Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Notebook: Big-government conservatism, secular humanism, etc.

Katrina and GOP spending: To follow up this post, which included much material on wasteful GOP spending, brought to light by the Katrina disaster:

Kathleen Parker (similar to David Limbaugh in my previous post) notes that while President Bush plans to use lots and lots of money, he's spending it in a way that promotes ownership and personal responsibility. Indeed, Parker writes that he's at least using the money to advance "the truest conservative governing principle - that you don't only give a man a fish, which feeds him just today and fosters dependency. You give him a fishing pole and teach him to fish so that he can feed himself for a lifetime."

But advancing this idea by spending federal tax dollars? Is this "big-government conservatism"? Sounds like it. Fiscal conservatives will agree with me that this isn't desirable; but, as with Bush's faith-based initiatives, it sure beats a more generic, dependency-promoting type of government action. (Update: Jonah Goldberg writes on this subject. Big-government conservatism, neo-conservative domestic policy, and "compassionate conservatism" are all really the same thing. It's a philosophy that "
sees no pressing need to pare government down to its core functions. Traditional conservatism, on the other hand, considers a lean government essential to the task of fulfilling its core responsibilities." )

And Walter Williams points out that there's no Constitutional justification for public "charity" of this sort. How far have we strayed from that document? Nobody even talks about this anymore.

Update: Tim Chapman provides a detailed summary of the GOP spending situation. I should point out that it's not like fiscal conservatives have lost. There's still a battle to be waged. But this is a defining moment, and it's not looking very good.

Update: What Would Reagan Do? Ann Coulter pours out some of her frustration with the Republican Party - mostly President Bush - in this column. Besides the spending, she's also upset about the Roberts nomination, illegal immigration, and more: "
...Bush has enacted massive new spending programs, obstinately refused to deal with illegal immigration, opposed all conservative Republicans in their primary races, and invited Teddy Kennedy over for movie night. He's even sent his own father to socialize with aging porn star Bill Clinton."

I also think she provides, as always, a pretty good case that conservatism would flourish more if Republicans were less willing to make compromises (as opposed to those who say that compromise is necessary to achieve anything, and without it the cause would fall apart).

This is a great column. It's too bad Coulter was rejected at this conservative Christian college, apparently because of some of the funnier things she's said.

(Incidentally, Coulter also reports that "
a Chinese condom manufacturer recently named one of its condoms the "Clinton," a fitting tribute to the man who had Monica Lewinsky perform oral sex on him in the Oval Office on Easter Sunday.")

Linking small government with social conservatism: With regard to the New Orleans poverty exposed by the hurricane, Terence Jeffrey writes that "
according to Census Bureau data, the relative levels of poverty in America are best predicted not by race, but by family makeup." He goes on: "Want to find a relatively poor person in this country? Look for a broken family. Want to find a child growing up in financial adversity? Look for a family where one parent has been left to raise a child without the help of the other parent. You will especially find poor children in families where the father is not around."

Poverty happens when families break down - so big government comes in to (inadequately) replace them. The state needs to grow larger the more we stray from the basic institution of family. Thus, we can see one of the basic links between a small government and the Judeo-Christian values of social conservatism - a link that libertarians tend to deny.

On a related note, Dennis Prager writes about this observation: "Judeo-Christian values believe the road to a just society is paved by individual character development; the Left believes it is paved with action on a macro level."

People who reject basic principles of personal morality and decency instinctively know something's wrong. So they place their faith in this leftist worldview, where they look at society collectively and can make moral claims about it and thus feel good about themselves.

It seems to me that liberals often use government as a way of escaping moral obligations. They reject family and morality - so for them, the state is the answer.

Legislating morality: Ben Shapiro on the case for policing pornography. Shapiro writes:
This has become the dominant view in our society: As long as what I do doesn't harm you personally, I have a right to do it. It's a silly view and a view rejected by law enforcement policies all over the country. Were we to truly recognize such a philosophy, we would have to legalize prostitution, drugs and suicide -- as well as the murder of homeless drifters with no family or friends. After all, if someone kills a homeless drifter, how does that affect anyone else? Consent should make no difference here -- that's an imposition of your values. Just because a murderer offends your moral sensibilities doesn't give you an excuse to impose your subjective values on a society.

Indeed, "consent" actually seems to be an arbitrary line in the sand. Libertarians who hold the "
as long as what I do doesn't harm you personally, I have a right to do it" view wish to impose that very principle on everyone else. Why does one have a "right" to look at pornography? The point here is that every law attempts to legislate some moral viewpoint.

Secular humanism: Atheists now have a lobbyist in Washington D.C. to work on their behalf. I find it encouraging that virtually all atheists cling to some sort of morality. Indeed, secular humanism promotes certain values and the advancement of the human race, but by accepting a materialistic, atheistic worldview, humanists undermine any basis for such values. A meaningful "morality" - some kind of standard to which we are held accountable - has no explanation.

The fact that even atheists hold to moral beliefs shows just how powerful the axiological - or moral - argument for God's existence can be. People will not drop their moral convictions; to be rational, this must lead them to God. It is the Christian apologist's task to reveal the tension in the atheist's worldview, which simply fails to account for everything we know about reality.

Also, ScrappleFace satire.

More: Philosopher J.P. Moreland clearly writes everything you need to know about self-defeating statements. And Greg Koukl distinguishes between omnipotence and the ability to do anything.

Plus, Mark Steyn has this very funny column on the Roberts hearings.

Update: With regard to self-defeating statements, this religion is founded upon one.

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