December 08, 2006
The Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives

It's normally rather easy to define the policy differences between conservatives and liberals, and intelligent observers have little trouble doing so. On less frequent occasions, however, one can see clear insight into the deeper philosophical and operational differences that truly separate the two sides. David Goldstein has accordingly provided a splendid such case study in his responses to my thoughts on revitalizing the GOP in the suburbs and to recent Sound Politics coverage of the Seattle School District's case before the Supreme Court (which as if this typing is bountiful on the home page). In short, Goldy exemplifies the notion liberals like policies that feel good, conservatives like policies that work well.

A core component of Goldy's thinking, and that of many liberals exemplified through the netroots, is stereotypes. With great irony given their cries for tolerance, such liberals are really quite good at relying on stereotypes rather than factual reality. Goldy's response to my GOP in the burbs post is a classic example of the genre.

To Goldy's credit, he is trying to engage in a thoughtful response to my original work, but nonetheless his biases appear. He claims "Democrats believe in government...whereas Republicans don't" and the GOP suffers "from a revulsion to big government programs in general." Not quite. Conservatives are perfectly willing to spend scads of money on national defense, border security, law enforcement, etc. They're also quite willing to increase spending as well on effective social spending such as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), No Child Left Behind, and the Medicare drug program. When programs don't work such as welfare prior to welfare reform, or when they're just wasteful (see the bridge to nowhere), conservatives don't welcome them.

In addition to assuming conservatives hate government writ large, Goldy believes with some earnestness that,

today's GOP is dominated by ideological purists who would, if given free reign, dismantle and privatize the public services that define suburban life, while imposing the moral strictures of their right-wing, fundamentalist Christian allies.

Go tell staunch conservatives who support firmly right-of-center social and economic policy that today's GOP stands for such things and they'll laugh in your face. Nevertheless, Goldy thinks such things based on his perception of Republican policy preferences versus his own. We disagree with his policy preferences, therefore we must be dumb, or evil, or both. Thus, he believes, "the main problem for suburban Republicans is the reality of suburban life doesn't match the bulk of Republican rhetoric."

Well, if it's Republican rhetoric according to Goldy and the rest of the netroots then sure, that's the case, since such folks have had nary a nice to say about Republicans since say, oh, Eisenhower. If, however, one reads through thoughts on GOP renewal presented by Matt Rosenberg or I, including the comments, one would see the solutions we propose highlight the fact there are elements of the Republican agenda that candidates can win with, even in a blue state. The issue isn't that Republican ideas are necessarily nonstarters; it's just that in a blue state you have to pick your battles, and focus on the issues voters care about the most. Perhaps that's a nuanced point, but one would hope supporters of John Kerry in 2004 could grasp it.

Goldy's response to assorted objections at Sound Politics to the race-based tiebreaker in Seattle schools provides an even clearer example of the contrast between liberals and conservatives. He claims Matt, Stefan, and I "don't only seem to disagree with the policy, but with the goal."

Well, what's the goal? Diverse schools? That's a-ok with me; the question is the means by which to achieve it. Potentially violating the Constitution doesn't strike me as the best means by which to do that. Instead, I suggested using socioeconomic status as a tiebreaker for high school admissions in place of race. Modern government discriminates based on income frequently, so it makes much more sense than discriminating based on race.

Ultimately, the real goal however, as Goldy alludes to but doesn't seem to fully grasp, is improved education for traditionally underachieving students. The issue shouldn't be whether or not schools are racially balanced; the issue should be improving education for all students.

I don't often invoke my day job at the US Department of Education here at SP, yet here it is particularly relevant. My primary duty is to be an effective communicator about No Child Left Behind, a fusion of liberal and conservative thinking in federal support for K-12 education with the ultimate goal of closing the achievement gap between affluent, white students and their disadvantaged and/or minority peers. Accordingly, I've visited and/or read about dozens of schools that are improving education for all students, and particularly those student populations which have traditionally struggled. Guess how many such schools I've run across that include race as a factor in raising student achievement? Zero.

Across the Northwest, it's just as easy to find a struggling school with very few minority students and a large number of disadvantaged white students as it is to find the stereotypical school struggling with a large population of disadvantaged minority kids. The true issue is that schools in the aggregate find it more challenging to educate students from less affluent families, regardless of race. Individual school districts and schools that overcome those challenges do so not through greater expressions of liberal, white guilt, but by greater emphasis on the not-so-crazy idea that all kids can learn (almost all to high standards), and that whatever the situation each child is in when they walk in the school building door in the morning, the staff at that school is going to do whatever it takes to help that student improve.

Yet, Goldy, like many liberals, seems stuck in the past. "Seattle schools are segregated" [emphasis his] he says. That's interesting; particularly after listening to Justices Alito and Scalia question Seattle's counsel, Michael Madden, on this question (see 45:05 at the link found in this post). Madden agrees the issue is not segregation.

One of the problems Seattle ran into during its Supreme Court argument is that some of the Justices, particularly Alito, seemed skeptical of the tiebreaker for the very reason that, as the School District itself confirms, it is not intended to do anything to create racial balance in two of the least diverse high schools in the city, Rainier Beach and Cleveland - which Michael Madden called "racially isolated." If they're segregated, Seattle isn't doing much at all to fix that (see 48:00 at the same link for related discussion).

Furthermore, Goldy says "the difference between me and the folks over at (u)SP is that at least I think it is a problem, whereas apparently they don't." [emphasis his] More presumption again. Unlike Goldy I think we at SP believe "the 14th Amendment forbids taking race into consideration when attempting to correct racial inequality," in part because the 14th Amendment wasn't intended to correct inequality, it was designed to support equality. Big difference.

Here, however, is where Goldy demonstrates the conservative versus liberal paradigm most clearly. As I've discussed above, I'm passionate about improving public education, and have experienced first hand that balancing by race has nothing to do with improving schools. You could have perfectly "balanced" (whatever that is) schools by both race and even economic status and in the end you're left with the same challenge to address the true inequality in academic achievement: YOU HAVE TO IMPROVE THE SCHOOLS!

Earth shattering, I know. Yet according to dear Goldy, that passion lies not in improving public education, and simply having disagreements about the best policy by which to do that, it's because "it might be reasonably inferred they [Matt, Stefan, and I] are all a bunch of fucking racists." Goldy follows the barb with the usual caveats that he really doesn't think that, it can just be inferred, and that really we at SP are just cold-hearted Social Darwinists. I'm overwhelmed by such brilliance of thought...really, I am.

The irony is immediately thereafter Goldy actually sees the light (briefly), "[i]t's not that 94 percent of the students struggling to get a good education at Rainier Beach High School are black or hispanic or's that they're poor." Exactly. And no matter how many racial tiebreakers you use you're not going to address that problem, even if Seattle's tiebreaker was designed to address the needs of all those students, which it isn't. You still have to fix the school.

Again and again I've encountered this issue in public policy, as I believe other SP readers can speak to as well. Conservatives support policies that work. Liberals support policies that sound good. Spend obscene amounts of money on education like Washington, DC public schools or have some accountability for lesser amounts of money as many other school systems do. Let private sector competition work in the Medicare drug program or have the federal government "negotiate" prices. Solve all your problems in foreign affairs by assuming people that hate you just want to talk, or face the reality that at minimum carrots and sticks (sometimes heavy on the sticks) are necessary to change your opponent's behavior in their own self-interest. The examples could go on.

There are problems in Seattle's schools system, including notable inequity in achievement between high schools. Goldy believes discriminating based on race is necessary to address the issue. I believe instead we should focus on policies that are serious about actually improving public education, including consideration of specifically improving educational opportunities, both individually and in the aggregate, for students of disadvantaged socioeconomic status. Goldy's supported policy sounds good to some liberals. The solutions I've discussed actually work.

I appreciate Goldy's passion, but more importantly I appreciate the case study example of the difference between modern conservatism and modern liberalism. Feel-good policies versus constructive policies, take your pick.

Posted by Eric Earling at December 08, 2006 07:40 AM | Email This
1. I want, first, to admit that I have not read very much of the Goldberg response OR Eric's original post. However, I want to point something out that I believe. Many people talk about "fixing the schools". However, I believe that much of the issue is not just with the schools, but rather with the home life of many of the students. In school boundaries where there is high parental involvement, the students (usually) perform better. One of the reasons for this (again, in my opinion) is that significant parental involvement is a sign of a working family unit, where the partents (yes, two parents) have both the interest, time and resources AND use them to better their family. Students who only have one parent are at an automatic disadvantage. That does not mean that single parents cannot or are not good parents, nor that their children will be poor students. However, I feel that we must acknowledge that such family structure imposes additional difficulties on the students. Also, as you have stated, the economic status of the family also has effect on the students performance, I believe for the same resons - when parents have to work harder/longer to meet the bills, there is less time and emotional reserves left over to support their children in the learning process.

I know that this is a bit of an asside to this post, but I hope to bring it back on topic with this statement. In my opinion, both conservatives and liberals often differentiate themselves with respect to "the school" (or whatever the issue happens to be). However, (and I am guilty on this) we do not focus enough on the actual causes. Liberals might consider some of what I write as "prejudiced" and conservatives might consider what I state as not offering any solutions. That is part of the issue, in my mind. Both sides see flaws in actually tackling the root of the issue, for different reasons.

Posted by: Steve on December 8, 2006 08:58 AM
2. eric:

the last 6 years likley provide significant empircal data that would question any assertion that "conservatives support policies that work, liberals support policies that feel good."

its a nice binary, perfect for a college paper, but oversimplistic.

you'll likely have to wait for the next generation of conservative leaders to repair the damage done to the conservative 'brand' wrought by bush co. many principled conservatives were speaking out the 'blasphemy' to the conservative movement long before november's elections. unfortunately, so many others pocketed their criticism in exchange for power, support and favors.

Posted by: dinesh on December 8, 2006 09:07 AM
3. Conservatives support policies that work. Liberals support policies that feel good.

Eric, nobody has ever summarized that fundamental difference better than your above. I'm saving this one.

Posted by: Methow Ken on December 8, 2006 09:21 AM
4. Goldy is a racist; very easy to infer about that one.

Posted by: AP on December 8, 2006 09:24 AM
5. Great post, Eric. I think both are like car salesmen. Liberals are telling us "We'll sell you a car that's REAL pretty" and the Conservatives are telling us "We'll sell you a car that works". Not a hard choice.

Posted by: katomar on December 8, 2006 09:25 AM
6. As a conservative who disagrees with the use of race as a tiebreaker, I also disagree with your suggestion that socioeconomic status, which again can be subjective and be construed as biased toward minorities. The only true impartial tiebreaker should be lottery, coin-flip, etc. that are completely probability neutral. Until then, there will always be outcry of biase as long as there is any subjective criteria by which a preference is given.

Posted by: C. Oh on December 8, 2006 09:27 AM
7. Goldy typifies the diseased liberal mind as described by a forensic psychiatrist.

Dr. Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr.,a forensic psychiatrist, explains the madness of liberalism in his new book The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness. You can read an excerpt below, and read more at his website

As is the case in all personality disturbance, defects of this type represent serious failures in development processes. The nature of these failures is detailed below. Among their consequences are the liberal mind’s relentless efforts to misrepresent human nature and to deny certain indispensable requirements for human relating. In his efforts to construct a grand collectivist utopia—to live what Jacques Barzun has called “the unconditioned life” in which “everybody should be safe and at ease in a hundred ways”—the radical liberal attempts to actualize in the real world an idealized fiction that will mitigate all hardship and heal all wounds. (Barzun 2000). He acts out this fiction, essentially a Marxist morality play, in various theaters of human relatedness, most often on the world’s economic, social and political stages. But the play repeatedly folds. Over the course of the Twentieth Century, the radical liberal’s attempts to create a brave new socialist world have invariably failed. At the dawn of the Twenty-first Century his attempts continue to fail in the stagnant economies, moral decay and social turmoil now widespread in Europe. An increasingly bankrupt welfare society is putting the U.S. on track for the same fate if liberalism is not cured there. Because the liberal agenda’s principles violate the rules of ordered liberty, his most determined efforts to realize its visionary fantasies must inevitably fall short. Yet, despite all the evidence against it, the modern liberal mind believes his agenda is good social science. It is, in fact, bad science fiction. He persists in this agenda despite its madness.

Posted by: John425 on December 8, 2006 09:33 AM
8. In all the years I have been in the education business (college and post-grad instruction), I have to say that never were racial makeup or "diversity" of the classes I taught a factor in determining the achievement of the students in those classes, or the quality of their experience. Two things were. First, the willingness to work hard, including both the instructor and the students. Second, the motivation of the students to learn the material. Those things, more than any fuzzy, feel-good mantra of "diversity", determined what the students got from attending those courses. It made no difference how many racial minorities were enrolled, or what the male-female ratio was. Those were non-operative factors. The only thing that mattered in the end was how hard we worked to assure that a given student learned the subject.

I went to public schools (not in SayWA, but probably similar to what you have there). I was able to learn sufficiently to get decent-enough grades to obtain financial support for college and grad school. Why? I was motivated to learn when I was in school. My parents emphasized to me that this was just something I needed to do, and I was motivated to achieve that goal because of this. I later realized that doing so was for my own good anyway, but initially it took a little external motivation from the folks to get me going and keep me on task. The second factor was that back in the day the teachers and administrators had the authority to deal with disruptive students and were not shy about doing so. They knew that those students who were selfish enough to deny other students the chance to learn had to be dealt with firmly and in an unambiguous way. And the parents and school board supported that. You didn't have lazy and manipulative parents threatening lawsuits at every turn when discipline was imposed, you didn't have professional "victim groups" parading their grievances in the bloodsucking lawyers and "public interest groups" using the courts to push a social engineering agenda. You had schools focused on one thing: educating students. And they didn't waste time and money on failed social engineering policies and feel-good "remedies" based in some nebulous "diversity" concept.

Posted by: Interested Observer on December 8, 2006 09:47 AM
9. RE: #6 by C. Oh-- you may be interested in the method suggested below as an alternative to "racial tiebreakers"

Did the ETS Suppress Research for Fear it Would Undermine the University of Michigan's Legal Defense of Race-Conscious Admission?: Here's a story from the Nov. 10 Chronicle of Higher Education that hasn't gotten nearly as much attention from the MSM as one might expect.

A prominent higher-education researcher says scholars at the Educational Testing Service may have discovered a substitute for race-conscious college-admissions policies back in 1999, but their research project was suppressed -- and eventually killed off -- before they could put their findings through peer review and make them public.

A spokesman for the testing service says the study was dropped because it was "bad research."

Anthony P. Carnevale, a former vice president for assessment, equity, and careers at ETS, says he and other ETS researchers concluded in the summer of 1999 that it was theoretically possible for selective colleges to maintain or increase their black and Hispanic enrollments without giving extra consideration to applicants based on their ethnicity or race.

The researchers had developed a formula for using students' background data to identify "strivers" -- those who had overcome adversity to an impressive extent -- and had fine-tuned the formula to a point where it showed the promise of producing larger black and Hispanic enrollments at selective colleges than were being obtained through race-conscious admissions, says Mr. Carnevale, now a senior fellow with the Education Sector, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Carnevale alleges that College Board officials put pressure on ETS to squelch the entire "striver" line of research, mainly because it added a new layer to the interpretation of SAT scores and they feared it would give federal courts reason to question colleges' need for race-conscious admissions policies.

Because the research was squelched midway, the researchers never got a chance to determine conclusively -- and then demonstrate to ETS and the College Board -- that they had found what they were looking for: a way to achieve racial and ethnic diversity at selective colleges without using affirmative action.

"The work never saw the light of day," Mr. Carnevale says.

In an e-mail message last week, Thomas Ewing, a spokesman for ETS, denied Mr. Carnevale's account of what transpired, saying "there was no pressure from the College Board to discontinue" the striver study. He said the study had been discontinued because "it was widely viewed at ETS as simply bad research," and the president of ETS, Kurt M. Landgraf, and the ETS research staff thought it "attempted to alter an objective measure (the SAT) inappropriately."

But some education researchers who were not involved in the strivers study said last week that they viewed the research as sound, and would like to see it continued.

Posted by: John425 on December 8, 2006 10:09 AM
10. Eric -

Your 'analysis' doesn't mean much. You pick some random, angry guy like Goldy and you
somehow extrapolate that he in any way represents 'liberals' or liberal 'values'. Get real.

Are you serious? Are you truly and honestly putting forward Goldy as valid representative
of what liberals are all about? If so, then your analysis can hardly be taken seriously.

Posted by: Chuck on December 8, 2006 10:10 AM
11. Ok Chuck, I'll take the bait. Just who is a "valid representative of what liberals are all about?"

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 10:23 AM
12. cnR your insults add nothing to this discussion. I wonder who you really are since you don't have the guts to use your real name.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 10:39 AM
13. To understand Goldstein one has to understand that fundamentally he is a Marxist. He continually reduces all issues to classist, collectivist conflicts and particularly those which pit whatever he deems a superior class against whatever he deems an inferior class. And that is the definition of Marxism.

Marxism is a bankrupt philosophy because it necessarily frames everything with respect to collectives. This is precisely the opposite of our Constitution and core American values which are that of liberty and individual rights. This is a big and common mistake that we read about every day. Everyone bandies about the word Democracy, but our founding fathers explicitly rejected the concept of Democracy and Majority or Collective rule for a republican system that values representation and limited government over the collective. It's simply much more likely that individuals will be treated and respected as individuals in our republic because we start with the premise that we are a nation of individuals, and we did that long before Karl Marx.

And so how does this apply to Seattle Schools? While we all have a stake in the education of our children as a societal whole and noteworthy goal, there are many different interpretations of how to achieve that end. Seattle Public Schools and many other public schools systems throughout the country are floundering because they cater to collectives, unions, stereotypes and bromides and not to real individual students, parents and personalized teaching that actually works. Instruction is not a an easily dispersed set of collective dictates, or an immediate consequence of race or socioeconomic status. And there is no way to blame all for the failures of individuals in the system.

I reject Goldsteins racial calculus of segregation by color and I also reject Earling's calculus of socioeconomic status (which Goldstein would probably welcome as well.) It will never be equitable, nor assure a successful result to treat our schools as broad collectives, or to try and constantly hand pick a mixture of students that will lead to success. For starters, by what criteria and who gets to pick? Students like all of us are individuals who make choices, and they are the progeny of parents who make choices. The only way we will ever achieve success is by demanding an overall cultural shift towards personal responsibility and better choices. And in the schools that means parent involvement, discipline, intellectual rigor and local community responsibility.

I find nothing more repulsive than Goldstein's implication that, expecting and demanding more of students and families in less affluent areas, is not possible or not likely. Especially in light of Goldstein's own example of involvement, discipline, intellectual rigor and community responsibility with regard to his own daughter and the Graham Hill program that she attends.

What Goldstein's argument reduces to is that although some are willing to put in the effort to make a great education, school or community (the affluent,) we can't expect everyone to do so (the poor.) And that when on large scale, that results in a whole community and its schools descending into a less effective culture, the only solution is guilt, envy and some sort of artificial social manipulation from on high, and the fatalism of racism. And that's past, present and future racism with no definite end and a vaguely defined and conveniently applicable emotional longevity, to which anyone can attach themselves for cover if needed. What an arrogant, pathetic, cynical, manipulative and defeatist stance.

To me the most clear difference between Liberals and Conservatives is that Conservatives have greater faith in their fellow man as individuals who can and do improve their lot and learn from past mistakes. And true Conservatives see the only proper political system as a limited one that makes it incumbent upon each individual to expect less from their government and achieve more as an individual.

Posted by: Jeff B. on December 8, 2006 10:44 AM
14. Goldy is a moonbat and really hasn't advanced much. However, there are ideologues on both sides of the spectrum. What should count, no matter what the ideology is the education of kids. I have posted at this site and responded to anti-Christian ditribes here as well. I have even alluded to the fact that I thought one of the posters here resembled Michael Richards. There are fewer good ideas, at present, in the liberal/progressive or whatever they now call themselves lexicon, but there are some. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Liberals are the group that gave a support program for children that got men of the house and has pretty much destroyed the Black family. Making it possible for young single women who have neither the economic or emotional resources to support children is now treatening to destroy many other families as well. On the other hand, some families will need support, from time time. Children need adequate housing and medical care. It is not enough to state the conservative mantra that if you make bad choices, so what. Well, children doen't choose their families, otherwise many might choose to be born into the looney British royal family and have a life of luxury. The answer is somewhere between the two streams of thought.

Posted by: WVH on December 8, 2006 10:45 AM
15. Democrats run for office because they love big government.

Republicans run for office because they love America.

Posted by: Me on December 8, 2006 11:22 AM
16. WVH,

That's false. Truly living within one's means is difficult in today's credit card age. Everyone wants to get ahead and impress their neighbors with a larger house, etc. One can easily get by with less, and then use that savings to afford more time with their children, IF that is a priority. If it's not then we should not expect success.

Sure there are going to be some single moms, but there's plenty of success stories where single moms worked hard to make a better life for their kids, and there are scholarships and other means to send a truly poor person through a good education if that's their goal.

It comes down to how bad someone wants to make a better life for themselves. You can't legislate or buy strong will and hard work. There's more than enough of a safety net for those willing to do some on their own. But nothing is ever going to happen without personal effort.

Posted by: Jeff B. on December 8, 2006 11:32 AM
17. The differences between liberals and conservatives are not nearly as complex as the hyperbole laden missives issued by Goldy and Eric. While both are intelligent, well written and passionate men, they bloviate rather than get to point.

Liberals care about the community as a whole, conservatives care about only themselves. There is nothing complicated about it.

You might not like my politics, but you have to live with them.

I have to live with yours.

Posted by: frogtalk4u on December 8, 2006 11:36 AM
18. Illustrated by frogtalk4u is the fact that conservatives understand liberals, but liberals haven't the foggiest idea about conservatives.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 11:49 AM
19. OK, I will bite.

Just exactly what is it about me that you understand? And, conversely, what is it about you that I don't understand?

Posted by: frogtalk4u on December 8, 2006 11:55 AM
20. Liberals care about the community as a whole, conservatives care about only themselves. There is nothing complicated about it.

I care about the community as a whole. I think that the best thing for the community is for the masses to be working in their self interest. There is a limited role for government to guide this process, but something quite short of the current nanny state.

Posted by: Michael on December 8, 2006 12:05 PM
21. Eric, your take on this is just as silly as Goldy's.

Liberalism and conservatism represent two sides of what is essentially a moral choice that we make as parts of a greater society. Do we allow for self-reliance and market forces to address certain needs or do we rely on collectivism? Neither side is inherently correct or more moral, and neither side has a monopoly on plans that "work well". Sometimes having an unrestricted free market works well for a particular issue or problem. Sometimes collectivism, through regulation or other government programs, works well for an issue or problem.

I actually agree with conservatives on the issue of using race as a factor in school admissions and my reason is similar to yours. It does not work. It's counterproductive and oftentimes reinforces the stereotypes that we're trying to eliminate.

However, in light of what's happening in Iraq right now, and how absolutely ridiculous conservatives are being when it comes to immigration, the only appropriate response to the assertion that "liberals like policies that feel good, conservatives like policies that work well" is outright laughter.

You're right that the GOP can win back the suburbs if they give up on the kind of economic extremism that bleeds the public coffers dry for things like education and health care, but they still have to address the xenophobia that has been leading the Republican Party to implement a whole bunch of other policies that don't work well.

Posted by: thehim on December 8, 2006 12:11 PM
22. frogtalk4u, your general statement: "Liberals care about the community as a whole, conservatives care about only themselves." speaks for itself. When you say liberals "care" I presume you are talking about believing that expanding the role of government will solve the problems of the "community". That socialistic approach hasn't exactly worked very well, has it? I would point to the disentegration of the black family, failing schools,and letting dangerous criminals out on the street as examples of that failure.

Saying that conservatives "care only about themselves" is one of the myths liberals wrongly believe about conservatives. Conservatives are more likely to have traditional families, more likely to give to charity and more likely to attend church. All of these things do more for the community than failed liberal feel-good schemes.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 12:14 PM
23. Michael @ 22

The best thing is for the masses to work in their self-interest. The difference between you and I is that I believe that vast majority of the people DO work for their self-interest in a positive way.

Conservatives see a homeless person or a drug addict or a single mom and make the judgment that: 1. They are all victims of their own doing; 2. They are all liberals looking for a free ride and 3. That all poor people want a free ride and feel they are somehow owed something.

I disagree.

Posted by: frogtalk4u on December 8, 2006 12:15 PM
24. Jeff B:

What did I say that was false, is your ideology getting in the way? Studies show that the average welfare recipient stays on for a about 18 months and is a family. The reasons for needing aid are job loss and medical reasons including a job injury. There are some people that need help and a personal bad choice may not be the reason. Do the auto workers who may be losing jobs because of bad management decisions and stupid union management decisions deserved to be scorned? My point is ideologues of both stripes are too tied to their own ideology. There is a reason Bill Ford gave up power.

Posted by: WVH on December 8, 2006 12:21 PM
25. Jeff B:

"It comes down to how bad someone wants to make a better life for themselves. You can't legislate or buy strong will and hard work. There's more than enough of a safety net for those willing to do some on their own. But nothing is ever going to happen without personal effort."

I suggest you read the book Nickled and Dimed.
It might make your comments more relevant.

Posted by: WVH on December 8, 2006 12:36 PM
26. Conservatives see a homeless person or a drug addict or a single mom and make the judgment that ....

And yet a liberal comes in and attempts to prove his point by making a blanket judgment about conservatives.

Liberals believe that individual should work and sacrifice for the greater good of the community.

Conservatives believe the individual should be empowered and have the choice of contributing to greater good of community.

You'll find - if you're willing to dump your stereotypes about conservatives - that people are much more willing to contribute of their own doing, as opposed to being forced to do it.

Posted by: jimg on December 8, 2006 12:47 PM
27. WVH - You can't give a pass to the auto worker for "stupid union management decisions". They voted for them and vote for the union. Corporate management is a different issue.

Posted by: Right said Fred on December 8, 2006 12:48 PM
28. frogtalk4u:

"Liberals care about the community as a whole, conservatives care about only themselves. There is nothing complicated about it."

You're close, but you stopped short of telling the whole story:

Liberals believe they can make better individuals by being a better community. Conservatives believe we can make a better community by being better individuals. Change must come from the inside, rather than trying to force change externally.

"Conservatives see a homeless person or a drug addict or a single mom and make the judgment that: 1. They are all victims of their own doing; 2. They are all liberals looking for a free ride and 3. That all poor people want a free ride and feel they are somehow owed something."

You are very prejudiced, I have to say. Is your prejudice against Conservatives any different than your perception that all Conservatives are prejudiced against those groups?

I see those people, and I think: "I wonder if Rex Grossman can get back on track for the Bears before the playoffs start?"

In other words, I don't think anything different when I see those types of people than when I see a police officer or a state representative. Why do you think that I do?

Posted by: Larry on December 8, 2006 01:14 PM
29. WVH,

I missed the part in the Constitution where it says that a person has a right to a job. Sounds like a bad Bruce Springsteen lyric. Companies go out of business for all sorts of reasons, and people lose jobs.

Posted by: Jeff B. on December 8, 2006 02:18 PM
30. Jeff B and Right Said Fred:

I post quite a bit on the education threads. My point is there is enough stupidity to go around. I really don't care what the difference is between liberals and conservatives. What I am interested in is solving problems. To err is human, to forgive is Divine. I'm sure that one could name a problem and attach different levels of blame to the various actors. Blame doesn't solve the problem. Frankly, I don't care what you call the solution that helps the education mess. It simply has to be dealt with. Was it T. Roosevelt that said something like, everything is doable if you don't care who gets the credit?

Posted by: WVH on December 8, 2006 02:20 PM
31. WVH:

I think it was Reagan who said that.

Posted by: libertarianobserver on December 8, 2006 02:31 PM
32. I was going to congratulate you on 5m, but I read the spurious argument about what a liberal and conservative were, and I am going to pass. I am a retired Russian, German and History teacher, but I would like to present the words of John Taylor Gatto, and say Amen.
"After an adult lifetime spent in teaching school I believe the method of schooling is the only real content it has. Don't be fooled into thinking that good curricula or good equipment or good teachers are the critical determinants of your son and daughter's schooltime. All the pathologies we've considered come about in large measure because the lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments with themselves and their families, to learn lessons in self-motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity and love -- and, of course, lessons in service to others, which are among the key lessons of home life.

Thirty years ago these things could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family time. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human, and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in.

A future is rushing down upon our culture which will insist that all of us learn the wisdom of non-material experience; this future will demand, as the price of survival, that we follow a pace of natural life economical in material cost. These lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know. "

Posted by: Roger Erickson on December 8, 2006 02:48 PM
33. Wouldn't it have been more scholarly, Roger, to explain why you found the argument(s) spurious instead of posting an off-topic quote?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 03:52 PM
34. Bill -

My response wasn't meant to be 'bait'. It was meant as a question to Eric Earling, since he views Goldy as a valid representative of what liberals are all about. Then he proceeds to mis-analyze liberals based on a poorly chosen subject. His whole analysis was just more silly liberal-bashing by a guy who felt like bashing liberals. There's nothing really valid about it since you can only perform a valid analysis if you have valid data, which Goldy is not. I notice Mr. Earling hasn't responded as to whether he truly views Mr. Goldstein as a valid sample of a liberal or if he was just engaging in liberal bashing.

I would submit there really isn't any 1 person who can be chosen as valid representative of a liberal or a conservative. Most conservative bloggers use liberal as an adjective instead of a noun anyway. As in the 'liberal bias' of the press that is so mistakenly trotted out all the time.

Most people are far too complex to fit into either the box of Conservatism or Liberalism anyway. That's kind of the folly of Mr. Earling's original post. He wasn't trying to prove anything other than he dislikes liberals.


11. Ok Chuck, I'll take the bait. Just who is a "valid representative of what liberals are all about?"

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 10:23 AM

10. Eric -

Your 'analysis' doesn't mean much. You pick some random, angry guy like Goldy and you
somehow extrapolate that he in any way represents 'liberals' or liberal 'values'. Get real.

Are you serious? Are you truly and honestly putting forward Goldy as valid representative
of what liberals are all about? If so, then your analysis can hardly be taken seriously.

Posted by: Chuck on December 8, 2006 05:31 PM
35. Well then Chuck, just what are liberals "all about"?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 05:42 PM
36. "Eric -

Your 'analysis' doesn't mean much."

It certainly seems to mean something to you, Chuck.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 8, 2006 05:57 PM
37. Chuck, I think that if you take a look at Darcy Burner's website and follow her links to supporting blogs, you will find Goldy is not a "random angry guy" but a member of a larger group of like minded socialist who openly define themselves as both liberal and progressive. These folks claim to be the mainsteam of liberal thought in the area. They seemingly have no problem getting establishment liberals and communists like Dwight Pelz, Ron Sims, Sandeep whatever the hell his name is, Ronnies mouthpiece and Bob Ferguson out to a local bar to wax poetic via podcasts. If Goldy and his ilk are truely fringe players in the Democratic liberal community, why to the Democratic Electeds so freely associate themselves with this Goldy foul mouthed extremist friends?

Posted by: Huh? on December 8, 2006 06:24 PM
38. Comments formerly at #12 and #16 from our old friend CnR (Conservative Not Republican) have been deleted because he's been banned from this site by Stefan and I.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 8, 2006 07:23 PM
39. Some commenters, especially Chuck, seem a bit worked up that I'm trying to apply my thoughts above as a blanket rule to liberal policies versus conservative policies. Think a little people. Obviously, some conservative policies won't work as intended, and some liberal policies will work better than conservatives expect. I'm simply pointing out a trend I've witnessed (and which has been born out in the comments by other readers), and which Goldy, the leading liberal blogger in the Puget Sound area, exemplified.

Furthermore, it's a straw man to say George W. Bush and Iraq are the bane of conservative thought. George W. Bush is not entirely conservative, much as the entire issue of Iraq and our policy there has never been exclusively "conservative" either. Don't confuse "conservative" with "Republican" (readers will note I specifically avoided doing likewise with "liberals" and "Democrats").

Lastly, Chuck raises this point: "Most people are far too complex to fit into either the box of Conservatism or Liberalism anyway." I agree, and many regular readers would recognize that based on the totality of my writings at this site. But that doesn't change the fact that liberal thinking increasingly dominates the Democratic party, and that Goldy is representative of that thinking, specifically on the Seattle schools issue in question. I don't think I would hold Goldy up as a bastion of all that is modern day liberalism, but by the same token, he can be a useful example. If you disagree Chuck, then by all means respond to Bill and tell us what you think liberals are "all about." I’m always open to new lines of thought.

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 8, 2006 07:40 PM
40. Jeff B:

Never said that there was a Constitutional right to a job. Are you such a captive of your ideology that common sense eludes you? A working country will have a strong economy and provide economic opportunities for its populace. It is in the interest of a working country to provide an opportunity for children to get a good basic education. Education as a paramount duty is written into the Washington State Constitution. Here is my thesis: the migration from Mexico is because it does not offer its populace a chance for a decent education, employment that will support a family, and a decent life if one is not at the top of their social system, hence the migration. Eric is correct in his last post, the problems are more complex than many ideolgues of both sides analyze from their locked box of ideology. You still need to read Nickle and Dimed.

Posted by: WVH on December 8, 2006 09:54 PM
41. WVH,

I'm not arguing against a public education system. What I am saying is that as long as it is largely a state run operation with collective dictates, high unions wages, and abundance of administrative overhead, constructivist curricula, racial or socioeconomic manipulation and consistent apologies for cultural failures, it will never be successful nor a good value for our tax dollar. A much better approach is to cut the Marxist meddling that goes on at the district level and require each school to rise to some level of accountability. Even better would be to inject competition.

Instead what we have is a district that is trying to blame problems on race and solve them with race. We will get absolutely nowhere with that tack.

With regards to charity, the US leads the world because we have excelled as a populace at more than providing for our own needs. That leaves us with leisure time and the extra resources for charity. Conservatives see that charity as something they can give back according to their charitable interests. Liberals see the extra gains as something to be confiscated and redistributed by collective force. And there's seldom the accountability and efficiency in government redistribution that there is in focused private giving.

Posted by: Jeff B. on December 8, 2006 10:36 PM
42. Jeff B:

I don't know if you have read my other posts. I post on the education issues. My doctorate is in education:

1. I want a successful country. I have traveled abroad and this is the most successful country for the majority of citizens, in my opinion. I want this country to work. What is needed to make this country successful is a strong education system which gives a majority of its children a good basic education.

2. There should be competition in the education system. This has been my mantra through several threads. The roadblock is the question: what is politically possible? Personally, I do not object to vouchers, charter schools, or vouchers used for education at religious schools. Drs. Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams give excellent arguments. The late Milton Friedman also gives an excellent rationale for competition. In my opinion, the most politically possible solution is a charter school district where every school is a charter. Even this will be difficult to obtain because the current stakeholders are vested in the current system. The move toward competiton in education is not going to result from just one ideology pushing for competition.
Further, opponents of competition are such skilled political in-fighters, they would rather set up a system which is designed to fail, rather than allow true competition in education. The coming battle, if there is one, will be bloody. So many of the elites have already bailed on the public school system. I hope that a lot of kids aren't trapped in a failed system because so many are caught in their own personal ideology.

Posted by: WVH on December 8, 2006 11:09 PM
43. Jeff WVH aggree--41 & 42 sum it up for me. the roadblock for change? apathy. we have not hit that critical mass yet where everyone is disgusted enough to do something. change is uncomfortable.

sadly, in this area, it is a very high bar. like a 9-11 size catastrophe in education. reason is the level & depth of entrenchment of things needing change. taking on the union for one example is tough in itself. easier to pay more and accept mediocrity than pull your kid & commit & teach them yourself. like the moon landing, "can't be done" is the current operative phrase. in retro, is was done with a lot of toil & committment.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on December 9, 2006 07:01 AM
44. WVH,

Actually yes, sounds like we pretty much agree. The thing I hate the most about the left is that they have such a pessimistic view of humanity. We can ever be trusted with competition, charter schools, private retirement accounts, greater expectations, tolerance, ability to let go of historical racism, etc. As such, the left tells us how we are doing in each of those areas, that we've laready failed so don't bother trying, and then proposes even more government when their already bloated "solutions" actually fail.

The more we wake up the average Joe to the outright manipulation and cycicism that the left holds for him, the better off we will all be.

Posted by: Jeff B. on December 9, 2006 08:41 AM
45. "The thing I hate the most about the left is that they have such a pessimistic view of humanity"

They certainly do. The left lives in what I call the "land of can't". We can't drill for oil, we can't reform social security, we can't have school vouchers, we can't build nuclear power plants,(but we must "develop alternative sources of energy", they keep saying without a hint of a plan), we can't build new refineries, we can't open any new mines, the list goes on and on. That kind of thinking would never have built this country. That kind of thinking will only destroy it.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 9, 2006 11:12 AM
46. The difference is that liberals are sad there is pain in the world, and will go to sometimes absurd lengths to try to end it, whereas conservatives are glad there is pain in the world.

Bill, you should go hang out in Russia if you'd like to live in your drilling, mining, nuclear paradise. You can both do everything you want and see the results of it.

Posted by: Nancy on December 9, 2006 11:40 AM
47. And what ideology was in charge of Russia?

And by the way Nancy, if you got rid of everything in your life that was mined, drilled, or cut down you'd likely be living in a tent, or worse.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 9, 2006 12:40 PM
48. "conservatives are glad there is pain in the world."

What was I was saying yesterday about liberals not understanding conservatives? (see #18).

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 9, 2006 01:15 PM
49. Tents? No shit?

What's misunderstood?

Posted by: Nancy on December 9, 2006 01:55 PM
50. Nancy; You might do a little thoughtful pondering. I assume you blog from a nice warm room somewhere. Is there anything in the makeup of your creature comforts that doesn't come from somewhere through either mining, drilling, cutting, or other uses of the earth's resources? Of course it doesn't.

The point I was trying to make was that the left has carried anti-capitalism to the extreme without considering what the alternative might be. A look at what communism did to Russia might provide a clue.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 9, 2006 02:24 PM
51. Russia has used its resources with virtually no oversight, and destroyed much of its environment in the process. I'm saying that's a bad thing. Do you agree? To use resources while protecting clean air and water and habitat, based on science, will allow for all the creature comforts we need. If the Bush administration gets its way in consistently arguing against science and environmental protection, we'll end up like Russia.

Posted by: Nancy on December 9, 2006 03:02 PM
52. "If the Bush administration gets its way in consistently arguing against science and environmental protection, we'll end up like Russia."

Thanks for bolstering the point Jeff B. made at #44. Liberals are dreadfully pessimistic, as Nancy has illustrated nicely.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 9, 2006 03:48 PM
53. They were sure wrong about Iraq, weren't they? Ironically, I used to vote Republican, but categorize me as you must.

So are you saying the Bush administration tries to protect the environment, or just that we won't end up looking like Russia? How close do we want to get to Russia environmentally before we decide to pull back?

Posted by: Nancy on December 9, 2006 06:22 PM
54. Another difference between liberals and conservatives: liberals tendency to mouth one talking point after another,(" They were sure wrong about Iraq, weren't they"), rather than engage in an actual conversation about issues and ideas. My guess, Nancy, is that you are a fairly recent product of our public education system. And no, I don't exactly believe that you used to vote Repubican. That would be quite a stretch given your far left rhetoric, ("conservatives are glad there is pain in the world"). How would you feel if I made a statement like, "liberals are happy to kill unborn babies"? Doesn't exactly lead to intelligent discussion, does it?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 9, 2006 07:08 PM
55. Your guess isn't quite right, as appears usual. If you're going to make all-encompassing statements, you're going to need to defend them in the particulars, I'm afraid. You've deftly avoided answering my specific questions, though. Kudos. As for your unborn babies statement, that seems awfully mild by Republican standards these days, don't you think?

Posted by: Nancy on December 9, 2006 07:48 PM
56. The difference is that liberals are sad there is pain in the world, and will go to sometimes absurd lengths to try to end it, whereas conservatives are glad there is pain in the world.

You're joking, right? What are you, 15? Seriously, what a simplistic, juvenile, and down right condescending view of the other side. Funny, I know a lot of conservatives who donate an awful lot of their own money to worthy and effective causes to end that pain... and a bunch of liberals who think they are more "compassionate" by taking other people's money to end that pain.

If you really want to be that simplistic and basically call all conservatives sadists, I can play that game too. A more realistic and nearly as simplistic and condescending description as yours is that liberals haven't matured enough to deal with the fact that people aren't perfect, and some are just downright evil, and cause a lot of pain both to themselves and others, which makes liberals feel bad. Because of this, they go to absurd lengths to end that pain by implementing ineffective measures that do nothing more than make themselves feel good about themselves because they "did something"... and usually did it by taking other people's money and throwing it at the problem. Conservatives accept the fact that people are imperfect, and some just down right evil, and try to implement measures that are often tough and sometimes don't "feel good", but in the end relieve more suffering... and usually do it with their own money.

The problem with that description and your's Nancy, is that the world is a lot more complicated then that, and grown-ups realize this and try not to pigeonhole every single person at the opposite political spectrum as evil/sadists/heartless b*st*rds.

Posted by: Mike H. on December 9, 2006 08:27 PM
57. Nancy - quick question: Do you support increased drilling for oil and natural gas in the US? You seem concerned about the environmental practices of Russia in their own energy extraction. I don't doubt you are correct on that score, but the logical extension of that argument is to support expanded energy exploration at home since it is more environmentally friendly. What are your thoughts?

Posted by: Eric Earling on December 9, 2006 09:32 PM
58. Nancy:

Are you related to CnR and Tom?

Posted by: WVH on December 9, 2006 10:39 PM
59. However, in light of what's happening in Iraq right now, and how absolutely ridiculous conservatives are being when it comes to immigration

Is our immigration policy significantly different than it was when we had a Democrat president and Democrat congress? Both sides seem to be pretty much the same on immigration, and they are both wrong.

Posted by: Michael on December 10, 2006 01:38 AM
60. Another facet of liberalism that Eric touched on in his unanswered question to Nancy; liberals have been against drilling, mining, and cutting for years. They seem to believe that things happen by some sort of magic. I can't imagine Grand Coulee dam would have been built if today's brand of liberalism had existed in the 1930's. Adding a class to their curriculum entitled "how stuff works" might enlighten them.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 10, 2006 09:42 AM
61. I think the difference between liberals and conservatives has been best highlighted by Rosie O'Donnel's recent comments {paraphrasing here} We shouldn't be afraid of the terrorists. They're parents, too.
Rosie, like many liberals, wears the Rosie, Polyanna style glasses. Makes them feel good about being fools.

Posted by: katomar on December 10, 2006 09:53 AM
62. Thanks for pointing out the obvious, Mike H., and with such aplomb! Some of the most kind and decent people I've ever known used to be Republicans, though they've generally disavowed what the party's become in the last 6 years. My statement was certainly more true than that liberals are all pessimists (what could be more naively optimistic than socialism?), and it helps explain a lot about what the republican party has become, including the prevalence of Rush and Ann Coulter, and the support for torture and other policies (spare me the ticking bomb theory, which is both factually absurd and could apply to any situation, not just terrorism - there have always been excuses to torture, there always will be, and there will always be a certain percentage of people who support it). Who was the Republican who recently said that all poor people are disgusting? I'm afraid that sums up the views of a lot of current Republicans, so it is understandable that it strikes a nerve.

Eric, I'm not for or against more drilling or mining. I don't think it's a long term solution for energy, but if it's done in a way that doesn't pollute our water and destroy salmon habitat, I'm fine with more of it. My point about Russia was more about the cost of deregulation, which Bill seems to argue for. There are usually costs to deregulation, often catastrophic, of which the environment in Russia is just one example. I think it is important to carefully consider these costs instead of blindly arguing that it is a panacea.

Posted by: Nancy on December 10, 2006 01:08 PM
63. Where, oh where, in any of my posts Nancy have I argued for deregulation of environmental standards?

Again, it's exaggerations like Nancy's that make the point that liberals don't understand conservatives. Nancy also wants to make the discussion about the Bush Administration. The original thread was about liberals and conservatives.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 10, 2006 01:25 PM
64. So what were you arguing for, then? Washington state has pretty much been controlled by Ds for the last century (we used to be called the Soviet of Washington). Are you arguing that the Ds haven't allowed any mining or timber industry here, or are you just blindly spouting campaign propaganda?

It's also a little too easy to let you off the hook if you want to distinguish between calling yourself a "conservative" and a supporter of the Bush administration. If you haven't done the latter, then perhaps you can credibly claim a difference; but if you have, you're going to have to own up to the consequences of what you've supported.

Posted by: Nancy on December 10, 2006 02:15 PM
65. Nancy, you have a unique talent for turning what others say into something you want them to say, " Are you arguing that the Ds haven't allowed any mining or timber industry here, or are you just blindly spouting campaign propaganda?"

May I draw your attention to the point I made at post #60? I discussed the building of Grand Coulee Dam, which was undertaken during a Democratic administration. I said that I doubted the project would have been built if the liberals of today had existed back then. Clear enough?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 10, 2006 02:29 PM
66. Sorry. The part I caught was: "The left lives in what I call the "land of can't". We can't drill for oil, we can't reform social security, we can't have school vouchers, we can't build nuclear power plants,(but we must "develop alternative sources of energy", they keep saying without a hint of a plan), we can't build new refineries, we can't open any new mines, the list goes on and on."

I guess we'll just chalk this up as a rhetorical flourish on your part...

I'd also missed the "how stuff works" class. Good stuff! How about "how government works", "how the constitution works", "how science works" and "how war works" classes while we're at it?

Posted by: Nancy on December 10, 2006 03:13 PM
67. How about "staying on topic"?

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 10, 2006 03:16 PM
68. You covered some ground here, didn't you? :)

"The left lives in what I call the "land of can't". We can't drill for oil, we can't reform social security, we can't have school vouchers, we can't build nuclear power plants,(but we must "develop alternative sources of energy", they keep saying without a hint of a plan), we can't build new refineries, we can't open any new mines, the list goes on and on."

Posted by: Nancy on December 10, 2006 04:40 PM
69. I did cover a lot of ground. What I'm trying to illustrate is what I see as the hallmark of the modern day left. If you can cite concrete examples to illustrate the fallacy of my argument by all means have at it!

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 10, 2006 05:00 PM
70. Bill: I think your land of can't statement could use some elaboration: Liberals live in the land of "I can, but you can't".

Posted by: katomar on December 10, 2006 05:59 PM
71. Sorry, I forgot the hyprocrisy corrolary. I should know better!

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 10, 2006 06:08 PM
72. It's agreed. We'll add "how hypocrisy works" to the list.

Posted by: Nancy on December 10, 2006 06:39 PM
73. In all honesty, Nancy, I have more meaningful dialogue every day with my cat than I have had here with you.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 11, 2006 05:38 PM
74. Thanks, Bill. I think we can also agree that you've found yourself a home in today's Republican party.

Posted by: Nancy on December 12, 2006 12:52 PM
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