Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 09 Jan '10 17:01 / 5 edits
    In another thread, sh76 gave the following article as a critique on the conservative right.

    http://crookedtimber.org/2009/05/12/richard-posner-on-the-conservative-intellectual-collapse/

    The end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the surge of prosperity worldwide that marked the global triumph of capitalism, the essentially conservative policies, especially in economics, of the Clinton administration, and finally the election and early years of the Bush Administration, marked the apogee of the conservative movement. But there were signs that it had not only already peaked, but was beginning to decline. Leading conservative intellectual figures grew old and died (Friedman, Hayek, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Buckley etc) and others as they aged became silent or less active, (such as Robert Bork, Irving Kristol, and Gertrude Himmerlfarb), and their successors lacked equivalent public prominance, as conservatism grew strident and populist.

    By the end of the Clinton administration, I was content to celebrate the triumph of conservatism as I understood it, and had no desire for other than incremental changes in the economic and social structure of the US. I saw no need for the estaste tax to be abolished, marginal personal income tax rates further reduced, the government shrank, pragmatism in constitutional law law jettisoned in favor or "originalism", the rights of gun owners enlarged, our military posture strengthened, the rise of homosexual rights resisted, or the role of religion in the public sphere expanded. All these became causes embraced by the new conservatism that crested with the reelection of Bush in 2004.

    My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the politices of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies of the new conservatism are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, conservative intellectuals had no party.


    So who agrees and why? Those who don't, why not?

    As for sh76, I will ask the following questons:

    1. Why have the conservative intellectuals either grown silent or died without replacements?
    2. Does the conervative movement hinge upon such intellectuals.
    3. What constitutes an intellectual?
    4. Is liberalism or progressivism now better because it is deemed to have intellectuals as where conservatives do not?
    5. I thought the conservative climax as it is known today came under Reagan. Do you not agree?
    6. How has government been reduced during the Clinton/Bush years?
    7. How have the rights of gun owners been enlarged?
    8. How has religion in the public sphere expanded and how is this bad?

    I think in large part the fact that the recent era has been dominated by a Clinton or a Bush who forged forward in the name of conservatism is perhaps the reason for its decline. After all, this last election should be layed soley at the feet of "W" and company who spent like a liberal and who expanded entitlements like a liberal. What say you?
  2. 09 Jan '10 20:15
    I say Bush is an idiot and conservatives were idiots for putting him up as President. Compassionate Conservative = someone who says he is conservative, but spends like a liberal.

    To tell you the truth, I like Clinton much better than Bush. Better a liberal bandering to the conseravatives than a conservative pandering to the liberals.
  3. Standard member shavixmir
    Guppy poo
    09 Jan '10 20:51
    Originally posted by Eladar

    To tell you the truth, I like Clinton much better than Bush. Better a liberal bandering to the conseravatives than a conservative pandering to the liberals.
    That being said, better yet both of them drinking poison.
  4. 10 Jan '10 02:06 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by Eladar
    I say Bush is an idiot and conservatives were idiots for putting him up as President. Compassionate Conservative = someone who says he is conservative, but spends like a liberal.

    To tell you the truth, I like Clinton much better than Bush. Better a liberal bandering to the conseravatives than a conservative pandering to the liberals.
    Spot on. I will conceed one point in the article. The "conservatives" who put "W" into power were rather shallow in nature. They often viewed success/failure based upon whether or not "W" favored abortion and/or gay marriage. This was their down fall and the reason why Obama was ultimately elected. They then turned a blind eye to his abysmal performance in Messopotamia and his spending problems and one of the biggest entitlements ever enacted in US history. in this respect, the conservative movement during that time had gone belly up with no where to turn except into the loving arms of Obama. As for Clinton, he did a pretty good job treading water fiscally, but was by no means a conservative as he helped create the credit crisis favoring decreased regulation concerning Fannie and Freddie. It all boiled down to mortgages being treated as entitlements. So have they learned I wonder? Nope. It still continues.
  5. 10 Jan '10 02:08
    Originally posted by shavixmir
    That being said, better yet both of them drinking poison.
    Its pretty sad. Neither of them are loved by either the left or right. I guess that is what happens to ya when you try to play both sides of the fence, you get fired at by both sides.
  6. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    10 Jan '10 03:47 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by whodey
    In another thread, sh76 gave the following article as a critique on the conservative right.

    http://crookedtimber.org/2009/05/12/richard-posner-on-the-conservative-intellectual-collapse/

    The end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the surge of prosperity worldwide that marked the global triumph of capitalism, the essentially conservative p mpany who spent like a liberal and who expanded entitlements like a liberal. What say you?
    Okay. Fair enough.

    2 points before I start:

    1) I didn't say all this; Richard Posner, perhaps the most brilliant alive American conservative, said it.

    2) You're making me play Devil's advocate with these questions. I hope you realize that.

    1. Why have the conservative intellectuals either grown silent or died without replacements?

    Because the Republican party has been mostly taken over by social conservatives who are not really fiscal conservatives. Fiscal conservatives no longer drive the Republican agenda. Social conservatives do.

    2. Does the conervative movement hinge upon such intellectuals.

    No movement hinges on the existence of proponents of the movement. A movement with merit will endure because it has merit. Skilled advocates help the movement gain power, but they don't make or break the legitimacy of the movement.

    3. What constitutes an intellectual?

    In the political sense, one who takes positions only if they can back it up with numbers, mathematical principles or logic. For example, even if he is religious, an intellectual never says "We must enact this policy because God says so." An intellectual also never says "The government should lower taxes because it's not fair to tax people and the money belongs in the pockets of the people who make it." He explains why it's best for everyone from an economic perspective if taxes are cut. If he cannot do so, he does not advocate cutting taxes.

    4. Is liberalism or progressivism now better because it is deemed to have intellectuals as where conservatives do not?

    No. Posner's point is mainly that what used to be called conservatism is now called being moderate and many Democratic policies reflect what used to be called conservatism.

    5. I thought the conservative climax as it is known today came under Reagan. Do you not agree?

    Climax in terms of optimal effectiveness? Yes. Many Bush policies were more "conservative" by modern definitions than Reagan's.

    6. How has government been reduced during the Clinton/Bush years?

    Lower tax rates and welfare reform, for starters

    7. How have the rights of gun owners been enlarged?

    I'm not sure about this one. It does seem like gun laws are pretty darn lax in many states (though I'm sure have gotten stricter in others). But I don't know that they've gotten more lax. That's Posner's assertion, not mine.

    8. How has religion in the public sphere expanded and how is this bad?

    Religious beliefs should not dictate policy. I do think that religious beliefs are asserted and cited by politicians to help themselves in elections more than I'd probably like to see.
  7. 10 Jan '10 06:04
    Originally posted by sh76
    Because the Republican party has been mostly taken over by social conservatives who are not really fiscal conservatives. Fiscal conservatives no longer drive the Republican agenda. Social conservatives do.

    [
    When did fiscal conservatives rule the Republican party?
  8. 10 Jan '10 06:52
    Originally posted by sh76

    5. I thought the conservative climax as it is known today came under Reagan. Do you not agree?

    Climax in terms of optimal effectiveness? Yes. Many Bush policies were more "conservative" by modern definitions than Reagan's.

    6. How has government been reduced during the Clinton/Bush years?

    Lower tax rates and welfare reform, for starters
    Here is an interestin article.

    http://www.house.gov/jec/growth/taxpol/taxpol.htm

    "Over the past decade and a half, Americans have been presented with 2 radically different visions of the role of government. The first vision, articulated and implemented by President Reagan in the 1980's, declares that government taxation and burdensome regulations are harmful to the natural market forces that generate growth.

    President Clinton espouses the second vision, which maintains that the expansion of government does not have harmful effects on the economy and, in fact, may actually stimulate economic growth. According to this vision, tax increases, such as those inacted in 1990 by Bush and 1993 by Clinton, are valid and effective means by which to achieve these policies.

    In once sense, President Clintons fiscal policies are a continuation of the Bush administration's fiscal policies. Both administrations sought to reduce the budget deficits by raising taxes. President Clintons agenda was far more harmful, however, than his predecessors, as evident by Clintons massive 1993 tax increase, his attempt in 1994 to nationalize health care, and Clinton's original plan that proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in new debt for the US.

    Under Reagan, the GDP grew more than under Bush and Clinton. There were 4 million more jobs generated under Reagan that Bush and Clinton. Yet federal revenues increased more under Reagan than under Bush and Clinton even though Reagan did not tax to attain this revenue. It was a byproduct of the growing economy. And lastly, the middle class disposable income grew under Reagan and the shrank under Bush and Clinton.

    As for "W", he is another story altogether. Although he did lower taxes, his federal budget grew by a whopping 104%. He added thousands of new federal subsidy programs totaling 1,816 that spread out hundreds of billions of dollars annually to special interest groups. He then signed the Medicare perscription bill that was the largest entilement program since the Great Society program by LBJ.

    To sum up, it appears to me that Bush senior and Clinton had similar economic policies, much like "W" and Obama have similar economic politices with each succeeding administration taking the same policies to the next level. Although it is true that Clinton and "W" instituted some welfare reforms and lowered taxes a bit under "W", I think you would be hard pressed to call any of these chaps "conservatives".
  9. 10 Jan '10 06:56
    Originally posted by sh76
    8. How has religion in the public sphere expanded and how is this bad?

    Religious beliefs should not dictate policy. I do think that religious beliefs are asserted and cited by politicians to help themselves in elections more than I'd probably like to see.[/b]
    In terms of abortion, I don't find this to be a religious issue, rather, I find it to be a question of science and humanity. As for gay marriage, there are other issues other than religious ones for opposing it. Some simply don't like the state being involved in the marriage business for one thing. Although politicians may assert religious beliefs, I hardly see how this has effected national policy. Do you?
  10. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    10 Jan '10 14:23
    Originally posted by whodey
    In terms of abortion, I don't find this to be a religious issue, rather, I find it to be a question of science and humanity. As for gay marriage, there are other issues other than religious ones for opposing it. Some simply don't like the state being involved in the marriage business for one thing. Although politicians may assert religious beliefs, I hardly see how this has effected national policy. Do you?
    Abortion is not necessarily a religious issue, but it is often cast in religious terms. How often do you hear politicians cite scripture in defense of the unborn?

    As for gay marriage, yes, there are other reasons to oppose it. But religious based reasons are dominant. Without religious based reasons, I'd bet 75% or more of the people would support it.

    I'm not saying that people shouldn't vote based on their religious beliefs. They can vote based on whatever they like. But I'm not sure I like it much when politicians cite religious doctrines as bases for their politics. Not that these doctrines are necessarily bad; but not everyone should be bound by the politician's religious beliefs.
  11. 11 Jan '10 16:49 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by whodey
    In another thread, sh76 gave the following article as a critique on the conservative right.

    http://crookedtimber.org/2009/05/12/richard-posner-on-the-conservative-intellectual-collapse/

    The end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the surge of prosperity worldwide that marked the global triumph of capitalism, the essentially conservative p mpany who spent like a liberal and who expanded entitlements like a liberal. What say you?
    I agree with Posner. In effect, what he is trying to say is that the problem with conservatism is that it has become little more than an emotional "populist" movement designed to get lots of teabagger types really angry at Democrats.

    it seems that onservatism has come down to little more than declaring that whatever the problem, the main cause of it is "big gummint" or "those #$^% Hollywood liberals" or "socialists!!!". It's main argument is to hold up a big picture of Nancy Pelosi, declare her a witch, and then hand out the torches. The problem is that should the burning of Pelosi's visage succeed and the conservatives have "taken back their gummint" (why they would want it is beyond me), the torch-bearers are left with no ideas about what to do next.

    An intellectual approach to conservatism would be to figure out what kind of an argument would make sense to an educated, intelligent person who is currently NOT a conservative. Sitting down and working out a case that involves statistics and logic. And THEN listening to all reasonable criticisms and then refining your case with better statistics and better logic --- until you have either convinced the other side, OR have given credit to the other side's argument and made changes to your position.
  12. Standard member telerion
    True X X Xian
    12 Jan '10 05:57
    Originally posted by Melanerpes
    I agree with Posner. In effect, what he is trying to say is that the problem with conservatism is that it has become little more than an emotional "populist" movement designed to get lots of teabagger types really angry at Democrats.

    it seems that onservatism has come down to little more than declaring that whatever the problem, the main cause of it is ...[text shortened]... R have given credit to the other side's argument and made changes to your position.
    I'm going to have to deduct some style points for being too reasonable.
  13. Standard member telerion
    True X X Xian
    12 Jan '10 06:30 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by whodey
    Here is an interestin article.

    http://www.house.gov/jec/growth/taxpol/taxpol.htm

    "Over the past decade and a half, Americans have been presented with 2 radically different visions of the role of government. The first vision, articulated and implemented by President Reagan in the 1980's, declares that government taxation and burdensome regulations are h "W", I think you would be hard pressed to call any of these chaps "conservatives".
    I don't think I'd call the characterization of Clinton's economic views quite fair. The author overplays the difference in economic philosophy. Reagan was probably more anti-taxes than Clinton, but I think Reagan had the wrong notion that reducing taxes is always better. Clinton recognized that taxes affect decisions (I don't recall him ever espousing that raising taxes stimulated growth for instance), however like the article says both Bush Sr. and Clinton realized that taxes needed to be raised to offset deficits. Remember too that it was under Clinton's administration (along with the Republican takeover of Congress) that the major overhaul to welfare took place (from AFDC to TANF) which made welfare much less lenient and generous. In fairness to Reagan though, Clinton did come after Reagan, so he had the advantage of hindsight.

    Also while the author claims that Clinton was far more harmful, (s)he doesn't really support the claim. Instead, the author just lists some things that happened (the latter two of which didn't even pass! How can they be so harmful?) and hopes that the reader will agree with the sentiment.

    Finally, I had to fact check the bit about GDP growing more under Reagan because it went against what I've heard in seminars on the recent history GDP growth. I don't know what years this author used, but when I went to the BEA and took annual real GDP and calculated the percentage change from 1980 to 1988 I got 25.3%. On the other hand, when I calculated it from 1992 to 2000 I got 30.8%. If the author meant grew more in absolute terms then his/her claim is certainly wrong since Clinton started with higher GDP than Reagan did.

    It's late so I'm not going to check the statement about increased revenues, though I'm pretty suspicious of this one particularly since the author says that Reagan's big revenue came from GDP growth. We know now that GDP grew more under Clinton and also that Clinton increased the marginal tax rate on high incomes. Since tax revenue can be approximated by avg tax rate * GDP, I've gotta guess that revenue actually grew more under Clinton (but I will need to check this to be sure). Anyway, this is an strange standard for the author to champion since raising more revenue in and of itself isn't necessarily a good thing. In an article on fiscal conservatism, I'd think the better metric would be tax revenue net of spending (i.e., the "primary deficit" ). I'm pretty sure this was lower under Clinton (at least as a fraction of GDP). The bit about middle class disposable income will have to be verified. I know the source but will have to check it tomorrow.
  14. 12 Jan '10 07:21
    Originally posted by telerion
    . If the author meant grew more in absolute terms then his/her claim is certainly wrong since Clinton started with higher GDP than Reagan did.
    You are darn right that Cllinton started with a higher GDP than Reagan did. After all, Reagan followed the disasterous Carter years and there was a short time there that the economy needed to be revived. However, Clinton did not face the same challenges following Bush Sr.

    No matter what the numbers may say, I have personally noticed a decrease in living standars in the US since the 1990's and I suspect it will continue to decline until if and when we reverse course.
  15. Standard member telerion
    True X X Xian
    12 Jan '10 18:47
    Follow up on that article. I looked at the OMB historical tables and calculated the change in total government receipts (i.e., revenue) for the same years that I did GDP growth.
    1980-1988: 75.8%
    1992-2000: 85.6%

    It's hard to verify the author's claim about middle income households because there's no agreed upon definition of middle class. If you supply the bottom and top percentages that define middle class to you then I'll try to track something down. For example (above the 25th percentile and below the 75th percentile for income.

    Finally, depending upon where you sat in the income distribution in the 90's and where you sit today, the 90's could have been a better time for you. Your sentiment may be perfectly reasonable.