Is there such a thing as “Big Government Done Right” or is that an oxymoron?

Big BrotherOne of the things I’ve noticed tracking my few conservative and my many Progressive friends over at my “real me” Facebook is the difference in their approach to government.  My conservative friends are consistent:  They want to confine the federal government to its traditional constitutional boundaries:  national security, including managing a standing army; preserving interstate commerce, including maintaining America’s roads and airways; economic dealings with foreign powers; etc.  They’re not opposed to a welfare safety net, but believe it should be limited in scope and duration, and that the best safety net is a strong, free-market economy.  They heartily approve of immigration, but want it to be legal immigration, not an illegal free-for-all.  They support law and order, but not a militarized police force.

These conservatives are appalled by Obama’s lawlessness, as seen in his executive orders seeking to undercut the Second Amendment and his almost-daily ukases changing Obamacare so as to minimize the PR fallout from that misbegotten law.  Looking overseas, they support our traditional allies, including beleaguered little Israel, and find shocking Obama’s free-fall into the arms of bad actors such as Iran, Vladimir Putin, the Muslim Brotherhood, Bashir al Assad, the Taliban, etc.  When it comes to “women’s issues,” conservatives believe that the U.S. should stay out of women’s uteruses, in that it should stop telling Americans, nuns included, to pay for other women’s birth control and abortions.

They also believe that “global warming” has always been an anti-capitalist hoax meant to slow down Western development and redirect funds to Third World nations that get the Left’s stamp of approval.  They accept that climate changes; they just don’t think it’s America’s fault.  We are responsible for pollution, and we have a duty to be a good steward for the natural world around us, but our puny efforts are not changing the world.  (In that regard, I’ll note that the heat and drought in the south and the snow and cold in the north are nothing new.  The papers breathlessly report that they’re the worst in 100 or 1000 years, as if that proves anthropogenic climate change.  To me, the comparisons to the same events in the pass simply prove that Mother Nature is fickle and always has been.)

Conservatives support gun rights, not because they’re crazed killers, but because both logic and real world data regularly shows that a free, armed population is the best defense against crime and government overreach.  They believe that there’s a reason for the Second Amendment’s explicit language holding that the federal government cannot touch people’s guns.

My Progressive friends present a mirror image, albeit one that fails to be consistent.  As far as they’re concerned, the bigger government is, the better.  Obamacare is horrible, not because it sees the government take over 1/6 of the economy by trying to control the healthcare market, but because healthcare isn’t fully socialized.  They hate Obama’s border policies, not because he’s stopped enforcing immigration laws, but because he hasn’t successfully done away with immigration laws.  They think our best national security plan is to intervene only in those countries where America gets no benefit from that intervention; anything else is imperialism.

My Progressive friends fear a free market, because it allows corporations to get bigger, and they all know that the greatest threat to each American’s wealth, health, and happiness is corporations.  They think Israel is evil because she refuses to turn her country over to a group of people who make no secret about the fact that their goal is to massacre every Israeli.  They support Obama’s foreign policy in other respects simply because it’s oriented away from traditional Western imperialism.  It’s irrelevant that these nations engage in their own forms of imperialism, and that they routinely trample on the rights Progressives hold most dear:  womyn’s rights, LGBT rights, and, where there are blacks (as in the Sudan) people of color’s rights.  To them, global warming is a revealed truth that cannot be questioned and that appropriately seeks to stop the West’s development because, they believe, it harms the Third World.  They are unmoved by data showing that ethanol development, by diverting food crops to fuel, is starving the Third World.

And of course, when it comes to guns, Progressives know they’re evil.  Data to the contrary is irrelevant.  Guns exist only to kill, and their role in preventing or diminishing violent crime, or in protecting people against their own government, is irrelevant.  Facts must bow down before ideologically driven fear.

The one tie that binds both conservatives and Progressives on my “real me” Facebook is that they’re both horrified by the scope of the NSA’s spying on American people.  Each recognizes that this is a staggering infringement on American freedom.  To all of them, the knowledge that Big Brother has been watching them is almost too terrible to contemplate.

Summed up, Progressives believe that there is such a thing as “Big Government Done Right,” while conservatives believe that this is an oxymoron. I side with the conservative view.  The very nature of Big Government is abhorrent to individual liberty and free markets.

The fact that history repeatedly shows that freedom drives economic progress and individual liberty, however, never shakes a Leftist’s faith in the theory that there is such a thing as “Big Government Done Right.”  My Dad was raised a Communist and eventually ended up as a Reagan Democrat.  To his dying day, though, he believed that Communism was the answer.  The problem was that it had never been done right, no matter where it was applied.  In his heart, the theory lived on.  Americans, with their vague feints to Leftism under Carter weren’t doing it right, so Reagan (who was pro-Israel) was a better bet to deal with the misbegotten American system.  The Soviet Union wasn’t doing it right, because it relied too much on oppression.  Brilliant man though he was, he couldn’t be brought to understand that it’s the nature of the state to oppress.  It’s a “bear hug” that, whether aggressive or loving, still smothers you.

Anyway, that’s what I think.  Would any of you care to make a counter argument, to the extent that Big Government Done Right isn’t invariably an oxymoron?

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Comments

  1. jj says

    Big Government does the military more or less okay, but here’s the shining example of something government does right, even as we speak!  The Russian research ship went down to Antarctica to document global warming and got it’s ass stuck in the non-existent ice.  The Chinese saw an opportunity to get a laugh out of the Russians and sent a rescue ice-breaker, which promptly got its own ass similarly stuck.  There they sit, bookends of the witless, unmoving.  The Australians sent a rescue ice-breaker which took a look at the ice, said “dinky-die” or something that translates to: “you must be kidding,” and prudently stayed away.   So Daddy is going to come and rescue the idiot kids from their own folly.   Polar Sea left Seattle, sailed past the house day before yesterday (we waved.  They didn’t wave back – they never do), and will be there to get them out of the non-existent ice in about a week.  The best example – maybe the only example – in the last 365 days of big government doing something right.

  2. Robert Arvanitis says

    JJ has illustrated the heart of the issue.

    There will always be a very few things that require central effort, solutions to the “collective action” problem.  (Think hockey helmets.  No individual will go first and be disadvantaged, but everyone benefits when helmets are set for all, all at once.)

    On the other hand, whenever individual action is possible, government is always worse because of the information problem. No bureaucrat can ever know as much as the entire market, so will always make inferior decisions.  (Think Soviet Union; too many size 18 boots, never enough size 8 shoes.)

    Thus the question of “good” government is to identify exactly where government is unavoidable.

    PS: Don’t let politicos and hacks hear about collective action, because that will become their hammer, turning everything else into nails.

  3. jj says

    Correction to the above, it’s #10, Polar Star that’s on her way to Antarctica.  They’re identical sisters, the Sea and the Star, and I could have sworn I saw pennant #11 on the bow, (which would have been Sea), but I’m wrong: it’s the Star that’s headed south.  So the name changes, but the story remains the same.

  4. says

    The Left is their own death cult. As proof, witness how they treat guns, as a totem force of evil. In another religion, they might be called demon swords or demon relics. Just looking at them, touching them, will corrupt you. Thus we must get rid of the Demon Relics the way previous civilizations got rid of witches, warlocks, and various other demonically possessed and influenced users of tainted magick.
    How in the world do you think you’re going to convince a cultist that his cult is false, Book? Are you going to give them a working cult, like a working Big Government, as a way to displace their beliefs?
     
    The primary problem with cultists and slaves is that they are sheep. They are livestocked born, bred, and trained to do one thing. If they lose their goal in life of being sacrificed for Moloch’s divinity, then they’ll just find some other god to serve or even make one up as they go along (Deus Ex Machina=Obama Messiah).
     
    In order to de-brainwash cultists, you have to make them hit bottom, psychological shock them, and whip them into reality. They’re not going to want to change themselves when an Authority promises them to change the world in return for their sacrifice. Destroy the credibility of the authority in their eyes, and it will weaken and hurt them. Then before they find some other Authority to serve, crush them until they have no choice but to either give up on changing the world or give up on the bliss of living in ignorant slavery.
    A gun is merely a tool. A result of civilization. Those like in California that want to solve Oakland’s social, political, economic problems by banning guns, is like that witch doctor that says a raped girl will be fixed if we just throw her in the water and prove she isn’t a witch or possessed by the devil. If she drowns, she is innocent. If she doesn’t, she is a witch and will be burned. Much of the Left are also Gaians. They don’t like human civilization. In fact they are going to wipe out humanity, period.
     
    The Left are composed of a bunch of followers, experts in nothing of particular worth to humanity, yet numerous enough they think they have the influence to prop up an authority to tell them what to do. They, like Noonan, have always wanted that God like AUthority to tell them what to do. Communism killed divine virtue and civic virtue, so they are looking for the next best thing. You ever notice that in a group of Democrats, when there’s something that needs doing, nobody volunteers? You ever wonder about that? You ever wonder why they always LOOK at the person in charge? Leftists know that by themselves, they are powerless and their judgment is crap. They don’t trust themselves, so why should they trust children and adults in America with the power to defend civilization? They don’t even trust themselves with the power to tie their own shoes.

  5. says

    As for the issue of Big Government, Book, have you ever heard the phrase that a team is only as strongest as their weakest link?
     
    The Left thinks that if they weaken the entire team and redistribute all knowledge and expertise to 1 person, the team will be well organized centrally… Think about how that actually works in the real world using humans at a micro level. Then expand it to the macro level. The commander can only pretend his team is doing good by relying on the talent in his team. But once the left expends that talent and makes everyone into lazy animals that do nothing but get slaughtered for their meat, then your team will be really weak. Obviously weak. And someone else will come along and take that team over or replace it or annihilate it.

  6. Matt_SE says

    As an oversimplification, I’ve always thought of Big Government like the Ring of Power in LoTR. It cannot be used for good, and if you try it will corrupt you.

  7. MacG says

    I think that the problem for the left is that they believe in the ‘goodness’ of people. With all things equal there naturally would be harmony adn all will be right with the world. That paradigm is about as accurate as climeate models for data the BGDR crowd or the ‘Can’t we all just get along crowd’,  fails to enter into their equation is Pride, Lust (for power, money and the neighbor’s things), Vengence (falls under pride I suppose).  
     
    The reason it won’t work we can see is that even in their perfect world they and only they can do it right . So the whole paradigm is based on their Pride as the highest intelligence and hence the right to say what goes.  Dern scary and destined for failure when everyone else is dumber than you because many in that position will elevate themselves to the status of a god.  Now there’s an oxymoron: A person declaring there is now God but inwardly declaring himself one – well for the good of humanity and all.
     

    • MacG says

      “A person declaring there is now God but inwardly declaring himself one – well for the good of humanity and all.”
       
      should read:
      “A person declaring there is NO God but inwardly declaring himself one – well for the good of humanity and all.”

  8. says

    Matt and Mac have both got it right…..the answer to the first question AND the last is “No” – “Big Government Done Right” *IS* an oxymoron. 
     
    And always will be.

  9. says

    I don’t have a lot to say about the core question of this post, Bookworm, which is whether a big/oversized government can ever do things right. I think you (and others) make a very good case for it not being so. I’d like to this that a large government tends to lead to bureaucracy, overregulation and stifling, hugely complex regulation, in general, to inefficiency and wastfulness. 
    I have some remarks, though, that I would like to make.
    “We are responsible for pollution, and we have a duty to be a good steward for the natural world around us, but our puny efforts are not changing the world.”
    I do take some objection to you using the term puny, Bookworm. In the case of the influence of mankind on the global climate and weather systyems, I think you are probably right. However, I would argue that mankind can change a lot, and let’s be honest, damage a lot. To some extent it probably depands on what one means by ‘changing the world’. If by ‘changing the world’ one merely means that humankind  alters its environment to suit its needs, that is I think not debatable and quite true. If one means that humankind can alter the environment to the point of its own existence and the existence of life on earth becoming impossible – I think it’s probably not possible (although, perhaps, given an extremely disastrous nuclear warfare scenario, it might).
    I don’t think that ‘puny’ is the right word for what mankind can do. Mankind has, and no, I do not call this into question, a lot of potential for doing harm. Take the hypothetical, but very plausible (though relatively small-scale) example of one fairly large factory (or more than one factory, perhaps) dumping its waste water, containing whatever harmful chemicals, into a relatively small stream. I think it’s not that hard to imagine the stream being seriously negatively affected. Given a large number of streams of all sizes and the presence of many sources of pollution, I think it is fair to say that mankind can do a lot of bad in terms of water (and air) pollution. Another example, one taken from the real world, is the Passenger pigeon. Once the most numerous bird on the North American continent (and possibly in the world), numbering probably over a billion at one time, it is now extinct due to unsustainable human management. I will try to somewhat counter this negativity by saying that I also believe humankind has potential for doing good also, when it comes to environmental matters. Examples include technological and scientific innovation and development to counter and decrease pollution, and also the fact that numerous species, including the American bison, have been brought back from the brink.
     ”Guns exist only to kill, and their role in preventing or diminishing violent crime, or in protecting people against their own government, is irrelevant”. 
    Guns are made with an inherent ability to kill either humans or animals, that is a fact. However, a gun is a tool, a potentially lethal one, but still a tool nonetheless. It is not the tool itself that poses the problem, but the person who uses it and his intentions. Guns will be used for bad things if they fall in the hands of people with bad intentions, true. But in the hands of people who have honorable intentions, I do not believe they will be abused, or at least not nearly as often. I do not believe that convicted offenders, especially those who have been convicted for violent crimes, should legally be able to have guns, and neither should the severely mentally ill. However, guns have an important positive role to play and normal, decent citizens should be allowed to have them. 
    My Progressive friends fear a free market, because it allows corporations to get bigger, and they all know that the greatest threat to each American’s wealth, health, and happiness is corporations. 
    I’m not sure whether we should call ‘big business’ and large corporations necessarily conservative. Free market, probably, but conservative by default? I don’t think so. I do stand by free markets, and I don’t think they are all bad, but I don’t think we should have too halcyon a view of big businesses, corporations and industries either. I think that criticism on these is at least in some cases and to some extent valid.

    I will conclude with a question. In your post, you use both ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’. In translations from English to other languages, they might be translated the same in some cases (as for example in my own native language). However, are these terms interchangeable and do they essentialy mean the same, or do they denominate distinctly different, but interrelated concepts?

  10. Danny Lemieux says

    “Summed up, Progressives believe that there is such a thing as “Big Government Done Right,”” 
     
    I’ve sometimes wondered if Liberal/Progs don’t secretly yearn for a King or Queen (benign, of course) that will tuck them in at night, change their diapers, pay their bills and make bad dreams go away.
     

  11. Katja says

    Observing my husband argue with liberals on Facebook and such (he enjoys it for the most part), I’m really struck as to how many of them believe that they aren’t advocating for big government/nanny state policies.  Once you have something in place, say, welfare or school lunches, it becomes the absolute “least we can do” in their minds, and to repeal or reform such policy, in their minds, is akin to throwing poor people out in the street.  When it may be pointed out that said repeal or reform is being done to cut down on the number of cheaters to a program, if there is any acknowledgement that there are cheaters at all, they start sounding like Abraham bargaining with God concerning Sodom and Gomorrah (for the sake of 20 righteous, would You destroy the entire city?)

  12. Charles Martel says

    Kevin_B, I’ve read that the number of passenger pigeons was 5 billion before hunters began decimating them, buffalo hunter-style.
     
    I agree with jj that BigGov does military fairly well. That’s because in a war you’re dealing with a total command economy where you can pour as many resources as you need into a struggle. Eventually you kill enough opponents to your “military program” to ease up on your consumption of resources. Would that BigGov’s non-military programs do the same, but somehow those wars are never won.

    • Danny Lemieux says

      Although I agree in large part that our government does “military” right, I am not so sure that this assumption is warranted, if only in that the alternative (subcontracting military operations to privately managed entities) really hasn’t been tried…yet. The French Foreign Legion is a good example of a military force, staffed by mercenaries, run as a unit semi-independent of government control that vastly outperforms the regulars.  Like I said, I don’t think that the alternative has been tried.

  13. says

    @Kevin B, Charles Martel: In popular literature (as well as anti-hunting screeds) we learn that the demise of the Passenger Pigeon was due to their being shot and eaten.  And, in fact, there was enormous hunting pressure on their populations, due mainly to the commercial hunters, who shipped many thousands of barrels of pigeons to the large cities of the U.S. and even overseas.
     
    However, back in the ’70s at graduate school, the Wildlife profs introduced us to the ecological and other evidence that indicates that the bottom-line reason for the extinction of these lovely birds had to do first with the destruction of their habitat – the eastern deciduous forest.  Passenger Pigeons ate the acorns and nuts produced by the forest trees, and gathered and nested in the canopies of these same trees.  When fields and pastures replaced the forest, their habitat and food source was gone.  Add to this the (apparent) fact that behaviorally, they demanded large groups to provide the social milieu in which they courted, mated and reproduced, and you have the perfect storm that produced extinction.
     
    No market hunter would have continued to shoot these pigeons for sale when the population dropped below the economic level needed to produce enough income to keep them in the field.  And contemporary records bear this out – after commercial hunting ended, the populations continued to slowly decline until every wild pigeon had disappeared….  In fact, even the Wikipedia article refers to the ecological explanation, although it does not give it the emphasis merited by the science (and what’s new?):
     
    “Some reduction in numbers occurred from habitat loss when European settlement led to mass deforestation.” 
     
    They also hint at the behavioral aspects of the extinction, although without ever actually connecting the two:
     
    “The Passenger Pigeon was one of the most social land birds.[32] It lived in colonies stretching over hundreds of square miles and practiced communal breeding with up to a hundred nests in a single tree.”
     
    The section on Reproduction is especially interesting, although they don’t share the anecdote that still amazes me – people living near the nesting areas would drive their pigs into the forest during the time of hatching, so that they could fatten up eating the squabs that fell from nests to the ground.
     
    Blaming hunters for the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction is ideological, rather than realistic….and again, what else is new?  But the truth of these things is almost always more interesting than what our “betters” are trying to get us to believe.

    • MacG says

      “No market hunter would have continued to shoot these pigeons for sale when the population dropped below the economic level needed to produce enough income to keep them in the field.”
       
      I am not so sure about that when I look at the fishing fleets. The high percentage of by catch that gets brought up and dumped back not all alive is hard on all species caught in the nets.  It seems to me with out the Government clamping down on the salmon fishing they would still be in decline rather than coming back.  
       
      Where might I be wrong?

  14. says

    Why ‘big’ government cannot be ‘done right’:
    1. Humans are flawed.
    2. Government consists of humans.
    3. Government is therefore inherently flawed.
    4. To limit governmental flaws (and their impact on people), government must be limited.
    QED

    • Danny Lemieux says

      The problem today, bkivey, is that Progs believe that human beings are essentially good but corrupted by institutions (i.e., Rousseau) and can therefore be perfected by the already perfected (i.e., Progs). Believe me, they really, really believe this.

    • says

      That’s why they say Obama is a messiah. They were waiting for a messiah and he told them “we are the ones we have been waiting for”.
       
      Since divinity is superior to humanity, they are able to Rule.

  15. says

    Correct, bkivey.
     
    The only thing I would add is that private solutions beat governmental ones because the government holds a monopoly on coercion, and private individuals/companies have to compete with others, so we can more easily demand and enforce accountability on the private entities.

  16. says

    I’ve read that the number of passenger pigeons was 5 billion before hunters began decimating them, buffalo hunter-style.
    I didn’t know the exact number, and I didn’t look it up, but I remember it being over a billion. No idea it was that high. 
     
    In popular literature (as well as anti-hunting screeds) we learn that the demise of the Passenger Pigeon was due to their being shot and eaten.  And, in fact, there was enormous hunting pressure on their populations, due mainly to the commercial hunters, who shipped many thousands of barrels of pigeons to the large cities of the U.S. and even overseas.
    I read some popular and vulgarizing scientific literature, and I’ve probably come across that idea about the demise of the Passenger Pigeon. I want to make it clear, however, that I did not intend to put out an anti-hunting screed. I did read about huge numbers of passenger pigeons, entire train loads even, being killed in very short periods of time. That to me does sound rather shocking and perhaps irresponsible. I guess, though, that I failed to look up the whole story behind the extinction of the passenger pigeon and therefore could not include it in my post. My bad. 
     
    I did know about the communal breeding, and I actually thought about the aspect of the passenger pigeon’s lifestyle that included gigantic gregarious flocks and communal breeding probably made this species, despite its numbers, enormously ecologically vulnerable. I didn’t know about the deforestation,  or at least, I didn’t connect it to the passenger pigeon story. Everything combined it is a very interesting tale, I guess I’ll have to thank you for sharing it. And, again, apologize for missing the mark.
     
    Blaming hunters for the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction is ideological, rather than realistic….and again, what else is new?  But the truth of these things is almost always more interesting than what our “betters” are trying to get us to believe.
    I wanted to point out an example of what irresponsible hunting practices can do, although I probably didn’t pick a good example, or at least in this case it wasn’t the full story.
     
    I did not have an ideological motivation of an anti-hunting screed going on that made me use that example. I want to make it clear that I do not oppose hunting altogether. I will say that I DO oppose certain types of hunting, such as irresponsible hunting or the hunting of certain rare species , which constitute what I define as poaching. Take, for example, the issue of elephant and rhinoceros poaching in Africa – the revenue of which may be used to fund organized crime and terrorism.
     
    Again, I’m not altogether against hunting. I enjoy eating game meats and I think responsible hunting is a good thing. Actually, there is some hunting in the area where I live (rabbit, hare and pheasant) and the only thing that I find at times disturbing is the gunshots we hear. 
     
    I will close this post with my basic position which is (a) mankind has the capacity to do a lot of bad AND a lot of good when it comes to environmental (and other) matters, (b) that mankind has both the right to use our environment and natural resources and a duty of responsible stewardship and (c) that while I absolutely love nature and am concerned about the environment, I at least try not to espouse the anti-human and anti-development attitutes of (much of) the environmentalist movement.

    I may have failed in that last regard, and if so, that is on me. 

    • Danny Lemieux says

      Kevin_B. I’ve lived in Belgium and other parts of Europe and I understand how removed so many people there can be from a hunting culture and ethos (although they are very particular about the type and source of meat they eat…especially game, as you say). Let me say this: I love hunting, although I haven’t done it in a long time. I hunt for food. When I kill for food, I feel that I honor my prey for giving me sustenance when I pursue it and it surrenders its life for my sustenance. It is more than people do when the go to the supermarket and buy meat without thinking about the animal from which it came and the sacrifice it made. To this day, I abhor the waste of meat. I never forget that an animal sacrificed its life in the circle of life so that I could be sustained. Humans are not vegetarians. We are not predators. We are omnivores and we, too, have a role to play in the circle of life.
       

      • says

        Mr. Lemieux, thank you for your thoughtful reply.
        I don’t question your statement that Europeans may be removed from a hunting culture and ethos, although I would add to this that hunting does exist in Europe (and in Belgium, as I described in another post) and that a, admittedly, fairly small group of people does keep it alive to some extent.
         
         
        I would also remark that especially the densely populated areas of Western Europe don’t have a lot of very large wild animals – most of the wild animals we have are relatively small. Really big game and spectacular large game species are rare in Western Europe. Here in Belgium, hunting mostly involves small species such as rabbit, hare, wood pigeon, pheasant and roe deer. The biggest game we have are red deer and wild boar, and they occur mostly in the east and south of Belgium.  Maybe that to some extent contributes to a different or far less existant hunting culture. Also, the ‘anti-hunting’ lobby is probably stronger around here. In my own country if you want to hunt you have to pass a series of, as I’ve heard, extremely tough tests and exams, and on top of that, getting a rifle is difficult (if it’s not for hunting or sportive shooting, getting a gun here in Belgium is nearly impossible). That certainly doesn’t help.
         
         
        A few years ago, when I was studying for my bachelor’s degree in environmental management, one of my fellow students was actually a hunter and at least one other fellow student was going through the works to become one. Although it never appealed to me to go in the same direction, I never felt any negative feeling towards it either.  That’s how I know about how tough it is to become a hunter around here anyway.
         
         
        Once more, I don’t mind hunting. I think you are right on the money with your comment on the connect or disconnect between people and the way their mear comes into being. To a large extent, I guess it’s a side effect of our society moving from an agricultural to an industry and services-based workforce and economy, as well as the rise of modern, high-yield agriculture and ‘factory farming’ with a, as percentage of the total population, small agricultural workforce. I think we reap great benefits from this and I’m willing to accept the side effects. If that means a disconnect from the way my meat is produced, so be it. While I have been on a few farms and have some experience as to how the animals are bred, raised and managed on the farm, I far less wish to know  how a living animal becomes meat (although there once an interesting Dirty Jobs episodes I’ve seen in which a cow is butchered).
         
         
        I agree that human beings are at least not naturally vegetarians, but omnivores (although one could debate the percentage of meat in the diet of our ancestors). I also think there must be a good reason why people like and want to eat meat. I like vegetables, fruits, grain product, potatoes et cetera just fine, but I do like meat (and fish) a lot also and I think it’s a good part of my (or a general human) diet.

        • says

          I forgot to add to the post that responsible hunting for food is something that I fully support. I think sportive and trophee hunting are probably a bit more questionable, but I’m very much question whether that should be abhorred completely.

      • says

        Euros have a problem with getting their hands dirty, as plagues all civilized nations.
         
        They have an ethical and moral weakness to independent judgment, too. The two things combine, makes a lot of vices.

  17. says

    Kevin_B:  It never occurred to me that you might be anti-hunting, and your earlier post didn’t communicate that, at all.  In fact, I’ve just re-read the post and can’t find anything important that I disagree with, in principle – for instance, anyone to whom “Minimata” doesn’t mean anything should check it out on Dogpile.com.     I provided the material I did because so much of our education leads us to believe that it was hunting that drove the Pigeon to extinction.  And that story isn’t true…..and worth correcting. 
     
    What *IS* true is that the market hunting going on in the 1800s was unsustainable, and using today’s standards to judge…..wrong.  Just like the bison hunts were — hard to believe, but in some cases the only thing taken from a carcass was the tongue, if we can believe reports.  The bison situation was actually worse, since it was encouraged by the government, in order to get rid of the Indians’ source of sustenance in order to stop them fighting…..again, according to some reports I’ve read.
     
    The difference in the two cases is the ecological and behavioral characteristics of the Passenger Pigeon, which dictated that drastically lowered populations precluded the type of population rebound seen in the American Bison. 

    • says

      Earl, the material you provided was very valuable and interesting, I was indeed not fully educated and I needed it. It also provided me with a good lesson. Thank you. I have heard about the Minimata thing, actually.
      Also, as far as the American bison is concerned,  besides some wild populations, people ranch them in semi-wild conditions in very large pastures. One can suppose they have economic reasons for doing so, i.e. making a living of it by selling meat and hides. In fact most American bisons alive today are in some way part of commercial operations. Environmentalists tend to disregard or even discard commercial herds and commercial use of bison as valuable to the conservation and numerical upkeep of species, which is a view I question, at least in the case of the bison. There might be cases where the value of commercial use to conservation is questionable. Also, as much as I like going to the zoo, and knowing what zoos have done for certain species, I think the conservation value of zoos and animals parks shouldn’t be overestimated. 

  18. Mike Devx says

    I would argue that big government can be done right, but only when it has a narrowly focused goal.
     
    They did the World War II “Arsenal Of Democracy” very well.  That was a command economy, directed by the White House – but actually with limited micromanagement.  They accepted the big and the small, tried to coordinate it all; it was quite a convoluted mess, trying to manage all the supply chains, but somehow they did it.
     
    And then the war was won… and then the Big Government military lost its way.  
     
    The ‘Man on the Moon’  Space Program did very well for ten years.
     
    And they put men on the moon.  But then the Big Government space program  lost its way.
     
    For a short while, with focused goals, Big Government can succeed at meeting those goals.  The lesson to be learned is that then Big Bureaucracy settles in for the long haul.  Once the focused goal is met, you should probably immediately slash the program in half.  No matter what.  You can always rebuild it back up if the American People agree with the Next Big Goal.  (But the American People probably would not agree.  They were tired after World War II, and they got tired of the Space Program, too.)

  19. says

    Mike Devx: Great Point….especially that part about the limited time that Big Government seems to do something well.
     This is clearly explained by Public Choice Theory, and anyone not acquainted with the field should read the article at the following link.  Do that and you will never again wonder at the “amazing” decisions made by bureaucrats, politicians, etc.  Self-interest rules, folks!  Even among those who trumpet their concerns for “efficiency”, the “environment”, the “little people”, the “poor”, or who-and what-ever.
     
    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc1/PublicChoiceTheory.html

  20. says

    Democracy and republics are not inherently immune to the concept of a Benevolent Wise King this generation, a corrupt mass murdering rapist the next generation.
     
    10-20 years allows the shift of one generation back or forward and it is inherently unstable and open to infiltration, sabotage, or stupidity (recklessness).

  21. says

    I know that Progressives ‘really, really’ believe in the essential goodness of humans, and that’s the Progressive Original Sin. They don’t reason from first premises. Rather than look at the factual data, they reach a conclusion (or more often, magical thinking), and use that as the original premises.
     
    As for the question of the inherent ‘good’ in humans, one need look no further than children. I’d venture that no parent in the history of time told a child “You’re much too nice to your sister; you really should be a little meaner.” Quite the opposite, in fact. A friend of mine (a parent) once remarked that raising children is an exercise in civilizing savages.
     
    Conservatives and traditional liberals (like the Founders) get this. Passionate belief is no substitute for analytical observation, and is the primary reason very few Progressive ideas work as intended.

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