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Tilting at Windmills

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June 8, 2006
By: Paul Glastris

THE PROGRESSIVE TRINITY... There have been a number of attempts recently to rethink and redefine progressivism for the 21st Century. We took some stabs at this with our New Populism package and William Galstons essay on freedom. So did Michael Tomasky in his widely-read essay in The American Prospect, as did, in a similar vein, Ruy Teixiera and John Halpin in "The Politics of Definition."

The latest installment in this ongoing effort is The Progressive Trinity: Family, Business, and Public Service, by San Francisco attorney Greg Colvin, which were proud to bring to you as a web-only feature. It came to us via our mutual friend Bill Moyers, who first encouraged Colvin to write the essay.

Colvin argues that American life is out of balance. The realm of business, through its own success, has encroached on and disrupted two other realms whose vitality and integrity are crucial to sound democracy and the good life: the family and public service. The aim of any new progressivism, Colvin argues, is to right that imbalance. And the principle that should guide this new progressivism is a melding of the ideas of John Stuart Mill and modern human rights theorists: "the greatest good for the greatest number, with dignity for all."

No summation can quite do justice to this long and wonderfully vernacular essay, which has the feel of something the writer has been living with and turning over in his mind for years. There are quite a few points of agreement between this essay and those of Tomasky and Teixiera-Halpin, especially on the centrality of the idea of shared sacrifice. Its really worth reading the whole thing.

Paul Glastris 12:54 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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Comments

For a start, while I kinda like the word "progressive", how's about we take a page from the Newt Gingrich rhetorical playbook and start proudly calling ourselves "liberal", and use "conservative" the same way we'd describe a victim of Down's or Tourette's Syndrome.

Posted by: sglover on June 8, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

The latest installment in this ongoing effort is The Progressive Trinity: Family, Business, and Public Service, by San Francisco attorney Greg Colvin, which were proud to bring to you as a web-only feature.

Translation: We comissioned an article. To our horror, we found out it wasn't worth the paper it was to be printed on. We are, however, more than willing to waste valuable electrons on it. Please, please click, so it's not a total waste of a contract.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 8, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Hawk - do you have some purpose in life *other* than being an asshole?

Posted by: Trent Lott's Hair on June 8, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Actually A. Hawks cynical snarkiness is worthy of the best liberal tradition, And it made me laugh.

Now its time to click the link and enjoy.

Posted by: Keith G on June 8, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I have a piece on this that I think adds to the conversation on key principles...

http://www.voicesofreason.info/2006/04/new-vision-for-left-part-2-revised.html

A New Vision for the Left: Part #2

Revised Statement of Principles

Last week I introduced the following mission statement as a summary of what a strong, reasoned, and politically astute Leftist party could use to summarize its key values and beliefs, while at the same time differentiating itself from the right:

We believe that American prosperity depends on well-regulated markets, effective government, economic security as well as economic strength, personal liberty for all, healthy families, and a comprehensive strategy for national security.

This was a starting point, and the comments I received demonstrated that there was much room for improvement. Before I discuss revisions to this statement, let me make a few things clear:

1. The main reason I am suggesting that this vision be taken up by the Left and Democrats is because the Right and the GOP have been taken over by religious extremists, who dont respect individual liberties, along with corporate cronies who represent the antithesis of true conservative principles (just look closely at the energy bills or the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill). I do not believe that the Democrats or the Left are inherently superior to the Right or the Republicans, and I look forward to the day when the GOP returns to its classic conservative roots.

2. The question that then naturally arises is whether the Left and Democrats are actually serious about articulating and fighting for the values and policies I am trying to lay out; the fact that I seem to be spending more time trying to come up with a concise message than they are is perhaps evidence that the Democrats arent serious about putting forth an alternative vision for America. This may be true, but right now the Democrats offer the only short-term hope. If they fail to coalesce around the key values that I believe are essential for American prosperity, it may be time to consider developing a viable third-party in American politics. (As further evidence that the Democratic Party doesnt get it, their latest motto that they keep pushing is America Can Do Better; talk about setting a low bar! I think my idea, The Party of the Future, is much better.)

3. The modifications I have made to the above statement were driven not by a desire to frame issues in ways that pull on the heart strings, or to make bad policies appear better; both of these are equivalent to putting lipstick on a pig. The Democrats and the Left have spent way too much time wondering whether they should talk more about religion, and about how to sound tough on national security. These efforts seem to me both condescending, and proof that Democrats are largely bereft of their own core values. What they need to do is concisely and clearly articulate consistent principles in the best way possible; that is the exercise in which I am engaged (not choosing the core values themselves, which I laid those out in detail in earlier pieces (here, here, and here).

Once again, Id like to express my thanks for all of your comments. Heres the revision of the Lefts new statement of principles, with some additional commentary below:

We believe in economic opportunities for all, the sanctity of individual liberties, promoting healthy families, stewardship of the natural environment, and a comprehensive strategy for national security.

1. Economic security as well as economic strength was not the best way to express the key sentiment on the economy. I chose opportunities instead of prosperity because the free market system does not guarantee outcomes (sometimes individuals or businesses do fail), but we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate and thrive in the market system. Implicit in economic opportunities are the types of policies needed to ensure economic security since individuals with greater opportunities are best able to respond to the changing dynamics brought on by globalization. I also chose not to use the word fair because of its unfortunate protectionist connotations.

2. I purposefully used sanctity before individual liberties because individual rights are truly at the core of what it means to be an American, and denying these rights is a major breach of American tradition (let alone the Constitution). We need to remind people that we dont live a country where the majority simply tells minorities what they can or cannot do, but where individual choices and freedoms are afforded great deference.

3. Just about everybody agreed with the phrase healthy families. What I particularly like about it is that it alludes to health care (which currently is the #1 issue Americans are most concerned about), as well as the need for policies that recognize a variety of family structures (e.g., single moms and families with gay parents). The Left desperately needs to show that it is pro-family (but not anti-gay or anti-woman), and that it is a champion for affordable health care.

4. An explicit statement about the environment was needed. I chose the word stewardship because it gets at the heart of the situation: we can choose to exploit the environment or be good stewards of it. Overwhelming majorities of Americans want the latter path. Also, as with the term sanctity, stewardship connotes reverence and respect.

5. Everyone agreed on the need for comprehensive national security instead of simply strong national defense. This is crucial because the Left needs to show that it is committed to a broad-based strategy for security instead of a narrow military vision.

In summary, I think this is getting closer to a short and sweet statement of principles that could appeal to a sizeable majority of American voters (i.e. a winning political strategy at the national level). What do you think?

J.S.

Posted by: J.S. on June 8, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

To summarize, here's the sentence for the Dems...

We believe in economic opportunities for all, the sanctity of individual liberties, promoting healthy families, stewardship of the natural environment, and a comprehensive strategy for national security.


J.S.

Posted by: J.S. on June 8, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Satan, Sin and Death are the Republicans' unholy trinity.

Posted by: Hostile on June 8, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

As a framing point: despite right-wing eye-rolling, there is a difference between "progressive" and "liberal" in current context. A lot of it is based on the history of the movements, such as the "progressive" movement of the early 19th C. which is the basis for correct use of the current term. That movement was basically economic populist - worker rights and protections, trust-busing, suspicion of big banks and corporations, wanting an FDA and Social Security, etc. It wasn't much (?) into "liberal social issues." - i.e., not much sympathy, or attention at least, for abortion, gay rights, etc. - although some fundamentals like the vote for women could be lumped with it. (Correct me if off - I'm just going from old memories.)

"Liberalism" as now employed tends to include social and "outsider" social issues. One can be a populist without being much of a liberal, but the idiotic two-phase system keeps blurring that. One way to look at it:

populist:liberal
roughly as
libertarian:conservative

Posted by: Neil' on June 8, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Glastris writes: Colvin argues that American life is out of balance [...] The aim of any new progressivism, Colvin argues, is to right that imbalance.

American life is indeed out of balance ... with the lives of billions of other human beings who are not Americans, many of whom live in abject poverty and misery; with the lives of many, many billions of non-human sentient beings who are enslaved, abused, exploited, killed and driven into extinction by humans; and with the entire Earth's biosphere which we are rapidly degrading and destroying.

The aim of any "new progressivism" must be to eliminate our American-centric and anthropocentric delusional arrogance and find a new balance between American lives and the lives of all other human beings, between humanity and the other sentient beings with whom we share this planet, and between humanity and the entire web of life on Earth.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist,

I agree. The numbers of Americans needs to come down at least by a magnitude to save the planet and its biosphere. The other option is to tax Americans about 90% and send the money to the poor of the world as compensation for our extravagance.

Posted by: Scientific Realist on June 8, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, SA, it's time to think about international security. This whole border thing is done, and unless we do something to acknowlededge and even embrace those outside of our national boundaries, we're going to be like the people inside gated communities: fat, frightened, and potentially murdered in our beds.

The "folks" in charge of things these days sure have funny ideas about family and Christianity, and we better call them on that.

Posted by: Kenji on June 8, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Colvin's analysis is pretty good, but his sloganeering needs work. I like "healthy" as a key word. Healthy families -- i.e., families that aren't crippled by both parents having to keep 12-hour jobs, by lack of health care for children, by irredeemeable debt. Healthy neighborhoods -- built to promote community life, with streets and playgrounds kept clean and safe. Healthy markets -- a better phrase than "well-regulated," but meaning exactly the same thing. A market left unregulated grows cancerous, i.e., monopolistic, or parasitic, i.e., fraud-prone, in short order. And, of course, a healthy environment -- I really dislike Colvin's phrase "Stewardship of the Earth," because "stewardship" is not a familiar word or concept to most Americans, despite the Parable of the Good Steward. I like the basic idea of using a biblical phrase, but that's not a great one. Maybe, "righteous dominion"? We are commanded to take dominion over the earth, which means more than just "subdue" it.

I'm also dubious about the campaign finance reform plank. We keep trying to keep money out of the process, and it keeps sneaking back in. Along the way, we created an intricate procedural web that keeps out the very people--smart, caring, dedicated--who we want to participate. We already keep corporations as such out, so they bundle funds from "voluntary" employee contributions as PAC money. How do you stop that, without also stopping all bundling by any organization of any kind, like the Sierra Club? All we've done is tilt the balance of power away from billionaires in general and towards billionaires who have an American workforce to extort PAC contributions from. This is not a good solution.

Posted by: trilobite on June 8, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

It is refreshing yet again to read something that stresses the value of community. There are so many forces in our society that pull people to many different poles, often to a pole that consists only of themselves or their family. Being active in a community that is larger than your own self and family but small enough to allow you to have an impact is disappearing, but it can bring great rewards to all involved. Libertarianism is fine, but it really isn't all about the individual. Connecting to the larger world is very important to both the good life and the good society.

Posted by: Mimikatz on June 8, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Big shout out to:

Two Republicans, Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, broke with their party.

"Repealing the estate tax during this time of fiscal crisis would be incredibly irresponsible and intellectually dishonest," Voinovich said.

And I've the tar and feather ready for any so-called Dems who went for this piece of shit.

Posted by: CFShep on June 8, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ahhh, my boy Chafee. Dude needs to run his ass as an independent, because he's about to get thrown off the 2006 ballot by the 350 lunatics who determine the Rhode Island GOP primary.

I mean, we'll get a Democrat instead, which is fine and all, but Chafee would be a fantastic financially sound, socially liberal, open minded independent if he'd just open his damn eyes to the political reality of the times.

Posted by: eckersley on June 8, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

trilobite: I really dislike Colvin's phrase "Stewardship of the Earth,"

I dislike it as well, but perhaps for different reasons.

The Earth does not belong to the human species. It is not ours to "steward". Despite our delusions of grandeur, we are just one species out of thousands that have evolved to inhabit this rich, wonderful, diverse planet.

If anything we need to "steward" ourselves by drastically reducing our population and the impact on the Earth's biosphere of the technologies that we use to sustain ourselves.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

you know, except for the fact that chafee has long been a GOP waterboy on many key votes. I'm a strong proponent of not giving a rat's ass or encouragement to GOP "moderates" who break party ranks when allowed. dem support for these "mavericks" (another bs "M" word) simply perpetuates the pox on both houses myth (yet another "M"), and provides bipartisan cover for the overall GOP legislative agenda.

look, as long a the GOP holds both chambers---and chafee, mccain, specter, and lieberman (whoops! sorry joe-my mistake) provide that majority, the GOP calls the tunes and makes the rules.

a better use of time would be spent holding feet to fire and then giving credit when wafflers like feinstein, cantwell, etc. do the right thing.

Posted by: mencken on June 8, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know.

I guess getting "our" ideology straightened out woudl be helpful.

But I still don't see the point until we:
1. Fix the blackbox voting.
2. Fix the legalized bribery campaign finance system.
3. Restore the "fairness doctrine" to media - overhaul the FCC, and enforce antitrust to the WAY overconsolidated mass-media market.
4. Get rid of DINOs like Joe LIEberman.
5. Beg, borrow, or steal a spine for each of the rest of our Democratic representatives.

Either that, or abandon the Democratic party for the Green party altogether. Which is looking like the simpler and more attractive solution.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 8, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

That sounds a lot like what David Cameron, the new Tory leader, is talking about these days, with his "GWB": General Well-Being focus.

Posted by: KathyF on June 8, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

We are not the part og Ann Coulter and Rush.

Posted by: Now on June 8, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

OBF wrote: Either that, or abandon the Democratic party for the Green party altogether. Which is looking like the simpler and more attractive solution.

I was a registered Democrat since 1972, when I voted for George McGovern for president, and I changed my voter registration to Green last year.

This had a lot to do with my disgust with the local (Montgomery County, Maryland) Democrats, who are indistinguishable from the Bush brand of corrupt, lying, bought-and-paid-for shills for their wealthy and powerful campaign contributors.

But it also had to do with the pathetic performance of the national Democratic Party leadership and their rejection of anything that could remotely be described as "progressive".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I must say, this thread is unusual. It isn't often you see population collapse proposed in a thread pertaining to how a political faction might gain more popular support.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 8, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

You know, while I found his article interesting, I found his description of life jarring. Yes, people are busy. Yes, people don't have time for their families. Yes, the veg in front of the TV. Blah blah blah, whine whine whine.

Every day, these people make choices.

Choose to watch TV instead of hanging out with friends or family.
Choose to take a job that comes with a multiple hour daily commute.
Choose to buy buy buy and fill your house with shit you don't need so you're married to your job.
Choose to buy buy buy so debt runs your life.
Choose not to eat as a family.
Choose to watch TV while eating dinner.
Choose to go veg in front of the TV after dinner.

Or... not. Choose none of the above. I don't particularly care, but stop whining about your choices and make different ones.

Posted by: Earl on June 8, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Earl, thanks for a breath of sanity. People who watch t.v., or yes, participate in forums such as this, have time to spend with family, and they really aren't all that busy. And people who buy new cars, along with many other things that are complete luxuries by any historical norm, have no room to talk about how hard it is for them to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 8, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I read an interesting article on China today, which reminds me of this thread. An exceprt (you can probably google the source, got it through email newsletter)...

*******

Source: China Elections and Governance
30 March 2006

The national hoopla on eight virtures and eight shames
by Andrew Swerdloff

Earlier this month, President Hu Jintao declared the importance of developing an "advanced socialist culture" when he met with members of the Tenth National Meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's political advisory body. President Hu explained his socialist value system by laying out a list of do's and don'ts:

1. Love, do not harm the motherland. Serve, don't disserve the people.
2. Uphold science; don't be ignorant and unenlightened.
3. Work hard; don't be lazy and hate work.
4. Be united and help each other; don't gain benefits at the expense of others.
5. Be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the expense of your values.
6. Be disciplined and law-abiding instead of chaotic and lawless.
7. Know plain living and hard struggle; do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.

The system aims to refresh and define China's values by amalgamating traditional Chinese values with modern virtues. It also aims to "add to efforts by communist leaders to assure the public that they are fighting corruption and trying to close the gap between an elite who have profited from China's economic reforms and the poor majority". Hu made it clear that he intends to promote this concept to the masses, especially young people, and "make it part of social norms." On the same occasion, Hu further proclaimed, "In our socialist society we must not allow the boundaries to be blurred when it comes to right and wrong, evil and kindness, beauty and ugliness. What we support, what we resist, what we oppose and what we promote all must be crystal clear" (China Daily, March 13, 2006).

(snip stuff)

Another English version of the eight honors and eight shames is as follows:

1) The honor of loving the motherland ; the shame of endangering the motherland
2) The honor of serving the people; the shame of turning away from the people
3) The honor of upholding science; the shame of ignorance and illiteracy
4) The honor of industrious labor; the shame of indolence
5) The honor of togetherness and cooperation; the shame of profiting at the expense of others
6) The honor of honesty and keeping one's word; the shame of abandoning morality for profit
7) The honor of discipline and obedience; the shame of lawlessness and disorder
8) The honor of striving arduously; the shame of wallowing in luxury

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 8, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen: It isn't often you see population collapse proposed in a thread pertaining to how a political faction might gain more popular support.

Population "collapse" is what will happen if the human species does not voluntarily reduce its population by reducing birthrates, and reduce the destructive impact of its fundamental technologies (e.g. agriculture, mining, forestry, fossil fuel extraction and burning) on the Earth's biosphere, and that "collapse" will take the form of a massive die-off from starvation and disease and war, and will be accompanied by one of the greatest mass extinctions of species in the history of the planet (which is already ongoing) and a substantial and long-term degradation of the capacity of the Earth to support life.

That's reality and I don't really care that much how discussing that reality affects "popular support" for a "political faction" (i.e. the Democratic Party) that has shown itself to be largely feeble, compromised, corrupt and not much more willing to face that reality than the Republican Party.

When I hear a Democratic office holder or candidate tell the American people that the notion of perpetual "growth" is insane and must be abandoned as a central organizing principle of our society and replaced by "sustainability" if we are to survive much longer as a species not completely wreck the Earth on our way to our own ignominious demise, that will get my interest.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Well, SA, if you think "drastically reducing our population" differs much from "population collapse", fine. The point remains that there is a tension in suggesting there be fewer voters while also having an interest in one's views prevailing in electoral outcomes.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 8, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen wrote: Well, SA, if you think "drastically reducing our population" differs much from "population collapse", fine.

Yes, I think that reducing population by voluntarily reducing birthrates differs from reducing population by means of starvation, disease, war and ecological collapse.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Earl>Every day, these people make choices...Choose to watch TV instead of hanging out with friends or family.

Yes, at the individual level, that's just what they do. And as individuals, we are responsible for those choices and our failures to resist commercial draws from our relationships and living life.

But as a society, that's completely false.

As a society, we have this thing called "economic growth" which we've set as the #1 goal. We have engineered our society on the assumption of the same, so that every gain in productivity does not result in more time, but instead unemployment, until the GDP rises again. Because unemployment is painful, we elect governments that pull whatever levers work to force growth.

Now think for a minute here. That means that the whole of economic society has a conscious goal of manipulating you to consume more and work more. And if, as an aggregate, people on average decide they have enough crap and burn enough gas and would like to, say, spend more time raising a family, or with their friends, or gardening, or whatever...what happens?

Our governments wind up their committees, and put thousands of the best-trained, highest-IQ people in the land to work on the problem of re-engineering society to get us grazing at walmart and buying a bigger house and putting our kids in daycare (because that counts to GDP, and parents don't), hiring maid services, sending granny off to a home (ditto, that counts, family doesn't). Etc, etc.

Every time the material economy can't expand more, the pressure falls to analyzing, reducing to components, and commercializing every function of family and social life that possibly can be. Making dinner, meeting with friends, finding a mate, taking care of your parents, raising your kids. Do you see any town squares any longer? Every decision is an economic one, all other values are secondary. The economy consumes us. That's what economic growth means. That's what happens if you decide that no matter what, that one goal can't be ditched or made 2nd place and that number should ALWAYS be maximized.

We did make a choice. But we make it as a society, and any individual who tries to fight it is walking into a damn stiff wind.

I've never understood why the right, with all its loud claims of valuing community and family, has never registered this very simple idea about the nature of forcing economic growth by whatever means necessary.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

>Every time the material economy can't expand more, the pressure falls to analyzing, reducing to components, and commercializing every function of family and social life that possibly can be.

Let me be clear here about the name of what I was writing about: The "service sector".

That's what the service sector is. That's what pre-made food is about. Do not cheer the growth of the service or care sectors, even if you're feminist or leftist. It is not an unalloyed good. It lives by atomizing and commercializing human relationships. We have this stupid debate in Canada about "universal daycare", and it's starting to make me sick, as a leftist. It's not the answer, its a band-aid and corrosive part of a much larger problem.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

What's this "Trinity" shit? Is Amy Sullivan still working there?

Posted by: Libby Sosume on June 8, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce the Canuck wrote: I've never understood why the right, with all its loud claims of valuing community and family, has never registered this very simple idea about the nature of forcing economic growth by whatever means necessary.

Because the ostentatious claims by "the right" to value community and family are a lie and a fraud, and their real goal is exactly what you have eloquently described: to turn every single aspect of human existence into a commercial transaction from which the rich can profit and grow ever richer.

A couple of years ago I read an interview with the CEO of one of the big cable TV networks, in which he was complaining about viewers who used Tivos and similar devices to skip past the commercials in TV shows. In his opinion, not watching the commercials was theft -- "stealing" the program you are watching without paying the "price" of watching the commercials. He did allow that it might be OK to occasionally leave the room during a commercial for a "reasonable amount of time" to go to the bathroom.

These people literally think we should pay them whenever we take a shit.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm gonna wander off a bit.

It seems to me that we have just renamed Karl Marxs' work, oh what? About 5 times now?

Could we PLEASE Trash that nefarious insidious form of Hegelian trickery?

Secondly I think we should teach our Children History at a later age, when they are young we should work on the basics. English, Math, Sciience.

History, because we are taught we are this race or that nationality and they are not, they are the enemy, this becomes engrained at an early age.
I hear Politicians speaking all the time about a Global World Order.
How can we have a Global World Order if we keep repeating, reteaching, and rehashing, the same works of Plato, Kant, Marx, Locke....etc, etc.

Surely people should be aware of that History, but lets stop this Straussian lie-O-trickery.
The masses cannot know the truth!
They are too dumb to know the truth!
Only We, The Politicians know what is good for you!
Only we the CFR, the Round Table, know what is good for you!

Why don't we let democracy work?? Stop the Lobbying. Stop the Corruption. Stop the Lies.
Stop fomenting Wars. Let one man have one vote, and most of all lets stop dicking with the voting machines and purging people from the rolls.
Just...just stop all this Bullshit for a while. Damn.

Posted by: No More Neo-Marxism on June 8, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

not watching the commercials was theft -- "stealing" the program you are watching without paying the "price" of watching the commercials.

Remember when that was the big selling point of Cable TV when it first became available?

Posted by: No More Neo-Marxism on June 8, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who has voted Democratic in every election since 1968, when I voted for Dick Gregory and Dr. Spock (and I did), I was very disappointed in this essay. For most Americans, (and, in particular, for most voting Americans)life is not a hassle. We ride in air-conditioned cars and listen to our favorite music on eight-speaker stereo systems. We come home to large, well-furnished, air-conditioned houses and enjoy dinners that would make Louis XIV weep. Asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries 365 days a year! Fresh beef, fresh fish, fresh chicken, fresh everything!

Domestically, the one issue that is hurting the Republicans is gasoline prices. The Democrats' solution -- get rid of big, fast cars and move to the city! -- is exactly what Americans don't want to hear. What people like Mr. Colvin call "sprawl" is Americans living where they want to live and the way they want to live. These living patterns will be changed, not by liberal preaching, but by persistent high energy costs. Let the market do the work.

In sum, the old New Deal dream that Mr. Colvin tries to revive, of a society managed by caring, sensitive people like Mr. Colvin, is deader than John Kenneth Galbraith. We live better today than Mr. Galbraith would have wanted us to live, and better than Mr. Colvin would let us. The continuing fascination of liberals with telling people what to do makes it hard for me to believe that we'll be winning the big elections any time soon.

Posted by: Alan Vanneman on June 8, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I think that reducing population by voluntarily reducing birthrates differs from reducing population by means of starvation, disease, war and ecological collapse.
Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, there's a certain LARGE segment of the population that would rather see population reduction via starvation, disease, war, and ecological collapse, then to voluntarily reduce birthrates. Probably out of some bizzare hope that the reduction via starvation, disease, war, and ecological collapse will happen to "them brown skinned africans" and not their own.

As a result - there is no way to get a voluntary reduction in birthrate. It's impossible. It's simply against human nature.

Try reading Ender's Game.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 8, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Alan V> The continuing fascination of liberals with telling people what to do makes it hard for me to believe that we'll be winning the big elections any time soon.

The way we manage the economy is social engineering. Pretending that it isn't, that it is somehow seperate from decisions about what "lifestyles" we choose is a lie. Those lifestyles are largely a function of the economic forces at work, which are indeed "telling people what to do". We just don't admit it.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats' solution -- get rid of big, fast cars and move to the city!
----------------------
I have never heard this...

The continuing fascination of liberals with telling people what to do makes it hard for me to believe that we'll be winning the big elections any time soon.
-------------------
Wha? WTF?
What a broad sweeping generalization.
Can you PROVE any one of these points?
Or are you trying to Imitate Rush Limbaugh?
This is exactly why I could care less about the Democrats or the Republicans. I am so sick of these stupid blame game tactics.
The 'Liberals' have gone from 10% when Bushes approval was 90% to a country, because you dont approve of Bush, to a 70% Liberal and a 30% Republican?

Surely you jest? Right?
Bush says he's the 'DECIDER' and he WILL tell YOU what to do.

Bush is the Unitary Executive, and has basically nullfied 750 laws/bills. How is that Democratic?

Seems as if Bush is telling YOU what to do again.
So Bush, telling you what to do makes him a Liberal?

Sorry Washington Monthly folks. I'm deleting this Bookmark. These people here don't want to Progress, they only want to make stupid statements and Parrot Anne Coulter, make silly statements and in general create bias.

No Wonder People are not watching the MSM.
IT SUCKS because the ALS, like above, Democratic and Republcan alike, are Fecking buffoons.

Posted by: Shutup AL on June 8, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

>As a result - there is no way to get a voluntary reduction in birthrate. It's impossible. It's simply against human nature.

Making us into commuters and consumers, and a requirement of 17 years of education to participate in the economy, seems to be working fairly well in the developed world. In the developing world, empowering and educating women is very effective and dropping the fertility rate to around replacement level.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist,

There is nothing wrong with voluntary reductions in birthrates, however, I get the impression that the word "voluntary" is not being used properly by the more extreme members of the environmental movement. Would you care to elaborate on what you mean by "voluntary reductions in birthrates".

Posted by: Yancey Ward on June 8, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Alan Vanneman: The continuing fascination of liberals with telling people what to do makes it hard for me to believe that we'll be winning the big elections any time soon.

The continuing regurgitation of the absurd notion that it is "liberals" who are "fascinated with telling people what to do" while the USA is in the complete and total thrall of ultra-rich right-wing corporate elites who spend many billions of dollars every year on advertising to brainwash Americans about "what to do" (i.e. satisfy every possible human need by buying stuff from them), and the ultra-far-right-wing extremist theocratic Republican Party that wants to invade every bedroom in America and tell everyone "what to do" and "who they can and cannot do it with" makes it hard for me to take you seriously.

What people like Mr. Colvin call "sprawl" is Americans living where they want to live and the way they want to live.

Sprawl is caused by politically connected real-estate developers and road builders, who enrich themselves by bribing bought-and-paid for politicians to subsidize them with taxpayer money, while they pocket the profits and foist off the costs of this sort of development on the public.

We ride in air-conditioned cars and listen to our favorite music on eight-speaker stereo systems. We come home to large, well-furnished, air-conditioned houses and enjoy dinners that would make Louis XIV weep. Asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries 365 days a year! Fresh beef, fresh fish, fresh chicken, fresh everything!

A fool's paradise, enjoyed by a fraction of the 4% of human beings who live in the USA, founded on the temporary availability of abundant and cheap fossil fuels, which is destroying the capacity of the Earth to support life, and which is not going to last much longer. (Not to mention that it is causing an epidemic of obesity and degenerative disease among those who "enjoy" it.)

Human beings of the future will regard that lifestyle with as much contempt and disgust as we now regard the lifestyles of the kings and queens of feudal Europe.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

The aim of any "new progressivism" must be to eliminate our American-centric and anthropocentric delusional arrogance and find a new balance between American lives and the lives of all other human beings, between humanity and the other sentient beings with whom we share this planet, and between humanity and the entire web of life on Earth.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I agree. The numbers of Americans needs to come down at least by a magnitude to save the planet and its biosphere. The other option is to tax Americans about 90% and send the money to the poor of the world as compensation for our extravagance.

Posted by: Scientific Realist on June 8, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

If a reduction of population is what is needed to save the planet, wouldn't it be far better and cheaper for the US to simply kill every non-American?

From the environmentalist's point of view, the biggest problem is the oncoming rapid economic development of billions and billions of Chinese and Indians. Think of all those people stuck in cars and SUVs, with the AC on to boot, in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams beltching billion and billions of tons of greenhouse gases into our already overheating atmosphere and consuming the energy needed to sustain our comfortable livestyle every single day of their currently worthless lives.

Since the poorest people in the US live far better than 99% of the rest of humanity, we would be doing the planet a big favor by getting the rid of that 99% before they really start to pollute and become part of the problem instead of the solution. Moreover, because the US population includes people of almost every race, nationality and culture, the planet's diversity will be maintained.

Militarily, there is no power that could withstand us if we determined to proceed. Even if we have to use nukes to kill everyone, we could easily wait 100 or 200 years for the radiation to return to normal and the bodies to be fully decomposed before we would need to occupy other parts of the planet.

All of this can be done far cheaper than requiring a return to 90% tax rates. And unlike your new progressivism which requires the elimination of the "American-centric and anthropocentric delusional arrogance" in the American electorate, this new progressivism may actually get a vote or two. LOL

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 8, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Translation: We comissioned an article. To our horror, we found out it wasn't worth the paper it was to be printed on. We are, however, more than willing to waste valuable electrons on it. Please, please click, so it's not a total waste of a contract.

Translation: I really have nothing of any worth to say about the article or to add to this debate at all, so I'll just make some stuff up that solidifies my reputation as a petty, mindless cocksucker.

Posted by: Doug on June 8, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

>If a reduction of population is what is needed to save the planet, wouldn't it be far better and cheaper for the US to simply kill every non-American?

But then who would pump the oil and make it into one-piece plastic deck chairs for walmart?

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward: Would you care to elaborate on what you mean by "voluntary reductions in birthrates".

To begin with, reverse the insane policies of the Bush administration which seek to block access to contraception in the developing world -- going so far as to make alliances with fundamentalist Islamic regimes that are openly hostile to US interests to do so -- which the Bush administration does to appease its fundamentalist right-wing base in the USA. These policies are among the most callous and heinous actions of the Bush administration.

Replace them with policies designed to make family planning services and contraceptives readily and freely available to any woman anywhere in the world who wants them.

There is a HUGE unmet demand throughout the world from women who want to take control of child-bearing but are unable to do so because family planning and contraceptives are not available to them.

Cultural obstacles are also important. As Bruce says, "In the developing world, empowering and educating women is very effective [at] dropping the fertility rate to around replacement level."

Offer financial incentives to men everywhere to get vasectomies, which is the safest, least expensive, most effective and reliable form of birth control in existence.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK
If a reduction of population is what is needed to save the planet, wouldn't it be far better and cheaper for the US to simply kill every non-American?

Actually, Americans consume far more resources than non-Americans, so each American killed off greatly reduces the total amount of killing. Plus, Americans are closer to the US, and therefore less expensive for the US to kill.

(Note: unlike some here, I don't believe radical population reduction is necessary; I'm just saying, that if you did, and you were going to take the utterly repugnant course of murdering people to do that...)

Posted by: cmdicely on June 8, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

. . .A couple of years ago I read an interview with the CEO of one of the big cable TV networks, in which he was complaining about viewers . . .
Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think you're talking about Jack Valenti, a former LBJ staffer, Vietnam miscreant, former head of the MPAA (ie. Illegal Monopolistic Media Cartel), and co-author of the DMCA.

Making us into commuters and consumers, and a requirement of 17 years of education to participate in the economy, seems to be working fairly well in the developed world.

EBy doing this, say you reduce a family of ten to a family of four. Does that family of four have a smaller "footprint" in terms of resource consumption than the family of ten without the "rat race" lifestyle?

In the developing world, empowering and educating women is very effective and dropping the fertility rate to around replacement level.
Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, but too many folks are fighting against this kind of thing - hence the "wars, famine, pestilence" etc.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 8, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: I don't believe radical population reduction is necessary

I believe radical population reduction is inevitable. The only question is whether it will occur humanely, by choosing to reduce birth rates, or inhumanely, by starvation, disease, war and ecological catastrophe.

With regard to Chicounsel's evidently tongue-in-cheek suggestion, I think it has not escaped the attention of certain sectors of society in the USA that scientific forecasts of the likely impacts of global warming and climate change suggest that the effects will be the most devastating to people in the developing world.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

>By doing this, say you reduce a family of ten to a family of four. Does that family of four have a smaller "footprint" in terms of resource consumption than the family of ten without the "rat race" lifestyle?

Well, it's more like a family of 3.5-3.7 actually. But anyways, yes. Because the average growth rate of those established residents of the developed world is below replacement, even in the USA. A family of "ten" is quadrupling or more the population size with each generation, representing a > 10 % growth rate.

In any event. Not really any of our business. The problem at hand, if you're concerned about global resource consumption and its side effects, is consumption here. We set the trend, we have defined what "the good life" is supposed to be. And until we change course, "they" will rightly view any bleeting from us about GG emmissions as hypocricy. This was the *point* of Kyoto, for example, not its flaw. We *have* to change first, then we'll be in a position to demand change by India and China.

We've long since passed the point of diminishing returns from increased consumption rates, and we're well into the negative. So there are no disbenefits to modifying how we engineer our economy towards more leasure time and encouraging, rather than discouraging, community.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

(Note: unlike some here, I don't believe radical population reduction is necessary; I'm just saying, that if you did, and you were going to take the utterly repugnant course of murdering people to do that...)
Posted by: cmdicely on June 8, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I, for one, don't believe radical population reduction is "necessary" - I just believe that it's inevitable. And that it can't happen "voluntarily" (ie. couples choosing to limit their families to two children, without economic or violent coersion - simply because it's the "right thing to do").

From the environmentalist's point of view, the biggest problem is the oncoming rapid economic development of billions and billions of Chinese and Indians.

A recent study was done, and for the Chinese (alone, not including India) to develop to the lifestyle point where the US is at, would take a daily consumption of 99 Million Barrels of Oil a Day.

Current world production is 89 Million bbl/day (and not going any higher, most likely falling).

Personally, I think this is probably why India and Pakistan were tacitly "allowed" to develop nuclear weapons, and why China has been treated so much more nicely too (ie. the spy plane, missile tech in the 1990's, etc). They're far more likely to nuke eachother (fighting over access to local oil resources), and touch off a regional nuclear exchange, probably including China, than anyone else.

Though, instead of the US trying to get it's fingers into that pie (through the caspian sea pipeline in afghanistan) - we would have been better off stepping aside from this oil nonsense, and developing energy independent technologies. But I guess some jerks cant resist their fucking percentage.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 8, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Alan Vanneman wrote: We ... listen to our favorite music on eight-speaker stereo systems.

Bruce the Canuck wrote: So there are no disbenefits to ... encouraging, rather than discouraging, community.

This is a small thing in the big scheme of big things, but it is a thing that really does encourage community: instead of listening to factory-produced canned music on "eight-speaker stereo systems", go out and support your local musicians. Go to local bars, clubs, coffee houses, churches, Moose lodges, festivals or wherever, and listen to real people -- your friends and neighbors -- singing and playing real live music on real musical instruments.

And remember to tip your waitress.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 8, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

We set the trend, we have defined what "the good life" is supposed to be. And until we change course,

Well - upper-class white Americans have defined the "good life" - and then we invited in millions of illegals, who are NOT having 2 children per family. And that "good life" depends on cheap labor from third-world countries. What do you suppose is going to happen to that "good life" when all the sweatshop workers starve and die, or kill eachother, or start infiltrating our borders to get away from that mess - you think they're going to stop breeding like rabbits in the US? Do you think they're not going to vote?

Europe has a WORSE problem, because they're inviting in people that not only bring in a high birthrate, but an extremist ideology that will legislate that lifestyle out of existence, as soon as they gain a meaninful voting segment of the population.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 8, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Osama>What do you suppose is going to happen ...when all the sweatshop workers...start infiltrating our borders to get away from that mess - you think they're going to stop breeding like rabbits in the US...Europe has a WORSE problem, because they're inviting in people that not only bring in a high birthrate...

False premise, so false conclusions. The birthrate drops to the "native" level within a single generation. Even in most of Europe. In the Netherlands, for example, it drops to the 1.7 range by the first EU-born generation, even if the immigrants in question are not assimilated in other respects. The way to fight ideology is not with bigotry - but the left does have to stop being squeemish about judging people's cultural values.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

but the left does have to stop being squeemish about judging people's cultural values.
Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on June 8, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think that the left really IS squeemish about that.

Look at how they judge people's cultural values here in the US? I mean, this whole thread has been about how bad American cultural values of "The Suburban Life" and the Consumer Culture are.

Few liberals will pull punches when it comes to muslim treatment of women. Burhkas. Female Genital Mutilation. etc.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 8, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.danablankenhorn.com/2006/06/the_open_source.html

The Open Source Political Myth

At the heart of any political movement is a myth, a story that tells where we've been and where we want to go.

It was the creation of a coherent myth in the early 1960s that caused the rise of today's political assumptions. The Goldwater assumptions about the past,present and future were baked into the system by Richard Nixon, brought to fruition by Ronald Reagan, and are now so widely believed under George W. Bush that few in Washington even question them anymore.

This is true for everyone in Washington. It's just as true for Democrats as Republicans, just as true for journalists as pundits. This is what so frustrates those in the Netroots. We've been growing a different myth without realizing it.

This is the Open Source Myth.

The Open Source Myth is based on the Internet. Knowledge should be freely available. You should be free to read any page, link to any page, and use any service that can travel on TCP/IP transport

(snip)

Posted by: Dana Blankenhorn on June 8, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: hdf on June 10, 2006 at 4:46 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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