how I originally wrote the topic above. I gave more information about underlying economics. If you wish to skip this material and go directly to what follows, search for %%%%%.

# -For the next few topics, we need the following points. Don’t worry about ”marginal productivity” and “marginal revenue productivity”.

# In the past, America’s high standard of living was due to high general productivity and to high marginal productivity for labor and high marginal revenue productivity for labor, compared to other nations. We were more productive than other nations because:

# (1) From World War 2 until about 1970, America was almost the only maker of finished technological goods in the entire world, including goods such as cars, tractors, and TV sets. World War 2 had crippled the capacities of Europe and Japan, and countries such as China and South Korea had not developed yet. Americans forget how important this unique position was. We wrongly base our ideas about standard of living on what America had during this unusual period. American labor might not have been strictly overvalued or overpaid but it was overpaid if American labor had had to compete with trained labor in other countries such as Germany, England, and Japan.

# (2A) We were more innovative in many ways including hard technology, soft technology, science, the arts, and business organization. Innovation includes being more efficient with the same resources.

# (2B) Our lead in popular arts such as movies and TV spread American culture and Western culture around the world, created demand for American goods, and created revenue for American goods.

# (3) We had excellent science programs, including “pure” or “abstract” math and science with no immediate application.

# (4) We had excellent programs in all kinds of engineering, with practical applications of science and math.

# (5) We are blessed with great amazing natural resources.

# (6) We know how to implement quickly all kinds of innovations.

# (7) America has a well-developed infrastructure, which includes a lot of technology that has been implemented. American infrastructure now is old and in trouble but that issue is not relevant here.

# (8) America has a huge base of technology, largely thanks to its science and engineering. Technology is a double edged sword. Technology makes production more efficient, reduces some costs, leads to more “stuff” (goods) at lesser prices, and leads to more jobs for the people who make the technology and can use the technology. Technology also causes people to lose jobs and it requires people to be retrained to get new jobs. Economic orthodoxy says the gain always outweighs the loss, and ALL people who lose their jobs can find other jobs, usually better, later on. The orthodoxy likely was overall true until about the 1970s. Now, technology is complex enough, and so many simple jobs have disappeared, that many people can’t find new jobs or can find only worse jobs. On the whole, technology makes America richer and makes the people who can find jobs better off but also technology is making a class of people who can’t find new jobs ever or can find only bad jobs. The class of people who can’t find good jobs affects even the people who do get good jobs, in ways I can’t go into here. Kurt Vonnegut wrote of this issue, I think in his novel “Ice 9”. All this change added to the other problems that I describe about fear, wage rates, and entitlement.

No particular country can slow down the implementation of technology because competition will lead to rapid implementation. America will get “technified” more than most of us can now imagine, some of us will be unemployable or in bad jobs, and the unhappy people will impact the whole country. This is part of adjusting to the world economy. I don’t know what the overall result will be.

Rather than always refer to the issues around technology, I include issues of technology tacitly when I refer to the world economy. Whenever you see “world economy”, think of technology as well.

# (9) Basic costs such as for housing, education, and medical care, were fairly low, for good economic reasons.

# (10) We had good institutions such as schools, religious freedom, science, good courts, and (yes!) a good political system. We had a social organization that worked well with our institutions, character, and national culture.

# (11) Most Americans had good character, attitude, values, and culture to go with our good institutions. We shared a general American culture, and this culture helped.

# (12) Ethnic groups and immigrant groups were able to adapt their specific cultures to go with general American culture, without losing their particular culture too much.

# (13) Existing ethnic groups and immigrants added a great deal, such as with ideas in the arts, sciences, engineering, and politics.

# (14) Modern capitalism has general business organization and particular business organizations that are effective. Well-run corporations compete better than other firms, especially other firms run by family cliques and states (with some exceptions such as DuPont). America had a particularly effective version of the general capitalist corporate business firm. America was able to change organization to adapt to other innovations and to what is needed. Since the 1960s, some “family-and-state” style firms elsewhere have been able to out-compete American corporate business firms. I do not say that modern corporate business is morally better than family-owned business but it is more effective (I have personal experience that often corporate run life is worse than dealing with family business firms).

# (15) “Labor” here need not refer to organized labor such as labor unions although organized labor led the way for all labor and helped all labor. For many years in American history, labor in America worked both against-and-with business firms and the state to generally improve the American economy and life. In contrast, American labor withered as a political and economic force after 1975 and more so after Reagan, mostly due to its own bad ideas and partly due to adept killing by its enemies. The decline of labor (a) made America NOT to gain as much productivity as it could have and (b) made workers not share as much from any gains in productivity as they should have.

# Not all change is good innovation that leads to greater productivity and-or to higher wages. The old pop star fades and the new star now makes the money that the old star does not. It looks different but really it is the “same as it ever was”. When computers were first popular about 1987, people predicted paperless offices in five years yet computers led to wasting more paper. I doubt smart phones make us much more productive even if they did cause social change. In contrast, internet shopping did make us more efficient, and usually that is more productive. Change might lead to higher real wages or might not. Look at productivity rather than mere change.

# America still has most of its advantages although not as much more as before. We declined in some ways such as the useful role of labor. You should pause to think what advantages America still has and to what extent. Think why we declined or why we stayed on top. Think what ways we are still among the top, even if not the very top, and why. Think how to improve. Think if we have to doggedly seek totally dominating in all ways or accept not totally dominating in all ways. Think what ways and what levels of only modest advantage that we should learn to live with.

# -For here, the term “workers” means: “workers, professionals, most managers in business firms and in government, and most officers of business firms and in government”. Owners, investors, speculators, and entrepreneurs, are not workers, and are covered below. “Professionals” includes doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, college professors, accountants, technicians, journalists, etc. For here, wages, salary, benefits, and income are all called “wages”. Recall that “real wages” refers not to the dollar amount of wages but to what a person can buy with wages. “Earned”, “deserved”, or “honest” wages come from helping to make a real product (“good”) that is sold on the market for market prices or from helping to give a real service (also a “good”) that is sold on the market for market prices. “Earned” is a technical term from economics but it will not be used strictly that way here.

# “Productivity” refers to the output per person or per some other unit such as per dollar, kilowatt hour, gallon of gasoline, chemical process, machine, computer minute, or piece of software. Here, I stick with “per person”. When productivity increases (rises) each worker makes more stuff or offers more services per hour, usually with the help of better technology, software, training, or organization. Productivity in America has increased about 0.5% to 4% per year since about 1965. We can take about 1.5% to 2% per year on average. Productivity is not the same as total output. Total output can decline even while productivity in general, or in some fields, increases. During the Great Recession of 2007, productivity of smart phones increased. At times, productivity increases in bursts while sometimes it dawdles. Be careful about statistics for productivity, they can be misleading. Politicians exaggerate statistics about productivity so as to take undeserved credit or divert blame.

# Main Point 1: Real wages depend on productivity. The higher the (marginal revenue) productivity of a type of worker, the higher the wages are for that type of worker, and vice versa.

# Main Point 2: American workers now are not necessarily more productive than workers elsewhere. So, American workers do not necessarily deserve higher (earned real) wages than workers elsewhere. Nobody knows for sure how much Americans should be able to buy with their real wages. We have to adjust expectations and our way of life to our real level of productivity and our deserved real wages.

If American workers deserve more real wages, that gain likely is due to advantages shared by America as a whole and due to the productivity of the economy as a whole rather than due to much specialness about Americans. American character, and good American training, might lead American workers to be more productive than their counterparts elsewhere but it does not lead Americans to expect the kind of unrealistic bad American Dream that became common after President Reagan in the 1980s and 90s. We deserve more not because we are Americans but because America has good features thanks to nature and to history.

# -Since 1975, general productivity, all over America, has increased. So, average productivity per worker has gone up. In that case, we would expect that real wages would go up too. We would expect more total wealth in America, more wealth per person, higher real wages, and that higher real wages to give more wealth per person. In fact, this did not happen “across the board” all over America. Since 1975, wages (income) increased for the upper middle class and upper class but not the middle class, working class, and poor. Real wages for the poor, working class, and middle class all stayed stagnant. Standard of living, what the people could get for real wages, remained stagnant or declined. America as a whole got richer but nearly all the wealth went to the upper middle class and upper class. The poor, working class, and middle class are not wealthier per person. A full review of these issues is a topic for another essay. Here I say only what is relevant to the issues at hand, the relation of wages to productivity and the stagnation of wages. As with all statistics on productivity, statistics on why increase in productivity did not lead to gain across the board can be misleading, and politicians bias them to their advantage, so be careful.

# To make sure nobody misunderstands, I mention the technical phrase that I used above although I don’t use it elsewhere. You can ignore all the jargon after this subsection is over. Wages don’t depend primarily on the absolute productivity of a worker, on how much he-she produces in total, but depend more on how much of a difference he-she makes in production, how much more he-she adds to (more) production, how much difference he-she makes “at the margin”. This effect is called “marginal productivity”. In overly simple terms: Suppose, by hiring an added worker, a business firm that makes toasters can go from making 15 toasters per hour per employee to 20 toasters per hour per employee. Then the wages of the new employee, and the wages of everybody who does a similar job, depends not so much on the 15 old toasters or 20 new toasters but on the 5 extra toasters. Even more confusing, the difference has to be figured not in terms of physical units or customers served but in terms of money revenue. What matters is how much more an additional worker makes or how much more an additional worker costs. It doesn’t matter if John makes 5 toasters more per hour than he used to make, what matters is how much additional revenue the 5 additional toasters bring to the business firm. If the firm hires a toaster assembler, and that worker increases revenue by $17 per hour, then that worker and all similar toaster assemblers will make $17 per hour. The technical terms are “marginal revenue product” and “marginal revenue productivity”.

# Workers like to blame rich people and their bad politicians because productivity increased but wages in general did not. There is truth to this blame but the matter is not so simple. Overall productivity, general productivity, or average productivity per worker, around the country, can increase even while wages do not increase, and even while the blame does NOT to lie entirely-or-mostly with rich people and their politicians. This can happen without anybody stealing, cheating, or at fault. It can happen “naturally” in a capitalist economy. I do not explain much. It can happen because increase in (marginal revenue) productivity was due not to labor but to technical innovation such as robots, computers, bio-engineering, and chemistry or to changes in organization. Average productivity going up but (marginal revenue) productivity of labor not increasing is partly what happened in America. Little of the increased productivity in America since 1975 went to workers as higher real wages, both for some bad reasons and some good reasons. (If marginal revenue productivity for labor increases much but real wages do not increase, the problem is harder. I leave that issue alone here. See other essays.)

# If average productivity goes up, even if the (marginal revenue) productivity of labor does not go up, still, goods (products and services) should be overall cheaper. Costs should go down. Due to the increase in productivity, we can make more of them, and make a greater variety, using about the same resources. In fact, costs did not go down in general. Costs went down for many small items such as electronics but went up in general, due to increases in costs for big important factors such as medical care, education, and housing. See below. This fact that prices in general did not go down, and some prices went up fast, indicates something went wrong. To me, this price situation is a better indicator that something went wrong than that average real wages of labor did not go up in line with increases in productivity.

# The fact that real income (wages) went up for the upper middle and upper classes while real wages for other groups stagnated also is a better indicator that something is wrong than that average real wages of labor did not go up.

# The following forces added to the fact that American real wages in general did not rise even though America got more productive. These forces added to the fact that workers did not share in the increase in American wealth. I focus on productivity rather than wealth.

# (1) Rich people and their politicians did steal some of the gain of increased productivity from American workers. Rich people and their politicians can steal through market means and political means. See point 3 below. The usual method of “stealing” is through holding a portion of a structured market (see below) such as for education, medical care, dental care, and housing. Since Reagan, a common method of stealing has been through tax cuts supposedly to stimulate the economy. Another method is to give business firms big breaks in a local area so they locate here rather there. Another method is to make it hard to unionize new factories. A huge method is sales taxes.

# Beginning in the 1980s, owners and managers increasingly changed jobs from full time, with good pay, benefits, permanent, and some union-like protection to officially part time, low pay, no benefits, not permanent, and no protection. Part time workers worked just under the legal minimum to remain not full time, etc. In effect, they were full time workers but were not treated like full time. Workers had to take the jobs anyway . I consider this practice highly immoral. In the context of American ideas about working that had built up from the 1ate 1800s to the 1980s, this new practice is stealing from workers. The cure is not to force every job to be full time, etc. but to have medical and retirement benefits covered only by the federal government, and to have a union in every workplace. I do not go into any proposed cures here other than to say what I just did. If you do not wish to see this practice as stealing, you should give this practice its own status as a way that wages did not go up even if productivity did go up. You cannot overlook this practice.

# (2) Changes in technology and organization did not lead to wage increases for workers although changes did lead to more wealth for owners, often through increased marginal productivity of non-labor factors, often through new factors such as computers or more efficient use of older factors such as plastics and bio-technology. Change in the use of land, material resources, software, and hired skills such as medical skills contributed to owners getting more income. Change did not lead to increased marginal revenue productivity for workers. In these cases, owners got nearly all the gain from increased productivity, for good reasons. This is the point that I made above.

# (3) This point overlaps with 1 above but I wish to stress it apart. Owners (including other non-workers) make unearned income (profit) through structured markets. I cannot explain what all that means here. You can think of structuring as monopoly-like control, such as when a few big firms control the market for software, video games, beer, housing, sports, or TV. I mention structuring elsewhere here. Through control of structured markets, owners can gain from increases in various kinds of productivity, including to productivity of labor, even while workers cannot gain or cannot gain as much as they should. This one-sided gain can be a kind of stealing although people don’t think of it as stealing; usually they don’t even see it. If structuring increased in extent or intensity since 1975, then owners could take most of the gains in productivity over the last 45 years. Even if structuring did not increase, owners could have used existing structuring to take for themselves most of the gain. I believe structuring did increase, often with help from politicians, and owners used both existing structuring and increased structuring to take much of the gains in productivity, even increases in productivity of labor. Owners used control of markets to divert income and wealth away from workers to themselves. One way they did this was to increase the costs of big life factors such as medical care. They used their gain in wealth to support the politicians who had supported them.

# (4) After 1970, America was in the world economy more as one partner among other equals or near-equals; the world economy rapidly improved and grew; and other countries caught up to America and sometimes surpassed America. Recall that I include technology as one aspect of the world economy and entering the world economy. Recall that America had been the only mass producer of technological goods for a long time and so American goods and American labor were comparatively over-valued and over-paid. As the world caught up, it became clear America had held an advantage that we no longer deserved. We were due for an adjustment. Adjustment can lead to wage stagnation in several ways. Here I focus on one effect:

# To adjust, real wages in general in America had to decline briefly. It is very hard to make workers take a cut in money pay or real pay. When wages need to decline, we have periods of wage stagnation and inflation. Inflation eats away at the wages until the real wages are lower than before, and low enough. The rise in prices for major needs such as education, housing, and medical care is part of the inflation that carries out the adjustment. This effect happens also when we raise the minimum wage. It is part of what recessions are about. So, the long freeze on wages has been one of the biggest methods America used to lower wages to where American workers are about where they should be compared to workers in the world, and so American workers are again “sort of” competitive. Overpaid American workers had to take a pay cut until they got paid about what French and Korean workers are paid, with a little more to Americans due to the advantages of America as a whole. The way of giving of American workers in general a pay cut was to freeze (stagnate) money wages until inflation and rising costs made American real wages what they should be on the world market.

# It is unlikely anybody planned this way of giving American workers in general a pay cut. It happened. Stuff happens. Some business people and politicians likely knew what was going on but I doubt even they had enough power to make it happen if it were not already “in the cards”.

# (5) The entry into the world economy was badly managed, with blame falling on both political Parties, and on individual politicians, labor leaders, labor as a whole, and business leaders. I expect politicians and business leaders not to help labor but in this case much of the blame for the bad impact has to fall on labor leaders and short-sighted often-greedy workers. This makes me sad. (I feel the same sadness about how ethnic leaders failed their groups and America as a whole.) See other essays.

# (4 and 5) 1970 was a long time ago. We did adjust. Is the adjustment over or do we still have to adjust some more? If so, how much more? Because the adjustment was so badly managed, it is not over yet, although it is along. Americans still think they deserve a high standard of living simply because we are Americans, and, as long as that attitude persists, the adjustment is not over. Have we adjusted enough so American wages are what they should be on the world market, given also America’s advantages? Are wages now beginning to rise and are workers now getting a bigger share of increases in productivity? As of 2018, there is no simple answer. See below.

# (6) Some key costs of living rose faster than productivity, often much faster, including costs of housing, education, medical care including dental care, transportation, all kinds of insurance, and even food. I say more about costs elsewhere in this essay but not much. Here I do not explain why costs rose faster than the (marginal revenue) productivity of labor and-or wages in general. This point is related to the idea that rich people and their politicians steal from America but has to been seen apart. I consider the rise in important costs to be the most important factor in wage stagnation. It is also the most important reason that the upper middle and upper classes did not suffer from income stagnation but benefitted considerably since 1980. Rising costs were one way that business got Americans in general to take a pay cut until we had wages roughly equal to what we should have and roughly what is needed so that we are competitive in the world economy again. It is one way to get us to the new normal.

# (7) The pattern of investments in America shifted along with other factors described above. The new pattern of investments both affected the other factors and was affected by the other factors, including especially costs. For example, we invest more in real estate, education, health, and insurance now than we did before, especially before we began to think of those areas as investments. Again, this is a topic for another essay and I can’t go into it more here but it had to be mentioned.

# (8) The price of resources rose, including the price of some key resources such as land and petroleum (oil). People on the Right like to blame this factor for all problems but I doubt that it was a large factor compared to some of the other factors such the rice in key cots (Point 6). As I write, America is one of the top three EXPORTERS of oil in the world, and the price of gasoline is comparatively as cheap in 2018 as 1975. Increase in the price of resources will be important in the future but America is almost uniquely suited to do well. The only major exception is in so-called “rare earths”, which China controls because of deposits in the Himalayas.

# (9) The Great Recession that began in 2007 did what most recessions do to wages, which is to freeze them. Usually recessions also freeze or end profits, and that did happen somewhat, but not as much as (I think) it should have. Profits did not reduce because many members of the upper middle and upper classes held strong positions in structured markets. People still needed to pay the rent, send their kids to school, save mother from dying of a heart attack, and treat father’s prostate cancer. People still had to buy the next generation of smart phone. Now (2018), the Great Recession is over but we are back to where we were in 2005. Workers have stagnant wages while the UMC and UC continue to increase their incomes.

# If you can sort out all these factors and can say how much weight each one deserves, when, and why, then you might get the Nobel Prize in economics.

# -About now, people want some answers. I can give only guesses.

# Stagnation of American wages from 1980 through the Great Recession was due in part to America entering the world economy. Reminder: To remain competitive, America had to lower the rates of real in general. To lower wage rates in general, almost all money wages had to be frozen for quite a long time, including some wages that deserved to rise with increasing productivity and would have risen without this situation. Likely the wages of skilled welders, mechanics, or computer programmers should have risen in the period 1985 to 2005 but did not rise because of the overall adjustment and freezing of all American wages. Hopefully, that period is now over, and this kind of general freeze adjustment should not hold back American wages much. We can see some recovery in wages as business firms need more people and will pay more for talent, experience, and character. Even so, the general level of American wages will not rise a lot, not nearly as much as promised by the political parties, because what we see now already is near the correct new normal.

# Many Americans now are not skilled in ways that give higher wages in the world economy and so the American economy. I am not sure how to these Americans them skilled although it is worth a try as long as it doesn’t cost too much.

# Again, highly skilled people, such as those who know how to apply artificial intelligence to production and “data mining”, now get good salaries. The problems are: (A) There are not enough Americans with these skills (B) Even if many more of these jobs do develop, there cannot be enough of these jobs for all Americans who need good jobs because not all Americans have enough talent for these jobs. Not all Americans have enough talent even if we put a lot more resources into education. I do not know how this situation will affect wages in general.

# The upper middle class and upper class did steal some increases in American productivity. I think they did not deliberately set out to steal. They took advantage of American entry into the world economy, used their hold on structured markets, used never-ending wars, and the Great Recession, to take what they could get. Taking included some gains from productivity that were due to American workers rather than to the UMC and UC. I don’t know how much. If we consider the gains that the UMC and UC get from holding firm positions in structured markets such as for education and health care to be a form of stealing increases in productivity, the stealing will continue.

# I say often that the major problem in stagnant standard of living is the costs for housing, education, medical and dental care, transportation, and insurance. Again: the UMC and UP were able to “steal” increases in productivity for decades because they held-and-still-hold positions in structured markets for these needs. I wish I could say that things will get noticeably better but that is not true. Your portion for health insurance through work will continue to increase. Uninsured people will still die. When mama gets metastatic breast cancer, you still have to drain the savings to delay her death. Jimmy and Heather still have to go to college or they have no hope at all, even if going to college means big debt and little hope. As long as these costs are high and getting higher, people will still feel as if they don’t make enough and can’t make it. People will still feel they are being robbed. They will cling to the idea that the deserve a lot more as Americans, White Americans, Black Americans, Asian Americans, Christian Americans, or Muslim Americans. Now that entry in the world economy is mostly over (but not fully), and wages will climb somewhat, people might feel a bit better; but people cannot feel secure as long as these major costs loom. There are ways to control and reduce these costs but here is not the place to go into it. We should not seek direct political means such as broad coverage national health insurance but we will need political action, and adept political help is not likely soon.

# Alright then, what should be the standard of living for American workers, for the poor, working class, middle class, and secure middle class? I let the upper middle class and upper class take care of itself. We have to break the question down: (a) Take the situation as it is without hoping to control costs or to get the gains in productivity that go too much the UPC and UP. Don’t try to get back any previous lost gains in productivity that should have gone to labor but did not. Gain what we can from the fact that we have already entered the world economy fairly fully and we are not likely to suffer too much more from any adjustments to the world economy. (b) Workers can get some real earned wages from increased productivity that they should have gotten but did not get. Maybe competition in the world economy for skill workers forces American owners to pay more for skilled work here. More people learned skilled work. That, in turn leads, to better income for all jobs. We still cannot control the UMC and UP, their hold on structured markets, and increasing costs for big life needs. (c) We can control costs, especially big important fast-rising costs such as for housing, education, and medical care.

# To be honest, likely it would take a small team of economists a couple of years to come up with fairly accurate answers, and, even then, changing world events would throw their answers out the window. So here are my daring overly-simple answers: (a) Americans still should live a bit better than nearly all other workers around the fully developed world, but not much better. Wages for a “good” job should be enough to raise a small family and to send children to good public schools. (b) Getting some wages from productivity that had not been credited before, getting a deserved share of gains due to increased productivity, would make life improve, but not all that much more. Americans are not living more “on the edge” now mostly because owners have stolen our livelihoods and lives by stealing our productivity. We are more on the edge because the world has changed and we didn’t adapt. (c) If we can control costs, life will get yet again better. Life will get noticeably better but not hugely better.

# (b and c) Even by recovering all the wages from productivity that are owed to American workers, and even by reducing costs, American workers still cannot live according to the wildly unrealistic hurtful un-American Dream that Republicans foisted on us in the 1980s and 1990s, that Democratic clients seem to take as what is due them, and that Republican clients since Reagan seem to take as what is due them. We can live well but not that well. No nation can live that well. If we continue to distort our economy and politics, and world economy and politics, to try to live that well, then we surely make things worse, permanently worse. We are better off figuring out what the new normal is, and living accordingly. We would still be well off. Please stop living unrealistically and please help all of us to live well realistically. Good governing is much better than crazy selfish dreams.

# Again: most help would come from controlling-and-reducing the costs of education, health care, and housing, especially if we can also guarantee the quality of all public schools. To control-and-reduce the costs for big life items is important not only for raising real wages but, even more, because controlled-and-reduced costs would increase the security of American workers and increase feelings of security and trust between groups. We cannot control-and-reduce costs by silly programs such as giving everybody free education through college, giving everybody extensive health care, or subsidizing house payments. What we can do is the subject of other essays.

# “So, what do we really deserve in wages? How much are we being cheated? How much can we get back of however much we are being cheated?” What is the new normal? I wish I could give a definitive answer.

# Any answer is complicated because the poor, working class, and middle class are not one big group all with the same jobs. Some of them have gone through all the adjusting they are going to do after 1975, and do have their full real wages while some still do not yet have their full real wages. Even if all issues with wages were cleared up, there would still be a problem because the upper middle and upper classes get their income, wealth, and security from controlling (structured) markets.

# A few wild guesses might be fun and might help, but that is all they are:

# (a, from above) Working people won’t like this answer. After years of stagnation, a lot of adjustment that was needed for the world economy has been done, and, in fact, people already do get a lot of what they deserve in real wages. Americans generally already do get better wages than elsewhere. If not, people would not still wish to come to America, in droves. What we see now is close to the new normal. Rather than wish for magic wage increases, it is better to see realistically the new normal.

# (a continued) The advantage that American workers have comes from advantages that the whole country shares. Workers who have training and skill get paid more and deserve it. Workers with little training, even if they are good people and loving parents, deserve little and get paid little. There is a bit more in real wages to be recovered from overlooked productivity of labor but not much.

# (a continued) Assume there is little more to recover and that people now get paid about what they deserve. I would guess that an American doing comparable work to a person in a developed country in Europe or East Asia, as in France, England, Japan, or South Korea, should get about 25% more in real wages. If a Korean can buy a pound of meat with an hour of work, and American doing similar work should be able to buy about 1 pound 4 ounces. An American doing comparable work to a person in a country that is well on the way to developing, such as Brazil or Thailand should be able get about 33% more in real wages. You can easily check my guesses on the Internet by looking up wages for particular occupations in different countries. The US Dept. of Labor and the UN keep statistics on these issues. You will find that Americans already make at least this much more, so now you have to think why our already-higher level of wages does not lead to more happiness. Remember costs.

# (b) Suppose there are real wages to be recovered from unpaid increases in productivity. Even in this case, the bonus is not much, and most of it is due to advantages that America as a whole has regardless of the wage issue. An American doing comparable work to a worker in a developed country should get about 30% more real wages than that worker in another country. An American doing comparable work to a worker in a developing country should get about 40% more real wages.

# (c) Suppose we could reduce costs. I don’t consider whether there is much real wages to recover. An American doing comparable work should get about 40% more in real wages than a worker in an already developed country. An American doing comparable work should get about 60% more in real wages than a worker in a developing country. About half of American superiority in wages is due to the advantages given by America in general and half of it comes from controlling and reducing costs.

# However you think about it, the American advantage in wages is considerable. We should be satisfied with the new normal if we also had reasonable fairness and social justice. We should work toward a fair open market where workers are paid what they really contribute to marginal revenue productivity, and then see where that takes us. That would help, more along the lines of case (c). We should agree on how to figure the real contribution of labor, the real marginal revenue product of many various kinds of labor. Such figuring should be part of every yearly report by a business firm or labor union.

# We need clear analysis of this issue from impartial economists but we have not gotten that enough so the general public knows, fully understands, trusts, accepts, and acts for the best accordingly. I am not clear on the issue so I don’t expect most people to be clear. I hope that politicians are clear but they are clear only up to where they can argue for their Party and their clients. I do not blame economists for not explaining. Likely they feel they already have explained. I blame deliberate confusion by politicians and their supporters among the upper middle class and upper class. I also blame labor leaders and leaders of some Democratic clients (such as Blacks and supporters of the poor and women) because this issue is important to them and the truth about this issue should be their bedrock.

# We can keep our advantage until about 2040, and maybe longer, if we are not flooded with unskilled immigrants who don’t assimilate and we do train nearly our people. Most immigrants assimilate pretty well. So far, we have done a bad job training our people.

# The real main point of all this discussion: We do not automatically have high productivity and high income because we are Americans and we do not deserve high income and a high standard of living because we are Americans. We should not try to force political parties to give us a high standard of living because we think it is our automatic due as Americans. We should disbelieve political parties when they say we do deserve a high standard of living just because we are Americans, and they can give it to us. We should find reality. We should find the “new normal”. We should make sure we all can see it fairly clearly. All this is important.

# Political Parties have not addressed costs. They have not addressed why costs rose so quickly and what to do about the problem. Political Parties have avoided giving a truthful account of costs because to do so would expose the fact that their basic stances are wrong, would lead them to lose clients, and would show they prefer power rather than to work for the good of the country as a whole.

# The upper middle class and upper class deserve less than what they get now. I wish NOT to “milk”, “soak”, or “fleece” the rich but I also wish the UMC and UP to pay their full fair share. They have not been hurt by the changes noted above. They have been able to protect themselves from changes. They have NOT been able to protect themselves because they are intrinsically superior beings or are more deserving. They have been protected largely because they have benefitted from the increase in costs. The increase in costs of medical care, housing, education, transportation, and food have gone to make sure the UMC and the UP still live fairly well. The UMC and UC control structured markets and they benefit greatly from structured markets.

# Suppose we can be strictly fair to the UMC and UC and we try to reduce costs. Even then, if we reduce big living costs, and our actions reduce the security and advantages of the UMC and UC, they will riot in their own way, and will use all their political power to keep their security and their advantages, even at harm to the country as a whole and to their fellow citizens. Keep in mind that members of the UMC and UC control both political Parties, or did until Trump-ettes hijacked the Republican Party. The UNC and UC have more in common among themselves, between political Parties, than they do with the clients, with people within their own Parties. If they are threatened, they will cooperate across party lines to keep the class structure intact to support them. I do not go into this issue more here.

# Considerations like these should go into any view of the new normal, as offered by leaders of politics, labor, business, and from clerics and academics. TV pundits are a breed apart. Usually leaders don’t talk about these factors honestly or even very much at all.

-%%%%% The interlude marked by hash tags is done. The following section continues with the theme of an unrealistic bad view of American entitlement as the theme applies to business. Read these sections even if you did not read the sections above marked with hash tags.

“Business people” includes owners, some managers but not most, some officers in firms but not usually most, entrepreneurs, investors, and speculators. Most managers, officers, and professionals really are workers even when they take risks in their careers.

Business people make profit NOT, as people mistakenly believe, simply through owning and managing existing wealth but: (a) partly through dealing with uncertainty, often (b) by implementing innovation. Business people also make profit through (c) holding a solid position in a “structured” market such as for soft drinks, beer, sports, software, housing rentals in a college town, or to provide education, medical care, and dental care. Owning wealth is a way to hold a solid position in a structured market. Usually to get rent on property is to hold a solid position in a structured market. Holding a solid position in a structured market likely is the biggest and most consistent source of profit now – although a stake in the markets for land, education, insurance, and medical care certainly is gaining. The English aristocracy makes the large majority of income from rent on its property holdings. Profit in a structured market is not “earned” but that kind of profit usually is not very bad for the economy and nation. It can be bad.

American business people are NOT necessarily more productive and-or creative than business people in other places. They do not necessarily deserve a higher rate of profit or more steady profit. They should not mistake profit in a structured market for a sign of their great ability, of what they deserve. Nobody knows what should be a fair and reasonable profit rate for American business firms and business people. American business firms and business people are more productive than most firms and their officers in the rest of the world but American firms and business people are not nearly as much more productive now as from 1950 through about 1975. Much of the additional profit to American business firms comes from the same American advantages that make American labor more productive, such as abundant resources and American institutions. The same comments apply to business people as did to workers.

American business people do not deserve to live well just because they are Americans, business people, or American business people. American business people do not have the right to make political Parties insure their rates of profit and standard of living. What is good for business usually is good for America but what is good for business is not necessarily good for America and it can be bad for America. What is good for America is not necessarily good for business or bad for business. Either way, America still and always comes first. What is good for your particular firm or particular business is not necessarily good for all business and is not necessarily good for America. America comes before your particular firm and your particular business.

With the growing world economy, markets now are vast and fast. What might have been a small profit or small rate of profit in 1950 now can be a huge profit and a big rate. The profit often is temporary but it lasts long enough to confuse business people, investors, politicians, and the public. This change in market size and action has confused how we look at profit, business, firms, business conduct, and their relations to the state and public. Business people think they are important because they have a fairly large rate of profit for a while in a world market, as with a hit movie, sugary caffeinated drink (“energy” drink), or app. Don’t make this error. Don’t mistake making profit in a big world market for something superior, superior people, or superior minds. The owners of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Ali Baba (China’s version of Amazon) are smart but they are not superior. Don’t think making a big profit in a world market gives a particular business, a particular business firm, or leaders of a firm, more of a voice in general affairs. Keep your eyes from popping wide.

-Even in America with our constant innovation, structured markets play too big a role in profits. Both structured markets and the profits they generate are flaws that lead to further problems. Links between structured markets make it all worse.

Financial markets are structured and often are at the center of problems with other markets and the economy. Structured financial markets start a chain of bad effects. We can often see problems in the economy by looking at structuring in financial markets and looking at the problems that come from their structuring. Markets for housing are structured, structuring in housing markets worsened structuring in markets for financing housing, structuring in financial markets worsened structuring in housing markets, and all this added to the Great Recession. Markets for finance support sexism and racism. Markets for housing support racism. Much the same is true of markets for credit cards and other personal debt such as payday loans and check cashing. Since about 1980, Americans increasingly have had to finance costs such as for medical care, education, and cars. All this too is among the flaws that lead to problems that I mentioned above. Senator Elizabeth Warren is not always wrong. She is right often enough, more often than her critics.

The themes of entitlement, new normal, and productivity are over. Now I move on to other topics.

-It is easy to come up with state programs that sound great at first hearing but do not live up or that fail. We think about the first benefits of a program but we don’t think about the waves of results that follow, and many following waves are bad. Want to pay the national debt? Easy, print a lot of money. Worried about Chinese imports? Easy, put a 200% tariff on it all. Worried about stagnant low American income? Easy, guarantee everyone $60,000 per year or make the minimum wage $30 per hour. Worried about small business? Easy, let all business firms write off their losses for 20 years and not pay tax on profit for 20 years. Worried that people don’t save enough for old age? Easy, let them voluntarily open accounts called IRA or 401K, and stop giving to Social Security. Worried over unemployment and bad jobs? Easy, make work for everybody. You should see what is wrong with these ideas. You should practice thinking about what happens next, and what happens then, and then what, until you can’t see any more hidden results, good and bad. Read the economist Thomas Sowell.

-With state programs, it is easy to hope for maximum good results, easy to hope for only minimum bad results, and hard to force yourself even to see any bad results. This bias is true of any state programs that you like, including social, military, and business. State programs ALWAYS have both good and bad results. The good and bad results can be both practical and moral. The programs can give money but erode character or erode social bonds. Often, bad results outweigh good results so we have a net loss but we did not see it coming. Then, too often, it is impossible to back up.

In the opposite case when someone opposes a program, he-she will reverse the pattern, putting undue stress on bad results while not even seeing good results. You must force yourself to see both good and bad results not in your wishes or fears but realistically.

Dual results happen with all tax breaks. The bad results of letting people write off mortgage interest payments on houses outweigh the good results but people are so used to it that we cannot stop. Letting people write off state and local taxes on their federal income taxes is overall bad, but, when Republicans in 2017 tried only to reduce the practice, people nearly revolted – and ALL the media both Left and Right reported only the bad effects of reducing the write off, no bad effects of the practice to begin with, and no good effects from reducing. Republicans insist the bad results of welfare and entitlement programs, in particular bad effects on character, outweigh the good results - but we can’t stop now. The bad results of corporate welfare outweigh the good results, including the bad results on business integrity and the character of business people - but we can’t stop now.

You have to think through state programs for good and bad results. You have to be willing not to start what seems like a good state program if you think the bad results would be too much – we should never have started corporate welfare or most personal tax breaks. Sometimes you have to take a chance on overall good results as with Social Security and public health vaccines. You have to think through how to back up in case bad results surprisingly outweigh good results. People will go through this exercise for dams and roads but will not do it for programs that give and take money directly such as welfare and tax breaks. Think about that too. If you want practice, watch the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and think if you would support Mr. Smith’s proposal for helping a group of children, particularly in light of the other abuse that he has to fight.

-In assessing state programs, we should consider whether private action might work better. To do that, we have to ask ALL the same questions as about private action and a few more that I don’t go into here. Stereotypically, Democrats say state programs always work better even though private action can work well sometimes while Republican say private action always works better and state programs never work. The truth is in between. For instance, the private sector runs the food business better than the state ever could but the state builds dams, runs Social Security, and runs the military better than the private sector could. The state has to regulate food, drugs, and financial markets. I see proposals to use private action as genuine and not merely as Republican pandering to business or as Republican propaganda. I take proposals for state action seriously. Here is not the place to argue the issue. I only remind readers to take both bases of action into account fully and to choose the best.

-The middle, upper middle, and upper classes get considerable benefits through the state but they do not think of those as benefits because they do not get checks from programs such as welfare or SSD. The middle, upper middle, and upper classes benefit greatly from tax breaks, often breaks that they can take but that the poor and working class cannot take. They get good police protection, good streets, good utilities such as water and garbage, good sewer service, parks, fire protection, inspection, nuisance and animal control, and, most important, good schools and good colleges with considerable subsidies. The middle, upper middle, and upper class get at least as much back for their tax dollars as do the poor and the lower working class. If all the support that the middle class and upper middle class get were to go away, as called for by the Tea Party and by Trump followers when they urge ending programs and reducing spending, the middle and upper middle classes would revolt violently.

-Reminder: The real buying power of wages of the poor, working class, lower middle class, and most of the middle class has stagnated or declined since about 1980. The real buying power of incomes of the secure middle, upper middle, and upper classes has increased. Income and wealth have concentrated ever more in the hands of 20% of people and yet more in 1% of people. Stagnation and concentration is not all bad, yet it is a big change that we should have dealt with long ago; but we have not. Stagnation and concentration have considerable political and social effects. These are some of the problems that come from flaws.

-All states, including all states with a modern capitalist economy, such as America, have endemic socio-economic classes. I do not explain why. Intrinsic to socio-economic class is that class perpetuates across generations. Children are quite likely to be in the class of their parents or near the class of their parents. If parents are working class, children are likely to be in the working class; if parents are upper middle class, children are likely to be upper middle class. Until about 1980, America was quite good at making ways for talented children to rise in class and to use their talents for the good of the country, but not even America can make class irrelevant for all children or all children with talent.

There is no way to completely get rid of socio-economic classes. The best we can do is deal with the big problems created by classes.

Americans deliberately overlook that we have socio-economic classes, and that class perpetuate across generations. Class is a reality of life even in America. Deal with it.

You should work out yourself what the classes are and the criteria for being in one class or another. It is not easy but it is worthwhile, like defining art or fairness. Don’t expect definite conclusions.

-Socio-economic class falls differently on various social groups such as by ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, and age. Single poor mothers are likely to have children who end up in the working class or middle class. Think of the TV shows “Mom” and “Atlanta”. White and South Asian (Indian or Pakistani) upper middle class parents have children who are likely to end up in the upper middle class, secure middle class, or even upper class. Think of Raj on “Big Bang” and his upper class parents. Socio-economic class affects lifetime chances and the chances of children. The interplay of class and social group affects lifetime chances and chances of children. Americans also deliberately overlook relations between class and social groups.

-That we have socio-economic classes, and that class falls differently according to social group, is not an unmitigated disaster and an affront to God. Class has been around for a long time. That we have class does not mean we have to tear apart America to its roots so as to eradicate all socio-economic class and its impact on social groups. We do not have to destroy the village in order to save it. We cannot cause so much damage to America in trying to end socio-economic class and its impacts that we actually hurt the lower classes and the damaged groups more so than if we did something else, more so even than if we did less. We cannot fully and finally get rid of all class and its different impact on social groups. We should recognize the problem and do what we can that really works. Grow up about this.

-We should try hard to provide equal opportunity, especially to children. We cannot fully succeed even at equal opportunity, even only for children, but we can do pretty well and we can take away the worst bad effects on children. We should not push “super hard” even for equal opportunity. We can make sure that nearly all schools are adequate and we can provide food and medical care to most children.

We should never try hard-and-directly for equal outcome, not even for children, not even between all public schools. We should achieve a high level of “good enough” for every child and all schools. Trying hard-and-directly for equal outcome only hurts equal opportunity.

-A rising tide does NOT float all boats. Repeat that to yourself a dozen times to counter a lifetime of bad propaganda. If you see a pie with some empty pieces and some moldy rotten pieces, and then make the pie bigger, you do not get a healthy pie with all the holes filled in and all the moldy pieces replaced with fresh pieces. You might get more healthy pie but you don’t change the ratios of healthy and unhealthy. Along with the bigger pie, you get bigger holes and bigger moldy rotten ugly pieces. If you see a dingy with a hole in it and the tides rises, the dingy will be under water. If you see a great big beautiful sailing ship with a hole in it and the tide rises, the beautiful ship will be under water. The economy does have endemic flaws and problems including unemployment and bad jobs.

Forcing the economy bigger does not automatically cure any endemic flaws and problems let alone cure all. Forcing the economy bigger usually makes problems worse by increasing disparity between haves and “have-nots”. Forced faster growth does not necessarily make the economy permanently bigger and it does not solve endemic problems. Forcing the economy bigger with state programs such as corporate welfare is not real economic growth and often it is bad expansion. It does not solve the endemic flaws. It often leads to worse later contraction as after the administrations of Reagan and G.W. Bush.

We do need a certain minimum of wealth to work on flaws and problems. So we need an economy that is big enough. We already have that now. We don’t need to force the economy to expand so we have enough wealth to work on flaws and problems. Forcing the economy to expand so we think we have more wealth so we can use the extra wealth to deal with the endemic problems, never happens. People feel as if they never have enough for their own needs and we never use added short term wealth from a forced expansion to deal definitely with the problems. At most, we use any temporary extra wealth for “band aids”. Then, in a very short time, we feel that we don’t have any extra wealth anymore, we rip off the band aids, and we are back where we started.

We have to deal clearly with the problems first before we can try to make the economy grow to make sure almost everybody has enough. There is no simple easy automatic way to deal with the problems. There is no magic policy wand. You cannot deal with endemic problems only through throwing money such as by welfare, you cannot deal with endemic problems by giving poor people tax breaks, and you cannot deal with the problems by being nasty to the poor or to groups such as ethnic groups, oldsters, and women. Not to admit these facts when you know these facts to be true is simply deliberate lying. Both political Parties deliberately lie about this situation.

-In dealing with social class and its impacts, in dealing with the facts that (a) poverty, unemployment, and bad employment do not fall equally on all social groups, and (b) inequality perpetuates across generations, we must avoid: blaming the groups hardest hit, entirely absolving the groups hardest hit (effected groups do contribute with bad attitudes, poor education, and violence), blaming only groups that benefit, absolving groups that benefit, blaming simple prejudice for everything, and so not seeing roots of problems in flaws of the economy. We must avoid: reverse discrimination; thinking we can solve the problem only by throwing money; thinking we can deal with the problem only by condemning racism and sexism; or thinking we can solve the problem by being nasty to the affected groups by taking away all help, forcing them to find whatever work they can, and putting them in jail.

-Socio-economic classes feel that other classes are their competitors. Ethnic, religious, national origin, age, and gender groups feel that other groups are their competitors. Especially socio-economic classes and social groups feel this way about the classes and groups immediately below them. They feel the others are out to get their jobs and are out to have their children get the rightful jobs of our children. To a big extent, classes and groups are right to worry. Working people with insecure bad jobs fear the poor; and working people with fairly secure good jobs fear the poor and working people with insecure jobs. The middle class fears the working class and poor. Working people and middle class people fear legal and illegal immigrants. The upper middle class fears the poor and the working class and sometimes it fears the middle class. The upper class fears but they also have protection. Working and middle class people fear recent immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants. Whites fear Blacks, Hispanics, and often Asians. Blacks fear Asians and Hispanics. Blacks often hate Whites. Asians are uncomfortable with Blacks. Muslims fear Christians and Christians fear Muslims. All this is ugly but it is real and you have to get used to it. If you don’t like it, do something about it other than fear and hate the people who fear and hate you.

-To fight competitors, you can build up your group or you can hurt competitors. Usually people try both. Some ways to tear down competitors include: legal harassment as through drug laws, make sure their schools are inferior, make sure they get poor medical care, make sure they are “last hired, first fired”, make sure their jobs have low pay and no benefits, stop them from making strong adaptive families as by forcing their families to conform to unrealistic stereotypes such as the ideal nuclear family, enforce your ideas of gender roles, prevent them from managing reproduction by denying them birth control and abortion, inhibit their ability to vote, use morality and guilt to make them pay for programs and benefits for other people, and especially appeal to the plight of children to make them pay for programs and benefits.

-To use any of these competitive tactics, positive or negative, you need political help and protection. To get those, you have to be a client of a political party. To become a client, you trade your votes. The poorest welfare mothers and the richest business firms do the same.

-While some good has come of state programs to help the poor, such as Head Start, largely programs have failed, such as Affirmative Action and housing projects. You should repeat that until you accept the idea: Many programs have failed and will continue to fail. The failed programs can reduce poverty a bit for a while but not nearly enough to justify the money costs, the costs to national character, the political fights, and the antagonism between groups as between Blacks and Whites. They have not improved the status of Black Americans much and they never will. The failure is due to human nature, the culture of recipient groups, how the economy works, and how politics works. I do not try to sort out which factor is most important when. Continuing bad programs in their present form is not useful. We should end or radically change the programs.

The programs do little or no good. Yet we continue to pay for the programs, partly to assuage our guilt and partly to control clients such as poor Blacks and poor Whites. If the programs do no good, then why continue to spend on them? It is like paying for heat and leaving the windows wide open. Learn to shut the windows before you turn on the heat. If you can’t shut the windows, then there is no point turning on the heat. You would be better off using the money to buy a good coat or to move elsewhere. If we stop the programs, the clients will scream for a long time, but, in the end, they will be not much worse off than now, and we will have saved money that can be put to better use. The other better uses might even help the abandoned clients even more than did the old programs. If we let go of the programs and the clients get no obvious state help, then maybe we will see the problems more clearly and go after problems in ways that do real good. Of course, if spending the money to assuage guilt, to keep clients only bitterly resentful, and to give their leaders a permanent job from which they can rail, is a good use of the money, then we should continue doing what we do now.

Continuing failed programs is more harmful to recipient groups than doing nothing or doing something else. Failed programs do not really help poor people. They give the poor just enough to keep them in their “down” place and so not be a big threat. They are more of a tool for other people to manage the poor, working, and insecure middle classes than to help them. The poor, working class, and insecure middle class would be better off if all programs were ended and they had to find better leadership to do better things, even if they had to do it mostly on their own.

-The people who pay for programs feel they both (a) pay for the programs and (b) pay for competitors to gain an advantage on them. They resent it deeply. In particular, working White Americans feel they pay for Blacks and Hispanics to gain and to gain on them. Paying for Blacks and Hispanics not only helps Blacks and Hispanics but it also drags down Whites – the “double whammy” described above.

-While sometimes sad, the attitudes of the socio-economic classes and the various social groups are not irrational. In fact, they make good sense. We have to accept that the attitudes make good sense or we will respond badly, as we have since the 1950s. We might not like that Whites fear Blacks, Blacks fear and intensely dislike Whites, working class and middle class people fear immigrants, working men fear women in “their” work place or fear all women in the work force, or working women often despise their women co-workers and their women superiors, but it all makes sense.

If we write it all off as mere prejudice or ignorance, then we are the ones who are prejudiced, ignorant, have an opinion of ourselves that is too high, and have an opinion of others that is too low. We cannot attack these problems if we see them as due only to prejudice. To approach them that way only keeps up the problems and makes them worse. We do have to attack all prejudice and ignorance but we also have to attack the roots. Prejudice cannot and will not go away until we attack the roots. If you attack only prejudice, then, really, you support prejudice in the long run. Is that really what you wish to do? Especially if you and your group(s) are the victim of prejudice, is that really what you wish to do for your people?

I think many people who insist on attacking only prejudice know they do little good and do some harm but either they don’t know what else to do or they wish to do little good and some harm. They would rather flail in the dark so as to feel good about themselves. That is just as sad as bad feelings of one group to other groups.

-It costs a lot less in immediate money costs, overall money costs, and social costs, to keep a person on welfare than to keep a person in prison. It costs less to supply a person with an apartment, some food, pot, booze, cable TV, a cell phone, and even pills, than it does to keep him-her in prison. It costs less even if we train and re-train that person for jobs that he-she will not get. It costs less to make work for people than to keep them in prison. The biggest problem is that paying for people with a bad attitude is a huge temptation that lures a lot of other people with a bad attitude, and lures otherwise good people, into a bad life. Think about all this when you want to kick everyone off welfare.

-Almost everyone but a few White and Asian Liberals knows about socio-economic class, antagonism, failure of programs, and social fears. Yet Democrats, and ethnic, religious, national, and gender groups, won’t admit it. Black leaders know it is true but won’t admit it. Republicans use the situation to their gain and they use Democratic self-induced ignorance to their gain.

-Almost everyone, including almost all Republicans, but excluding some self-deluded Republicans, knows that the economy has flaws and problems; problems can be serious; socio-economic class is endemic; class and problems fall differently according to ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, and age; children suffer; the unfairness continues over generations; and what we have done since 1950 has not worked well enough. Almost everyone knows we could come up with better versions of programs even if better versions will not totally solve all the problems. Although Republicans know all this, they don’t use their knowing to go after the situation properly.

Instead, to avoid thinking, people pursue something else that “gets them off” short term, but does not solve problems long term. They pursue thrill issues such as racism, sexism, big business, police violence against Blacks, abuse of entitlement programs, Black violence, non-traditional gender, gay marriage, abortion, or abuse of nature. People don’t want to do something good over the long run but instead want to “get off” by catching the other side in a flaw that doesn’t really matter in the big picture and by insulting the other side through a thousand small cuts.

Republicans don’t want to accept the facts above because, in the past, accepting those facts led to bad programs, and did no good; and Republicans don’t want to repeat mistakes. Instead, Republicans hide their heads, talk loudly of patriotism, condemn all things Democratic, and avoid thinking of other people. I commiserate with Republican annoyance over what happened in the past but denying facts, and lashing out against all Democrats and against tokens such as gays and nature, instead of proposing something better and realistic, I cannot accept. It is un-dignified, indecent, and not Conservative.

Human Moral Capacity and State Needs.

-People have a mixed moral nature. We are good and bad. Most of us try to be better than worse most of the time but we don’t succeed often enough. People are good enough in general to make some state programs succeed such as the rules of driving – even there we need constant police watching. People are not good enough in general to make all programs succeed. Sometimes people need to be coerced as with paying taxes. Sometimes good programs fail such as keeping up infrastructure and taking care of nature. On average, people are not good enough for programs like welfare, SSD, corporate welfare, or state building contracts without a lot of close costly supervision. Sometimes the cost of supervision and the costs of ballooning programs are more than the good. You have to learn to work within the bounds of real human nature. You also have to give people a chance to fail before you condemn them and you give up on all programs. Use experience to judge. At first, err with too much optimism; then stop when it is clear things have gone bad; and then do something else better that takes into account selfishness and short sight.

People are good when being good does not cost too much, mostly in the context of good institutions such as good government, church, schools, community, friendship, and a good workplace. People are good when they have good jobs with decent pay and benefits and their neighbors have similar good jobs. They are good when they feel that to help does not undermine the chances of their own family and to help likely will do general good. People will not help if they have had few role models, especially if they have rarely seen examples of successful helping or public concern. People will not help if they think their enemies are in control or might gain control. People will not help if to help undermines the chances of their own families.

Everybody lies, steals, cheats, avoids duties, puts him-herself ahead of the whole, and is selfish. I noted some reasons why. Even if people otherwise are often good, people act selfishly when they think they can get away with it. People are more apt to act selfishly when they think “the state” in general pays the price for their selfishness rather than see that all the individual people who make up the state each pay part of the price. A health care scam raises everybody’s rates enough to make a difference but the scammers don’t let that fact register in their heads. Otherwise average people ruin well-intended programs, such as welfare, by selfishness. Through selfishness, people cause other deserving people to lose out because we cannot take the harm done by the greed of the selfish people. The harm done by the greed of selfish people in programs often outweighs the good done by programs.

Even when most people in a group are reasonably good most of the time, in nearly all groups, some of the people are basically bad. In some groups, such as maybe the Amish or a good Buddhist parish, few people are bad. In some groups, I cannot say which because of PC, many people are bad. A person does not have to be a full-blown sociopath or psychopath to be bad. A person can otherwise have many good features but still have a few bad flaws that make him-her more trouble than benefit, and so bad.

When enough people in a group are bad, the people in the group who would have been good have to adopt bad habits out of self defense and they adopt bad habits beyond self defense because they see that badness works. Then it is hard to change the overall badness in the group. When enough people in a group are bad, people outside the group expect to deal with badness often, and they compensate. Often the other people outside the group adopt bad traits themselves such as prejudice and violence. Then it is harder to lessen badness in both groups.

We can see business firms as big persons and-or big groups (see below), so firms also can show greed and firms can act well or badly. Business firms have good and bad attitudes. We have to foresee what good and bad acts business firms likely do when we make programs that impact them. Business firms usually have greater ability to manipulate the system and manipulate politicians than do plain people or groups of plain people. Business firms can ruin well-intended programs by their selfish greed, as they have done with the programs that make up corporate welfare.

We Really Think in Terms of Groups, and We Should Accept This Fact and Deal with It.

Although, as Americans, ideally we would like to think in terms of individual merit, in fact, sometimes we have to think in terms of groups, and often we do think in terms of groups.

Attitudes (cultures) run in groups. There are good attitudes such as consideration for neighbors, not making noise, cleanliness, respect for the truth, and often putting the welfare of the group above your short-term gain. There also are bad attitudes such as a tendency to violence, chronic lying, cheating, making noise, stealing, making a mess, and not considering others or the social whole. In good groups, some people do bad things and there are some bad people; but mostly we can take the goodness of the group at face value until we have repeated bad experiences. Even in bad groups, many people act well sometimes and there are always some overall good people; but we still have to beware of bad acts by most members of the group most of the time. We have to be cautious. It is hard to change group attitudes and hard to change our attitude toward given groups.

When a group that is mostly good faces a group that is often bad, the mostly-good group has to treat the often-bad group as nearly all bad. This is how innocent people behave when they find themselves in a bad neighborhood. Groups do unfairly paint other groups as “them”, as mostly bad, so they can treat the other groups as all bad; groups use stereotypes as a tool of “us versus them”, a tool of prejudice and discrimination. Yet even so, some groups really are worse than others, and the good groups have to do what they have to do to protect themselves. I don’t like this reality, and you might not like it, but it is true nonetheless and we have to deal with it. Even besides poverty, there are reasons why some areas have a lot of crime and why good people stay away from there.

When thinking about the impact of a program, we have to think which groups are likely to gain and lose, and how group attitudes affect the success or failure of the program. We are unfair to individuals when we think in terms of groups. We should try to make programs benefit good individuals despite the bad attitudes of their groups. We should seek out good individuals when we can. We should help individual people to act well, especially children. But sometimes we don’t succeed; and sometimes we have to think in terms of groups anyway. Liberals, Conservatives, Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, men, old people, young people, labor unions, and business firms, all think in terms of groups but don’t like to admit it publicly because of modern PC (political correctness).

Thinking in terms of groups leads to bad acts such as prejudice and discrimination. It leads to “us versus them”, to finding enemies, and labeling not-us necessarily as enemies. We have to fight the bad effects but we still have to think in terms of groups anyway.




We try to avoid the faults of thinking in terms of groups by denying we do think in terms of groups and by pretending we don’t think in terms of groups. We cannot fully stop thinking in terms of groups, and it is not useful to try to stop fully. Pretending we don’t think in terms of groups, we are not prejudiced, but all other people do and are, make it all worse. Rather than deny, we should try to manage. We can’t manage if we don’t admit it first. Even groups that see themselves as victims have to admit they use group thinking, prejudice, and enemies. When we admit that we do think in terms of groups, it is easier to manage, but, even then it is not easy. It is good to try to manage.

Big groups such as political parties are not made of one homogenous group, much as they would like to hope so. They are made of subgroups, some of which are in control and some of which are clients. Subgroups don’t always get along, and, to know what’s what, we have to look at subgroups and their relations. Sometimes dominance moves from one subgroup to another and sometimes core and clients change roles. This account quickly gets complicated. I pare it down as much as possible, into two major parties, core and clients, the big relations between parties, and the big relations between the core and clients within the parties.

The State, General Morality, and the Morality of Your Group.

The state must enforce a general morality. For example, part of the general morality might be “don’t steal”. The state must aim at some general good goals such as “everyone should feel secure at home and on the street”. The state should aim at some specific good goals such as “educate every child who is smart enough and has a good attitude”. The state must enforce general order such as that you cannot “do it in the middle of the road” or drive any way you wish. The state should seek some conditions of general good such as a distribution of wealth that is not too skewed or that all children go to school.

Despite the historic roots of democracy in Western Christianity and philosophy, the state should never take up the moral code of any one particular group as its moral code, any more than the state should take up the religion of any one group. The state can take ideas about morality from particular groups, and likely should take ideas from several groups, but should not use the morality of one group as official morality. The official morality of Roman Catholics, Shiva Hindus, Calvinists, Lutherans, Taoists, liberal academics, or conservative middle class people, should not be the official morality of America.

The rule against taking up the morality or religion of any one group is as much to protect that group against other groups as to protect other groups against that group. It protects all groups against each other. It is a necessary condition of freedom. Groups often don’t understand this point, pretend not to understand it, or pretend other forces prevail and our group must take charge anyway. You personally should practice appreciating this point and practice applying it to your group. What happens if another group takes power and enforces its morality on you?

Morality and the law are not exactly the same. Almost everyone, and most groups, might agree on a point of morality but still we cannot necessarily pass laws about the issue or we might wish not to pass laws on the issue. Almost everybody agrees lying is bad but no state has many laws against lying. All states have laws against lying in some situations as under oath, in a contract, or in advertising. Everyone agrees stealing is bad but we don’t enforce laws against stealing paper clips. Laws against sex outside of marriage have generally failed and are not worth passing or enforcing. There is a small role for symbolic laws that can’t be enforced, are not meant to be enforced, and should not be enforced, but here we can ignore that case.

The general morality is likely to be “smaller” (“lower”) than the morality of any particular group. The state will not be concerned with some things that particular groups care about such as not eating meat or observing a day of rest. The law is smaller than general morality, so the law will be smaller (“lower”) than the morality of most particular groups.

Even so, general morality and the law are enough to carry on social life, carry on political life, and lay the basis for good people and good citizens. Particular groups have to accept that the general morality and the law are smaller than their morality, accept that they care about some points that the state cannot be concerned with, and especially that they care about points that the state should not pass laws about. Groups have to accept living stricter lives than in the general morality and the law. Groups have to not worry that state morality and the law will corrupt their youth and way of life. Most people don’t like abortion but the state should not pass laws against it. Many people don’t like guns but America should not ban all guns. Many people want all guns to be legal but some guns should be banned.

We all should be wary of groups that wish to make their morality the official morality of the state. We should see attempts to make your group morality the official general morality of the state as immoral and illegal. You may still argue particular points of morality, try to add to general morality, hope to end laws that you consider mistakes, and hope to shape general morality and the law.

Think about what is needed for general morality, and how we can limit laws about morality to only what is needed. If you are a legal professional or have a strong stake in the law, think how the law can and cannot carry general morality and how it can and cannot carry the morality of a particular group.

Both political Parties have sought to make its morality the official morality of the state, and, in effect, to exclude the morality of the other Party. Neither Party is adept at explaining what its morality is, giving an overall rationale or “spirit” for its morality, justifying particular points of its morality, or justifying its morality as a whole. The morality of each Party is contradictory. Neither Party has good arguments for why its morality should be the official general morality of the state. The reason for this confusion is that Parties do not really seek morality but use morality as a tool in gaining clients and power, and, if Parties were clearer and more consistent, they would lose some clients and some power. Parties try to satisfy all clients at all times by saying the Party makes a moral appeal on behalf of each client, and each Party has to make sure that all its clients don’t look closely at the moral appeals made on behalf of all other clients in the Party. The moral appeals made on behalf of Blacks and LGTGBQ people cannot be fully consistent. The moral appeals on behalf of middle class families and fervent gun owners cannot be fully consistent, not after all the mass shootings in America.

At times, particular Churches wish to do the same and have tried to use political parties to get the job done, as now Churches that oppose abortion are trying to take over and use the Republican Party. At times, particular interest groups have done the same, as has the NRA when it resists bans on weapons that have no practical self-defense or hunting use such as assault rifles and extended magazines. We should resist these bad moves even if we agree with many particular points of their morality, even if we hate abortion or love guns.

Morality and Practicality.

Morality and practicality usually coincide as when we realize honesty usually is the best policy, we wish for all children to be reasonably honest, and we wish everybody to respect traffic rules. When morality and practicality are close enough, usually neither gives much trouble.

Although they often coincide, morality and practicality are not the same. We have to think in terms of both even when they do coincide.

We can see how they differ most when they can’t both be met at the same time or when they clash. They can’t both be met at the same time, and tend to clash, often enough, in a big group such as the modern state. Even school board meetings make the point. You should think of cases.

Some things we would like to do because of a moral call but we cannot afford to do, as give everybody health care. Some things might be practical and greatly help the state but we don’t do them because they are immoral such as implant a tracking chip in everyone or implant a punishment chip (“guidance chip”) at birth. Some things we might like to do because they are moral but they are impractical such as ban marital cheating. Some things we might like to do because they are practical and they would add to overall good but we are not sure about all the moral ramifications such as make sure every child gets three good meals a day by feeding all children at school. Some things are moral for people to do or not do, but are not the proper concern of the state, so it is immoral when the state gets involved, such as telling people how to have sex, what safe drugs to use, who to fall in love with, to get an abortion, or not get an abortion. It is both immoral and impractical for the state to make everybody worship exactly the same god in exactly the same way. Some things are both clearly moral and fairly practical, such as giving every child a good breakfast and lunch at school, and we can reasonably support them, but we don’t do them because of politics and because of mistakes about the role of the state and the role of parents.

Maybe because we see both practicality and morality most distinctly when they conflict, people tend to think of morality only as anti-practical or impractical, only as something that needs sacrifice, something that happens only when we put others above ourselves and face personal annihilation as in the movies “Topper” and “This is the End”. Those cases are wonderful, we should learn from them, and should use them for inspiration, but they are not only what morality is, and we err if we think of morality only like that. Morality can be hard but is not always hard. Difficulty is not a sure sign of morality but of normal confusing human life. Learn to see morality and practicality as two kinds of logic that often run parallel but sometimes don’t.

When morality conflicts with practicality, we have to decide. To decide, we need to know how much morality costs. Cost is not only the immediate money and trouble but also the cost of what we forego when we follow some particular moral course, the cost of other projects that we cannot do because we used the resources on this moral issue, the cost of setting a bad example if we do not do what we know is clearly moral, and the cost of enabling people in bad habits when we act morally such as cheating to get help from the state or becoming dependants of the state.

Some children go to school hungry. If we do not feed those children, what does that say about us and about our morality? If we do feed all those children, they will do better in school. They will have fewer behavior issues. Likely there will be less crime and violence. Likely they will impart fewer bad attitudes to their children. If we do feed all the children who might be hungry, how much money will that cost? If we do feed all the children who might be hungry, what do we have to give up? If we feed the children who might be hungry, do we leave out the children whose parents feed them, and whose parents work hard so as to be able to feed their own children? If we feed all the children including the children of parents who can afford to give them food at home, so as to make sure children who come hungry get fed, and so parents of the happier children don’t feel cheated, can we afford that? Then, in that bigger program, what do we have to give up? If we feed all the children who might be hungry, sadly, many parents will claim poverty to get their children fed for free. Many parents will work less because they can get their children fed for free. People will have more children than otherwise because they know they can get the children fed for free. Women will become single moms, and will have children as teens, because they can get their kids fed for free. With all that, what started as a simple program to feed hungry deserving children is three times the original size. What kind of example does all that set for all children, especially the example from bad parents? Are some children worse off a little hungry or a lot morally corrupted? There is no obvious answer. You have to sort it out.

With all the options to choose from, a person or a political party can make pretty much any case that is convenient. It is hard to know the truth before we try the experiment.

Once we try the experiment, if we don’t like the results, it is almost impossible to backtrack. Once we give something for moral reasons, or any reasons, it is almost impossible to stop. This is true of business firms as well as individuals and social groups.

At the group level, leaders have to deal with these problems for us, and they have to be able to explain to the people what they did and why. Leaders need to see morality and practicality fairly clearly. They need to see the trade-offs. They need an overall rationale for their morality and their practicality, and for how morality and practicality interact. They need a philosophy of morality and of practicality, and a philosophy of morality and practicality in a modern state. Sometimes leaders get all this from religion. Now, they more likely get it from pop culture and general culture, including the pop culture of religion.

People and political parties mix up morality and practicality when they argue we should do something or should not do it. When people argue we should ban guns, they cite the immorality of misuse and cite all the harm that comes of misuse. When people argue we should not ban guns, they cite long American tradition, say the state should not be involved in ownership, say the state should not get involved in the ownership of guns, and point out how useful guns are in protection and training character. Arguments for and against abortion (and about choice) are mixtures of morality and practicality. In all these cases, you have to listen and sort it out for yourself. You have to decide if morality and practicality are on the same side. You have to decide if they clash. You have to decide if we can be moral and afford it, if we would like to be moral but can’t afford it, and if practicality tips the scales in case of a moral close call. You have to decide how all this fits into a context of the state general morality versus the moralities of particular groups. Nobody will sort out the arguments for you.

The political parties each claim they are adept at sorting out morality and practicality, only this Party is adept at this deep task, the other side is woefully inept, its ineptness amounts to constant immorality, and the other side always leads us into errors from which we cannot return. Both parties are wrong about their level of skill. Neither Party is honest. Neither party is adept at sorting out morality and practicality. Instead, they are adept at using morality and practicality as excuses to mobilize and hold clients in the struggle for power. They use moral appeal when that works, practical appeal when that works, use practical appeal especially when they wish to act in a morally questionable way such as take all guns or give big tax breaks to rich people, and they constantly harp that the other side is so inept as to necessarily cause tragedy. Sometimes parties create confusion on purpose and sometimes they fall into a pattern of giving confused information, and then they stick with confusion because that works for them even though it is still confusion and it is wrong. Donald Trump is a textbook example.

You have to doubt what the parties say. You need to develop your own comprehensive view of morality and practicality. You have to see what is going on and you have to resist even if you agree with some of the points of morality and practicality of your own Party. You have to discount its pressure. You have to weigh the points of the other Party for the truth in them. Then you have to make up your mind about the issues. You should be able to give good reasons.

Republicans and Democrats have their own styles of screwing up a good balance between morality and practicality. Democrats are overly susceptible to moral appeals, even to silly moral appeals, from self-styled victim groups; they are stereotypical “bleeding hearts”. So Democrats often enable bad behavior and bad groups. They enable the culture of victim. Because Democrats respond so much to every moral appeal, in effect, they do away with moral appeal. If every appeal is fully moral and fully worthwhile, none are moral and none worthwhile.

Republicans understand the need to balance morality and practicality. They inherited the explicit duty to do this from old Conservatives and from the business ancestors of Republicans. But Republicans do a bad job, deliberately. When I said political parties are more adept at using morality and practicality as ploys than in really thinking out issues, I had Republicans in mind. They are masters of manipulating morality and practicality. In using morality and practicality only as tools in manipulation, Republicans effectively negate both. In using morality only as a tool, Republicans thereby kill morality and betray their duties to morality and balance.

In the example about feeding children, Republicans would stress practical reasons against it no matter how weak, stress moral reasons against it no matter how weak, and ignore moral reasons and practical reasons for it no matter how strong. Democrats would stress moral reasons for it. Democrats might state practical reasons for it but would not give convincing arguments. Democrats would overlook the moral and practical reasons against it as if those didn’t matter. These stances do not serve the children or the general citizenry but serve the clients of this Party and hurt the clients of that Party. I leave you to figure out which clients and how each Party stance serves our clients and hurts their clients.

Maybe the biggest loss due to muddled arguments about morality and practicality is we get annoyed by the whole mess and we make bad judgments. Many bad causes got funded in the past. Programs such as tax breaks got passed for supposedly practical reasons that they did not pan out. We finally learned we can’t fund everything. So, we let the other Party have their programs if they let us have ours. Aside from these trade-offs, we don’t fund any more causes or programs at all. So we don’t fund decent good causes that we should. Moreover, we keep programs such as tax breaks that we shouldn’t. We double down on our particular pseudo-moral-and-practical stances, claiming impossible levels of morality and practicality for our pet gains. Even with our aversion to moral calls, still the big deficit gets ever bigger.

I intend, in other essays, to lay out the moral and practical points for some particular issues.

The interplay of morality and practicality is so important that I repeat the above points often in various ways where they are needed. I save the reader the trouble of returning here but the repetition also can be annoying, so please forebear.

A Note on Education.

This essay is not about education but the topic comes up often, so it is useful to make clear one big point in one place. Before about 1980, the more education, the more likely a person would get a good job. A person did not have to go to a “name” school for education to get a good job. Unless a person did go to a name school, the cost of education, even graduate school, was not high, and did not lead to debt that took ten years to pay off.

Now, education is more like advertising in markets such as soft drinks, pickup trucks, and lawyers. If you don’t advertise, you are dead. If you do advertise, it won’t get you much, but it will help keep you from dying. You still do have to pay the cost of advertising. If you don’t get a degree, you are dead. If you do get a degree, you won’t necessarily get a job, but it will help keep you from dying, and you still do have to pay the cost of a degree. You are damned if you don’t, and in big debt if you do. But you have to. This is one cluster of reasons why online degree programs have mushroomed.

I don’t know if the price of advertising has gone up much since 1980 but the cost of education has gone up. More people are getting a degree, because they have to, and it seems there are fewer chances for a substantial scholarship. So, people now leave a four-year program commonly in debt for $50,000, and leave a graduate program in debt for $90,000. Still they are not guaranteed any job let alone a good job.

More people are trying to get an education, education costs a lot more, you have to go into substantial debt, you can’t get a job without a diploma, and you are not guaranteed a job even with a diploma. Two more problems to add: (1) The prices of houses, cars, and medical care has gone up much more than salaries. Except for the upper middle class and the upper class, salaries have stagnated. (2) You have to put your love life, family life, and children on hold, sometimes for many years. While men can get by waiting, for women this wait can be serious. Rather than concentrate on finding a mate and starting a family, people tend to accept temporary sexual liaisons as a substitute, until they are about 30 years old. The disparity between men and women is unfair but unavoidable; it adds to tension for women; and it adds to tension between men and women.

I don’t explain why all this happened.

This pattern affects the tendency of American schools to split into good schools and bad schools, with not nearly enough schools in the middle able to guarantee an adequate education that gives a fairly good chance of going on and getting a job. This pattern affects the different lives of different social groups such as single mothers (parents) and their children, women, Blacks, Hispanics, and poor Whites. Naturally, as a result, it also affects politics.

Democrats wish to give everybody a free education through college without considering all the various costs and without appreciating that far too many graduates still won’t get jobs. Republicans wish to make everybody go into debt to pay for college and graduate school while not appreciating that many graduates will not be able to get a good job and will not be able to pay back the debt. As it is doing now, the debt will impact young people and families below of the working class and middle class much more than the debt impacts classes above them, cause further stagnation of incomes, and further widen the income-wealth-and- class gap. I think both Parties actually do know what is going on but, again, rather than deal with reality, put forward their usual biased un-helpful programs.

Again, please pause to make sure you can see what is going on and to think what you might do. As a citizen, you really do need not only to see the issues, not only to make sure you understand the issues better than either major Party does, but to come up with a reasonable realistic plan that you could offer to your representatives. That is part of your duty, even if you don’t have children.

Until the 2000s, many parents did not know this new world of their children. They did not see why their children had put so much effort, time, and money into school and still could not get a great high paying prestigious job with benefits. They did not see why children couldn’t get married right out of school and start producing grandchildren. Now in the 20-teens and soon the 2020s, parents do get the idea more. Some have been through the mill, and many are not stupid. I ask that, if you don’t understand why your child with advanced expensive degrees cannot get a job and is deeply in debt, or cannot marry and have your grandkids right away, you do some research before you complain. Thanks.


If you skip this material, you might not understand later references to family, and might have to come back. This material is detailed, tedious, and long so as not to fall into some common mistakes.

I use the family here to get across the idea of client politics. Family is one of the biggest issues in 2018 in America. When one political party tires to hurt the other party badly, to call “bad to the core”, it says the other party hurts families. Family relates closely to class and to social groups such as ethnic groups and single parents. Maybe Republicans and Democrats care about families and would do what they could if they knew what was best. They don’t know what is best so instead both Parties use family and family values as propaganda to recruit, hold, and use clients. That practice harms families in the long run even when it seems to help in the short run. I dislike seeing the family abused for politics and dislike the twisted idea of a Conservative that is part of Republicans using the family for politics.

I do not discuss some issues such as divorce and abortion that would be useful here but take up too much space. If you want practice thinking through patron and client relations in terms of family and family values, those issues make good material.

# Synopsis.

I get at the family in politics by looking at attitudes toward nuclear families and alternative families. I repeat the comments in this synopsis at the end of this Part.

Really (a) the fight over what are the only true family values, (b) the fight over which families are the only true representatives of the only true family values, (c) claims that our side has true families while the other side has only artificial families and bad families, (d) accusations that the other side does not have real family values, (e) accusations that the values, acts, families, and social groups, of the other side, hurt the state, (f) use of the state to promote our values and our families, and (g) use of the state to discredit their values and harm their families, are all (h) fights over how to get and hold clients so as to get and hold power.

Republican clients tend to live in nuclear families while many families of Democratic clients live in what are now called “alternative” families. The Parties use this difference in their fight for clients and power.

Republicans wish as clients the people who can afford to live in TV-like nuclear families such as secure working class and middle class Whites, East Asians, South Asians, and some Hispanics. Republicans help their clients through tax breaks, services such as police protection, and support of schools. Republicans help the families of their clients live close to the idealized nuclear family and then extol what they help to create and what they support. Republicans hurt families that can’t afford to live like idealized nuclear families by labeling them as bad, through sales taxes that fall on them much harder, withholding support and services, and with the police and the courts. Republicans hurt rivals of their clients so rivals cannot compete with Republican clients.

Democrats give a moral rationale to people who often cannot live in TV-style nuclear families, and have to live in alternative families, or who wish to live in alternative families, such as many Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants. Democrats say all those families are healthy adaptations to economic hardship and prejudice. Democrats support alternative families and the groups of which they are a part through entitlements, grants, tax break, school funding, low-cost legal advice, and etc. Democrats assure their clients that Republican-style nuclear families-and-people won’t get favored treatment, and Democratic clients will be able to gain more wealth and status someday. Yet the Democratic stance wrongly calls all people and families good, including especially alternative families. It does not identify bad people and bad families. It does not recognize the force of persistent bad attitudes. It does not say how we can channel limited resources to good people and good families. It does not say how we might correct bad people and bad families. It is blind where, to do the most good, it should see. The Democratic stance thus enables bad people and bad families. Because of its overly optimistic blindness, the Democratic program likely does not do enough good to justify the direct and indirect costs. Bad people and bad families give a bad name to the social groups in which many of them occur, such as ethnic groups and single parents. The Democratic stance aids backlash against groups and aids prejudice. Enabling of bad people, bad families, and group stereotypes adds punch to otherwise weak Republican claims against poor people and some social groups.

Any family values that most Americans would like to know about have little to do with the political fight even if the political fight is carried out in terms of family values.

# Nuclear and Alternative Families, and their Social Groups, in Politics.

-At least since the 1950s, likely since the 1920s, Americans have returned to a religion of the family. The family that Americans have in mind is not like most real human families in most times and places. It is not like the real families that have made up America during most of its history. See later parts of this essay on history.

-Real families are compared to an unreal idealized nuclear family. Republicans pretend they live up to the ideal when they do not. Republicans claim Democrats and their clients do not live up to the ideal, attack the ideal, attack all families, and so attack family values. Democrats and their clients don’t know how to protect themselves from this attack because they don’t know what is going on with families in general, their own families, or families in client (ethnic) groups. They won’t admit that many families in among their clients are bad enough to spoil programs, and won’t admit they don’t know how to sort good families from bad families so as to save programs. They can’t be too explicit about what is going on because it would require admitting failures and losing clients.

People who live in families other than the unreal ideal don’t know how to present their kinds of families as healthy and reasonable when their families are, and they don’t know how to accept that their families are unhealthy and unreasonable when their families are that – and, yes, sometimes their families are unhealthy and unreasonable. They deny any families in their group have problems even when a blind person could see they do. They deny that enough families in their group have enough problems so as to spoil programs. They cannot, and will not, sort good families from bad families so as to save programs and so help their group, programs, the Democratic Party, and the nation. Their patrons, Democratic Liberals, enable all this unrealistic denial.

-There is no standard American family because families in America varied in time and place in response to circumstances, social class, and ethnic group. Even so, I go out on a limb to say the American family until 1920 was like this: at least three generations living in the same house or apartment, often four generations together, the dwelling was small, children got an education only through eighth grade, girls got less, many younger children did not marry, especially girls did not marry because they could not get a job with enough wages to support themselves and so offer enough value to prospective husbands, those girls stayed at home to take care of aged parents or stayed with a married sibling to take care of nieces and nephews, parents were involved in their children’s marriages, there was little dating, people started working in their teens, often a young worker – in a factory or professional job – had to serve a long apprenticeship before he (almost always a boy) saved enough to marry, and yet families had six or ten children, of which half died. I don’t explain how this pattern changed in response to circumstances. I like that it did change.

-The idealized family is like “Leave it to Beaver” or “The Donna Reed Show” from old TV. I have nothing against that family. I wish I had lived in that family. In many ways, it is best. I like that both parents were good role models. I like that it is not rigidly authoritarian, old-fashioned, or too permissive. The man could be compassionate and the woman stern. It would be clearly a very good option if all family members got good jobs, they stayed in touch (didn’t move far away), and helped care for grandparents and parents when those people got old. It is a good style for families when all school districts around the families provide a good enough education.

If America had maintained the prosperity of the 1940s to 1970, then most families eventually would have had a fair chance to live like that. We would not look down on families that did not live exactly like the ideal, such as when an old grandparent stayed or when an unemployed sibling stayed. But America did not have that much prosperity before 1950 and has not had that much prosperity since 1975. Most families in American history have not been like this ideal. Even now, while America is still prosperous, if most American families are similar to the ideal, it is not a large majority.

(To be exact: America still has a lot of material wealth, enough, but people must compete for family security in such a way that they are not comfortable sharing, so the prosperity is not shared enough to allow almost every family to live as it wishes. This change is not a horrible plot by anybody but results from how world capitalism works and how politics works.)

Yet this idealized family remains. Families that do not live up to this standard are suspect. If they don’t live up to this ideal, their morals are bad. If they can’t live up because they are not wealthy enough, then they are bad managers, bad providers, and their integrity and character, are suspect.

-Alternative families are what we also call blended, mixed, single parent, multi-generational, woman centered or woman focused, and non-traditional. They include families where the heads of household are a gay couple. If families with multiple spouses were legal, as a man with many wives or a woman with many husbands, or many men and women together, alternative families would include those. They include siblings, usually sisters, living together with children. They include multiple generations living together; usually an older woman with her daughters and their children, the grandchildren of the older woman; and sometimes with her granddaughters and their children, the great grandchildren of the older woman. Sometimes the daughters or granddaughters live, play, and look for a man elsewhere while the older resident woman cares for their children. Alternative families often are focused around women and do not have a standard male head of household as in the idealized families. Often the men in them are marginally employed at best, sometimes because they can’t get work, sometimes because they have given up trying, and sometimes because they don’t really want regular jobs. Now, alternative families include adult single children living at home, even well-educated adult children, especially if the adult children cannot find a job and-or are handicapped. Nowadays, alternative families include adult children staying on at home (“Mom’s basement”) because the adult children can find only a bad job. Sometimes alternative families include people and their children, usually women and their children, who are friends of the genetic kin that form the core of the family. Not everybody in an alternative family has to be closely genetically related for members to see themselves as one kin and one family. Resident friends are treated as siblings, nieces, and nephews.

“Alternative” is not a good term because it suggests something deviated away from an ideal. I explicitly deny I mean that. But there is no better simple term that most people recognize.

Sometimes families of kin live close to each other, sometimes in different houses on the same block. Usually the families are related through a mother and several sisters but sometimes through parents and several brothers. You see this pattern in movies about Irish people and you can see it in the movie “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy and the movie “Mystic River”. One sibling has the parents live in his-her home, a home that might have been inherited from the parents. All adult siblings should give money to care for parents and sometimes give effort to direct care. All households share child care and sometimes share big batches of cooking. Family holidays and barbecues are expected. Often each household sees itself as more like the “Leave it to Beaver” ideal than like an alternative family, especially if alternative families are seen as low or as typical of stigmatized ethnic groups. Sometimes rich families follow a similar pattern but with bigger buildings and more land. Sometimes Asian families in Asia and America follow a similar pattern. I leave it to the reader to decide what pattern this kind of family falls in and if this family is typical of any classes or social groups.

A fair share of people with good jobs can live close enough to the idealized nuclear family so they claim to live up to the ideal even when they don’t live up fully. They might have an elderly parent living with them or have an adult relative who is looking for a job. Mostly these people in near-ideal families are Whites, Asians, some Hispanics, some Blacks, and some successful immigrants such as from South Asia and East Asia. See the TV shows “Fresh off the Boat” and “Blackish”. A variation was in the TV show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, in which the family did see itself as nuclear ideal. People can accept the family in “Fresh Prince” as a variation of the nuclear family, a variation that does not change its essential character as a nuclear family and that still leaves the family good. But much more change than this much, and people see the family as an alternative family and in danger of being bad. Even the parents in Fresh Prince were worried that Will Smith would exert a bad influence on their children and would hurt their social standing.

As with everything biological and social, the lines are fuzzy, but still it makes sense to divide between the nuclear family versus alternative families, so I accept the division.

Since about 1980, people who see themselves as living close to the ideal family have tended to be in the Republican Party and to loudly support the Republican version of “family values”. They use the idealized unreal nuclear family as a weapon in their fight against their socio-economic class rivals and social group rivals. They stigmatize the alternative family and say it is part of life in other groups, the bad groups in America. At the same time, Democrats and their clients claim the alternative family is good. That is why I had to be so careful here.

-Some people with good jobs, a lot of people with bad jobs, and most unemployed people, cannot live in the idealized unreal nuclear family and so they live in alternative families or alone. These people include poor Whites, former working class Whites that now have only bad jobs, a fair number of Hispanics, and many Blacks. Economic problems alone might not force them to live in alternative families, other forces can contribute such as the culture of their social group, but economic problems push that way. I do not here untangle what causes what how much. These people tend to belong to the Democratic Party so as to get benefits from the Party and to get ideological support for their families and lifestyles. They are used as an ideological and political tool against Republicans. They support their version of family values but see family values as embodied more in love, commitment, and support than as embodied in who does or does not live in the same house or live nearby.

People live in nuclear families or alternative families for many reasons, including personal preferences, culture (attitudes) of their social group, attitudes that run in families, and outside forces such as from jobs and the attitudes of other groups. For here, the two biggest forces to consider are (1) the attitudes of the most important social group, such as an ethnic group, such as Blacks or Whites, and (2) outside forces such as jobs and prejudice, but mostly jobs.

I comment on good and bad families below. Imagine an area with good and bad nuclear families and good and bad alternative families. The people in nuclear families praise alternative families, even bad alternative families. They do so because: (1) Members of the nuclear families grew up in a big family which is now called an alternative family, that family was good for them, they have fond memories, and not to support alternative families would be like insulting ancestors. (2) They know they might have to live with kin or friends in case parents in the nuclear-like family get sick or hurt. They might have to go join whoever will have them. In that case, they will be living in an alternative family. They don’t want to denigrate what they might have to live like, and they don’t want to denigrate the people that they might need. (3) Their own kin and friends face hardship and might have to come live with them. The same explanation applies. (4) The group as a whole accepts and values alternatives families, often for reasons just given, and the members of nuclear families go along with their group, a normal response. (5) The members of nuclear families tend to see good alternative families as really good, and tend to see even bad alternative families as not really that bad. Their perception is shaped by their potential needs, and their perception then guides their assessment and their politics.

These reasons apply more to people in groups that are likely to face economic hardship such as Whites who have lost their jobs, and many Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants. They apply less to people in groups in which nuclear-like families are fairly secure as with people whose ancestors immigrated a long time ago, and Whites, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics with secure jobs with benefits. The people with secure jobs tend to see the reasons above as excuses and tend to see as threats the people who are in alternative families or who might move to an alternative family. It is easy to see that Democrats recruit the people who value alternative families while Republicans recruit people who value nuclear-like families and who fear or disdain alternative families.

It is not clear how much people live in alternative families because they like that style or because they are forced to live that way because of: divorce, death, imprisonment of a spouse, losing jobs, having only poor jobs, spouse abuse, desertion, crime, violence, financial problems, financial problems due to bad health and accident, and bad attitudes.

As a guess, most people in modern economies would choose to live in something closer to “Beaver”, maybe with grandparents and siblings nearby, if they had a choice, rather than live in a big family with many annoying people in a small house. Don’t take this preference to say which family is more natural or better.

Sometimes single parents live as single parents because they prefer it. Sometimes single parents live as single parents because it is better than living with the old spouse, and the single parent can’t get a new spouse that is better than living alone with the kids. Often single parents have a good attitude and do manage to raise good kids with good attitudes.

Rather than wrangle over why people live in nuclear or alternative families and whether family lifestyle naturally coincides with any particular political party, socio-economic class, or ethnic group, I accept that people live in both nuclear families and alternative families, and that the major causes are the attitudes of their group and outside pressures, chiefly jobs but also outside prejudice. I note that some kinds of families and political parties are associated, and I use the information when useful without going too far into the matter.

-Individuals are good or bad. The lines are fuzzy, but it is important to decide sometimes that Joe is bad while Frank is good, so I accept this division. Similarly families can be good or bad. Families can be bad because they have one bad member, a few bad members, because of attitudes typical of the group that they belong to, styles that run along family lines, and they face outside forces such as bad jobs and prejudice. As with individuals, the lines are fuzzy but I accept the division. Nuclear families can be good or bad. Alternative families can be good and bad. It is important to accept that alternative families can be good or bad, so I recommend pausing to think about this fact.

Alternative families are good when people help each other, especially to get a good education with real content, learn good values, have a good character, get better jobs, and overcome legal issues and health issues. Alternative families are good when they don’t make problems for the neighbors or community, and better when they actually help. A lot of people, even with good jobs and big savings, are happy to have grandparents live with them and are happy to take in a nephew or niece until the young person gets a better job. A lot of grandparents are willing to take in the grandkids, hopefully only until their mother gets a solid job but longer if need be. Many parents are happy to take in a sister or brother and his-her spouse and children until the brother or sister gets a solid job, hopefully not long, but for at least a few months if need be. A lot of people grew up in big families and like having many kin around. Sometimes you can’t get the extra kin out of the house, and then relations turn strained, but then that family is not necessarily good anymore.

When people in alternative families do succeed in a modern capitalist economy, they often aim toward budding off into small families of their own that are like the “Beaver” ideal. This choice does not mean that the only natural and best family is the nuclear family. It does not mean that all other families are variations away from the only natural and best nuclear family. It does not mean that other families are bad deviations away from the only natural and best nuclear family, and that other families can be seen in terms of how deviant and how bad they are. The fact that often people prefer nuclear families can be used to understand why families tend to certain forms under certain conditions. These facts could help us to see which families are better or worse if we had good criteria for better or worse. Only if you have studied human family and society under various conditions could you make much of all this. In this essay, I note that people do often like nuclear families but I do not make much of the fact. We should not use it alone to prove anything.

Alternative families are bad when they perpetuate bad attitudes such as: chronic lying, resorting to a lie to get out of any situation, violence, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, stealing, crime, arguing in the family, arguing with neighbors, promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, gangs, bad education, no appreciation for good education, no respect for law and the rule of law, no appreciation for community, no understanding of self-government, no sense of general responsibility, no sense of other people as persons, no feeling for general decency, and expecting the state to do it for you as with welfare and with tending the quality of local schools. The causal relation works both ways. Bad families cause problems and problems cause bad families. Problems, bad attitudes, bad families, bad areas, and bad schools, all cause each other. Once mutual causation gets going, it is hard to stop. A lot of people in alternative families have bad attitudes, and their attitudes cause their bad lives to a big extent, more than external factors cause their bad attitude and bad lives. We can honestly say there are bad families, and bad families cause problems for themselves and for others. We can honestly say there are bad families not caused by stress even if stress makes badness worse. We can say this without the source being prejudice. You should pause to accept this fact. It is easier for good families to go bad than for bad families to go good. Once families go bad, for any reasons, they tend to stay bad.

The usual state programs, carried out to their usual limited extent, are not enough to change enough bad families to good families in enough areas and in enough client groups. Pause to consider this fact. If programs were carried out to a greater extent, if more help were given, programs would change a few more bad families to good families but even then programs would not change all bad families to good families and likely still would not change enough bad families to good families. I can guess what it would take but there is no point guessing here. We wouldn’t do it anyway, whether Democrats or Republicans had absolute power.

If all people in all bad families had good enough jobs, would that change enough bad families to good families? Or would family character and group attitudes still enable too many bad families for too long? I don’t know. Because enough people from bad families are not likely to get good jobs in the near future, this question is theoretically interesting but practically null. As a guess, if everybody had a good enough job, still bad family style and bad group attitudes would continue in bad families and bad groups for many generations. It is hard to stop lying automatically when you have done that all your life. Eventually bad families and bad groups would have fewer bad members, and there would be fewer bad families and bad groups, but the shift might take a hundred years. If all prejudice were to end (and thus many people from stigmatized groups got good jobs), would that change enough bad families to good families? Or would family character and group attitudes still enable too many bad families? By “end prejudice” I mean not only of White men against everybody but of all groups against all other groups; Blacks have to stop despising Whites and Hispanics, and vice versa, and women have to stop blaming men. I give the same answer. So I continue here as if all the forces will remain in play in the near future. Likely, it is easier and less expensive to save a few good families out of bad groups, and to give up on bad families and bad groups, than to get everybody in all groups a good job and-or to end prejudice and discrimination enough. If you don’t want to give up on everybody then you will lose many people that you could have saved otherwise, and I wish you luck.

The following features used to be considered automatic infallible signs of a bad family, especially a bad alternative family, but the traits are ambiguous now: single parents for any reason other than death of one spouse; divorce, especially if due to the wife; female head of household except when her husband has died; multiple spouses; multiple children by multiple spouses; a resident unmarried adult child except an older daughter taking care of the parents; arrest for any crime; conviction for any crime; any resident ever having been in jail; alcohol abuse; drug abuse; visits by the police; noise, especially late at night; screaming fights in the yard of parking lot; hooliganism; noisy parties; not going to church or a similar institution; suspicion of stealing in the neighborhood; children get in trouble at school; unrelated people staying in the house; slutty dress; extravagant dress; obvious living beyond the family means; ostentation; too many cars parked around the house; cars parked on the yard; and cars parked so they block neighbors.

The same family characteristic can be practical for the family in the short run but bad for the family in the long run and bad for the community. Modern TV and movies about dysfunctional families play with this theme. A fun example is the brawling Irish families in movies before about 1960, before PC. The TV shows “Animal Kingdom” and “Sons of Anarchy” show family togetherness makes for success in crime but it also makes for bad people and a cancer on society. When a family contributes to the church but only the church, this pattern teaches both togetherness and exclusion, exclusion first of the family to everyone else, then of the church to everyone else, then of the ethnic group to all other ethnic groups. Eventually, to be good, the family and church have to get beyond that kind of exclusion. You have to make up your mind about which traits that lead to apparent success for the family in the short run also eventually lead to bad results for society and so are bad traits.

The same family can make both good and bad people. It can protect grandchildren from neglectful and abusive parents when grandchildren go to live with the grandmother and aunts. The grandmother tries to teach the grandchildren responsibility, respect, hard work, and going to church. The same family also raises girls who accept getting pregnant as teens and dropping out of school, accept having children by many different men, use their sexuality primarily as a way to attract men, and expect to use their female kin as safety valves. The same family teaches young men it is safe to prey on young women, and does not teach what it means to be a modest responsible man. The same family can teach going to church every Sunday but to hate all people of other ethnic groups and in other neighborhoods.

I cannot untangle all this here, so I simply rest with a division between good alternative families and bad alternative families. I overlook the confusing middle. That is how the nearly ideal nuclear family and the alternative family are used in politics: (1) Nuclear families are mostly good while alternative families are mostly bad. (2) Our families are good whether nearly ideal nuclear or alternative while all their families are bad whether they are nearly ideal nuclear or alternative.

-Between nuclear families and alternative families, it is not clear if alternative families more likely make bad people, bad families, bad attitudes, and bad groups. I really don’t know. In other writing, I would say the issue is an empirical question: we have to look and see. Here the answer is not as important as the stance that people take. Some people say alternative families are just as good as nuclear families and do not make more bad people etc. while some people say alternative families are more likely to make bad people, bad families, bad attitudes, and bad groups.

Suppose an alternative family is bad. It is not clear that bad alternative families more likely make more bad people etc. than do nuclear families or good alternative families, but probably. Child abuse makes child abusers, children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce, children of alcoholics more likely abuse alcohol, children of violent parents are more likely to hit, and so on. There are more likely to be bad people in bad alternative families. Bad alternative families tend to make bad alternative families for quite a while. If the family is superficially successful by being bad, then it makes more than one copy of itself each generation.

Here you need to be honest with yourself. Think of the “trash” families in your group, ethnic, social, or anywise. Don’t many bad families come from alternative families or are offshoots? Do you really think they are alright? Don’t they cause trouble for many people, not just in the family but in the area? Don’t they give your neighborhood and your group a bad name? If you could, wouldn’t you move out of an area with many bad alternative families to an area with very few? If you cannot move from an area with many bad alternative families, don’t you feel trapped, angry, and more likely to lash out yourself? Isn’t getting out of the ghetto more about escaping bad families than escaping prejudice? Don’t you think other people see this and are afraid? Don’t you think other people are like you?

When people see both good and bad in a family, especially an alternative family, they can’t afford to be subtle about the situation, they have to decide “good” or “bad”, one way or the other, no middle, about the whole family as one unit. Rationally for their own safety and the safety of children, people seeing mixed acts by an alternative family are more likely to say “bad”. Better safe than sorry. Nearly all Democrats who in theory want to think the best of people, in real life when it comes to the safety and character of their own children, take this attitude without thinking twice. To avoid all the bad families that people see around them is one reason why people wish to leave ghettos. Think how to keep the good and get rid of the bad, and how to make public judgments work better for everybody. It is hard.

So, fair or unfair, people in general are likely to think that alternative families are more often bad than nuclear families, and people are likely to think that bad alternative families are more likely to make more bad people, bad families, bad attitudes, and bad groups than nuclear families. People come to this conclusion whether they think alternative families are bad due to forces within the family such as bad attitudes or due to external forces such as bad jobs and prejudice.

-Alternative families tend to run in particular social groups, such as ethnic groups, such as Blacks from the Caribbean. For example, Caribbean Blacks tend to have female-centered or female-headed families. It is not clear if running in a social-or-ethnic group is because the cultures of groups support alternative families (Black culture favors women heads) or outside pressures such as job hardship and prejudice lead to alternative families, or both. It is not clear if alternative families, once established, tend to run in the group even when outside pressures are taken away, such as when children in a Black family get good middle class or upper middle class jobs. Likely once a cultural disposition (attitude) toward features of alternative families gets going in a group it tends to continue in the group although external pressures are removed, such as female headed families, multiple children by multiple partners, teenage mothers, and tolerance of divorce.

-It is not clear if the alternative families that run in social groups, such as ethnic groups, are more likely to be good or bad in some groups more than others. Just because alternative families run in an ethnic group we should not assume that bad alternative families make up the whole group or good alternative families make up the whole group. It is not clear if the alternative families in that group are good or bad due to attitudes typical of the group or because of outside pressure such as bad jobs and prejudice. If attitudes are bad now, it is not clear if attitudes change when the family does better economically. If you think that alternative families are more likely bad than good, or that more alternative families than nuclear families are bad than good, you imply bad families are more likely to run in social groups, such as ethnic groups, that have a lot of alternative families.

Reminder: Not all families that look like the idealized nuclear family and should have a good attitude are good families, as so much of women’s TV reminds us. Evil at the heart of even apparently good families has been a staple of Western literature, especially melodrama, at least since Ibsen, and it is the mainstay of most soap operas and detective stories. And, of course, not all families that try to look like the idealized nuclear family are really a small nest of monsters. Some of them are decent people trying to get by in a hard world.

Because culture is real, families differ because of group attitudes, differences persist, and differences matter in the economy and in politics. Because culture and ethnicity are real, families differ between ethnic groups, differences persist, and ethnic groups and their families matter in the economy and in politics. We can deny culture (attitude) exist s, deny ethnic groups have distinct cultures, deny culture and ethnicity are relevant to family life, or deny culture-ethnicity and family life are relevant to economy and to politics, but we are foolish and shortsighted to do so. If you are serious about knowing the use of the family in politics and the relations of family to the economy, then you have to pay some attention to culture and ethnicity. You have to pay attention to misuse of these ideas by both sides.

-If (a) alternative families more likely run in (a1) some social groups such as in (a2) some ethnic groups; and (b1) alternative families are more likely to be bad than are idealized nuclear families, (b2) especially the alternative families in an ethnic group are more likely to be bad when the ethnic group faces bad straits such as bad jobs and prejudice; and, (c) once bad, however they got that way, alternative families stay bad for quite a while; then (d1) ethnic groups with more alternative families are likely to have more bad families, (d2) the families are likely to stay bad for quite a while; (d3) these bad families are likely to cause other bad families; (d4) and so on. (e) There will be enough bad alternative families in the ethnic group so bad families will typify the group as a whole. (f1) Other groups have to see the ethnic group as a whole as made up of bad alternative families and (f2) have to act accordingly. (1) Ethnic groups with more bad alternative families are (2) not likely to change to better alternative families and to be better as an ethnic group. (A) The ethnic group as a whole will seem bad. (B) For their own security, other groups have to react accordingly. (C) Then the people in the ethnic group will respond accordingly. (D) And so on.

This argument is dangerous because it easily supports totally irrational prejudice. It is also a common chain of thought even when people can’t put it into words or are not allowed to say it. In contrast, blind resistance to this argument, claiming alternative families are always good and groups with alternative families are always good, leads to denying truth, irrational reverse prejudice, bad reverse discrimination, and discrediting the people who want to fight prejudice and want to fight realistically for ethnic groups. This argument and resistance to it both play parts in politics, often bad parts.

If this reasoning is true even a bit, we owe it both to any ethnic group accused and to the general public to think out the links and to think what we can (should) do or not do. We owe it to the ethnic group and everybody to keep prejudice, reverse prejudice, “us versus them”, and partisan politics, out as much as possible. If this argument is true even a bit, then leaders of any ethnic groups that have problems with violence and crime have to own up to it and have to force their people to face it. I have not seen that. If this argument is true or false even a bit, leaders outside the accused group have to make clear to their fellows how true and how false, and have to suggest a good moral response, keeping in mind that all of us are valuable human persons. I have not seen this either. Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, etc. all have to be clear to themselves and to each other and I have not seen much of that.

What ratio of individual people in a social group or ethnic group have to be troublesome, and what ratio of families in a social group or ethnic group have to be seen as bad families, so the group as a whole is seen as bad: 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50%? Some groups, especially in some areas, qualify easily. Here are some plausible guidelines. These guidelines will show how unfair the human system is, especially to good people in bad families or in bad groups, and to good families among bad families or in bad groups; but it is what we have to work with. If two people in a family, even in a big alternative family, are bad, the whole family is judged bad. If more than 20%, usually less, of families in any group is judged bad, the whole group is judged bad. You can see it takes only a minority of bad people and bad families to make a whole group look bad.

Be honest. If you are in a Black family and your family was sent to live where all the families were good White families, would you make it? Isn’t that what many Black families hope for, and see, when they flee the ghetto? If you were in a Black family and your family was sent to live in a neighborhood with 30% White “trash” would you make it? If you were a White family in a neighborhood where all the families were Black and good, I think you would be alright. If you were a White family where all the families were Black and 30% were bad, you would not make it. This is not racism. This is human nature and human social nature.

Families in good areas (groups) don’t want any families from bad areas (groups) coming to their good area (groups) to bring the bad. Families in good areas (groups) can’t afford to risk filtering good from bad; it is easier and better to avoid the whole other bad group and its bad families. This response is not mere prejudice; this response is rational; but it can feed prejudice. The feeling arises between ethnic groups such as between Blacks and Whites and between Blacks and Hispanics but it arises also within ethnic groups as when Blacks from this good area don’t want Blacks from that bad area coming in or when middle class suburban Whites don’t want bad exurban White trash coming in.

(See technical note in other writing about how sub-groupings within a social group or ethnic group affect how people see good and bad individuals in the group, see families in the group, and how they see the group as a whole.)

-Republicans use two facts to make misleading claims: (1) Many Republican clients live in families that can claim to be close enough to the ideal nuclear family, and claim to be good. Republican clients tend to have secure jobs with enough pay and benefits or to make enough in their business or professions. (2) Many Democratic live in alternative families. So, many Democrats live in bad alternative families. So, ethnic groups and social groups that are the Democratic clients are bad ethnic and social groups.

Republicans say nearly all Republican families are good families that follow family values well enough, and produce good people and good citizens.

Likely more families of Democratic clients are nuclear families than alternative families but Republicans overlook this fact or they say nuclear families among Democratic clients are too far from the ideal. So, Democratic nuclear families are not good nuclear families. Often enough, they are bad nuclear families.

Republicans continue: Enough Democratic clients live in bad families, bad ethnic groups such as Hispanic immigrants, and bad social groups such as a poor neighborhood. Whether Democratic families are alternative families, as is often the case, or nuclear families, enough Democratic families are bad families. They make bad people, and the bad people make more bad families. Democratic families are like the sleazy low class people with bad taste and bad manners on ethnic and White Trash so-called “reality” TV shows. Nearly all Democratic clients are immoral, deserve what they get, and don’t deserve any help. Let them rot in their own depravity and kill each other off. Republicans say bad alternative families are typical of some whole groups such as Blacks, “White trash”, and poor people. Bad attitudes cause bad families, not economics or prejudice. Don’t allow excuses. Bad attitudes and bad families don’t change when groups have better economic success, protected by laws, favored by programs, and find some job success. Bad families and ethnic groups do not understand family values and there is no point trying to teach them. Even if the people in some alternative families have a good attitude, the fact that they live in alternative families shows their failure, and their failure shows they can’t manage their money and lives, so they must be low in mind and character. Although they seem good now, they are likely to make bad families members, so, later on make bad families. Let them live in their own areas and become the prey of bad alternative families.

Republicans continue: In ethnic groups with many alternative families and thus many bad alternative families, even many families that seem like nuclear families are not good families but are bad families. They have been infected by bad alternative families. They branched off from bad alternative families, and from bad nuclear families, and they retain the bad attitudes. They only seem like nuclear families because they get state support and the support requires them to live like nuclear families. But they do not share the good values that are at the core of good nuclear families. The make too many bad people; and the bad people make bad alternative families and bad groups.

We Republicans judge the entire group by their bad families, bad alternative families and bad nuclear families.

When families switch to the Republican Party, it shows they intend to follow Republican family values, be good families, make good citizens, manage their money well, and make good people. They will kick out or will control any members who do not live up to good Republican family values. They will distance themselves from their old fellows in their socio-economic class or social group who cannot measure up. Black, White, and Hispanic families that wish to live correctly will keep away from families in their old group that live badly. These better families don’t usually need help but do need some protection. They need protection especially from rivals for jobs and from their old fellow families in their socio-economic class and social group, who will be jealous and angry. We are happy to protect them, and we will help them if needed. Such help is always cost effective and good for America.

Of course, no Republican says much of this straight out. But people take Republicans this way.

Republicans gained a lot of working and middle class Whites and Asians with this stance, and gained some Hispanics and Blacks too.

Democrats have their own version of selective facts and misleading claims. Democrats think, but do not often say, and do so with little evidence: All Republican families, and all the families that have a higher-than-average income, are really rotten at the core. They are like the families you see on TV crime shows or in movies about divorce, like the rich family in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. The husband cheats on the wife, the wife cheats on him, all the kids use hard drugs, at least one of the kids is a homosexual, all the kids have been kicked out of schools, at least one is an alcoholic, at least one parent and one kid is a pervert, it is worse if the wife is a pervert, the father beats the wife, and all the kids have been arrested but were able to buy off the bust. Yet they all smile together for family photos, go to church often, and support family values. Despite their bad characters, all the kids will go to good schools and get good high paying jobs or pursue a good profession such as lawyer or stock broker, or they will get a good job in a factory or a big store. They are all spoiled brats even when grown up and even if they came from a working background or middle class background. They are bad families, they make bad people, and the bad people make more bad families. They get away with it because they have money and connections and they know how to put up a good front. They know nothing of real family values.

Democrats continue: Most Republicans are White. Most Republican bad families are White. A lot of White people now are Republicans even if they are working people or middle class people, and even if they were Democrats a generation ago. Enough White people have bad families. We are correct to be scared of White people because of their bad families and bad attitudes. White people are bad.

Democrats claim that all families, including nuclear families and alternative families, of all Democratic clients, are good reasonable healthy adaptations to economics and greater society.

Many Democratic clients want to live in alternative families because they like big families, not because of bad attitudes or any weirdness. Many Democratic families live in alternative families because of bad jobs, so they can pool their resources, share risks, and deal with prejudice, not because of bad attitudes or weirdness. Many Democratic clients, even with good jobs, live in alternative families because they got used to it when their ancestors had to live in alternative families to deal with bad jobs and prejudice. Nuclear families stay in close touch for the same reasons. Alternative families are the best that people could do in their situations.

Among Democratic clients, all families and all alternative families promote healthy reasonable attitudes and none promote bad attitudes. No alternative families are caught up in the bad cycle, or, at least, not through their consent. None have bad attitudes. All are breaking out of the bad cycle. If there are any issues, all the issues are caused by outside pressure and by outside pressure alone.

Nuclear families in Democratic client groups, even nuclear families that have budded from an alternative family, even nuclear families that have budded from a bad alternative family, even nuclear families in what Republicans call a bad ethnic or social group, are not bad. They do not live like nuclear families mostly because welfare makes them live that way. They are good families who have set themselves up to make in the best situation they can find to make the best of things.

Even if a particular ethnic group has a higher share of alternative families than White Republicans have, no particular ethnic group such as Blacks has a higher share of bad families or bad alternative families, than any other group. “Alternative” does not mean “bad” and it does not mean “bad ethnic group” or “bad group of single moms”.

The root problem is that prejudice, mostly by Whites but now also sometimes by other ethnic groups such as East Asians and South Asians, keeps Democratic clients from getting good jobs. All the families of Democratic clients are victims. All the families would be fully decent, reasonable, and cultivate good attitudes, if only Whites give them the help that they need and if we could end prejudice by Whites and others.

Alternative families in all ethnic groups that are Democratic clients have family values in that family members love and support each other, and are committed to the family. But outsiders refuse to see.

All help to all families, explicitly including all alternative families, of all Democratic clients, whether by a state program or by a private agency, is a good investment that pays off in helping individuals, families, social groups including ethnic groups, schools, and society. Investment in them is never wasted.

Democrats lost many people of all colors and classes with their stance, especially working class and middle class people with good jobs, and especially Whites and Asians, even if Democrats did gain and keep clients, and even if there is some truth to the stance.

Of course, Democrats don’t say much of this straight out, although they do say some of it such as that there are no bad Democratic families and all investment in the families of Democratic clients pays off handsomely. But people take it as above.

Both Republicans and Democrats are overall wrong. Not all Republican and White nuclear families are rotten at the core. Not all people in alternative families are inept, depraved, immoral, or weak. Some are quite good, heroic, and struggle to raise good children in trying situations. We can learn from them. If alternative families are more typical of some classes, social groups, or ethnic groups, we need to know the facts and we need to know why. If bad alternative families are more typical of some classes, social groups, or ethnic groups, we need to know the facts and we need to know why. If bad nuclear families are more typical of some classes, social groups, or ethnic groups, we need to know the facts and we need to know why.

Neither argument is completely wrong either. The only thing I point out is that there really are bad families and bad alternative families, they are more common in some groups, and they tend to persist in some groups regardless of good economic times. To admit this is not to damn a whole group as bad such as Blacks, Hispanics, or “White trash”. Unless we do admit this fact and take it into account, we cannot see how other groups respond to groups with bad families and we can’t make it any better.

As more people who are not clients of the Democratic Party have to live in alternative families due to economic pressure, we might get a better view of the interplay between economic pressure, attitude, community, group culture, and outside prejudice. As more working and middle class White people are forced to live with Mom and Dad for longer times, we might get a better idea of what causes what. The recent opioid epidemic (2018) is a clue but it is not a definitive sign that job hardship alone causes bad attitudes and bad families. Don’t rely on economic problems among Whites to prove (a) all alternative families among all other ethnic groups are due to poverty and prejudice alone, (b) all alternative families with bad attitudes have bad attitudes due to poverty and prejudice alone, and (c) all alternative families among all non-White groups never had intrinsic bad attitudes – (d) they all started good and got turned bad because of White prejudice and discrimination. Job hardship among Whites and resulting changes does not necessarily prove the Democratic stance. Bad attitudes are bad attitudes, they cause bad acts and bad people, and they linger across generations, in families, and in groups.

Americans are beginning to accept that some alternative families are healthy, adaptive, and responsible, as in TV shows such as Modern Family, This is Us, and Reba. The Brady Bunch was really a big nuclear nearly ideal family but the family had enough “alternative” in its background to open the door a crack. Even people who make a point of family values and of extolling the unreal idealized nuclear family now see that forces shape families and that some alternative families are good families. Even White Country “Just Folks” know now that not all kids who still live with Dad and Mom on the old unprofitable 20 acres do so because the kids are no good bums, bar sluts, failed criminals, or heroic rebels.

On the other hand, groups that have many alternative families, and that have may bad people and bad families, especially many bad alternative families, still refuse to see. They refuse to see that bad families make bad people and bad people make bad families. They refuse to accept that other groups are not merely prejudiced or are irrational in worrying about the bad families and the bad group and in keeping away from the bad families and bad group. They refuse to see that not all their families and people have to be bad, or even that most of their people and families have to be bad, for other groups reasonably to label their group as bad and to defend against their group. If your group has enough trash families, then that is how it will be judged, and that is how it should be judged by other worried groups. I feel sorry for the many hard working honest good people in the families and groups judged harshly. It is not fair that a few bad apples spoil the barrel, not fair for the whole family to be judged by a few bad members and not fair for the whole group to be judged by a few bad people and bad families, but that is the way it is, and that is the way it has to be. That is what the good people in so-called bad groups have to overcome, even more than they have to overcome the prejudice of other groups.

-It is still not clear if society as a whole need to do anything, especially through politics. If we do need to act, it is not clear what we need to do, how much it will cost, what we will get, if we can afford it, and if it is worth the cost.

Neither Party wants to look at these issues with a cool head. Both Parties would rather support dogma because dogma also supports their clients, hurts the clients of the other Party, and helps keep this Party in power. You have to think about it for yourself.

# Broad and Narrow

The comments here apply to the section above and to the section below. While reading the section below, at a specific marked point, please re-read this section by searching +++++ Then return to the material below by searching =====.

Democrats say Republicans are exclusive rather than inclusive, and the fact that Republicans use only a narrow unrealistic idea of the family (nuclear) makes Republican exclusion vicious and bad. Republicans will not see how a variety of families, in a variety of groups, are useful adaptations to various situations, and how all successful family types can carry good family values. Rather than seek to help good families in their struggle against bad families, Republicans assert that only one type of family is successful, only one type is valid, the ideal nuclear family, only it can carry good family values, all other families are bad deviations away from the ideal nuclear family, they are not really families, and as deviations, they can carry only bad values or inferior values. We should not worry about helping those families but instead should help only families that are already on their way.

Democrats claim they are broad and inclusive. They accept the nuclear family and other family types as valid, good responses to economic pressures and to prejudice, and as teaching good family values. The Democratic view includes the Republican nuclear family as one family among many so the Democratic view subsumes the Republican view in a bigger better view.

Democrats say this contrast is typical of the difference between them and Republicans. In most issues, Republicans want to narrow it down to one right point of view, their view, while Democrats want to look at a variety of successful views to see how they work, what good values are held by successful groups, and what good values might be used for success in other situations. Because Republicans are narrow and exclusive, they can’t see a variety of responses to social issues but see only one: more business. Because Democrats are inclusive and cherish variety, they see a variety of approaches and principles, and are able to choose the best response.

Democrats are not fully correct but are correct enough that Republicans are often narrow and exclusive while Democrats try to be broad and inclusive. Democrats are correct to see various family types not as degenerate deviations from an idealized nuclear family but as kinds in their own right, often successful adaptations to the pressures of bad jobs and discrimination. Democrats are correct to see that a variety of families can carry good family values. It really does help to take families on their own terms first, in their situations, to walk a mile in their shoes, before we decide whether they are good or bad, and carry good values or bad values.

But then we do have to decide. We need principles to decide. Some principles we learn “in the field” and some we learn as part of our basic moral, religious, and human training. When we do decide, we have to accept that not all families are good successful adaptations and carry good values. We have to say what is good and bad, and why. We have to tied good and bad to economic and social situations. Democrats will not do any of this.

So, the Democratic claim about being broad and diverse rings hollow. It has the same problem as weak broad moral relativism that won’t find fault with anybody or anything and the Democratic claim does not have the strength of moderate moral relativism that also rests in some strong principles. If every family is successful, good, and carries good family values, then no family is bad, no family carries bad values, none pose a threat, and, we have little to learn. Families that promote teenage pregnancy and welfare dependence are just as good as families that promote hard work, continual betterment, and as little dependency as possible.

People can see the Democratic claim about no bad families is false, and so people disbelieve the whole Democratic stance. People see the Democratic stance as resting not on the desire to see other people fairly, learn what we can, give credit where credit is due, and find the best solutions, but as telling every family they are good so Democrats can recruit as many clients, from as big a group, as they can. Every child is a winner at all tasks no matter how inept at some. We refuse to see some children are better in some things while others are better at other things, and some children are losers at some things. Any attempt to be broad and inclusive is only a ploy, and must lead to a moral and practical morass, and we should not go that way. Instead, we should pick winners, stick with them, and let losers fall by the way. Democrats hurt good inclusivity and good broad-mindedness by not saying some families are good, and why, and some are bad, and why.

To do that Democrats would have to say what their deep values are, where those values came from, and how those values apply in the modern world; and Democrats don’t want to do that. In not doing that, Democrats open the door wide for Republicans. People are happy to walk through the Republican door to get some moral and social clarity. That is a shame for both sides, and for the people.

(This note will make sense only to social scientists and philosophers: Both Democrats and Republicans try to substitute a social form (a family type) for moral-and-practical substance and for moral-and-practical hard thinking, like saying all sports cars are good and all minivans are bad. Republicans use the idealized nuclear family to indicate goodness while Democrats use the alternative family, of which their version of the nuclear family is one type, to indicate goodness, and so avoid figuring out what goodness is and how it does or does not show up in particular cases. This way leads to many errors that I do not describe here.)

# Family Values and American Politics.

This section is the third of three on the family in American politics.

-According to Republicans, “family values” is the body of ideas that accepts the TV nuclear family, and all its typical roles, as the ideal, promotes that ideal, and assumes that real families can approach that ideal closely enough to make the struggle worthwhile. Family values come from God and the Christian Bible, even though similar family values are found in other cultures as in East Asia where Confucianism shaped families and Southeast Asia where Buddhism shaped families. Family values denies the naturalness and validity of alternative families, denies any validity for the roles of people in alternative families such as to the matriarch or to gay spouses who are equal, and denies the validity of any values that people learn as members in alternative families such as getting pregnant young and getting welfare. In family values ideology, the family is the basis for the state, specifically, the nuclear family is the basis for the state. If the nuclear family is healthy, the state is healthy; if the state is good, it helps the idealized nuclear family and only that family. Any attack on the idealized nuclear family is an attack on the state and so is a kind of treason (Confucianism says something similar). Attack on the state is also attack on the family and so on God. For example, while sex is a lot of fun sometimes under the right conditions, it should be done in the context of the idealized nuclear family or as part of courtship, near marriage, courtship that must lead to the idealized nuclear family. Any sex in other circumstances, or any sex not aimed at eventual marriage to produce a nuclear family, is a violation of the idealized nuclear family and so a violation of state and God. I do not go into the details of the traditional values and roles.

The idealized unreal nuclear family is NOT the family style found most often in the Bible, and the Bible does not label that family as the best. If anything, for its preferred and likely best family, the Bible gives a family that is multi-generation-with-many-siblings-their-spouses-and-children-still-resident-mixed-and-blended. That is more like an alternative family than like the ideal nuclear family. Nuclear families are too small to have lasted long in Biblical conditions. In the Bible, God tells men and women that they should commit to each other and become one flesh even over the demands of their natal families, their parents. It is not clear that this command supports only Republican-like family values. Some people in the Bible did not follow the command that way. Biblical parents sometimes required children to show more allegiance to the parents than the spouse. If modern Republican parents tried this on their kids, the parents would get clobbered. However, Biblical interpretation is not really relevant because neither Republicans nor Democrats really get validation or denial from the Bible or any holy writing. Their ideas have more to do with the politics of class and social group in our time and economy.

-According to Republicans, as part of misguided ideas about human freedom, Democrats promote ideas and acts that hurt the idealized nuclear family and that are ultimately aimed to destroy the ideal nuclear family, families in general, Christian religion, a good democratic American state, and belief in God. Most Democrats don’t know they are so bad, they are merely dupes of bad ideas and people, but their ideas and acts have that effect anyway.

Bad ideas include: every person can decide what is right and good all by him-herself; what is right or wrong for one person is not right or wrong for another; sex without commitment; sex can be enjoyed outside of marriage and of courtship leading to marriage; gender roles are not rooted in biology but are made up only by culture; people can take any gender role; alternative families are always just as good as the ideal nuclear family; most alternative families are as good as the ideal nuclear family; multiple children by multiple sex partners is alright; teenage pregnancy is alright; abortion is acceptable; drug and alcohol use is acceptable; non-stereotypical sex-gender roles among children is acceptable such as girly (gay) boys and boyish (lesbian) girls; gay marriage is acceptable; gay people adopting children is acceptable; lovable rogues are always better than hard working good guys; bad boys are even better; “gangstas” are even better than bad boys; bad girls are a lot of fun and never get in trouble; any trouble is always worth it and you can always get out of trouble; decent guys and girls (young women) are boring; naughtiness is fun and never really causes trouble; getting in trouble is part of growing up and it is what forgiveness is for; it is alright to have children as a teen because your family will take of you all; it is alright to have a baby with a man who will not support your or the baby and then go on welfare and force the state act as the missing parent; and it is alright for a young man to knock-up a girl, hunting girls is part of being a man, because the state will step in with welfare and take care of the girl and the kid as well as you could.

God will punish the state that does not support the nuclear family and God will reward the state that does promote the nuclear family. Rewards and punishments usually come in a good or bad economy, prosperity or recession. Sometimes reward and punishment is through success or failure in war, and sometimes domestically as with success in science or hardship in drug epidemics and diseases. Most Republicans don’t like to say out loud this part of the family values package but they know that this part is central to many of their Republican fellows.

-Some ways to promote families using the state: (1) The state has favored family types and disfavored family types; usually favored and disfavored types are linked to particular social groups such as the middle class and particular ethnic groups such as Blacks or Whites. When a Party can control the state, the state rewards favored families. The Party hurts disfavored family types.

The state impacts families as described below. In the past, state actions tended to favor Republicans, the Republican view of the nuclear family as the only valid family, and Republican clients. Beginning in the 1920, slowly Democrats took over some of the means described below and promoted their view of families, in particular alternative families as all valid. Much of the fight about family values has been about how state tools are used depending on which Party is in power. Rather than say “when this Party is in power it uses these tools this way and when that Party is in power it uses these tools that way”, I mostly just describe the tools.

Way to use the state, continued: (2) The state gives tax breaks and offers programs such as welfare and aid to dependent children. I do not describe the tax code or programs. The state tries to promote business activities that lead to jobs for family members. The state shapes state schools to train family members for jobs that it deems appropriate to particular kinds of families in particular districts. The state writes laws for programs such as welfare so members of favored families can more easily qualify and can qualify for larger amounts. The state tends to make recipients live in situations that are like the nuclear family such as when a single mother has to live on her own with her children rather than in a house with her mother and her sisters. The state dislikes giving resources when the recipients would share the resources with others in the household who do not qualify, as when one-sister-in-a-big-household gets welfare and shares it with her mother and sisters and their families. The state uses the legal system to help favored families and groups and to punish stigmatized families and groups. The state helps favored families by not arresting or prosecuting their members for minor crimes such as drugs and theft, and by giving members mild sentences if they are convicted. The state punishes stigmatized families by arresting and prosecuting members, convicting them at higher rates, and giving them harsh sentences. The state carries out this policy with larger crimes as when non-White people are more likely, with similar evidence, to be convicted of a crime, and to receive a harsher sentence. A White woman from the upper middle class gets a few months for embezzling millions of dollars while a young Black man with only a grandmother for guidance gets two years for stealing food. Or, in the Democratic version, all financiers involved in the housing collapse of 2007 go to hard prison time for the rest of their lives while all drug users and mid-level drug dealers get pardons. The state can harass or not harass gay couples. In the past, the state did not allow gay couples to marry. The state can help or hinder gay couples trying to adopt children. The state shapes military service so it benefits members of favored families through training and pay, and does not hurt members by getting them killed.

It is hard to tell which version of “family values” a politician holds. Because there are so many points, taxes, and programs, politicians can mix and match depending on their audience.

(a) With entitlement programs such as welfare, more often the state has favored alternative families and favored ethnic groups that have many alternative families such as Blacks. Since the 1980s, poor Whites have figured out how to use some entitlement programs in the same way such as Social Security Disability (SSD). (b) The state has more often used the military and the legal system to favor children from White nuclear families and to harass members of alternative families among Blacks and Hispanics. (c) The use of the military began to change after Harry Truman forcibly integrated the military in the early 1950s. (d) Since the 1990s, the military has tried to avoid siding with the clients of either Party and has been a good model for equal treatment of ethnic groups and for helping all young people. Since about 2010, the military has tried to deal with alternative gender roles as well as it can given the back and forth shifting of civilian policies and decisions.

-Democrats have their own version of family values. It roughly includes version two above as long as the support is aimed at Democratic clients, but the Democratic version also: says all alternative families are always as good as the ideal nuclear family; and says non-traditional roles are as good. Democrats do not condemn people for sex outside marriage but do condemn people for extra-marital sex because it hurts the family. Of course, Republicans say Democrats are not strong enough in their condemnation of extra-marital sex.

Democrats say true family values are love, commitment, and support among a group, including among adults and children, and it does not matter who is in the group of how they got together. It does not matter if love is between gays or straights, or a mixture. Not many decades ago, Republicans said that a racially mixed family could not follow family values and was against God, but that Republican idea was proven wrong, and the Democratic idea of love, commitment, and support was proven right. Further support for the Democratic view is in the Christian Bible and other religious books but support need not be found there because it is in the human heart and in experience. Love, commitment, and support are more important than traditional roles and more important than limiting the family to only some people, roles, and patterns. The ideas that the Republicans throw in our face are, in fact, good ideas as long as they are not abused, and all ideas can be abused. Personal freedom is good. Humans are never merely biology. We have minds and we can choose. As long as we don’t hurt other people, let us have our freedom. We don’t hurt families that are based on love, commitment, and support; and we will provide statistics to prove that families have not been hurt by our ideas, especially families based on love, commitment, and support have not been hurt but have been helped. We have provided the basis for families to love and accept children who are LGBTQ, have drug problems, have genetic problems, and are autistic, and that is more than Republican ideology can claim. Even abortion has not hurt families, and we don’t recommend abortion, we tolerate it. A state that has these kinds of families based on love, commitment, and support will be strong; if non-nuclear and nuclear families act like this, the state will be strong. A state that does not support these families, that does not help love, commitment, and support, will be weak whether the families are nuclear families or other kinds. That result is automatic and it does not depend on God intervening to carry it out.

Democrats don’t say where their values came from or give much of a rationale for how their values hold together other than to say things like “We have hearts”. Democrats don’t say for sure what will happen in the state, or not happen, if the state supports their values or denies them, and Democrats don’t say how the state will benefit or hurt. Democrats deny that God will reward or punish the state. Democrats do hint disaster will come if the state does not support them and does support Republicans, and grace will come if the state does support Democrats rather than Republicans. They don’t say what disasters or graces are or how they come. Democrats do say that not implementing Democratic policies is a moral failure but they never say why a moral failure is so important or why it leads to bad results. They do not say why good moral action leads to good results not just for recipient families but for the whole nation. This lack of a consistent view makes it hard to know how Democratic policies will be used and this lack supports the view that Democrats really help clients rather than that the Democrats really wish to help everybody equally. Few Democrats know much about the roots of their values in Liberal thinking. This situation does not mean Democrats are wrong and Republicans are right, morality is irrelevant, morality is not its own reward, or practical results do not follow morality; but this result does mean we need better thinking and better explanation from both Parties.

(If Republicans don’t bring in God-God’s-morality-and-the-state, they have the same problem explaining their family values, but the issue never seems to come up with them and most of them don’t really want to bring it up. If it did come up, I think they would do a better job of offering a consistent rationale than Democrats do but I doubt I would believe it much.)

-Republicans counter: “Love, commitment, and support” are great values, we are behind them too. We add taking responsibility and consideration for neighbors. You can find the origin of these ideals in the Christian Bible, and you can’t find their origin better elsewhere. They are more likely to be found among real nuclear families such as Republicans support than among the alternative families that Democrats support. Democrats don’t promote nuclear families where love, commitment, and support really can be found and helped but instead enable bad alternative families where love, commitment, support, responsibility, and consideration are in short supply. Democratic support of bad alternative families undermines nuclear families where the values are best found and taught. So we really promote love, commitment, and support more than you do.

Republicans: Love, commitment, and support alone are not enough. They do not provide the content that makes a family into a family. They can apply to any organization, even bad ones, including communes, witches covens, terrorist cells, and the bad business firm in the movie “Wolf of Wall Street”. Those groups are not families and not good, they are parodies of families, and they are bad. To make love, commitment, and support apply to families, and to make families good, you have to add particular relations and roles. When you specify relations and roles, you will find they pretty much fall in line with what we said all along, such as parent and child, leader and follower, disciplinarian and comforter, male and female. Families headed by gay people, when they want to be families and to deal with the world successfully, fall into these roles. Gay-headed families do not fall into these roles merely due to cultural inertia but because of the realities of human life on this world. The roles work. All families want success for their children, success includes the child having a family of his-her own, and that likely means a nuclear family. Maybe we have been a little strict and old-fashioned in our ideas of relations and roles but you have to see that you can’t get too far away from what we have said without losing the idea of a family. Only when alternative families promote love, commitment, and support within the framework of traditional tried-true-and-proven relationships and roles do they succeed as families, that is, only when they revert to old form and approximate the ideal good nuclear family. If they do not get close to the traditional ideal, they might persist day by day but they do not succeed emotionally or financially. They become bad alternative families. Think about all the TV shows that supposedly support non-traditional freedom such as Friends and How I Met Your Mother. The characters end up married and living mostly as couples with children in their own places. Even womanizing Barney falls into fatherly love with his daughter. Phoebe was desperate for a mate. That is how people really do wish to live, and there are good reasons. We might as well have this ideal clearly in mind and might as well work for it even if we cannot meet it perfectly.

Mike: If Republicans were true Conservatives, the paragraph above would show good Conservative thought. Be sure that stereotypes of relationships and roles don’t hurt love, commitment, and support. That is a Republican mistake, one that Democrats point out. Then Democrats use their own ideologies to hurt love, commitment, and support.

Republicans: It is fine to help kinds of individuals and particular non-family groups that need help such as soldiers, farmers, homeless people, and factory workers who have lost their jobs. It is even fine when some help goes to Democratic clients such as Blacks, Hispanics, and single mothers. But the best way to give help is to help families first, in particular to help good nuclear families. When nuclear families get in trouble, we should help them before anybody else, for many reasons. If nuclear families are in trouble, then no matter how much help we give elsewhere, and no matter how deserved, it will all falter. Only after nuclear families are on sure ground can we afford to help others, and, even then, we likely will want to help groups such as soldiers and disaster victims before we help alternative families, especially we don’t want to enable bad alternative families. Most people live in families, so, if we help families, especially nuclear families, we help other people and all groups too. Nearly all people want to live in nuclear families, even the people in alternative families, so, if we help nuclear families first, we promote the kind of family that nearly all people want to be like. If we shape aid so aid guides people toward secure nuclear families, then we help people with what they really want. If we help families, all families but in particular nuclear families, we help not only them but we also invest in the future by helping their children and grandchildren. We help the economy, and a sound economy gives us greater wealth by which to help others such as soldiers. In a sound economy, people prefer to live in nuclear families. Families are a group too, a group that needs help just as other groups need help, and families are the group that can best use help. Not only do farm workers and Blacks need help but so do working class and middle class families – of any color - and most of them live in nuclear families and try to live close to the ideal. We have only so much wealth. Republicans aim what help we can give at the group that will do the best with our limited wealth and give the best return. Once we are sure nuclear families are on solid ground, we can help some individuals who are left out such as homeless soldiers and kids on the street. If you look at the record, we are at least as good at that as you are.

Democrats: Republicans don’t help working class families and most middle class families. They help upper middle class and upper class families first, families that really don’t need much help, and then Republicans claim the help they give to people who don’t need help somehow trickles down to working and middle class families that do need help, all-the-while knowing help won’t trickle down. Republicans get away with this strategy because they have convinced working class and middle class families that those families can use tax breaks and similar gimmicks even while Republicans know they can’t. So, all Republican talk of helping families first is blather. It is hard to pass legislation that really helps working class and middle class families first, so Democrats help the people and groups that laws actually can be targeted toward such as homeless people and single mothers.

Democrats work so that non-traditional families are not deprived of support from some tax breaks and from state programs, and so ethnic groups with many alternative families are not deprived. Democrats try to protect alternative families, some particular social groups, and some particular ethnic groups from state harassment through the legal system. Democrats try to make sure all people are treated equally and well by the military.

-Both Democrats and Republicans twist the values to serve their ends. Even when they say good things about family values, as above, we have to catch our breath and put it in the right context. Here is not the place to get into what are real family values in general, what are good values in particular situations, and how to interpret values for particular situations without losing a base of deep principles. Likely the best way to approach family values is through honesty, in particular honesty from parents to their children, not only about ideal values, but about failings of the parents, their family, and their social group. You don’t have to make it sound like a sordid soap opera.

These days, maybe the best way to get an idea of good family values seems to be from good TV shows about families and about young people, but you have to watch a lot of them, with both Left and Right leanings, and you have to pay attention to what really happens to the characters and to how old style the characters really are even if they are gay. The characters don’t abuse drugs and they really do want one spouse, usually heterosexual, good job, a few kids, and a nice house or nice apartment in a district with good schools. They take responsibility. They don’t look down on gay people or gay couples. You can watch advice shows on the religious channels but they don’t seem realistic enough to me.

If you want to protect your family, tell them the truth, and warn them against propaganda from both sides. Tell your children how safe or dangerous marijuana is. Tell children the truth about premarital and extramarital sex without expecting them never to do it. Tell them the truth about alcohol, nicotine and other drugs. Tell them the truth about kinds of families and what might lead people to live in one kind of family rather than another. Tell them the truth about bad and good families, and how to handle bad families. Tell them the truth about capitalism, good and bad. Tell them about economic classes and how class interacts with race and gender. Tell them that social groups do have good or bad attitudes that have little to do with oppression or privilege. Tell them when the ideologies of a Church or political party are more fairy tale or propaganda than truth. To tell them the truth, you have to sort it out for yourself first without relying on political or religious propaganda.

# Schools

This section is not a full treatment of American schools. The material here does not rest on whether alternative families are good or bad, and on the implications of alternative families for good and bad ethnic groups. It focuses on how political parties, families, schools, and race come together. See the section on “Brown v. Board” in Part 4 on Republicans, and see “History 4” below for related remarks on schools.

Before about 1970, American schools were not all equal but nearly all American schools taught enough education, and enough character building, of enough quality, so most American children could expect to get a decent enough job in those times.

In the 1960s and 1970s, these changes happened: (a) Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants moved into districts that had been White, Asian, secure working class, and-or secure middle class, with mostly good schools. (b) Students from Black and Hispanic districts, mostly with bad schools, were forcibly bused into districts of Whites and Asians, with mostly good schools. (c) Students from White and Asian districts, with mostly good schools, were forcibly bused to Black and Hispanic schools, to mostly bad schools. (d) Parents in the districts into which Blacks and Hispanics had moved or had been bused, and where schools got worse, White and Asian parents, took their children out of public schools and put their children into private schools, often at a distance from home. Private schools often had a religious affiliation. The religious affiliation allowed parents to say they were not fleeing any ethnic group but really were seeking character building for their children. Religious schools made a point of accepting some non-White students, partly because the schools really wished to have a diverse student body and partly to show that the schools were not based on race but on religion. In fact, I think the schools were based mostly on race but were willing to have a few non-White students as long as the students learned White attitudes (culture).

Since about 1970, American schools have divided roughly into two groups:

(1) A few good public schools, and many private schools, that give quality education and build character. These schools are located where the parents have good jobs that are secure, jobs that give enough pay and benefits, and the schools are located where the parents have secure businesses and professions. Often they are in college towns or in secure comfortable areas of cities. The families of students tend to be like the idealized nuclear family except that both parents work, which, now, is acceptable. The ethnic groups tend to be White, South Asian, and East Asian (collectively “Asian”) with some successful people from Hispanics and Blacks. The students likely go to college, get good jobs themselves, and pay taxes to support similar schools for their own later children. So these schools are part of a cycle that supports the families and the schools together.

(2) Bad public schools that tend to merely house students until students leave. Some students can get a start at a good education, if they are lucky and try hard. Most students merely sit until they are let out at the age of eighteen. Too many students leave not being able to read, write, or do simple arithmetic. Despite statewide testing, their diplomas are meaningless. Their diplomas undermine the credibility of all schools and diplomas, even good schools. Bad schools are tied to poor people, working people with bad jobs, single parents, many Blacks, many Hispanics, and many recent immigrants. These schools are also linked to alternative families and to the social groups that support alternative families, bad families, and bad alternative families. These schools are not usually linked to stable ideal-like nuclear families. These schools are associated with nuclear families that maintain ties to alternative families. Financially poor parents make for bad schools which make for bad students who only get bad jobs that contribute only a little to the tax base so that the schools stay bad, students get only bad jobs, and so on.

The following are points of contention between Republicans and Democrats: the role of bad families, especially bad alternative families, in bad schools; the role of ethnicity; the role of attitude; the ability of money alone to break the cycle and improve schools; and where additional money should come from.

At the risk of being hated, I (Mike) must be clear that the influx of students from bad districts usually hurts good schools, families, and neighborhoods, into which they came. The schools go from good to bad. School academic performance drops. Even adept hard working students with good character can’t get a good enough education. Schools no longer serve as a good way to a skilled job or to college and then a good job. All these increase: crime and delinquency; violence and threats of violence; violent crime; bullying; rape; sexual intimidation; teenage pregnancy; single parenthood; alternative families; bad alternative families; drug use; and gangs. Neighborhoods get dirtier and louder.

Mike adds: The actions of Whites and Asians in sending their children to private schools, and moving away, are reasonable, if sad. Their actions do not have to come primarily from prejudice and hate. I think their actions do not come primarily from prejudice and hate. Of course, their actions can be part of prejudice and hate. To figure out that issue, we have to look at prejudice and hate by Blacks and Hispanics too, which I do not do here and which is dangerous to do in America now. When Blacks and Hispanics have a secure sufficient income, they flee the ghettos to go to White and Asian areas for good schools; people do not say their actions come mainly from prejudice and hate.

I try not to assign blame. I do have to say what I think is going on.

Many secure White and Asian parents had to pay twice: once to support bad public schools for Blacks and Hispanics that White and Asian children did not attend and that harmed the areas of formerly good schools; and again to support the private schools that their children did attend. Even if the Whites and Asians did not live in the neighborhood, they still paid local taxes, and those taxes went to bad schools in bad areas with bad families. Naturally, White, Asian, and parents with good jobs hated it. They blamed Democrats, Blacks, Hispanics, recent immigrants, and the alternative families typical of all those groups, the families and groups that made bad kids, bad schools, and more bad families.

Instead of running away to other neighborhoods and sending their children to private schools, White and Asian parents could have dug in, cooperated with Blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants, and worked to make all local schools stay good enough or even get better. Of course, successful Black, Hispanic, and immigrant families did not do that either. I do not explain much why this did not happen. Some of the reasons: By the early 1970s, the race riots had convinced non-Blacks that Blacks hated all non-Blacks, and that non-Blacks were not safe anywhere around Blacks. Non-Black children were not safe when bussed to Black areas, and busing Blacks into non-Black areas was like putting sharks into a goldfish pond. In fact, non-Black children bussed into Black areas did suffer considerable abuse. By the middle 1970s, Whites and Asians already had seen the failure of Democratic programs such as family support, urban improvement, and school improvement. Three generations at least of dedicated teachers had used their lives trying to reform city schools, and largely failed. These programs wasted much money and showed few long-term benefits. The rise of cocaine and crack changed the character of Black areas and seemed to change the general character of Blacks. Drugs made most formerly-nuclear families into bad alternative families. Drugs made formerly good alternative families into bad alternative families. This time was the rise of “gangsta” culture with seemingly wholehearted acceptance in Black areas, and a version in Hispanic areas. Welfare and other entitlement programs corrupted families so that formerly good families became bad. Many seemingly nuclear families were really bad satellites of bad alternative families. Whites and Asians felt that the families, character, general attitude, and specific attitude about education, of Blacks and Hispanics, would not and could not change. Sometimes families and attitudes of recent immigrants did change. So: “Do not throw good money after bad”. At first, sending children to private schools and moving to more exclusive areas was not too much more expensive. Private schools and flight seemed like the least-cost most rational thing to do. Middle class and upper middle class Blacks, Hispanics, and immigrants, did the same when they could.

In return, Blacks and Hispanics blamed the Whites and Asians that took their kids out of public school and that moved out of the district, and then blamed ALL Whites and Asians for everything. Blacks and Hispanics had sought better schools. To get those, they needed the support of local parents and they needed the tax revenue given by people with good jobs, good businesses, and good professions. When White and Asians took their children out of public school, even though they still paid taxes for public school and so still paid double, often they did not pay directly to poor districts. So, in the view of the parents who still lived in bad school districts, Blacks and Hispanics, their areas did not have enough money to make good schools, and it was the fault of the people who would not support them – the Whites and Asians. Poor parents got caught up again in a cycle in which parents with bad jobs make poor schools which lead to only bad jobs which lead to poor parents, and so on.

Mike says: Money alone will not solve this problem. Since the rise of computers, the Internet, cable, broadband, cell phones, and programmed learning, a good quality education can be had for a fairly low price if parents, children, and the community, have the right attitude. Right attitude is a much bigger factor now than cost. The right attitude has not developed. Until the right attitude develops in many bad schools, and it develops before outside investment, then White and Asian parents will not invest in the schools of Blacks, Hispanics, and some recent immigrants. If the right attitude did develop in many schools before any additional investment and independently of additional investment, then additional investment likely would come in on top of that, although I cannot say for sure.

To entice unhappy White and Asian parents into the Party, Republicans came up with schemes in which parents would not have to pay twice yet still could keep their children out of bad schools dominated by Blacks and Hispanics. I don’t go into all the schemes. Basically, parents get paid back for the tuition that they have to spend at private schools, which payback should make up for what they had to pay in taxes to support bad schools that their children did not attend. Sometimes these pay-backs are through what is called “vouchers”. By allowing White and Asian parents to pay only once, Republicans further eroded the financial base for public schools in local areas, thus seriously damaging public schools. Republicans tried to channel state funds directly to religious schools, an action that might not be Constitutional. The parents and their Republican patrons tried to set up some good schools within bad districts to which good students could go. These schools use various names such as “magnet”, “pilot”, and “alternative”. Republicans tried to make sure that programs which Democrats had set up to benefit poor kids in bad schools also helped middle class kids in good schools, such as for athletics, math, and science.

Republicans are clear in their blame although they rarely say it straight out because of modern political correctness. Children cannot learn the correct attitude (values) in alternative families, especially not in bad alternative families, especially not in bad alternative families typical of bad ethnic groups and bad social groups. Children can learn the correct attitude only in nuclear-like families with the correct roles. Bad alternative families in bad (ethnic) groups make bad attitudes, and bad attitudes make bad families and bad groups. Bad attitudes make bad students and bad schools. The bad schools and bad students lead to more bad alternative families and more bad attitudes and more bad schools. Bad alternative families don’t want to get involved in their kids’ character and education. They don’t want to read with their kids and take time for education and character building although they take time to go to athletics. Bad alternative families want all “book learning” and “character building” to take place in the classroom, and want people with good jobs, Whites and Asians, to pay to do in the classroom what they won’t do in the family, community, and ethnic group. No matter how much money is spent in the classroom, as long as family, community, and ethnic group don’t change, the classroom won’t make the difference. As long as the evil circle of bad families and bad attitudes prevails, then helping is hopeless. The evil circle can break only from within the group.

Simply by recognizing that there is a problem and by recognizing that a big share of the problem lies with families and groups, Republicans gained the allegiance of Whites and Asians who lived in secure nuclear-like families. The Republican program both helped White and Asian families and moderately hurt Black and Hispanic families.

The Democrats, to hold their clients, Blacks and Hispanics, did this: They made sure people with good jobs, businesses, and professions, who sent their children to private schools, paid double. Democrats blocked pay-back systems and blocked support for religious schools. Democrats tried to funnel money into bad schools. Democrats tried to get schools supported not primarily at the local level but at the state level or national level so financial support between schools is more equal. Democrats supported athletic programs, which tend to be strong at academically bad schools. Democrats supported programs that could be set up in bad schools such as in math, science, computers, art, and vocational training. Democrats tried to make sure bad districts got a big share of alternative schools and make sure Black, Hispanic, and immigrant children attended those schools. Democrats set up provisions so poor families could send their children to good schools in other districts, so Black and Hispanic families could send their children to White and Asian schools. Democrats tried to turn around the voucher system so Black families could use the vouchers to send their children to good non-Black schools. By trying to make sure that White and Asian families pay twice, and that a good share of money goes to Blacks and Hispanics, Democrats both hold back White and Asian families and give a big bonus to Black and Hispanic families with the money that they get from White and Asian families.

Democrats and their clients say: Prejudice by affluent secure families, by Whites and Asians, against poor insecure families, Blacks and Hispanics, causes all problems and nothing else causes the problems. Only a complete reversal of heart by Whites and Asians can cure any problems. Blacks and Hispanics cannot cure the problems themselves on their own but need Whites and Asians to cure the problems for them. Whites and Asians need to cure the problems by giving money to the local experts who know how to use the money best, the Black and Hispanic leaders. Any possible fault in Blacks and Hispanics come entirely and only from prejudice by Whites and Asians. White and Asians have to pay for change. Children in Republican White and Asian nuclear families learn only hidden selfishness and prejudice. In contrast, children in alternative families learn all the good attitudes that they need and they learn only good attitudes. They never learn any bad attitudes. Black and Hispanic families can do nothing to go forward as long as Whites and Asians are prejudiced. All the Blacks and Hispanics can do is hold and hope. Whites and Asians deliberately withhold good jobs from Blacks and Hispanics and deliberately withhold funding for Black and Hispanics schools. If there are any bad alternative families and bad schools, the lack of jobs causes them, and only that causes them – and prejudice causes the lack of jobs. Whites and Asians deliberately misunderstand us and deliberately mislabel our alternative families as bad, as causing bad attitude and bad behavior in schools. Any bad alternative families and any bad attitude would go away instantly if Blacks and Hispanics had good jobs and had the money to invest in good schools. If Whites and Asians gave their fare share and made sure all public schools were properly funded, then all schools would be good. There would be no bad attitudes in schools, and the few alternative families with bad attitudes would change right away. Blacks and Hispanics wish to add to add programs for character building and modern skills in classrooms but the White and Asian people with good jobs won’t pay for it and we can’t afford it. If outsiders wish us to do extra things in the classroom, then let them pay for classrooms to do that. To end prejudice, and to get equal funding, would end all problems, but Whites and Asians won’t do that because they need to keep our families down and our schools down.

By denying any problem lies with the families and attitudes of the groups around bad schools, Blacks and Hispanics, by saying any problem lies entirely in lack of funding and in prejudice, and by laying ALL the blame for lack of funding on selfish Whites and Asians with contrived nuclear families, Democrats gained the allegiance of Blacks and Hispanics but alienated Whites and Asians. Democrats modestly helped Blacks and Hispanics and modestly hurt Whites and Asians.

This system amounts to segregated schools. The segregation is not enforced by law but rather by where parents choose to live and have to live. It is enforced as much by Blacks choosing to live with Blacks, and by Hispanics choosing to live with Hispanics, as by Whites and Asians choosing to live with Whites and Asians. It is enforced by price differences between houses in good school districts versus housed in bad schools districts.

Mike says: Schools cannot be de-segregated until all schools can guarantee that students with a good attitude will get a decent education. When local schools are good enough, then the ethnicity of the students there won’t matter. Whites and Asians will send their children to schools with Blacks and Hispanics as long as their children definitely can get a good education and will not be harassed. Whites and Asians will accept Black and Hispanic students if those students come in already with good attitude, do not cause trouble during adjustment, and do not inhibit the academic quality of the school. Not all students do have a good attitude and so not all can get a good education. Not all schools can be made fully equal. The private schools of upper middle class and upper class people will always be better, but that fact does not undermine what I say. With tools such as computers, nearly all schools could offer a good enough education and could prove the results on national tests and in job performance. Money makes a difference but the real issue is the attitudes of parents, families, neighborhoods, ethnic groups, and social groups. Until parents and families learn to see education in much the same way that middle class White and Asian families see it, and so make every local school at least adequate, differences will remain and the schools will be segregated.

Not much has changed. Schools are still divided into two camps. Bad schools are not better. Formerly good schools still get invaded by bad students and bad families. Secure White and Asian families sustain enclaves in expensive neighborhoods and by sending their children to private schools. Where I live in Alabama, the state system had to take over the systems in several local districts, where students are overwhelmingly Black, most notably in Montgomery, because of wretched performance. Despite all the schemes, it is unlikely these bad schools that were taken over will improve or will stay better for long. White and Asian parents still pay double and are angry about it. Republicans still say, with empirical evidence on their side, that “Good families make good students and good schools; good families are mostly nuclear, White, and Asian. Bad families make bad students and bad schools; bad families are mostly alternative and Black.” Black families still blame Whites and Asians for not giving them enough money and for the bad quality of families and schools.

Dividing into hostile groups, and having the political parties exploit this situation, has costs beyond the obvious. (1) Attitudes don’t change. (2) Bad understanding of education remains bad. (3) People with bad jobs or no jobs remain dependant on secure people, and some ethnic groups remain dependant on other ethnic groups. Nothing increases hostility like feeling dependant or feeling that another group wants you to pay for them. (4) The costs of housing and education in good school districts rose much faster than inflation and faster than increases in salary. Secure people did end up paying more but not to help their neighbors. (5) The increase in costs of housing and education in good districts drove up the cost of housing in other districts. All housing costs went up. Now the children of secure people pay more, and everybody pays more. (6) Alternative families stay alternative. (7) Bad alternative families stay bad and make other families bad. (8) The idea that some ethnic groups have many bad alternative families, and so are bad groups, gets reinforced. (9) In turn, the idea that some ethnic groups have only bad families and are bad groups, makes secure people unwilling to help groups in bad school districts. (10) Costs went up for everybody faster than earnings, not only the costs of education but also housing and transportation, at least. (11) Distortion in the housing and transportation markets, and general rising costs, led to other distorted markets, in particular financial markets. That led to other problems that are too far afield for here.

America would be better off, and secure families in their neighborhoods would be better off, if we could make almost every local school good enough.

We can’t wait for the economy magically to make good jobs for everybody, including all the people who now can’t read or write, and all the people who are not smart enough. We can’t wait for everybody to have good jobs and thereby to live only in good families with good attitudes about school, and so who make good schools. People have to act before then. Local people have to act even if other people don’t give money. Local people have to build good schools with local resources. Especially now with low-cost technology aids to education, we cannot look to money first to solve the problem of bad schools. We should not look to money to make good families and good groups with good attitudes about education. We should not look to classrooms to do work on attitude that can be done only by families. We should not think that adding extra money to classrooms would alone do the job. We should not look to secure families to pay more to try to make good schools in bad school districts without first seeing a big change in local attitude and schools.

If attitude should change, and attitude resides in families, we have to consider the role that families play, especially alternative families, bad families, bad alternative families and bad satellite pseudo-nuclear families. If they have to be changed to change attitude, but bad families cannot be changed, somebody has to say so, and somebody has to “think outside the box”. It might be necessary to make schools that exclude bad students quickly.

I don’t know how to make attitude shift. If attitude depends on family type, I don’t know how to make sure enough alternative families are good families and that they have a good attitude about education. I think those changes can come only from within groups at the hands of good families and good leaders.

# Conclusion for Family and Politics.

-Please see small section above called “Broad and Narrow” by searching +++++. Then return here by searching =====.

Really the following are all fights over how to get and hold clients so as to get and hold power: (a) the fight over what are the only true family values, (b) the fight over which families are the only true representatives of the only true family values, (c) claims that our side has true families while the other side has only artificial families and bad families, (d) accusations that the other side does not have real family values, (e) and accusations that the values, acts, families, and social groups, of the other side, hurt the state. The following are tools in fights and in getting and holding clients: (1) using the state to promote our values and our families, and (2) using the state to discredit their values and harm their families.

Republicans wish as clients the people who can afford to live in TV-like nuclear families, or seek to live that way, such as secure working class and middle class Whites, East Asian, South Asians, and some Hispanics. Republicans ease the life of their clients and Republicans create hardship against families that can’t afford to live that way so the other people will not compete with Republican clients. Republicans stress how bad alternative families are. In contrast, Democrats give a moral rationale to people who often cannot live in TV-style nuclear families, and have to live in alternative families, or who wish to live in alternative families, such as many Blacks, Hispanics, and recent immigrants. Democrats extol the alternative family. This appeal works even though a particular family lives close to the TV ideal right now as long as that family knows many of its kin, and many fellows in its group, still do live in alternative families, and this family knows that it might have to live as an alternative family if times get tough. Black and Hispanic nuclear-like families still support Democrats because they know they will have to move in with kin if father loses his job, and know that other kin might move in with them anytime. Democrats assure their clients that Republican-style nuclear families-and-people won’t get favored treatment, and Democratic clients will be able to gain on Republican-style nuclear families someday.

Much of what Republicans and Democrats say and do, do not in fact help families but hurt families and hurt the state over the long run. Using taxes, tax breaks, programs, the legal system, and the military can be political fun in the short run but hurtful in the long run.

-You have to decide: what is a family distinct from other groupings; what is a good or bad family; why do families live as nuclear families or alternative families; how do good or bad families get that way and stay that way; how do we help good families without turning them bad and without enabling bad families and groups; how do we help good nuclear families without turning them bad and without enabling bad nuclear families and bad groups; how do we help good alternative families without turning them bad or enabling bad alternative families and bad groups; what should be relations of good families and the state; what the state should do, if anything, to help some families in trouble; which families the state should help first and how much; whether we should help other groups, such as wounded soldiers, even before we give all the help that families need; how much in resources should be reserved for helping other groups after we help families; and the “why” for all of it. You have to tell politicians you are tired of arguments that use the family when the disputants don’t really care much about the family.


In Parts 3 through 5, I sketch the Parties now. In later parts, I explain original Liberals and Conservatives. Then, I explain how original Liberals became Democrats and original Conservatives became Republicans. At the end of the essay, I return to the worldviews of Democrats and Republicans.

I describe both Democrats and Republicans largely in terms of how they trade the services of the Party for votes and money from clients. The services include attacking enemies of the clients. I do not explain much. I am not measured and polite but I think I am accurate and fair.

I do not describe some issues about which Democrats and Republicans have deliberately opposed views, issues that are fun to talk about. For Democrats, all authority is evil and every authority figure is a storm trooper or the enemy. All non-Whites are noble rebels, even ugly sexist racist hater “gangstas”. For Republicans, all authority is good, except for a few misguided police officers who favor gun control; and all authority figures are like God, Jesus, John Wayne, or the Pope. For Republicans, all non-Whites are corrupt and cannot self-govern. Giving up a city, state, or nation to them is throwing money down the toilet and like selling you children. For Democrats, White people only seem to govern well because they use non-Whites to create a pool of resources that White men can use to grease the skids of corruption and deals. White people don’t govern through honesty and rule of law but by having set up a successful crony system that gets its operating money off the backs of working people, non-Whites, and women. They are successful gangsters because they have perpetuated slavery into modern capitalism. All this mutual blame is a lot of fun but it takes too much to sort out. We couldn’t get to the bottom of it unless we first went through the issues that I go through here.

As far as I can tell, neither Democrats nor Republicans really have an agenda beyond getting and keeping power by serving clients. There is no overall realistic view of good modern America in a modern world made better by a good America. Neither Democrats nor Republicans serve clients and gather power so they can use the power to bring us to a good vision of a better America and a better world. They might think they have a vision of a greater America and better world but that vision does not come out in their acts. Instead, they offer vague visions of “fair America”, “socially just America”, “great America”, “family America”, or “American Dream”, mostly to entice clients and use as an excuse for and against particular programs and for and against groups. I see little link between their political work, any realistic vision of what a good America might really be, any realistic vision of what a better world might really be, and all the vague propaganda fantasies.

In 2018, I find both the Democratic and Republican Parties creepy. Yes, many individuals are not creepy but still the whole scene is creepy. It has been creepy at least since Ronald Reagan. There is too much hypocrisy, too much un-reality, and too much seeking power and favors. There is too little figuring out what is real and what is good for America and the world over the long run. This is a shame because we can’t throw up our hands at politics and tend only to our own narrow business. “Family first” becomes “family only” and that doesn’t work in a democracy any more than does “take care of number one”. We have to keep trying, even in the political arena.

For example, in dogma, both Democrats and Republicans accept the ideal of “live and let live” and don’t impose their view of life on other people as long as others don’t cause trouble. In dogma, both Parties believe in free autonomous people and self-determination by individuals. In fact, both Right and Left are intrusive and demand conformity. Both Democrats and Republicans put their idea of a group above the idea of the free individual and both force individuals to conform to their groups. They apply the idea of free autonomous person differently to suit agendas. By applying selectively to suit their agendas, they destroy the ideal. Democrats apply the ideal to drugs, sex, and unrealistic ideologies, and deny you can freely choose Christianity while Republicans apply it to being duped in various markets such as the housing and stock markets and deny that a true human can freely choose to believe any religion other than Christianity. They define what a person is and which groups are the right groups not by any high ideas of personhood or human bonding but by what works in politics now.

You can’t be a Lefty among Righties or a Righty among Lefties. You can’t not-be-a-feminist among feminists. You can’t not-be-a-Republican-Christian among Republican Christians. You can’t dislike drugs among pot heads or booze among whisky drinkers. You can’t defend a woman’s right to choose to abort among Right-to-Lifers, and you can’t say “abortion might be killing but it is not murder” among “Right to Choosers”. Lefties get nervous if you go to Christian church every week. Righties care exactly which Church you belong to. To Righties, all homosexuals are next-to-Demons while to Lefties anybody who isn’t a little Queer doesn’t know the fullness of Life. Black Lefties also care about which Church, they are disgusted by homosexuals, and they don’t like that White Lefties look down on all Church including their Black Church, but neither side can admit the rift. For Republicans and Blacks, if you don’t belong to some Church, you are not fully human. You don’t count. Among Lefties, if you are not hip enough, and you don’t make the right wise cracks about Republicans, Whites, and the Christianity typical of White Republicans, you are not fully human. Among Republicans, if you don’t drive a Buick or a pickup truck, you are a Lefty elitist and not fully human. Among Lefties, if you aren’t a hipster in training, and don’t defend everything Black, you are a modern Nazi. Among Righties, if you are a hipster, you like the arts, or you sympathize with “women’s issues”, you are gay, the old-fashioned bad gay type.

Whatever happens bad, the other side did it. Whatever happens good, we deserve all of the credit. All good ideas and people come from us; we produce only good ideas and people; all bad ideas and people come from them; they produce only bad ideas and people. If an official on our side has a moral lapse, it is a small lapse and easily corrected; if an official on the other side has a moral lapse, it demonstrates beyond any doubt the thorough depravity in all of them, shows their weakness and their inability to deal with domestic and foreign issues, and is a sure sign the country will collapse into a scene from Stephen King unless they get out of power right now, at least half their people leave politics for ever, and we get full power right now. On both sides, if you ever voted for the other side, then you are a naïve mindless conniving selfish dupe and you deserve all the badness that the country got when that other Party had power. If you are a Republican, you deserve the Great Recession, housing crisis, the war in Afghanistan, budget deficits, and collapse of all the infrastructure; if a Democrat, you deserve North Korea, illegal immigration, Black riots, the murder of police officers, supposed failure of Obama Care, and collapse of all the infrastructure. The really sad part is that most people go along with this crap even though they know it is nowhere close to being true.


No Core Vision, the Center Will Not Hold.

The Democratic Party has not had a vision of a better America, a better world, and the role of America in a better world, since the late 1960s. That vision was seriously faulty and failed.

Liberals started in the 1600s by trying to make sense of society, social institutions, governing, and the place of individual people, so as to make better states. Liberals had to have standards for assessing when things made more sense or less sense. Along the way, beginning before 1900, Democrats got so confused that it seems they have neither consistent sense nor standards.

Democrats now don’t have any single world view by which to assess: goals; when things make more or less sense; when to change or not change; which sides to take or oppose in which issues; which groups to support, ignore, or reject; which causes to champion, ignore, or oppose; and how to govern well. Instead, Democrats have a vague confusing sense of social justice. Democrats define who they are as much by what they oppose as by who they are positively. Democrats decide which group to embrace, ignore, or reject as much by the value of the group as a political client than by the intrinsic merits of its case. Democrats decide which cause to champion, ignore, or oppose as much by its use in getting and holding clients, who opposes the cause such as Republicans, and its use in politicking, as by the intrinsic merits of the cause. This situation is not unusual in politics. Republicans are painted into the same type of corner on the other side of the room but their situation differs somewhat.

Although “business does it all” is not enough as the world view of any political party, Republicans get away with claiming it. Democrats don’t even have that much. Vague left leanings and willingness to take up almost any cause or any client is not enough. Being critical of government and of all political order is not enough even if it is fun. Being sure that all business people are robber barons out to cheat all working people is not enough even if it is fun too. Being sure that all minority groups, women, and groups that do not succeed well are victims of the ruling class is not enough. Fighting the system and “the man” is not enough. Being a rebel is not enough. Having a big heart is not enough although praiseworthy. Being for individual freedom and self-determination is not enough unless it is part of a comprehensive world view with deep religious and-or philosophical roots, and Democrats have not had that in a long time.

Democrats say “social justice” is in short supply, it is a good enough goal to bind a party, and it is a good enough idea for governing well. I agree we need more social justice but the idea is not enough by itself to hold together a party or govern well. Different groups in the Party see social justice differently. Their priorities are not the same. Usually they put themselves at the top of the abused list and so should get addressed first with the most resources. Not every group can be at the top of the list and no group can get the resources it wishes. When groups don’t get what they wish, they get jealous. Unless the Party can define social justice so as to settle differences between groups and settle priorities and allocations, the idea of social justice cannot bind the Party or serve as the central principle for governing. If the Party defined social justice well enough to settle priorities, it would have to bring in ideas beyond vague social justice, it would have to acknowledge difference between groups, and it wishes none of that.

Besides confusion over social justice, groups in the Party see differently and they contradict enough in their view that they would not be under the same umbrella if they did not need a cover party to work for them. Blacks, Hispanic, White and Asian working people; middle and upper middle class people who feel sympathetic; women; environmentalists; and LGBTQ people (gays) are not all close enough to get along well enough. American Blacks see abortion in ways that are not compatible with feminist pro-choice women. Blacks see gay acts and people as deeply immoral and socially disruptive, a view that is not compatible with LGBTQ people and middle and upper middle class friends. Environmentalists see a huge dire threat that must be met before raising the position of Blacks, Hispanics, or women if raising their positions requires that we exploit nature more. Old people want to make sure they live decently and get abundant medical care. The White and Asian working and middle classes left the Party when, to them, its idea of social justice became “give the Blacks all that they want first, no matter how long it takes and how much it costs, even if no long-term good comes of it, make the Whites and Asians pay for it, and make White and Asian children give their jobs to Black children”.

Without a clear working vision at the center, the Democratic Party has defined itself partly by how it is not Republican. Not all Republican ideas, programs, and critiques are false. Not all Republicans are bad people. Defining itself against them leads Democrats to exclude much that is useful. Defining yourself negatively doesn’t work in the long run. It lets other guys set the agenda. It leaves out groups that you would like to have such as the working class, middle classes, and good business people. It requires that you demonize the other side so as to make your side angelic and appealing. It requires that you criticize practices that really are overall good such as business. It requires that you demonize people that do the practices that really are overall good people such as business people. It has required that Democrats look down on Christianity because most Republicans are Christians.

Because the Party takes many groups and many causes, it cannot give enough to every group and cause to make sure each succeeds once-and-for-all. It puts on band aids so as to keep a group in the Party. It uses band aids, and only band aids, for decades. Nothing is ever settled or done. Groups and the people behind causes stay in the Democratic Party because Republicans won’t give them anything and so there is no other place to go, but the groups and the people behind causes are not happy. The fate of national health care in general, and Obama Care in particular, since the 1950s, is a case in point. The persistence of Black bad performance in schools and the economy, and persistence of Black crime, is another illustration. The environment is another. Abortion likely will be another.

The lack of once-and-for-all success is partly because Republicans take away funding that Democrats had set aside to solve problems. Republicans always succeed at leaving only enough to meet the bare legal minimum, band aid money, and never enough to deal finally and successfully with problems.

Inadequate funding hurts but that is not the only reason or the most important reason that Democrats don’t solve problems once-and-for-all. The Democratic Party can’t tell when a group-or-cause succeeds once-and-for-all, when it limps along, or fails, because the Democratic Party does not know what really ails the economy and the country on a deep level, what causes problems, and so how to fix them. The Party doesn’t know why problems keep coming back despite funding. The need to take in many groups blinds the Party to the need to seek root causes and work from a deep level. If the Party did look deeply and act accordingly, it would lose some groups. The Party would rather evade deep thought by offering ongoing band aid help, and so keep as many groups in the Party as it can.

Not looking into root causes, combined with the need to recruit many clients at minimal cost, means the Democratic Party offers second-rate or third-rate analyses of issues that nobody really can accept as coming from a good general deep understanding of economy and society. Clients accept Democratic analyses because they hope to gain, not because they believe the analyses. Who really believes we can give everybody a free college education and, if we do, everybody will automatically get a good job and achieve the American Dream? Who really believes that more welfare, more programs, more marches, or more racial awareness, can permanently cure the problems of Black people in America?

The Democratic Party cannot offer a comprehensive and fairly self-consistent view of the economy and society. The Democratic Party cannot tell the simple truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, candidly. It has to expand, placate, avoid, waffle, and weasel. Most of what it says is superficially true, but the ideas come out skewed enough to be unsatisfying. This problem of non-truth is common to all politics. It might be part of the definition of a political party. American Democrats are not much worse than other parties and are not worse than Republicans. Still, not enough deep truth is not what I want, I dislike it, I think it is not what most people want, and it is not enough.

The Democratic Party is trapped in a bad vicious circle. The Party cannot offer a comprehensive fairly self-consistent view of the economy and society because it cannot afford to lose groups, including the people behind causes. Always, some groups find something to dislike about a comprehensive fairly consistent view even if they like most of it. They hate looking in a mirror, that they are not first, don’t get enough funds, and don’t get enough political support. That much antagonism is enough to threaten to withhold support in upcoming legislative votes, withhold support in elections, to threaten to leave, or really leave as did working and middle class non-Blacks in the 1970s. If enough groups threaten or do leave, the Party is weak, and having a real deep view did nothing. If the Party offers a weak shallow view that glosses over contradictions, enough groups will stay in the Party to get some things done half way. But, with a weak shallow view, the Party can never get enough done, deeply enough, to solve problems once-and-for all. So, if the Party keeps many various groups, and, because it keeps various groups, it cannot offer a big fairly consistent world view by which to solve problems once-and-for-all for some groups. Because issues don’t get solved once-and-for-all for anyone, groups are always unhappy and looking for an excuse to demand, threaten, or leave. Because the Democrats can’t solve problems once-and-for-all for at least some groups, there are always problems looming and always groups that need Democrats. To keep groups, the Party can’t offer decisive deep analysis of the society and the economy. And so on.

Anybody who lives in a parliamentary (British style) system is familiar with this situation. Italians think this is normal by the time they are four years old. But it is annoying to Americans. I think people born after about 1980 sense this situation and most of them dislike it.

The Republican Party has its version of this same scenario but its version is not as acute because they can unite various groups and activities well enough by using “business” as a cover. Whether that cover holds up after the Tea Party and Trump remains to be seen.

What follows really is only expansion and commentary on the above. New sections begin in bold as above. Because not all topics deserve to be marked off in bold, I use sub-sections. Sections and sub-sections begin with a dash to start new topics.

Ignorance of the Economy.

-Democrats don’t understand a real modern capitalist economy well enough.

Strangely for the Party critical of Big Capitalism, Democrats don’t understand the underlying economic causes of unemployment, bad jobs, sustained profit, and most economic problems; and they don’t know how underlying causes affect the economy, economic problems, and society. They don’t really know the economic roots of class and they don’t appreciate the interaction of class with groups such as based on ethnicity and gender. They don’t seem to know where profit comes from, what profit is earned (fair) and what is unearned (unfair). They don’t see that flaws of the economy are both the root of problems that they seek to address and impose limits on what they can do to address any problems. They don’t appreciate the kinds of personal character and group attitudes that make a modern capitalist economy run well and they refuse to see the kinds of personal character and group attitudes that won’t work.

They fall back on simplistic ideas such as that most profit is unfair and really belongs to the people (they are not Marxist but populist and simplistic). All business people get more than they should and we can always take a little more from them to give to the poor and to use in Democratic programs. Democrats blame naked prejudice alone for sexism, racism, nationalism, and religious bias. They never see how underdog groups contribute to their own malaise. They blame wealth using its power to keep its wealth and power. I do not slight prejudice and self-perpetuating wealth and power but they are not enough to explain all that happens. We cannot undo prejudice without working on economic causes at the same time. We can’t use wealth for good if we don’t know how it is made, held, and used. We can’t lessen the effects of deep economic causes unless we know how a real capitalist economy works, good and bad, and we are ready to keep it healthy. We can’t work on the effects of deep economic causes unless we appreciate capitalism and the good that it does. We can’t take too much from the economy. So we have to know what might be too much, and, for that, we need a good idea of how it all works. We have to see that the character and attitudes of a group really do affect how people in general treat the group, and that groups need to control bad character-and-attitudes and need to cultivate good character-and-attitudes.

Democrats think they can tinker with the economy as much as they like so as to sustain their programs without also harming the economy, without eroding its ability to sustain programs, and without eroding its ability to sustain general quality of life. They think they can give to every cause and to every self-proclaimed victim without eroding the ability to give to causes and victims, and without damaging the general economy. Ironically, Democrats think Republican business has built an economy so strong that Democrats can rely on the Republican economy for all Democratic ends, including ends that harm the economy. Democrats are wrong. The economy will not hold up to everything that Democrats wish from it such as free medical care and free college for everyone. We cannot afford everything. Democrats are not deliberately bad minded in wishing unending bounty from the economy. They are like pioneers in a forest, thinking that, no matter how much they cut, the forest will always be there and always will have enough for every need; then they are surprised one day to find it is all gone.

Whenever a Democrat says “In the richest country the world has ever seen, I don’t see why X group can’t get the care that it needs and deserves”, “We really can have it all”, or “Dare to hope”, that is a sure sign the Democrat doesn’t know how the economy really works, doesn’t know if we can afford the help, and doesn’t know what we have to give up to get it. We might be able to afford it and we might not. The Democrat might be a wonderful person with a big genuine non-bleeding heart. But he-she doesn’t know if we can afford it, he-she has not put this need in the context of all needs, and he-she has not put this need in the context of keeping the whole economy running well.

It is also a sure sign that the Democrat has not thought out the need and the program in the context of real human beings and real human behavior. The Democrat has not thought out the effects of helping on the recipients now and in the future, on other people who are tempted to join the program, and on the national character. In fact, Democrats do know better but for ideological reasons assume people will always act up to the best ideals and that programs will always work because people always act up to the best ideals. This attitude is not primarily hope in general human nature but is primarily a form of deliberate lying-and-delusion, usually for political gain.

Make Sense.

-Original Liberals wanted individual behavior, social institutions, and society to make sense. Democrats now are not Liberals in that way. They could only be Liberals in that way if they could offer a coherent and appealing view of “make sense” and of a sensible society as a whole; but they cannot. They cannot do this because to do so would mean losing clients that they need.

Original Liberals appealed for change from behavior and institutions that do not make sense to ones that make better sense. Original Liberals were champions of change for that reason, not for the sake of change itself and not without thinking of the good and the bad that might come of particular changes. Democrats take on the mantle of champions for sensible change, but really they are not. They want change that benefits their clients and benefits their relations with their clients, not change that always makes greater sense. They promote changes so their clients do better, such as accepting non-standard families and accepting soldiers of non-traditional gender, but Democrats do not promote those changes as making more sense than older forms such as the ideal nuclear family or the straight-man-only army. They promote those particular changes because clients with non-standard families, such as Blacks, and with non-traditional genders, are powerful now. Democrats are not really the enemies of old annoying order or champions of new better order. They are champions of any change that benefits their power relations regardless of new or sensible.

They are content with an old institution even if it does not make sense when the old does not hurt clients, sometimes helps clients, and a change would not help in politicking. Democrats gerrymander when they can. Democrats love the old neighborhood boss, especially in ethnic areas where White upper middle class Party heads can’t go. Democrats support the traditional unrealistic American middle class and working class nuclear family when they wish to lure back the White working class or wish to appeal to successful immigrants. Now that PC is tradition, Democrats protect PC and back up women and Blacks who use PC. Democrats are fine with the anxiety that PC makes. Democrats consider reverse discrimination the new norm and urge us to live with it.

-If Democrats did accept how taxes and the economy work, they would fight all sales taxes and most tax breaks, yet they do not fight those and often promote them. At least, Democrats should make clear that they know that poor and working class people suffer as a result, but they don’t do even that much.

-Democrats have been accused of “tax and spend”, meaning their solution to every problem is to throw money at the problem. To get the money, they levy ever-increasing taxes, especially on the working class and middle class. This charge is partly true but not as much as Republicans say. It would take me too far afield here to get into the details of when it is true and when not. The point is that, if Democrats did understand the economy, this charge could not be brought against them. The fact that Democrats have this tendency, even if not as bad as Republicans say, and even if Republicans also throw money at rich people and Republican clients, shows that Democrats don’t understand the real economy and the real class system as they should. Here it is good to take Republican advice: before considering more tax-and-spend to solve a problem, think of alternative solutions when possible, or face the fact that we can’t afford to do that much about this problem.

Underdogs and Outcastes, Nothing at the Center.

-Democrats are traditional champions of underdogs, including ethnic minorities, immigrants, believers in religions other than Christianity, women, oldsters, and nature. Underdogs look first to the Democratic Party for support regardless of how much of their world view they otherwise share with the Party. It is good that groups feel they can go to Democrats but that good effect does not mean what happens is good overall. Democrats do not choose which cause-or-group to champion by its intrinsic appeal and by how much good it will do for America overall, balanced against the costs of fighting for the cause and of dealing with the issue. They choose by how the group-or-cause fits into the overall Democratic stance and how much benefit fighting for the group gains for the Party. All parties do the same thing including Republicans.

This situation is not always bad. Without it, we would not have had anyone fight for workers, Blacks, gays, women, alternative families, consumers, social freedom, and artistic freedom. Much the same is true of how books and music get published and promoted. They have to be able to succeed in a mass market or we don’t read them or hear them. We lose out on some good material (everything I write) but we also got William Faulkner, Star Wars, jazz, the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and Nirvana.

On the other hand, being the champion for all underdogs causes problems, as noted at the start of this part of the essay. First, not all groups have problems simply because they are minorities or underdogs. Not all groups are pure victims that just need to be un-victimized (saved). Groups add to their own problems. Even if other groups, the economy, or society, is a big part of the problem, often the attitude of the group-in-pain is the biggest obstacle to making things better. Even if the attitude does not make things much worse in itself, it can channel thinking and block good thinking so that the group in pain does not see the best response. Democrat support actually enables all these contributions and even adds to them. Rather than the group figuring out what is wrong, its part in the mess, and what it can do on its own, it takes an attitude of rebellious victim and expects the Party to cover. I cannot go into specifics here without turning this essay into a fight over attitudes by Blacks, Hispanics, protectors of nature, and even women.

Second, most groups under the Democratic umbrella know they are not fully compatible with at least some other groups. Even if they have no open conflict, they have little in common. When was the last time Blacks showed up to help nature or labor leaders showed up to help Blacks? Blacks and Hispanics fight over jobs all the time. To keep the groups together, the Democratic Party cannot craft a strong and unified vision of America and the world. The lack of vision allows it to invite in anybody but the lack of vision also makes it weak. Various groups know that they, and other, are with Democrats not because they believe in the Democratic vision – it can’t be strong enough for anybody to really believe – but primarily because they need the power and the help. Their loyalty is more to their own cause than to anything in common with other groups and with being Democrat, much like the alliance of parties in Italy at any one time. They do not trust other groups or rely on them. They are happy to ignore other groups or to take actions that hurt other groups as when environmentalists demand strong standards for auto emissions and pollution, standards that lead to fewer jobs especially for unskilled labor such as for Blacks and Hispanics; or when Blacks and Hispanics fight. The lack of a single solid vision might give the Democratic Party some flexibility to adjust to changing conditions and the future but it loses more than it gains. The Democratic Party can never adjust well to new social, political, economic, and cultural realities because it cannot delve deep enough into those realities.

Unrealistic View of Human Nature.

-In theory, Democrats both respect the rule of law and they see-and-embrace differences between people and groups. They promote difference and inclusion. In practice, Democrats confuse equality under the law with absolute sameness of people and groups; and they confuse differences between people and groups with opportunities to assert special privilege through the law. Sometimes Democrats think equality under the law implies absolute sameness as in some political correctness (PC, see below). They pretend to ignore important differences that matter even when we respect equality under the law such as different attitudes about education, respecting the law, decency, and respecting neighbors. They make a big show of accepting different cultures, groups, sexuality (gender-ness), and individual differences but it is not clear exactly what we are supposed to do once we respect the varieties enough to make sure that everybody is treated equally under the law. They are not clear how we respect this group well enough yet still make sure other people don’t get hurt too much so we can fully respect this group. They ignore that Democratic groups don’t all respect each other and that various groups use the idea of “respect me too” to get “respect me first and most”. Democrats want us not to confuse the idea that somebody-is-not-like us with the idea that another-person-is-not-fully-human-and-not-equal-under-the-law but that is not what comes across in proclamations of sameness-within-diversity and full equal rights for all. What comes across is, by using the law, you can get what you wish even if it violates the idea that law is for the good of all and we are all equal under the law.

-Democrats, have an unrealistic view of human nature and of the culture (attitudes) of subgroups such as Whites, Blacks, working people, upper middle class people, Republicans, and immigrants. In theory, at bottom, everyone is a near-angel and quite rational, will see the right thing to do, will do it when he-she can, will respond to state aid only modestly and for the greater good, never cheats in getting state benefits, develops bad feelings only in response to ill treatment and only directly in proportion to the ill treatment, and will give up bad attitudes and bad acts when given half a chance with social justice. All of this is true regardless of the original culture-and-attitudes of anybody. Of course, this idea of humans and groups is wrong, impractical, and has bad results.

In practice, core and near-core Democrats take a condescending stance toward their clients in which core and near-core Democrats are the wise priest-like (though also charming and rascally) people who bring social justice while the clients can never learn to be quite as rational as Democrats need but can learn to be rational enough to get along and not to rock the boat of Democratic programs. Even this view is not accurate, and leads to wrong, impractical, and bad results. Republicans condescend too but the feel is different.

Sometimes the Democratic attitude is sweetly hopeful but more often is condescending and annoying. It’s the attitude you get from an environmentalist, Black person, or feminist, who thinks you would be OK as a second-rate or third-rate semi-human being if you only had your consciousness raised but likely you never will and you have to be treated as if you never will. You can be molded into someone who is merely bumbling and who fits in enough to carry on, but that is about it, and that is enough as long as you stay on our side.

Democrats can see that their clients think the economy and politics are a zero sum game (whatever one person gets another person loses) and the clients think they are always the losers. But Democrats think they can make the economy and politics into an obvious positive sum game beyond what it already is (everyone benefits) and can make their clients think they are winners too in the new game.

Democrats think they can make everything fair, almost absolutely fair, and fair enough so that clients and everyone will accept that it is fair and will join enthusiastically. Too often you just can’t make the world fair this way. Sometimes you can make everybody a bit better off but almost never can you make everybody equally well off and so make the whole thing almost absolutely fair. Democrats think you can. Democrats act surprised when things get better but not equally better for everybody, and then people get angry. Actually, Democrats don’t really think this way but pretend to think this way because it appeals to clients with a problem.

Democrats think everybody can see when he-she-or-us are getting a good deal, likely an unfairly good deal, as with rich and powerful people. Democrats think, when people see they have a good deal, they will be filled with human kindness and voluntarily give up their wealth for the greater good. Democrats think Republicans and Republican clients, or even Democratic clients such as the upper middle class, will voluntarily give up their wealth for the greater good and feel happy about it.

Democrats feel poor clients will feel grateful when Democrats get Republicans to give up wealth, and Democratic clients will not try to get more than their fair share when the state forces Republicans to give up advantage. Democrats think their clients will never freeload or act selfishly.

According to Democrats, all oppressed groups, at the deep level that counts, are entirely free of bad attitude, bad motives, bad character, and bad acts. No person in any oppressed group is ever biased in any way that makes a difference or that matters. No person in any oppressed group ever acts badly or has a bad character. All people in all oppressed groups have really good hearts that are only waiting to emerge. People in oppressed groups routinely reach out of their pain and oppression to help even their oppressors by teaching their oppressors the real meaning of being human, having a heart, and helping a fellow. They teach their oppressors all the true American arts such as music, dance, and drama. They teach true spirituality such as from Native Americans. The attitude of Democrats reminds me of the idea that every hooker really has a heart of gold.

All bad attitudes and behaviors by poor people, Blacks, Black men, Hispanics, Muslims, “White Trash”, crack heads, meth tweakers, women, immigrants, etc. are entirely-and-only due to oppression by the state, the economy, and nasty prejudiced groups such as Whites and men. All bad attitude and bad behavior is entirely-and-only due to prejudice and oppression by the groups that control the economy and the state, chiefly upper middle class and upper class White men, women, and their allies. People with power and wealth make the state and the economy unfair. Other people, the oppressed people, develop bad attitudes and behaviors as a response to the unfairness in the state and economy created by the ruling class, and only in that way.

All bad attitudes and bad behaviors by oppressed people will vanish once people get a chance through education or a program. Then everybody will be a perfect Enlightenment citizen and act with sufficient rationally for a modern democracy. If people get welfare, people will not cheat but will use welfare only to help families. If we support disabled people, nobody will pretend to be disabled just to get support and so not work. If people get a diploma from a school, then we can rely on them being educated up to the intellectual and moral ideals of the diploma and they will act up to the moral and intellectual ideals. Diplomas automatically solve all problems. The only reason for bad relations is prejudice. In areas where most Black people have a job, then Black-on-Black crime will be no greater than White-on-White crime or Asian-on-Asian crime. If we just tell all Black people that Black-on-Black crime is bad, then they will stop right away. If people see the unity of humanity, they will stop prejudice and the ensuing bad acts, so, for example, gangs will not fight and not kill innocent people in drive-by shootings. Anybody can buy a house in any neighborhood. People will stop making noise, littering, and parking all over the lawn. If everybody had a diploma, everybody would seek an honest job and would not turn to crime. If we legalize soft drugs and victimless crimes such as prostitution, we will have no problems from those drugs or that activity. If we give all convicts a half-way decent job, there will be no recidivism.

Once we explain clearly to people that they should be good, kind, and helpful, of course, everybody will be good, kind, and helpful. We don’t need to compel anybody to do anything if only we can explain well enough. Once everybody understands, everybody will be a good Democrat.

The best place to explain is in the public schools. We can’t count on churches or other private groups. We must use the state to indoctrinate children and so make good citizens.

-Of course, in contrast to Democratic clients who are all on the verge of becoming angels, all business people cheat in every way they can, and so all business people cannot have the same human nature as Democrats and the clients of Democrats. They are demons. No Republicans want fairness but instead all Republicans want power and wealth. Republicans are at heart immoral hypocritical opportunists. Some of them are merely deluded, somewhat simple people yearning for simple morality and easy-to-understand order, but they are just as much a problem because they go along with the bad Republicans. So, Republicans can’t have the same basic human nature as do Democrats and the clients of Democrats. Republicans, business people, rich people, powerful people, and all clients, are not susceptible to gentle persuasion and to Democratic reason. Republicans and their clients cannot be saved no matter how much good we do for them or how much friendship we offer. They must be carefully controlled, and we must use the state to do it. Republicans have exactly the same attitude toward Democrats and their clients, including necessary use of the state.

More Bad Democratic Attitude.

-This Democratic patronizing attitude is not compatible with the idea that all people will be good once they see the truth, and all people easily can see the truth if show. But Democrats are able to live with both sides of the contradiction.

Democrats see “people as people” in the same way we see a sad wet little kitten as a potential grown cat, a powerful hunter, the pride of its neighborhood, someday, maybe, if we help it enough now; but secretly we hope it never grows up fully because then it won’t need us and then it won’t have the same deceptively lovable kitten nature. We want the clients to stay clients even after they see our truth.

Of course, some children (clients) are easily hurt and even children (clients) do harm. Even the kitten kills innocent birds in the neighborhood, and it kills even more when it is grown. So Democrats have to protect all people, not only against the ravages of society and bad Republicans but against themselves as well. Democrats have to protect Democratic clients against themselves. Democrats explain why they have to do this when they can, but, if other people, their clients, are too stupid to get it, Democrats have to get Republicans force them to do what is in their own good. Democrats take this attitude even with people who are smarter than the Democrats are and who have had more experience than they have had. This attitude adds to “political correctness” (PC). It adds to the modern “hipster” pose. Without it, living in irony would not be possible.

Republicans have a version of this attitude but the Democratic version is more cloying and annoying. At least when Republicans look down on you, before the days of PC they did so openly, and they give you the reasons fairly openly, such as that you are an indecent subhuman who does not know God and so you can’t live in decent society. I don’t go into differences between them and why Democrats are more annoying.

In some cases, this contradictory attitude leads to good ideas such as helping drug addicts and helping women who have been abused sexually or by violence. It led to better-quality education in the 1950s and 1960s. It might someday lead to equal pay for comparable (equal) work for women. In other cases, it is simply stupid, as in supporting welfare matriarchs (now not much) and public housing. It leads to overlooking Black-on-Black crime and excusing attacks on the police. It is hard to figure out the correct view of human nature and to correctly make programs following the view only of Democrats or only of Republicans.

Democrats have this view of human nature not because they really believe it but because it gives them an excuse to promote programs, get clients, get favors from clients, get morally indignant against people who don’t share their view (such as Republicans and me), and oppose all programs of Republicans because those programs are not based on the same view. The same is true of Republicans in their way.

Democrats are like children who have figured out how to use “but that’s not fair” so as to get what they want but haven’t figured out yet that the family can’t give them all they want and that they personally would be better off if they grew up. They know, but refuse to accept, that it is not all about fairness even if fairness is a huge value and an important lesson. So, they use fairness only as a tool and do not use fairness as it should be used. They are like the teenage daughter before she goes to college for a couple of years. They are not selfish in the way that a five year old is selfish but their selfishness hurts all the same. They are correct enough to be worrisome, and to win points in arguments, but not enough to make long-term sense; and it is hard to explain why to them. Sometimes owning a 5G phone just like everybody else really does not make your life that much better. Sometimes you are better off with a good character and with some real education. Sometimes you don’t deserve to be boss.

The Democratic attitude is mixed up with the idea that some people are more hip, cool, smart, with it, trendy, chic, well-dressed, sexy, sensitive to modern art, especially music, sensitive to new ideas, in the know, and a hot rebel. This attitude is mixed up with the ideas that (a1) underprivileged ethnic groups such as Blacks and Hispanics, (a2) and marginalized groups such as Gays, (b) automatically are more hip-cool-gangsta etc; (c) but sympathetic accepting Whites and Asians can learn from them and so become hip-cool-pseudo-gangsta etc. “I’m in with the in crowd”; everyone not a Democrat or client is Mr. Jones or the bad guy in “Positively Fourth Street” (from Bob Dylan). If you are hip-cool-gangsta-etc, you must have Democratic leanings; you should have leanings toward a modern “ism” such as feminism or Black-ism. If you are a Democrat, are in an “ism”, or are in a movement such as “Black lives matter”, then you are more hip-cool-gangsta all around. Surprisingly, this attitude has not waned in the face of reality since it first began in its modern style in the 1940s; it only changes form a little. Marginalized groups suffer from the attitude just as much as White Democrats, likely because the attitude makes them out to be automatically hip-cool-gangsta etc. and superior to White Folks in the ways that really matter, even when they are not. The attitude is false, on all counts. Sometimes the attitude is funny, especially when each generation thinks it invented the attitude; but, after decades of display, sometimes nasty, the attitude is more annoying than funny, and it causes a lot of real damage, including some crime. Maybe the worse damage is how it shuts minds. Republicans have their own annoying style.

If you are Black, Hispanic, a modern liberated woman, an LGBTQ (gay) person, went to college, or have seen much of the world, then it makes no sense that you might not be a Democrat, or, heaven forbid, might be a Republican.

Both core Democrats and their clients know that core Democrats and their clients don’t have a correct view of human nature, of rational yet heart-filled core Democrats, and of their hip-cool-gangsta clients. Both core Democrats and their clients know that they are not nearly as rational as they wish, are not nearly as good as the image of clients as “fallen angels”, and that clients will not change to become ideal Enlightenment people after only a few days of state support through Democratic programs. There is no point going into what core Democrats are really like or what clients are really like before and after help. Yet both core Democrats and their clients continue to pretend. Pretending is a huge hypocrisy, and the pretending-hypocrisy weighs on the hearts and minds of Democrats and clients.

Core Democrats look down on clients and look down on themselves for being so foolish as to continue to help when it does so little good – but can never admit it to themselves or to their clients. Clients feel looked down on, hate people who look down on them, hate themselves for saying they will change when they know they will not change, hate themselves for needing help and taking help, turn hatred out on other people, and turn hatred on the people who try to help them. This response is human and normal but it is still a problem. The response to this attitude is not to “unpack” it, see it plainly, see groups for what they really are, and come up with better relations and better attitudes, but instead the response is to “double down”, cover up harder, and throw more money. This complex is found where one materially better-off group tries to help another group, even in war and famine where help is clearly needed and help does much good. In America, this attitude adds to the overall creepiness of politics and the haze of creepiness that pervades Democrats and clients. It adds to racial, religious, and gender tension and violence. I dislike the whole complex of attitudes, especially the hypocrisy and deliberate blindness.

-If Democrats wished to show they have a firm grasp of the economy, human nature, and human nature in groups, they would join Republicans to get rid of programs and ideas that don’t work, and would work hard to develop programs that do work, that don’t balloon up and don’t tempt otherwise hard-working decent people to become dependants of the state. If Democrats wished to show they have a firm grasp on reality, sometimes they would stand up to clients. Some individual Democrats have tried all this, and sometimes reform groups in the Party try. The joint welfare reforms of the Democrats with Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, the welfare reforms under Bill Clinton, and some of the many suggestions of Hillary Clinton, have been good steps in this direction. But there has been no overall change of view or change of heart. Always realistic reform movements within the Party are only minority movements. Common sense never seems to get from the minority reformers to the large mass of Democratic clients.

When Democrats propose deep and broad national health coverage, propose free college for all, take the side of people who abuse the police, offer amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants without a clear understanding of the implications and without a realistic plan to control immigration in the future, and don’t explain how helping nature benefits jobs and families in the long run, people know that Democrats have not thought through any implications either in terms of what we can afford or in terms of human nature. When Democrats call for gun reform that will have no real effect on crime, and do not call for gun reform that would have a real effect on crime, people in general have to doubt Democratic sense. Doubt about such ideas undermines all Democratic ideas about welfare reform, drug use, civil rights, human rights, gender roles, family, and everything that Democrats might see better than Republicans and might have better ideas about, ideas more in tune with the times.

People in general don’t believe Democrats can change to be more realistic about the economy and human nature. People believe Democrats depend too much on clients, and so have to give to clients, for Democrats to be able to step back and craft what is best for the nation. People never see Democrats stand up to clients with the truth and so never believe that Democrats can stand up to clients when the welfare of the nation as a whole is more important.

-In the future, Hispanics and women will become more important in the Democratic Party, in particular as they hold office, but also as large voting blocs. Hispanics and women are as rational as any group. They are as rational as long term core members of the Party, other clients of the Party, or Republicans. They are potentially as competent as anybody. How the Party acts toward them as both members and clients, and how they carry out their roles in the Party, will go a long way in making the attitude of America in general toward the Democratic Party and making or breaking the success of the Party. If they show deep understanding of the economy and human nature, can stand up to clients, have realistic ideas, and offer realistic programs, then the Democratic Party will succeed. If they merely carry on as usual from the past, nobody will believe there is a realistic head on a Democratic shoulder, and the Party will fail.


-The Democratic Party core is made of comfortable middle class people with secure good jobs, some upper middle class people, and some wealthy people. The Party includes clients such as poor people, unemployed people, people with bad jobs (low pay and no benefits), Blacks, Hispanics, women, once-upon-a-time Jews, and old people. The Party includes some White people and Asians but many of them left in the 1970s. The Democratic Party used to include working people and middle class people who had reasonably good reasonably secure jobs but quite a few left in the 1970s. The Party used to be the party of labor generally and organized labor but many of those people left in the 1970s.

Working class and middle class people who have half-way good jobs but who fear falling into poverty and who feel insecure mostly moved to the Republican Party in the 1970s but now might vote with either Party. They feel forgotten by both Parties. Especially Whites this category feel forgotten. People of all ethnicities in this category change votes and Party affiliation more according to local candidate than national policy, unless a charismatic leader emerges or they believe the claims of a self-appointed savior. Until wage stagnation and the wealth gap became clear, costs of living rose, and they could see that their children were not getting ahead, they tended to vote Republican. Now that they do not think Republicans will help, they do not automatically support either Party. I do not know which way their allegiance usually goes now. I do not clutter up this essay with guesses over each issue. If I were forced, I would say the older people of this group still tend to vote Republican but younger people are moving more Democratic. Please use you own experience to make the division for yourself about this group as you read other points.

The Party gets and keeps power by giving favors to clients in exchange for votes, favors such as welfare, Social Security, SS Disability, unemployment, legal protection, protection for the environment, support for education, support for research, trying to turn bad jobs into good jobs, some tax breaks, and help with the police.

The State is Our Best Friend and Only Real Friend.

-According to the Party, the state can deal with problems better than any alternative means such as the free market, private initiative, or private charity. The state cannot fully solve all problems but it always deals with problems better than alternatives. Look first to the state to solve problems.

Democrats rarely consider that state intervention, even well-intended state intervention, might cause more harm than does the original problem. The state might help with the original problem but it might also cause collateral damage that is as bad or worse. The state is like a doctor giving a prescription for a big bottle of pain pills to cure backache only to find the patient is now addicted. For example, we need to help people with something like welfare but welfare often balloons and it tempts people who would otherwise work to not work. The new harm often leads to people becoming dependant on the state. Sometimes you have to put up with the original problem or have to find smaller solutions. Democrats have no habit of anticipating when a program will do harm and so they are caught by surprise and are unable to deal with new harm. They have no framework in which to make good guesses about overall harm and benefit, direct and collateral, and so to make plans that convince others how to proceed. They see only a current issue and a quick fix through giving resources (money).

As a result, Democrats are too open to pleading by interest groups and their programs are too open to unforeseen harm and to abuse.

For example, “equal opportunity, not equal outcome” is Rightist propaganda but it is also true. Yet Democrats do not see that it is true, see why it is true, and see why the distinction is so important to working class people with decent jobs, middle class people, and upper middle class people. More importantly, Democrats seem to wish not to learn.

In the Democratic view, only the state can muster enough power to oppose other powers such as business firms, churches, strong religious passion, public opinion, and prejudice, powers that threaten general liberty, general well being, and the well being of the clients of the Democratic Party. Power must be met with power, and only the state has enough power. To guarantee basic freedoms and rights, the Party needs to control the state.

Only the state can gather enough resources to fully compensate people and groups who have been maltreated (fully redress grievances) and give those people the support they need to get back on their feet and to keep themselves in the face of opposition. The state can take resources from the people in general, and from oppressors, to give to victims, and only the state can do this. In taking resources and using them like this, the state always increases the general welfare. Taxes are the main means to take and redistribute resources.

Democrats do seem to want to cure all problems by throwing state money at the problem and victims rather than by getting at what causes a problem and rather than considering how people will respond to a big dollop of state money. Democrats do seem not to consider that state help might not be best and not to consider that money might not solve all problems. Democrats do not see themselves this way but this is how they come across.

When underdogs, victims, or groups with a self-perceived need, seek resources that they cannot obtain through their own business, own work, and own community, they seek resources from the state, that is, they seek money from the state. To get money from the state, they go first to the Democratic Party. It is not always wrong that people should use the Party and the state to get resources. Victims of most big natural disasters should expect help from the state. But the habit of seeking money from the state leads to clients with dubious claims and to too many clients seeking help from Democrats. The Party can no longer assess which clients deserve help, which to help, and how much to help. The Party cannot tell who to say “no” to or say “not that much” to. It can no longer assess how much the state can help and how to apportion state aid.

Equality of Wealth, and Who Pays.

-Contrary to deliberate Rightist propaganda, Democrats do not seek total equality of wealth. For a long time, many people, not just Democrats, have known that a situation of few very rich along with many poor is bad for a nation. Big differences in wealth lead to big differences in legal justice, social justice, and lifetime chances. Big differences in wealth are passed down to future generations and grow. Big differences in wealth cause problems.

Often, even in a modern diverse capitalist economy with a variety of jobs and incomes, many problems can be reduced, and welfare of the nation as a whole can increase, by taking some wealth away from the rich and giving to the poor – state forced redistribution. For a long time, people also have known that some wealth disparities are good and that totally equal wealth is not as good as some disparity or is outright bad. People know that big redistribution is bad. People do not want to take all the wealth of wealthy people; they do not want to “fleece the rich” or “soak the rich”. They want the rich to “pay their fare share” by paying a bit more in proportion as wealth goes up.

The problem is that Democrats cannot make a good case for how much less the poor should pay and how much more the rich should pay. The Democrats cannot come up with a workable believable plan for taxes and other government “taking and giving” that everyone can see is reasonably fair and that does not threaten to get out of control. So, all Democratic plans sound like “fleece the rich” even if that was never the intent and that would not be the result. All the programs sound as if they will hurt the overall welfare of the country. In that case, not even the middle class, who hope to be rich someday, can support the programs.

Individual Freedom.

-Democrats say they support personal autonomy and self-determination, as with freedom of religion, freedom to choose an abortion, and freedom of choice in the market. In fact, they are equivocal and they often support strong state intervention, especially in markets. For example, the Democratic Party favors strong regulation of many markets so as to protect poor people and consumers and the Party favors centralized medical care. But Democrats do not explain why they support freedom in some cases and state intervention in others. They do not say when we can rely on individual autonomy and choice and when we cannot, and why. Even when Democrats are correct, we need to know why, and the why should be part of a bigger view. As an exercise in political logic, they could start by explaining why we needed forced retirement savings in the form of Social Security, why Social Security has been a big success, and why similar programs might not work, especially private-only programs.

In theory, Democrats support de-criminalizing and legal leniency for some activities such as sex, and they support small sentences on some crimes, especially “victimless” crime such as prostitution and drug use. This view makes sense in terms of promoting personal autonomy and responsibility but that is not what Democrats argue. They simply pick some arenas in which to work for de-criminalization and leniency because those arenas are popular among clients. They overlook contradiction. Support of freedom in situations such as drug use and sex might undermine arguments that people are unable to choose and so are being exploited in other arenas such as in financial markets. If you can choose a drug you ought to be able to choose a mortgage. Liberals do not think through (or state publicly) their view on individual autonomy and what their view implies. Why can people figure out sex but not mortgages? Sex and relationships are more complicated than mortgages. It is not clear why Democrats support minimal laws about activities other than that the laws about such crimes have often been used to attack the client groups of the Democratic Party, such as Blacks and women, so that minimizing legal control of the acts protects client groups of the Democratic Party. When Liberals seek to minimize laws about sex and drugs, it does not seem as if they are promoting individual freedom but instead are protecting their power and are attacking the families of working and middle class people. Protecting Blacks and women is a good motive but would be better if placed in a fuller context that includes believable ideas about individual freedom and responsibility.

Democrats traditionally tolerate non-traditional lifestyles including “Bohemianism”, non-traditional gender, non-traditional sex acts, and drug use. Yet this supposed tolerance of non-traditional lifestyles often is more of a philosophical wish than it is action to defend individual freedom. Democrats do not strongly pursue laws to allow individual free choice. Most clients of the Democratic Party, including ethnic groups such as Blacks, and many groups that the Democratic would like to win as clients such as working and middle class people with good jobs, condemn non-traditional sex and gender lifestyles, condemn abortion, condemn all pornography, and do not want freer use of drugs. If Democrats push too hard for lifestyle freedom they might lose some of their present clients and they can never win the working class and middle class back as clients. Verbally supporting lifestyle freedom but doing little to protect it seems like wanting to have it both ways.

Despite the ideal of individual autonomy and choice, Democrats favor regulation of markets to protect consumers and nature. These regulations would help consumers, and consumers need the help, but the regulations would also hamper business in some ways and would restrict consumers in some ways. The Republican Party has successfully painted all regulation as an attack on business and on consumer choice and benefit. The Democratic Party has not been adept at sorting out which rules might do more overall good than harm and so gaining support for skillful regulation.

While saying Democrats favor freedom of religion, in fact, Democrats look down on religion in general, on most particular religions, and especially on Christianity. In public, Democrats praise non-Christian religions and worshippers such as some religious ideas of some Native Americans, Buddhists, and some Muslims. In private, Democrats think any religion is merely a social and personal crutch, and sincere belief shows weakness of mind and character. Democrats are NOT waging a group war on Christianity. Individual Democrats merely ridicule it as a way of raising their own status among their peers. They do enable anti-religious zealots to go after all links between religion and the state as when anti-religious zealots wish to remove Christmas decorations from public areas. It is not clear if Democrats enable anti-religious zealots to attack religion as a way to annoy the Religious Right and the Christians who move to the Republican Party in the 1970s.

The Family.

-Please see material from Part 2 on the family.

For reasons that I can’t go into here, nearly all Americans, Democrat and Republican, have returned to religion of family. They might call it a return to Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism but it is more a return to religion of the family than to the core beliefs of the major religions. The family they have in mind is the idealized nuclear family from TV.

Even people who cannot live in this kind of a family still support this ideal. It is hard to win elections if your policies might somehow possibly in imagination weaken the idealized family. This situation is a problem for Democrats because some of their policies, such as gender freedom and freedom to choose abortion, support non-traditional families, non-families, and non-traditional gender choices. Working and middle class people take any policy that supports any non-traditional families and non-traditional gender as an attack on the idealized nuclear family and on all working and middle class families - even when support for non-traditional families and non-traditional gender does not harm working and middle class families and can help them. Working and middle class people take publicly supported freedom to choose abortion as an attack on the family, and so on the working and middle classes, even when they privately seek abortion sometimes. Working and middle class people take non-traditional families and non-traditional families as rivals. Whatever helps rivals of the working and middle class is thus an attack on the working and middle class. So Republicans are able to portray Democrats as against the family just at a time when the family is central in religion.

Some Democratic policies do support non-idealized non-traditional families and the policies might help those families compete with traditional families but that does not mean Democrats aim to attack the working class or middle class. Most Democratic policies also can help working and middle class families even when they help non-traditional families such as “Obama care”. Some Democratic policies do support all families such as consumer protection and support for education. Democrats do a poor job explaining because their own ideas and goals are unclear to them.

It might not be possible to convince working and middle class families that non-traditional families are not their serious rivals, and not possible to convince working and middle families not to attack policies that support non-traditional families and non-traditional genders. Modern TV shows such as “Reba”, “Modern Family”, and “This is Us”, help people to think more clearly. “Millenials” seem to be clearer about this situation. I don’t know how to support a broad spectrum of family types without causing some types to be jealous of others and to seek political support against potential rivals. Both political parties will continue to exploit this situation. Democrats have to show how policies that appear to undermine the nuclear family, to undermine the working class, and middle class, do not undermine the family and those people. Democrats have to stress policies that support any family as supporting all families.

-Some particular Democrats genuinely feel for illegal immigrants, but mostly the Democratic Party (and various churches) supports immigration and supports helping illegal immigrants so the Party can recruit immigrants as a client group. With Hispanics, Democrats have been largely successful because not all Hispanics climb the wealth-and-class ladder quickly but they do climb it quickly enough to have hope and to use the American political process. Democrats have not been as successful with immigrants that climb the ladder quickly such as well educated Muslims, Asian, and Hindus. Some clients, such as Blacks, view immigrants as a direct threat and wish the Democratic Party not to support recent immigrants, to hurt immigrants, and to protect current clients from immigrants. Some policies that benefit immigrants also benefits Blacks, such as more health care, help with employment and education, and lessening of laws about personal behavior (sex) and drugs, so these issues remains contested. Current Democratic clients want those policies to help them but not to help immigrants, and that is hard to do.

Real Acceptance and Real Help.

-Democrats have not thought through what real acceptance and real help mean. Democrats did not invent the idea of political correctness – the modern version goes back at least to John Calvin, and Republicans-Conservatives are giants of pseudo-moralistic judging. But Democrats did promote the modern version. PC Democrats are as moralistic, judging, and narrow-minded as any people. They are as conformist as any people I have met, and they enforce conformity. A group of Democrats all looking exactly alike and parroting the same views is normal. Democrats are equal to White Right Christians in conformity. Democratic upper middle class women, of all colors, are among the most moralistic and intolerant people that I have met. American Blacks are among the most condemning and intolerant people I have met. Democrats have never been able to explain why they tolerate some things, publicly tolerate but secretly condemn others such as sexual experimentation by their own children and sexist racist “hater” music by Blacks, yet openly condemn some other things such as guns and pornography. Because there is no believable obvious consistency, people assume Democrats use tolerance or moral indignation whenever one is more likely to help their agenda.

If a client group accepts the help of Democrats, a reasonable person would expect that client group to buy into some of the ideals, including tolerance and acceptance. Again, beyond the surface, that is not true. Blacks, Hispanics, groups of poor people, activist women, environmentalists, and most Democratic groups, have their own world view and group morality, and they want other people to live by those. They don’t really think about how the various group views and moralities might get along or about the greater deeper principles they are supposed to share. They tolerate other groups within the umbrella of a big movement such as Civil Right and Environmentalism, or within the Democratic Party, so they can achieve their own goals. But they do not really respect other groups and would change other people if they could. How often do Blacks support environmentalists or women?

More on Costs.

-When thinking about giving help, we have to figure out how much help costs. We have to consider costs even when the appeal is highly moral. As I was writing this paragraph in April 2018, America had to think if we wished to go to war with Russia over an attack with gas by Syrian dictator Al Assad on his own people. How extensive should be our response, should we warn the Russians (we did not), should we avoid hitting Russians, and should we be ready to follow with more raids? In the international arena, Democrats have about as much sense as Republicans over appeal versus cost but for domestic causes Democrats seem to have no sense. They simply don’t consider how much it costs to help, whether we can afford it, and whether we should use resources in other ways. If they do make these calculations, they certainly don’t tell them to their clients or make them public. When a Party does not carry out these calculations in public, then it can only seem that they don’t care about the cost to the country as a whole because they would rather curry their clients. It can only seem that the Party puts the interests of the Party and the client above the interests of the Party as a whole.

Even if we do have enough resources to fund a particular cause, if helping is likely to cost considerably more than it gains, we should not help. If you are likely to get hit by a car running into the street to save a mouse, you should stay put. Likely you would run to save a child. You can figure out some in-between cases yourself. How about your dog? How about a strange cat? This sounds cold but it is not. When we figure cost and benefit, we can see the money cost somewhat and we can claim the moral benefit even it is not likely to happen. Yet it is hard to figure the practical gain to the country and hard to figure out the moral cost. It is easy to see the money cost if we gave everybody satellite TV access and a big TV (or a giant gas-guzzling SUV and free gas for life), voters would vote for our Party if we did, and we could excuse such stupidity by saying it is for national defense. But we should stop to figure out the practical gains and losses to the country and we should see the damage to the American character. The gain does not justify the cost. To me, the moral cost is greater than the practical cost. Any Party with any scheme needs to do this figuring and do it in public. Democrats will not. When they will not, it can only seem they don’t care because they put themselves and their clients above the national interest. Even if that is not true, it seems that way.

When a Party will not make these calculations domestically, then all its calculations internationally are necessarily called into question and invalidated, even if its calculations are rational and correct. When you lose your reputation, you lose your reputation. When you lose your reputation, naturally the other Party seems valid by comparison even if the other Party is made up of bleating demonic goats.

Rights and Responsibilities (Duties) 1.

Citizens and residents of a democracy have both rights and responsibilities (duties). Neither rights nor duties are more important than the other. Neither can work without the other.

It seems people in America now stress rights far more than responsibilities. They don’t stress rights as in a democracy. They stress the “right” to get something, an advantage, a gain, treat, or power. They use “rights” as a mere tool. They use “rights” as a symbol of which side they are on and of their power in the battle of sides and culture. They overlook responsibilities that come with each right and overlook duties in general. They don’t care about the place of their particular right in the whole system of rights, duties, and citizenship. The idea of responsibilities and duties has been lost because it is a strategic detriment, an anti-tool, an annoying impediment. This abuse is true even of real rights such as to vote, privacy, not to be harassed, and to respect as a person; and to duties that go with them. They treat a state payment such as from welfare as if it were a right equal to the right to vote. The modern idea of rights is one of the biggest examples of how “political correctness” has correct ideas in theory but is hurtfully abused in practice. It shows why people hate PC. The modern idea of rights is one of the biggest abused tools in reverse discrimination and in manipulation by self-styled disadvantaged groups. The modern idea of rights erodes the true ideas of civil rights, ethnic equality, gender equality, privacy, dignity, etc. I am not only a grumpy old man here. Something did change in the 1970s and after. Think of ads for lawyers on TV hinting you can live easy for life at your neighbor’s expense because you pricked your finger on his-her roses.

Republicans say Democrats are entirely and only to blame. Democrats and their clients stress “rights”, and they always-and-only stress rights as mere “give me”, without caring about real rights, real duties, and citizenship. “My rights are big while yours are small, my rights always win over yours, and you pay to enforce my rights. Any dispute between us is not about facts or about real competing rights; it is always-and-only about you not granting me my full rights, my due respect, and some reward in power or material goods to express my rights or to make up for any abuse. Any fault you see in my group is never a fault in my group but always is a bias that you carry so you can take my rights, take what I want. When I say the rights of my group have been damaged I mean I have not gotten what I want. I use the rights of my group to get what I need. Any problem my group has is due always-and-only to another group taking our rights, it is never our fault. I have no responsibilities when I assert my full rights as an individual or through my group.” Some Democratic clients do seem to lie compulsively, tell silly lies that nobody could believe but expect the lie to be accepted, and seem unable to tell truth from lie; this business about rights is one of those. People who claim an “entitlement” such as welfare or SSD, claim to have been disrespected in a restaurant, or abused by police, often look more to gain or a satisfaction than to make sure the system of rights and duties is carried out fully and fairly for all.

In contrast: “All Republicans always deeply appreciate duty and the need for citizens to carry out their duties. All Republicans assert rights only when a right also serves general good. We always see rights in the context of a system of rights, responsibilities, and citizenship.” In fact, most people that stay in the military for a long time do feel a sense of true duty, and tend to be Republicans or to get Republican-ized while in the military. Working and middle class Republicans seem more likely to work for the whole community than do people in other groups. There is some truth to what Republicans accuse Democrat clients of and what they brag about themselves, more so since the “nanny” state.

There is enough misunderstanding of rights and duties, enough shirking of duties, and enough abuse of rights, to accuse people in both Parties, and the abuse shapes both Parties. People are selfish regardless of Party, selfishly neglect their duties, and are selfish in their abuse of rights. Often enough, Republicans put property rights, social order, and urban “development” above the right of poor people to live in their own old neighborhoods, and they use the big bad state to overwhelm the rights of individuals to do it. Using tobacco is not a right equal to the right to a fair trial. Sorting out this issue quickly turns into a big treatise. That is not the goal here. Instead, I ask you to do the work.

Start with a simple idea. All rights have responsibilities, responsibilities usually entail some rights, and responsibilities often allow some privileges. If you own a house, you have to keep up the sidewalk, and sometimes portions of the street, in front of your house. You have a duty to take care of your garbage and not to make the neighborhood dirty or loud. To take care of your own house gives you the right to the same from neighbors and the community in general. If you own a gun, you have duties to know how to use it correctly, not to use it badly, to protect it so that cannot be abused such as by children or by a temporarily angry person, and to make sure that only similarly responsible people own guns. Think about each right and each entitlement, such as the right to vote, housing, be served in a restaurant, respect from the police, welfare, Social Security, etc. If people don’t live up to the duties, can they keep the right? I think not.

Focus on the duties that go along with particular rights. If a child has a right to an education, do his-her parents have a duty to make sure their particular school is a good school, without foisting off that duty on the state or on “other” people? If people in an area want a quality education for their children, and a quality education can succeed only if the community has the right attitude, who has the biggest duty to make sure the community provides the right background attitude? If well-educated children are essential to a democracy, the economy, and to preventing bad character, then do people have a duty to help schools even out of their area? If a person has the right to welfare, what duties does he-she have, including the strict legal requirements but beyond those as well? Allow that a person has the right to own a business firm. Does the owner have the duty to serve all people? Which people can the owner exclude? Do women really have a right to equal pay for equal work or comparable work? I think they do. Then what responsibilities do women have in claiming the right, and what responsibilities do they have when they get the wages? If women and LGBTQ people (gays) claim they are mistreated as second class citizens, and claim the right to full recognition and acceptance, then what responsibilities do they have when they get that right? Do (illegal) immigrant “Dreamers” really have a right to stay in America? If they do, what responsibilities go along with the right? If staying here is a privilege rather than a right, but a privilege that many Americans would grant, then what responsibilities go along with the privilege? What duties do gun owners have other than keeping most guns locked up in a box most of the time? I think being a professional in America, such as a professor, teacher, doctor, lawyer, dentist, police officer, soldier, or accountant, gives status, and the status entails some responsibilities that other people don’t have. What are the responsibilities, and do these people really carry them out? If we have a right to use nature, what duties do we have toward nature? When people claim a right but overlook duties, what do they really wish for?

Now think about Republicans and Democrats. Which rights and duties do they stress and which do they overlook? Which rights do they claim without accepting the responsibilities? I write a little more about how Republicans make mistakes about rights and duties in the part below about Republicans.

The primary duty always is to be an informed citizen capable of assessing candidates and issues, and to make a good choice. If you have the right to vote, you must be ready to vote adeptly. In a world closer to the ideal than this world, if people did not fulfill their duty to be informed, I would take away their privileges (rights) as citizens. In this world, few of us live up to our duty to be informed but we cannot take away all privileges and rights merely because we are not fully perfect. How many people know all the “stuff” from sections on the economy at the start of this essay, why don’t they know it, and should they still have the right to vote if they don’t know it? You don’t have to agree with me about those issues, but you should know the material. Think how far away a person can fall from being a good adept citizen and still enjoy the privileges of being a citizen such as the “right” to vote. Think about how we would assess.

Make Sense, Again and in Anticipation.

I mentioned “make sense” above, and use “make sense” in the history parts of this essay on Liberals, so I say more about it here.

Democrats think they make sense but they don’t, or at least not to most people who are not already in the Party or a client. Even to clients, Democrats don’t make general sense; Democrats make sense as a group with power that is most likely to bring the client benefits, protection, or help to avoid a loss. That is not enough.

To make sense in governing of a nation, a party has to see the big picture of national welfare. It has to balance morality and practicality in service to the greater national welfare. It does have to hear moral appeals but it has to know when a response to a moral appeal simply costs too much in terms of money, what is foregone, and effects on national character. It has to prioritize moral appeals and costs. It has to know which group comes first, second, third, or last, and how much any group gets. It has to know when the sum total of responses costs too much even if the response to each moral appeal seems fair and seems not to cost too much. It has to say “no” and “wait” to clients. It has to say “you ask too much in the current world”. Because most appeals are moral, and morality and attitude are tied, a party has to assess the attitudes of its client groups and take that into account. It has to set clients straight when they have a bad attitude or has to refuse them when they will not change their bad attitude.

Democrats appear to do none of this. Even when they do it, the general consensus is that they do not. Democrats don’t make sense. Republicans claim they do all of this. Of course, they are no better than Democrats, but they have a reputation for being so. The public believes Republicans do make sense. To see the unfair but real weirdness, think how Republicans do not control fringe gun rights advocates and about the attitude of fringe gun rights advocates. Think how Republicans fail with White Supremacists. Yet Republicans always seem to make sense while Democrats do not. On top of what I say below, you think out why Democrats have a bad reputation (undeserved) while Republicans have a good reputation (also undeserved).

If a political party screws up prioritizing and “gives away the house (farm)” on a few big issues, then the party will lose its reputation for making sense, maybe forever. Even when the party does make sense on other issues, big and small, and makes more sense than rivals, still it will not be seen as making sense. Once a party loses its reputation, the bad reputation sullies everything, and the party can rarely get back a good reputation. People might turn to this party for help, or because the other party is in really bad shape as with Republicans and Trump, but people do not really go back to this party for sense and they will leave the party again when the other party is more sensible.

Not only Westerners but many people tend to think in terms of Reason versus Emotion, although that idea is said through various metaphors (“hot heart, head, blood, guts versus cold heart, head, blood, guts”, “long guts versus short guts”, or “long fuse versus short fuse”). In myth, women are emotional, nurturing when not corrupt, and devious. Men are rational, straight, and strict. Once a woman loses her reputation, she is lost forever and must use guile, as with Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. When one woman loses her reputation, most of the other women in the neighborhood now look like angels by comparison even if they do a lot of secret kissing and “heavy petting”. Democrats are now the irrational emotional corrupted party that is vulnerable to emotional pleas and has to use guile while Republicans are the reasonable morally upright party that wins with logic and candor. Maybe only a woman who was a girl in the 1940s or 1950s can know how deeply annoying this frame is. This kind of discrediting is part of what happened to Democrats but only part.

Unfortunately, Democrats perpetuate the discrediting by continuing to make big mistakes.

We need a national health care system, more than what we got with “Obama Care”. Especially with rising costs, to run a national health care system correctly, we have to know when to say “no” and “enough”. We have to know when to say “learn to live with it”, “here is a long-term prescription for morphine”, or “we can help you die if you wish”. That is what the French and Canadians do, and it works. Democrats won’t do this. They won’t face reality. They hint they can give everything to everybody. People know Democrats can’t give everything to everybody and Democrats some people have to be denied care and so die. Republicans, Sarah Palin was outstanding, were able to convince people that Democrats would set up secret “death panels” even when Democrats never suggested anything like that. The Republican answer is no national health care at all, in which case poor people themselves have to decide they can no longer bankrupt the future of all the grandchildren to make granny live another week. Just as many people die under Republican practice now as ever would under die Democratic plans in the future, and the practice now seems far crueler, but Democrats get all the blame while Republicans get all the praise. If you don’t face up to issues fully and deal with them fully in the open, then you get what the Democrats got, and you deserve it.

One foundation of making sense is the rule of law. A Party cannot play fast and loose in applying the rule of law. That is how we get “banana republics” and Vladimir Putin. There are modest exceptions. Mercy and humanity play a part in law. But still we cannot get too loose. Sometimes we have to be cruel to keep the system that serves us all well. The TV show “Law and Order” examined this dilemma well in many episodes. The rule of law applied to President Nixon and it will apply to President Trump and his cronies when their time comes. If we wish to apply it to them, we have to apply it elsewhere as well. Democrats have a reputation for applying rule of law selectively and for not appreciating the rule of law in general. Rule of law applied selectively is not rule of law. Democrats don’t make sense over the rule of Law. That is why, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Republicans billed themselves as they party of Law and Order, and where the TV show got its name.

Illegal immigration ebbs and flows with prosperity in the United States, so, while the US was not doing well economically from about 2007 to 2014, sometimes more illegal Hispanics went back to their own countries (especially Mexico) than came to the US. Still, the situation with illegal immigration is bad. We have to make sure illegal immigration stops, and we have to deport a fair number of people who are here illegally now. We have to put in jail people who hire illegal immigrants, including the officers of business firms who might not personally have done the hiring. If we do not do all this, we abandon rule of law too much. We do not have to be cruel for fun. We can show correct mercy to children who came here young and who were born here. We can allow their parents to stay to but no other kin. We have to stop “chain migration”. But Democrats refuse to see this need. They do not refuse because they really don’t see but because they wish to get and keep all Hispanics as clients. They imply everyone can stay for any reason now and in the future. Again, they try to give everything to everyone. They throw rule of law out the window for mere political gain. When Democrats support “sanctuary cities” and the selective enforcement of law, they do NOT come across as merciful and humane. They come across as conniving and selfish. Some proposals by individual Democrats make sense but those are not the ideas of the Party as a whole. It seems Democrats simply want to allow all illegal immigrants to stay here, thus to encourage more to come, and to allow all who come in the future to stay. This does not make sense. If this is not what Democrats propose, then they need to make clear, and believable, what they do propose, why it would work, and why it is best.

Individual Democrats have offered some reasonable ideas on gun control such as background checks and harsh penalties for using a gun in a crime. But that is not what people think of when they think of gun control from Democrats. People think Democrats wish to take all guns from everybody right now. Some of the perception is due to Republican evil propaganda but not all. Republican propaganda fills a vacuum left by Democrats. Most Democrats cannot offer anything remotely reasonable to American ears. Democrats cannot come up with good proposals because they refuse to see that gun control is not one problem, about one social group, with one solution for all, but that gun control is several problems, over several social groups, each of which requires a different solution. Democrats won’t see the whole problem because at bottom they don’t care about guns and gun crime. They care about getting past this particular horrendous incident and about not looking bad to the people that deplore all the incidents and blame guns. They care about feeling righteous by attacking a straw enemy just as many people that fight abortion really care more about feeling righteous and won’t think out realities. Democrats don’t want to alienate any clients such as Blacks-in-general who see Blacks use guns in Black on Black crime. This is weaseling and it does not make sense. Republicans come across as reasonable simply by doing nothing, defending what is now, and saying they defend the Constitution – all the while really also only grooming clients. (Gun problems include: school shootings, other mass shootings, terrorist shootings, shootings based on social groups such as religion and gender, general crime such as armed robbery, personal murders such as of one spouse murdering another, gang crime, drug crime, human trafficking crime, inner city crime mostly of Black on Black, inner city crime of short term temper mostly of Black on Black, and crime about guns and gun trafficking, at least).

When Democrats fail in this way on this many major issues, then they fail by default on all issues. They stop seeming to make sense even when they do make sense.

This point will anger people: The Democratic Party is the Party for modern women. Women are still trapped in the “good girl versus bad girl” complex, as partly noted above. Enough Americans still see women as irrational, emotional, and not making sense. Enough Americans still see activist women, modern women, working women, and feminists as bad girls, that is, as somewhat immoral as well as not making sense or as over-bearing, pushy, and selfish and so as not making enough sense. So, when the Democratic Party sides with those women, it sides with bad girls, and reinforces its image as a fallen irrational sappy Party. This view of modern women as bad girls will change as women of both parties get political and economic power. All the “feisty” girls and women, and all the women not in need of a man to save them, in the media, are a good sign of the change. I am not sure if most modern women will then become the good girls and, if the change in how Americans in general view women will save the Democratic Party. I am doubtful.

The Democratic Party is a little like the “crazy hyper-feminist hyper-PC ex-girlfriend” that you really don’t want to hang around with regularly but you like to see every once in a while, not to have sex, but because she is fun and being around her does lead to some good ideas and good times for a while. Democrats sometimes seem to wish to live up to that image. Mostly, though, they are like the smart ex-girlfriend that was good at helping you with your literature homework when you were in school or with your legal case work now that you are out in the real world.

Apart from whether any policies of either Party make sense, people tend to judge all the policies and the whole Party on their view of the character of people in the Party. Valid or not, people link good moral character with making sense and link bad moral character with not making sense – despite decades of stories about anti-heroes, rebels, bad boys, bad girls, social inversions, and moral inversions. People see Democrats as somewhat immoral (really more morally careless) and so not to be trusted to make sense while they see Republicans as doggedly moral and so to be trusted to make sense. People know most so-called Democratic amorality is posing and silly playing. But they have seen enough harm come from it that they are wary. When the time comes, the wild girl (young woman) in college is the un-cool old-fashioned mom. People know that, in real life, Republicans drink too much, pop pills, and chase their neighbor’s spouse but people still think Republicans have the correct long term values in mind, and so Republicans still make more sense overall even apart from moral values.

Repeat: To govern well, to make sense, a party needs a believable coherent practical and moral world view, a sense of a better America, a better world, and the role of America in the better world. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have this believable world view but Republicans fool people that “business” alone can do the trick while Democrats fool nobody about any ideology. Nobody fully accepts any world view offered by Democrats even if particular people have sympathy for some particular projects such as saving hungry children and sympathy for partial views such as social justice. When a party does not have a sufficient world view, it cannot make sense, no matter how good some of its particular projects and ideas. People feel this lack in Democrats, and their feeling reinforces all the other ways in which Democrats do not make sense.

When a party stops making sense in the eyes of the public, then people in the party feel they don’t have to make sense, and they actually do stop making sense. Party officials stop expecting clients to make sense or to be able to tell sense from nonsense. Officials start feeding clients whatever works to keep allegiance. Clients know they don’t have to make sense to get what they wish for, that emotion often works better than sense, and so stop offering sense. Everyone falls back on appeals to emotion and on superficial morality. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy and a vicious circle.

This all happens with Republicans too for some issues in the culture wars but that dollop of craziness does not undermine the general view of the whole Party as making enough sense. People don’t expect Republicans to make sense about gay rights, Christianity, Muslims, or even outsourcing, but still think the Party as a whole does make sense. If the new Republican Party makes enough big stupid mistakes such as the huge tax break for rich people of 2017, ignoring the pain of the working and middle classes, rejecting all help with health care, building a wall on the Mexican border, or reneging on the Iran nuclear deal, then maybe eventually enough people also will see Republicans as despoiled, emotional, a bit too immoral, irrational, and not making sense. Oddly, that is how the Trump Republicans see the old guard such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan; I think the Trump Republicans are more that way than the old guard. Even then, such a change will not necessarily lift Democrats back to rational moral practical visionary making sense.

I do not offer suggestions as to how Democrats can make up for lost ground except that they had better begin making thorough sense even if it costs them support from some clients.


-The Democratic attitude toward Christianity is complicated and unfortunate. I cover some of this topic in the history parts of this essay so here I say only what is needed.

The Democratic attitude comes from an older Liberal attitude. Liberals were cautious about any claims that could not be verified by science-like methods: by public demonstration, by clear logic from other publicly validated scientific laws, or believable historic reporting. Any claims against obvious common sense were to be doubted unless verified by science-like evidence or trustworthy authorities. Liberals did not doubt everything unusual. Science came up with unusual facts and ideas such as that lightning is only huge electric sparks (Ben Franklin) or Jupiter and Saturn have moons (Galileo). When an unusual fact or idea was not backed by science-like evidence, Liberals said: there was no reason to believe it if it contradicted other established scientific laws and facts; there was no reason to believe if it contradicted common sense and was not supported by science; there was no reason to believe if it was not needed for other serious ideas such as morality; and, if it contradicted good morality, that was reason to doubt.

Most religious claims such as miracles are not needed to support good morality. Some claims, such as there are bad witches, lead to bad acts based on bad morality, and so we should not believe them. Liberals rejected the need for many of the claims in Judaism and Christianity such as that God stopped the sun from going around the Earth so Joshua had more daylight in which to win a battle, or that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Some Liberals said the claims were false while some (most) Liberals just said the claims were irrelevant and so we need not decide them or believe them. Humans tend to think anything we need not accept or decide is in effect false and to be rejected, so the de facto position got to be “false” on all the supernatural claims of Christianity, leaving pretty much only the morality.

Other people took all Liberals to say that all religions are false and bad even when most Liberals did not mean that. Other people did this as an over-reaction to protect their own beliefs, an over-reaction that is as harmful as un-critical condemnation of religion. I say more about morality and the supernatural in other places, so I do not say more here.

The Liberal stance does not mean Liberals rejected the morality of Judaism or Christianity. Most Liberals were strong proponents of that morality, and were even content to say that morality and God had some kind of close relation.

At the time Liberals were developing their view, the only real religion of importance to them in Europe and the Americas was Christianity. So the default position got to be that Christianity has too many false claims, it is not literally true, and people could be good by accepting the morality of Christianity without accepting any of its claims about the supernatural or accepting any claims about the supernatural from any source. That got to be a kind of chic stance among Liberals. It lingers in academic Liberals today. It is not strictly true but it is true enough for here. Especially after a religious revival starting about 1820, the default position among far too many Christians got to be: “Liberals are amoral or immoral, hate Christianity and Christians, use spurious so-called logic to attack Christianity and Christians, never see any of the virtues in Christianity or Christians, Christianity is true no matter what Liberals say, Christians have to believe no matter what, and Christians have to defend Christianity in any way we can including strong emotion and use of the state”. Not all Churches took this stance. Some big Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, took reasoned Liberalism (not silly knee-jerk attack of all Christianity and all religion) as a worthy challenge, worked to develop sensible defenses of religion and Christianity, and worked to merge reason with belief and morality. Sadly, most Churches including big Churches such as the Roman Catholic Church still try to use the state to promote their morality.

Then, beginning in the late 1800s, came some unfortunate turns.

First, beginning with academics, the idea that Christianity is false, silly, not needed, and a delusion of the masses became entrenched. Not only were Christians wrong but they were fools. It was chic to disdain Christianity and Christians. Academics used Christians as foils to make themselves feel better, much as genders and races use others to make themselves feel better. As the 1900s went on, more people went to college and so more young people were indoctrinated with a tacit disdain for Christianity, Christians, and formal religion. In response, Christians saw the Liberals as immoral fools deceiving the masses and corrupting all of Western civilization. Christians used a caricature of Liberalism to make themselves feel better, excuse themselves, explain why everything went wrong, and as an all-purpose straw dog.

Second, strong world events, such as World Wars 1 and 2, the Great Depression, pollution, the demise of nature, plagues, hunger, socio-economic classes, racism, and religious wars, undercut belief in old traditional religion, including especially Christianity. Christianity had no answers or few answers. The events hit Westerners hard because we had made so much progress in other ways but could not seem to get out of savagery and could not seem to help people see the light.

Third, Westerners encountered religions other than Judaism and Christianity. In particular, they met Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. In contrast to Christianity, these religions became chic. I do not go into why and how academics and self-styled “free thinking” people could scorn Christianity yet be fascinated by other religions. The easy half-right answer, good enough for here, is that people need religion, the West scorned Christianity, but Westerners still needed some religion, so they turned to ideologies that they could twist to suit their fantasies.

Fourth, Westerners developed views that could serve as alternatives to religion or that undercut parts of religion by explaining them away as merely something else. Communism became increasingly a force after about 1900. After World War 2, trendy Westerners followed Existentialism – I can’t here explain it. Beginning after World War 1, deep psychology, usually a Freudian version but there have been many, explained away religion by saying, for example, that God is nothing but a stern father writ large and the Virgin Mary is nothing but the pre-adolescent view of a kind mother writ large. Anthropologists explain how religious patterns follow social-cultural patterns and the two can reinforce each other, so religion does not have any independent truth even if it serves as a template for society. Religion in the Middle Ages both followed and set the template for European Feudal Society. Biologists explained how people do not see the world exactly as it is, and how our modest distortions can lead to belief in ghosts, spirits, gods, angels, and witches.

Fifth, both chic Western intellectuals and anti-rational belief-only Christians developed an anti-science bias. These people not only ignored science except to gain from it (everybody loves iPods and cell phones), they said science was wrong and evil. They said it was evil in different ways but they still it was evil. Normally these two camps (chic intellectuals and purposely irrational religious believers) hate each other more than they hate anything else but in this one cause they came together. They reinforced each other. The chic intellectuals gave the anti-rational believers tools to use against science and against rational thought. Republicans were allied with the anti-rational old believers by default but not all Republicans liked this turn. They do not like biting the hand that feeds them, and they do not like militant anti-rational anti-science craziness. They are happy to separate realms and some Republicans even try to keep the best of both realms while minimizing contradictions. Lacking a deep foundation, Democrats did not know what to make of this mess, and sometimes went along with the chic intellectual anti-rational bias. But they also sensed that the anti-rational basis anti-science propaganda supported the far Religious Right of the Republicans and so Democrats did not go too far. This is another case where the middle of Democrats and Republicans overlaps and both middles oppose the extreme but neither Party will open their eyes to reality and say what needs to be said.

I wish to stress that large Christian Churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, never participated much in the anti-rational anti-science wave. They respected the need for rationality and science even though they also stress the need for belief. There were semi-crazy groups in all the Churches that did rail against rationality and science but they never carried the whole Church, and they do not seem as strong now.

It is not necessary to hate rationality and science to hate what we have done to the planet and to hate the abuses that stem from capitalism and from militarism. In fact, hating rationality and science only gets in the way of understanding fully and being able to find good responses. The answer is not to stop science and technology but to use them better. To use them better you have to know them.

Sixth, the above points tended to happen more with people who had Democratic backgrounds. Also, people who went to college tended toward Democratic-style politics. So, scorning Christianity and Christians got associated with Democrats. On the flip side, holding to Christianity got associated with Republicans. I do not go into why having traditional religion is linked with well-to-do people and the secure working and middle classes. Not only did Republicans come to think of themselves as Christians but, especially after the middle 1970s, they came to think of themselves as anti-Liberal (anti-Democrat) Christians in the sense above without succumbing entirely to the anti-rational anti0science belief-only stances of the Religious Right. Some young Democrats did make fun of Christians while adopting non-traditional beliefs; and some Republicans did deliberately reinforce their belief in old style anti-rational belief-only Christianity. But, in fact, most Democrats retain much of Christian belief, especially as they marry and raise children, and most Democrats do not scorn Christians or Christianity. Republican intellectuals, such as Bill Bradley (Firing Line) and political theorists such as Neo-Cons that were strong under George W. Bush, hardly seem to be traditional Jews or Christians, or even properly religious.

One shameful lapse backward by Republicans is denial of global climate change, in which otherwise rational Republicans ally with the irrationality of the Religious Right. They shameless use anti-science anti-rationality to attack sound arguments. They shamelessly use bad data to create their own fantasy arguments. They do not do this because they don’t believe in science but because they wish an excuse to get whatever profits they can now before the bottom falls out. That is a lot of hypocrisy. This is why attacking science hurts nature in the long run.

Because Democrats recruit from among underdogs, outsiders, and minorities, Democrats made a point to say non-Christian religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are good and should be respected. Democrats extol the Black Church in America even while making fun of churches with mostly White members. Democrats know so little about Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism that their assessments make little sense but people got the appeal to tolerance anyway. When praise of non-Christian non-Jewish religions comes from a real desire to be inclusive and broad-minded, it is very good. When it comes out of ignorance and the desire to recruit clients, it is not necessarily bad but it is not the good it claims. When it is combined with scorn of Christianity, it is bad, and the good intentions behind it cannot make up for the bad. I do not guess how Democrats and academics justify the hypocrisy of scorning Christianity but extolling non-Christian religions, and of scorning churches with White members but extolling all the Black church(es). Republicans see this hypocrisy clearly, and it makes them “double down” on their defense of Christianity even while they try not to offend non-Christians. Blacks also see the hypocrisy and know it means that Democrats praise their church(es) and Democrats ally with Blacks as a political ploy and not out of a deep bond or deep respect for Jesus and his Church. Non-Christians also see the hypocrisy and know it means the same.

Sensing an opportunity, Republicans force Democrats to say publicly that they think traditional religions, especially Christianity, cannot be literally true and that people who believe it to be literally true cannot be fully rational. Pushing Democrats into that corner is not fair but Democrats will always be susceptible until they think out their own views, can explain their own views, and can deal with the hypocrisy that comes of playing the client game.

I enjoy my roots in traditional Christianity, and I follow the teachings of Jesus, but I am not a Christian according to standard views that rely on the Trinity. I have read about religions and I lived for eight years in a good Buddhist country with some terrific monks. I believe that morality and the supernatural are intimately related, so that one strongly implies the other, but they are logically separable. So, I “get it from both sides”; and that is why I feel confident about what I said above. Academics treat me like an imbecile, a dupe, a bit dangerous, prone to rely on emotions not logic, a religious zealot in intellectual disguise, and not to be trusted around children and dogs. Christians and Republicans treat me like their false stereotype of a Liberal who hates God and Jesus no matter how much I defend both, as a dupe of clever Democratic-Liberal ideologies, an imbecile, and not to be trusted around children and dogs.

There has never been, there is not now, and likely there never will be, a war on Christianity. The scorn that some Lefties have for traditional-religion-in-general-and-Christianity-in-particular does not amount to a war on Christianity. Mostly it amounts to a war on their own intellects and souls. The purging of religious items from public areas, especially from state-owned areas, is sad but reasonable, and it does not amount to a war on Christianity. We really can’t run America on the basis of any one religion even if there can be no doubt that Christianity played a big role in the growth of America. PC stupidity such as mandatory “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is silly and regretful but also is not a war on Christianity. Try to tailor greetings not to offend, but, if you have a good heart, and you accidentally say “Merry Christmas” to a non-Christian, I am sure he-she will forgive. Jews put up with it for hundreds of years. If a Muslim greeted me with “May Allah guide you”, I would be happy. The current trend of the courts to allow religious art and the symbols of religion for historical value is the right way to go. Non-Christians, especially atheists, need to develop thicker skins. Christians, especially the Republicans who defend Jesus for political reasons rather than from true sympathy for his teachings, need to grow thicker skins. Everyone needs to grow up and lighten up.

Democrats, as individuals, really do need to figure out their own beliefs and to confront their hypocrisy about religion, values, and politics.

Should Democrats and self-styled Liberals stop disdaining Christianity out of modern chic, look hard at their own morality, consider relations between morality and the supernatural, give Christianity and all religions their due, and start living according to decency and maybe according to the teachings of Jesus? Sure. Should Republicans stop thinking their convenient institutional Christianity or born again version of Christianity is real Christianity, stop thinking Jesus loves them more, stop using their false Christianity to feel superior, stop using their false Christianity as an excuse to abuse others, learn about all religions and give them their due, consider real morality, and live according to decency and maybe according to the teachings of Jesus? Sue. I have no idea how to bring this about. If Jesus, Confucius, the Buddha, Mohammad, etc. could not do it, then I can’t.

Bad Political Correctness (PC) versus Good Morality.

-This section only introduces the topic. See my essay. I love the ideas behind PC but hate the practice, as I love old Liberal and Conservative ideals but hate the practice of Democrats and Republicans.

PC is superficially correct moral ideas that are used not primarily because they are moral and correct but as a tool to show power and to control other people. It is modern “holier than thou”. Some form of PC has been around a long time. I trace the roots of modern PC to John Calvin. Republicans have a version of PC, as bad as the Democratic version. While in a group of Republicans, say “Ronald Reagan began the irresponsible selfish bad deficit spending that has bankrupted America”.

The problem is not morality as such. All morality guides and restricts acts. So do all ideologies and ideas including those that say not to be governed by ideologies or “herd morality”. The issue is whether the guidance is good guidance to good ends.

Why then do Democrats get blamed for PC while Republicans get a free pass on their moralistic huff? Partly because everybody expects Republicans to be hypocritical up-tight conniving selfish moralists but expects Democrats not to be that way. People expect better but don’t get it. People expect the Right Wing to be moral scolds but not Democrats. Yet that is what they get.

Democratic style PC is the natural outgrowth of Democratic confusion over equality under the law with absolute sameness, and vice versa. It is the natural outgrowth of confusion about what diversity-and-inclusion really means and how it relates to equality under law. It is the natural outgrowth of the fact that some Democratic groups really don’t get along. It is the natural outgrowth of groups using ideas such as equality under the law and inclusion-and-diversity as tools for their benefit without real regard for the underlying principles or the fate of others. It is the natural outgrowth of the fact that Democrats have a silly ideal of human nature in theory and are hypocritical in practice about human nature. Unless Democrats can come to grips with equality under the law, same and different, diversity and inclusion, the fact that groups differ, and the fact that some groups don’t get along, then Democrats are doomed to pernicious PC.

As with the Democratic attitude about Christianity and other religions, Democratic PC is a contradiction that entails hypocrisy. Democrats are supposed to accept full human nature including faults, and they are supposed to be able to work with that. Democrats are supposed to believe that full human nature with all its faults is enough for us to work together, and that the faults can be corrected enough gently enough so we can work together. Democrats are supposed to be accepting and including. They should be able to take a joke. Democrats are supposed to be a bit “laid back”. They laugh at the “church lady” and they think they are never like that. They should accept the view of various ethnic, gender, and religious groups, and that view includes jokes this group makes about those groups. Some Jews still call women Christians “shiksa”, which comes from something like “apart and icky” although now it is not used much in that derogatory way but as “temptation”. When Walowitz makes fun of the term on the TV show Big Bang Theory, it comes off as funny, not offensive. Penny is a “shiksa goddess”. Democrats should be able to tell the difference between friendly humorous “put downs” versus nasty insults based on bad ideas. Democrats should be able to put up with human foibles. Democrats should see beyond foibles to the deep issues and real problems, to the issues that shape foibles.

But PC Democrats are none of that. They lay in wait for someone to make an error, an error that most people would not call serious, so the PC Democrat can jump all over the poor sap. They are like spiders that hunt by lurking and jumping. They are scolds. They care more about bludgeoning a victim and taking control than about teaching good ideas, personal relations, and social relations. They seem not to get their own PC ideology of fairness and decency at any level deeper than mere ideology, and, apart from the shell of the ideology, seem not to have other humane ideas.

When PC people get corrected and get told that their PC hurts more than helps, that they are in it more for the good feelings of moral superiority and indignation, naturally they feel bad and get angry. Usually correcting them that way does little good. Yet they refuse to see that other people feel the same way, and it does as little good, when they scold other people using PC as a tool. If you can’t see yourself like this, then you don’t have the right to much moral indignation or to scold.

PC supports a double standard that is more prominent among Democrats. Equality under the law and respect for diversity are supposed to go together but, in fact, it seems that Democratic groups use the law, equality under the law, and the idea of diversity to get and keep privileges. They each care for their own status and don’t give a damn about the well-being of other groups or the general idea of equality-and-diversity.

In the Democratic version of equality-and-diversity, the group traditionally not in power has privileges that the old group that traditionally had power now cannot have. The group traditionally out of power can do things to the old-power group cannot do. Blacks can call each other “Black”, “nigger”, “brother”, and “sister” but Whites should never use those terms for Blacks or among Blacks, not even in friendship, not even in joking friendship, and not even when no Black is present. We must use “African American” (not accurate) and other similar terms such as “Chinese American”. Yet Blacks and Asians need not say “European American” or “Greek American”. Many Blacks use “Whites”, “White people”, “White folk”, “White man”, and “White woman” as abusively as Whites say “nigger” and Blacks still refer to Whites as “honkey” and “redneck”. In music, Blacks can call women by horrible names, threaten sexual abuse, and threaten violence, regardless of artistic merit, while no non-Black could. Men can never say “girl”. Yet when women get angry at men, they openly derisively call them “boys”; and women commonly refer to themselves as “girls”. Hispanics extol “La Raza” but Democrats officially get angry when White people enjoy European culture and Whites extol the achievements of Europe. My experience with claims of discrimination is that they are used for personal gain and to hurt others rather than to make sure there is no discrimination and to assert equality for all.

We have to allow some leeway to disadvantaged groups, and we have to give them some compensation, but we have allowed too much too long. We are too susceptible to “White guilt” and to “middle class guilt”. Other groups sense susceptibility and they use PC to exploit it. Thus PC enables victimization rather than fights victimization. They PC does not make things better but worse.

PC enables reverse discrimination and it enables non-Whites and women to coerce their employers, schools, churches, restaurants, and everyday people. PC enables using an accusation of discrimination to get what you wish, not because discrimination was really what was going on or it was the most important factor. This use of PC severely hurts the good cause for which PC was intended. It lets us overlook or excuse the dismal performance of Black and Hispanic children in the public schools and Black violence. PC enables such evil as Blacks shooting non-Black police officers, and shooting some Black police officers just because they are police officers. PC enables bad selective blindness. When Republicans had code words that enabled discrimination, those words enabled bad acts and blindness. It is not clear which practice is worse. What matters is that neither should be allowed, but modern Democratic PC not only allows, it enables.

PC lets people feel they have earned a great victory when they catch somebody, lets people feel good about themselves, when really they have done little or have done harm. It is like when anti-abortion activists change the law to allow them to stand 20 feet from an abortion clinic, rather than 50 feet away, so they can get in the faces of women who come seeking help. PC now is more about personal gain through feeling good than about making any real changes.

I saw on TV reference to a poll in which most college students preferred inclusion-and-diversity over free speech. The quality or accuracy of the poll is not relevant here. Simply to ask this question means it is better to have on campus some number of stereotyped underdogs, regardless of academic ability, and not to allow people to say anything about it, especially not to say anything un-PC. Better to shut up and drink the Kool Aid. Yet this view is typical of the harmful stupidity into which PC leads us. Inclusion and diversity depend on free speech, they would never have happened without free speech, and they could not continue without free speech – even free speech that questions PC inclusion and diversity or even free speech that wrongly painfully questions any inclusion and diversity. Inclusion and diversity without free speech are not real inclusion and diversity. Real inclusion and diversity could not endure without free speech. If inclusion and diversity combined with genuine ability is the right thing to do, then true free speech will lead to them. Not to see this, and instead to prefer some external pretend show to real decency, is a tragedy. Democrats have to ask how they support this view. No Republican delusion exceeds this stance in stupidity or harm.

PC perpetuates the stereotype of (formerly) harmed groups as never able to take care of themselves, never able to grow up, never adult, never smart enough, always behind other groups. Everybody knows PC is not natural, that PC language is not natural language. If we have to always be and speak un-natural around some group then that group is not alright. They are always behind and unable. If they are always behind and unable, there is never any end to it. If they are always behind and unable, then the only way they will ever get any semblance of equality, fake equality not real equality, is to press often-unfair claims of discrimination. If they are always behind and unable, why should they get jobs first, get the good jobs first, get any good jobs instead of somebody else, or be the boss? People don’t mind taking care of people who really need care but the central premise of PC is that the disadvantaged don’t really need special care – yet we have to give it to them forever and ever.

The worst effect of PC is that PC blocks seeing deep forces because it lets people get great satisfaction from superficialities. When a Black catches a White saying “Black” instead of “African American”, the Black person doesn’t have to think why Black kids do so badly in school, why there is so much Black on Black violence, why Blacks cultivate a bad attitude that never has done them any good, or why there is persistent unemployment and why so many jobs are bad. When a woman catches a man saying “girl” she doesn’t have to think about the deep evolved human nature of men and women, the glass ceiling, or why women still only get about 70% of what men get for comparable work. When a White person catches a Black person playing at PC to feel good, get ahead, or put down White person, when you see Al Sharpton on TV, or hear about another Affirmative Action case, the White person doesn’t have to think about any of this.

People have learned to follow PC in public not because they really agree with the practice but because they get in trouble if they don’t. That is how the stocks and pillory worked in 1650.

In this situation, people can’t agree or disagree with the good ideas that once were behind PC. People don’t get a fair chance to see the ideas behind the cloud of PC. Because PC practice works out badly so often, and overshadows good results even when good results happen, if people take PC to represent the actual basic ideas, then people have to disagree with the basic ideas, even when the basic ideas are good. That is the opposite of what PC aims at.

The ideas behind PC are too important to allow PC to undermine them. We must focus on the ideas and deep issues.

The “Me Too” movement helps women that have been abused, sometimes but not always beaten or raped, but coerced and used all the same. I was shocked as a youth to learn how many of the women I knew had had not only uncomfortable experiences but experiences that bordered on rape or were rape. It is good for women to share the experiences and good for the men who do bad things to be exposed. It is good to insist that men refer to women by terms that do not infantilize women (make them small and stupid) and that do not make it easy to use women. It is good for women to use all means available to make men see them as humans and treat them accordingly. We will get a few public accusations that make too much of a sexual advance and so hurt a few lives unfairly. You have to decide if that is a small enough price to pay.

The desire of women to be treated with respect and not be abused far pre-dates 1970 and far pre-dates the “Me Too” movement. I see little practical difference between the desire of women in 1820 that all men act like gentlemen versus the desire of women now that all men act like gentlemen. Insisting on superficially decent language and polite behavior in public did not change society and human nature in 1820 and likely that will not do the job now. If people think it will do the job, then, again, PC actually hurts more than helps. If economic and political power alone can do the job, then I am sad for all of us. Women and men need to think why men and women act as they do, both from human nature and from the particular social-economic-political-cultural-religious-and-historic conditions at particular times and places. They need to base strategy for good change on that. If they do, PC will follow of its own accord, or will follow with some modest intelligent pushing. If not, no PC will make much of a difference over the long run, and it will hurt. The same is true of all other groups with all grievances.

PC now is more of a liability than an asset. By focusing on superficialities it gets in the way of seeing the really important forces underneath. The women of the “Me Too” movement did not complain because men called them “baby” but because men molested the women. Forcing men not to say “baby” would not by itself make any difference in men molesting women and it would blind us to seeing what would make a difference. What would?

Catching White people saying “Black” or “nigger” might make Blacks feel good but won’t change much. Forbidding all people to use the word “nigger”, even among Blacks in camaraderie, might make Whites feel good but won’t change much. Catching Black people saying “honkey” or “red neck”, or using “Whites” as a curse word, might make White people feel good but won’t change much. Driving around blasting bad hip-hop or country music might make you feel good but it only makes things worse. Tearing down all Southern Civil War monuments, or defending all monuments, might make you feel good but it does little to end racism and it does a lot to sustain racial antagonism. Worse, it means you don’t have to think why you should tear down or keep monuments, should tear down some but keep others, and what better to do to achieve equality under the law and racial respect.

Yes, small things such as language do make a difference but not often the pivotal difference. Find what really matters and work on that. You have to look not only at economics etc. and the attitudes of the “oppressors” but also at the attitudes of your own group as well.

When I say “PC is more a liability than an asset, it enables bad acts, hides important deep forces, lets us feel we have won a victory when we have not, and we should get rid of it to focus on the deep forces beneath”, I mean it. I mean rely on decency and knowledge instead of ideology. When Republicans say “Washington Liberal PC nonsense” they mean: “Get rid of annoying restrictions; stop looking for deep causes; go ahead and treat badly anybody that you don’t like or who gets in your way; and we will take as much power as we can get with little regard for anyone else”. Republicans mean “Use our ideology of decency to cover up indecency”. Learn to tell the difference. Learn to be decent.

In today’s climate, I do not know how to promote the good ideas behind PC without falling into the bad traps of PC. I do not know how to get Democrats to see they need a better middle way than they have now. I do not know how to get Democrats to follow good vision based on decency rather than promote blindness based on ideology. I do not know how to make people respond to each other on the basis of simple decency so we need neither ideologies nor PC hyper-moralizing.


Some Introductory Remarks

-This essay was written in late 2017 and early 2018. The material about Republicans is not about Donald Trump and his bad antics. I lived in Alabama when Roy Moore was running for Senator. I do not take Trump or Moore to represent Republicans. Take any major half-way and decent Republican figure as a better representative such as John McCain. This material is about the better Republicans.

Even so, take Trump and Moore as logical extensions of what I say here. They are what happens when the forces of dogmatic partisanship nurtured since Reagan escape control. They are what happens when you let loose the “brown shirts” (look it up on the Net). Take Trump and Moore as a lesson about what not to do. Even if Trump wins a second term, gets his wall, makes peace with North Korea, and learns about trade, he is still a lesson in who not to be and what not to do. Trump’s attempts to slander the FBI, Justice Department, and intelligence community, are enough to put him outside what any self-respecting decent Republican before him would have done. His “base” bought it and loves him. That is sad and scary.

Reagan, Bush 2, and Trump succeeded because many Whites, Asians, religious zealots, cultural zealots, and fearful people, mostly from the working class and middle class, moved into the Republican Party in the 1970s through 1990s. Trump does not really share their beliefs but he can pretend adeptly and he knows how to rally support from them. Trump does not speak for all those people. Many have more sense and more humanity. But he fronts for enough desperate, irrational, and extreme people so they control the Party. If they control it long enough, they will change the Party and politics.

-The core members of the Republican Party are people on top of society. Unlike in the past, they are not the sole dominating group in the Party because of the working and middle class people that joined after 1980. It is easy to imagine the Republican core in a big conspiracy. They give the masses just enough to control the masses. They give the masses just enough freedom so the masses can act out a little to blow off enough steam, and so authorities can identify troublemakers. They don’t give the masses enough so the masses ever get any real wealth, power, or control. This was the style of governing of the Romans, Chinese, British, and likely other successful large-scale rulers. Even now, police adopt a similar strategy with people who are chronically under-employed and are criminals. Recent pop culture likes to use the bad but alluring fantasy of a secret dominant group. Why are rebels against an evil empire or a would-be world conqueror perennially popular?

Even so, I doubt that Republicans are part of a giant conspiracy. Instead, I think the way that the world turned out gave Republican leaders this pattern and they, being smart, made what they could of it. To keep the pattern going, all that Republicans have to do is what people with wealth and power wish to do. Some perceptive individual Republicans do see the pattern and take conscious active steps to keep it going and keep themselves on top but I doubt these people are part of a cabal – SPECTRE – that rules America and tries to rule the world. In some places, Russia and China at least, there is a small group of such people, so what I say here does not always apply elsewhere.

Breaking a self-reinforcing pattern might be harder than breaking a giant world plot, or, at least it is less glamorous to fight a self-reinforcing pattern than to fight an evil empire. What would you do to fight a self-reinforcing pattern rather than an evil empire and its evil emperor?

At least since the middle 1960s, and now even more with the rise of a semi-capitalist rich ruling class in Russia, China, India and other nations, the wealthy powerful people of different nations have more in common with each other than with the non-rich non-powerful people in their own nation. The core of the Republican Party in America has more in common with similar people in France, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Brazil, India, and Mexico than with the working and middle class people who joined the Republican Party after 1975. They often do well to support each other rather than to support the non-rich non-powerful people of their own parties in their own nations. Again, this reality suggests a conspiracy but again I doubt. I say the same: the way the world turned out gave an opportunity to rich powerful smart people, and they took it as far as they could without undermining their old bases in their own countries. I don’t know what this reality means for politics in any particular nation or relations between nations – here is not the place to guess. The Russia-Putin-Trump antics might be an example of a would-be conspiracy and of how weak such international conspiracies can be. Some people use multi-national corporations as examples but I do not go into that issue here.

Several places I note how Democrats and Republicans act selfishly without enough regard for the nation as a whole. You will see, in this essay, selfish actions that I do not explicitly point out because I got tired of saying it. That behavior is common in politics so it is not necessarily any evidence of a plot in America or among rich powerful people around the world. Sometimes selfishness with little regard for the national good is evidence of loose cooperation among the international rich and powerful people but often it is not. This essay cannot guess when disregard for national welfare likely is evidence of a ruling group or likely is not. You can have fun guessing. If I could get a grant of several billion dollars so I could fit in among the rich and powerful, it might be fun to look for any conspiracies or to find there are none. Of course, if I did find one out, likely I would die before I could write my report. Until then, academics and political commentators will have to guess from the outside. I’m sure they will.

-Contrary to Lefty myth, most Republicans do not hate everyone else: Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays (LGBTQ people), and Nature. Republicans would rather those people did well and Nature did well, and Republicans will sacrifice to help. Republicans supported Civil Rights in the 60s and the Environmental Protection Agency (Nixon did not start the EPA but he did see the value and go along). If Republican business owners could be sure Black candidates were really qualified, had a good attitude, and would not cause more problems than people in other groups, Republicans would be happy to hire Blacks, at least through positions of middle management. When Republican owners had confidence in Asians, they hired Asians in legions. White Republican business owners prefer Hispanics not only because they get the Hispanics cheaper but because of the Hispanic attitude toward work.

Republicans do fear non-Republicans. They often fear non-Whites and fear anybody below the level of the comfortable middle class. But this fear is not more than when working and middle class Blacks and Whites and Hispanics all fear and hate each other. It is not more than the average Black fears in walking the street in many Black neighborhoods. It is sad all around but it is part of the many fears that pervade modern life. The good things of modern life can’t take away all this fear in Republicans or in anybody.

-Despite good wishes, Republicans will not spend too much. They will not endanger their own middle-and-long term security and endanger the chances that their kids go to a good school and get a good job. This is understandable. Working class and middle class people do the same when they have something to hang on to. Black people do the same when they have something to hang on to.

Republicans have seen how little gain has come from programs, how much programs have ballooned, how much programs have cost, and how programs and regulations have, in fact, cut the ability of hard-working honest successful people to hold what they made. (Democrats see it too but will not admit it.) Rather than repeat the mistakes of the past, many Republicans want an end to all the silliness. They are tired of trying to figure out what will work and what won’t work, only to see that what they thought would work blow up again and rip the guts out of the economy and out of programs that really do good. Not ending all the silliness likely will bankrupt the country. The only way to save the country is to end all the silliness.

Stop throwing good money after bad. Start putting money where it will do some good for sure and will do the most good. That way, we get the most for our investment, and the most for our investment is likely to lead to the greatest good. There is no other way to get the greatest good for all. Is putting our money where it is sure to do less-than-the-most-good likely to lead to the greatest good? If ending all the silliness leaves some people at a comparative disadvantage, then so be it. They are still well off in absolute terms compared to what they would have had if we had mismanaged wealth and compared to poor people all over the world.

-Rather than re-try failed projects, Republicans would rather put all their eggs in one basket: business. They say: You can see that business works, see the good results when America prospers. You can see problems go down. You don’t see that with programs, or not much. The Obama Boom of 2015 onwards (falsely claimed by Trump), did more to reduce Black unemployment than all the programs of the past. If business does work, and business works for my family, why not use business as the solution? Look to business to give everyone enough so that, even though all are not equal, we all have enough so that our children have realistic hope, and we take the edge off bad competition and we can work together. Let business find technical ways to save nature. Let business find a place for all ethnic, religious, and social groups who are willing to work. Let business find ways to work together. Don’t adopt anything that hinders business. Don’t fund alternatives because that is a dead waste and it hurts business. Oppose the fools that don’t see all this.

Business is the Republican way of hinting that they can-and-will give everything to everybody but also of making people individually, or as a social group, responsible for what they get or don’t get. It is the Republican way for the Party to have its cake and eat it too; and it works. It is a way to give to your clients while blocking the clients of the Democrats and all-the-while making the results seem due to the merit or demerit of the people that get and don’t get. That is an impressive political strategy, and worth holding on to.

Business is the guiding worldview of Republicans. Business is how Republicans would like to see a better America, the world, and the role of America in the world. This is much how the English saw themselves in the 1800s and what the Germans wished to have beginning in the late 1800s. This view is much like the Chinese view now of China as eventually the biggest economy in the world and thereby leading the new Chinese-centered world. Business means wealth means power, and vice versa. Even if China does become the biggest economy in the world, that status will not be enough to lead the world properly. Business is not enough for a vision of a better American, a better world, and the role of a better America in a better world.

Republicans try to add a version of morality to business but that “pasting on” does not succeed and the two cobbled clumsily together are not enough for a good world view. Business is how Republicans hint that they can-and-will give everything to everyone, so Republicans seem to succeed because people believe what they wish to have; but still Republicans do not really succeed in giving us a working world view. People sense the emptiness behind the Republican business-is-all world view much like the emptiness inside a powerful Ring Wraith. Most people want much better. People put up with the Republican business world view, “double down” over it, and fool themselves, because Democrats have no coherent world view at all to offer in its place, and people need a coherent world view.

People hide from themselves what they do. This hiding leads to guilt, bad feelings of the self, and bad relations with others.

-Maybe the greatest political triumph of Republicans in the 1900s was, in the 1970s through 1990s, to convince working and middle class Americans, including the women in those classes, and including many non-Whites, that their interests rested with business, business firms, business people, and business leaders far more than with anything in the Democratic Party. Republicans convinced the working and middle classes that business leaders were their leaders and their saviors. Republicans got those people to look on Republican leaders as modern lords. For the entire 1900s until Ronald Reagan, those people had viewed business as the opposition and enemy. They shifted not only due to Reagan’s silky rhetoric but his charm did help. He gave people a rationale for doing what they wished to do for other reasons. You will see some reasons scattered through all parts of this essay. Belief in business and its leaders is so strong that it easily overcomes cases when it seems that business is abusing the working and middle classes, as with sending jobs and factories overseas (outsourcing), tax cuts for the rich, and the income gap. The strength of the belief in business is due partly to what Republicans say they offer but also to what Democrats don’t offer, what Democrats portend (threaten) such as more support to non-Whites non-Asians, partly to desperation, and partly to irrationality that I am not much in touch with and so can’t comment much on.

-If you fear that the irrational demands of other groups will undermine the country and the security of your family, then you fear, strongly dislike, and sometimes hate, those people. This is one reason why Blacks fear, strongly dislike, and often hate Whites, and why women sometimes hate men. It is a reason why Democrats and Republicans hate in general. People make ugly what they fear so that they have an excuse to fear and hate. It even happens to the group with economic power, business people. It is sad. But it is also human, and it is hard to avoid.

-Because of the failure of social programs, I (Mike) have found it hard to tell Republicans what is going on, tell them about deeper realities of the economy, history of the economy, history of attitudes, and what might be more reasonable than simply to deny all programs and to push business like crazy. They think I try to excuse the failures and to find another rationale for continuing the failures or to begin new failures. It is hard to tell Republicans they know the economy and human nature better than Democrats but still they misuse their knowledge and that their selective use amounts to willful ignorance and willful badness. It is hard to tell Republicans that the flaws and problems are real. It is hard to show them that business does not by itself solve all problems, that a rising tide does not float all boats. They take any alternative to “gung ho business” as going right away to full blown Russian-like old-style socialism, with Republicans paying, their families ruined, and them living under the thumb of Democratic non-White and gender-weird Commissars. Even when they do know better, they have to reject a fully realistic view of the economy including its flaws and problems because they don’t think a full understanding will lead to anything good and they think it must lead to something bad. They have to reject truth that they know is true. All this is sad.

What Do Conservatives Wish to Conserve or to Change?

If you have not already done so, please read Part 2 on the family.

Conservatives should have some things that they wish to conserve, that they wish not to change. They should also have some things that they will change. They need to be able to tell one from the other and to give good reasons. They do not have to make sense in the same way as Liberals but they do have to make sense in their own ways. Republicans are not conservatives in this way, at all. They do have things that they wish to keep, often mostly symbolic; and they do embrace some change, usually change that benefits them in finance and power; but they cannot give coherent good reasons, not the same reasons that an old Conservative would give.

Republicans are not Conservatives in that they wish to keep institutions from the past because those institutions have proven themselves good. Republicans wish to keep old institutions when those help Republican wealth and power. Republicans invent institutions and pretend the new is old so they can get the new adopted and can use the new as they wish, as with executive privilege and their ideas of states’ rights and gun rights. Old Conservatives opposed changed without direction, change that did not lead to the good of the whole, and “Lefty” change because most such changes create more harm than good. Republicans do not oppose change for those reasons but because the change erodes their power and wealth. Conservatives adopted the new when it built on the old, did not cause too much damage too fast, caused some obvious good, and when the old was not up to the job of what society needs now. Republicans do not wish to keep the old, discard the old, avoid the new, or adopt the new, for those good Conservative reasons. There is nothing Republicans wish to conserve in the original sense of the term “Conservative”. Republicans make a show of keeping some institutions but the institutions are not as they were in the past and usually are idealized and not realistic, such as the many Christian churches and the mythological American family. Usually the idealized form helps clients of the Republican Party and it hurts Democrats and their clients, such as the idealized nuclear family living in an idealized single-family house with a big yard, the woman staying home, and the man going out to bring home the bacon. Republicans extol their image of ideal traditional religion that never was without knowing the history of their religion, what is really old in it, and what changed 2000 years, 1600 years, 400 years, 200 years, or 50 years ago. They want to “conserve” business even if business as we know it is only 200 years old and corporations only 150 years old. Original Conservatives detested capitalist business and would detest most business practices now. Republicans want to keep their idealized unrealistic institutions although those institutions go against God-given nature such as chemical-heavy mono-cropping.

Republicans (seem to) wish to dance on Nature’s grave like a bunch of cackling demons; yet Nature is the first, original, and likely the best, gift that God ever gave us. It is the original institution that needs to be conserved under the stewardship of godly people. God did not give it to us only to use, use up, pollute, and kill, but to be kind to, as God admonished the people of Israel to be kind to animals and to strangers. Is get-rich-quick how we carry out our duty as stewards?

Reminder: A lot of social and cultural change did happen fast starting in the 1950s, most change was silly, and some was hurtful such as indiscriminate sex. But, contrary to Right Wing scare stories, not many people got lost in the changes. The changes of the “wild 60s” are no longer a threat and no longer an excuse to hold on to unrealistic families and unrealistic beliefs. Most people now are not afraid of LGBTQ people (gays) and marijuana. Most people welcome guidance about what was original, old, and good, what to keep, the new normal, what to change, what to change to, and how fast. They won’t get guidance from Republicans as long as Republicans insist on saying they adhere strictly to old time family and old time religion, as a tactic to hold some clients. That is why Republicans lost “Millenials” in 2008 to Obama and why they will lose Millenials again when young people have a real choice. Rather than Charles Manson, people now should fear people who devised the housing crisis of 2006, credit card charges, fake bank accounts, and the Wolf of Wall Street, but Republicans do not warn us against them.

Ask Republican children if they would like to live in a small house with four generations of kin, take care of the old people when the old people poop in their pants, forego marriage if you are among the young children, be a spinster at 19, marry only who your parents approve of, date only sparingly and only with a chaperone, go to church every Sunday, not have an abortion if you get pregnant at 14, never get drunk in public, always do military service, not get an education beyond sixth grade especially if you are a girl, and spend seven years as an apprentice before opening your own small shop. Why don’t Republicans defend that family? That is the real traditional family, not the Cleavers from TV.

Republicans need to decide what they really want to keep and why. They need to decide if that really is the tradition, and, if not, why they still fight for it. They need to decide what change to accept or reject and why. They need to decide what changes they look forward to and how to get there so the new is as good as possible. They need to explain why all this is “Conservative” or is not Conservative.

It is not Conservative to believe in a sinister homosexual agenda, war on Christmas or Christians, or a war on the family. It is not Conservative to see things in terms of cultural wars. It is Conservative to see things in terms of the underlying causes, in terms of what holds society together, what changes with the times but does not really threaten society, and what really does threaten society.

What EXACTLY about homosexual pairs and about families based on homosexuals bothers you? It is alright to say “it creeps me out” if you are old enough and have had little experience with LGBTQ (gay) people; but it is not alright to rest with that feeling if you are a true Conservative. It is weakly alright to say “the Bible is against all homosexuality and homosexuals” but you had better understand the Bible really well and understand not only the very few parts that disparage homosexuality but also the parts that call for seeing the common humanity of us all and for appreciating the good character of most gay people. If you use the Bible, then you should understand that other genuine people can use the same book and come to different conclusions about this issue.

What EXACTLY is good about good families and bad about bad families? Are all Conservative families good in the good way and are all Lefty families bad in the bad way? Are more Conservative families good in the good way than Lefty families? Are you sure? Are Conservative families better in the good way than Lefty families? Why not promote what is good and fight what is bad in all kinds of families, of all political persuasions? Isn’t that the true Conservative response?

Aside from the tendency of Democrats to spend like crazy where spending won’t do much long term good, what exactly is at stake in the cultural wars? Why don’t you fight for something deeper?

Do you really think America will go to hell if it becomes more Left wing, as, for example, if we legalize marijuana or gay marriage? What is God really mad about, and are you avoiding that? Are you doing what God really wants even more than disparaging homosexuals? Don’t you think God will be happy if we seek to respect people as Jesus respected people?

What are the deep underling principles that you wish to promote or to fight? Don’t settle for external markers such as clothing, sexuality (gender), family type, gun ownership, or who a person voted for in any election. Don’t even settle for nominal religion such as Christianity or Islam. What is good in each religion that you wish to conserve as part of your religion and as a plan for your life based on religion? How do you conserve what matters without distraction from what is not very important? That is what a true Conservative does. Do you really do that?

When a candidate says “As a Conservative blah blah blah”, what he-she really means is something like: “I will promote business. I will take from the poor, working class, and middle class to give to business if I think it will promote business. Business can save us. I will support projects that help business but fight projects that do not help business. I will fight projects that help Democratic clients such as Blacks and women and immigrants. I will make sure the children of our clients all get a good enough education and make good enough connections to get good jobs. I will make sure the children of our clients get good enough jobs although I take wealth from them to support business. I will make sure that the children of White, some Asian, and some Hispanic, clients, get the best first shot at good jobs and that the children of Democratic clients are relegated to leftovers. I will not support projects that give the children of others a chance to get good jobs first. I will kill those projects. This is my idea of family values, what I wish to conserve. You can count on me for that. I will support the symbolic crusades that identify us to ourselves and against others yet that make little real difference in business, such as for guns but against abortion, against marijuana, and against non-traditional gender and sex. I will make fun of attempts by women, gays, and non-Whites to find self and purpose. When I say ‘Washington and Liberals are bad’, I use them to stand for all that our clients fear, against everything I support, so I can use them as a bad contrast to my good position.” This stance has little to do with Conservative ideas. Don’t settle for this crap.

Rights and Responsibilities (Duties) 2.

See Rights and Responsibilities 1 above for Democrats. The Republican view of rights and duties is best seen in relation to two ideas from economics. Even a modest treatment of the ideas from economics needs more space than I can give here. I put a version in an essay on my website as a companion to this essay. Here I give a brief version without justifying points. Before you get angry at the content, read the companion piece and take seriously its suggestions.

The two economic ideas are labeled A and B. Here, “rich” and “wealthy” include the upper class and most of the upper middle class. “Non-rich” is everyone else, and, includes some people of the upper middle class. Lefty professionals such as college professors like to think they are not allied with the rich but in this case, as in most cases, they are. I subsume “income” under “wealth”.

(A) Investment, Economic Health, Growth, and Rich People

(A1) Ideas in the Republican View:

(A1 a) (a1) Despite being the greatest economy ever and robust in most ways, our economy is always in trouble. This is a conundrum but still true. Our economy is hurt by Democratic programs but not only those. It has its own problems. What these problems are remains vague. They are not the flaws and problems that Mike wrote about above. (a2) The economy can always gain from more investment. More investment of any kind never hurts the economy but always helps. So the economy always needs more investment. (a3) More investment and more expansion automatically cure all problems. (a4) There is no difference between forced expansion due to forced investment versus natural growth from natural investment. We can and should use forced expansion due to forced investment to cure all ills.

(A1 b) (b1) Rich people always invest a greater ratio of their income and wealth than non-rich people. The more income and wealth that rich people have, the more they invest. (b2) The more income that non-rich people have, they do not invest but instead mostly waste.

(A1 c) The state can help by giving rich people advantages to give them more wealth. Rich people use the added wealth to invest. Advantages include tax breaks, tax shelters, funds for research, covering business losses, covering business expenses, reducing risk, reducing uncertainty, and more.

(A1 d) (Repeat from a1) The extra investment always helps the economy and so helps all people and the whole nation. There is no limit to extra investment from rich people from state advantages. All added investment from added wealth to rich people from state advantages, is good.

(A1 e) (e1) As I say many times in this essay, giving advantages to one group makes other groups pay for the advantages, not just when the White working class pays for Blacks or the Black working class pays for the White upper middle class, but in all cases. Giving the rich advantages moves (transfers) wealth from the non-rich to the rich. A big way to effectively force the non-rich to pay for the rich is with sales taxes. (e2) in addition to moving wealth from the non-rich indirectly through advantages for the rich, the state can move wealth directly by taxing the non-rich at a higher rate, and then giving advantages to the rich such as with grants for research and by covering business losses. The state does both.

(A1 f) However much the non-rich give to the rich, the non-rich still benefit overall because the economy grows and the non-rich benefit from the growth. The economic growth leads to more benefit for all, including more benefit to the non-rich than the non-rich lost when they subsidized the rich.

Rich people have developed attitudes that go along with these ideas about the economy. I go into the attitudes after I assess the truth.

(A2) Except for b1 and e, all the ideas are nearly completely false. They can be true only under specific and unusual conditions. There is no point here going into those specific conditions because they do not prevail often enough to base general long-term policy on.

(A3) Some Truth: There is a difference between natural good growth versus forced expansion. Forced expansion is almost always bad. The first issues that we need to deal with are the flaws and problems noted in Part 1. We cannot, and should not, deal with vague unspecified problems that supposedly can be cured by forced investment and forced expansion, no matter how unsatisfied we feel, until after we have dealt with the flaws and problems that I wrote about.

The free market, under most conditions, automatically makes enough capital (wealth) for investment, especially for good investment. The free market, under most conditions, automatically leads people to invest the right ratio of their wealth (incomes) given their income and their financial positions. The state does not need to make sure there is enough wealth for investment. The state does not need to insure rich people have more wealth for more investment. The state does not need to move wealth from non-rich people to rich people. More and more investment does not lead to good growth and usually leads to bad expansion that looks like growth but is not. We err to help rich people to invest ever more. We should stop. In unusual conditions where it can help to give rich people more wealth to invest, those conditions are almost always done in less than four years, and advantages to the rich should be taken back. And those conditions do not recur every ten years but recur only about once ever fifty years. Of course, as with nearly all state programs, the advantages are never taken back, and recipients, the rich, always agitate for more of the present advantages and additional other advantages. The state should treat rich and ordinary people the same. It should tax both on a single graduated mildly progressive scale (tax rate increases slightly with income). The state should end sales taxes. The state should not move wealth from the non-rich to the rich. The economy does not always need more help, and does not need more help through playing around with taxes and advantages.

(A4) Attitudes, Rights, and Responsibilities: The attitudes here apply not only to rich people but to all members of the Republican Party including working class and middle class members, although the ideas do not apply in the same way. The ideas apply to the working and middle classes much as the attitudes about “being British” that prevail among the British aristocracy apply to the masses although the masses do not have the same position. For this material, take “investment” also to include owning big business firms, the normal conduct of big business firms, and managing big business firms. The term might also apply to mid-size business firms but here is not the place to quibble.

Primarily for selfish reasons, rich people, business firms, the Republican Party, and its clients, all tend to believe the above false ideas (A1) although they know the ideas are false. Most people repress knowing the ideas are false but still know at a deep level that the ideas are false.

It is important to get cause correct. Republicans do not start by believing false ideas about the economy and then get wrong, bad, and self-serving attitudes from false economic theories. Rather, Republicans start with wrong, bad, self-serving attitudes and then grab ideas from economics that justify attitudes. People do this with religion and academic ideologies. “Entitlement” recipients do the same. Poor people don’t really believe all the crap about bad rich people. They don’t know enough about rich people to believe much either way. Poor people wish support from the state so they seek ideas that justify what they wish. Poor people need to explain their situation to themselves, and it is psychologically easier to blame others and to give ourselves a heroic role. Whoever does it, it is wrong.

Republicans believe bad ideas for bad reasons, invert the real order of cause, repress it all, and this self-delusion allows them to act for their advantage and to justify how they act. You can ponder what such “self psyching out” does to people and to their relations with others. If it happens to Republicans, then a version also happens to Democrats, as described in various places in this essay.

The material that follows is mostly the point of view of rich people. Until about the 1960s, rich people would say ideas such as follow out loud, but, since then, they have learned to keep quiet. In the novel “Brave New World” by Aldus Huxley, the world had consolidated under one government. World society was divided into four large socio-economic classes, largely modeled on Hindu society and with parallels to ideal society as laid out by Plato in “The Republic”. Each class had a distinct view of the world. Each class saw itself as the real base on which society rested, and gave reasons why it was the base. Groups in American society can see the same thing differently and each group sees itself as the base. The novel is short, easy to read, fun, and sad. It is a classic of its kind.

When rich people invest, they help themselves but they also help the economy, the state, and all people individually and collectively. Rich people perform a public service. Their public service is the basis for a complex of rights, duties, and privileges.

In assessing the role of rich people in society and the state, we should see that the public service that rich people do more than outweighs any gain for them personally. Gain for them should play no part in how we see their public service and in what rights and duties their service entails. To see their service in terms of their gain blinds us to the greater good that they do, blinds us to the general good, and leads us to err in how the public and the state act toward rich people. Think in terms of their public service and only in terms of their public service. Deliberately avoid thinking in terms of their gain.

When rich people invest, because they benefit all of the people, they should be protected. They have a right to be protected beyond the normal rights as human beings and citizens. We have a duty to protect them beyond our duties to protect human beings and citizens in general.

A public service often is a duty, especially when people recognize that they perform a public service and have it within their power to perform the public service regularly. Investment is a duty for Republicans. It is their major duty, and about their only major duty, as we will see.

Investment is always risky and uncertain. Risk and uncertainty are dangerous. In carrying out their duty to invest, rich people face danger for their country, often great danger, and they face it all their lives. By investing, they are patriots, like lifetime soldiers, sailors, and airmen (air people) in battle. We rightly see that military people have greater status than most others, including some greater rights. We tend to their health their whole lives, and they are entitled to a pension. In the same way, rich people have greater rights. We should look out for them. The service of veterans ends when they leave the military but the service of rich people never ends. So they deserve respect and consideration their entire lives. Rich people don’t need the kinds of consideration that veterans need. They need consideration that goes along with the service that they give by investing and being rich, and goes along with their social role and social class. Exactly what more rich people deserve will emerge presently.

Even if you are not swayed by the argument that rich people face danger like soldiers, rich people still perform a service that no other people can perform, a real service with real general good. Rich people see their service as their duty, and carry out their duty. For those reasons alone, rich people deserve extra consideration based on their wealth and social status.

Wealth serves the country by guiding investment so that the country grows in the right ways and grows ever more. Wealth makes more wealth and makes ever better guidance. People who already are rich have a right to stay rich and to get ever richer. The state has a duty to make sure rich people stay rich. Rich people have a right to make sure the state makes sure they stay rich and get richer.

Wealth is power and power is wealth. Republicans have a right to power and to ever more power. Their power is always justified while the power of Democrats is always a kind of usurpation.

Simply by being wealthy and powerful, and by running business firms and offices, Republicans get more experience of the real world than other people do. So, Republicans have a right to run the state and the right to power.

The way that Republicans run the state is not directly hands-on but by making sure that the right people get into offices and stay. In investing, and in owning and running business firms, Republicans don’t go down onto the factory floor and weld car frames. Republicans pick the right people to do the right jobs. As the investors and leaders, Republicans have the right and duty to do this. Republicans are better able to do this because they have experience. Putting the right people into state offices is much like putting wealth into the right places and putting the right people into jobs in business firms. Republicans have a right to put people into state offices and a duty to do this. That is how they govern well.

Non-rich people have a duty to accept the leadership of Republicans and their officers. Non-rich people have a duty to go along with Republicans holding wealth and power. Non-rich people ought to feel honored that they can help the Republicans manage the economy and the state by allowing the state to move wealth from non-rich people to rich people.

Non-rich people have a duty not to grumble about unequal wealth and power, and Republicans have a right to make sure their officials know that non-rich people ought not to grumble. Rich people have a right to be protected from unrest by the masses, and the state has a duty to protect rich people from the masses.

Republicans do not have to learn the details of citizenship as long as the people that they get into office do the job for them. Republicans don’t have to learn the details of a school district bond measure or of a highway plan. Republicans don’t have to learn about flaws and problems in the economy, if there are any, which there are not. Republicans don’t have to learn how to deal with problems in the economy, even if problems are caused by flaws. That is what their state officers are for, like business managers of firms. If Republicans spend their time and effort learning details, they can’t learn how to invest and how to get the right people into offices.

Republicans don’t need to pay much in taxes, and should not pay much in taxes because taxes only take away from what they have to give to the country through investing. Even merely filing taxes and paying what the state forces them to pay makes them better citizens than other people because they give more than others. Merely managing their wealth for the benefit of the country is much better service than any taxes they could ever pay.

The state, the people, and officers of the state, should do nothing to hinder Republicans in carrying out their duties and rights by using wealth to invest and by making more wealth by which to invest more. Rich investors and business people should not be hindered by regulations and by so-called “watchdogs”. To a very great extent, good investment and good management coincide with the greater welfare of the nation, and so the greater welfare of the nation can be best promoted by letting good investment and good management act unhindered. Get out of the way.

Republicans have the duty and right to invest, run their firms, and put the right people into state offices. That is how they guide the nation and serve it. That is a lot of duty and right already. That is enough. We should not ask for any more. We should be grateful that rich people (Republicans) do their duty so well and ask so little through their rights. We should acknowledge their rights to hold their wealth, invest their wealth, get people into state offices, be secure in their wealth and persons, and make more wealth.

(B) Taking the Big Role

People in a modern economy depend on each other and help each other although usually they don’t consciously know they help and they underestimate the amount of help given and taken. Simply by doing his-her job, office, profession, or vocation, such as investing and business, each person helps many other people and the whole economy. Each person adds to total benefit. Simply by each private person doing his-her job etc., the total benefit to society is hundreds of times more than from the state, non-profit agencies, churches, politicians, community activists, political parties, activists, and commentators, all combined. This result is a reason to feel good about yourself but not to feel heroic unless you are a police officer, firefighter, military person, or other person directly in harm’s way.

Republicans twist this truth to make too much of it for them but too little for Democrats, Democratic clients, and all working people including the middle class. Republicans take their role in the economy to be heroic and to add greatly to total benefit, far more per Republican person than for other persons. I don’t explain how they rationalize this view. Professional people, business people, and some officers feel they add much more to the total of benefit than do most other people who exert the same effort and more than do other people who might be just as smart and have similar education. Simply by doing their vocation, or by investing, professional people, business people, and some officers automatically do much more good than do other people.

In addition, simply by doing their vocation, or by investing, professional people, business people, and some officers automatically know better how to govern than do other people, and they have the right to govern. Mostly they exert their right-and-duty to govern by making sure the right people go into state offices. Their duty to govern well, a duty that goes with their right, is met automatically because their life leads them to know more about life and about governing than do other people.

Through the benefit they bestow with their vocation, and they benefit they bestow by governing well, professionals, business people, and officers are lord-like and help society much more than do other people simply by the professionals, business people, and officers carrying on with their lordly-like status, life, and vocation. Common people accept this dimension in professionals, business people, and most officers. We not only pay congress people, professors, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and business people but we say “thank you” as well when we would not say “thank you “ to the people who mow the lawn or to a mechanic.

All Republicans feel they belong to this class of lord-like people and so have a right to all this. If they are not a lord themselves, then they are in the class associated with lords. They have done all their duties as a citizen, and have done more duty than others, simply in doing their vocation, investing, and installing people into offices. Their only further duty is to scorn Democrats and Democratic clients. This attitude is unwarranted arrogance. Most professionals, business people, and officers know the danger and fight arrogance. Republicans believe their false version of lordly charisma although they know it is false. Again, you can guess what this contradiction does to their psyches and their relations with other people. One reason people in general wish to be Republican is so they can share this lordly stance, even if only as the equivalent of a squire. One reason the poor, working class, and middle class go along with the rich is because Republicans are the lordly class of old extended into our times.

The wrong attitudes from A and B combine. It is the right of Republicans as Republicans to pay little in taxes, get help from the state, have wealth shifted to them, rule by putting people into state offices, be accepted as the ruling class, and get richer. Republicans as Republicans have no more responsibilities other than to invest, carry out their vocation, and install the right people into state offices. Republicans have done all their duty as a citizen, and have no more responsibilities, when they do that. Republicans think other people should recognize their status and recognize how much they have done for society simply by being Republicans, investing, carrying out their vocation, and installing the right people into government offices.

Of course, not all Republicans think like this. Many are true patriots, do a lot for their country, and make real sacrifices for their country. Many serve their communities and other communities far beyond their vocation and beyond investing. Many Republicans see far beyond investing and token tax-paying. Many Republicans such as (I assume) Warren Buffet, even wish to pay a fair share of taxes, at about the same rate as the middle class. As noted, I think most long-term military people are Republicans who actually do risk their own real lives. I have little personal experience, but I think Republicans, like Democrats, who really have seen much of the world and really do know people, do not rest on the presumptions of their status but choose to work hard to make the world deeply enduringly better. While, like everyone, Republicans might wish other people do the work of their duties for them, most Republicans don’t really expect the masses to do that. Republicans tend to see the big picture nationally and internationally and tend to take their duties seriously as a result of seeing the big picture. Do not tar all Republicans with the above selfish brush.

Even so, the combined bad attitude from A and B is pervasive enough to cause a bias in the Republican Party, and a bias among Republicans and self-styled “Conservatives”. The twisted facts, lordly attitude, claim of status, right to govern, claim of having fulfilled all duties, and evasion of responsibilities, are all much too juicy to pass up. The attitude affects politics and fiscal policy. It creates tax programs at all levels of government. This attitude is fully as bad as the wrong idea of Democratic clients that they have big rights, their rights should always prevail, other groups are always trying to kill their rights, and they don’t have to think about their duties at all. If Republicans have done their full duty when they deposit a dividend check, deliver a dental crown to a paying patient, or get richer thanks to biased treatment by the state, then welfare loafers also have done their full duty when they spend welfare money on booze and drugs and they agitate the Democrats to raise welfare stipends by exploiting the plight of poor kids. The parallel bad attitudes by Republicans and Democrats is why both need a stern course in the idea that all rights entail responsibilities, and in the whole system of rights and duties of a good adept citizen in a modern democracy.

The Main Course about Republicans (with some repetition):

Republican Membership.

-If we see Republican politicians as distinct from the business class, then the first and most important clients of the Republican Party are big business firms.

If we see big business firms and their leaders as the heart of the Party and see Republican politicians as an extension of big business interests, then the most important clients in 2018 are: (a) working people with fairly steady jobs, often with decent pay and benefits, who are not in some ethnic groups such as Blacks; (b) middle class people with steady jobs, usually with good pay and good benefits, usually White, and usually are not in some ethnic groups such as Blacks; (c) upper middle class people including academic and professional people; (d) some small business people; and (e) many medium sized business people. The Republican Party includes few ethnic minorities such as Blacks, the poor, or people with insecure bad jobs. It includes women who are in the client groups and women who are spouses of men in the client groups. It includes recent immigrants who have done well such as some Asians, Muslim professional people, and Eastern Europeans. It includes many recent immigrants who feel threatened by immigrants from long ago, such as some recent Asians and Muslim immigrants who feel threatened by Blacks and by White Christians.

Again: Working and middle class people who have half-way good jobs but who fear falling into poverty, feel insecure, and fear competition from the working and middle class people just below them, mostly moved to the Republican Party in the 1970s - but they might vote either way depending on which Party-or-candidate they think remembers them in this particular election. They feel forgotten by both Parties. Especially White people in this group feel forgotten. People of all ethnicities in this category change votes and Party affiliation more according to local candidate than national policy, unless a charismatic wannabe minor demagogue emerges. Until wage stagnation and the income-wealth gap became clear, costs of living rose, and they could see that their children were not getting ahead, they tended to vote Republican. Now that they do not think Republicans will help, they do not automatically support either Party. I do not know which way their allegiance usually goes now. I do not guess here. If I were forced, I would say the older people of this group still tend to vote Republican but younger people are moving more Democratic. Please use you own experience to make the division for yourself about this group as you read other points.


-The Republican Party supports big business through: direct legal protection against problems such as liability and law suits, de-regulation for themselves, selective regulation of enemies, selective increase or reduction of tariffs, tax breaks, research in schools, support for research in business firms, grants, and manipulation of markets. The accurate term for all this support is “corporate welfare”. A better term is “wannabe business fascism” but that term is not likely to catch on. The general approach is like China after about 1990.

-The Republican Party pretends to support small business but supports small business only so as not to alienate small business and as a roundabout way to help big business.

-Republicans understand a real modern capitalist economy better than Democrats but they do not use their knowledge wisely. Despite knowing more about the economy, Republicans either do not know, or repress knowing: the economy has an irreducible minimum of involuntary unemployment, bad jobs are pushing out good jobs, many people are now not smart enough to get much of any job, the problems with employment fall unequally on social groups, the problems fall harder on children, and there has been a big increasing gap in income and wealth since 1980. Republicans do not know about, or repress knowing, the flaws and problems of the economy. Republicans pretend the economy could be perfect with their help when they know it cannot.

Republicans do not primarily figure what programs the economy can maintain, what programs are net gains, which net losses, which help the economy, which shrink it, which are morally needed regardless of modest cost, which are moral but too expensive, and which business activities harm human character and nature (environment) over the long run. Instead, Republicans interfere to gain wealth and power and to please clients. They use what they know for that and mostly only that.

Republicans are good at making the criticisms implied above about the programs of Democrats but not for their programs or all programs. So far, Republicans have convinced the public that they are better at this figuring, but, if the public catches on that they will not figure out fully anymore than do Democrats, Republicans will be discredited too.

Republicans know there is a difference between good economic growth based on natural choice and natural investment versus bad economic expansion due to forced investment through channeling wealth to already-wealthy people and firms. They know good growth helps while bad expansion usually hurts. Republicans repress admitting this difference so they can get state aid for their clients, aid that state aid results in more income and more wealth. Republicans repress admitting the difference so they can effectively punish Democratic clients by making them pay for aid to Republican clients. Thus Democratic clients, often the poor and working class, are less able to compete with Republican clients, the working class and middle class.

Republicans do not make a general rational reasonable assessment of all programs in the context of the real economy because, if they did, they would have to admit they know about the flaws of the economy and the results of the flaws. They would have to admit that they deliberately repress some aspects of economic reality that they know are real. They would have to take real unemployment, socio-economic, class, bad jobs, not-smart people, different impact on social groups, and different impact on children, into account, and they wish not to. They would rather pretend that we have full employment, have total social mobility based entirely on individual merit, and that anybody can fully make it, than to do a thorough good job for the sake of the nation.

More Jobs and Better Jobs through Business” is a Ploy.

-Especially since Reagan and the influx of new Party members after 1980, Republicans promote business not directly but indirectly by claiming to create jobs. Republicans say they ask for tax breaks, zoning changes, grants, legal immunity, pollution exemptions, lax regulations, protection from competition, tariffs, etc. not because it helps business but because it leads to factories, offices, distribution centers, and, supposedly, jobs. Republicans are all about jobs now, not about business. In elections, Republican incumbents take credit for every job since the start of time, and Republican candidates promise to give business more benefits so as to get jobs, and only to get jobs.

Of course, really, “more jobs, and better jobs, through business” is merely a ploy. It is a way to get many people to support a candidate so he-she can support business. Whenever a Republican brags about jobs or promises jobs you can be sure that is not what is really at stake. The sight of Republicans promoting themselves as “job creators” is deeply annoying. Trump is an example.

The ploy works mostly because voters can’t see what else to do. Democrats don’t seem good at making jobs. “Make work” from the state does not succeed in the long run and it costs more than it is worth. Simply getting more education doesn’t succeed now; jobs have to be there before your child can get a degree to compete for them; mom’s basement is a cliché. Business might be good for the country or not; business people might be good people or not; business likely gains more than the people gain when factories, offices, and distribution centers come here instead of go there – but at least local people some place get a few jobs for their children. If “more business here” is the only way you can see to make jobs, then you fool yourself into believing “whole hog” even if inside you worry. Hard-up people believe what they have to believe and believe it all the more when they know it is not really true. Republicans know all this and use it adeptly during campaigns and in office.

The real questions are:

(1) Whether jobs created under Republican conditions lead to net gains for the whole country, the poor, working and middle classes, and all the people; OR

(2) Whether simply letting the economy take its natural course without much help for business would do even better for the nation as a whole; for the poor, working and middle classes; and for the people as a whole; if we were astute about how to manage, how to interfere and not interfere.

Which is better: (1) state interference, OR (2) a mostly free market that is modestly well-regulated so as to benefit the whole (2)? Can we succeed if we merely play fair with business (2)? These questions are hard. The answers require numbers and deep thought about “might”. We have to think if the jobs are good or bad, and how long the jobs likely will last. We have to consider if benefits given to business are by a local area such as a state or county, or if benefits are in a national package. We have to balance gains-and-losses to a local area against gains-and-losses to the whole nation. In a national package, we have to balance gains-and-losses to business in general against gains-and-losses to all the people and the whole nation. So I don’t go into the issues other than to offer my opinion. I strongly favor (2).

The strategy of giving to business can succeed in a limited way, for a limited time, in local areas, such as by leading to more jobs locally and to more revenue from payroll, property, and sales taxes. It can gain enough so gains temporarily make up for concessions in land taxes, infrastructure costs, pollution costs, security costs, etc. Even if it works locally for a while, the strategy can fail locally as when pollution costs are more than expected, people re-locate out of the area to better new subdivisions, people buy their stuff in other shopping malls, or when business gets a better deal elsewhere sooner than expected and moves to another local area or to India.

Even if promoting business locally succeeds for a while, and as tempting as that temporary success is to a local area, local success is not the real issue to a citizen of a whole democracy. For good citizens, even for good citizens in local areas where giving concessions to business might succeed, the real question is whether local gain, and gain to the whole nation, outweighs loss to the whole nation in giving business firms benefits.

(1A) Even if a local area does gain for a while, that does not mean the nation as a whole gained. Jobs gained locally by serving business are like jobs gained through casinos. They help some at one here-and-now but they hurt at many there-and-later more than help one here-and-now. They take resources from other areas to move here. They take away what other areas would have made through business there, jobs there, and modest fair taxes there. They pit one area against other areas, pit one area against the nation, to see who can go lower and give away more to business. Any net gain for this local area likely does not make up for net loss all over. And, any net gain here now likely will be offset by loss here later. Business firms love to get local areas bidding against each other to see who can give away more to business regardless of fairness and regardless of overall gain or loss to the nation.

It is true that a factory, store, office, or distribution center has to be located somewhere, and so it might as well be located here so that here can benefit regardless of what happens there. But, when here and there compete to “give away the farm” so as to get the so-called boon here, then everywhere has lost even if here gains temporarily. The concessions that any locality has to make to get the factory, office, etc. placed here instead of placed there almost wipe out the benefits of getting it here and they often do wipe out net benefit for the country as a whole.

The whole can gain only if the deal with business at every location meets general minimum standards of fairness, standards that insure the whole benefits overall. The whole can gain only if all local areas are stopped from giving away the farm. There has to be a limit on what local areas can give away, and all local areas have to abide by that limit. Concessions to business can be only moderate; they can never be heavy. For example, business should be expected to pay reasonable property taxes and to contribute to infrastructure. We might expect business to help pay for police, fire, and schools. If old business pays taxes on profit, new business should as well. That framework is rarely so. People know in their gut but can’t do much about it.

(1B) Any supposed gain by strongly promoting general business in the whole country, including any supposed overall gain in jobs, in fact loses resources that business should have given to the whole, as by taxes on obvious profits and by fair jobs, and so results in a net loss to the whole. The whole country loses rather than gains. The whole country has fewer jobs rather than more, and has fewer good jobs rather than more good jobs. When business gets benefits that normal human beings don’t get, when big business firms get benefits that small business firms doesn’t get, when farmers get benefits that other business firms don’t get, or when any industry gets benefits that other industries don’t get, the country as a whole loses. The country as a whole loses good jobs. The fact that this interference, even for some business, leads to a net loss rather than a gain is what it means to have a fair free enterprise economy that runs fairly well. This is what it means to say fair trade is better than state interference including better than state aid to business. State aid is not only bad when it goes to unions and poor people; state aid is bad when it goes to business. Yes, really.

Only if business suffered a clear strong disadvantage to begin with, such as by being over-taxed, could general promotion of business lead to net gain for the whole and to more good jobs overall. In the US, business does not usually suffer like that now, although it has suffered like that modestly in the past. After the Reagan, Bush, and Trump tax cuts, business does NOT suffer from over-taxation or from much of anything else, so we cannot consider giving benefits to business as a way to get business back on a level playing field or as doing much overall good.

(1 overall) No, the country as a whole and the people as a whole are not well served by unusual aid to business, either locally or as part of a national plan. That is not a way to make good jobs or many bad jobs. (1) is “no”, (1) is false.

(2) If we were more astute about how to manage the economy, mostly by not interfering, we would get more jobs, and more good jobs, than by trying to make jobs happen by giving to business. We should help the free market to work as it should. If we really wish to help business, mostly we should do it not directly but indirectly through programs that help the whole country such as better education, better education for tech jobs, better infrastructure, better laws, and sensible laws about drugs that reduce jail costs and gather tax revenue. When a business firm seeks a local area, usually even more important to the firm than local concessions are a good local educated work force, a reliable local work force, good local laws, good local schools, good local infrastructure, good local housing, good local security, good local police, and good local fire service. Even a poor community can provide enough of this with the right attitude and cooperation. Business firms should always expect to pay their fare share of all the taxes that other firms pay and that individual firms pay.

(2) is “yes”, (2) is true. Go with (2) instead of unending aid to business supposedly to get jobs (1). We can succeed well if we merely play fair with business. We should not cheat business, “fleece the rich”, or give business extra benefits. It is not that hard to figure out fairness to business.

In theory, all the above is what good market-oriented “Conservative” Republican business people, office holders, and candidates should say too. In practice, instead, they push for as much state aid to business as they can get, at every level, using “more jobs, better jobs” as a ploy. Desperate people go along, both locally and nationally.

It would be good if Democrats could come up with a simple clear believable analysis to show why more business promotion (1) is false and why well-regulated free market fair play (2) is true; and it would be good if Democrats could come up with the proper modest management style that we need to help the whole country with (2). That plan would serve the whole country and all Democratic clients rather than serve only some clients. Not likely. As long as it is not likely, Republicans will get away with promoting business, and the country as a whole will suffer.

(In a deeper work than this essay, two other cases would need considering. Luckily for me here, these issues do not substantially change what I said above.

First, some nations, such as China, give business firms and industries considerable support. How do we handle this situation without distorting our own economy so much that our support actually makes our economy worse than the unfair competition does? The traditional answer is to subsidize-and-protect our firms and industries, locally and nationally. This response works a little, but nations, including the US, always take it too far. Since the 1960s, we have not subsidized-and-protected as heavily as before and we have relied more on free trade. This alternative worked fairly well until China after about 1995. India and other rising nations likely will take the same path as China.

Second, some local areas within the US are poor while others are rich. The level of wealth affects how they can entice business and how they deal with business once it is there. It changes how national packages affect local areas. Almost always, national plans hurt poor areas more than rich areas.)

Not Admit Flaws and Problems; the Economy is both Robust and Sickly.

Republicans repress admitting flaws and problems of the economy because: (a) to do so would interfere with state aid for their clients including business, (b) the mere idea of flaws and problems frightens and alienates Republican clients, and (c) to admit flaws and problems would not prevent Republicans from repressing Democratic programs and their clients.

Instead of the full truth, Republicans say: (A) The economy is robust thanks to Republican businessmen; (B) yet the economy always woefully underperforms due to Democratic programs; C) despite being always solid, somehow, except for boom times, the economy is always in trouble; (D) the economy must have state aid of the kind that only Republicans promote, such as tax breaks; the economy cannot have state aid of the kind that Democrats promote, such as to increase consumer demand and help the poor, working class, and middle class; and (F) Republican style aid is needed not simply to counter Democratic damage but because the economy intrinsically must have Republican style state said.

Republican style aid is needed not only to counter the harm done by Democrats but because, somehow, despite being robust, the economy never does what we want. It intrinsically always needs aid, and it always needs aid of the Republican kind, and only that kind. The fact that the economy never does all that we want and always needs Republican aid is not a flaw or problem as I describe above but is merely an annoying fact that Republicans can turn into a golden opportunity for them.

Of course, this view of the economy is self-contradictory and false. Republicans say all this, including the contradictions, so they can take all the credit for what good comes of the economy, blame Democrats for all the bad, and get more for their clients in any case.

If Republicans admit flaws and problems, they would have to admit this view is false. If they admit it is false, they could not ask for much of their kind of state aid. If Republicans could not ask for their kind of state aid, they would anger clients who depend on it, not only business firms, rich people, and the upper middle class but, lately more importantly, the working class and middle class. If Republicans admit flaws and problems, they have to admit the economy is not always robust in the ways that they say it is and that, when it is robust, economic health is not due mostly to Republican programs. They would have to admit that not all Democratic clients are chiseling slackers, and not all problems come from Democratic clients. They would have to admit that some programs, similar to Democratic programs, are needed to deal with flaws and problems. They have to come up with better versions of welfare, unemployment insurance, health care, aid to children, aid to schools, medical care for children and moms, and etc. Such reasonable programs would further anger their clients if only because such reasonable programs would help the rivals of Republican clients, the poor, insecure working class, and insecure middle class.

Most Republican clients know the Republican view of the economy is false, and Republican clients sense what would happen if they admitted the Republican view is false, although they might not be able to say it. They too believe not because it is true but because it is useful for them. As long as Republican clients buy this false view of the economy, Republicans can easily get away with promoting it, and will promote it to get gains for Republicans and their clients and to hurt Democrats and their clients.

I find all this confusion and denial a tragic waste of good knowledge, a tragic opportunity lost.

More on State Aid to Business and on the Contradiction.

-The Republican contradiction over economic strength, economic weakness, and state aid to business is worth dwelling on. Here the term “business” includes “rich people” as above, which includes much of the upper middle class.

(A) Republicans say American capitalist business has built the greatest economy and best standard of living in human history. It runs beautifully and provides wealth amazingly well for nearly all people.

(B) (B1) Yet, at the same time, the economy does not run at optimum. The economy is enough below optimum so we see problems such as poverty, unemployment, bad jobs, and overseas competition. If the economy ran at optimum, all problems would end automatically and everyone would live well. (B2) It will not run at optimum if the state does not aid business. The state must aid business.

This is a contradiction. Why is the economy running so well but not running at optimum? It helps to know in advance that the real aim of Republicans is to get-and-keep state aid to business and so all the other points are tools to that end.

Republicans give two incompatible answers. (1) All the damn stupid Democratic programs, including regulations, harm business, the economy, and the nation. Despite some benefit to some few lucky people, no programs cause more good than harm overall. All programs cause more harm than good. We must remove almost all programs and regulations.

In fact, Democratic insanity cannot be the only reason or major reason. Programs date only from the 1930s at the earliest, many from the 1960s and 70s, Jimmy Carter reduced regulations in the 1970s, and Republicans have been reducing programs and regulations since. We have had unemployment and bad jobs since before the Civil War, and the Great Depression happened when the state served big business and so did almost nothing. After much de-regulation, the economy still did not automatically solve all problems. Democratic programs do cause some problems but cannot be the main cause for continuing poverty, unemployment, bad employment, and bad relations between social groups.

It is not enough to say we need Republican programs, state aid to business, as a counter to Democratic programs while leaving Democratic programs in place. To do that is to cure low chills with high fever. If getting rid of all Democratic programs cured everything, it would be better to use all our effort to get rid of Democratic programs. It would not be a good use of effort to promote state aid to business on top of Democratic programs. Only if getting rid of all Democratic programs did not cure all the problems, only if the economy still had problems apart from Democratic programs, would it make sense to say we need both to get rid of Democratic programs and to promote state aid for business.

So (2) Republicans have to strongly imply there must be other reasons why the economy does not run at optimum. Republicans do not say what those other reasons are.

Republicans insist that, even if we don’t specify the reasons for the sub-optimal performance, state aid to business can cure the problems completely and only state aid to business can cure the problems at all. We must have state aid to business and we must block state aid to Democrats and their clients. To repeat: The idea that we must have state aid to business is the real goal behind the Republican case. The other points are primarily for support even if they have some merit on their own and even if some people take them as the main points.

Republicans avoid looking at the flaws and problems that I listed above in Part 1. Republicans would deny those flaws and problems can be much of a reason the state does not run at optimum. To accept those flaws and problems as a big cause would mean state aid to business could not alone cure the flaws and problems, likely would not help much, and could make it worse. We would need something more than state aid to business. We would need something like Democratic programs but run much better. We would have to actually govern well. So we have to look elsewhere, and the elsewhere is state aid to business along with removing Democratic programs.

With individuals and non-politicized social groups, an appeal for aid is more effective if the aid fills a deficit, fills a need that causes harm if not taken care of. The Gulf States of America need a lot of help with water control in general but really need the help, and often only get it, after a hurricane causes a lot of damage. The same is true of the economy. Aid is urgent if it helps heal a real need, a need that causes harm. Republicans say Democratic programs are not the only cause of sub-optimal performance, and the flaws that I described above are not the main cause. So there is a real need that has to be taken care of and there must be real causes for the need that only Republicans can see. State aid to business fills a need that must be taken care of, and is the only way to fill that need.

To say why state aid to business does the trick and only state aid to business does the trick, Republicans would have to specify exactly where problems come from. But, if they did say exactly where problems come from, I am sure their case would be weak, and the situation would require action other than state aid to business. I cannot think of any deep reasons that could be fixed entirely by state aid to business and only by state aid to business. As long as people will believe Republicans, it is better for Republicans to be vague about causes, and for Republicans to claim they are the only people who can solve all the problems caused for unspecified reasons, and only state to business can do the job.

Republicans say we should get rid of all Democratic programs even if we cannot specify other reasons for sub-optimal performance. Democratic programs cause so much damage, even if we do right things in the Republican way but do not get rid of Democratic programs, the economy still will run badly, and Republicans likely will get blamed. Reducing Democratic programs is a useful step, a co-first step, even if we must also do other things, Republican things, such as state aid to business.

Although Republicans condemn Democratic programs as a knee-jerk reflex, I think really they care much more about getting state aid for business than about Democratic programs one way or the other. They use anti-Democratic rhetoric as a way to get state aid for business and to make sure Democratic benefits stay within limits that do not harm Republicans and their clients. Republicans are better off to keep modest Democratic programs around as a whipping boy to blame and as a way to get-and-keep state aid to business, as long as Republicans can convince enough people that Democratic programs are bad and, and by doing so, Republicans can keep the upper hand in the battle of state aid. Having modest versions of Democratic programs keeps the masses under control well enough but leaves them restless enough to draw concern to them and away from Republicans. Having modest Democratic programs keeps the people from looking closely at the Republican claim of deep reasons for sub-optimal performance by the economy, reasons that require state aid to business. It is an effective diversion. People go along with this ploy, for various reasons that you should think about.

(Insistence on state aid to business is why Republicans and true Libertarians can’t get along in the end. Libertarians would be happy to end Democratic programs and state aid to business while Republicans wish to reduce-but-not-entirely-end Democratic programs yet keep robust state aid to business. I think Republicans would keep both if they had to choose between keeping both or losing both. Libertarians can’t go along with that.)

Republicans repress seeing that the economy had problems before Democratic programs and it would have worse problems if we removed all Democratic programs – even if Democratic programs do add problems of their own. Republicans repress seeing any flaws and problems that don’t help their case for state aid to business, as I described above. Republicans repress the need to say what the problems are apart from Democratic programs and apart from the flaws that I described. Of course, they insist there are such problems, state aid to business can fix them, and only state aid to business can fix them.

This stance actually works among Republicans and their clients. It works on the campaign trail and in closed meetings to raise funds. It works because they want to believe in something that supports state aid for business and denies state aid for Democratic clients. They believe although, in their hearts, they know it is false, and know that more needs to be done. I am amazed at what people will believe when it serves their selfish interests even at a cost to the greater nation. I am amazed at what works in politics and group dynamics.

Republicans are so eager for state aid to business, and to hinder Democrats and their clients, that they happily let the economy carry on with real flaws that cause much harm to the nation as a whole. They deliberately lie about the harm from Democratic programs. They deliberately lie about other deep causes. They deliberately overlook the recognized flaws and problems that I described above. And they repress the lies. This stance is not healthy and is quite selfish. This craziness is what Republicans accuse Democratic clients of. Almost all lying and repressing makes crazy zealot-like people and makes for bad relations with everybody else.

The Republican desire for state aid for business is a modern revival of what was called “Mercantilism”, in which the state and business cooperate to get power for the state by getting wealth through business. This idea is what economists from Adam Smith onward, and the idea of the free market, were supposed to have overthrown. It never stops recurring in various forms, including modern Republicanism. It is what China is doing and Russia tries to do. I think of it as a form of fascism, which Libertarians think of as a form of socialism.

All this is not the best way to use Republican superior knowledge about economic reality and about a real capitalist economy.

If you can find a willing Republican, ask the following. If not, ask yourself. Why does the economy work so well mostly but runs sub-optimally? What are the flaws and problems? Are they the same as those I described above or different? Can we blame all shortcomings on Democratic programs and clients? I assume we can’t, so why not? If something more than Democratic programs ails the economy, what? Why won’t Republicans tell us clearly what that is? Can state aid to business solve all problems? How? If state aid to business does not make the economy run well enough, why should we aid business at all? How do we deal with the real flaws and problems that I described above?

The Democratic response to all this is as bad as the Republican response. It uses as the root cause of sub-optimal performance that Republicans steal from working people (of all classes) and use the state to help steal. This idea is largely false; unearned or unfair profit is not the same as stealing. This idea does not explain the flaws and problems that I described above. It does not lead to good suggestions about to what to do. We deserve better from both Parties.

-Again: An expanded economy only creates a bigger, often worse, version of the same economy with the same flaws and problems. Economic expansion alone cannot cure flaws and problems. Induced expansion is not the same as good natural economic growth. Even good economic growth cannot cure all flaws and problems. Republicans know all this but repress it.

(1) The Republican Party deliberately lies when it confuses economic expansion (usually bad) with good natural economic growth. The Republican Party lies in saying an expanded economy automatically: (2a) solves all social and economic problems; (2b) makes everyone prosperous and happy; and (2c) makes good jobs for all, without regard to race, religion, age, gender, area, class, or political party. Republicans deliberately lie when they say that (2d) more economic expansion is more good economic growth and so more economic expansion automatically cures all problems.

This hypocrisy is a shame because an honest clear hard-headed assessment of what the economy can support and cannot support, what really is good and bad for the economy and the nation, what is good growth versus bad expansion, and what good growth really can do or can’t do, would be a great benefit to good statecraft and to all the people; and Republicans deprive us of that boon.

Tax Breaks.

-Republicans know that a tax break for one group puts a bigger burden on other groups, usually groups that are less able to bear the burden. Republicans should fight so taxes fall more evenly. This is a good use of knowledge about capitalism and governing. But Republicans do not do this. Instead, they fight for more tax breaks for clients and they enjoy when added burden falls on the shoulders of people who typically vote Democrat, even poor people. This Republican stance contradicts their self-view as great champions of morality, especially morality based in Christianity.

In 2018, Republicans did fight to expand the standard deduction, cap the amount of mortgage interest that can be taken from federal taxes, and cap the amount of local taxes that can be taken from federal taxes; this action shows good use of knowledge about the economy and taxes. I applaud them. But it is rare, too little, and too late. It is not only rare because Democrats opposed it but because middle and upper middle class Republicans opposed it as well, at least until recently. They supported it now only because, if they did not, they would lose support from the working class and middle class that they need for their own tax breaks.

Republicans support tax breaks because tax breaks heavily favor people who can actually take them, Republicans, even while tax breaks do little good for the people who cannot take them, poor people and working people, Democrats, and non-White non-Asian people. The people who cannot take the tax breaks are at a double disadvantage against people who can take tax breaks – they have to pay for some of the gain by richer people and they have to make up for all the lost revenue. Tax breaks are a way to gain an advantage and indirectly to punish competitors and keep them down. How many poor people can afford IRAs or take advantage of deductions for health insurance? Who pays for lost state revenue? I doubt many Republicans know consciously how this gimmick works and could explain it - if they did, they’d have to admit what they are doing - but they sense it and they approve. This kind of policy is part of promoting business rather than programs and a way of stifling programs. Republicans can sell tax breaks as a help to the middle class while glossing over how tax breaks hurt the poor and working class and do not usually help the middle class much. Upper middle class Democrats benefit from tax breaks as much as do Republicans, and so they support tax breaks as part of the trade-offs of politics. So we have many confusing tax breaks and we don’t have to think about what programs really succeed, what programs really fail, why, and what better to do.

Free Trade.

-The Republican Party says it favors free trade but does not. It favors free trade as long as the free trade helps business and its other clients. They overlook that state aid to business is not free trade, and, as far as I can tell, some Republicans actually think state aid to business actually is part of free trade. Usually the Party does not care if free trade hurt working people and middle class people. In fact, over the long run, genuine free trade helps working people and middle class people but that is not why Republicans favor their version of free trade.

Since working and middle class people joined the Party in large numbers after the middle 1970s, the Republican Party also attacks free trade to protect them, even at the expense of other clients. Donald Trump pulled out of accords on protecting the environment not because accords harm business (they actually help) but because party hacks had convinced working and middle class people that protecting the environment cost their children good jobs in the short run. They do not talk about the long run. Trump pulled America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership although the agreement would have helped America, helped most business in America, and most working and middle class people. The working and middle class people who entered the Party wrongly fear free trade. Rather than honestly explain free trade and the real world situation, Trump and the Party “caved in” to them. The biggest beneficiary of the American pullout was China, which took up the roles and the business that America vacated.

Republican View of Human Nature.

-To assess the Republican view of human nature, I should first present the Republican view. That takes too long. Rather, the Republican view is much like the American common sense view of human nature, without PC, but supplemented with the ideas of Republicans as the new lords and everyone else as the new peasantry. People are partly rational but also governed by hope, love, kindness, fear, greed, anger, hate, lust, and “us and them”. Republican leaders have the best mix, almost ideal. Republican members have an overall good mix guided mostly by clear-headed clear-sighted Reason. Often enough, nearly all Republicans can put country ahead of self. Many Democrats have good hearts but are fools otherwise. Too many Democrats, especially the clients, are greedy, don’t care about other people, and can’t think well enough to put the country as a high priority even if they cared. I count on readers to know enough about the Republican view so I don’t have to say much by way of introduction. More details come out in my comments.

-The Republican view of human nature is better-rounded than the Democratic view but Republicans don’t make good use of their knowledge. Instead, they pick and choose what supports their ideas about business, supports clients, makes the Democrats look bad, and makes clients of the Democratic Party look like immoral, degenerate, selfish, short-sighted leeches.

Republicans understand the feelings that develop in a zero sum game (what one person gains, another person loses). They have no trouble understanding how American business people feel in a trade game with the Chinese, or how insurance companies feel competing with each other for Medicare funds. But they can’t see how poor people, people with bad jobs, working class people who fear for their jobs, and middle class people who fear for their jobs, have the uneasy desperate feelings typical of a zero sum game, and how their feelings and acts hurt the nation. Republicans are happy to use the fear and anger of working and middle class people to make them into useful clients but Republicans do not channel the fear and anger into making a better economy and better nation. Republicans understand when fearful business firms seek to become clients of the state and so get security but they don’t understand when poor people seek to become clients of the state and so feed their families.

Republicans know how a deal can make everyone benefit but also that all parties benefit equally only rarely. Even if not everyone benefits absolutely equally, still the deal is worth making. Republicans also understand that, when A and B deal often, even if both benefit, if A always benefits clearly more than B, eventually the difference accumulates and the whole relation goes bad. Republicans also understand that competition is more comparative than absolute, more about getting ahead or behind the other guy than how much you actually have or don’t have. So Republicans know why, if A always makes more than B even if both gain, the relationship has to go bad. If Republicans did not know all this dynamic, they could not be good business people or politicians.

But they don’t apply the ideas to make politics better. They don’t see how poor people and people with bad jobs have to benefit and have to benefit enough in relation to everyone else. They don’t see how working class and middle class people with good jobs have to benefit and benefit enough in relation to upper middle class people, upper class people, and business firms. They don’t see how both workers and owners have to benefit and how workers have to benefit enough in relation to owners. They don’t see how Blacks have to benefit and have to benefit enough in relation to Whites. They don’t see that, when we give up a little directly to get more indirectly (we give so the whole benefits), poor people and working people with bad jobs have to give up less than people with good jobs. And so on. Republicans do see, actually, but they pretend not to see so they can use clients better. This is a shame because Democrats seem blind to these issues and so we need Republicans to explain and lead but they will not. They always only grab what they can get, and they usually get the most.

Republicans know that people and business firms want support from the state, people and firms cheat and lie, people and firms get lazy, and people and firms can be “guilted” into doing what we wish. They also know how to make an institutional framework that minimizes cheating etc. so we can get the most benefits with the least costs, and know how to use guilt to do it. They don’t use the knowledge to make programs that address national problems. They know welfare recipients and other Democratic clients cheat, so they design programs to expose cheating but not minimize it, and then use the cheating to try to close the programs. They design business oversight so firms can easily avoid and so firms can benefit even if the country as a whole loses, as with oversight over the housing finance industry and the credit card industry. They support aid to farmers knowing that big agribusiness firms benefit more than family farmers (by making up fake small firms through which to gain benefits). They make middle and upper middle class people feel guilty enough to pay taxes even though business firms get out of many similar taxes. They do not make business firms and managers feel guilty about not paying taxes, not supporting the community, destroying nature, and polluting.

-Above, I said that core Democrats think of themselves as hip-cool-rebel Enlightenment good guys and expect their clients to change into ideal Enlightenment good guys after a few days of state help through Democratic programs. Neither core Democrats nor their clients are like this, and clients do not change into Enlightenment good guys even after decades of help. Both core Democrats and their clients know they are wrong about human nature, the character of groups, and what happens during help. Both core Democrats and their clients hide all this from themselves. They secretly think “We will all be hip-cool-gangsta sweet rebel angels”. Many of the people in most Democratic client groups, such as Blacks and women, feel the following about patrons and other groups but won’t say it: “We are the real humans; they are not now and never can be; even though, right now, they have wealth and power”. Relations between core and clients, and between groups of clients, are deeply flawed by hypocrisy, resentment, and anger. Those bad feelings make for more bad feelings and bad acts. All this adds to the feeling of creepiness among Democrats and their clients.

In contrast, Republicans don’t expect state (Democratic) clients to change for the better through help or otherwise. Republicans think non-successful groups start out with a bad character, and stay that way regardless of how much help for how long. Republicans know, these days, not to express this view out loud because this view is clearly anti-PC (Politically Correct) but they think it all the same. They use as evidence: the continuing failure of state clients even after decades of help, the violence of Blacks, the attitude of Blacks, and some groups do succeed, usually without much help, such as Jews, Hispanics, and educated women. Republicans are not hypocrites except when in a room full of PC.

The Republican attitude amounts to prejudice. How mild or how harsh the prejudice is depends on the person and his-her experiences. Prejudice adds to creepiness that hovers over Republicans, as decades of Lefty critics have pointed out. Just because it is prejudice does not mean some of it isn’t true.

I disagree with much of the Republican assessment and I dislike the prejudice. You can find out where I agree and disagree, and why, throughout this essay. I feel the creepiness.

Still, I prefer the forthright looking down by Republicans on other people to the hypocrisy of Democrats and their clients. I would rather know what people think and where they stand. All Republican points and their attitude are out in the open. I can argue with them plainly, without first wading through a lot of self-serving hypocrisy. I don’t blame them for suffering from the PC Thought Police and so having to offer public hypocrisy. My attitude is like some Blacks in the 1960s when they preferred open racism of Whites in the South to hidden racism of Whites in the North. In my situation in the 2000s, I prefer the open attitude of “we are full humans while they are not and never will be” view of Republicans to the self-deluding hypocrisy of Democrats and their clients. I can be more honest about some things with Republicans than with Democrats, although I cannot be honest about enough things with either group.

Because of my Liberal roots, this turn saddens me.

More on Human Nature.

-Repeat: Some unemployment is inevitable even among people with skill, good character, able bodies, and able minds. So, we have to have something like welfare. If welfare gives people enough money to feel good about themselves and to raise a family, even for limited periods of time, then a lot of people who could have gotten jobs and should have gotten jobs will not get a job but will go on welfare. If we give so little on welfare that people would rather have a bad job than welfare, then we treat a lot of good people and good children badly. We are caught between a rock and a hard place. Democrats can’t see this dilemma at all, or, if they do see, they would rather put up with the cheating so they can service their clients.

Unlike Democrats, Republicans do see this situation clearly. But they would rather hurt decent people who want a job, and hurt children, than give anything to a “welfare cheater”, likely because that welfare cheater is a Democratic client. Republicans don’t put effort into making programs that really would work. They go along with programs that lead to cheating, expose the cheaters, and then feel moralistic and self-righteous. They would rather use cheating and failed programs to incite White people against welfare recipients, incite people with good jobs, and make them Republican clients, than make a good program and maybe let Democrats have a share of the credit. In public, Republicans don’t acknowledge the rock and the hard place because to do so would put them under the duty of using their insights into human nature for the public good rather than for Party power. The truth is the truth. Tell the people straight out, and ask the people what they would like to do.

-More than Democrats, Republicans know: people see themselves in a zero sum game even when Right Wing propaganda says we are in a big happy positive sum game (everybody wins through capitalism, and wins strictly according to what he-she deserves); feel they each individually pay too much for the state while other people pay less and get more; want to feel they get as much as anyone and want to feel that other people don’t have an advantage; and dislike the national debt and wish to pay taxes not for interest on the debt but for real services that improve life for all.

But Republicans don’t make good honest tax plans and good honest budgets that take into account real needs and real ability to pay. Instead, they make up unreal budgets that give big benefits to rich people although history has proven that such benefits do not pay back the nation by expanding the economy. Republicans give tax breaks as rewards mostly to upper middle class Whites. Republicans finance it all by more national debt. I still recall the tax “rebate” of the Bush tax cuts in which Republicans were able to buy loyalty with a few hundred dollars, as politicians buy votes in the Third World. Republicans do all this knowing it makes problems worse in the long run. It makes people feel even more that we are in a zero sum game and makes people even more anxious about taxes, what they pay, what they get, and who pays and gets what. Rather than assuage fears with good realistic plans, Republicans use fears to get power now and they fuel fears for more power later. The Republican responses are a huge waste of knowing human nature.

-More than Democrats, Republicans know that people fear, and people buy guns to assuage fear even though guns are no real help against what people fear most – competition so their children don’t get good jobs. People clutch a gun as a security blanket against vague generalized fear. Rather than use knowledge of human nature, government, and the economy to tell people what people really fear and help people stop fear, Republicans protect gun rights as if clutching a gun will make all the monsters go away. Republicans sell guns as security blankets for the working and middle classes. I own guns. I like guns. I like to shoot. I know which guns are useful in home defense and which not. I am glad people own guns. I am far from an expert. Still, I know guns can’t put money in my retirement account; get my nephews and nieces a good job; buy a house for them; make sure every education leads to a good job; provide a decent role model to the kids of the single mom who lives downstairs and parties all the time; and my guns won’t stop violence among poor people. Why don’t Republicans tell people what they really fear and tell them how to spend their money and minds better? Why don’t they give the people honest advice on which guns work for home defense and which don’t?

-Republicans are responsible for the big majority of bad negative campaigning and dirty tricks, starting in the Reagan era. American politics was never clean but Republicans made it dirty in new ways. No party that wishes to be the Party of Decency can use such evil. Sadly, I blame modern Rightist Christians for much modern dirt. That is not a good use of knowing human nature. God would not approve. Fear of Democrats and their clients such as Blacks, women, and gays does not excuse what the Republicans did and still do.

-Republicans more than Democrats know the importance of decency, know that decency can be learned and indecency can be learned. They know that some groups are more decent than others. They know that the indecency of some groups takes a heavy toll on both the groups and the nation. They have a fairly good sense of how to teach decency and what institutions are needed for decency. They know the state can do only so much to teach decency. But they don’t put all this into practice by leading the state and private institutions in the cultivation of real decency. Instead, they use selected examples of bad behavior to “write off” non-Republicans.

Republicans recognize that human nature is not all good and sometimes people, including groups of people, have sunk so far into bad habits and bad attitudes that there is little hope of changing them for the better or making them behave well enough not to ruin it for the rest of us. The best we can do is to contain them so they do little damage. Once violence is learned as a child, violence is hard to unlearn. Once violence is part of the basic attitude of a group, that group will not get along with other groups and will not be a good part of a good society.

If good behavior is learned early enough, it sticks too. When people learn good values, they can be good citizens and their groups can be good groups. School helps teach good values but school is not even the second best place to learn. The second best place is a religious institution such as a church, temple, or mosque. The best place is family, but the family can only serve this role if it is embedded in other good institutions such as religion, school, and community. The state has to make sure all good institutions are not eroded or attacked. Rarely can the state build these good institutions completely from scratch, so it has to defend what good is already here, and build on that base. People and groups have to build good institutions mostly through their own efforts or the decency will have only shallow roots. Bad schooling can undo the good work otherwise done by church, family, and state.

Contrary to Liberal beliefs, you cannot learn basic values well enough from pop music, TV, movies, the Net, or any media. Decency has to be learned hands-on when you are young. This is why Republicans support institutions such as churches and the Scouts. This is why Christian Republicans take their children with them to serve the poor and people in trouble. There is nothing wrong with all this and much right with it. Democrats have few parallel institutions and try to make up for the lack through the media, especially pop music, movies, and TV.

You can lose basic values by over-exposure to bad music, TV, movie, the Net, and political propaganda including Rightist propaganda.

Think of good people and groups as decent and think of bad people and groups as indecent. This shift to thinking in terms of decency is not crucial but it is important and useful. Decency is real, and it makes a difference. Indecency is real, and it makes a difference too. The state needs decent people and it must control indecent people. Especially a democracy must have enough decent people, enough decent groups, and not too many indecent people and indecent groups.

Some people and groups never understand that decency is basic and we cannot have fairness, justice, progress, or any good things until we first have decency.

You can be a decent person even if you are poor. You can be decent even if you have been hurt by discrimination. Groups can lose basic decency. Once they lose decency, it is almost impossible to get decency going in the group again. You and your group must keep a basic level of decency to enter into the social conversation. Even where some unfairness prevails, still your group can keep enough basic decency, and, through that decency and through other people seeing you as decent, you can overcome prejudice enough to get enough fairness for the good people in your group. You cannot hope to enter into the social conversation and to get enough fairness and success unless you do establish decency first. If you will not establish decency first, then you must expect to be left out and contained.

Indecency by others can hurt you greatly. A single crime against your family can ruin the family and echo for decades. You have to be willing to suppress indecency both in your group and in other groups so that decency can thrive. You have to nip indecency in the bud. You have to stop it in individuals and in groups. If you cannot stop it, you have to cordon it off so that it does not spread from one person to others or one group to others.

While the ideal of judging everyone as an individual is good, it is not practical. We have to judge the basic decency of groups according to the behavior that we see in a big chunk of their members. If a big chunk, not even a majority but only a significant minority, of a group shows indecency, then we have to conclude the group as a whole is indecent enough so we have to treat them as an indecent group. We have to contain them. We have to assume every individual from the group is a threat. We cannot let them into the social conversation as we let in other groups. This position applies to groups in the United States and to groups and nations outside the United States. We cannot judge all Al Queda members as individuals but have to judge according to group affiliation. We might err in judging according to group but those errors are less costly than assuming everybody in a group is decent just because a few people in the group complain about being treated badly.

We know that, if we want to treat a group badly, we can first label them indecent and then use that as an excuse. We know the idea of decency is misused. We know it can be a tool for badness. But the idea of decency is more often well-used than misused. People really can see decency and indecency just as they see fairness and unfairness. Decency cannot be forgotten, and, when used, it must be used much as we use it. We know our past mistakes and we try not to make them again. We try not to succumb to prejudice alone. But we will not make the mistake of laying our society open to indecency.

Democratic programs can make people indecent. Democrats and their programs might be well intended but the end result too often is indecency. The indecency outweighs any good done by the programs. Even if some programs seem to do good in obvious ways such as the health of children, we have to be wary of unseen damage done by making people clients of the state, letting people demand rights without any responsibilities, and making people accept indecency. It is better to oppose Democratic programs, even some potentially good ones, than to allow enough programs so that people forget about responsibilities and decency and begin to see indecency as an effective strategy. People and groups will do that.

Democrats think that bad people and groups can recover their decency if we only give them big chances. This ideal has been proven wrong. It works with some individuals but not with groups. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. We are not insane. We don’t want to recruit client groups by offering indecent groups support. It undermines the basic decent fiber of society. We are happy to give people a chance but if their groups does not become decent and respond, then we have to stop.

You hardly have to try the experiment. In America, all groups have enough resources to achieve basic decency if they wish. They can make their schools, churches, and families good enough. We have seen many groups come to America and do just that. If any group already is indecent, then that is because they choose to be indecent. They already have had enough of a chance, and they have failed. Giving them more of a chance is not likely to make them decent and successful. It is only a waste of precious resources that could go to other decent children, people, and groups. We do have to try help some of the children in indecent groups but that is about all we can do.

Activist groups within the Left, such as feminists and Blacks, have the same attitude about decency and groups but they apply it differently. They too judge by group. They condemn us as indecent because we don’t go along with everything they want to do and we won’t throw money at them. The difference is we can see evidence for our decency and its results, and can see evidence for their indecency and its results. Who has the greater levels of extra-marital sex and abortions? Who has the greater levels of crime? Who has the more dysfunctional families? Who abuses drugs? Who gets an education and works for the good of the country? Who accepts duties and responsibilities and does only demand one-way rights?

Many Democrats start as good people, decent people, who wish well. Before they adopt that horrible condescending Democratic attitude, they are still decent. But once they adopt that attitude, and once they get used to manipulating our desire for fairness so as to get clients and use clients, then they have lost their decency too. Then they get creepy. The Democratic Party, and its clients, have slid so far down toward indecency, and have such trouble getting back out, that we are frightened. It is not good to think of a major political party with a long history as the party of indecency but it sure seems that way.

We know that some groups, such as (a) gays, (b) young people playing too much with sex, and (c) 30-ish people cruising bars looking for something, don’t really do much harm to society. Some of them (not gays because they are gay) do set a bad example. They don’t physically seduce young people but do set the example that you can be borderline indecent and still get along. See the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”. We know that young people go through phases of experimenting but we don’t want the phases to last long, and so we don’t want too many people around who live like that permanently. Gays and libertines might not be indecent but they do not promote the kind of decency that we need. So it is better to oppose the whole business than to try to sort it out.

-Mike says: Sorting out is as deep an issue as decency. Decency is important and group character is important. But so is sorting out. So is not pre-judging unless you have to. So is not making big mistakes about individuals and groups. Republicans correctly see that not everyone and every group can be made saintly by good wishes, repeated chances, and state aid, and see that some people and groups are so bad that we have to be careful. But they reject too much. They misuse the idea of decency so as to help them reject political opponents and help them with their own clients. They make sure their clients get labeled as decent and their opponents get labeled as indecent. Their mistakes have caused damage. So have the Democratic mistakes that come of not seeing people realistically.

Luckily, Americans in general can pick what is good and overlook what is bad. “Millenials” now accept gays and they accept moderate sexual playing by young people, especially if it leads to enduring pairs. See the movie “Friends with Benefits” and many movies with similar premises. That is good.

Pause to think how you personally see people, groups, good attitudes, bad attitudes, ability to change when given a chance, or inability to change, and decency. Think how your view affects your politics and politics in general. Think how Democrats, in kind, might be able to say Republicans are indecent and the Republican Party is a party of indecency.

-Democrats are like young teens who have learned to use “but that’s not fair” adeptly. Republicans are like the older brother (or uncle) who wants to control his siblings and the family. He uses the ideology of “family” really to help himself even if much of what he does also helps the family. He will always look down on everyone else as “only sis” or “squirt”. He thinks he deserves control because he somehow knows better even if other siblings have more talent in general, have greater specific talents such as in making money, or are better leaders. His opinion has to prevail. Usually, he is right, but that is not the point. The point is that the family would be better off to run more as a group or if other members were in charge, but he can’t allow that. Republicans are like the other siblings, cousins, and nephews who go along because they get what they need and a big fight for better leadership would tear apart the family. They let him fight for leadership because a personal fight for leadership would be too costly to their unit and they mostly get what they want if he is leader.

Republicans think they are like Michael Corleone but really they are more like Fredo if Fredo had gotten control. They are like Sonny, the eldest Corleone brother, if Sonny had not been killed, who was a good hothead, and a good fighter under his father, but would have been a bad Don. They think they are like Mike Corleone if Mike was in a legitimate business and had not turned evil. But they are not.

-Clients of the Republican Party see Democrats and clients of Democrats as rivals and often enemies. White (and now often Asian and even Hispanic) working class and middle class people see the poor, working people with bad jobs, some non-White middle class people, middle class Liberals, and upper middle class Liberals, as rivals and as people who support their rivals. The children of the poor and of those working class people who have only bad jobs threaten to get enough education and connections to take the good jobs of children of the current working class and middle class. Especially the children of non-Whites threaten to take the jobs of the children of White working class people. The clients of the Republican Party need the Party to inhibit their rivals so the working class and middle class can be surer of good jobs for their children.

The Republican Party attacks programs favored by Democrats regardless of the economic or moral merits of the programs.

It attacks these programs as a way to suppress clients of the Democratic Party, that is, the poor, lower working class, etc. It controls the clients of the Democratic Party so as to support its own clients, as part of its agreement with its own clients. Its clients fear the poor, ethnic minorities, etc. so the Republican Party attacks programs that might help the poor etc. to compete.

The Small State and Fiscal Rationality.

-The Republican Party says it supports a small state but does not. Its military and police programs have enlarged the state as much as have the social programs of Democrats. Saying that it favors a small state is an indirect way to attack programs that it dislikes such as unemployment insurance, welfare, Social Security, and health insurance. Saying it favors a small state is an indirect way to attack Democrats and their clients.

-The Republican Party prides itself on fiscal rationality. It says it supports only programs that are cost effective and does not support programs that are not cost effective. Yet its analysis of programs is so biased that nobody can believe its report of cost effective or not cost effective. So, nobody believes Republicans are fiscally rational except when supposed fiscal rationality benefits them. They routinely “cherry pick” reports from agencies such as the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) to use only reports that might support them and to ignore reports that contradict them. They ignore the fact that some benefits programs and other Democratic programs actually help the economy it better than Republican programs such as tax breaks and military spending. When the Republicans are not fiscally honest and rational, then people-in-general give up on the entire government being fiscally rational and fiscally responsible. By not being honest in their fiscal analysis, Republicans threw out a great opportunity to make the entire state more fiscally responsible.

-Republicans attack “tax and spend” by the Democrats but Republicans do something worse: spend but use deficits to pay for spending. Democrats largely learned this tactic from Republicans. Using deficits to pay for current spending is a double tax. Not only do we have to pay back the deficit but we have to pay interest on the deficit. More exactly, our grandchildren have to pay it back, and, when creditors are smart, not in inflated dollars, but in the equivalent of real dollars. The only explanation for “spend and deficit” is that Republicans are willing to mortgage the future of America to please their clients now.

Since Ronald Reagan began massive deficits, the only President to bring down deficit spending and bring the budget close to balance was Bill Clinton, a reviled Democrat. Reagan and both Bushes added greatly to the deficit and in 2018 the Trump-Republican tax bill also added greatly to the deficit. (Some points of the tax bill were good but not the trillion-plus dollar deficit caused by reducing taxes but not reducing much spending. In the long run, that debt will increase taxes more.) What Republicans do explains their real thinking more clearly than what they say.

To spend but not tax, and then to claim to reduce taxes, while really increasing the burden on everybody below the upper middle class, is a cruel and vicious betrayal. It is not Conservative in any way.

Opportunistic Anti-Science.

-Republicans should be deeply ashamed of their stance toward science. Not only is it not Conservative, it is not humanly rational except at the level of the lowest political conniving. Republicans who support science and acknowledge global climate change should be deeply ashamed that they have not stood up to the crazies and the extremely selfish deniers of science and climate change. History will treat both camps with disgust.

Beforehand, I have to say it is possible to make sane rational models of the cosmos and of life that do not depend on modern cosmology and modern ideas of evolution. I sympathize with people who try to use their intellect to save their religious beliefs. But their alternative models are wrong. The facts are overwhelmingly for scientific models. Physics, modern biology, evolution, and modern cosmology that includes the “Big Bang”, are all true. Taken at face value, nearly all religious accounts, including in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy books, are simply wrong. We worship God and his creation, including our brains and minds, more by using them to know his creation than by clinging to old factually wrong ideas as if they were literally true. Much truth about morality and human nature lives in the myths, and we also honor God if we see that truth and accept it for what it is.

Global climate change is real, and we people did it. The facts are overwhelming.

There are only three reasons to deny the facts and cling to delusion. The first is to discredit science in general, and I return to that below in this series of paragraphs. The second is that to deny global climate change serves the best interest of America, in particular America competing with China and Russia. I touch on this reason far below, but I discount it. It is wrong. I don’t have space to argue it here.

The third reason, taken up in this paragraph: By denying global climate change, you don’t have to do anything about it. You may do as you wish without regard for nature or human generations to come. You may spew pollution and kill off nature so as to make profit now. A big group of Republicans wishes to do that. They fight any incumbent office holder or candidate who does not disavow global climate change. They have enough power and money to unseat any Rightist incumbent and prevent any new Rightist candidate from winning. So, only the people who kiss the asses of despoilers loudly and long enough can hold office. In league with business owners who wish to pollute are the Republican working class and middle class. They think they can keep jobs, and get jobs for their children, only if business owners may do whatever they wish, and that includes pollute and kill nature. They have enough votes to insure they can unseat any Rightist incumbent and prevent Rightist any candidate from winning. Power, wealth, and votes together get a lot done or not done. Rightist politicians don’t have to believe what they (the politicians) say about global climate change. But they do have to deny global climate change in public. Most politicians know global climate change is real but cannot say so or be banished from office. As a result, we have in office only those people who have a huge moral weakness in the center of their political lives. We have in office only people who will be cowards in a big place that really counts. They might be great people otherwise, but this huge weakness at the center is certain to affect what they do in office generally.

Some people do not wish to deny global climate change but do wish to be careful what we do about it. We have a history of over-reacting to over-stated crises, and thus making big costly ineffective programs that haunt us for years. I have sympathy for people that wish to slow down. We should be sure of what is best before we go off half cocked loaded for bear. But reasonable concern is not the issue in debate in America about global climate change. Rightist Politicians don’t say “be careful”. They say “Oh, it isn’t real, and we can do whatever the hell we want”.

Politicians have an odd attitude toward science, shared by many other people. On the one hand, it is a concern of geeks, and we get in trouble if we dive in to the deep end. On the other hand, it helps with technology and engineering, makes great stuff, makes jobs, and protects the country. Most people don’t hate science, but think it is only one of many forces, including magic, glamour, beauty, wealth, charisma, charm, power, “star power”, and “the Force”; and they are more comfortable with the other forces. Science requires too much math. Humans are the complicated result of a long history of natural selection that did not include calculus tests. Most people prefer science to stay in its own realm rather than confuse them when they try to use the other forces. From the late 1800s to about 2000, there was an active anti-science movement, and it tried to reduce science to mere superstition and a mere tool of the rulers. Some people still disdain science that way but mostly people don’t hate science if it stays where it belongs. Most people are like Penny on the show “Big Bang”. To explain why some politicians seem to be against science would be too much for here.

Instead, I focus on people who are strongly religious in a so-called traditional sense, and their relation to Republicans. Even here, we need a warning. Most Christian Churches accept science and its ideas about the history of the cosmos and the evolution of life. The Roman Catholic Church is clear that it accepts modern science. Its stance is admirable. These Christian Churches do a good job finding how science and belief fit together. Buddhism has always been officially pro-science. From all I have seen, educated Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Confucians are almost all pro-science. Thus, fundamentalists are not really fundamental if we take as fundamental what the old wise Churches say.

I do not know why one school of American fundamentalists are so anti-science. They think there is an open nasty un-resolvable conflict between science and the Bible, and the Bible MUST WIN in an exact literal way. Usually people only care about such issues for other reasons than the obvious conflict and people are happy to ignore obvious conflicts when they can get by without facing conflicts. For some reason, some American fundamentalists insist on holding to this conflict with jaws clenched and pointy teeth embedded. Here is not the place to guess why.

American so-called fundamentalists have enough voice now in the Republican Party that they can “wag the dog”. Like business people who hate the idea of global climate change, they have enough power and votes so they can unseat any Rightist incumbent and prevent any Rightist candidate from winning. So, any Rightist politician has to kiss their ideological asses hard enough and long enough. Again, the politician likely does not believe literally in the Bible but he-she has to say that he-she does, and has to denounce science when science goes against the particular interpretation of the Bible offered by this branch of self-styled fundamentalists. Again, only people who will bend their minds and moral senses to this extent are in office. Again, this shows a big moral weakness as the center of their political lives that is bound to affect all they do.

If we support science, then we have to accept global climate change, and that gets in the way of short term profits and jobs. We have to make sure nothing gets in the way of short term profit and jobs, not even science. So, it is better to deny science entirely. If we are going to deny science, we might as well get in a boat with other people who deny science for their own reasons, religious fundamentalists, and who in turn will support us in our denial of climate change and our striving for short term profits and jobs. It helps to embrace one American version of religious fundamentalism. If we deny science in favor of our version of religious fundamentalism, then we might as well get in a boat with people who deny science so they can deny climate change so they can make short term profit and provide their clients with short term jobs. We have a match made in hell. This is disgusting.

God is embarrassed that people use the minds that he gave them in this way. I would love to see a big group of Republican politicians stand up for the truth about global climate change and science, and stare down the bad business people and religious extremists.

Before the reader gets too huffy about Republican hypocrisy, Democrats are as bad in their own ways. Democrats are as big hypocrites as Republicans. Any Democratic incumbent who did not kiss PC long and hard enough would be out of office and any new candidate could not win. Democratic politicians have to pay lip service to the idea that all hardship in America is caused only and entirely by oppression from White people (and now Asians), in particular White men. Democrats have to deny that any other group ever produces people with bad character. No other group ever adds to its problems. That is as hard to swallow as that science is magic and global warming is good for strawberries in Maine.

We see deep mass hypocrisy among us as a little price to get and keep good guys in office while we see modest hypocrisy in the other Party as the Grand Canyon of evil. We should practice being more even handed. Start by looking in the mirror for the giant plank of error that floats in our own eyes.

I stress my disgust with the Republican stance because I believe denying science is a deeper fault even than putting up with the unrealities of PC and reverse bias. It is one of the deepest faults, both because science rests so close to the truth and because of practical implications. Other things depend on seeing the truth as clearly as humans can, and, in our times, seeing the truth depends in large part (other forces help) on knowing and accepting science. Only if we support science can we get at the truth in general and get at the truth in issues such as PC and global warning. If we deny science, we lose it all, and are doomed to live in looking glass lands such as created by PC, magic, short term greed, and one American version of religious fundamentalism. We have come too close too many times.

Republican Sense of Morality.

-Republicans like to say they have a better sense of morality than Democrats and they know better how to balance morality with practicality. They see that morality has to be balanced against practicality, and they believe the fact that they can see this need automatically gives them a better sense of both. They are wrong on all counts. They do have a sense of morality but not necessarily a better sense than other people and their morality is not the best morality for a modern democracy. They use moral claims when that suits their need for power, to support their clients, and attack Democrats; and use practical claims when those do the job better. They are inconsistent in moral claims, and that makes their moral claims seem to be merely tools. Democrats do the same but the charge goes more heavily against Republicans because Republicans make a point of claiming the moral high ground on every issue.

For example, they say we must stop abortion and sometimes say we should stop all birth control except abstinence. Yet laws against abortion are highly impractical and ineffective. Laws against abortion likely create more immorality by forcing women to go against the law. It is more practical, and more moral, not to say much legally about abortion and to let women choose. Contrary to what Republicans think, few women choose abortion for fun but only under dire need. Republicans are free to say abortion is immoral and women should not abort but they are wrong to say the state should support their view, that the state should be the instrument of their morality. Republicans promote laws against abortion because laws hamper poor and working women more than middle class, upper middle, and upper class women, and so secretly anti-abortion laws serve practicality rather morality. Anti-abortion laws allow Republican clients to feel good about themselves, to feel righteous and justified, without doing much good morally or practically, while promoting an immoral use of the state to support the moral views of one group, and while supporting class conflict.

The same can be said for laws about soft drugs and prostitution. The same can be said about sexual and romantic learning by young people.

Fortunately, young Americans have better sense than Republicans.

Republican support of the military shows the same ugly oscillating back and forth between morality and practicality. Republicans always favor a strong military but it is not clear why. The American military is stronger than it practically needs to be. It carries on programs that don’t make a lot of sense in modern conflicts while not paying attention to the needs of modern conflicts such as against guerillas. Most of the Republican arguments cite the practical need for a dominant military all over the world but that goal is impossible and trying to achieve it is highly impractical. Republicans don’t promote the military with practical arguments but with moral fervor. Until World War 2, as far as I can tell, most Republicans were closer to isolationism than to worldwide military domination. The moral fervor caught on as a reaction to the anti-war movement in the 1960s and 1970s and because it is popular with the working class and middle class, whose children make up the military and who moved to the Republican Party in the 1970s and 1980s. A big military does help America to protect some of its economic assets overseas but those assets are now likely better protected by trade agreements. What we need the military to hold for use we should probably learn to live without. When militarism is promoted morally rather than practically, it becomes a big part of the official morality of the state. Even when we need a strong military, and we definitely do, to make militarism a big part of state morality is a big mistake.

Trump’s wall against immigration is a clear example of an impractical burdensome symbol promoted with morally fervor in the name of practicality.

Republicans need to give a clear account of their morality and their practicality. They need to give us clear account of when morality trumps practicality or when practicality keeps us from carrying out all that we feel moral. Yet Republicans won’t and can’t give such an account. As long as they won’t and can’t, then we must conclude that they are mere opportunists and use their holier-than-thou stance as a mere tool. That is too bad. Such an account would do everybody a lot of good. Republicans can’t give this account because it would undermine the pact between the old Republican upper middle class and upper class with the new Republican working class and middle class.

-In a good democracy, no group should try to make its morality the official morality of the state. All groups should be willing to listen to the moral claims of other groups. All groups should work toward a general morality. All groups should accept that the state cannot support their morality alone as the official morality of the whole state. All groups should know that they have to be “more moral” on some points, such as abortion and drugs, than the state, and the “morality gap” should not bother them as long as they are not prevented from living out their morality in their private lives, and their morality does not hurt other people or the state.

Despite all their shouting about patriotism, democracy, freedom, and duty, Republicans don’t seem to see any of this. They feel one group alone should dictate what is the morality of the state, the state should support all the points of morality of that one group, and all people must live up to the morality of that one group. They argue over which Republican faction is to be the one group. They don’t seem to see the danger in this view. They use the idea of one state morality as a tool to control others. They don’t understand that the state does not have to be immoral, and people in it don’t have to be immoral, if the morality of the state does not coincide with the morality of one group of Republicans.

Republicans Won’t Share.

-Republicans deliberately wrongly claim that ALL attempts to take a bit more from the rich amount to unfairly fleecing the rich (soaking the rich), amount to class warfare, reduce incentive to gain wealth and so hurt economic growth, hurt the overall welfare of the nation and so hurt even the poor and middle class, and destroy the chances of the middle class to build wealth and to rise in socio-economic status. All taxes are bad, especially all income taxes.

Republicans can convince clients of their view because their policy does not hurt working and middle class people with steady jobs and benefits but Republican policy does hurt working people with bad jobs and no benefits. Republican policy keeps the poor and poor working class from rising and so benefits the working class and middle class by suppressing their competition. If you help us with this, then we will help you with that.

Also, while opposing all taxes that might directly impact rich people such as income tax, and might even redistribute wealth a bit, such as a graduated income tax, Republicans favor taxes that impact the poor much more than the rich, and impact the poor badly, such as a sales tax (they favor “regressive taxes”). These bad taxes also hurt and “keep down” the poor more than they hurt the secure working class and secure middle class, and so help clients of the Republican Party in their struggle with immediate competitors. The help the secure working and middle class stay secure in the face of bright ambitious poor kids.

Republicans do not use their knowledge of a real modern capitalist economy to propose fair taxes that redistribute a little but not too much, and that guide the economy toward an optimal balance of wealth concentration and wealth distribution. Instead, they use their knowledge of the economy and of politics to seek a total pattern of taxes that favors the rich and hurts the poor, even while they know this overall pattern of taxes hurts the nation as a whole.

Since the growing disparities in income and wealth beginning about 1980, wealth in the US has become so skewed (unevenly distributed)that the skew lowers overall growth and reduces overall benefit from the economy. We have hurt ourselves. Rather than face this situation and deal with it to the long term benefit of the nation as a whole and for the rich, Republicans press their unfair advantage further so as to gain as much future security as possible, and thereby make the situation worse.

Republicans know that sometimes state solutions to problems lead to other harm and that the other harm can be worse than the original problem. They are fairly adept at guessing when the original harm can be addressed without causing more harm. But they don’t use their skill for the public good. They don’t decide when state action might be overall more beneficial than harmful, and they don’t decide if a situation has to be assessed more on moral terms than practical terms. Republicans do use the state for programs and they are able to guess when a program causes more benefit than harm, as when they use the state for large-scale economic development or when they promote free trade. Rather than be even-handed in their assessments and set a pattern for people in general to emulate, instead they say that all Democratic programs lead to more harm than good overall; all Democratic programs lead to more harm through the state than they lead to good by addressing the original problem; all Republican programs cause more good than harm; all Republican programs cause more good than harm even when they rely heavily on the state; and, if Republicans wish not to support any program, that is because they know in advance that the state will cause more harm than the original problem, not because the program was proposed by Democrats. Republicans will not help with global climate change because they say that state help will make things worse. They use the idea of causing more harm than good not to find the best action but as a way to attack Democrats and to promote their own programs. They use the idea as a way to avoid addressing real problems, to overlook real problems, especially problems that hurt the poor, insecure working class, insecure middle class, women, non-traditionally gendered people, and non-Republican ethnic groups. As a result, people in general don’t believe them when they are correct that a state action might cause more harm than good, and people don’t believe them when they offer a better alternative.

-Like Democrats, Republicans have not proposed a generally acceptable rationale for why sometimes it is better to work through the state and why sometimes not.

-Hispanics are a contested ethnic group. When the Republican Party attacks policies that threaten its other clients, such as amnesty for “Dreamers”, then Hispanics support the Democratic Party. When the Republican Party supports policies that Hispanics favor, such as hurting Cuba, Hispanics tend to support the Republican Party. The future allegiance of Hispanics is an important issue in American politics.

Individual Non-Autonomy (Non-Freedom).

-Despite supposed support for individual autonomy in economic markets, the Republican Party supports criminalization of many individual behaviors such as gender orientation, sexual activity, and drug use. It favors strong penalties for these crimes. Now, the Republican Party takes this stance largely to attack clients of the Democratic Party, such as the poor, and to attack women as a political force. The Party takes this stance to please modern client groups of working class and middle class people and to attack the perceived enemies of its clients such as poor people, Blacks, and Hispanics.

-The Republican Party supports (unrealistic) free choice on economic markets but does not support the right of women to choose about abortion and to control their own bodies.

-The Republican Party uses the idea of free choice on the market to support not passing laws to protect consumers and poor people. In fact, free choice on the market is not as free as business firms make it out to be, and supposed free choice on the market helps business firms far more than consumers.

The Republican Party opposes regulation of markets even when the regulation is needed to avert big problems such as the housing crisis and Great Recession of 2007.

-The Republican Party supports some strongly religious (supposedly traditional) people. Partly the Republican Party supports these people because these people entered the Party in large numbers, and exerted much force, after about 1975. Partly the Republican Party supports these religious people because they can be easily mobilized to exert a strong force in elections. Partly it supports these religious people because the policies that these people favor can be used to control and hurt the clients of the Democratic Party and thus to hurt and control the Democratic Party, policies such as against abortion and for restrictive drug laws.

-While Republicans say they support the Constitution, in fact they do not support freedom of religion and of worship. Really, they worship power and wealth before they worship God. They have cut all sensitivity to social justice and all care of nature out of Christianity. In their public face, Republicans support their idea of traditional Christianity. They do so largely because of the emotional commitment of their modern clients (working and middle class White Christians) to the idea that modern clients have of traditional Christianity. Too many Republicans were “born again” after being “born again” became a convenient way to power in the Party. Many individual Republicans, including business people and politicians, do sincerely wish to follow their religion, including Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, but they don’t know how to do so and still support all Republican policies.

-Many Republicans do look down on all non-Christian religion and even on forms of Christianity that do not meet their stereotypes. Until recently, Protestant and Roman Catholic Republicans did not get along well. Not all Republicans despise all non-Christian religion. Individual Republicans admire some aspects of non-Christian religion, including Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, when the religion supports some of the personal and social values that Republicans hold. Individual Republicans have to watch how strongly and publicly they admire non-Christians and non-Christian religions.

-See above about the religion of the family. Republicans say they support family because they support traditional religion and Americans think traditional religion supports the family. Republicans support some policies that Americans perceive as generally pro-family such as against abortion and against non-traditional gender roles. Yet Republicans do not support some policies that Americans think would help the family such as more money for education. Republicans support policies that help their clients and hurt Democratic clients, even when otherwise the policies really don’t help the family, such as to oppose centralized medical care. Republicans are hard on immigrant families as a way to support the families of their clients and attack families of their clients’ rivals. Many pro-business Republican policies, such as against world climate agreements, against nature, and against free trade (NAFTA, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership) would support American families in the long run; but Republicans have to publicly oppose these policies because those policies seem to hurt the families of their clients in the short run.

Immigration, Tolerance, and Various Topics.

-Republicans are schizophrenic about immigration. On the one hand, they want skilled workers from other countries. They want cheap Hispanic labor. They do not want to hire expensive American labor. Republican business owners are, by far, the greatest hirers and so supporters of illegal immigration. If these business owners were jailed for their support of illegal immigration, it would end overnight. On the other hand, Republican clients, the White working class and middle class, see immigrants (wrongly) as a direct threat, and demand that the Republican Party end immigration. The Party says it will control immigration as a way to placate those clients but it does not really control immigration as a way to placate its core of business owners. So far, the business wing that opposes real control on immigration has been winning. Yet working and middle class people continue to go along with the Republican Party, perhaps because the Democratic Party openly accepts immigrants as its clients.

-In theory, Christianity is a religion of peace and tolerance, but Republicans are hardly tolerant or very peaceful. They are notorious warmongers and saber rattlers. Their first response to any complaint by any group seems to be to suppress the group. They are happy to beat people up and throw them in jail. They worship guns. It is hard to make a link between their Christian ideals and their real behavior.

-On the other hand, some Right Wing Christians are among the most honest dedicated hands-on true Christians I have seen. They are in the “trenches” giving with their time and effort because they have little money to give. I do not agree with them on all points of doctrine, and they are too prone to some kinds of violence for my taste, but their works far outweigh my words.

-See above that both Liberals and Conservatives stress their own rights but overlook responsibilities while they overlook the rights of opponents and stress how opponents have not met responsibilities. Republicans stress the right of business firms to pollute, eat nature, sell crappy goods, and cheat home buyers. Republicans avoid the responsibilities of honest business and ethical trade. Republicans point out how the ethnic clients of Democrats perpetuate horrible schools and ugly neighborhoods but Republicans do nothing to better the schools or the welfare of the children in the schools. Republicans cheat in national elections and excuse themselves by pointing out that Democrats might have done the same thing to get John Kennedy elected in the 1960s. Republicans pioneered dirty tricks in elections, flood the media with hateful lying campaign ads, and seem to want the voters to stay ignorant by never being clear on issues. Republicans push deficit spending when they know it is wrong but they will not do what is necessary to control the budget; instead, they blame democrats for lack of responsibility. Of course, Democrats do the same.

# Pseudo-Conservative

This section is long. It includes discussion of Supreme Court decisions on segregated schools and on abortion. It shows how stances get labeled Conservative or Liberal, and how people adopt a labeled superficially Conservative stance for reasons of job, power, and politics.

Modern Republicans are not Conservative in the sense of original Conservatives and in the sense that they think they are. The modern Republican agenda came together in the 1950s to 1970s, and only in the 1970s and 1980s did they commonly call themselves “Conservatives” in the bragging way that you hear in TV ads from candidates and as echoed by suburbanites and business people. Why then? How? In this section, I use a few issues to show what “Conservative” means as code.

Also starting in the 1950s, more after Reagan, “Liberal” became a curse word. Republicans began to call everything Democratic and should hate “Liberal” without knowing the meaning of “Liberal”, difference between a Liberal and a Democrat, and value or disvalue of what they should hate. Republicans threw the baby out with the bathwater. They rejected ideas that had merit just because a Democrat proposed them or because an idea had a tinge of social justice. They went too far and lost credibility, as when they tried to kill Social Security several times and always failed. They lost chances to shape programs to be more cost effective and useful, perhaps the biggest loss.

Democrats did similar bad acts but here I don’t have the space to go into how they misuse “Liberal”, “Conservative”, and “Republican”. Use your imagination.

The point is not to get all people to start using the words correctly. The point is not to convince readers that all the ideas and programs that Republicans call “Liberal” are really good in disguise. Some of the ideas and programs of Democrats and their clients turned truly bad. The point is to encourage people who already wish to think to let go of labels so they can think better. Labels block good thinking and boost bad thinking. Even if it feels to say “as a Conservative…” or “Liberal claptrap”, don’t. You can’t assess ideas if you use labels. I focus on “Conservative” because misuse of it is central to Republican identity. I don’t use “sitting duck” cases that are easy to skewer with anti-Republican barbs. I use cases that had merit and that appealed to Americans in general but that Republicans grew to dislike for pretty good reasons.

Despite claims by Goldwater and Reagan in the 1960s, modern Republican ideas of Conservative and Liberal did not start with a reaction to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. In the 1930s, even most Republicans were glad of the ideas and programs; and many people, including Republicans, think they saved capitalism from something worse than what Roosevelt ever offered. By the 1960s, labor had been tamed, was part of a complex that included big business and government, and was not seen as socialist or too Liberal. Republican business people had made a peace with labor and liked it. Only later when Republicans came to dislike the changes of the 1950s to 1970s were programs of the 1930s and 1940s, and big labor, seen retroactively as the root of all evil and, what is worse, of socialism.

Again: Only partly did modern ideas of Liberal and Conservative come as a reaction to the 1960s and 1970s, the era of “sex and drugs and rock-n-roll” and of holding all property in common under one big authority like early Christians. The counter culture was more a fashion mode than anything else. The 1970s was the peak of crime in America but that has been over for forty years. New York City is quite safe now. Some people did get hurt but most people had a brief fling and settled down to school, job, married with children, and too much TV. Marijuana turned out to be safer than booze and pills but people mostly quit when they had to be “straight” for work. Compared to the media-hyped but not real excesses of the ‘60s, what Republicans call traditional American life was indeed conservative but not “Conservative” in the sense Americans had always lived that way or it was inherited from a traditional better past world. Compared to an imaginary sex-and-drugs-for-breakfast commune, the nuclear TV family is conservative but not when compared to a farm family of 1840, factory family of 1900, or any big family in the Bible. Republicans made up crazy Liberalism to legitimize by contrast the unreal life that they wished for and that they could use to guide clients. People that still use fear of an imagined crazy bad Liberal river flooding havoc across America should be pitied but not followed.

The 1980s and 1990s brought the follow-up to cocaine, crack, meth, metal, rap, hip-hop, gangs, and “gangsta” but the follow-up was not a threat to most families. Those decades also brought junk bonds and similar scams that were carried out more often by Republicans. Drugs, gangstas, and etc. are not “Liberal” or “Conservative” except when foolish White people think everything non-White is cool or when foolish Black people think “gangsta” is cool and is a viable response to hardship. Urban gangs and “gangsta” music are no threat to Republicans except to the eardrums of the White suburban boys who used to buy the music. They are more a threat to Blacks who wish their children to see reality.

The opioid threat of the 20-teens is not a Liberal plot. It likely affects working class White Republicans more than anyone else. The biggest sources of drugs are drug companies, in which Board members are likely Republicans, and doctors who over-prescribe, most of whom likely are Republicans.

Likely the biggest single cause for the change was that the world economy caught up to the US starting in the early 1970s, and life became less stable for people who used to have good jobs. Many, if not most of the people, at least the Whites and Asians, moved to the Republican Party. I do not go into this topic here. Please see other parts of this essay, especially below on history.

How is Republican “Conservative” middle class life so different Democratic “Liberal” life? It seems Jenna Bush, Taylor Swift, Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka Trump, Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Pickler, Drew Barrymore, and even Lady Gaga, all lead a moderate productive life in private. In private life, they all would be good role models for young women, White, Black, Republican, or Democrat, and even young men.

What are the deep values by which you wish to live and to be a good citizen? How do they apply to specific cases? What have they to do with “Conservative” and “Liberal” as political parties misuse the terms? You are better off finding values and living by them than with slogans or parties. You learn to live by them through personally thinking out how they apply to particular cases.

(1 and 2) Two famous Supreme Court decisions set the stage for Republican use of “Conservative” to validate the modern Republican agenda and “Liberal” to condemn anything Republicans dislike. The goal here is not to declare that the decisions support one side or declare one Party correct. The goal is to see how Republicans use “Conservative” and “Liberal”. I strongly suggest you look up these cases on the Net. Come up with better responses to the issues and Court decisions than your predecessors did. Pause to think if it makes sense to call your responses “Liberal” or “Conservative”. Ask why Republicans and Democrats insist on using the labels wrongly, and why people go along.

(1) COURT DECISION: Brown v. Board of Education (in Kansas) in 1954 outlawed segregated schools and said the state must integrate public schools. The state cannot use the excuse that schools are separated by race but equal in quality, even if, in rare cases, racially segregated schools are equal in quality. The state must pursue racial integration directly. Blacks, Whites, and all ethnic groups must be free to go to the same schools and they should attend the same schools. If Black and White children live in the same district (or county or city), then some White students and some Black students should enroll in all the schools in the district (or county or city). Then, after physical integration, in addition, schools should be equal in academic quality.

It is not clear if integration applies to other often-segregated categories such as by gender and religion, but that issue is not relevant here. Private schools may not discriminate and ideally should be racially integrated but that question is out of the scope here.

In America, residence was-and-is segregated, and schools were-and-are funded by local people. Black people lived in Black areas with Black schools while White people lived in White areas with White schools. Schools were segregated as much due to residence as by deliberate school segregation. Blacks were-and-are, on average, poorer than Whites, and the quality of education depends on local funding. Black schools were inferior to White schools. The differences in residence and funding set a pattern in which Black children got poorer education than White children, got worse jobs, so could afford only inferior schools, so their children also got a worse education and worse jobs, and so on. Although this pattern was never planned, almost everybody knew it and likely many White people thought it was a good thing. After some mixing in the 1960s and early 1970s, this pattern re-asserted in the late 1970s and has remained. In Part 2 of this essay, see the section about schools and family.

The basis for Brown is roughly “right to equal opportunity (equal quality of education)”. Children have the right to equal opportunity, especially in education because education lays the foundation for all that follows. With a good quality education, children have a chance; without it, practically, children have no chance. The state has to insure that children get equal opportunity. The state has to insure that nobody thwarts equal opportunity for children. Segregation by its nature inherently necessarily thwarts equal opportunity and hurts life chances. Segregated schools cannot be equal in quality no matter how much districts say they are. I do not explain what-all goes into quality. Integration gives the only real chance for equal opportunity and equal quality of education. The same reasoning lies behind getting women and Jews into clubs that previously had been only for White Christian men. In addition to the idea of equal opportunity, the idea of the inherent dignity-integrity-value of people matters but I don’t think it was a strong legal force, however morally powerful, so I omit it here.

At first, nobody knew how to make sure schools were integrated. People tried various approaches such as re-drawing district lines. The most dramatic early integration was in the American South, in particular “Ole Miss” (University of Mississippi), the University of Alabama, and public schools in Montgomery and Birmingham.

Maybe the most severe use of integration to produce equal opportunity was forced busing in the 1960s and 1970s. White and Asian children were bused to Black schools and Black children were bused to White and Asian schools, often long distances. I leave Hispanics out. Forced busing was done not so much in accord with legal thinking as due to social pressure and to increasingly obvious bad effects of segregation. The decision was not made by elected legislatures but by particular judges sitting on particular courts. Judges not only said busing must be done but they supervised who came from where, went where, and the schedules. Busing was a costly failure. I am not sure who learned what lessons from the busing episode.

Some few people did benefit from forced busing but the majority of students and parents hated it. Even people that strongly supported social justice, racial equality, and integration, hated it. Even most Black children and parents hated it. People who favored social justice and racial equality thought local areas should have more say in how they achieved those goals.

Forced busing is pretty much over. It didn’t stop because Americans suddenly woke up to the fact it was a Liberal plot designed to forcibly blend races, to demoralize and enslave America. Americans of every political type did what they could not to participate, and the courts alone could not enforce it. Forced busing did drive many non-Republicans to the Republican Party because the Party said it would defend them from that terror and from more such terrors sure to come. To make the point, it labeled busing, everything it didn’t like, and everything its clients should hate, as “Liberal” and Democratic.

Defenders of forced busing said it was a case of the big state knowing better than local regions, and of using the power of the big state to correct bad practices of local areas. When local regions are allowed to carry out social justice in their local way, too often they stall and they do nothing. Martin Luther King, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, said: “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Sometimes the big state does know better than local areas and has to overcome them, as when John Kennedy used the National Guard to force integration of schools, and when the state enforces freedom of speech, religion, freedom to keep and bear arms, and Civil Rights laws. In contrast, local people saw forced busing as a case of the overly big overly strong arrogant state abusing its power to enforce its arbitrary ideas of social justice on local areas, and thus hurting social justice more than helping it.

Except where local areas flagrantly go against the Constitution, we have no good theory of when the big central state needs to oversee local areas to make sure they make no serious errors, when the big state is more likely to be right than local areas, and when the big state should leave local areas alone even if local areas are slightly wrong and the big central state does know better. We do not have a good theory about when the big state might be wrong and intrusive while a local area knows better, and what to do then. America could have used schools to develop a good theory but instead used schools to lapse into more racism by both sides, partisanship, and labeling.

The idea that schools should be forcibly integrated supported the idea that other arenas in American life should be forcibly integrated, including restaurants, theaters, shopping areas, stores, public toilets, work places, hiring, promotion, job security, housing, admission to college, law school, medical school, etc. No segregation laws could apply to these arenas, and directors of these arenas could be jailed and held liable if segregation happened. The idea of forced integration in these arenas helped shape and pass Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Most of this change was good, but it was done by the big state over local opposition.

“Equal opportunity” led to “compensatory extra opportunity”, “over-compensation”, or “preferential treatment” (my phrases) and to using over-compensation as a basis for Affirmative Action. For example, Black students, and those from other underprivileged groups such as women and handicapped people, got preference in admission to college and law school. Further support for over-compensation came from the practice by the state of giving military veterans preference in civil service such as in the exam for the Post Office, and by private business firms such as banks, car dealers, restaurants, etc. offering discounts to military veterans. Over-compensation also got support from the practice in lawsuits of more than making up for damages. Although preferential treatment was not intended to punish the group that had been privileged, in practice, the formerly privileged groups, usually Whites and White men, did feel punished.

Differences between groups can persist even without a specific force sustaining the differences, forces such as prejudice and wealth, although a specific force usually adds to “difference inertia” (my phrase). Why difference inertia happens takes too long to explain. Hopefully, if opportunity is over-compensated long enough, difference inertia ends. Nobody knows how long that should take but in the 1960s people thought two generations would do.

To minimize difference inertia and to get everybody on a level field, historically disadvantaged people were admitted to trade schools, colleges, universities, police academies, firefighter schools, law schools, medical schools, etc. even with lower grades and test scores than White students. The same people were hired, and given raises and promotions, with poorer records and poorer test scores. People that don’t like this practice when applied to race for long call it “reverse discrimination”.

During the era of discrimination, institutions and business firms had quotas for how many Blacks and other non-Whites to admit and to hire, mostly to keep numbers of minorities low. Integration briefly removed quotas. Demand for over-compensation re-instated quotas but with the numbers for non-Whites higher than before, proportionally higher than for Whites. This use of quotas also is a kind of reverse discrimination but it is “politically incorrect” to call it quotas or reverse discrimination.

Some discrimination by race and gender persists despite reverse discrimination and, to some extent, because of reverse discrimination and resentment about reverse discrimination. Non-Blacks and non-women feel about it the same way they felt about forced busing.

Many people, even people strongly in favor of racial justice, did not see preferential treatment as a step forward but as a new injustice, a step backwards. I do not explain how over-compensation can harm all groups including groups formerly discriminated against such as Blacks. Several law suits were filed over this issue, including famous suits at the Universities of California, Texas, and Michigan. People that promote preferential treatment now call the practice “promoting diversity” and they have found legal protection under that name. It is the same practice anyway.

The TV show “Law and Order” has aired many good episodes about whether Blacks and women should get preference and whether preference, even with good intentions, actually hurts Blacks, women, and general society, in the long run. “Law and Order” also aired programs about continuing discrimination, its roots and its effects, particularly in the history of Lieutenant Van Buren, a Black woman.

If we take 1970 as the beginning of strong social programs, almost fifty years have gone by since the practice was begun but the differences remain at similar levels. I don’t know how many generations fifty years equals. I do not here comment on what this inertia and stagnation implies but you should know of the inertia and stagnation.

The idea of “equal opportunity” also led to “equal outcome”. If schools are integrated to make sure children get a fair chance, how do we know children have had a fair chance? Simply sending children to the same school does not insure equal treatment. Much discrimination by race, gender, religion, and national origin occurs within schools. We know equal opportunity for sure only by looking at outcomes. If White children do better than Black children, then their opportunities could not have been equal.

No explanation other than White prejudice is accepted. No fault can lie with Black children, families, communities, attitude, culture, or simply Blacks; all fault must lie with White prejudice. Only if outcome also is equal could opportunity have been equal. The state has a duty not only to make sure opportunity is equal but to make sure outcome is equal. It is not clear to me how much this idea was actually carried out. I am sure it is still in the minds of many Blacks and Whites, but in different ways. The idea also lay behind programs such as Affirmative Action although the users might deny this is so. It lay behind ideas such as women should get equal pay for comparable work (which I support) although most women do not see the link between their situation and the earlier case of Black children.

Children of families with roots in East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea) and South Asia (Pakistan and India) often do better than White children but not as much better than Whites and Asians do over Blacks. Nobody explains the difference by Asian advantage and Asian prejudice. People refer to Asian culture. Yet nobody refers to White culture and Black culture when explaining differences between Whites and Blacks – it is all White prejudice and never due to any virtue in White culture or to any problem in Black culture. Really it is a mix of White racism, Black racism, White culture, Black culture, East Asian culture, and South Asian culture. But seeing the situation this real way is not politically handy and it violates Political Correctness. You can’t put all the blame on one group if you see it this real way, and you can’t excuse all responsibility for any group if you see it this real way.

People who endorse preferential treatment use equal outcome as one sign of how much preference to give. Often they use slightly better outcome. (a) Give enough preference (b) to make sure the outcome for the previously harmed group is (c) at least equal to the outcome for the advantaged group, or (d) to make sure the new outcome is a bit better; and (e) sustain preferential treatment (f) at that level until (g) we are sure any difference inertia has stopped. Then maybe we can return to the level playing field, to simple equal opportunity. We can never stop vigilance and we must return to measures that ensure equal outcome when needed. So, we might never stop. As when a despot declares martial law, the condition of dire need with preferential treatment seems like “the new normal” now not only in schools but in workplaces and politics.

(Sometimes women offer similar arguments about girls in school, from kindergarten through PhD. Girls [women] are judged worse than boys, get scores worse than boys, and get grades lower than boys, even though tests show that neither has the superior intellect. So this outcome is entirely the fault of an old male-centered male-biased system. No attitudes or acts by girls add to unfair differences. If, about age 12, girls neglect academia to work on appearance, move to gender-stereotyped academic subjects such as literature, reject some gender-stereotyped academic subjects such as math and science, reject some gender-stereotyped roles such as political leader, and embrace some gender-stereotyped roles such as ingenue, that shift is due entirely to previous brainwashing by the male-biased system. If girls or women [girls] coerce or abet girls in doing worse than boys, that act is only because girls and women have been brainwashed into acting as agents of the male system. Girls [women] bear no responsibility. There are no innate differences apart from culture, society, economy, and power. We have to do something extra for girls [women] to end the difference inertia, and we have support them long enough. Girls cannot save themselves, ever.

Women use these arguments when they are angry and to fight opponents. Unlike other groups, usually women don’t take these arguments only at face value, rest only with these ideas, or avoid responsibility. Usually women put these arguments in proper context, find other relevant arguments, and work hard for themselves individually and women generally. Many women, not all, get beyond propaganda even while seeing why propaganda is appealing. The idea of persistent differences between boys and girls despite culture etc. is still controversial.)

People in general accept equal opportunity but reject forced equal outcome and preferential treatment (over-compensation). People in general reject the idea that unequal outcome is due entirely and only to big fault on the part of the group that does (did) better and that unequal outcome cannot ever be due to any idea, act, or fault by the group that does (did) worse. People accept modest measures for a modest time to insure equal opportunity but reject overly strong measures, reject compensation for a long time, and reject over-compensation. Sooner or later, we have to go with the playing field that normal decent humane social relations give us. I agree overall.

Of course, people in the group that does worse disagree, and they push for stronger longer striving for equal outcome. Often they push hoping the state will include preferential discrimination for a long time as part of the remedial package.

Merely the idea of forced equal outcome, especially with preferential treatment, has bad effects, let alone the practice.

(a) People outside the group that gets preferential treatment never believe that preferred people who graduate, get a job, or get a promotion are really competent. The preferred people got ahead only due to special treatment. People never trust the preferred group even when some members clearly do well because of their own merit. People choose members of other groups whenever they can because they don’t trust the competence or attitudes of the preferred group. So prejudice persists. Members of the preferred group still feel as if they have to be twice as good to be accorded equal credit.

(b) Thus preferred treatment is a bad self-fulfilling prophecy and a bad cycle. There is never an end to it all. So there can never be an end to preferred treatment, and so on.

(c) If we see fault only in the group that does (did) better, and never in the group that does (did) worse, then the group that does worse never has to bear any responsibility. It can forget about responsibility in general, forget about learning any responsibility, and forget about teaching responsibility to its children. Always other groups and the state have to take responsibility for the previously disadvantaged group. It never has to take responsibility for itself for anything. It never has to grow up. Even if other groups were responsible in the past to a large extent, and even if the state is needed to correct the situation now, still, entirely blaming the others, making them solely responsible for correcting the situation, and looking to the state for enforcement, teaches bad lessons. It teaches a bad kind of dependency, a slave mentality. It adds to the culture of victim.

(d) The idea of forced equal outcome leads to: “Let the state do everything for us. Don’t do anything for ourselves. Make them pay for it all. Sit around and complain. Look for faults in them. Get satisfaction from complaining and from finding fault with them rather than by doing for ourselves and succeeding.” The idea teaches bad emptiness.

Sometimes we cannot wait for another group or the state to do as it should. Sometimes we have to act even when others are morally and legally responsible. Sometimes we have to take charge of our situation even if is not fair.

(e) Waiting for the state does not mean waiting for every official in the state to help. It means waiting for your patrons in the state to get enough power to set up programs that support you and will keep supporting you. Waiting for the state means avoiding political parties and politicians who will not give you the support that you want or who oppose you. The political parties recognize a group who waits for the state as a great candidate to be a prize client, so at least one party actively courts groups that are waiting for the state. Of course, the other party (or parties) recognizes the danger and actively blocks support to the client group, the group that is waiting for the state. So, the chain of ideas and practices that was set off by the desire for equal opportunity for children ultimately strongly reinforces partisan politics.

(f) Waiting for the state to force equal outcome blinds a group. Less sense of responsibility and less desire to act for yourself contribute to the ongoing badness of schools. Those feelings become part of a feedback cycle in which the schools are bad, so Blacks wait for the state and don’t do anything themselves, the schools stay bad, so Blacks wait for the state and don’t do anything, and so on. Blacks and Whites sense this trap but can’t usually explain it well.

(g) Progress seems never enough and never fast enough for the disadvantaged group. Perhaps out of frustration, perhaps out of long built up resentment, maybe to get satisfaction even acting themselves directly on issues, the present preferred group (disadvantaged group) picks morally and ideologically on the previously privileged group, the group that now has to give. The present preferred group waits to find fault with the old privileged group. The present preferred group gets too much satisfaction from finding faults, often small irrelevant faults. At the same time, the present preferred group overlooks big problems in itself and in the real issues. Watch Al Sharpton talk about Whites. Although not as common now, “man hating feminists” used to be a joke on campuses.

(h) Because of the fault finding and nit picking, real issues don’t get the concern they deserve. Women do get bullied and sexually abused, and we don’t pay enough attention. Black people kill far more Black people than the police do but we overlook that problem. I wish the “Me Too” movement had started in the middle 1980s at the latest.

(i) The idea of forced equal outcome supports race blindness and new resentment. Non-Blacks, mostly Whites, will accept much of the blame for the past and some blame for the present, but not all blame. Problems cannot be realistically addressed until a real assessment of blame on all parts. Many Whites were born after legal discrimination. Many non-Blacks were not part of racial discrimination or they came to America after 1970. Non-Blacks cannot accept that they alone are fully responsible for all the woes of Blacks now. Non-Blacks rightly insist they can take only some blame and Blacks must take some blame. To do that, Blacks have to criticize their own society in the same way that they forced Whites to do in the 1950s through 1970s. It is hard to see your side critically and take blame for your situation when you wait for the state to give you over-compensatory privilege and to force equal outcome, and wait for the state to make the other side pay for you. It does not seem that preferred groups ever do much self-criticism. Whites and other non-Blacks feel: “If Blacks will not take blame or responsibility, don’t act on their own, wait for the state to do it for them, and have the state make us pay, why should Whites and other non-Blacks take any blame either or work on a solution? Why even think about it? Whatever we do will not be enough; and we will get blame for every small fault. We have to put up with PC and preferential treatment already, and we will do that as an operating cost, but we can’t do more and shouldn’t do more.” Both Blacks and non-Blacks can’t see the other side’s view and both groups feel resentment that they did not feel even in 1955 and the days of legal discrimination. A cooperative solution is out of the question. Simple equal opportunity is forgotten.

Although people in general accept the need for equal opportunity while they deny the need for equal outcome, it is hard to have one without the other. When the state supports one, it tends to support the other. When the state denies one, it denies the other. To get equal opportunity without forced equal outcome, preferential treatment, and their “blowback”, requires great ability in statecraft.

Instead of finding the skill needed, groups and politicians say the state has to be big and intrusive. If you want equal outcome, use a big intrusive state. If you want to block bad striving toward equal outcome, use a big intrusive state. Get big intrusive politicians on your side and use them.

Brown v. Board started out as a good idea to correct a real wrong. We should not tolerate racism and discrimination when it hurts children. Then other ideas followed. The other ideas often take the initial goodwill too far, beyond the ability of real people and the real world. The other ideas don’t take into account human nature and the ability of humans to screw things up. Not only Republicans, but many people, including Democrats, say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Even if the quip is often true, the point is not to condemn all good intentions as “Liberal” but to figure out what works and what doesn’t, why, and what to do better. Not all good intentions about social justice are simply a Liberal plot and not all are destined to make things worse. When an idea or program does make things worse, we have to accept reality, backtrack, figure out what to do better, and, if we really can’t do anything better through the state, live with it. If people won’t let go of a failure then we should take a hard look at their roles as clients or patrons. At least we have to be honest. It is hard to be honest, with others or yourself, while name calling.

Republicans came to see not only attempts at equal opportunity but ALL attempts at social justice and social improvement as like forced equal outcome, forced overcompensation, and forced preference. All social programs aimed at a minority or women lead to a big intrusive know-it-all state. They all reduce individual freedom, reduce local autonomy, and lead to dependency, little responsibility, lack of local action, blindness, and resentment. All calls for supposed social justice really only pit one self-interested group against another, pit a self-interested group against Americans in general, and manipulate through guilt. All supposed social justice is really the spearhead to bad socialism.

It is easy for people who have economic security to say all attempts at social justice lead to bad state intrusion and so all attempts at social justice are not worth the cost. And it is easy for people who don’t have economic security to demand equal opportunity hoping the state adds preferential treatment, over-compensation, and forced equal outcome, forever. It is easy for them to become dependants of the state and to overlook responsibility. The two ends push each other farther away, and rip apart the middle. It is hard for people of good conscience to find and hold the middle. Read the poem “Slouching toward Bethlehem” by the great poet William Butler Yeats.

It is also fairly easy, but misleading, to put all the points in two opposing baskets, label those baskets “Liberal” and “Conservative, and love one while hating the other. It is easy to label the programs and failures, and the ideas behind them, as “Liberal”, and hate that. Anything that follows from Brown and supports ideas such as equal outcome, preferential treatment, and supervision by the big state, can be called “Liberal” and condemned by Republicans. Anything that opposes Brown and what followed can be put in the “Conservative” basket and embraced by Republicans.

Prejudice and discrimination are facts. So are goodwill, desire to end discrimination, and the dangers of over-compensation, equal outcome, depending on the state, and avoiding responsibility. How do you we get equal opportunity for all our children without falling into all the problems? How do we minimize prejudice without falling into the other problems?

Republicans say we can’t do any of it. If the task is to end prejudice, the task is utterly impossible. It is better to live with some real prejudice than to try to eliminate prejudice. If the task is to bring equal opportunity for children, even that task is so hard that we Republicans have given up trying. We have done what we could. The costs have proven too high. If you wish to hate us for that, then go ahead. But we won’t sell out the country just to make sure a few groups that won’t help themselves stay as clients of the state.

Democrats say we have to do it no matter costs. We have never really tried. We never ran programs strong enough and long enough to make a real difference. If we do run them long enough and strong enough, we can give equal opportunity, maybe integrate schools, and make a big dent in prejudice. Clients will give up being dependants of the state. Other groups will recognize the quality in members of client groups and stop distrusting programs such as Affirmative Action. We can help Blacks and other minorities so they are no longer a problem but a huge asset.

People in general don’t believe Republicans or Democrats. People think Republicans don’t care, won’t accept that social problems are real, look down on Blacks and women, and deny all programs more to spite Blacks, minorities, women, and Democrats than because programs would never work. Republicans don’t care about equal opportunity for Blacks or minorities because to do so would lose them their clients among working and middle class Whites, Asians, and successful immigrants. The problems that came of Brown and with trying to get equal opportunity happen not only to Blacks and women but to clients of Republicans as well. Business firms, the military, and many farmers seek special treatment, overlook what happens to others, rest happily as clients of the state, forget about responsibility, and resent other groups. Working, middle, upper middle class, and upper class Americans do ALL the same, and would explode without the programs that benefit them. Isn’t all this better labeled “Liberal” if we use the term as Republicans use it?

People think Democrats are deliberately blind to past harm and abuses in the programs; and Democrats only want to “double down” so Democrats can keep their clients and power. They think Democrats are willing to sell out American wealth and American values to get that. People are sure Democratic clients never admit the problems with programs, never admit their own responsibility, and clients think they deserve preference even if to give them preference hurts America far too much. They put themselves above America and everybody else in America.

How do we get equal opportunity without mistakes of forced equal outcome, preferential treatment, dependency on the state, lack of responsibility, and resentment? How would you deal with the biased segregated unequal schools? Given that segregation keeps re-asserting, and that Blacks are still on average poorer than Whites and Asians, how would you get equal quality of education? If you go for a version of “separate but equal”, or “separate but Blacks get preferential treatment for a while” you should know that your suggestion is not Constitutional.

Why do political parties persist in labeling if not to play the client game and to allow their clients not to think? If Parties know labeling does no practical general good, then what appeal do Parties really make by using terms such as “Liberal” and “Conservative”? Why do you go along with it?

Politicians actually do consider issues apart from Party labeling. Politicians are smarter than average, have seen more of the world than most of us, really do want the best for America, and really do want to help groups even apart from using them as clients. But usually politicians don’t consider issues apart from labeling and parties for long. They get exasperated and then they fall back again on partisanship and labeling. Many smart voters do the same.

(2) COURT DECISION: Roe v. Wade in 1973 said the state has only limited authority to pass laws against abortion and the decision said laws against abortion can have only a limited scope.

As best I understand, the reasons: (A) In most situations, people have rights to privacy greater than the rights of the state to invade privacy. (A1) The burden of proof for invading privacy is on the state. You have the right to keep the state out unless the state can give compelling reasons in particular situations. This is why your communication with your spouse, doctor, lawyer, and priest are off limits for the state without a warrant and strong reasons. This is why the state cannot search you, your house, documents, or medical records, without a warrant. (B) Your body is part of privacy. This is why the state cannot force you to get medical treatment except in cases of public health crisis, and why you can get drunk in the privacy of your home. (C) Your right to privacy, including the right to control your body, is an idea that nearly everyone agrees with. (D) Women are people (persons). (E) In some situations, person X has greater rights than person Y. The state has only limited ability to reduce the rights of person X and to increase the rights of person Y. The state has only limited ability to make the rights of Y greater than X, especially in situations in which X usually has had greater rights than Y. (F) In early pregnancy, a woman has greater rights than a fetus. Her greater rights are based on the human right to privacy including to the right to control your body. (F1) This result does not hinge on whether the fetus is alive or not alive, is a person or is not a person. Even if the fetus is a living full person, the woman still has greater rights, at least in early pregnancy. (G) So, in early pregnancy, a woman may abort a fetus if she wishes. It is her body; it is not the body of the fetus or the state. (H) She has choice. (I) The state has only limited ability to stop a woman from getting rid of (aborting) a fetus. The state has only limited ability to make any rights of a fetus exceed any rights of a woman, especially about her body, especially in early pregnancy. The state has only limited ability to make a fetus more important than a woman’s body, to give a fetus rights over the rights of a woman in her body. (H) Later in pregnancy, the rights of the fetus can exceed the rights of a woman and she does not have the right to get rid of (abort) the fetus as she chooses. (J) The Supreme Court had to make guidelines for when, later in pregnancy but before birth, the rights of a fetus prevail over the rights of a woman, and why. I do not go into this topic. (K) After birth, the rights of the (now) child can, and often do, exceed the rights of the (now) mother. The mother may not kill the child or harm the child, not directly or by neglect. Reasons should be given for the change in rights at birth, and reasons should be an extension of the reasons given above about persons. The reasons for the difference at birth were settled long ago by precedent so the Court did not have to explicitly explain.

I agree with the Supreme Court arguments and its decision. I have discussed abortion elsewhere. I do not consider my view Liberal or Conservative in the distorted way used by Republicans and Democrats, and it did not help my thinking to use Liberal or Conservative in that distorted way.

Nobody but a few crazies ever extolled abortion or thought it all good. A few women have abortions to prove they are modern but they are to be pitied. Everybody dislikes abortion and nobody recommends it except in need. There was never a wave of “fashion abortions” as there were waves of people using some drugs or having kinds of sex. Abortions will happen. Liberals do not like abortion. Conservatives are not the only people to dislike it. To dislike abortion does not make you a Conservative. Liberals do not say “abort anytime, even the ninth month”. True Conservatives cannot say “ban it all and send all people who get or give abortions to jail for thirty years”. See the movies “Knocked Up” and “Alfie”.

The issue is good statecraft. Legislators, judges, and good citizens need to consider both morality and practicality. They cannot decide on morality alone, no matter whose morality, no matter how touching the plea; and they cannot dismiss morality entirely in favor of expedience. The state cannot go with the morality of any particular group no matter how vocal the group unless that morality is also the general morality and it serves overall order and good. The state has to decide: what is the defendable general morality in abortion, what realistically can be enforced for the general good and general order, what can be tolerated, what must be tolerated, and what cannot be tolerated.

For the roles, in American culture, of choice, personhood, Love, and the value of Life as shown through Life-versus-Machine, see “The Matrix” series with Keanu Reeves. “The One” is primarily a defender of choice, persons, Life, and Love. Think of misuse of choice in the market, mostly by Republican-owned business firms. If you dislike abortion, think of misuse of the idea of choice in “Right to Choose” versus “Right to Life”. Then think about the misuse of Life in “Right to Life”.

Again, does it make much sense, or help much, to label ideas as “Liberal” or “Conservative” in the bad distorted senses used by Republicans and Democrats? What are the reasons why anyone would label ideas that way? What does “I am a Conservative, you are a damned Liberal” really mean in code? Come up with your own “take” on the issue of abortion, and then decide if it helps much to label your “take” Liberal or Conservative. Then ask why Parties do persist in labeling that way, and why people like you accept the labeling.

People who attack the argument in Roe v. Wade should know that they also attack these ideas: using rights to decide issues, using competing rights to decide issues, privacy, and rights over our own bodies. People who attack the argument invite the state to control our bodies, choices, and selves, and control life in a bad way. I do understand the desire to help “unborn children” but going through the state likely is not the best way.

I think using the state to ban all abortion is using the state to enforce your moral code and religion, and that such use of the state does more harm than good. Using the state to ban all abortion makes the state too big and too intrusive and it prepares the state to be wielded as a weapon in other battles that are less moral and less decent.

At first, Roe v. Wade was NOT taken as an attack on the family and on unborn children. It was taken as a victory of personal rights over the big bad state and over local tyranny. It was taken as a victory against people-and-groups who wished to use the state to impose their moral codes and religion, use the state as their agent. Roe V. Wade was not taken to promote amorality or immorality.

Roe v. Wade got to be taken as the fountainhead of immorality-sin-and-Death, and as a huge example of the big bad state crushing all local better morality, only later when people began to crusade against all abortion. Republicans deliberately took Roe v. Wade those ways to recruit anti-abortion crusaders as their clients, to use anti-abortion fervor in elections, and because they feared anti-abortion crusaders. Wishing to overturn Roe v. Wade became a litmus test of a true Conservative, true Republican, and for deep enough hate of Liberals. It became a litmus test for candidates. Anti-abortion crusaders almost took over the whole Republican Party.

It was never clear that overturning Roe v. Wade actually would end much legalized abortion, let alone plug up the fountainhead of immorality, restore Life over Death, restore the imagined idealized nuclear family, shift moral focus from big bad state to local control where morality is better, and contain the big bad state within the bounds of locally-set moral decency. Simply overturning Roe v. Wade would do little of that. If ever Roe v. Wade were overturned, people would have to do a lot more real thinking about morality, big state, and local area, and would face many local battles. Still, overturning Roe v. Wade became a symbol, and so overturning it went along with thinking in terms of Angelic Life-Loving Conservative v. Demonic Death-Loving Liberal. (Republicans stood up to the Religious Right and anti-abortion fanatics about as well as Democrats stood up to Blacks and Hispanics.)

The right to privacy referenced in Roe v. Wade is not based on anything explicitly in the Constitution. It is based on a right to privacy implied in the Constitution, and inferred from other political writing, from American history, and from well-known aspects of American culture. The idea of inferring ideas implied by the Constitution etc. was not invented for Roe v. Wade. It is an old idea, and it led to other “rights” such as executive privilege by the President. The right to privacy was well understood and well accepted before Roe v. Wade.

Inferred rights can support a big bad intrusive state such as with executive privilege. Yet “small state” Republicans usually staunchly support executive privilege and the idea of privacy. Most Americans, including even Republicans, strongly cherish the right to privacy. It is a bulwark of a small state. If you wish to see the books of a big business firm, you will be met by a platoon of lawyers and you had better come with a subpoena. It seems Republicans should support Roe v. Wade and then teach their children moral and religious values about abortion so their children can make private decisions.

People opposed to abortion, and later their Republican patrons, said Roe v. Wade stepped beyond the usual bounds of inferring a right to privacy or inferring anything. Roe v. Wade was a case of imagining ideas in the Constitution to justify what you wish to do for other reasons. It was a case of imagining ideas in the Constitution to justify social activism, activism aimed against the family, children, innocent babies, America, life, and God. People against abortion said Roe v. Wade was not Conservative (what they called old and traditional) and so it had to be Liberal in all bad senses.

To people opposed to abortion, Roe v. Wade was another case of the judiciary stepping far beyond its bounds, another case of the big overly powerful state abusing its power, as with Brown. Rather than abortion being a judicial issue, people opposed to abortion argued it is a legislative issue. Local areas should be allowed to use their elected legislators to decide what they wished to do about abortion, as with racial integration of schools. The federal government said that to allow local areas this discretion would inevitably lead to abuses that would destroy the rights of women over their bodies. The people opposed to abortion intended to “pack” legislatures with “their people” and so to pass laws intended specifically to counter Roe v. Wade, so the assessment by federal officials was correct that allowing abortion to be entirely a local legislative matter was a way to get around the Court, privacy, and rights, at any cost, to get what anti-abortion activists wanted. To fight people who wished to impose their morality on the nation, only a big unified strong national state could guarantee rights. Only the federal state knows best, at least in case.

Using the state for protection against local power can have some bad implications: (1) Only the central state knows best in all cases. (2) Local government always can be subverted by interests, and can’t be trusted. (3) So the central state must be strong enough always to control all local affairs. This argument works not only for people who support Roe v. Wade. It works for people who support imposing their morality on everyone. It works for Republicans and anti-abortion activists too. If anti-abortion activists can get enough support in the central state, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President, then they can use that way to impose their will. A strong central state is a sword with at least two edges. That’s how we got Prohibition.

Consider the impact of anti-abortion laws according to socio-economic class. (a) Upper class and upper middle class people will get abortions regardless of the law. (b) Poor people and people with bad jobs will not be able to go against the law. They will have to care for unwanted children, often they will have to begin parenting when they are only children themselves, and they will have to leave school before they really get started. If they try to get an abortion and get caught, their lives, and their families, will be severely hurt and disrupted. They will not be able to family plan. (c) The impact on working and middle class people with good jobs depends. Mostly they will be able to get abortions but will be afraid. They will be able to control their reproduction and to family plan. So, people with good jobs, the upper middle class, and upper class, can afford to take a supposedly high moral stand knowing they won’t have to pay any price, and knowing that poor and working class people with bad jobs will have to pay a harsh price. Because of the fear, penalties, disruption, and not being able to family plan, poor people and people with bad jobs cannot compete with working class and middle class people with good jobs. More precisely, the children of poor people and people with bad jobs cannot compete with the children of people with good jobs. If a poor person supports abortion, he-she can be branded immoral, and the idea condemned.

Who benefits and who loses? What would you do if you were in a particular socio-economic category? What stand on abortion would you take and with whom would you ally if you were a working or middle class person with a good job? What if you have only a bad job? Does a strategic response have much to do with moral-legal reasons about privacy, the body, the self, and choice? It is easy to take what seems like a high moral stance to cover what is really a strategic move. Usually the more you need to cover the more moralistic you become. Business firms and minorities seeking privilege do this. If you wish, how do you get around Roe v. Wade to re-institute a harsh ban on abortion, and what reasons do you give?

I believe Republican fervor about abortion is really a cover for a strategic move to get and hold clients, largely by defending people with good jobs against people with bad jobs, and by punishing people with bad jobs. Even if some Republican arguments are deeply moral, still, good citizens who consider both morality and practicality in the context of the whole state cannot be swayed by genuine feelings alone. Good adept citizens have to rise above the morality or practicality of any group to find general morality, general practicality, and general welfare. It is not easy. I think Roe v. Wade laid a good foundation. At this point in American history, to support Roe v. Wade has become the real Conservative position.


The Republican supposed antidote to Roe v. Wade, against supposed abuse of state power, and against supposed socialist programs, was “don’t take ideas from the Constitution that are not in it”. If an idea is not expressly in the Constitution, don’t use the idea or the Constitution. The problem with this solution for Republicans is that Republicans use many ideas not in the Constitution, such as freedom of private business from state regulation, ideas that are less firmly grounded in American history and culture than privacy. As of 2018, I don’t know of a good solution to this problem.

Republicans use the term “judicial activism” for making decisions to promote an agenda, especially a Democratic social agenda. Republicans hold Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade, and all legislation and decisions that followed, as paradigms of bad judicial activism. Left wing judicial Activism ALWAYS works to make a bigger more intrusive more socialist less free, state. It purports to support individuals, equality, social justice, and freedom, but that is only a disguise, and it never works that way even when that was the original intent. Left wing judicial activism is always on the side of bad socialism. Republicans claim that only Democrats use judicial activism to promote their agendas and to help their clients but, of course, Republicans do it too, as when the Court upholds the supposed right of a business firm to give political contributions.

Republicans saw all court decisions behind Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, and to help nature, as cases of unwarranted bad Democratic judicial activism. All of those are seen as unwarranted judicial activism in support of a Democratic agenda.

(These cases and the later social programs that used these decisions are also seen as contributing to the modern stress on rights over responsibilities to the neglect of responsibilities. I agree, although I think it is more a situation of modern people finding an excuse to overlook responsibilities than of court cases causing the modern attitude. We have to be careful about cart and horse. We also have to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The ideas in Brown and Roe are quite good but we have to execute them so they cause more good than harm. We cannot use failed responsibility as an excuse to overlook good ideas and overlook a real need for social justice. That is a real, and worse, case of not living up to our responsibilities to think and to decide wisely.)

When a Republican wishes to block an action, or when somebody seeks help from the Republican camp, they bring up the specters of judicial activism and the road to bad socialism. In February 2018, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Wayne La Pierre, head of the NRA, said banning ANY guns or raising the age at which people could buy assault weapons would be the first step in a quick trip to European socialism and the erosion of all American rights.

The Republican solution to Left Wing Judicial Activism is to appoint people to the courts who oppose it. A justice who opposes judicial activism is said to favor “strict interpretation” of the Constitution and the laws. He-she does not infer any ideas or use any precedent not deeply rooted in the Constitution. Especially he-she does not infer any ideas so as to justify any action by Democrats or their clients, or to justify any action like those actions. He-she should be able to cite directly the words of the Constitution or a law based directly on the Constitution, and those words only. In theory, he-she should not even guess at the intent of writers of the Constitution or writers of important laws but use only actual written words. In practice, justices use the intent of the writers when the intent is pretty well known as through the Federalist Papers.

While “strict interpretation” sounds neutral, in fact, it is the Republican equivalent to judicial activism. Instead of having their Democratic guys on the Court interpreting laws their way, we put our Republican guys on the Supreme Court to interpret laws our way, but insist it is not interpretation. That way, what we do is not interpretation and is pure, while whatever they do is biased and impure, even if, in fact, their view is closer to the Constitution.

While “strict interpretation” is supposed to limit the big state’s power over local areas and to give local areas more autonomy, in fact there is nothing in the idea to make it go that way. Republican justices using strict interpretation could find the big powerful central state should be even bigger and more powerful, although they might use excuses. I think that has happened, but here is not the place to go into examples. The point is that the logic of “strict interpretation” does not inherently limit the state or guarantee the overthrow of Roe v. Wade unless strict interpretation is done by justices previously committed to those uses.

Strict interpretation is seen as “Conservative” because it supposedly overlooks new ideas that came after the Constitution to stick only to what was proven in the past and enshrined. In fact, this kind of strict interpretation is itself fairly new, and so calling it “Conservative” and using it as one standard for what is Conservative, is odd at best.

The opposite to Conservative in this sense became “Liberal”. Whatever Republicans could claim as old, original, and pure was Conservative, and whatever they wanted to claim as good was labeled original, old, pure, and Conservative. It did not matter if the idea was really old and traditional as long as the Republicans could claim it was. Then Republicans could use the dignity of the original Conservatives for support. In reality, original Liberals and Conservatives, not Republicans and Democrats, did disagree but they were not opposite in this new Republican sense. This is a new use of “Liberal” and “Conservative”. See below in this section and in later Parts of the essay.

Republicans made a crusade of getting “their guys” appointed to courts at all levels but especially to the Supreme Court. A Republican nominee in effect had to swear allegiance to the Republican style of strict interpretation even before allegiance to America.

Even if the idea of strict interpretation makes sense, there is no guarantee that strict interpretation goes against a Democratic program and supports a Republican program. It could go either way. It can only go one way if the Constitution clearly favored the Republican program, which it does not, or appointees were guaranteed to favor the Republican program, much more likely.

As mentioned, strict interpretation is not so strict. Words can be used to support many things, including programs not in the Republican agenda. Strict interpretation might lead to equal opportunity or even to equal outcome. So, for nominees to high court positions, part of fealty to the Republican idea of strict interpretation is a personal history of opposing Democratic ideas and supporting Republican ideas. Then the words of the Constitution will come out the way Republicans want them to come out.

It is easy to satirize strict interpretation as a Republican scam but there is more to it than that. Likely the courts did go too far in the 1960s and 1970s, and still sometimes do on both sides (I hate the breakup of the telephone system in the 1980s even if the monopoly was illegal, and I hate all the “rights” that right wing courts have given to business firms, political contributors, PACs, and politic parties). Both Parties have used the courts to back an agenda that is not strictly in the laws and likely not what writers of the Constitution intended or would have tolerated. Again, don’t label and don’t use excuses to label. Again, honesty is the best remedy for propaganda and manipulation.

As with Brown v. Board, in addition to clarifying rights about privacy, self, and bodies, Roe v. Wade also could have been used to clarify relations between the big state and local areas. It could have been used to decide when the state should protect us and when we need protection from the state. Instead, Roe v. Wade and the debate about abortion has been used for partisanship, name calling, and bad crusading.

How would you deal with abortion without limiting not only the right of women over their own bodies but the right of all people over their bodies, and, at the same time, appreciate that people honestly feel for “unborn babies”? Keep in mind that many people against abortion are against it as much to “get off” by feeling righteous, justified, and saved as because they have though it out. Keep in mind the strategy based in class that lies behind opposition to abortion. Can we get along over this issue without involving the state too much, by letting people make their own decisions in early pregnancy? Can we live with a less-than-perfect solution if to do so keeps the state within safe and proper limits? If the big state does not protect our rights of privacy and rights over our bodies, how do we stop local mistakes and local tyranny? Does labeling such as “Conservative champion of the unborn” or “Liberal baby killer life hater” really help? Does a strict interpretation of the Constitution, without a partisan bias, guarantee a ruling against Roe v. Wade? Does a ruling against Roe V. Wade guarantee a return to strict anti-abortion laws, and to the hypocrisy of those?

(3) COMMENTARY: In modern partisanship, issues are not sorted according to real merits or demerits, not according to history, and not according to whether they were like original Liberal or Conservative ideas, but according to whether you like them, and especially according to whether you can use them to foster clients, support clients, and hurt the rivals of clients. Then you label them as “Conservative” and “Republican” if you like them and label them as “Liberal” or “Democratic” if you dislike them. Any idea that you like and can use, no matter its history, is “Conservative”. Any idea that you dislike and cannot use, or that Democrats can use, is “Liberal”. This practice amounts to a tactical removal of the upper brain, one of the big parts that make us human.

This is when people began saying “Well, as a Conservative, I blah blah blah” without having any idea what “Conservative” originally meant. It is when Republicans labeled any ideas that they did not like as “Liberal” whether or not the ideas had any links to traditional Liberalism. It is when ALL ideas of social justice were dismissed as Liberal Democratic perversions. It is when Republicans began to say “As a Liberal, that slimeball X hangs out with Obama, Pelosi, and Schumer, is full of shit, hates family, hates America, hates you, hates Jesus and Christianity, wishes to burn all religious institutions, wishes to take all your property and give it to ethnics, wishes to take away all our guns, will force your daughters to have serial abortions, and wishes to enslave all children”. The worst aspect of this history is that people accepted the shift because it removed the need to think.

(4) EXAMPLES: Here are examples of Republican confusion about what is Conservative, confusion that deliberately serves ideology, propaganda, and power rather than truth. Again, I don’t use cases that are easy to skewer with barbs but cases with real content that might lead to confusion about what is really Conservative or merely constructed conservative. Again, Democrats are just as bad but this section is about Republicans.

A quick tour of a fight within the Republican Party shows, without complications of Party versus Party, the silliness of “Liberal” and “Conservative” as they are used now. In March 2018, President Trump said he would raise tariffs on imported steel 25% and imported aluminum 10%. Trump said trade wars are nothing and American could win easily. Business people, nearly all Republicans, and Republican leaders, were aghast. They warned of the bad consequences of a trade war. Trump was playing to his personal base within the Party, the working class and middle class people that had come in during the 1970s and 1980s. They believed reducing imports would necessarily lead to more jobs and higher wages. Which is the true Conservative idea? Who is the true Republican Party? Is the winner really Conservative? Regardless of whether the winner is a true Conservative in the old sense, the winner will claim its ideas as the true old Conservative doctrine, and make up some plausible reasons. On the Net, find the history of American ideas about protection, tariffs, free trade, and trade war. Since the Civil War, Republicans usually supported free trade but not always. Republicans were willing to protect favorite industries such as steel in the past.

Gun rights are part of American culture, and so they are conservative in a sense; but the crazy gun rights that Republicans support now are new. Limitations on gun rights and gun use are as old and traditional as gun ownership. Western towns in the 1870s to 1890s, when gunfights supposedly killed half-a-dozen people daily in each town, in fact had strong anti-gun laws and enforced them. By standards now, the laws might not be Constitutional but people thought they were good laws anyway. People did not think the best defense against a gun was always a bigger gun. Classic gunfights from movies and TV actually happened only a couple dozen times in the entire history of the old West. Recall scenes in movies and TV where Wyatt Earp made people check their guns before coming into town? To audiences until about 1975, those scenes made sense, those scenes were not Liberal plots. Errol Flynn, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, James Arness, Jimmy Stewart, and Hugh O’Brian were not secret Liberal anti-gun lobbyists. If “old and traditional” is the same as “Conservative” then checking your guns is Conservative.

The nuclear family as we wish it now, really developed after World War 2, in fact, in the 1950s. It is not traditional, and to support that idealized nuclear family is not Conservative. Yet that is how people see all family and is how Republicans see support for that idealized family. Contrary to widespread Rightist propaganda, most Liberals did not all support amoral communes and group sex in the 1960s and do not support them now. Liberals were far more likely to hold roles and ideas that are now called mainstream as in TV shows such as Friends, Reba, How I Met Your Mother, and Modern Family. Using the family to divide people into Decent Conservative versus Degenerate Perverted Liberal is a bad idea.

The idea that a person may pollute air and water is new in the overall historical scope of what should be considered Conservative or Liberal, not old and traditional. In the Middle Ages of Europe, people were executed for polluting. Yet business firms take pollution as a Conservative right from time immemorial.

In the 1700s and early 1800s, Conservatives opposed nearly all big business except those enterprises that were part of government concessions (monopolies). Conservatives favored taxing business and favored state rights over business rights.

The strong property rights that Republicans claim (“we may do whatever we wish with whatever we own, including, in the old days, our wives and children”) also are not traditional but were gradually built up after about 1800 through what people did and in court decisions. Modern property rights should not be called “Conservative”. The aristocracy of the 1700s, the basis for original Conservatives, would never have let commoners do with land and things what business firms do now. Yet Republicans treat modern property rights as if they come from God and are 4000 years old. Modern property rights result from business people wishing to keep the state at bay and from fears about socialism in the 1950s and 1960s, fears that are not realistic now. We need reasonable firm property rights and we need to fear big state intrusion on property rights, but labeling absolute property rights as old traditional and Conservative is factually and morally wrong, does not help reasonable property rights, and will not help if some socialist group gains enough power to threaten reasonable property rights.

Equal opportunity is an old American idea. It is part of the original dream. It is part of why Americans kept launching out into the frontier. It is a big part of what settled this country and made this country. It is not merely Liberal propaganda. The opposite to equal opportunity, whatever that might be, is not a Conservative idea. Even equal outcome is in American thought although not in the full sense that it has been used since about 1970. Americans have never loved inherited wealth and power. To seek and find a workable way to institute equal opportunity without mistakes would be the traditional American idea, and so the real Conservative idea, yet that is not what Republicans or Democrats do.

Abortion and the exposure of infants are not new practices. Nobody likes them. But strict harsh laws against them, laws that are actually enforced, are fairly new. Mostly, people minded their own business. So the real Conservative practice is like what came out in Roe v. Wade. But that is not what Republicans call Conservative because that does not suit their clients now.

A huge American standing military has been a constant of American life only since World War 2. For most of our history, Americans strongly opposed a large military and especially opposed a large standing military. Washington disbanded the army when the Revolution was over. Congress reduced the army to a skeleton when the Civil War was over. The military was costly and unproductive, so not something the state wished to support without strong need. Conservatives before World War 2 thought a big standing military was dangerous and provocative. Yet Republicans now treat a big military as the oldest and best institution in America. They treat everything about the military as Conservative when it is not. Much about the American military is great and morally good but the military is not Conservative in the awed sense of Republicans. Much of the best in the military, such as racial integration and gender integration, is Liberal. In both World Wars, a Democratic President commanded. I greatly admire America’s military. Its deference to civilian authority is saintly, and almost unheard of in the history of nations. But I don’t see everything about the American military as an old tradition with a place alongside the Constitution and Jesus. The current Republican idea of the military as Conservative uses the military to get funds which it can give to clients, and the Republican view extols the military so it can insure a steady supply of funds, a practice that is not Conservative and not in the spirit of the American military. There are good world-strategic reasons for a larger standing military now but not for the Republican sanctification of the military for political purposes.

Religious and moral non-conformity is traditional, old, and American. Religious and moral conformity is human, old, and traditional, but not American. In America, the Conservative option should be religious and moral experiment and tolerance. If it were not, we would not have the Bill of Rights, including the first and second amendments. We would not have 30,000 different Christian groups. We do have good guidelines about when experiment goes too far. Yet Republicans claim the true Conservative idea is conformity to their version of Christianity. Before John Kennedy became President, not even Roman Catholics were Christian enough and Conservative enough to be Conservative. Again, it is one thing to be shocked by the stupidity of the 1960s and 1970s but another thing to claim conformity is the true Conservative stance just so you can have your religion and can impose your religion.

Until the 1920s and 1930s, the use of alcohol and some drugs was traditional and common in America. George Washington had maybe the biggest distillery in the Colonies, nearly all large farms had a still, and marijuana (hemp) grew wild and was a crop. Although set in England, the song “John Barleycorn Must Die” by Traffic gets across the feeling. Modern anti-drug laws date only from the 1920s and 1930s. Anti-marijuana laws originally were a tool to control Hispanics. The true Conservative stance should be to repeal drug Prohibition and seek wise laws to allow moderate use, use that does not corrupt children or lead to social harm, that minimizes law enforcement and prison costs, and allows the states to collect revenue. But moderation over drugs is not the modern pseudo-Conservative style. Hypocritical control is. Just because anti-drug feeling has roots in the silly excesses of the 1960s through 1980s does not make an anti-drug stance Conservative in the true sense and does not make it an antidote to Liberalism. Just because Washington had a big distillery does not mean you should binge drink, get blasted every weekend, and smoke pot like all the guys in every movie by Seth Rogen or Seth McFarland; and it does not mean you should legislate against all drugs either.

Now you should think: “If Republicans don’t really mean ‘Conservative’ when they say it, don’t know the real meaning of ‘Liberal’, and use those terms only as tools, then what do they really mean when they use the terms? What is in the true Republican agenda that holds it together and that allows people to think it is Conservative?” Somewhat backwards, I started this Part with this question in mind. I had to give the answer before I could state the question well.

Democrats have their version of opportunistic thinking and labeling, and they deliberately misrepresent the Liberal, Conservative, and Republican views. You should think out issues for yourself and see how Democrats mislabel to gain support. You should think how confusion is done in the name of social justice, and how we can get as much social justice as practical without undermining the moral, social, and economic bases for all of us. How would you label your program?


# Desires, Passions, Morality, and Practicality; Ends and Means; Rationality

See the sections above on morality and practicality and on terms. See the material below on Adam Smith and related topics.

People have desires. People have more than one desire. People seek ways to satisfy their desires. In particular people seek ways to best satisfy their whole set of desires. People cannot fully satisfy all desires at the same time all the time. You cannot drive a car and text at the same time. You cannot swim and play the violin at the same time. People have to balance one desire against another at this time, for the future, and in the future.

People also feel morality. We can see morality as merely another desire. Often that is a correct view of morality but not always. Morality can push us to act in some ways regardless of personal desires. We might feel morality is in accord with our personal desires as when we wish all children including our own to act honestly. Yet we can feel morality is at odds with what we wish as when morality tells us not to steal even when we could get away with it, give to a homeless person that we do not know and we never will get a return from, or allow people to own some guns even if we dislike guns and the people that wish to own them.

Moralists say morality should always win but that does not happen in real life. Morality pushes us despite our desires but not necessarily against them. Do not think of morality as anti-practical or anti-personal. As noted above, I think most often morality and human desires coincide. Think of morality as something distinct in itself that works alongside our desires but does not always work like most other desires. Sometimes when morality and our desires do not coincide, our needs (desires) win anyway as when a poor mother steals food for her children or when we steal printing paper from work.

In cases where morality is enough like other desires, we simply balance morality with our other desires. In cases where morality is not like our other desires, when we clearly feel its character as morality, and when morality costs much or is impractical, but morality does not cost so much that it would ruin our lives or our families, then we can feel the clear victory of morality over practicality, then sometimes morality does “flat out” win. But more often we balance morality against desires. We are moral when it doesn’t cost too much. Even when we do balance morality against other desires, when the moral call and practical class are both clear, and we can find a livable compromise, the situation feels differently than when we merely balance merely practical considerations. When we wish to be honest but don’t wish to confess to a girlfriend or boyfriend that we lusted after someone else but did not have sex with the other person, the situation feels differently than if we want to have healthy food and chocolate cake too. We seek reliable ways to balance morality with other desires and costs. In cases where morality is not like another desire, when morality’s character as morality stands out, we have to know when we can afford to act morally or when morality costs too much – costs either directly or in what we give up. The poor mother has to know that she cannot let her kids go hungry even if she has to steal. The typical office worker has to know when he really can afford to buy printer paper rather than steal it. As part of a group, we have to know when the group can afford to act morally or when the costs are too high.

Evolved humans have any morality at all because morality always had to balance with practicality during our evolutionary history when we evolved the capacity for it. Morality is part of our nature as evolved humans. Balancing morality with other, practical, considerations is part of our evolved human nature. Morality, and balancing morality, can be painful, be we have had practice.

Figuring out the balance of desires for one person, and the balance of morality with desires for one person, is hard enough but figuring it out for a group, or many groups interacting, is quite hard. We cherish any methods that help us to figure out these things.

We need not only desires to act, we also need passion. A desire is a desire but it means nothing unless we act on it or choose not to act on it. We can wish to have an apple but if we don’t also feel the wish for the apple, and feel it strongly enough, we just sit on the couch. We can wish to help victims of a hurricane, but if we don’t have the passion, and have it strongly enough, we never pick up the phone to give Red Cross our card number. We not only have desires, we have passions of particular strengths that go with the desires. How strong any passion is for any particular desire at any time, determines what I do and don’t do. Strength of passion is one way in which we balance desires. When we feel the passion of morality stronger than the passion of sex, we don’t have sex with our too-drunk date, even if we previously have had sex with him-her and to have sex would be OK if he-she were not too drunk to consent. When we do feel the passion of sex more than the passion of morality, we go ahead. (Ignore the circularity in this argument.)

What people desire, sometimes including morality, is called “ends”. How people get what they want is called “means”. Philosophers and political thinkers differ on whether they include morality among ends or how they include morality among ends. You have to pay attention to each writer to figure out what he-she means in any particular passage. I try to be consistent and to note whether I include morality or do not include it. Usually, when I, and other writers, do not explicitly include morality as an end, we leave it out of consideration for the present.

“The ends do not justify the means” means that we may not do an immoral act in pursuit of a moral goal. “The ends do justify the means sometimes” means we may do an immoral act in pursuit of a moral goal if the moral goal is important enough and the means are not too vile. We may torture a terrorist to get information that would stop a mass bombing of children. You have to decide the general question and a lot of specific questions for yourself. School courses love this topic.

To pursue means effectively and efficiently is called “rational”. The more efficient and more effective, the more rational is the thought and action. “Rationality” is the correct balancing of desires, and the correct use of means, to achieve a lot of something, especially to achieve the most of something that is possible in that situation. Analysts differ on what the something is, and I don’t have to settle the issue now. To “be rational” is to act rationally. The idea of rationality can be made very exact, and some social scientists such as economists routinely do so; but here we don’t have to worry that much.

The above use of “rational” is from economics and differs a little from common use. How any particular writer uses the term varies. Ordinarily, people think of rational as “able to give reasons, see the forces at play, balance the forces and balance the relevant reasons, so as to give a good outcome or the best outcome, and to be able to give a coherent account of how and why”. “Rational” in this way is about reasoning as much as about acts. However, if you can give good balanced reasons, then usually you also can act rationally. If you can give good reasons, and balance reasons, then you will act effectively and efficiently to get a lot or to get the most. So the common use gave rise to the technical use, and the two often are mixed up. I don’t always sort out which I mean because that does not usually make much of a difference and it takes a lot of space.

“Irrational” now often means “mad, crazy”. (“Mad” did not originally mean “angry” but “insane”.) The term “irrational” might have come from not being able to give good reasons and not balancing reasons, but now the sense is stronger than that. In economics, the term does not usually mean mad or crazy but means “not acting consistently with the best most effective most efficient means when you know those means or should know those means” or means “not knowing your own desires, not feeling your own passions, or not knowing the usual means, so as to balance desires correctly to achieve what is overall best for you”.

“Means rationality”: to use the available means effectively and efficiently. It does not explicitly take into account ends. To go from the suburbs into the city, for whatever reason, often it is more means rational to take a commuter train than to drive.

“Ends rationality”: to balance the desires (ends) properly, usually so as to get the most, or to pursue a particular end effectively and efficiently – again I do not specify any “most”. “Ends rationality” does not take into account if the goal is usually worthwhile or sane. It does not explicitly take into account the means. “We want to go into the city tonight to have fun rather than stay home and watch reruns on TV” is ends rational. A serial killer murdering enough victims to get satisfaction but not so many as to get caught is ends rational but deplorable.

When you use a GPS to get somewhere, the destination is the end and the directions that the GPS gives you are the means. The means should lead to the end.

Some writers require that an end be moral and otherwise valued by most people to be truly rational and for acts to be truly ends rational. A person bungee jumping can be means rational but a person jumping to his-her death without cords is not means rational even if that was the goal.

It is hard to separate means rationality from ends rationality. If you are ends rational then likely you are means rational and vice versa. The commuter train is the most rational means to go to the city if your end is to get to the city. If you end is to get to your neighbor’s house, likely the most means rational way is to walk, unless you recently broke your foot. I don’t worry about this issue here but it gets to be a worry in real life issues such as how to best re-use an old city waterfront.

People and groups seek means rationality as a way to automatically also achieve ends rationality. Often we can get a reasonable amount of what we want and can balance various desires fairly well, even if not perfectly, if we can find a means and stick to it. If following the directions from our GPS very often gets us where we want to go, efficiently enough if not perfectly, then we are means rational to use our GPS, and, by being means rational, we also are ends rational. Police officers have definite means they use in their work. Soldiers have to follow orders, and it usually works out. Good students learn how to study effectively. People learn how to use the instructions for how to assemble pre-cut wooden furniture.

When we are means rational as a way also to be ends rational, we don’t have to think much, and don’t have to fight much, and people like that. People seek to be means rationality as a way not to have to think about ends rationality.

A person can be means rational but not careful about ends rational, and the results can be bad. If you always trust GPS and this time you end up in Wyoming instead of Illinois, then were means rational but it did not work out and so you were not ends rational. In a big country, all the people cannot participate in making laws, so we elect representatives. In America, we elect Congress. Selecting representatives is means rational but it does not always work out. When I want to eat ice cream and I want the dial on the scale to be lower, I tell myself that five more minutes of exercise will work; but I know in my heart that I am wrong. We don’t want to approve means rationality if the end is immoral or questionable. A sexual harasser might have developed a really effective technique but that is not something we want. We can get lost in a habit that becomes a vice such as drinking or gambling. Many people go out compulsively every weekend thinking for sure that is the way to have a good time. Many people ride around with immoral low-pitched crap rocking their cars thinking that is the way to be a real person.

Republicans tend to pay a lot of attention to means rationality and pay only selective attention to ends rationality. They like to think that, if they follow accepted methods and cost effective methods, the goal is automatically good. This is not true. You can use very rational effective techniques to cut a forest and build a strip mall where the forest once stood, and the mall can even make more profit than the forest ever could, but that result does not mean you were also ends rational. To be fully human, you really have to pay attention not only to means but also ends. You have to pay attention not only to practicality but also to morality.

Often I use “practicality” for what people desire combined with ends that can be achieved by rational means, without regard to whether morality is in or out of the set of desires. I use it much the way we would say “practical business strategy”, “practical way to get to Boston”, “practical way to learn to play the piano”, “practical way to pursue Peggy Sue”, or “practical way to contribute to various charities so you use your limited contribution for the most good”. My use does not mean practicality necessarily excludes morality but only that we can think of practicality apart from morality and often have to. Non-philosopher lay people like me tend to think in terms of morality versus practicality, and I go along, but I also like to be fairly precise. So I make clear what I intend. When I say “practicality versus morality”, I intend to contrast them and I do exclude morality from practicality. In those cases, I use “practicality” much like “means rationality” combined with non-moral goals, but there is also a conflict with morality. For example, I would like to make sure all children eat three good meals a day, and I wish to use the schools for that purpose, but I am not sure this good moral goal is practical both because of the costs and because of resistance from people that fear the state.

In evolutionary biology and evolutionary anthropology, the division between some of these terms is a little different. It is too much to go into details here, and not needed. Evolutionists tend to see morality as just another desire; in the context of their approach, to see morality as just another desire is correct. In the broader human and religious context, it is not enough. Evolutionary biologists tend to take better account of passions than do political and moral analysts. See my other work.

Some foreshadowing comments on the free market: In theory but not in practice, the free market is a means, a method, an institution that also is a method, a means rationality, one that automatically finds how to balance the desires of many people, including the desire for morality, so the greatest welfare is achieved by the group. The market settles how to find the best balance among a bunch of people. The market finds ends rationality through means rationality. The market is the Righty equivalent of going out every weekend to the same bars in search of happiness and Mr. Goodbar.

In theory, a person need use no methods in a free market other than that he-she pursues his-her desires effectively, including morality as a personal desire, in the context of many people doing the same and interacting. Self-interest by all pursued as rationally as possible does the whole trick. Self-interest is the means rationality that substitutes for ends rationality. Moreover, in theory, the market works well only when people act rationally according to self-interest and do not let any genuine self-sacrifice else get in the way. While in theory this view makes sense, it practice, dogged pursuit of self interest and only self-interest on the market is the equivalent of driving around in a 1970s big car blaring bass-heavy sexist racist crap thinking that fulfills you.

The market treats morality as just another desire to be balanced against other desires. Each individual has to balance for him-herself as he-she sees fit, and the market takes care of the group automatically.

Of course, the market does not work well enough in any of these ways although the real does approach the ideal pretty well. If we paid attention to how it does and does not work well, we could stop relying on the market as infallible means rationality and instead use it better.

Economists and Republicans like this view of the market because it means they don’t have to think any more. They substitute means rationality for ends rationality, and that is that. They don’t need to think about vexing moral and practical questions, especially not for the group. They simply rely on the market to think for them. If you already have power, this view is an effective way to rationalize, keep it, and get more power. I like using the market when it works correctly but it does not work so well that we don’t have to think about questions such as poverty, prejudice, good jobs and bad jobs, school shootings, guns, and welfare. The market does not work well enough so we can substitute means rationality for ends rationality. It does not work so well that we can let it make moral decisions for us. It does work well enough so we can take some guidance from it when we have to decide practicality versus morality. No self-respecting person should allow any means or institution to do his-her moral thinking for him-her. Part of what makes us really human is thinking about these issues for ourselves, even if that is hard. You can always take some trusted advice into account.

Technically, “wish” means much like “desire” while “want” refers to something that we need but we lack or we lack enough of. Sometimes it is clearer to say “want for” something instead of merely “want” something. Harold did not eat breakfast, and now it is ten a.m., so Harold wants for a snack to keep him until lunch. I wish for a Nobel Prize but I want for clean air. “For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse the kingdom was lost”. We usually wish for what we want but we do not want for (need) everything that we wish for. I wish for daily bread and I want it too. When young, I wished for many pretty girls to succumb to my charms but I did not really want for that, and usually they neither wished for me nor wanted for me. In common American speech, “want” has replaced “wish” and people do not say “want for” but simply “want”. “I am really hungry and I want a big fat juicy burger”. I don’t make a fuss over “wish” and “want” but you should know them in case you read old political or moral philosophy.

# Human Nature and Human Society

Theories of human nature and theories of society go together. Any analysis of human institutions needs a theory of human nature to go along with it or the analysis is prone to abuse and won’t last. Any social analysis implies a view of human nature whether the analyst knows or not. Likewise, any view of human nature affects how we see society. If we think society is all about justice then we think of people as able and willing to seek justice. If we think society is all about preserving humanity and spreading it through the galaxy, then we think of people accordingly. If we think all people are altruistic angels when given a chance, we see society one way. If we think power corrupts and all people with power are thoroughly selfish pigs, we see society another way.

There is a generic human nature, something that shows up to some extent in all societies and cultures, and something that we need to take account of even when we explain details of particular societies and cultures. Likely generic human nature evolved. Some theorists think there is no human nature apart from particular societies and cultures but I disagree. Even if there is an evolved general human nature, you still have to stress particular situations to do good social analysis. Particular societies, cultures, institutions, and history all matter, and often matter more than general evolved human nature.

I gave my relevant theory of human nature in other work. If you can get rid of your political biases, and can think of people as a mixture of good and bad, with good prevailing when possible, but with people a little too opportunistic to sustain general good, then that is about right for this essay.

People who wish to see society in a particular way often use a tacit theory of human nature for support but don’t make the theory explicit because they know other people will disagree with their view of human nature and so reject their theory of society. If you believe religion is the glue that holds society together, or should be, you have to think religion is important to people, more so than wealth, family, or success. If you think lust for wealth and power hold society together, then you have another view of people and society. But if you say either view explicitly, few people go along. In reading political ideas and commentary, watch for implied theories of human nature.

When the theory of human nature is not made explicit, and-or when it is not full enough, then particular kinds of mistakes come up. Here is not the place to go into this topic separately. Liberals, Democrats, Conservatives, and Republicans all make their own typical mistakes because they do not offer a full and explicit theory of human nature. I describe some of the mistakes below. L, D, C, and R don’t state their full theories of human nature because then their agendas would be revealed, or their hypocrisy would be revealed, and their programs largely rejected.

In using a hidden theory of human nature, L, D, C, and R, often fall back on their version of what social scientists call a “folk model”. A “folk model” is what people in a particular culture and society tacitly think about a certain subject. In the American folk model of physics: “what goes up must come down”, bigger objects fall faster, rocks don’t float, even when one object goes behind the other object the first object still exists, and there is a qualitative difference between living things and not-living things. There are folk models of life, marriage, family, society, and religion. Folk models do coincide with scientific models fairly well but never perfectly. Some aspects of folk models are factually wrong. Usually the gaps are not important except when science says one thing but people will not believe it because they don’t want to believe it, such as with global climate change. Folk models are not necessarily consistent within themselves or with folk models about other fields. The American folk model of biology is not consistent with the model of physics because we like to think animals have free will, trees talk, people can soar through the air by using will alone, in magic, and in innate difference between white (green) witches and black witches. We like to believe that life leads to super people and that these super people are good.

When L, D, C, and R use a tacit theory of human nature, they borrow from the folk model but they don’t borrow all of it. They borrow from the folk model partly because that is what they inherited as a base by growing up here. They also borrow because people feel comfortable when they recognize motifs from the folk model, and L, D, C, and R wish people to feel comfortable so people will accept the L, D, C, or R selection, analysis, and agenda. L, D, C, and R do not use all of a folk model. They use what helps their case and hurts opponents. They reject or overlook the rest. This kind of argument is common all over the world in lots of arenas. Your children, spouse, friends, colleagues, and boss do it to you all the time. You do it to them. L, D, C, and R borrow in ways that are typical of their stance but I cannot go into that topic in much detail. I simply point out cases when I need to.

Most political analysts and commentators have an agenda. NPR and all the cable news channels have an agenda. The best analysts try not to think in terms of “us versus them” but they are rare. In America and in most of Europe, there are two political parties and two large blocks in each country. The parties oppose each other. It is part of evolved general human nature to think in terms of “us versus them”, not always, but often enough. So, “us versus them” is more common than good impartial analysis. Almost always, simplistic “us versus them” is wrong. When people think in terms of “us versus them” they tend to have two ideas of human nature and society, one idea that applies to us and one idea that applies to them. In both cases, ideas of human nature and society are hidden, so you have to watch. “(A) Almost always, we are moral, reasonable, know what is realistic, still have good ideals, know what is best for everybody, know how to get people to act up to their best, we can get people to go along and help the whole if only we have power, and we can make good institutions. (B) They are immoral, stupid, never reasonable, do not have a realistic view of human nature or society, have crazy ideals or no ideals at all, make people act badly through their policies, make bad institutions, and erode the goodness of the whole through the bad institutions they make and the bad people that come out of bad institutions.” Of course, neither view is correct. The problem is that it is hard to figure out what is true in this climate. It is easier to become a partisan.

Westerners like a dichotomy between Reason versus Emotion (Passion). The dichotomy is overall false and misleading but it persists because it is partly true and it is useful for arguing. Sometimes you will wish to think Liberals and Democrats are Reasonable while Conservatives and Republicans are driven by bad irrational passions such as greed, xenophobia, and irrational religious commitment – or vice versa. Resist the temptation. Humans need goals, reasons, and passions. Try to see when you are slipping into a bad dichotomy and then stop. Try to see the goals, rationality, and passion behind both Liberals and Conservatives.


History 0: Western Society Before, During, and After some Big Changes

Did it start out like this? What happened? How did it all get like this?

Idealized European society before about 1750: a big group of peasants tied to the land, many towns, a few cities, nobility with control over the land and with rights to a big portion of the crops of peasants, crafts people, merchants, king, the Church which was both a spiritual a worldly power, and remaining forests and wild lands. Europe was not the same all over. In some places this system hurt the mass of people and hindered later development. In some places this system protected most people including peasants. It did not stimulate socio-economic mobility for talented people but it did support some change later. I cannot here describe which places were like what. It can help to think of England as basically a good place where the social classes helped each other and to think of France and Spain as bad places where upper classes oppressed lower classes and inhibited development. You can see this good version of England and (by insinuation) bad version of France in movies about Robin Hood and in the movie “Ivanhoe” from the novel by Walter Scott. The movies “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “A Knight’s Tale” offer a darker picture of England and Europe. Chaucer’s poems offer a fair picture of people who were well-off enough to travel and of the society that supported them. The “Musketeer” movies offer a picture of France that gets across the classes. The books are better. It helps neither to romanticize nor descry European feudal society.

Europe began to develop economically and intellectually well before the Renaissance (1500s). Western Europe “took off” economically about 1700. The changes created a new middle class and upper middle class based on commerce and services, and changes gave new status to crafts people, artists (Vivaldi, Bach, Rembrandt), and to non-aristocrat leaders. At first, the changes caused more harm than good for common people even if the changes helped merchants and aristocrats. The changes polluted the land and water, made cities into cesspools, increased crime, dispossessed people from ancestral land, turned farmers into short-lived grubby mine rats, caused strife between capitalists and aristocrats, and reduced life expectancy so that cities had a higher death rate than birth rate. Eventually, after about 1840 in Europe, the common people had more food, wealth, health, and security. Life got overall better and has stayed better. The changes sanctioned upward mobility for people with talent such Michael Faraday. Some aristocracy guided change and even promoted good change by investing in ventures, education, and art. Charles Dickens is biased against commerce but he is accurate enough for the period before things got better for the common people. The Bronte sisters get across lingering class society, how the changes affected class society in their time, and coming improvement.

The American Revolution in 1776 was an extension of changes in Europe. The French Revolution came in 1789. The American Revolution ended well but the French Revolution ended badly. Europeans of all social levels, who knew some real facts about the revolutions, were cautiously intrigued by America yet horrified by France.

The American Revolution and what followed was not typical of other socio-political revolutions and the rapid changes that come after them. The American Revolution was more orderly and beneficial. It was more of a revolt than a revolution in that the basic order of society was fairly egalitarian to begin with, the basic order did not change much, the group in power before the Revolution (English aristocracy and merchants) was replaced by a similar group of elected officials and powerful merchants, there was little violence by subgroups against each other, and little property was confiscated or lost.

The French Revolution was more typical. The novella “Animal Farm” uses Russia as a model but it applies to France; see the animated version from about 1960. Much blood was shed. Aristocrats were murdered. Whatever guidance they had given was gone. Aristocratic property was confiscated. Social groups fought. Groups accused other groups of being for the old order and against the new order not because other groups had done anything wrong but as ways to avenge grudges, hurt other groups, take their property, and get ahead. The property of merchants and the middle class was taken. Even non-aristocratic local politicians were killed because they had once worked with the aristocracy, even if they had once worked to benefit the common people. Scientists of all politics were murdered as elitists. Economic chaos ensued. Politically adept people arose to take as much power as the aristocracy ever had. They murdered and purged to consolidate their power and-or to take revenge. This is the chaos that Emperor Darth Sidious, and Adolph Hitler, created so as to take power. A glimpse of this small hell is in Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities”. Generations passed before calm and some sorting out. Then France got Napoleon, and then later France got the monarchy back.

To the English, the French Revolution was a worse case of what had happened in England in the 1600s with the Civil War and Oliver Cromwell; listen to the song “Oliver’s Army” by Elvis Costello. English “Roundheads” murdered the king and some aristocracy, caused chaos, and began their type of religious repression in the name of religious freedom. Subgroups in England accused each other of bad acts and bad faith, so as to hurt the group accused, whether the accusations were true or false, and to gain from hurting the accused group. Subgroups fought. The Roundheads seized the land of the aristocrats and the Churches. After the fighting, the English had to restore the monarchy. Then the roundheads went to America to begin their version of godly society wherever they could. The English already had tasted French-style chaos and they knew that this chaos was much worse than the modest inequality and lack of socioeconomic mobility that England had in 1789. Revolution is not worth the chaos unless conditions are horribly bad already.

From the late 1700s to now, people who have feared change have blamed Liberals for all bad ideas that lead to social unrest, for bad revolutions such as the French Revolution, and for the deterioration of life in general. Republicans now still blame all social unrest and distress on Liberal ideas and programs. Rather than blame ideas that you don’t know, and blame the people who espouse them, it is better to look into the ideas and then judge their value. See where your ideas are not as good as they should be or are outright bad (the big chunk of wood in your own eye). Promote useful ideas to the extent that they are still useful and don’t push any ideas too far. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”.

All ideas have people who misuse them; the New Testament and the ideas of Jesus are misused. Don’t blame Liberal ideas and Liberals for all misuse of ideas. Look to good versions of Liberal ideas as offered by sane reasonable people. Then understand how their ideas are misused by people who have agendas. The same is true of Conservative ideas and Conservative people.

If you want a good dose of reality and want to know what Liberals and other good people feared, read Machiavelli’s work, including the famous “The Prince”, and read Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”. Liberalism began even before the Renaissance but you can start in the 1600s with John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, who contributed to both Liberal and Conservative ideas. The papers of the American Revolution, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the (supposedly rightist) Federalist Papers, are textbooks on Liberalism. By 1776, the Liberal ideas given in this essay were well known. Many anthologies on Liberals and Conservatives have been done; search the Internet.

Make Sense.

Originally Liberalism was about putting Reason over non-Reason, in particular over mere custom and mere superstition, even more particularly over bad custom and bad superstition. Liberals wanted society and its institutions to make sense. Liberals wanted society and its institutions to make sense in terms of desires, morality, and practicality. Original Liberals wanted to balance ends and means. They wanted to balance practicality and morality. In their way, original Conservatives did too. This big view, and the drive to balance, is what America lost from both sides in the 1970s, with horrible results.

Anyone who has ever seen a bad economic, political, or religious outcome, and imagined what to do better, based not on partisanship but on reasoning including facts, is a Liberal in this way. When you see the waste caused by terrorism, and know that money both causing terrorism and defending against it could be better spent if only terrorists would stop being stupid, then you are a Liberal in this sense. If you have seen the state spend money in one way when you knew the money could be better spent in another, such as when the state fixes the street only to tear it up again a month later, then you are a Liberal in this sense. In this sense, almost everybody is a Liberal sometimes. If you have ever seen a church use money on a big building, beautiful garments for clergy, or a big car for the minister, when the money could have been spent educating the poor, you are a Liberal. When you see people spending money to go long distances to venerate the bones of a saint, when they could educate their children, you are a Liberal. If you see the poor spend money on booze and bad fast food instead of education, and see the ghetto dotted with small stores to enable bad habits and to exploit the poor, you are a Liberal. If you see that old programs such as welfare, Affirmative Action, and vast sums on the military-industrial-complex, are not cost effective, not meeting their goals, lead to moral irresponsibility, and we would be better off with something else, you are a Liberal. When you say “but that doesn’t make sense, here’s what does”, then usually you are not just a critic but a Liberal.

Liberals could see that some old social conventions, such as that only the children of the aristocracy get a good education, did not make sense and should change. Liberals could see that merchants, artisans, or even farmers could know better how to run a government, and Liberals wished to change governing so that the best qualified governed. Liberals knew that government should be fair to make sense. Liberals wanted to think through many conventions, beliefs, practices, customs, and etc. of society and religion to make them fairer, more effective, and responsive.

This Liberal approach was like what Socrates did when he wanted Athenian beliefs and institutions to make sense and what Plato did when he carried on Socrates’ quest to make sense. People don’t usually think of Socrates and Plato as Liberal; Plato’s thought led to authoritarian institutions. Still, in seeking to make Athens make sense, and in their willingness to get rid of traditional ideas that did not make sense, they were both Liberals.

“Liberal” is the same root as “liberty” and same sense as “freedom” or “free person”. A “Liberal” was a person who was as free as humanly possible of non-rational thinking and mere tradition. A Liberal was free to use his-her own mind to think through individual roles, individual lives, social relations, political relations and institutions, government programs, and religion, to come up with better patterns, patterns that better served values, principles, individuals, and society. A Liberal was free to consort with similar individuals to come up with better solutions and try to put them into place. A Liberal opposed attempts to muzzle free thought, free speech, and free responsible action. A Liberal opposed attempts to stop people from gathering to think of better ways and to implement them. If you do not have a free mind in this sense then you cannot be a Liberal, and, if you do have a free mind in this sense, you are a Liberal. Ben Franklin and George Washington were Liberals. Get used to it.

Reason Is Enough or Not Enough (1).

Original Liberals believed Reason is enough to tell us what makes most sense and what leads to the best (most good). This is the best humans can do, and this is good enough. It will work. This view does not necessarily rule out God or sometimes getting help from God. I mostly agree.

This belief that Reason will work, Reason is sufficient, and only Reason can lead to the most good (best ends), cannot be found in Reason alone. Guarantee that Reason alone will lead to the best conclusion cannot be found in Reason alone. Reason cannot justify itself. The belief in Reason is not arrived at by Reason and is not itself a reason. The belief in Reason is merely a belief. Likewise, the desire to make sense cannot be found in making sense alone. The belief that working to make sense really will lead to making sense and to the best outcome cannot be found in the idea of making sense. Belief in Reason as the best way to make sense to find good is merely a belief. It is not Reason. All this quibbling sounds like gobbledygook but it actually makes some differences.

This situation does not bother me but does bother some people. I cannot take the space here to explain why I am alright with this situation or why other people are unhappy. Original Liberals understood this problem and simply worked around it, as I do. You should look at yourself to decide what you think and how you feel.

It helps to think of Reason not as the ultimate value but as a tool. To use a tool correctly, you need an end in mind, and you have to be sure this tool is the tool best suited to the end. If you want to repair a bicycle, usually an awl and a corkscrew are of little use; you need pliers, hammer, and screwdriver.

To make sense of Reason using only our limited human intellects, we need a prior set of principles by which to use the Reason as a tool and to use it as the best tool for making social life make sense, such principles as fairness, truth, goodness, order, justice, power, mercy, and freedom. Spock alone is not enough; we need Kirk and McCoy as well.

As we cannot use Reason to justify Reason, we cannot get our principles from Reason alone. We can use Reason to argue about principles, especially about particular principles in particular cases. We can use Reason to arbitrate among principles. But we cannot use Reason to make principles. Likewise, we cannot get our principles from experience directly or from experience alone. Principles come prior to Reason and prior to experience. I do not here say where we get them. If you have the temper for a long trying task, it is fun to see if you can use Reason or experience to generate principles without already first having principles. This has been a favorite pastime of philosophers and theologians for millennia.

With the correct principles (values), and correct reason, it is possible to Reason usefully. It is possible to make more sense and to make society make more sense. It is not possible to reason as accurately or to succeed as well in any other way.

Thinkers differed on what the principles should be and what they are. They differed on how principles should relate to each other, and do relate to each other, as, for example, which principle should take precedence in what situation. Should fairness or mercy ever supersede justice? For a list of candidates for “first principle”, and a longer list of other possible principles, see the next section below.

It makes a difference which principles you use and how you arrange them. “Make sense” differs greatly if you use power or good as a basic principle.

Liberals saw they could go off track if they weren’t careful about the framework within which to make sense. Using examples of previous thinkers who had gone off track, and of people who had done a good job, Liberals came up with a general procedure. The procedure is not logically watertight or completely proof against error, it requires ongoing discussion and re-thinking, and it requires interaction with other people, but usually it works. The various religions also think this procedure requires the unquestioned basic principles of each particular religion, but that is a debatable question that I avoid here. Refer to past thinkers and their thought. Use common sense. Use what you know of human nature and society. Take the advice of people who have more experience than you and-or are smarter. Consult tradition. Consult old institutions such as Churches and religions. Make a set of principles. Let people argue about them. Measure your principles against experience, yours and others, hopefully without doing much harm. Revise as needed. Repeat as needed. Ideally, this is what courts of law, legislatures, councils of Churches, and kibitzing neighbors, all do.

This procedure mixes having a prior set of principles with getting principles from experience and with modifying principles from experience. It tries to keep the best features of both before experience and after experience. I don’t explain how we do that and I don’t explain the reservations of some thinkers.

This procedure is what the adept successful Liberals of the American Revolution did, even the Liberals who tended toward one or a few somewhat unusual principles as their main principle such as absolute political freedom or economic order. It worked.

France, Russia, and China, among others, got into trouble because their thinkers did not follow this way and their thinkers tended to fix on one-or-a-few glamorous ideas that did not work in real life and that led people into trouble. See below. Good Liberals try hard not to make the same mistake. Some Conservatives, and some Republicans, accuse Liberals of always making this same mistake. You will see the accusation in what Republicans say about Democrats, even if Republicans don’t know they echo the accusation, as when Democrats are “bleeding hearts”, wish to “soak (fleece) the rich”, and “demand rights but neglect responsibilities”.

Liberals don’t have to make this mistake and good Liberals don’t. As humans, they still make mistakes. I focus on Liberals who mostly follow this procedure but do make some mistakes, partly because they get locked into principles such as absolute ethnic parity and partly because they are human and succumb to appeals such as to help all adults as if the adults were children.

Conservatives and Republicans use a similar procedure and make similar mistakes. They are as prone to mistakes as Liberals. For example, they say “a rising tide floats all boats”, more wealth automatically solves all problems without the need to think or to use principles such as fairness, when, in fact, as we have seen often, this quip is clearly false. If you understand the situation from examples about Liberals, you should be able to figure out Conservatives and Republicans for yourself.

Reason is Enough or Not Enough (2).

Only with a prior belief in Reason, and only by using Reason in the context of human communication, only by following the procedure outlined above, can we have democracy. Without belief that Reason can guide us well enough, we cannot have democracy. The fact that this belief in Reason-as-a-trusty-guide arose at the same time democracy arose is not a coincidence. I do not guess which caused which or if both were caused by something else such as the rise of capitalism or rise of science and technology. If you do not accept that human Reason, as conducted above, often can be enough, then you cannot accept democracy. You have to reject democracy.

I stress that not accepting human Reason as enough requires a person to reject democracy because Conservatives explicitly rejected that human Reason is enough. Conservatives did not reject trying to make sense, trying to make society make sense, reasoning, or reasoning in groups, but they did not think such procedures necessarily led to the greatest good. Humans need more than faith in Reason to find the greatest good. Original Conservatives usually did not explicitly reject all democracy, for reasons I don’t go into here, but they did insist on placing democracy in contexts that were just as important in reaching the greatest good and making the most sense. The contexts contained the basic principles of Conservatives and promoted the use of Reason in accord with those basic principles.

Conservatives used two major contexts, often blended together, and often fused as one. I mention the contexts here and describe them in more detail in the part of this essay on original Conservatives.

First, original Conservatives used social history, conventions, institutions, and order. These must guide reasoning or the human mind will stray into the harmful wilderness. The two most important social forces are the Church and aristocracy. The American Senate is heir to this view. Original Conservatives did not see modern legislatures such as Congress as being as important as old institutions. They did not see democracy as important in the same way that they saw old institutions.

Second, original Conservatives trusted God to provide the correct principles (values) and provide proper social context to guide humans. Also, original Conservatives trusted God to intervene directly in human deliberations, if needed, to guide us to the best solution. Some original Conservatives might have seen the rise of limited-and-only-limited-democracy in this way, as direct intervention by God to guide us to the best, but I wish not to go into this topic here. We use Reason to see and accept what God has urged us toward.

Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu churches (religious bodies) take the same stance when they trust in their councils to come to the best conclusion and trust the Holy Spirit (or Allah directly, an angel, the Dharma, or an avatar) to guide humans to the best understanding and best conclusion. Jews, Christians, and Muslims claim their holy books were written this way. I recall as a child in the Greek Orthodox Church learning of the great honor given to general councils of the Church, especially ones that set important dogma such as the Creeds. They were the hand of the Holy Spirit made obvious. Confucians are similar but would say that living in accord with Heaven is the best guidance. The view with Buddhists and Hindus is fuzzier because some believe the Dharma guided their religious leaders directly while some would not make such a claim, and I am not sure of orthodoxy. I omit comment on Taoism.

Modern Conservatives echo claims of original Conservatives when they say they get their values from God; God guides them as individuals, groups, churches, communities, and legislatures; their way must find the most good; and any other way must come up so far short as to fail.

Modern Conservatives also echo the above view of the Church, and the role of tradition in the Church, when they insist that they are correct because they are guided by God. Modern Christian Conservatives usually do not know they echo the Christian Church and its traditions, or they repress knowing because they link this view to the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. They accept the view but reject where it came from.

Of course, different groups of modern Conservatives come to different conclusions, and this conflict casts doubt on the claim that social institutions and-or God eventually necessarily lead to the one-and-only greatest good. Different groups of Conservatives hold different basic values or interpret the same basic values in different ways, naturally leading to different supposedly God-given conclusions. Modern Conservatives and modern Republicans only dimly understand the claim of original Conservatives. They often abuse it by simply declaring their values are correct, God is on their particular side “for sure”, and He will punish all their evil opponents sooner or later.

People other than original Conservatives saw that the Liberal method required a belief in Reason that could not be founded in Reason alone. More is needed than merely Reason, and this more makes the context within which Reason operates. So, some people found other basic bigger principles, principles that differed from Christian Conservatives of the early 1800s. In systems with other principles, Reason could still play a large role but it could not play the same part as it did in the thinking and conversations of original Liberals. Reason had to reside beneath another principle; Reason had to serve only as the tool of another principle even if Reason was the greatest instrument. Buddhism and Hinduism also see Reason this way. Systems founded on other basic principles could not support democracy in the same way as Liberalism does.

One of the most common alternatives is glorified Passion or Emotion: “trust your heart”, “the heart has reasons that Reason cannot know”, and “the heart wants what the heart wants”. We see echoes of this view in “The Force” and in every Rom Com. We see that George Lucas and his successors recognized that trusting emotion alone to be the final arbiter was dangerous because it led to bad Sith (apparently not all Sith were bad). More alternatives: Progress, Evolution, Society, the Race (ethnicity), Culture, Family, Transcendence, Freedom, Self Realization, the Journey of Great Discovery, the Self, the Spirit, Bliss, the Great Journey of the Spirit, the Game, the Self as the Spirit as revealed in the Great Journey of Discovery, Selfishness, Greed, the Market, Free Enterprise, Business, Power, Art, Grace, Beauty, the People, Great Leaders, the State, the modern mistaken idea of Conservative, and Communism.

The Romantic Movement fuses many of these alternatives. It relies on the idea of the Spirit, the Journey of the Spirit, and the Self as expression of the Spirit. It might be the strongest belief system worldwide now. I wrote about Romanticism elsewhere so I ignore it in this essay.

Another alternative is populist democracy, especially of the kind that we saw after President Reagan in the United States and even more especially with the rise of Donald Trump. The People represent the Spirit, and the People are always correct through their Great Leaders. Democracy is only a vehicle for the expression of the People and their Great Leaders.

In the 1970s through 2000s in academia, in a roundabout way through the idea of culture, some people used the idea that Reason cannot justify itself and is a mere belief to say that science cannot justify itself and is a mere belief. So we need not follow science, and we should do what the clever academics tell us to do. This view is quite wrong and quite harmful. It is an ugly caricature of thoughtful analysis from religion that seeks a foundation for deep moral and religious principles and for all the relations between good religion and science. It is an ironic way in which the extreme Left and extreme Right (Creationists) overlap through denying science. Science is as correct as mere humans can get. We cannot make sense better than with science and Reason. Science is one of the best ways in which we mix principles, Reason, experience, and making sense. It would take too long here to go into why science works so well and why it cannot be dismissed. Science does not, and does not aim to, tell us about morality or religion but only about the world in which we have to exercise morality and religion. Science does a really good job of its task. This wrong self-serving faddish hurtful anti-scientific view is an example of why I went through in detail the ideas of making sense and using Reason.

I believe in the ability of Reason. I know the limitations and I also know how to get around in the empty space. These days, my belief in Reason and science makes me a Conservative in the sense that I look to thinkers of the past, original Liberals, for guidance but my belief does not make me a Conservative in the sense of original Conservatives or of present day Republicans who wrongly call themselves Conservative. Mass populist democracy as in America now is not what original Liberals wished for, and it is not a good way to use Reason to make sense and to arrive at the most good. I wish God did guide America and the other groups that I hold dear but I know that usually he does not. Mostly, we are on our own, and I think that is what God wants now.

I commented on Conservatives here because the topic came up naturally. The topic comes up naturally again in parts of the essay on Conservatives but I do not repeat the points then. Please remember the points here for use later.

Keeping Ourselves Merely Human

A good original Liberal did not put his-her own particular mind, or his-her decisions made by talking with other people, above every other mind including the mind of God. A good Liberal knew other people thought too, often thought more adeptly than him-herself; and a good Liberal accepted the conclusions of other people when their conclusions made better sense. A good Liberal accepted the conclusions of another group of thinkers when that group made more sense than did his-her own ideas and the ideas of his-her own group. A good Liberal knew that he-she did not know everything and was not an expert on all. A good Liberal knew that good thinking of the past lay behind institutions such as Churches and behind customs such as the limited authority of the King. So he-she was happy to look at the ideas in Churches, customs, and institutions to see where their preserved thought surpassed his-her own. A Liberal sought the sound thinking of other good thinkers and the sound thinking of books and tradition. Only when the ideas of other people and when traditions obviously made less sense than his-her own thinking, caused obvious harm, were grossly unfair, and-or other people tried to force him to act as they wished, did a Liberal insist on his-her own thought.

In Christian myth, Hell is to be forever separated from God and from other Godly people, isolated, alone, depending on yourself alone, believing you are always right, you are the standard for all thinking, you are sufficient unto yourself, you don’t need anyone, and everyone should follow you – as Tom Riddle (Voldemort) acted and as Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom told Tom Riddle about how he acted. C.S. Lewis described this myth in “The Great Divorce”. In contrast, the good guys know how much they need each other and they take joy in friendship and help. The Christian myth is true enough. Liberals knew of this trap of holding yourself alone and above, of worshipping your own mind, and knew of the bad result. Good Liberals avoided the trap. Leaders of the American Revolution consulted friends, colleagues, and rivals. Even superior minds such as Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Hamilton did so. Later, Abraham Lincoln did so.

Sadly, not all Liberals are good Liberals in this sense. Too many people, including many Conservatives, put their schemes above the ideas of all others and above the good ideas that have come down to us through books and institutions. They worship their own mind, own self, their church, their party, the doctrines of their party, and some ideology. Too often, when this happens, not only do the people who would put themselves above fall down into a personal hell but they drag us down with them, as did Tom Riddle, Voldemort, a staunch Rightist pseudo-Conservative.

Partisan “us versus them” “tribal” politics has dominated the United States since about 1970, especially since Reagan in the 1980s, and more especially since Republican backlash against Obama and the rise of Trump. Both sides, but especially Conservatives, commit this sin of pride and of worshipping yourself and your own mind. The sin of “us versus them” is self worship in disguise and is much greater than any sin of which Conservatives accuse Liberals. It is greater than supposed sins of tolerating homosexuality and abortion and of coddling ethnic groups. America as a whole pays the price for this sin.

At bottom, everyone has to decide for him-herself what is right and wrong, or decide which Church to accept as the authority on right and wrong. “Churches” include political parties, intellectual schools, and even gangs. So, ultimately, you do have to be your own authority to a big extent. That is a big part of what it means to choose and to accept responsibility. This required choice makes it hard not to hold yourself above and alone. Pause to think how you can be your own authority in this one way yet not fall into the trap of worshipping your own self and mind, and not drag others down. How can you join an “us” without falling into the trap of worshipping the self that is the group and worshipping yourself in disguise in that group? We do have examples of a few people who were right when others were wrong yet did not fall into the trap, and, in the end, helped much more than harmed. Often we see religious heroes in this way. You may use them as examples without saying that you rival them in quality. Nearly all of them deliberately, and I think genuinely, subordinated themselves before greater authority, and asked for help. That is a good start.

Conservatives say Liberals always fall into this trap, always make more bad crazy ideas than good useful ideas, always go for bad crazy ideas instead of good useful ideas even when both are available, always create social chaos, and always drag others down with them. Pause to think if this charge is true. Is chaos more likely when people try to think things out and to make things make sense, when people rely only on past authority, or when people “let things slide”? Use the Supreme Court and use political correctness of both Left and Right as case studies. How do you think things through and make sense without falling into this trap, even if you are a Conservative?

Conservatives say Liberals might have good intentions but, when you push any idea too hard, the real practice is a bad perversion or the bad reflection of what you intended. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. In bad revolutions, striving for equality led to huge gaps in power. Taking wealth and redistributing it led eventually to great differences in wealth and to more poverty. Imposing fairness leads to unfairness. Striving for freedom of personal expression leads to “political correctness”. Striving for sexual liberation leads to date rape and sexual malfunction. This reversal is true not only of Liberal ideas but of Conservative ideas too. Promoting some inequality of wealth to get investment, economic growth, and overall improvement, in fact leads to: great difference in wealth, a big mass of poor people who are all the same, desperation, and stagnation for the whole country. Imposing one religion such as Christianity leads to violent tyranny in the name of peace and love.

Why, when pushed, do ideas backfire and lead to not-that, perverse that, or the opposite of that? How can we implement ideas and live in institutions to the best extent but not much more? How do we seek counterbalancing ideas without falling into the same trap from the other direction? Neither Liberals nor Conservatives have good answers. I don’t expect any from politicians, TV preachers, TV news analysts, Right Wing pundits, or most (otherwise good willed) academics, so it’s up to you and your friends.

Missing Examples.

Originally in a section below I gave examples of how good ideas go bad but the exercise took too much space so I moved it to another essay. Again, “Animal Farm” and “1984” explain “new speak” quite well. Remember that Republicans do the same thing in their ways. Here is a sample with no comments:

From “Animal Farm”: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

The ideas of Political Correctness (PC) can be wonderful but the practice is horrible. It is new moralistic harrying, a way to get power in disguise, especially on college and university campuses.

“Rights”, including Civil Rights and the rights of women and LGBTQ people, began as a defense of the downtrodden but led not only to shirking responsibilities but to not even feeling responsibilities.

Social Justice began as a correction to bad laws and obvious discrimination but became a way to attack any person or group with any power or wealth slightly above average.

Social Justice began as a way to help other groups that could not help themselves enough but became a way to feel justified and good about yourself by crusading, like anti-abortion.

Being critical, analytical, and speaking the truth (“the truth shall set you free”) turned into finding fault with other people, even when fault might not have been the most important fact in the case, so as to make yourself feel justified and good, a way of crusading by finding fault. If you can’t figure out what good to do, and you can’t find a solution, or the solution requires you to be critical of your group and to work hard, then you can always forget all that and simply find fault with your supposed oppressors. PC is a good set of guidelines for this practice.

“Egalite” (equality) originally aimed to reduce unfair and harmful differences such as differences from inheriting great wealth and power but became like PC. It was the historical predecessor to modern PC and the modern misuse of Social Justice.

“Egalite” became, “Take it all away from them and give it all to us. We might share among ourselves so as to be somewhat equal among ourselves, although likely not, but they will have nothing. That serves them right”.

Fairness turned into saying “but that’s not fair” so as to ignore reality and the vicissitudes of life to make sure you always get the long end of the stick, and make sure all unfairness goes to the other person and never to yourself.

Free Speech became “free speech for me but never for thee” as when anybody who is not a strong Lefty is shouted down, especially on college and university campuses.

Equal Opportunity became forced over-compensation forever and forced equal outcome forever.

“Each person has to seek and find the truth for him-herself” became “I alone know truth and I know the full truth. I alone am always correct. I never need counsel. You are often confused. You have to listen to me and follow me or we will both meet with disaster”.

“Each person has to seek and find the truth for him-herself” became “My group, we, are always right and your group, you, are always wrong.”

“No man is an island” and “you cannot find the truth by yourself” became “the group is always correct and, when you as an individual go against the group, you are always wrong. Do what the group says. Learn to think properly, to think as the group says to think. Learn what is really right and wrong. Learn how we are right and they are wrong. Because we understand these truths in our hearts, we are the best speakers for the group, so you should listen to us.”

“Your ancestors did my group a wrong, we should recognize and accept that fact, we should understand what happened, so we can never do it again, and so we can work together” became “your people did us wrong, your people still do us wrong, it seems to us that you can never stop doing us wrong, and, even if you could stop you can never make up for what you already have done, so your group must make up for then and now, now and for always, by giving to us.” Of course, often both groups have wronged the other at some time.

“Truth and Justice before Order” became “There is always more truth in chaos than in order. Nice order is always false and misleading. I am the agent of truthful disorder. I can do what I wish, when I wish, and take what I want, because that is really only truth, justice, and the right order asserting themselves through me. When I am done being the agent of truth, justice, chaos, and the right order, then we will have correct peace and order in the Galaxy, and it will last a long time.”

In the next four paragraphs, I do not ask you to become a psychologist or a crime investigator. I do not ask you to get far into the head of a criminal. I ask you to think of ideas from Left and Right that help set up the mindset of a criminal but that do not necessarily make up the whole mind set of a criminal. What ideas might have originated with Liberals-Democrats or Conservative-Republicans that helped a person to think wrongly and to act wrongly?

Beginning about in 2015, through social media and then through mainstream media, we got stories and images of police violence toward Blacks. The clips stirred up resentment by Blacks against Whites, authority, and the police. The clips brought up bad memories of blame toward Blacks, higher conviction rates of Blacks, longer sentences, Blacks as constant scapegoats, “search and frisk” applied too often and without good reason, and the assumption that a young Black person is always guilty unless proven innocent. Shortly after the clips and the bad feelings, some Black people, mostly men, began to target police officers. Sometimes Black men simply attacked officers without provocation while the officers were in their cars or standing. Black men set up ambushes such as by putting in a fake call of domestic violence. What ideas might go into setting up such an attack in the mind of an attacker, or rationalizing an attack once the attacker thought seriously about doing it? Where did an attacker get the idea that a change in society could result from killing individual representatives of authority? Where did the person get the idea that local violence against individual people would solve a social problem? Where did he get the idea that guns solve problems? How was he able to forget that police officers are people too? It is easy to see how Republicans can blame bad Democratic ideas for these attacks on police officers but ideas that Republicans commonly hold contribute too.

In my opinion: In the large majority of cases, the acts by the police were fully justified. These attacks are detestable beyond my ability to write. They are evidence of profound deliberate misunderstanding and deliberate bad will. They are evidence of a profound problem within a community. They show how people can seek short term personal gratification through twisted ideology and propaganda instead of trying to solve problems.

What ideas allow Black people, and sympathetic White people, to focus on violence against Blacks by Whites and the police, and, at the same time, to overlook Black-on-Black violence and the vastly greater harm it does to Blacks and the Black community? Why not put your energy where it is most needed?

I don’t have to give background for school shootings and other mass murder in America. What ideas from the Left or Right might have helped a person to think mass murder, of mostly innocent people, is an acceptable action or is a commendable action? What ideas might have helped to rationalize once the shooter seriously considered acting? Why these targets? What makes strong violence decisive? What makes decisive violence a solution? To what problem is it a solution? If it is not a solution, then it might be a symbolic statement. What does the symbolic statement say? It is easy to see how a Democrat can blame Republican ideas but I think ideas commonly held by Democrats contribute too.

Back to Making Sense and to Reasons; Most of the Major Points.

When a person says “make sense”, he-she wants reasons for what he-she does and he-she wants to be able to explain by using reasons. We want basic principles and we want to use them correctly. When we want a social institution to make sense, we want the institution to have purposes such as managing a forest, and want the institution to work efficiently to meet its goals. We want criteria to explain what the institution does to further its mission and want criteria for success and failure. An institution is like a big rational person but it gets its goals not from human nature, God, morality, what is good, or society, but from particular people who give it goals such as legislators. When Liberals said “make sense”, they thought of logic and reasons (rational, reasonable), they liked to use logic and reasons, and they wanted institutions to be logical and reasonable in the same way. They were like Mr. Spock. Their institutions were like the Enterprise and its missions. Liberals thought they made better sense, were more logical and reasonable, than others, especially more so than people who defended religion and the aristocracy without being able to give good reasons.

Many institutions in the 1700s and early 1800s did not make obvious sense, and their defenders did not make obvious sense. Many institutions made bad sense in that they acted against their supposed goals and against the better interests of the people. They were illogical. The aristocracy and the churches said they helped the people but, in fact, they took a lot of resources from the people and gave back too little. “Taxation without representation” was illogical. These days, business firms say they help all the people but it is clear they do not. Liberals in the 1700s correctly used reason to cast doubt on the claims of many people and institutions. Liberals took pride in doing so. Some Liberal analyses were wrong, and some overlooked how people and institutions help, but, on the whole, original Liberals usually made good points. We still follow their logic and make the same points today. We follow the Liberal goal to make sense and we use the same arguments that original Liberals used. When a Conservative says that Affirmative Action does not make sense in the original way the program was intended or in any clear way for overall benefit, he-she really uses a Liberal mode of arguing.

If the original Liberals did make sense some of the time, some existing institutions did not measure up, and Liberals could imagine better, then the issue becomes “how do we get there from here?” How do we make local justice, national legislatures, churches, and the economy better, not just in our fantasies, but in the real world? We would like to use the same logic to find how to get there that we used to figure out sense and not-sense. Usually that is hard. Sometimes it is practically impossible to get from here to there without big damage, more damage than the gain of there. Most revolutions caused this big damage. Liberals knew of this problem but never could offer good general solutions and still can’t. It is one thing to know an institution doesn’t measure up and other things to know how to fix it and how to fix it without making more problems. Especially it is one thing to know an institution doesn’t measure up or that the economy has a problem and another thing to use the state to fix the situation.

Beginning with the French Revolution, Conservatives showed that Liberals overlooked much of the good that old institutions do, and Liberals overlooked the damage that comes of trying to get there from here. You have to make sense not only in some idealistic do-gooder mode but in a way that can be applied to the real world of what exists now and what already has strong social inertia.

Original Liberals took pride in logic. Yet now, Conservatives say Liberals suffer from excess emotion that swamps their Reasoning and Conservatives call Liberals “bleeding hearts”. Conservatives say Liberals cannot assess costs and benefits, so Liberals are illogical in terms that Liberals originally used. Liberals offer moral imperatives such as “feed the poor” but they do not offer logically sound ways of meeting goals. Conservatives claim to rely on cost-benefit and so say they are now more logical than Liberals. In fact, neither Liberals nor Conservatives rely on logic nearly as much as they claim to, both rely on low emotional appeals to frightened angry voters, and they do not make sense in the way original Liberals wished or in any way that a simple voter, like me, would wish for.

If original Liberals relied on logic and on practicality for making sense of institutions, programs, cases, and society, then how did it happen that Liberals now often do rely on emotional appeals and on moral appeals that seem impractical? Why do Liberals now avoid practical analysis and seem immune to practicality? How do Conservatives now claim to be more logical? If neither are as logical as they claim, and both appeal more to passion than to logic, why do people believe what Conservatives say about Liberals and about themselves? What happened? What is the modern mix of logic and passion, and how did we get here? Understanding this change goes a long way toward explaining Democrats and Republicans. That is what the middle parts of this essay are about.

An original Liberal was not always against central control of some aspects of life, social life, and political relations. A Liberal in 1790 could believe in courts, Congress, the police, and the army. A Liberal could believe in a central bank, a big church, or the Post Office. If central authority was the best way to get things done, then that was the Liberal solution. If central authority is not needed, or is too dangerous, then avoid it. See more below.

A Liberal is not often a “Libertarian”. Libertarianism is a doctrine that developed after World War 1 and that tries to maximize individual free action and minimize state action. Libertarians are more likely to ally with Conservatives than Liberals because Libertarians want a minimal state while Conservatives say they wish to do that (but don’t really). I do not discuss Libertarianism.

A Liberal is not often a “libertine”. A libertine is like a “hedonist” or a self-indulgent and narcissistic person. A libertine indulges his-her senses and likes to use drugs and alcohol to increase pleasure. A libertine goes to places designed to lower inhibitions and to get people to act self-indulgently such as brothels, casinos, and political meetings. In contrast, Liberals were often sober, thoughtful, and demur such as Washington. When they had fun, they did not harm others, as with Franklin enjoyed sex and alcohol but did little harm. They reasoned there was no point in banning fun if fun did not hurt other people or society, and they believed in letting people do as they wished as long as it did not hurt other people or society. Liberals often preferred coffee to booze, which is why coffee houses were banned for a time in England. The state did not a big group of wide awake smart people asking what made sense and what did not, and what to do about it.

After Liberal ideas were available, Libertines did use Liberal ideas as excuses, just as ruthless people use Conservative ideas as excuses. Hitler did not run as a Liberal. He murdered homosexuals and gypsies. He repressed swing music. Libertine short-term fun, combined with Libertine twisting of Liberal ideas into excuses, surely has seduced some young people who otherwise would have had better lives. Like generations of children hiding under the covers, read “Fanny Hill” and Playboy. Conservative ideas, mixed with the chance to oppress your fellows, have hurt some young people who otherwise would have lived better. The mix of Libertine acts and any kind of excuse has been seducing young people and ruining lives at least since cities were invented 8,000 years ago, long before Liberalism. Prostitution in religious temples used to be common in the Middle East and likely in India too. Even if we grant that the mix of Libertine acts and twisted Liberal ideas has caused more damage than repressive acts and twisted Conservative ideas, still we not should blame Liberal ideas alone. Condemning Liberal ideas will not save young people from seduction and bad lives. You have to know some history, think clearly, and be able to explain to young people clearly too. And still people, even adults, will get lost.

(A) Liberals insisted individual people are the best judges of their own welfare and we should let people do as they wish, within limits. Original Liberals were not as doctrinaire as modern people tend to be because Liberals recognized that all rights entail responsibilities and entail giving up some things, and they were as likely to stress responsibilities and giving up to stress rights. (B) Original Liberals believed in personal autonomy in contrast to old-fashioned society where most people had set roles and people had to fulfill social duty no matter their personal talents or their personal character. Liberals wanted people to sort themselves into the best roles and sort themselves out of roles that other people did better. (C) Liberals could see that many people are not good judges of their own welfare, could be taken advantage of, and that actions based on ignorance or on limited ability led to hardship for themselves and society. Liberals could see that uneducated and unintelligent people were systematically taken advantage of. In those cases, it is better to have uneducated and unintelligent people do their social duty and to be protected by people who do know better. (D) But we should not let those cases blind us to the bigger need for individual freedom of choice, action, and self-determination. We need freedom for the people who can do better. Society is better off with too much freedom than not enough.

Liberals were against undue constraint, including repression, because undue constraint doesn’t make sense either morally or as a practical way to run a country. Repression goes against what it means to be a human. Undue constraint means that the best talent does not come forward, institutions are run by mediocre or bad talent, the best ideas do not prevail, mediocre or bad ideas prevail, institutions do not have well-defined good goals, there are no standards by which to judge institutions, institutions perform badly by common sense standards, bad people take advantage of bad ideas and bad institutions to take power and wealth at the expense of better people and the nation as a whole, the state does worse than it should, our nation cannot compete with other nations, our business firms cannot compete with the business firms of other nations, and our people go backwards. Liberals were for as much freedom as is practicable because it does make sense morally given what people are and freedom is a good way to run a country if done within a system of the correct laws and institutions.

Original Liberals were not against all constraint simply because it was constraint and it came from the state. They were against undue constraint including repression. As it turned out, most of the countries of Europe suffered from undue constraint, and so it would seem as if Liberals were against all aspects of traditional government, and even against all government, when they were not. Eventually some Liberals took a stance against all constraint and-or all government but that was not the original idea and should be avoided. Because there was not nearly enough personal freedom in Europe in 1750, original Liberals promoted individual freedom almost wherever they could. But they were never for unbridled freedom. They always knew that freedom and a system-of-order-for-freedom must come together. Eventually some Liberals took a stance for all freedom always everywhere without constraint, and took the stance that somebody (“the man”) is always trying to destroy freedom, so they always had to fight for freedom. But that was not the original idea. Originally, you fight for freedom and against constraint when you have to, and stop when you have gained the right amount of freedom.

Individual autonomy does not mean selfishness, immorality, amorality, or no sense of duty. Nearly all the original Liberals had a strong sense of duty to their political offices, the nation, and the morality of their faith or to general morality. A feeling of duty is part of human nature that original Liberals took for granted. Once you accept a role, you are bound to carry out that role for the good of the whole or you must make clear that you release the role, and you must make clear your reasons. It is hard to read about George Washington, Ben Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson and to say that individual freedom leads to avoiding duty, lack of caring about society, amorality, or immorality.

Liberals did say that individual autonomy allowed people to differ on questions of religion and morality. To differ on questions of religion and morality is not a Liberal disease. Even people within one narrow Church, as any Christian Church, with Islam, or Judaism, differ considerably on questions of religion and morality. Liberals made differing with fellows acceptable and within the norms of humanity. To differ does not mean to fight. That we differ does not mean I am human and you a demon. Differing opinions make life interesting and fun. Do not fear differences as long as the other person does not take the right to force you to believe and act as he-she does. What matters is that we can agree enough to run society well for the next few decades.

The Liberal tolerance of differences, different opinions, different religions (or at least different versions of the Judeo-Christian religions), and different people, is at the root of why we cherish diversity today in America, Europe, and many other parts of the world. This is good.

Liberals made mistakes, and, when they did, hopefully acknowledged the mistakes and changed course. Liberals began the Continental Congress, saw that it did not work, and changed to the Constitution and Federalism. Liberals in America passed the Prohibition against alcoholic beverages, and, when it did not work, they repealed Prohibition. One problem with Liberals today is that they don’t acknowledge their mistakes because they are afraid of losing voting blocs.

Liberals tend to have an overly idealized view of human nature but they also try to correct their overly idealized view. The idea that people are persons, are the kind of being that should be free and that can choose, is part of the Liberal idea of human nature. As with most of us, Liberals tend to see all humans as versions of themselves as they would like to be: moral, well-intended, trying to put the greater good ahead of their own group, rational, able to make any kind of choice no matter how complicated, and willing to take responsibility (“my dog sees me as I would like to be”). Liberals give people the benefit of the doubt. This view gets Liberals into trouble because people are not nearly as good as Liberals wish we were. Liberals wanted people to be naturally as good as widespread democracy requires yet people are not naturally that good. That is why we got representative democracy - but we might not be even as good as required for representative democracy. This view that people are naturally angelic if only we can remove repression got Liberals into trouble in the French Revolution and with Communism.

This Liberal view of human nature is inspiring but it is not complete, it is wrong because it is incomplete, and it is not enough to show how social institutions would work well or would not. Liberals did not have a systematic realistic reliable view of human nature that they could use to construct social institutions that work as intended and work well. Instead, Liberals substituted ad hoc views of human nature. Ad hoc views tend to serve the needs of the presenter rather than reflect the truth and so serve the real needs of society. If you want something, paint all people as creatures who want it too and who would benefit from it. To someone who wants a sports stadium, everyone is a sports fan who can afford the tickets; to an oppressed person, everyone can see social injustice, everyone has empathy, and is willing to give up enough to achieve social justice for all; people who want to control others paint others as good natured but stupid and so in need of guidance by the select smart few. This lack of a good realistic theory of human nature, and so leaving society vulnerable to bad self-serving ideas, has always plagued Liberals and continues to plague Liberals today. Liberals simply cannot see that people, and groups of people such as ethnic groups and socio-economic classes, will not live up to Liberal schemes, and, in fact, might do some really bad things using Liberal ideas as an excuse. Conservatives suffer from their version of a wrong view of human nature even if they have more accurate views of human nature.

These points, when brought together, produce tension that allows Liberalism to be abused: (1) people and society should be rational, should make sense; (2) people are people because they are rational, they can give good reasons; (3) people are the best judges of their own welfare and interests, nobody should judge for us, this is part of being rational; (4) thus people should be free to follow their own wishes as long as they do no harm to others or society; (5) yet we know that a lot of people are not fully rational and are not good judges of their own best interests or the best interests of society; (6) people have a nature other than being rational but we Liberals do not have a good theory of human nature and of how human nature and society interact; (7) some people should be the guides and judges for the people who cannot do it themselves; (8) because we are so rational and astute, we Liberals should be the judges and guides; and (9) social institutions should be set up so rational reasonable sane moderate experienced Liberal people are the leaders, judges, and guides. The people who believe in human autonomy and freedom should control the others.

A lot of this Liberal view makes sense. Don’t rush to judge because you see how Liberals set themselves up to control others. That abuse happened in the bad revolutions but it does not happen everywhere. People fight back against tricky ideologies. Figure out what makes sense in this assemblage and how to make sure we stay within good sense. Conservatives have their version of this set of points including the idea that Conservatives should be the leaders, judges, and guides.

The tension comes in wobbling back and forth between seeing people as autonomous versus seeing them as victims of social injustice who need big help fast. (10) Liberals like to make themselves feel better by being champions of social justice for people who can’t help themselves. (11) Liberals look for causes to champion so they can feel good and Justified. (12) This view opens up Liberal political parties, such as the Democratic Party, to being used by groups who portray themselves as victims so as to get benefits. (13) Because Liberals have no steady realistic view of human nature, they can’t say when their help is needed and a real benefit or when they are enabling people, or a group, that will not stand up for themselves and are taking advantage. We saw much of this in American beginning in the late 1950s.

(14) When Liberals first help people, such as Blacks or women, they aim to get freedom from current oppression. (15) To do so, they have to repeal bad laws and often have to make some good new laws, as in the amendments to support civil rights and the amendment-that-should-have-been to support gender equality. (16) When laws go on too long, they tend to become ever more elaborate, and they tend not toward liberation but toward enabling dependence and opening the door for privilege. (17) When some groups see that other groups get protection and privilege, they want in on the bandwagon, and we get the situation that developed after the 1950s. (18) Because Liberals don’t have a solid view of human nature, they can’t decide when they have given just enough help and when help is not help but is bad enabling. (19) Then they become more the party of giving privilege to clients than the party of helping to achieve liberation.

Liberty does need protection through some laws, as in the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. But too many laws, even to support liberty, erode liberty. Sooner or later, to be free, people have to stand on their own. There are no good guidelines for when we have too many laws. We can’t have good guidelines because we don’t have a solid view of human nature and likely never will have a view of human nature on which we can decide about too few or too many laws. We have to “wing it”. If we realize that we have to go “by feel” then we might be more sensitive. I don’t know if it is better to err on the side of too many laws and risk the erosion of freedom or on the side of too few laws and so risk sliding back into prejudice and repression.

To anticipate material below: Conservatives have their own version of this tension and weak spot. (a) Conservatives look for causes so they can feel good and Justified. (b) Conservatives accept that some people cannot choose for themselves and so need guidance. Conservatives accept that some people are good leaders and should guide. Especially Conservatives are good leaders. (c) When Conservatives lead people out of a moral or economic dilemma, they feel good and feel Justified. (d) Yet, since the middle 1800, Conservatives also stress that people should have as much choice as possible, and Conservatives hold choice as gift from God. To take away choice is to take away a gift from God and diminish us as humans. (e) These two views are not compatible. (f) So, in practice, Conservatives give people enough choice to confuse them, as when people have too many detailed choices among economic products, as with health insurance. (g) Then Conservatives hold up strong leaders to save the people from confusion. In so doing, Conservatives nullify choice and effectively enslave people through confusion, debt, and bad policies. (h) This scheme is similar to what the Emperor Darth Sidious did when he created a fake trade war so he could institute repression. I think most Conservatives don’t see this is what they do.

Again: (a) People have to apply both practical criteria and moral criteria. There is no absolute resolution to this dilemma. (b) In theory, Conservatives should stress morality over practicality. They do that when they champion the unborn and stress the roots of America in Christianity. (c) In practice, they stress morality when it suits them and stress practicality when that suits them. (d) Jumping back and forth between the poles, and trying to have it both ways, confuses people. It opens the door for the dilemma noted above. (e) Conservatives enjoy conflict between morality and practicality, and enjoy confusion, because they can step in to save the day and so can feel good and feel Justified. (f) When groups see that Conservatives want to have it both ways, and that Conservatives like to feel like the champions in a moral cause or practical cause, then groups see that they can appeal to Conservatives for support and for power. They use Conservatives. Conservatives willingly go along. This too happened many times beginning in the 1950s. Among groups that use Conservatives in this way are the NRA, the insurance lobbies, people opposed to helping nature so that they can make a profit without worry, and people opposed to abortion.

Please keep in mind these comments on Conservatives for below because I mention them there but I don’t repeat them in detail.

Liberals do not object to all authority or to authority as such. Some authority is needed and some is reasonable and rational. Liberals want authority to make sense. They want authority to explain itself in terms that make sense to thinking people, working people, and business people. They don’t want to rely simply on “because it has always been like this”, “it works for now so go along with things as they are”, “don’t rock the boat”, “because we said so”, or “oh, I just know I am right and that is the right thing to do”. The American Constitution provides many places where authority exerts itself and the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, give pretty good reasons why in each arena. The Constitution also provides limits to authority.

Summary of Liberal Ideas about Self and Society.

You cannot decide apart from a framework. The answers that Liberals give about the framework for making sense define Liberalism, define kinds of Liberals, give a view of human nature, and give a view of society. Over time, Liberals developed a set of ideas common to most Liberals and that most Liberals use to claim that something they say, a critique that they give, or a program that they propose, makes sense in terms of these common ideas. This subject requires a long essay in itself. I don’t do that here. I give some generally agreed upon Liberal ideals and standards. The order does not necessarily reflect importance. Liberals are not fully consistent nor should we expect that among mere humans. Liberals use the ideas as much to rationalize ideas that they have come up with for other reasons as because they developed an idea directly on the basis of these ideas - another human failing as common among Conservatives and Republicans. You need practice to use the ideas correctly and to see through misuse by other people.

-ALL people are persons with innate value and dignity. In religious terms, all people are souls. But you do not need to believe in a religion that stresses the soul to understand the innate value of people.

-Anything that debases people debases the innate value and dignity of people. Anything that debases people debases souls. In religious terms, anything that debases people debases the cherished creation of God and-or Heaven, Dharma, and the Tao.

-Self autonomy and self determination.

-You are able to decide for yourself what you like and dislike, and what you will do or not do.

-You may decide for yourself. The state must allow you to decide for yourself.

-People have a big ability to assess situations. People are able to choose in complicated and new cases. People are able to look at social, business, and natural options to choose. People can make mistakes and can be confused but not usually often and not usually for too long.

-You may not hurt other people or society as a whole when you exercise autonomy, self-determination, and choice. You are not more privileged than others. They are persons too.

-We must seek a balance between the expression of autonomy, self-determination, and choice, among the whole group of people. We must seek the best balance especially given that conflicts arise. Some theorists derive the state, or the need for the state, from this situation but I don’t have to go that far into theory for the idea of conflicts and balance to make sense.


-Each person, and the state, should strive for the good of the whole when the apparent good of the whole does not interfere too much with individual personhood and autonomy.

-Each person has a duty to respect the personhood of others, to avoid hurting the personhood of others, and to support the personhood of others as long as to do so does not undermine personhood.

-Each person has a duty to support the compromise agreement that insures the ability of people to well-express their personhood, autonomy, self-determination, and choice. If the state and its institutions are the manifestation of that agreement, then each person has a duty to support the state.

-The duty to the state may not completely overcome personhood, autonomy, self-determination, and ability for choice. If personhood etc. erodes too much, another arrangement must be sought.

-There is a general sense of morality and a general sense of order. People must respect those.

-No group has the right to impose its sense of morality or order as the general sense of morality and order.

-The state has the duty to guard the general morality and general order.

-Rule of Law.

-Laws Apply Equally.

-Not everybody is required to work directly for the general good, not everybody is a saint, politician, priest, or police officer; but some people must do this, and you should do it if you can to the extent that you can. Some people need to fill the offices of institutions and the state. Some people can and may ignore the general good as long as they do not hurt general good, hurt others, and hurt the personhood, autonomy, and self-determination of others. Some people simply sell beer and cars.

-You may not undermine the general good for selfish reasons such as to pollute. You do not have that much autonomy and self-determination. Your autonomy and self-determination does not automatically take precedence over the personhood, autonomy, and self-determination of others. You must be able to control yourself, your actions, and their results.

-There are no hereditary classes of privileged people or underprivileged people. There is no aristocracy. There are not hereditary classes of suppressed or repressed people. There is no anti-aristocracy. There are no scapegoat classes.

-Due process of law.

-Rights of property and rights to fruits of labor. If you own something, not the state, a privileged person, or a business firm can (may) take it from you without due process of law. If you make a thing, or you get a return, as the result of your labor, you are entitled to keep your fair share of the return.

-People should get a return from their labor (effort, work, business) according to their natural abilities, how well they have developed their natural abilities, and their effort.

-People should not get a return more than they deserve.

-People have the right to make mistakes and be stupid. Nobody has the right to compel another person simply because they disagree with the decisions of that person. Some people do have the right to watch over minors and mentally disabled people. Your stupidity and mistakes may not hurt the personhood, autonomy, and self-determination of others. You may not hurt other people through your right to be stupid.

-As far as possible, the state should get the most qualified people into offices and should prevent less qualified people, or unqualified people, from holding office simply because of personal connections or considerations of politics, wealth, power, or social rank.

-Equality of opportunity, as far as is practical. Equality of opportunity does not entail equality of outcome.

-Differences in wealth and power are acceptable if they arise due to differences in natural ability, in how natural ability was trained, and in effort.

-Right to pass on wealth and power to descendants, kin, and others of your choice.

-Since about 1900, rights to a basic education.

-Each citizen has the duty to remain informed and to make informed reasonable decisions.

-In a democracy, each citizen has the right to vote and each citizen has the duty to vote on the basis of sufficient accurate information and reasoning. You should not vote if you are not informed.

-An office is a sacred trust. You must carry out your office honestly, fairly, according to the goals of your office, and to the best of your ability. If you cannot meet these requirements, you should leave your office in favor of someone who can.

-Any person or group which feels it has been treated unfairly, or has suffered greatly as a result of “how the system works”, the actions of other groups, or natural disaster, has the right to petition the state for redress of grievance, that is, for justice and help. The state should listen seriously but it does not have to agree and does not have to give any aggrieved group what that group wishes for. The state need not make the rest of the people suffer in order to make up for the hardship and-or injustice done to the petitioning group. The state should try to address what caused the problems originally.

Liberals want authority to support general good and fairness. Most of us have enough intuitive sense of general good and fairness so that this Liberal framework seems reasonable and appealing. We all want more general good and we all want fairness.

But we do not have enough shared intuitive feel so we always can agree on what does make sense, what does give general good, and what is fair. We do not have enough shared intuitive feel of how to carry out what makes sense. We do not have enough shared intuitive feel to judge between Conservatives and Liberals and between their programs. We need information and rules. Liberals and Conservatives don’t help us by giving enough information to reliably use our shared intuitive feel of general good and fairness. Rather than do that, now they deliberately obscure issues to take advantage of our intuitive sense of general good and fairness. It is up to us to find out for ourselves, use our intuitive sense of general good and fairness, and think of how to get there from here.

Conservatives also held most of the ideals above, at least in theory. They too felt the state should make sense. They did differ on how to achieve these ideals, on how to recognize what makes sense, and how to know when we make sense enough.

Not all the ideals are compatible. It is just true that different people have and want different things, and there is only so much wealth and power in the world, and people conflict. For example, the right to pass on gains to your children leads to a self-sustaining upper class with wealth and power, even when upper class children are not as qualified as children of other classes. We also have a self-sustaining lower class, out of which the children cannot rise very far no matter their innate abilities and how hard they educate themselves. These outcomes are unfair. These outcomes erode what it means to be an autonomous person. “Stuff happens”.

Yet working to overcome bad outcomes usually leads to other unfairness. Then we have to decide if the cure is worse than the disease, if the bad that comes from trying to overcome unfairness is worse than the bad that comes from the original unfairness. Especially we have to worry if using the state as the instrument to address fairness causes more harm than good. The unfairness from working to overcome the unfairness-of-class might be worse than the unfairness-of-class, as when we try to insure equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity.

Liberals have never come to grips with all the contradictions inherent in what makes sense. They have not given us a solid foundation in which ideal comes first in a particular situation. The conundrums open the door for individuals and groups to use Liberal ideals and Liberal political parties for their own selfish ends regardless of the general good. Of course, individuals and groups do the same with these ideals when Conservatives offer their version.

More about Original Liberals.

Liberals clash with authority when authority does not make sense in terms that Liberals accept. America fought a Revolution because English authority did not make sense in American terms. To be American means to clash with authority sometimes and to be able to give really good reasons why.

The ideals above led Liberals to clash with established authority in many places at many times as they did in America during the Revolution. Because Liberals clash with authority sometimes, they can seem anti-authoritarian in general, rebelling for the sake of rebelling (“What are you rebelling against? What have you got?”), and can seem like petulant children who just discovered “no”. This criticism is justified in too many cases and with too many people. David Bowie on American posed rebellion: “Rebel, rebel, you’ve torn your dress; rebel, rebel, your hair is a mess”.

Still, you cannot dismiss all complaints as mere self-serving disingenuous carping. Not all Liberals are selfish whiners with an extended adolescence who buy into myths about rebels. That stereotype fits modern Southern Conservatives, Working Class White Conservatives, and many Black activists, just as well. You can’t dismiss all complaints as bad attitude fostered by a self-serving social group. Some complaining is based on real problems. You can’t defend all authority. Some authority is abused. You can’t defend all systems or every quirk in every system. Some systems are unfair. You have to take the complaints and arguments seriously.

The posed liberal-rebel stance gets in the way of the need for real challenges to real bad authority, real bad institutions, real bad programs, and real bad policies, and it blocks real rebellion against real deep problems. When Liberals are stupid, they are their worst enemies.

The Liberal view on more government or less government is complicated, often contradictory, and got reversed a few times. On the one hand, Liberals recognize the need for state authority. Liberals usually don’t want to end all state programs but to make them better. Liberals do propose new programs and new actions. They want state programs to make sense in Liberal terms. All new programs should make sense in Liberal terms. After the failure of the American Continental Congress, Liberals championed the Constitution. On the other hand: ,

(a) If the state was rational enough and worked well enough to begin with, there would be no need for the Liberal view. So, some things are wrong with the state, which means it has more programs than it should and some programs are worse than they should be; and it is up to Liberals to show so. It is up to Liberals to say which programs should change, which go altogether, and which stay. “That government is best which governs least” is a Liberal slogan. Liberals have to offer new programs and institutions.

(b) See below with Adam Smith. Business always thinks the state does too much that annoys business, the state has too many programs that interfere with business, and the state limits business too much. Because of ties between Liberals and business, Liberals took that view as well.

(c) Economic theorists stress the need to let individuals choose and do what they want, that the most good arises spontaneously this way, and that the state cannot improve on the good that arises this way. Because of ties to business, and ties to this individual-based economic theory, Liberals also thought the state interferes with individuals and business too much. The state is too big.

(d) Regardless of any ties with business and economics, Liberalism, in England, developed along with political analysis founded on individuals, as in Hobbes and Locke. Individual rights should always take precedence over state rights and sometimes over state needs. If there is a conflict, and individual rights do not pose an imminent danger to the state, then the individual must prevail. The state always encroaches on individual freedom. Individuals must always be on guard to stop the state from eroding and destroying freedom.

It is worth repeating that Liberals not only stressed individual rights, they also stressed responsibilities and stressed what people give up to get a right. When the state is too big, and then the state recedes, individuals must step up to fill gaps. That includes duties and responsibilities. Rights, responsibilities, duties, and giving up some things go together. You cannot have rights without responsibilities and without giving up some things. To get representative democracy and the freedom of representative democracy, we have to give up making all decisions personally, we have to agree to live by laws, and learn how to get along in a nation of laws and representatives. One big responsibility for a person in a modern state is good citizenship, which means educating yourself and making sure you understand candidates, officials, offices, parties, and issues. Your ethnic, gender, age, or religious group not only has rights but responsibilities and it has to give up some things such as the idea that its religion-and-morals must dominate the group. The Declaration of Independence is as much about what individuals must take on their shoulders and must give up as about how the state must allow individual freedom. The Constitution is even more about assuming responsibilities and giving up some things. Even the Bill of Rights requires giving up some things and taking on duties and responsibilities.

These three ideas mixed to make a big motif in pop culture: (a) society always is too authoritarian and always needs watching, (b) the Liberal watchdog and activist, and (c) Romanticism. The state is never mostly good, it is always mostly the evil Empire of Darth Sidious, whether it is a Liberal or Conservative state. Truly free people are always rebels, only rebels are free, and all rebels are free, Conservative or Liberal. All rebels are good rebels; all rebels are Obi-Wan Kenobe and Luke Skywalker; all rebel Luke Skywalkers and Obi-Wan Kenobes are good rebels against an evil state, Liberal or Conservative; and only rebels are legitimate critics of the state and can make it better. I have criticized this stance elsewhere. It can be fun but it blinds us to real problems and to needed realistic actions.

In trying to figure out their position toward authority, Liberals never settled the following contradiction in their ideals, in the role of the state: Suppose there is a real problem such as inherited differences in opportunity. Is the state the best way to solve this problem and other similar problems? What if any solution that goes through the state quite likely causes more problems and hardship than the original problem? Then Liberals have to learn to live with the original problem and have to learn how to explain the situation to the victims of unfairness. I think original Liberals would have understood this hurtful bind and would have dealt with it more honestly than modern Liberals. They would have allowed some problems for which the state is a poor solution. They would have expected limits on authority not just to compel but to solve. For reasons we see, modern Liberals pretty much insist this can never happen. They insist the state can solve all problems well enough, at least as well as any solution through private action. On the one hand, Liberals suspect all authority. On the other hand, they trust authority to solve all problems about as well as the problems can be solved.

Liberals got a reputation for first (1) being against all traditional religion and then (2) against all religion. This view of Liberals is partly true but only partly. In fact, both (a) the stereotype of the skeptic Liberal and (b) the anti-Liberal (Conservative) backlash in support of traditional religion, do more damage to true religion than do any doubts by Liberals. Any sane rational calm person has doubts about his-her own religion and religion in general. Mother Teresa had doubts. Augustine had doubts. Anybody who has seen religiously-based idiocies such as terrorism by people who call themselves Muslims (they are not), by the American Religious Right, or by militant atheism, has to doubt strong belief and its link to goodness. Doubts make us think about our religion and should lead us to appreciate what is good and likely true about it. They should lead you to reject what is false and bad. If you never doubt, then you are only a poorly programmed robot, vulnerable to attack by others, and prone to backlash when you cannot defend your religion. Violent backlash is against all good religions.

Liberals also can affirm religion when it accords with their ideas of morality. Ben Franklin was a religious opportunist who held pews in several churches for political reasons but he also believed in God and he believed Jesus was a great moral teacher. Franklin praised Jesus and accepted Jesus as his moral guide. Thomas Jefferson did not think Jesus was God but he believed in God and he also followed Jesus’ moral teachings. A lot of religion makes sense, and large churches such as the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches have put effort into showing the sense of Christianity. Ultimately, some of religion need not make sense, and those are usually the most important parts. But that does not mean religion as a whole is necessarily stupid, illogical, or half-crazy. If the part that requires faith also makes intuitive sense, the rest of the religion follows fairly reasonably, and the believer is honest in presenting his-her religion and his-her mindset, then a religion as a whole can make a lot of sense. All the major religions can be presented this way, including non-Christian religions. Many Liberals hold to religion in this way. Logic alone cannot tell us what to live for and cannot tell us how to live in any satisfying detail. We need to get somewhat beyond logic to live as really full humans, and religion is one of the best ways to do so. Liberals recognized this fact. To really get into this topic requires getting into relations of belief and logic, that topic is too big for here, and we don’t need to settle the topic to see how Liberals need not be against religion and can be for it.

Liberals were skeptical about religion for the same reason that they were skeptical about aristocracy. Liberals did recognize that many clergy and many aristocrats did useful work in local government, local life, and in guiding the country as a whole. Liberals appreciated “The Vicar of Wakefield” and portraits of clergy in books such as by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Liberals also saw that aristocrats and clergy got their “cut” regardless of how well or ill common people did, and that many clergy and most aristocrats did not do useful work for the people despite being supported by the people. They lived off the people, and they directed the church and the state for their own self-interests rather than for the interests of the country as a whole or the people. This is similar to how many Americans see rich people and large business firms now; and there is still quite a bit of truth in this class relation. Fewer people now see churches as living off the people. To undo the harm done by the clergy and aristocrats, and to substitute a more rational, sensible, and beneficial order, Liberals had to undermine some authority of clergy and aristocrats. To do that, Liberals sometimes attacked specific points where religion bolstered undo authority, as when religion gave total power to the king or arbitrary power of sentencing to an aristocrat.

Sometimes some Liberals attacked a large religious institution as a whole such as Confession, attacked a Church such as the Roman Catholic Church, a religion such as Christianity, or attacked religion in general. Sometimes the attack not only undermined bad authority but lived on its own momentum. Once some Liberals got going against religion, they couldn’t stop even if they knew better. The critique attacked all particular religions and religion in general. That going too far happens also when one religion “starts up” against another or one political party “starts up” against another. It happens when neighbors who were once friends “start up” on each other. I have not studied old Liberal opinions about religion to see how much they were reasonable and how much excessive. My impression is that they were not often crazy and were often accurate. People still got the impression that Liberals were-and-are against all religion, Churches, and religious institutions. It is not true. I suspect that, once some Liberals got this reputation, they tried to live up (down) to it. I saw that in academia a lot.

Original Liberals, Business, Practicality, and Cost-Benefit.

In this section, I use cost-benefit as an example of practical reasoning, partly to make clear the contrast with moral reasoning.

Surprising to modern people: At first, Liberals and business had a close association. Business was often hampered by the state, aristocracy, and churches. The state and the aristocrats took their “cut”, and made sure business did not do anything to subvert the authority of state, church, and aristocrats. The churches could not tax business directly but they could make business look bad and they could hinder some activities such as enclosing the land for sheep farms and building factories. SCA restricted how, when, and where business firms could do what business. Business leaders resented this control and resented paying fees and taxes – like now. Business leaders liked Liberal ideas because Liberals stress the activities of individuals. Liberals derived social order from the interaction of individuals rather than from God or the group. Because business in 1776 was important in the nation, and particular individual business leaders were driving business, business people felt they were the driving force behind national wealth, success, and power. So, they should lead. Liberals said individuals should be free to decide and act and individuals were usually adult enough and well-informed enough to make the best choices for themselves. So business people could buy land and goods, and hire labor, without feeling that business was taking advantage of anybody. Liberals said individuals should be able to get the benefits of their own labor and ideas. Liberals also stress responsibility but business leaders did not always apply that idea to themselves. Liberals were champions of the free market.

Likely due to influence from the business mentality, at least one big branch of original Liberals was also champion of what we now call cost-benefit analysis. Their first leader was Jeremy Bentham in the early 1800s. He founded the London School of Economics. One of his most active followers was James Mill, the father of John Stuart Mill. J.S. Mill was indoctrinated as a follower of Bentham before carving his own niche. If you want to know whether an institution makes sense, think of what good comes from it and what bad comes from it. Sum up the good and the bad, and see which is bigger. Also think of the good and bad of doing nothing, and the good and bad of alternatives. Sum up the good and bad of those, and see in which case the good most outweighs the bad. Choose that. Comic writers on TV and in movies make fun of this procedure when they have somebody try to do to decide whether to fall in love or marry a particular person. More realistically, you own a piece of land near a college town. What do you do with it? Leave it as semi-wild, make a park, sports fields, or movie complex? This analysis has to be applied not only to the profit and loss of the owner of the land but to the gain and harm of all the local people, and to all local subgroups such as “townies” versus “schoolies”, to society as a whole. This calculation is hard to do for a group but it can be done. This calculation is hard to do for an institution such as a local church or school but can be done, and, in fact, is done for schools all the time. Churches do it when they decide that the attendance at a local church is so low that its congregation should be absorbed into another local church. This calculation is hard to do for something like a religious holiday, such as Christmas, or for a whole society, but it can be done in theory. It is hard to apply to a form of governing such as populist democracy versus representative democracy versus monarchy but it can be done. This is one way to put practicality and “make sense” into practice. Even if we can’t agree on a tally, thinking in this way helps us to think out what is going on.

Thinking in terms of cost-benefit points out the distinction between business-like thinking versus moral thinking. I return to practicality versus morality below. Liberals and Conservatives see a difference even if they do not agree on the details and on whether practicality or morality wins out in which situations. Highlighting the roles of morality and of cost-benefit practicality is an unintended benefit of business thinking. Sometimes we do have to put practicality ahead of morality. But nearly all people feel there are moral considerations that should not be subject to cost-benefit analysis. Those moral considerations come first almost regardless of practicality. These days, people think of the small family that way. That “coming first” is much of what makes moral points moral. Only some die-hard ideological Liberals tried to put all human goals in a cost-benefit framework. Original Liberals worked to find the line between practicality and morality and to give reasons for why the line should be here and not there.

It is important to stress early ties between Liberals and business, Liberal support for the free market, Liberal support for cost-benefit practicality analysis, and Liberal balancing of morality with practicality, because now the situation often is reversed. Now, the stereotype is that Liberals dislike business while Conservatives are champions of business and of cost-benefit analysis. Liberals consider only the moral pleas of fringe victims and do not consider the results on the whole society of working to redress the grievances of all particular victim groups. Liberals want equality of outcome rather than of opportunity. The stereotype for modern Conservatives is more complex. Yes, they are the champions of business, practicality, and cost-benefit analysis but they are also champions of (their ideas of) morality, religion, ethnicity, patriotism, and gender. They are both wooden-headed rationalists and emotional moralists. All people are somewhat this way but Conservatives have the reputation for being crazy in both ways, extreme both for business and for their version of morality. Modern Conservatives selectively apply cost-benefit when that helps them and thwarts Liberals, and selectively apply emotional morality when that helps them and thwarts Liberals. The key is to see where Modern Conservatives apply practicality or morality, which is the subject of later sections. Of course Liberals do this too but the Conservative abuse seems somehow worse because they make such a show of their morality. This conundrum is one of the major topics of later parts of this essay.

Liberals and Centralized Authority.

When the revolutions of the late 1700s through 1800s happened, the aristocracy, King, and Church were the state. The revolutions did not change the idea that the state is the primary agent to get things done. There was no new sense of doing things apart from the state. When Liberals took power, they did not thereby think the state should not be the major player in social life or should be only one player among many. Instead of the aristocracy, King, and Church pulling the strings and offering programs, it became legislators, ministers (cabinet members), and President (Prime Minister) who did the job. If a problem arose, the state was still the first agent work on a solution. The revolutionaries in American specifically referred to the right or the people to petition the STATE for redress of any grievances, not to petition a chamber of commerce, a Protestant Church, or an NGO.

At the same time, the newfound feel for human autonomy, the new business mentality, the success of revolutions, the rise of scientific societies, the rise of literary groups, the many independent churches, the frontier in America, the autonomy of the separate states (e.g. Virginia) in America, and the abuses of the former British central state, made it clear that people and groups apart from the central state could undertake significant action and succeed. Groups apart from the central state could redress grievances, start new programs, and even set up new institutions.

There is weight to the idea that Liberals ideally stressed the individual and de-centralization over the centralized state while later Conservative stressed the centralized state over individuals; but the idea does not stand much pressing. The “wimpy” Continental Congress was a Liberal institution, and it deliberately made the federal state weak. But it did not necessarily make the states weak and it did not really help individuals. The new Constitution was somewhat more centrist but it is still a blend of Liberal and then-Conservative ideas. Worries over the power of the central state led to the Bill of Rights, which showed the importance of safeguarding the individual over the central state.

So where is the line between what the state should do versus what private people or private agencies should do? How do we make sense of the line? How big and powerful should the state be in general and in relation to power through private persons and power through non-state organizations? These questions did not have a definite answer then and still don’t despite current Rightist ideology about a small state. These questions could not be answered in the original way that people thought about them because of drastic changes that were about to come on America during the 1800s through now. I return to this question below after first introducing a point of view through Adam Smith.

Liberals could see that common people did not always benefit from actions of aristocracy, church, and state. Liberals could see that differences in wealth and power made differences in how well persons could realize their innate value as autonomous valuable individuals. Liberals argued for institutions and programs that helped common people and business people and Liberals argued against privileges of the upper classes. Americans saw themselves as a beset minority victimized by the bigger British nation, which had economic, political, military, and police power. Liberals identified themselves with outsiders, the common people, people who had an issue, and people who needed help. Other people began to see Liberals that way, as primarily champions of the downtrodden and the “small” person. Liberals who spoke well and wrote well were also often well educated, such as Jefferson. Thus the pattern developed of well-educated, somewhat elite, Liberals, being on the side of the underdog, even if they did not have personal experience with the hardship faced by the underdog. At the time this pattern arose, business in America was one of the underdogs compared to business in England.


Adam Smith 1: Things Work Out on the Basis of Individual Autonomy

See “means and ends”, “means rationality”, and “ends rationality” above.

In 1776, Adam Smith published what is among the top five most influential books in Western history, “The Wealth of Nations”. Smith offered analyses of economic and social life. Nearly all Smith’s analyses supported free enterprise and free market capitalism. Contrary to modern Right Wing business myth, ALL of Smith’s writing was skeptical of business people and their motives. Smith assumed all business people would try to cheat and subvert the free market whenever they could, would collude to cheat whenever they could, and that their cheating did real harm both directly and indirectly by not allowing the free market to provide as much benefit as it could. I agree. Smith made sense of business and made sense of the good of the nation. Smith was considered a Liberal. I think of him that way.

One argument has great influence: If we let individual people and SMALL-and-MEDIUM sized business firms buy and sell as they wish, seek labor or leisure as they wish, hire and fire as they wish, open and close establishments as they wish, all happening under conditions of fair competition and fair play, then, in the long run, the result is the greatest wealth, prosperity, and security that can be had. This result comes automatically without any planning and without the need for state help or restriction. Indeed, no amount of planning by business people, state officials, the clergy, or clever intellectuals, can lead to a better outcome. All interference will lead to a worse result. All conniving by business people will lead to a worse result. All programs to help business people will lead to a worse result. Smith’s claim was like magic: “Automatic for the People” (REM).

In the early and middle 1900s, economists carefully examined the conditions that lead to this beneficial result, compared ideal with real, and found that real comes close enough for most markets most of the time. They also found that some forces, such as big business and collusion between business firms, are enough to distort reality away from what is needed for the best outcome. In those cases, modest state interference does lead to a better result than the free market alone. Conditions that thwart the free market are common enough so that some real markets, such as finance, stocks, and pharmaceuticals, needs some state regulation constantly.

Smith’s argument showed that conditions can arise to lead to the greatest good even in the modern world. We did not have to rely on old institutions such as churches and the aristocracy. Some new institutions could do the job too. The new institutions arose out of the interaction of free individuals. They did not arise from Church doctrine or from tradition about aristocracy. We could move forward in the modern world. We could move forward by letting individuals act freely and interact freely, always, of course, by playing fair and following the rule of law. Originally this point was not an attack on old ways, religion, the aristocracy, or the state. Old ways could have a place in the new system as long as they did not interfere with the free action that led to overall good.

Smith’s argument also showed that new institutions did not result from planning by individual people, not even smart individuals, or by planning of officers in institutions such as priests in the Church or aristocrats in Parliament. The new institutions arose by themselves without planning. They arose better when not planned.

Smith’s insight had some unexpected implications for both Liberals and Conservatives and for the line between practical and moral. Rather than go right into those implications, I say a bit more about Smith here, then go into the implications in the next section.

Smith was highly critical of business and business people, and easily saw through misuse of Liberal ideas to excuse bad business. Smith had a deeper and broader sense of human nature than that: people are simply rational, all people always choose to do what brings the most good, nobody puts him-herself so far above the collective good as to do damage, nobody cheats, and nobody connives. People do all the bad things listed and people rarely do enough of the good things listed. When Smith criticized business people, Smith showed deep insight into how people put self-interest above common good and for how little weight people give common good. Smith would not have been surprised by the vast ballooning of modern entitlement programs, and he would have advocated that we end them. He would not be at all surprised by corporate welfare, government programs to help business, and tax breaks for the rich, so that the middle class, working class, and poor support the rich, and he would have advocated we end all that too.

At first, Liberals took Smith as vindication. Modern institutions are just as good as old institutions. We can make sense of individual acts, individual interactions, and all institutions. Individuals are important; start analysis with individual acts; think how individual interactions form patterns; think of community and the state in terms of interactions of individuals. The state should be limited. State watching over free individuals should be strictly limited. Free action leads to good results. Any undue coercion leads to bad results. We can make sense of acts by how free they are, always within the limits of fair play and rule of law. We can make sense of individual interactions by how well they lead to stable patterns of greatest good. We can judge institutions by how well they help and hurt. We need not get rid of all old institutions but we can make sure old institutions don’t get in the way too much. We can cherish old institutions for their help, their tradition, and their beauty.

We have not reached the ideal world of Smith yet, a world made entirely by a free market that works under the conditions needed to bring about the best outcome automatically. Rather than think in terms of this unreachable paradise, we need to think about the real world of business and politics and what to do in the arena of that real world. We can use the ideal world as a guide but we must not be fooled into chasing an ideal world, and living in a reflection of that ideal world, as do people who idolize celebrities, religious ideologues, and political ideologues.

# Adam Smith 2: Make Sense: Ends (Morals), Means (Efficiency, Practicality), and Passions

If you understand the difference between means rationality versus ends rationality, and between morals versus practicality, then you may skip this section.

We have goals and we have actions (means and strategies) we take to meet goals. An effective efficient means is “practical”. An ineffective inefficient means is impractical. We can judge goals in terms of their rationality, we can judge means in terms of their own rationality, and we can judge the complex of goal-and-means but its rationality. We can compare goals and means for their rationality. We should not confuse goals and means. We should strive to have the best goals and means but still we should not confuse them. We often wrongly slip into seeing goals mostly in terms of practicality and impracticality.

Goals can be of many kinds but among the most important, if not the most important, are moral goals such as goodness and fairness. It is important to be able to state your moral goals and the approximate hierarchy of your moral goals, which are more and which are less important.

Usually we say that the most rational means is the most practical means, that is, the most efficient and effective means. We say that a means that is not efficient, effective, and practical is irrational. If you want to go to the twentieth floor of a building, you can take the elevator. It is impractical and irrational to build a hot air balloon from scratch. If you also want to help your health, you might walk up all the twenty flights of stairs.

Not all goals are compatible. We cannot pursue power and morality. Not all means are compatible. We cannot try to achieve power both by being big and strong and by being friendly and helpful at the same time to all people.

Some goals are moral goals such as fairness to employees and some goals are not moral but still pretty good such as making a profit over a five year plan. We tend to think that moral goals are higher, more urgent, more important, and more enduring than non-moral goals. We tend to think that we cannot live well if we ignore moral goals and we don’t get our moral foundation squared away. We see other goals in terms of moral goals, as means to moral goals, as when we want the nation to prosper so that we can find jobs for everyone and eliminate poverty. Some goals are mixed together and it is hard to sort out what is moral and what is means to moral. We think of family as a high goal in itself, as means to other moral goals such as serving God and serving love, and as a moral goal in itself. We have similar mixed feelings about romantic love and patriotism.

Not even all moral goals are compatible. We cannot be both fair and egalitarian all the time. Suppose we have cookies to give to children, some of which children are twice as big as the others. We cannot be loving, just, and fair all at the same time. This conflict among moral goals is among one of the most vexing of human issues and, at the same time, one that makes human life most interesting. You have to get used to the idea that there is no simply single consistent moral view.

We have to balance moral goals against other goals, as when we would like not to steal but we are poor and have to feed our children, or when we don’t want to harm anyone but we have to shoot a robber or else we will be “robbed blind”. We have to balance all goals against practicality. I would like to spend my money on music and books but I have to pay for heat in the winter. We have to balance moral goals (morality), other goals, and practicality, all at once. We don’t like thinking that we have to balance any morality against anything else, and especially we don’t like thinking about the practicality of morality, but in the real human world, we must.

Some goals come from human nature and some goals come from our particular societies and cultures. The two sources of goals mutually affect each other. I say no more about this topic here.

People intuitively know all this and make allowance for it. People try to sort out goals, moral goals, non-moral goals, social goals, various means, and all the conflicts. People try to act as practically as they can (efficiently as they can) to meet a balance of various goals. People try to do this in the context of other people and of institutions such as business firms and the courts. Considering how hard it is, we actually do a great job. Of course, we do not do a perfect job, we do not do a good enough job, and we always can do better.

The issue now becomes the implications of Smith’s analysis for the relation of practical rationality to ends (goals) rationality, the relation of means to ends.

Adam Smith 3: Practical Rationality Eats Moral Rationality; Means Eats Ends

Suppose we are logically consistent, take Smith really seriously, and can insure conditions under which the free market does lead to the greatest wealth and good automatically without need for intervention by the state, business organizations, or watchdogs; and, in fact, any intervention hurts more than it helps. In some ways, this situation would be a wonderful result. In some ways, this situation leads to a horrible result.

Adam Smith would have been unhappy with the points here. Smith was a moral good person who also wrote about the best ways to get people to act morally in modern society.

-No state interference for any reason.

-Laws are not needed. Police are not needed. Public fire departments are not needed.