Friday, October 21, 2005

Chapter 4: The Role of Government

Dr. Lakoff defines Progressive Values as: Freedom, Opportunity, Prosperity, fairness, open communication, community building, community service and co-operation, trust and honesty.
Based on these values, Dr. Lakoff defines several Progressive Political Principles, which will be examined in turn:

The Progressive principle of “Equity” means that “if you Work hard, play by the rules; and serve your family, community and nation, then the nation should provide a decent standard of living, as well as freedom, security and opportunity” and Lakoff even asserts “America Promises a decent standard of living in return for hard work”

No Progressive-backed social programs require anyone to work hard, or “follow the rules”, other than the administrative one for getting paid. Attempts to introduce accountability or responsibility into these systems are routinely blocked and opposed by progressives. Furthermore, there is nothing anywhere in the U.S. Constitution that promises citizens a decent standard of living in return for hard work.  It is true that America is one of the few places in the world where hard work is a characteristic that is often rewarded, but that does not result in a guarantee. Again, Dr. Lakoff is using framing to obscure the actual operation and actual results of Progressive Social Programs, which are, in effect to take money by force from those who have earned it by contributing to the society and giving it to others who have not.  The progressive principle of Equity in effect is equality of economic results, more commonly known as socialism or communism.  

The Progressive principle of "Equality" means “To do everything possible to guarantee political equality and avoid imbalances of power. “

Progressives believe that equality means selected minorities should be on the same political footing as majorities. This principle is illuminated by Progressive’s stance on Senate Filibusters (Preventing a Majority from Voting) , Affirmative action (Taking opportunities from a Majority and giving them to a minority) , welfare (taking wealth from the majority and giving it to a minority) , Gay Marriage (allowing a minority to redefine a word used by the majority) , and Religious Displays (Allowing a Minority to control what ideas are allowed in public) In effect, the progressive principle of equality means a rejection of  the principles of Majority Rule and Representative Democracy. This is further illustrated in Dr. Lakoff’s definition of a corporation: “In the law, corporations are (metaphorically) persons. They are not really persons. They are collective legal entities, intended to serve the needs and interests of the real individuals in a society. The needs and rights of individuals therefore should take precedence over the needs and rights of corporations.” This is a firm assertion that progressives believe the needs and rights of certain individuals should take precedence over the needs and rights of a group of individuals.

Lakoff says “Corporations are chartered by and accountable to the public. Instead of maximizing only shareholder profits, corporations should be chartered to maximize stakeholder well being, where shareholders, employees, communities and the environment are all recognized and represented on corporate boards.”

Thus, Progressives DO NOT support  the right of free association and believe that decisions made by any group of freely associated individuals should be subject to the review of 3rd parties who represent Progressively defined “stakeholders”.

Ironically, Lakoff claims "Democracy" is a Liberal Principle in which Progressives attempt to “Maximize citizen participation, minimize concentrations of political, corporate, and media power. Maximize journalistic standards. Establish publicly financed elections. Invest in Public education. Bring corporations under stakeholder control, not just stockholder control”

However, Progressives support unhampered and unregulated Labor unions which are a huge source of political power and money. Likewise Progressives support government funded and progressive controlled entities like PBS and NPR (Media) and an ever expanding federal government, including a government funded school system that teaches progressive values and frames. Dr. Lakoff  asserts that groups of Private Citizens (Corporations) should have Progressively defined “stakeholders” thrust into their private decision making process. He says “The airwaves must be kept public, and media monopolies (Murdoch, Clear Channel) broken up.”, thus asserting a progressive agenda that allows the Government to decide and censor what can be broadcast on its “public airwaves”. He singles out Murdoch as a entity that must be broken up, but ignores Time Warner and Disney which are both larger enterprises. Dr.  Lakoff also provides this example of Progressive Journalistic standards: "The Media Does not have to accept the right wing’s frames. What can a reporter ask besides “do you support gay Marriage? Try this: “Do you think that the government should tell people who they can and can’t marry?” or “Do you think the Freedom to marry who you want is to a matter of equal rights under the law?” or “Do you see marriage as the realization of love in a lifetime commitment?” or “Does it benefit society when two people who are in love want to make a public lifetime commitment to each other?” Reframing is everybody’s job. Especially Reporters… It is a duty of reporters not to accept this situation and simply use those right-wing frames that have come to seem natural. ” From these examples it is clear that Progressives support using private and public assets to support and expand Progressive institutions and political powers  to advance a Progressive Agenda while using  government power to simultaneously curb, regulate and check conservative power structures. Thus the Progressive principle of Democracy means expanding Progressive Media Outlets while silencing Conservatives. Dr. Lakoff is simply using framing to obscure the real agenda of state sponsored censorship and the squelching of free speech.  

Dr. Lakoff  says “Our values apply to business. In the course of making money by providing products and services, business should not adversely affect the public good, as defined by the above values”  Thus is defined the  principle of "Ethical Business"

Applying the above values implies that Progressive’s believe Ethical Business is the Progressive right to serve as self-appointed judges over other people’s decisions on how, when, and where they may try to earn a living.

The Progressive principle of a “Values based foreign policy” means “The same values governing domestic policy should apply to foreign policy whenever possible”“An ethical foreign policy means the inclusion of issues previously left out: women’s rights and education, children’s rights, labor issues, poverty and hunger, the global environment and global health”

In fact, this means that they are justified in imposing Nurturant Morality on the world ( and thus  maintaining Progressive’s illusion of their own moral purity and superiority).

The Final progressive principle is “Government for a better future” in which “Government does what America’s future requires and what the private sector cannot do or is not doing—effectively, ethically or at all. It is the job of government to promote and, if possible provide sufficient protection, greater democracy, more freedom, a better environment, broader Prosperity, better health, greater fulfillment in life, less violence, and the building and maintaining of public infrastructure”

In Practice, this means more government (progressive) control of all areas of life. Progressives want to government to provide “secure harbors, industrial facilities and cities” and “safe neighborhoods (community policing) and schools (gun control); safe water, air and food (a poison-free environment); safety on the job; and products safe to use… health care for all, pre- and postnatal care for children, a focus on wellness and preventive care, and care for the elderly (Medicare, Social Security and so on)”. In addition they want the government to impose “gay rights, affirmative action, women’s rights (abortion)” without the consent of the governed. They want the government to decide when labor is being exploited (without labors consent) and force businesses to provide “living wages, safe workplaces, [and] no intimidation” in the ways specified by the government. The government should control how much an individual can earn and decide who has "earned the right to living wages and health care." Progressives believe the Government should decide that “The economy as a whole should decently compensate those who hold it up” and redistribute income if it fails to do so. The government should tell people what kind of art should be produced an what curriculum should be taught because “Art and education are parts of self-fulfillment” In fact, ”beauty, and self-knowledge are part of human fulfillment, and so the government must see to it that institutions promote such forms of human nurturance”

In his presentation “Take Back America” George Lakoff asserts that the role of Government from a progressive point of view is to “provide protection, freedom, fairness, political equality, prosperity, the best possible natural environment, healthy communities, and a reasonable standard of living: decent housing, food, clothing, first-rate public education, and health care.” All of which are defined by Progressives. In other words Progressives believe the Government has the right to decide on the type of fairness applied (equal results), the types of protection offered (not property rights), the degree of freedom offered (Abortion is available, Guns are not.), the political representation in the government, how much prosperity each person is allowed to have, what environment people will live in, what kind of communities we will have and the values they will support, the quantity and types of housing, food, or clothing each person should have, the type of education that will be offered and the curriculum and values it will impart, and when, where and how an individual will be allowed to seek medical attention and with what drugs or procedures, what a person can smoke for recreation (marijuana, but not tobacco), and when, where, and how an individual will be allowed to seek or offer employment, and all in complete disregard to the social compact ratified by the people. Or put more simply Progressives believe the role of government is to impose their decisions on other people using the power of the State often while ignoring or overstepping the Constitutional limits placed on that power.

Ghandi said: “I look upon an increase of the power of the State with the greatest fear, because although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality, which lies at the root of all progress. We know of so many cases where men have adopted trusteeship, but none where the State has really lived for the poor.”

In Contrast, Dr. Lakoff say Conservatives believe that the proper role of Government is “to protect the lives and the private property of Americans, to making profit seeking as easy as possible for worthy Americans (the disciplined ones), and to promote conservative morality (strict father morality) and religion” This is an opinion that is shared by our Founding Fathers:

“Government is instituted no less for protection of the property, than of the persons, of individuals. The one as well as the other, therefore, may be considered as represented by those who are charged with the government.” Federalist # 54

“The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.” James Madison)

“The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, and has accordingly become a primary object of their political cares. By multiplying the means of gratification, by promoting the introduction and circulation of the precious metals, those darling objects of human avarice and enterprise, it serves to vivify and invigorate the channels of industry, and to make them flow with greater activity and copiousness. The assiduous merchant, the laborious husbandman, the active mechanic, and the industrious manufacturer,--all orders of men, look forward with eager expectation and growing alacrity to this pleasing reward of their toils.” (Hamilton)

Hence, in direct opposition to Progressives, Conservatives believe that the Constitution protects the Property Rights as well as the right to claim the rewards of one’s own work.

However, contrary to Dr. Lakoff’s assertion that Conservatives wish for a state imposed religion, Conservatives simply believe that the First Amendment prohibits the Federal government from either encouraging OR discouraging Religion. Dr.  Lakoff probably misinterprets the conservative stance on this issue because of the common Progressive belief that the First Amendment provides Freedom from exposure to Religious Thought, and hence feel that no one has the right to express religious opinions or symbols in public. However, on matters of morality, Conservatives do tend to agree with the sentiments of George Washington:

“all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness - these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Washington’s Farewell address

Conservatives feel that Religious beliefs promote the maintenance of an important pillar of civilization, and that religious beliefs in our leadership preserve our liberty.

According to Lakoff, Conservatives believe “It is immoral to give people things they have not earned, because then they will not develop discipline and will become both dependant and immoral. This theory says that social programs are immoral because they make people dependent.” Conservatives are “Against Social programs that take care of people. That is what they see as wrong. That is what they are trying to eliminate on moral grounds.”  and “What they really want to do away with is social programs – programs which invest in people, to help people help themselves.”

More accurately, Conservatives believe it is immoral to use government force to steal from people who have earned their wealth to give it to people who are unwilling to earn it. In direct contradiction to Dr. Lakoff, Conservatives (and Christian ethics) do not see the care of people as wrong, in fact they advocate it. The conservative system’s morals simply indicate that such behavior shouldn’t be coerced. Why would conservatives who value independence and find dependence to be immoral, oppose programs that allow people to help themselves and thus become independent? Again, Dr. Lakoff is attempting to use framing to obfuscate the simple fact that Conservatives disagree with the method of providing the support, not with the support itself. Progressive social programs encourage people to help themselves by allowing them to help themselves to money in some other person's wallet. They do not promote self-sufficiency or responsibility and do not encourage beneficiaries to become productive members of the society.  , and thereby avoid doing anything productive for others or the society. Conservatives are against Social programs that provide no current or long term benefits to the society because they create incentives counter-productive to the goals of the program, or are otherwise ineffectual at achieving their stated goals. Copious amounts of data have shown that dependency on the Government is increasing, so how are these programs helping people to help themselves? Conservatives believe that different incentives (positive or negative) will have an effect how people currently behave, and that people will make future plans based on their perceptions of those incentives.

Lakoff observes “Conservatives are not against [funding for] the military, they are not against homeland defense, they are not against the current department of justice, nor against the courts, nor the Departments of Treasury and Commerce” “Conservatives don’t really want smaller government. They don’t want to eliminate the Military, the FBI, of the treasury and commerce departments, or the nine-tenths of the courts that support corporate law. It is big government that they like.”

U.S. Constitution, Section 8 (The powers of Congress) : “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties,Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To borrow money on the credit of the United States; To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;To establish Post Offices and Post Roads Post ;To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;To declare War, grantLetters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;To provide and maintain a Navy;To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; AndTo make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” (Emphasis Mine)

The items highlighted by Dr. Lakoff are enumerated in the Constitution as legimate Federal powers. Dr. Lakoff might also observe that the Constitution DOES not enumerate Welfare programs of any kind as being a power of the Federal government, and the Federalist Papers clearly say that the clause “General Welfare” is clarified by the following specifics. “Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars.”

Critics against ratification of the Constitution argued that the General Welfare phrase would be abused by unscrupulous men to expand the power of the Federal Government.. Madison responded to these critics :” Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,'' amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. “

Plainly stated, Conservatives believe that the Federal government should be kept within its Constitutional boundaries.

Lakoff says “Strict Father values are seen as central to democracy – to the empowerment of individuals to change their lives and their society by pursuing their self-interests:”

Conservatives believe that individuals should have the freedom to pursue (and determine) their own happiness, and where those pursuits conflict, Democracy is used to settle the dispute.

“Suppose you are a moral authority. As a moral authority, how do you deal with your children? Do you ask them what they should do or what you should do? No, you tell them. What the father says, the child does, no back talk. Communication is One-Way. It is the Same with the White House”

Conservatives believe that a President, elected to be in charge, is in charge within the bounds of his office as described in the Constitution, until the President’s term is over or is removed from office by Constitutional means (impeachment)

Lakoff then suggests that to Conservatives “ Rights must be consistent with Morality… thus there is no right to an abortion, no right to same-sex marriage, no right to health care (or any other government assistance), no right to know how the administration decides policy, no right to a living wage and so on”

This is more true of the Progressive worldview where moral absolutes rule. Conversely, Conservatives believe that Rights are limits on governmental power concerning legal protections retained by the people when forming the United States or their State Governments (via ratification of a Constitution and amendments)

It must be said that most conservatives will not support rights inconsistent with their morality, but it does not follow that they wouldn’t submit to the rule of the majority if they were ratified modifications to the societal compacts that they live under. In contrast, this suggests that Progressives believe that Rights are benefits given to some at the expense of others, by dictatorial order, rather than by majority rule.
    

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