October 26, 2011

"Education in this country is conducted on the model of a public utility owned by the government."

"It's a government monopoly, full of unionized workers, delivering a government-subsidized product to people who are required by the government to be there."

And — Kevin D. Williamson says — this is what the Occupy [Your City] folks want generally... for health care and so forth. Williamson wants the government out of all of it... including education.

69 comments:

KenK said...

Hmm. Kinda of creepy when you put it that way. But universal education seems to be a good thing that has benefited our society though too. How does he reconcile that?

Ann Althouse said...

"But universal education seems to be a good thing that has benefited our society though too."

You could have private education, with each student having a voucher to spend $X on education.

MadisonMan said...

If the Govt is getting out of the Education Business, shouldn't that also include getting rid of vouchers (govt subsidies) for private schools?

Maximus_Aurelius said...
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Jeff in Oklahoma said...

Listening to Williamson, he would rather government get out of many fields, education included. Be more practical, at the moment, he clearly supports vouchers.

Choice = competition. Competition creates better efficiency.

Take a look at this video to see just how poorly your education tax dollars are utilized.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NDr7-_5Ulz0

Maximus_Aurelius said...
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Paul Zrimsek said...

Whatever else may be said in favor of government provision, education clearly does not meet the definition of a public good. I mean, the very existence of people like Maximus Aurelius prove that it's excludable.

MadisonMan said...

After all, children's education is not a public good

Step back from the edge. It is in the public's interest to have a well-educated populace. The argument is how to get there.

KenK said...

My neighbor's child is autistic. I doubt if the $7k he gets the school district from the state every year would attract many takers in a privatized market. Our currently used socialized system where every body gets what they need (in theory) and pays what they can (again in theory)gives much better outcomes overall.

Henry said...

While we're at it, let's get government out of the marriage-recognizing business.

Universal education as a public good is pretty defensible, but the way it is packaged at the current moment is a historical accident.

Here's an alternative, also historical:

Lessons from Vermont
132-Year-Old Voucher Program
.

Maximus_Aurelius said...
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Browndog said...
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Paul Zrimsek said...

Nothing as constructive as "people who want to privatize education must also want to privatize defense, har de har har"-- but the day is young.

Canuck said...

"Education in this country is..." ???? Lots of private choices in the USA.

The USA has a large private education system from K-University.

I don't think any nation has a larger system of private schools.

ndspinelli said...

What makes Wisconsin such a big government public school monolith is the dearth of competition. Having grown up in New England, there are many more private choices. And, the choices are not just schools like Choate, there are well established parochial schools that have flourished for generations. Of late, those blue collar choices are struggling, but they for the most part still exist. Hell, in Wisconsin even the wealthy don't have much, if any, choice. They have to ship their kids back East.

Here's an interesting example. My sister worked for Choate/Rosemary Hall. Her 2 daughters, who are very bright, could attend Choate for free. However, they, like all kids, had to pass the entrance requirements. When my nieces were in early elementary years they attended the local public Wallingford grammar school. However, my sister heard horror stories of kids who were children of Choate employees being unable to take advantage of the free scholarship because the public schools simply weren't educating them properly and they were failing the entrance exams. Virtually all the Choate parents began enrolling their kids in private schools[The Foote School in New Haven is where my nieces attended from grade 3] and the entrance problems were no more.

Browndog said...

Instapundit posted a comment from an article a few days ago.

It is long, but I think it is worth it. I'll post it in two parts.

It's not linkable. If it takes up too much room on your blog, feel free to delete it, Althouse. I understand.

Part I:

MORE: Reader Matthew Knecht writes:

You tag this post with the line “Actually, lots of liberals used to be smart enough to see things like that coming. Now they’ve either gotten dumber, or complicit.”

Speaking as a public school educator in Pennsylvania for most of the last 20 years, I say “both.” The savvy ones are complicit. Most are victims of the decaying public school system. We spent so much time for the last 30 years filling their heads with nonsense that there was no time to teach the important things, like how government and economics actually work. Real, time-tested knowledge about how human beings behave in real life (AKA history and philosophy), are rarely even referred to in public school curricula any longer except in the most superficial ways. We’re now into a second and even third generation of public school teachers raised on politically correct revisionism. They’re not engaging in deliberate social engineering any more; many if not most of the teachers actually believe that the fluff ideas they’ve been taught to promulgate are how the world really works… leading to whole generations of kids without a single clue as to how any human societies — especially messy, complicated democratic ones that require a lot of personal responsibility — actually function. It’s no wonder our political class has sunk to the current depths. Their map doesn’t match the territory.

Browndog said...

Part II

Bottom line: not dumb, just brainwashed, most of them. They were never taught any better, because they were taught by people who were never taught any better, who were taught by people who were deliberating trying to alter the American culture through the public school system. We’re rapidly approaching, if not already in, the educational Dark Age that Jerry Pournelle talks about: not only have we forgotten certain knowledge we had in the past, but we’ve forgotten (institutionally speaking) that we ever even knew that stuff. Because it’s not nice, and it doesn’t make us feel good to learn about it.

prairie wind said...

Yes, let's get the federal government out of education entirely. Let state and local governments decide what to do about schools. THAT would be a huge step in the right direction. After experiencing education without federal interference (NCLB, Race to the Bottom, etc.), maybe parents would decide that doing without even state interference would be good, too. That's my dream, anyway.

prairie wind said...

Things my kids have learned in public school:
The men who flew planes into the WTC were not Muslims.
Cigarette smoking is the worst vice.
Letting water run in the sink will ruin the planet.
The UN is a good organization.
The government has a bug on Mr. w's phone. (Ah, yes, there is a connection between this one and the first item.)

Of course, I learned some goofy stuff in Catholic school myself but that was probably more about the era (the 70s, man) than about private schools in general. The difference is that if I choose not to spend money on goofy private education, I can.

Andrea said...

Anyone here who graduated public high school in 1980 or before did not experience education under control of the federal government. Public schools before the Department of Education went into operation on May 16, 1980, were run by their respective states. Somehow we survived.

Sigivald said...

KenK: Well, except for how it spends billions and billions of dollars failing to educate people.

"A good thing" can be made odious by providing it in a horribly wasteful manner.

(Plus what our host said; even if we still decide to have mandatory education paid for with taxes, there is no good reason for the State to be running schools itself, let alone a near-monopoly.

And that's aside from the horrible effects of such a monopoly being controlled by mandatory Unions.)

Contra Maximus, I'd like to point out that - to paraphrase - "ha ha profit" is not a valid counter-argument either.

And healthcare is not comparable to any other god-damn thing, it turns out, but most especially K-12 education.

AJ Lynch said...

Williamson used to be the editor of our local newspaper [Main Line Times] that served a very liberal area. He is near to brilliant and an excellent writer. It was great when he skewered the librul talking points.

Richard Dolan said...

Williamson is making an economic efficiency argument (he's an economist, after all) -- i.e., he wants to rely on consumer choice and pricing mechanisms to make allocation determinations, rather than a gov't monopoly approach. He's not making a libertarian argument about minimizing the proper objects of governmental policies. Schmidt more or less agrees with him, but prefers to cite the success of DC charter schools rather than the voucher program the Dems (meaning, mostly, the teachers union) didn't like.

Max Aur doesn't seem to understand the difference. It's not all that subtle.

AJ Lynch said...
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AJ Lynch said...
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rocketeer67 said...

This model has worked so spectacularly in the health sector, we'd be fools not to roll the government out of primary education and the corporations in.

I can only assume you're unaware of how long - and how much - government has been invoved in and negatively distorting the healthcare market?

deborah said...

Great point, Andrea. So what are the chances of the Department of Education actually being abolished?

Brian O'Connell said...

A real eye-opener for me on American K-12 education was John Gatto's "The Underground History of American Education". It's available online here (nav's a bit funky).

He's got some quite radical ideas, and I'm not sure I'm 100% with him, but it's definitely worth a read. He used to be a NYC public school teacher, and has won various teacher awards- he's not an outsider- or a least, he wasn't always.

Paul Graham has an essay, Why Nerds are Unpopular, that starts from a different place, but covers some of the same ground as Gatto.

K-12 education to me is just so much wasted potential. Treating people like industrial output is a central problem.

prairie wind said...

So what are the chances of the Department of Education actually being abolished?

Until Congress and the Senate start to take budget-cutting seriously, there's not much chance at all. Because it's for the kids. And, oh yeah, because it's also for the administrators.

MayBee said...

Has anybody else been watching the Ken Burns series "Prohibition"?

It's fascinating in an everything old is new again sort of way.
The episode I watched last night was about how the women leading the temperance movement inserted their agenda into the public schools. School children were taught that one drop of alcohol could kill you, and other incredible lies.

It really drove home how long the public schools have been used as public policy incubators by political actors.

MadisonMan said...

And, oh yeah, because it's also for the administrators.

It's really for the political appointees. Patronage Jobs Uber Alles.

edutcher said...

The Lefties are going to be smacked in the face very soon with something Conservatives have known for a long time - the only thing government does well is go to war.

KenK said...

Hmm. Kinda of creepy when you put it that way. But universal education seems to be a good thing that has benefited our society though too. How does he reconcile that?

In the old days, the school board was directly answerable to the people. If they screwed up, they heard about it and generally were able to go back to their day jobs after the next election.

Brian O'Connell said...

A few things from those 2 works I mentioned:

US K-12 education was originally set up to provide compliant workers for the new factories that were springing up all over America. Kids should be taught to read, follow instructions, and not rock the boat. (I realize this is in near-conspiracy territory.) Of course, new and different goals have been set up by the left- who have taken over the education establishment- over the years. This is why the terrorist Bill Ayers is in the education biz, for example. He knows where the future is made.

A major problem with the concept of schools is that, artificially, we're putting a bunch of 8 or 10 or 12-year-olds in a room full of 25 or 30 other kids of the same age- all day. This promotes "kid culture" over adult culture. Since kids are barbarians, this isn't good- it's basically Lord of the Flies. And it's this culture, which never before in human history had such an expansive medium in which to grow, that is the cause of many societal problems (from bullying to Paris Hilton to "acting white"). The "natural" state of children used to be that of being surrounded by adults- this is no longer operative.

OK- 'nuff big picture stuff from me for now.

MayBee said...

It's really for the political appointees. Patronage Jobs Uber Alles.

With the Dept of Ed gaining more control of college student loans, they'll also gain more control over university education.

And anybody who heard Arnie Duncan this year saying that the NCAA should disqualify schools with low graduation rates from the BB tournament understands that "not your problem" is not in his vocabulary.

Lucius said...

@Brian O'Connell: I encountered the same idea about the effects of 'age segregation'/ghettoization in a book on homeschooling which I idly picked up in a public library one day.

I have no idea the title, author, or if I could find it again in an hour's perusal. Or if, for that matter, this book was original in considering this idea.

All the same, I need to try and find it. Because it seemed like a galvanizing crystalization of all my pre-/adolescent misgivings about the world of my peers.

It's an incredibly strange, really ahistoric thing, this total immersion in the world of arbitrary age-peers. It really is, already, a kind of "Brave New World". In those junior high years, it's already-- I don't mean to be squalid, but-- a sexualized hothouse to a degree that seems hard to imagine in some pastoral culture.

I mean, you'd be crushing on your peers, probably, but in a furtive sort of way. Whereas in school, there's what Stephen King called (vis-a-vis "Carrie") the "matriarchy of the damned." What a cruel, cutting world. Games and mirrors, all day long. Then at night, I'd try and intellectually dissect what they'd done.

And yes, sometimes girls were rank instigators of mass bullying on me. The bitches. Them and their gummy bracelets-- what does it all *mean*?

Bob_R said...

KenK -

The $7K that comes from the state to educate an autistic child is (or at least would be in VA) ON TOP of the cost per student in your area - which is what? Check out the cost per student in your area. Tell me that there wouldn't be private schools cropping up by the dozens if every family had a voucher for that amount for each kid.

deborah said...

There's nothing new under the sun, Lucius, and those silly little bitches probably couldn't read an Austen novel to save their lives. They were victims of mass culture as much as anyone. Now where are they, and what kind of kids are they raising?

Lucius said...

@Deborah: Have you seen Debbie Gibson lately?

Things keep getting from bad to worse.

Brian O'Connell said...

Lucius: thanks for that comment, I follow you completely. I don't know either where or when the criticism of age-segregated eduction began, but I'm guessing it's been around for quite a while.

Another issue that compounds the problem is kids' knowledge that anything and everything they do in school is completely and purposefully separated from affecting the outside, real world of adults. Gatto compares this to the separation of prisons from the real world, where artificial mini-cultures spring up whose rules are completely arbitrary, since they affect nothing, but have huge internal consequences.

Some teachers are aware of this, and this is the reason you occasionally see attempts to corral students into some kind of social action- always student-led of course. But it's usually some kind of lefty frippery, since such actions still spring from artificial origins.

Gatto supports the idea of getting rid of institutionalized K-12 education altogether, since the very idea can't work. This is radical of course, especially since working people depend on it to mind their kids all day.

Peter said...

"Anyone here who graduated public high school in 1980 or before did not experience education under control of the federal government."

I think you could make a better case that the decline in public schools correlates more with the rise in teachers unions (which was mostly complete by 1980).

In any case, education clearly is not a pure public good. It is (for example) possible to provide it to you without providing it to me. And, private benefits flow differentially to the educated.

Which is not to say there are no public benefits deriving from education- there are. It's just that "public goods" has a specific meaning in economics, and education does not meet that definition.

Steve Koch said...

Teachers might benefit quite a bit from a voucher system instead of public schools. They would be much less likely to work in a soul destroying bureaucracy. Behavioral problems could be dealt with more efficiently. Schools would probably be safer.

There would be a tighter relationship with the parents and the parents would be proactive (having selected this particular school). Parents would be happier because they get to choose the school for their kid.

There would be tons of entrepreneurial opportunities for teachers to set up their own schools and run it as they see fit.

School vouchers are used in several northern European countries.

Vouchers reduce the opportunity for the government to brain wash kids and increase the ability of the parent to put his child in a school that reflects the parent's values.

I understand why the state should pay for education and school meals, uniforms, and after school daycare, if necessary) but why should the state actually operate schools?

Alex said...

Step back from the edge. It is in the public's interest to have a well-educated populace. The argument is how to get there.

That's the rub in't it? The current system seems to be set up to profit administrators, unions and coddle the lazy kids. There is no emphasis on discipline and real education. Now explain me how you are going to reform a completely corrupt system.

Steve Koch said...

The education voucher issue illustrates a critical political trade off that is normally ignored. There are many conservatives who want to reduce the power and intrusion of government but still accept that income redistribution from the rich to the poor is necessary.

Voucher approaches for doing these income transfers are far, far more acceptable to conservatives than constructing government bureaucracies that push us around, facilitate corruption, and are used to extend political power.

rcommal said...

Commenters have posted some great links here. Thanks. The link to the Paul Graham essay led to another piece of his on the "real" essay, part of which resonate profoundly with the Althousian concept of "living freely through writing." Definitely recommended reading.

cubanbob said...

Part of the reason the public schools don't work in many areas is the lack of consequences for screwing up. Bad teachers are almost impossible to fire. Disruptive kids can't be expelled. Not graduating or doing very poorly that one 'graduates' as an expediency has no immediate cost. Parents aren't held accountable and much of the curriculum is PC garbage. The amazing thing is that in spite of these so many kids actually do learn something and become useful members of society.

A few suggestions: welfare and unemployment be subject to passing standardized tests of knowledge and skills needed to be employable, that alone would radically alter the educational outcome, acting 'white' now becomes a necessity. Expulsions of the criminal and unruly kids. If the teachers unions were eliminated that would be a step in the right direction. Unions don't exist to benefit third parties. Implement vouchers to create school competition.

No good deed goes unpunished. Very smart and capable woman who used to be teachers 40 years ago or more are now in business and or the professions. The question is how to attract those woman (and men) back in to teaching?

Freeman Hunt said...

Everyone should have vouchers. Things should be flexible. Why have a gargantuan, bureaucratic system? Who does that aid? Seemingly no one except the people who want jobs in it.

Competition and no unions would make teaching a job of much higher status.

In the meantime, homeschool.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"But universal education seems to be a good thing that has benefited our society though too."

"Our currently used socialized system where every body gets what they need (in theory) and pays what they can (again in theory)gives much better outcomes overall."

This.

We have the system we currently have because of simplistic and compromising takes such as these.

It is a mistake to treat everyone as a brick, rather than a unique stone. Our 'educational' brick factory is wasteful, shiftless, amoral, and woefully insufficient to meet future challenges.

I suppose if in the future we were expecting such pressing problems as world self-esteem, benign speech practices, safe sex with strangers, non-confrontational discipline methods and reason summits with terrorists, we'd be in good shape.

Education, and many other responsibilities that have been 'assumed' at the federal level, need to be abandoned and sent back to the state/local level.

Administration from afar never works, well.

Browndog said...

Oops.

Bad link:

Occupied Minds-link fixed

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Good link Browndog, thanks for sharing.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

This Williamson asshole also thinks it's no biggie if the government puts innocent people to death, because the chance that it will kill the "deservedly" guilty is its greatest calling.

But feel free to take him as seriously as you wish.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Ritmo/C4

Its apparent that you continue to manufacture bullshit for the masses just like your brethren mass/mainstream media.

Welcome back prickly pear - too bad old chap that you find yourself on what will undoubtedly be the wrong side of history.

Hackery will not pass for credential.

wv - rehaff

Rehaff vays ov making you talk.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I challenge you to identify a single thing I said that was "manufactured", you ridiculous liar.

Of course, it's a fact that support for the death penalty is decreasing, that the trend is for states to abandon it rather than to embrace it, and that the acknowledged fact that it is likely to kill innocent people is more likely to be seen as appalling than as, well, not something to be concerned about. But since your understanding of history is a fact-free endeavor, you should feel free to make up any myth in constructing the fantasy you see as real.

Feel free to do so. You are obviously not important enough to face any pressure for advocating a fabricated view of the world, so your minority opinion doesn't matter.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"Of course, it's a fact that support for the death penalty is decreasing, that the trend is for states to abandon it rather than to embrace it, and that the acknowledged fact that it is likely to kill innocent people is more likely to be seen as appalling than as, well, not something to be concerned about."

I'll take you seriously when your passion to save 'perhaps' innocent 'people' extends to the 'unborn' innocent. Capisci?

Sanctimony on sand is laughable C4.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

I'll take you seriously when your concern for the rights of real live people equals your concern for sea monkey-like bundles of cells and the rape or incest survivors who may happen to be incubating them.

But that was about as desperate a dodge from an actual, relevant point as anyone could expect from you, so you've got that going for you: Hyperbole and deflection as a way to avoid the actual point, which was your love of lies and hatred of real history and real facts.

Obviously you're not going to be honorable enough to retract your lie about my initial comment, so feel free to amuse yourself with your masturbatory rhetorical game on your own.

Andrea said...

"I think you could make a better case that the decline in public schools correlates more with the rise in teachers unions (which was mostly complete by 1980)."

My father was a teacher, from about 1967 to 1982 (I think -- he retired early; burnout). Anyway, he hated the teacher's union people. Every time they went on strike all it did was mess up his life and screw up the school year.

Anyway, the teachers' unions were a big problem, but putting the Fed in charge just gave everything a good, hard shove down into the pit. I would listen to my friends who had kids complain about all the stuff they had to do, and observed these kids (many of whom were on some kind of mood-controlling drug or other), and thank God I wasn't a kid in school any more -- and that I hadn't had any kids of my own. The first memo about how my kid's duotangs were the "wrong color" and how I had to throw down thirty bucks for something called a "trapper keeper" would have resulted in one of those parents-goes-on-a-rampage-in-child's-classroom headlines.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Something important for the fabricator above to ignore. Maybe that's his "choice".

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

More testimonies for the wombless fabulist above to pretend away.

sorepaw said...
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Steve Koch said...

We already have an abortion thread so maybe that is where the abortion discussion should go...unless the goal is just to hijack this thread.

I'd be interested in understanding the classic liberal argument for having the government operate schools rather than distributing vouchers that permits parents to enroll their kids in which ever school they choose.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Or are you just...

I think that when it comes to educating children, the idea of taking seriously the thoughts of a man who is most endeared to the government "role" of killing people and not much bothered by its killing of innocent, real people, is a bit rich.

But then, Althouse doesn't really get widely quoted when she tries to analyze ideas of her own...

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

And I'm interested in the conservative argument for why markets can supposedly never fail, Steve. But I'm obviously not going to get it here.

I'm also in the conservative argument for why moral hazard never occurs, and why every interest can be reduced to a financial interest.

These are all novel and fanciful ideas, for which there is no supporting empirical support or even a commonsense explanation. And yet, they are the core premises of the conservative worldview today.

Why is that?

rcommal said...

Perhaps it might be useful to consider whether, given an entirely voluntary and parents-driven system--quite apart from the notion of vouchers--there might be a significant number of children who don't end up being educated at all much less sufficiently to a minimum, not even by today's standards. One could call that the parents' choice, but what about the child? Should a parent's choice be permitted to not just trump, but wipe out the child's interest and life potential?

"Universal mandatory education" wasn't *just* about preparing kids for factory work, or public funding of schooling, or indoctrination et al, or etc., after all... .

Steve Koch said...

Ritmo,

Great questions but maybe we could put one in the context of the current education related thread? So there have been a lot of posts about why a vouchers approach to education is better than having the government run the schools.

Maybe you could make the classic liberal case for why having the government run the schools is the best approach.

Steve Koch said...

rcommal said...
"Perhaps it might be useful to consider whether, given an entirely voluntary and parents-driven system--quite apart from the notion of vouchers--there might be a significant number of children who don't end up being educated at all much less sufficiently to a minimum, not even by today's standards. One could call that the parents' choice, but what about the child? Should a parent's choice be permitted to not just trump, but wipe out the child's interest and life potential?"

Great question. For sure there are going to be some horrible schools that parents will mistakenly choose. If the parents pay attention, they will pull their kids out of bad schools and put them in good schools.

We have standardized testing that makes it easy to compare how schools perform so the information will be there for parents to make an educated decision. There is no reason not to continue the standardized testing.

Maybe your next question would be, what to do when the parent is incompetent to make a reasonable decision on which school his child can attend. It seems like that would be up to the individual states to decide. There is already a process in place that shuts down schools that are proven to be inadequate. The states could choose to implement something like that.

In any event, this problem still doesn't require that the state runs the schools. It does require the definition of standardized testing process and minimal standards that schools must pass to be certified to continue to operate.

Having said all that, the USA has more than its share of sub standard public schools already. The question is whether having the government run the schools is best from performance, cost efficiency, and political perspectives.

Steve Koch said...

rcommal,

Just to slightly extend your point, the obvious question is how does society protect children from bad parents? Seems like a difficult thing to do well.

Steve Koch said...

Ritmo Re-Animated said...
"And I'm interested in the conservative argument for why markets can supposedly never fail, Steve. But I'm obviously not going to get it here.

I'm also in the conservative argument for why moral hazard never occurs, and why every interest can be reduced to a financial interest."

This isn't the thread to discuss it but I think you would be surprised at how many conservatives (most, imo) thinks moral hazard is a profound problem and that the bailouts were terrible. Most conservatives think that companies need to be permitted to fail for capitalism to work properly.

You may also be surprised that most conservatives don't think that all issues can be reduced to money. Some examples are abortion, preservation of the constitution (which spawns scores more examples concerning preserving our liberties), etc.

Liberty is far, far, far more important to us than efficiency.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Steve, thanks for your honest answers.

I've got to run right now but will try to look out for you on a future thread.

In the meantime, though, I would like to say that life and liberty are constructed as equally desirable in the Declaration. You point out that conservatives value that equivalence for the not-yet-born (at whatever stage of development or pre-development), and I just want to see where they feel the same way for human entities that we all can agree are living persons.

If they don't (and the cheers during the Republican debates at the idea of someone without insurance dying indicates they might not), then there is a serious problem with the way they understand equality. Equal outcomes and equal rights are worth distinguishing between, but inequities in general put at risk the entire democratic framework for the constitution itself - and I would be surprised if conservatives aren't troubled by that.

Steve Koch said...

"In the meantime, though, I would like to say that life and liberty are constructed as equally desirable in the Declaration. You point out that conservatives value that equivalence for the not-yet-born (at whatever stage of development or pre-development), and I just want to see where they feel the same way for human entities that we all can agree are living persons."

Those against abortion rights on the right are primarily among the religious right, the social conservatives, it is not a political conservative position, I think. Many (most?) libertarians are for abortion rights.

What is a political conservative position is that the way abortion rights were achieved, by Supreme Court judicial activism, is a violation of the constitution, thus dead wrong. Abortion rights should be achieved democratically.

Social conservatism and political conservatism are two entirely different things, especially wrt abortion rights.

Political conservatives are not concerned with equality of results and assume that results are going to vary from individual to individual.

Political conservatives are afraid of losing their liberty from an overweening government that has grown too large and too powerful and no longer respects and obeys the constitution. Looking at history, we see over and over again governments enslaving and tormenting their citizens. We don't want it to happen here. Conservatives want to reduce the size and power of government, especially federal government.

Re: equal opportunity, we are against achieving it by affirmative action since AA is discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or whatever.

Conservatives don't trust government and are surprised anybody else does.

Ritmo Re-Animated said...

Well, if you don't trust the people then there's certainly no reason to trust government "of the people, by the people, and for the people".

And if you don't trust yourself then I can understand why you don't trust self-government.

There is a very anti-democratic strain to conservatism (at least as I observe it in America), which is precisely what can make a government tyrannical. Maybe if conservatives did a better job of coping with human needs and human realities, they would stop irrationally fearing a loss of freedom every time that need is met. And they would stop abstracting every policy into a war for or against liberty.

Conservatives may have stopped caring about results, but when America has become a less economically mobile society than nearly every country in Europe, the idea that they are protecting liberty rather than just privilege becomes laughable.

Free societies are not as rigidly class-based as the country your politics have turned America into. You have effectively given up the effort to promote equality of opportunity, and this is why conservatism is on its way to a generation of political decline in America.