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In response to:

Cruz Control? Part II

McBurg Larry Wrote: Feb 20, 2014 12:23 PM
The fundamental problem the Republican Part faces is not the infighting. The fundamental problem is the lack of consensus on objectives. Washington establishment Republicans are fine and dandy with big government solutions. This stance makes the more the friend of progressive Democrats than of small-government types. Outside-of-the-beltway Republicans, by and large, lean heavily in the opposite direction. The Party is being torn apart by the stress, and well meaning efforts by Dr. Sowell and others will not yield much unless they address the real problem.
Obviously both are needed at some level, and neither is perfect either separately or together in defending life or property against aggression. The real question for philosophers is how much protection should government offer before it becomes counterproductive? This question takes on specific content in the question of whether a country needs a standing army and a professional officer corps. In the U.S. it takes on the further refinement of whether state militias are sufficient to provide protection, whether a professionally trained officer corps is needed to ensure sufficient wartime protection, whether "elite forces" are needed, etc.
Obviously the ambiguity is in the use of the term "person" for which there is no juridical definition. The most that can be relied upon is the Constitution's definition of citizen, which is related but not identical to "person." If "person" is reduced to "citizen" then the 14th Amendment offers no protection to the unborn.
Libertines call for the protection of the "right to an abortion" by federal law, and are pleased to encroach upon freedom of speech and of assembly in order to safeguard it. Libertarians want the federal government to get out of the business of regulating reproduction and anti-reproduction, and have no problem with peaceful demonstrations against the killing of the unborn. Obviously there is a further distinction to be made between those who oppose any level of government intrusion and those who are focused primarily (if not exclusively) on the damage caused by federal regulation. The former might be described as anarchists, at some level. Clearly, there is a balance to be discerned between government control and personal freedoms. In a federal system that permits states to set their own laws and levy their own taxes, it becomes possible (as a last resort) to "vote with your feet." And states (in a democratic experiment) can succeed or fail based on the wisdom or the folly of the laws their people support. Ultimately, there is very little a federal government needs to do to referee between them. Protecting interstate commerce (as opposed to using that clause as a club to impose government control of all commerce) was intended to be a limited federal referee role.
As long as libertines are willing to forego government protection for their desires, there can be a modus vivendi between the two types. Philosophical libertarians recognize that the FDA's sweeping powers are an abomination, while libertines would prefer that the federal government legalize Marijuana use in all 50 states. Libertarians would prefer that the federal government have no laws regarding marriage, while libertines demand that the federal government intrude into everybody's concept of marriage in order to protect the views, etc. of people who have felt left out. Libertines find themselves diametrically opposed to traditional marriage laws at any level of government and want to change the laws, while libertarians are focused on the damage government causes to the social order and simply want less of it for that reason.
These issues can't be resolved until people recognize that there are two types of libertarian: (1) philosophical libertarians and (2) moral libertines. The former are fundamentally about getting government off the backs of the people and their enterprises, while the latter are fundamentally about government protecting and supporting their bad habits. The first type will always identify with small-government conservatives against progressives and against neo-cons. The second type will always identify with progressives against pretty much everybody else.
In response to:

The Pope and Capitalism

McBurg Larry Wrote: Dec 18, 2013 7:36 AM
It seems to me that (1) the Pope has publicly declared his opposition to socialism, (2) he has acknowledged that he is not an expert in economics, (3) capitalism needs "fetters" such as prevention of monopolies, fraud, poisoning the environment, etc., (4) "trickle down" happens globally in an expanding world economy, but the expansion of a national economy (such as our own) does not always "trickle down" to the bottom (instead, the "trickle down" frequently results in outsourcing), (5) last, but not least, the Pope's main point is that thoughtful and moral leaders in any social/economic order have a moral obligation to consider the needs of people who have been excluded from participation in the market as producers. Clearly, our crony-capitalist system is in major need of reform. Clearly, there are intrusive regulations that effectively prevent the creation of entry-level positions and excessively burden investment generally. Clearly we all have some responsibility for permitting this nonsense to continue festering.
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