Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Political Philosophy

Political Philosophy

                                                                                                                                                            Sydney M. Williams
                                                                                                                                                            October 20, 2009

“Loyalty to a petrified opinion never
yet broke a chain or freed a soul.”
                                                                                                                          Mark Twain (1835-1910)

I have often been accused of being an insensitive cretin by liberal friends, so I thought I would lay out some of my beliefs.

As to being liberal, it is my sense that most “liberals” are not liberal. They substitute the concept of a “nanny state” for individual freedom. While I believe that the state needs to be there, as a back stop – to help those who are unable to help themselves, for what ever reason, I feel that people should take responsibility for their own actions. People and companies must be free to succeed and fail. The more care a state provides the less free one is. A totalitarian state provides all services.

The world is constantly changing and many liberal ideas are stuck in the past. Liberals were in the forefront of ideas decades ago when unions were in their infancy and African Americans and women were discriminated against. (Vestiges of discrimination remain and they should be snuffed out when found.) Liberals accomplished great things and the country is far better off for their involvement, but they have clung to their past glories and have not kept pace as the world changed and especially as we have become increasingly globalized. Unions are a perfect example of an organization mired in the past. They, not solely but largely, prevented our auto companies from becoming competitive. Unions risk doing the same to our schools. Universities, hot-beds of “liberalism”, are adamant in denying free speech to those who disagree with them, witness the recent firestorm at Yale over the anti-Muslims, or the firing of Larry Summers a few years ago at Harvard. Intolerance does not belong in universities, yet it has become part of the fabric.

There are many conservatives who are equally intolerant and I am equally dismissive of them. The freedom to express oneself is a basic tenet of a free state.

I believe in fairness, truth and the concept that certain moral issues are absolute. The liberal concept of relativism has been an excuse to debunk morality, as has been the ubiquitous idea of being “politically correct”. I have no tolerance for racial or religious bigots, believing that religion has been the principal cause for war. At the same time, I feel people should be able to worship as they feel fit – that there is no right creed or church and that the state should neither encourage nor discourage religious activity. But, as I wrote earlier, I do believe in certain moral absolutes – killing is wrong, as is taking that which does not belong to you. Rape and incest are wrong and so is lying or cheating. Compassion, empathy and truth are good and so is openness to the opinion of those with whom one might disagree.

Decisions about same-sex marriage or abortion, in my opinion, should not be legislated, either for or against. Whether I agree or disagree on moral grounds is of no importance. As long as the actions of people do not impinge on my rights or endanger me why should I care how they live their personal lives?

I believe in open immigration. It has been immigrants who have made our country what it is today. The idea that we do not grant citizenship to every foreign graduate of our universities is beyond credulity. I believe in free trade and recognize that some jobs become at risk, but if we are to become competitive in a global world we must change our old ways.

I believe in the future and that economic growth is positive and necessary for a bountiful future, and that it is best achieved in eschewing government as much as possible. Rules and regulations have their place and should be enforced rigorously. When rules are clear and consistent it is a boon to business; I also believe that no business should operate in the shadows.

I believe, as Winston Churchill once said, that while democracy may not be perfect it is the best form of government yet devised. It is worth defending and promoting and that people everywhere are better off for living under democratic conditions. I also believe that the spread of democracy is in our self interest and that propping up dictatorships is ultimately harmful to our national security.

I recognize that disruption is disruptive; that is in those instances where the state must be sensitive and must be there to provide assistance, but it should not defend uneconomic practices. We must always be looking ahead and moving forward. I am a big fan of history and there is much that it can teach us, but we must live in the present with an eye to the future.

If I had to characterize myself, I would argue that I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, but I am not a fan of labels – not even cretin.

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