Let’s Go Freedom: Communing Between “Let’s Go Brandon” and “Let’s Go, Darwin”

Jennifer Worrel

Jennifer Worrel is a transplant from the Great Plains raising two sons and a husband in Metro Atlanta. Extremely likable until you get to know her, she remains a great invite to a dinner party. She prefers peeing in the woods to peeing on private planes and was once told by her husband that she is “way funnier online.” Writes about whatever interests her, she knows a little about a lot. For fun, she enjoys cooking from scratch and watching old Milton Friedman videos on YouTube. Jennifer's thoughts are her own and do not represent the views or position of any firm or affiliate she is lucky enough to associate with.

Related Post Roulette

93 Responses

  1. Douglas Hayden
    Ignored
    says:

    I would imagine your friend would also have rather vocal opinions about the ‘antiwork’ movement, despite it being the apotheosis of her beliefs: If one’s goal is one’s own happiness, why should they ultimately sacrifice it for work itself?

    Great column, you’re quickly becoming a must read here!Report

  2. Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve said before on this site that I consider libertarianism to be a legitimate critique of governing strategy, but not a governing strategy itself. We need to regularly remind ourselves that government is often too clumsy to accomplish its goals, and has the potential of causing additional problems, along with being easily corruptible. But the libertarian who proclaims that freedom is our ultimate purpose, that’s untenable. Adams said, “we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion”. I truly think that most freedom-is-end people actually believe in good-as-end but just don’t trust where the conversation would head with that assumption. When the chips are down (usually with the birth of the first child), that deeper sense of ultimate purpose becomes undeniable.Report

    • Ben Sears in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      I think we need to consider that within the libertarian instinct, at least as it has unfolded to me personally and others I have spoken to, is an understanding that the shrinking of government increases the individual’s responsibility toward helping your neighbor. I think that when an official body addresses a problem people stop attending to it. It can exacerbate a problem because people see the government as having taken the issue upon itself and that means the issue is solved when in fact whatever voluntary resources that were directed are thinned through various bureaucratic (I don’t know why but I can never spell that word correctly the first time and always have to look it up) imperatives. Taxation can diminish charity.Report

      • Jennifer Worrel in reply to Ben Sears
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes it can. And woe be the person who perceived taxes AS charitable.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Ben Sears
        Ignored
        says:

        Yes, I can appreciate libertarianism as an instinct. That’s what I was trying to say with my “critique versus governing strategy” comment. I haven’t run across many strutting libertarians like Jennifer describes, at least in person. But prudent libertarians are great. Also, don’t look up words, let spellcheck do it, and if the word comes out wrong, say that it was correct before spellcheck changed it.Report

        • Ben Sears in reply to Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          Spellcheck and I have been at war for several years. My actual handwriting is so bad that you’d never know if I misspelled a word because that might be an a or an e or whatever. I will not back down though. Not to spellcheck. I will previal.Report

      • Greg In Ak in reply to Ben Sears
        Ignored
        says:

        Taxes may diminish charity. That is clearly plausible. It also may actually be a good thing to deliver some help through taxes. Charity has some great aspects and some terrible ones. Having actually worked at a charity i’ve seen that. Neither taxes nor charity are a complete solution and picking one is a simple quick recipe for failure.

        Government actions often involve having people do things and actively involving them. Gov works to get people to attend to things and by providing various services. Also private charities often work with gov to attack problems and are often dependent on gov funds. One basic aspect of charity work is they are always chronically underfunded. No just having people drop another 20 in a bucket aint correcting that. Charity does not even come close, not remotely, to solving the problems they attend to.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Ben Sears
        Ignored
        says:

        My response to this is “so what?” Liberals and the left do not generally oppose private charity. Our argument for an expansive and generous welfare state is that private charity is often capricious, subjective, and never enough to deal with all the social problems in the nation or world especially in times of extreme economic upheavel like recessions, depressions, pandemics, and times of war.

        Aid should be available to all who need it to the extent that they need it. There should be no moral judgement that a person’s background, identity, or biography makes them less deserving of aid as much as possible.* The only way to ensure this more is with a truly neutral welfare state, not with private charity.

        *There are obviously always issues of limited resources, this is not a post-scarcity economy yet. There are not enough donated organs for people who need organ donations and hard choices do sometimes need to be made on certain actions.Report

        • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          The liberal critique is in my opinion cogent and mostly correct. The problem is that in practice in the United States public services end up being treated as spoilage systems or avenues of effecting other kinds of more controversial ideological ends tangential or even counter to the public good. Civil services work better in other developed countries in part because delivering the service is the point, not the tangential junk.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD
            Ignored
            says:

            I don’t think it is a spoilage system. The big issue is a highly polarized country where one party basically thinks the amount of welfare offered should be none.Report

            • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
              Ignored
              says:

              I think it’s more complicated. The GOP doesn’t think these things should exist at all, but often instead of outright eliminating them and owning the natural outcomes of their philosophy they find strings and eliminate funding rendering them as ineffectual as possible.

              Democrats believe in these things in theory but also use them as bones to throw to various constituencies (rural Republicans aren’t above this either, see corrections). Both of these approaches serve to undermine the case to the public, reinforcing the natural skepticism towards the state that for better or worse is a significant part of American culture to begin with.Report

          • Philip H in reply to InMD
            Ignored
            says:

            Civil services work better in other developed countries in part because delivering the service is the point, not the tangential junk

            Please go down to your local NWS Weather Forecast office, read that to them, and see what they say. Or the social security office. Or state fish and game. Or parks and rec. Because none of us in any of those levels of civil service think that way. None. And the political appointees who are asked to “lead us” are soon disabused of that as well.Report

            • Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              I think the criticism is leveled less at the public servants, and more at how legislatures decide funding. For instance, how long have the people in the National Forest Service understood that controlled burns and clearing fuel are necessary to maintain the health of the forest, as opposed to how much funding is provided to do that (versus funding to fight fires once they start).Report

              • Philip H in reply to Oscar Gordon
                Ignored
                says:

                I think the criticism is leveled less at the public servants, and more at how legislatures decide funding.

                Civil services work better in other developed countries in part because delivering the service is the point, not the tangential junk.

                That’s not what he wrote. So I have to assume until otherwise corrected that it’s not what he intended. Which gets back to my longstanding critique that being mad at “government” for failing to do so and such may feel good but it doesn’t help get at an alternative or solution set.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not reading his comment that way.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          The most harsh critique I’ve seen about private charity comes from the effective altruists who argue that a lot of the charity spending isn’t spent well and could be better targeted to produce a greater good. There is a charity called Night to Shine in the Bay Area. Their basic function is that they do a prom night for kids and teens who are mobility challenged. Most people would see this as a warm and fuzzy event that makes people feel good but you can also see it as a tremendous waste of resources and the money and time put into it could be used into say providing wheelchairs to mobility challenged children in developing countries instead.

          A lot of “fun” charities or “fun” charity events like galas can fall under this type of scrutiny. To the extent that some liberal and leftists critiques of private charity are austere in their own way and adopt some arguments of effective altruism about getting the greater bang for your buck, see the arguments against the Make a Wish foundation, is that you can have some liberal and leftist argument against the more thrilly private charities along with the use of private charity as a tool of social control.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq
            Ignored
            says:

            This is also a strong critique of the welfare state. The majority of social welfare spending goes to subsidizing the private consumption of people who are at worst middle-class by global standards, and often even middle-class by US standards.Report

    • KenB in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      I consider libertarianism to be a legitimate critique of governing strategy, but not a governing strategy itself

      You mean compared to liberalism or conservatism? Not sure I agree — ideologies are basically different sets of assumptions and heuristics for choosing among options, and none of them are what I would consider “governing strategies”.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      “you’re not a literal anarchist” is an amusing critique of libertarian philosophyReport

  3. Swami
    Ignored
    says:

    “Not that by our Creator we are entitled to happiness, but instead that the apex of our capabilities, humanity’s greatest achievement — the pursuit of happiness — was a condition allowing for the continuation of the human species. Species, not individual.”

    I am not following you here. Are you arguing that the (a?) foundation for human evolutionary success is the pursuit of happiness? If so, could you (or anyone else) please expand on this argument?Report

  4. Swami
    Ignored
    says:

    “I believe the key to achieving small government is to leave nothing for it to do. Feed your neighbors, shelter those without, nurse the sick. Pick up a shovel and fill some sandbags, grab and oar and row.”

    I would assume that a reasonable counter to this argument, is that we should feed, shelter and nurse those that also meet certain obligations.
    1) They are honestly attempting to feed, shelter and nurse themselves and their family
    2) They aren’t undermining their efforts with well known dead ends such as drugs, alcohol, risky lifestyles or gambling.
    3) They have established a reputation as a person who is also willing to assist us when we are down.

    I have no idea if your friend shares these types of concerns. Why don’t you ask her? If she does agree with me, does that change your opinion on her position?Report

  5. Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve always understood Locke, and by extension Jefferson, to refer to the Aristotlean concept of happiness, the idea outlined in the the Nichomachean Ethics. For Aristotle (and I think by extension for Locke and Jefferson), happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life. It’s something different than pleasure, different than contentment. Someone who is idle cannot be happy.

    It’s learning to habitually make decisions that are likely to lead to human flourishing. And that’s not just you as an individual, but you as a member of your community too, because we as human beings are social creatures who want to and need to live together — which means that to really be happy, you need to work towards making your community flourish.

    Happiness is never achieved. It’s not something that you achieve, any more than physical fitness is achieved. It’s pursued, worked towards, and at a point it begins to feel tangible, the need to constantly put more effort into it to maintain it becomes blindlingly obvious and, if you’ve done it right, a habitual behavior.

    Your Let’s Go Brandon friend is absenting herself from this. She disclaims responsibility for others in her community and (as you and I both see it) would prefer to be a free rider of the benefits that her community offers her while giving nothing back. There may be pleasure, or at least utility, in such a life strategy, but there will not be happiness. This is her loss and hopefully one day, she will realize that.Report

    • Swami in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      “would prefer to be a free rider of the benefits that her community offers her while giving nothing back. There may be pleasure, or at least utility, in such a life strategy, but there will not be happiness. This is her loss and hopefully one day, she will realize that.”

      Obviously we are hearing one side of the story, but I think the free rider issue applies to both parties. It is morally commendable to help others that would do the same for you and that are actively not seeking to be free riders themselves.

      Self sufficiency is a dead end with humans, but the problem of Cooperation is a nasty one. My understanding of the solution is that it involves establishing a reputation as a valuable member of society who helps others and (also) avoids becoming a sucker who is exploited by bums, bullies, bogarts and bunglers..Report

    • Jennifer Worrel in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      Thanks, Burt. Your interpretation of Locke aligns with mine.

      Appreciate your thoughts.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      “It’s learning to habitually make decisions that are likely to lead to human flourishing. And that’s not just you as an individual, but you as a member of your community too…”

      and now you understand why Starship Troopers is left-wingReport

  6. Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve a second, unrelated thought on your exchange with your Let’s Go Brandon friend. People are not always very articulate about what it is that they’re trying to express, and politics can be an area where it’s especially easy for people to use language in ways that are meant and understood in different ways.

    At least as described here, she’s describing something that seems like libertarianism. But libertarianism is very much not what I understand the slogan to be. My understanding of the slogan is that it is partisan, a rejection of mainline Democratic party policy proposals, a rejection of Joe Biden as a cultural leader and head of state for the nation because he is lacking in qualities that people who liked TFG perceived TFG to have in abundance. (These are generally qualities which I would reject in a head of state and a head of government, and which would cause me to eschew such a person as a friend, but to each their own.)

    That doesn’t mean that’s what your friend really thinks, but it is what I think is being expressed. A generalized libertarianism looks to me like the bailey; the preference for Trumpian qualities of leadership over Bidenesque qualities of leadership strikes me as the motte from which your friend retreated when challenged by your question.Report

    • Swami in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      Good point. Doesn’t sound like a libertarian slogan at all.Report

    • Jennifer Worrel in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I think your characterization of the conversation is a fair one on two fronts: no one is perfectly articulate all the time, AND she could have also been shading her responses to my inquiry in a way that felt might curry favor with me.

      I completely agree that that phrase can mean various things to various people.

      I most often perceive it as a way to cast criticism at the President without putting a lot of context or thoughts into actual critiques. Kind of like a 15-year-old picking his nose with his middle finger an imagining himself to be some kind of revolutionary.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Jennifer Worrel
        Ignored
        says:

        I most often perceive it as a way to cast criticism at the President without putting a lot of context or thoughts into actual critiques.

        Owning the Libs. That’s what its mostly about. I use it to toss back at the GQP down here to remind them of what President Biden has actually accomplished. Shuts them really fast.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      “Let’s go Brandon” is not a cry of libertarianism whatever the merits or demerits of libertarianism may be. It is pretty much a partisan snear against Democrats and the Democratic Party and another sign of pernicious and often asymmetrical polarization. Though polling indicates Democrats are catching up in the polarization regard.

      One of my big issues with terms like liberty and freedom is that they are important concepts but they are inherently subjective but everyone (including myself at times) thinks that they have a monopoly on defining what it means. Another argument or definition of freedom is that freedom from want (part of FDR’s four freedoms) is also very important. The choice between taking a crappy job with an abusive boss, terrible conditions, and low wages or starving on the street is not really a free choice.

      There are times when libertarians do bring up good points on some absurdities in government regulation especially with regulatory licensing for some or many professions* However, a lot of libertarians often seem willfully blind to the fact that a lot of private interactions can be just as oppressive as something from the government. It is a very 17th century way of seeing the world combined with a kind of yeoman farmer utopianism which is not applicable to a post-Industrial, services and information based economy.

      *It should obviously based on scale of potential harm to the consumer. I am not a believer in caveat emptor and there is a valid reason to regulate professions where the capacity for harm and fraud is great. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to make sure a surgeon really knows what he or she is doing before being allowed to conduct a surgery without supervision. An aesthecian also needs some training because they do apply potentially damaging chemicals to a person’s body but I am willing to state that 1500-2000 hours of training is probably too much.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        I meant this to be an independent comment, not a reply to Burt.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        a lot of libertarians often seem willfully blind to the fact that a lot of private interactions can be just as oppressive as something from the government.

        I am always amused when I point this out to the loudest libertarians online, and then ask them how enforcement should be handled. Invariably they either advocate for the OK Corral or insist SOME government needs to exist to coercively protect THEIR rights.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          ah-heh

          this is like that thread where the guy said “what do you do, libertarian devotee of the Non-Aggression Principle, if you wake up one morning and find that people have bought all the property surrounding you and built high walls you can’t get through, thus preventing you from moving and preventing anyone from interacting with you, now you will starve to death, but the walls are all exactly one inch over their borders so you have to invade their territory to do anything, that makes YOU the Aggressor, so if you want to live you HAVE to VIOLATE the NAP, CHECKMATE LIBERTARIAN!!!!

          (this guy got very angry when it was pointed out that colluding to imprison someone is a form of aggression and that retaliation against aggression is not a violation of the NAP)Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw
        Ignored
        says:

        ” a lot of libertarians often seem willfully blind to the fact that a lot of private interactions can be just as oppressive as something from the government.”

        interesting

        because I’m 100% sure you’re the kind of person who says that someone being banned from Twitter isn’t censorship, it’s just a private entity choosing who it will and will not associate with, and that if every other service provider also decides that they choose to not associate with you, well, maybe that’s a you problem.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          “Censorship” has become a rather loose term, but if you unpack what is actually being said, rather than terminology, Twitter-banning can be, somewhat loosely, described as “censorship.” But it is a kind of censorship we put up with because it is the necessary consequence of certain other things we strongly believe in, like the right of private property owners to manage their own property and, paradoxically, free speech itself. If the proprietors of this establishment decide that you and I don’t add value to it and send us packing, that is their right. It is their establishment and they have a free speech right not to be compelled to keep us around if they find our bloviating obnoxious. We as a society simply believe that these rights trump our desires for a particular platform on which to bloviate.
          Now once the size of the private forum scales up and the alternative fora shrink into relative insignificance, that is obviously a problem for people who want to say unpopular or obnoxious things somewhere. Reasonable people can disagree about whether, say, Twitter is more like the phone company, or the Wall St. Journal’s op-ed page, and what the rights and responsibilities of electronic media platforms ought to be. But coming up with something that makes sense is hard, and tossing the word “censorship” around, and applying it to, for example, copyright holders deciding on their own that they don’t want to peddle some of their products anymore and don’t want to be compelled to say things they no longer want to say doesn’t advance the ball.Report

  7. Greg In Ak
    Ignored
    says:

    I like this. What i’m going to say next isn’t a criticism of what you have written but of the insanity and shallowness of most of our current debate. Government and non governmental solutions are both necessary and useful. The “no gov” conservatives are staking out a ridiculous position that they dont’ believe in themselves. Even the Sainted Founders believed in government.

    The conversation was actually over when your friend said Biden wanted to end her way of life. Blame RW media but that is yet more silliness that poisons any hope of conversation.

    We are going to have a government doing some things, non gov actors doing some things and often they are going to be mixed together. The rejection of community and responsibility by conservatives is a far bigger change then almost any other in the last few decades. It’s one the Sainted Founders would have choked on and not understood.Report

    • Jennifer Worrel in reply to Greg In Ak
      Ignored
      says:

      I appreciate your perspective of the broader issue a great deal.

      My approach—right or wrong—is to rarely let conversations be over. We all need an exchange of different ideas outside our bubbles. Writing folks off doesn’t help.Report

      • Greg In Ak in reply to Jennifer Worrel
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh in general i completely agree especially if they are people you know in daily life. However i’ve heard some variation of some these arguments on the internets so many times i have limited patience for them. When a conservative person tells me D’s or Biden is going to do some ( insert massive cataclysmic horror) i don’t see much room for me to have a conversation that can encompass different views. They are telling me how i’m trying to genocide them by some plot a B grade Bond villain would find to far out there.Report

        • Jennifer Worrel in reply to Greg In Ak
          Ignored
          says:

          I get that.

          I would also offer that the thing that most perturbed me in the whole conversation was the question about “why should I help my neighbor.”

          I think “LGB!” is sophomoric at best, but it doesn’t offend me.

          Questioning what it means to be a member of society was the real crux of our differences.Report

  8. Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    As I’ve mentioned everyone wants to solve collective action problems, but most often flinch at the cost.

    Whether it’s homelessness, crime, healthcare, or climate change, there is always the temptation to seek silver bullets, or to offload the problem or usually just retreat from it.

    What is rarely discussed is the cost of NOT solving collective problems which in almost case is the most expensive solution.Report

    • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Government spending has recently increased to 40% of GDP in the US. I think a little flinching now and then might be healthy.

      Considering that many of the things in your list are either getting worse, or not better, how much more of GDP before we pat ourselves on the back and say “attaboy”?

      The problem might not be hoping for silver bullets, but wondering whether we are spending our money well at all. Or even if our spending is iatrogenic.

      I was hoping Jennifer would respond to my queries above, but I don’t think a serious discussion can be had on “what it means to be a member of society” without addressing responsibilities and obligations of all the members, not just the ones being asked to pay more and more (despite often getting less and less).

      I think a steel man argument of conservative positions is that they feel they are often paying money to fund the very problems that they are supposed to be paying to eradicate. They certainly realize it is a sucker’s game to subsidize behaviors in others which are self harming (see homelessness).Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami
        Ignored
        says:

        What would be an example of “not subsidizing behaviors” that contribute to homelessness, and what do you envision would happen when those subsidies stop?

        Again, I’m open to hearing any solution for homelessness. Seriously, any solution whatsoever.
        Just tell us what it is, and how much it will cost and where you will get that money.Report

        • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          The tough issue on homelessness is that most of the hard cases are mentally disturbed drug addicts. We then contribute to the problem by subsidizing them with housing and food and money which they will then use on drugs and alcohol, without requirements that they clean up.

          My solution to homelessness is continue to fund clean safe shelters which prohibit drugs and alcohol. Any repeat pattern of serious crime within these shelters should lead eventually to prison. Anyone who is obviously mentally disturbed should be committed to a facility and professional help for as long as necessary.

          Vagrancy and tent cities should be prohibited. The homeless should be transported to shelters as above. Those repeatedly refusing transportation should be eventually be either incarcerated or bused to Gavin Newsom’s front lawn (where tents will be allowed).

          I don’t know what this would cost, though I am pretty sure it would be less than the overpriced houses that they are trying to build for these meth addicts. The issue isn’t really the cost. The issue is that we aren’t spending money funding the problem.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Swami
            Ignored
            says:

            Well, even by your own reckoning, you are planning to shelter or incarcerate millions of people whoa are not currently sheltered/ incarcerated.

            Incarceration is the single most expensive method of sheltering people, far more than even the most exorbitant program you hear about in conservative media.
            We aren’t currently spending anywhere close to this amount.

            So even without contesting your plan, it should be obvious that this would represent a massive new amount of spending and require a matching amount of new taxation.

            Note once again that I’m not even contesting your plan. Depending on the parameters, I could even be persuaded to sign on.

            But the reason no one in either party is proposing this, is that in our current political climate, no one wants to face up to the cost.

            But as I also keep saying, the cost is offset by the rise in property values and lower amount of security expenses and health emergencies.Report

            • Swami in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              And I have no disagreement with you on money which is well spent on actually fixing problems as opposed to window dressing (half million dollar homes built to pretend we are helping). Even more importantly, real solutions won’t stimulate or reinforce the problem. I believe we have been indirectly funding the problem for decades. The problem of “mentally disturbed fentanyl and meth addicts living in tents” is in part our own doing.

              Going back to the main post, I agree we should have a moral obligation / shared norm to help each other. But along with this are obligations:
              1) To not be free riders who attempt to sponge off the generosity and cooperativeness of others.
              2) To not promote or condone free riding or exploitation in othersReport

          • DensityDuck in reply to Swami
            Ignored
            says:

            was this a joke post, bro

            like

            is this meant to be some weird satire of Republicans, lampooning their position by espousing it to a ridiculous degreeReport

            • Swami in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              It was a bit of an awkward blend of a serious recommendation and some exaggerations and silliness. Sorry. I think a detailed discussion of how to address “mentally disturbed meth addicts who are camping in tents” is best addressed elsewhere rather than within this post on obligations to help each other. If you disagree, I will engage but will do so with a degree of reluctance.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                what you described is literally what we do right now and homeless people stay out of those shelters because of it

                it’s because people do not see them as shelters for people who need shelter, but as sticks to goad the Morally-Weak into a Proper LifestyleReport

              • Swami in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Reluctantly….

                I am not aware that my local police are rounding up the people in tents and requiring them to either go to shelters or leave town. If they are doing this, I can point out some places they are currently overlooking.

                I am aware that mentally disturbed fentanyl addicts don’t want to go to shelters. They should be strong armed to either do so or leave town. I am fine with some dysfunctional town somewhere accepting the dregs of society without requiring them to clean up or seek help. Not my town though. May I suggest your town?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                “They should be strong armed to either do so or leave town.”

                congratulations you invented prisonReport

              • Swami in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Thanks?Report

      • Jennifer Worrel in reply to Swami
        Ignored
        says:

        Hi! Thanks for your questions, I think Burt weighed in with a great summation of Locke’s work.

        As for obligations in order to receive benefits, that feels—to me—like a “no one who smokes should get food stamps” argument, and I’d prefer not to get into a hypothetical discussion arbitrating worthiness of human beings.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to Jennifer Worrel
          Ignored
          says:

          But for some folks, that’s precisely the point. And the fun.Report

        • Swami in reply to Jennifer Worrel
          Ignored
          says:

          Your post is a normative argument that humans are a social species and that to thrive we should help each other. In your last few paragraphs you use the words “duty” and “responsibility”. I basically agree with you here.

          I am adding that these duties are broader than just helping others. They also include a duty/responsibility/obligation to not free ride and/or exploit that generosity. They also include the duty to not condone and subsidize free riding and exploitation.

          I understand you may disagree with this, but it is an argument that can be supported with examples from history, game theory, anthropology and evolutionary biology.

          Sorry to berate on this issue, but I think a lot of the disagreements between conservatives and others isn’t on willingness to help — arguments can be made that they are empirically just as (or more) helping than non conservatives — but that they are more demanding of reciprocal obligations from those that they do help.

          IOW, “sure I will help a neighbor after a flood, but I won’t help him rebuild in a flood plain.”* To do so would be wrong.

          * Speaking as a hypothetical conservative.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Swami
        Ignored
        says:

        Through the end of fiscal year 2021 it was 30% . . . and when you look it up, you get that “income security” was the biggest category, followed by social security, health and defense. Much of the top 5 – including a portion of defense – is the “mandatory” spending that just happens. Almost all the rest is the discretionary that Congress has to appropriate yearly (and which they can’t seem to do). Your steel man may be imbedded in there somewhere, but frankly since conservatives purposely get trickle down wrong (spoiler alert it doesn’t work), I don’t take their arguments at face value.

        https://datalab.usaspending.gov/americas-finance-guide/spending/categories/Report

        • Swami in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          Yeah, I just got my reference off this…

          https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-spending-to-gdp

          How we tabulate the exact number isn’t the issue of course. The issue is that Chip said collective action problems require funding that we are reluctant to fund. My argument and your (or my) data shows that we are extremely willing to pony up the money to address collective action problems. Americans in 2022 probably spend as much or more annually to fund public goods and address collective action problems as any society in the history of humanity. The tussle isn’t over willingness to pay, it is on how we spend these trillions effectively to get a good bang for our buck and to avoid inadvertently funding the very problems we mean to eradicate.

          You then shift to the mythical conservative belief in “trickle down economics”, which is a combo straw man and slur, kinda like calling a policy “voodoo economics.” If I was to try to build a steel man argument of conservative economics it would be that they believe that policies and institutions which foster economic growth tends to lift most boats and also generates the surplus which can be leveraged to fund social programs. Are they wrong here?Report

          • Philip H in reply to Swami
            Ignored
            says:

            they believe that policies and institutions which foster economic growth tends to lift most boats and also generates the surplus which can be leveraged to fund social programs. Are they wrong here?

            For over 40 years they have chosen to enact that belief by cutting federal taxes without any program realignments, predicated on economic growth that never materializes. And during the same period we have seen significant growth in wage and wealth inequality. If the end they claim to shooting for is in fact what they want, their methods are demonstrably not working.Report

            • Cleveland in reply to Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              Except under the Great Orange Satan…
              But we’re going to conveniently ignore that 40 years of neoliberalism and “Free Trade” were the problem.
              (Protectionism/Tariffs/ClosedBorders was what got Black wage hikes, and you know it.)

              Now, you can say, “I won’t vote for mysogynists.”
              That’s when we roll out the hypocrite card.

              And if we go to war with Russia over Hunter Biden, I’m holding you fully to account. You voted for this. Shoulda known better.Report

            • Swami in reply to Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              Then we must live in different countries.

              Government spending as a share of GDP has gone up slowly over the past 40 years, with no trend of lower noticeable spending when the GOP holds the White House. See my link above.

              Per capita GDP has tripled since 1960.

              The US has maintained the highest per capita consumption of any large diverse country during this entire era.

              Wage levels have differentiated due to many reasons, including the market placing a premium on higher skill levels and capital, and due to dramatically increased levels of income or net tax transfers to those that don’t work (which are usually excluded from the “inequality” stats), but again, average and median wages have gone up as well or better than most other developed nations over the longer haul.

              In addition the US has one of the more (most?) progressive tax systems in the world, with the highest incomes paying the lions share of taxes and those below average paying on net nothing in income taxes.

              I am not saying this is due to one party or the other, indeed it clearly is the result of the interplay and dynamic of the two. If your argument is that “we are the wealthiest people ever in history but we could have been even wealthier if X” then so be it. You may have an argument (it depends on your “x”). But if your argument is that one party (surprise, the one you hate!) has derailed growth, then you need to actually try presenting that argument. May I suggest one that looks at long term trends compared to other modern developed economies. I think you will be surprised to learn that despite starting at a higher base, the US has maintained lower rates of unemployment and higher absolute levels of income and wealth transfers than just about anyplace.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Swami
                Ignored
                says:

                Nope – you aren’t even close. We’ve had economic growth. We’ve had wage growth and wage inequality has grown faster. And we’ve had great wealth growth – along with great wealth concentration among a smaller and smaller percentage of the population.

                Where I was going was the often ballyhooed notion that government spending, particularly on the “credit card” was a problem. Riffing off this:

                Government spending has recently increased to 40% of GDP in the US. I think a little flinching now and then might be healthy.

                American conservatives follow that with “we need to shrink government spending”, but so far rather then cut stuff and own it, they have cut revenue for government, all the while singing a delirious tune that the economic growth you point to will overcome the initial loss of revenue. The Two Santa Clauses Theory:

                First, when Republicans control the federal government, and particularly the White House, spend money like a drunken sailor and run up the US debt as far and as fast as possible. This produces three results – it stimulates the economy thus making people think that the GOP can produce a good economy, it raises the debt dramatically, and it makes people think that Republicans are the “tax-cut Santa Claus.”

                Second, when a Democrat is in the White House, scream about the national debt as loudly and frantically as possible, freaking out about how “our children will have to pay for it!” and “we have to cut spending to solve the crisis!” This will force the Democrats in power to cut their own social safety net programs, thus shooting their welfare-of-the-American-people Santa Claus.

                https://www.salon.com/2018/02/12/thom-hartmann-how-the-gop-used-a-two-santa-clauses-tactic-to-con-america-for-nearly-40-years_partner/

                Except taxes cuts never generate the forecast growth, creating a deficit of revenue. Then, when conservatives go on to discuss cuts to government spending, its invariably focused on cuts to both discretionary and mandatory spending on social programs – “welfare.”

                Bluntly – American conservatives have taken a road of cutting revenues regularly without cutting spending while campaigning on cutting social support and the regulatory portion of the state.

                And if that’s what they want – if that’s what you want – fine. but own it. Be public about it, and then follow through. Because the problem isn’t the size of spending VS GDP, its the size of spending versus revenues. If spending and revenues were managed to reflect that growth curve it would work. We can’t end the ballooning national debt without tacking that.Report

              • Swami in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                My take away from your comments are that you don’t like the GOP, that you disagree with their goals and their tactics and their rhetoric. Personally I disagree with both parties, and disagree with their goals and their tactics and their rhetoric.

                That said, I think they both add value in various ways, intended and unintended, with perhaps the greatest value being when they check the absurd extremes of their opponents. Where they do the most damage is where they amplify the worst tendencies of each other in arms races of absurdity.

                This being said, I am not sure what any of it has anything to do with this post any more.Report

  9. DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “Why should I help my neighbor, though? That’s on them.”

    presented as though it’s an awful terribly horrible thing to think

    meanwhile there’s people expressing strong advocacy for the notion that if you want to get medical treatment of any sort then you should of course be required to present your vaccine-received card, and if you haven’t got a card then you can just run along then

    and I don’t see lengthy columns on this website about thatReport

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *