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I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm Just Askin'...

When is it leadership, and when is it ignoring the will of the people? Throughout the Bush Administration, we listened to the lefty liberals complain that then President Bush had a duty to listen to the wishes of the American people. It was their point of view that once a majority of people opposed the war in Iraq, he should accede to their wishes and withdraw our troops.

The conservatives in our country rallied to his side, praising him for his strong leadership in spite of falling poll numbers and giving him high marks for doing what he believed was best for America, even if a majority of people did not support his actions.

Now we fast forward to the Obama Administration, and we find that the Hush Puppy is on the other foot, so to speak. President Obama has been a steadfast supporter of health care reform. He campaigned on it, has pushed for, and we are close to having a deal in place. Even though a seeming majority of Americans oppose the plan that is taking shape.

But now that the inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is different, both sides of the political spectrum are singing a different tune.

Now we have the conservatives saying that President Obama should heed the wishes of the American people and veto health care reform. And we have the lefty libs saying he is just showing strong leadership.

Is the concept of strong leadership only valid when your guy is making the decisions?

When is it socialism and when is it a hand up? Throughout the recent debates over health care reform and our economic bailouts, issues about which there can be legitimate differences, we kept hearing the words socialism and government takeover.

It seems as if socialism gets defined like this. We have socialism when the government steps in and proposes a system that modifies, or undercuts the free market system. Now mind you, I am not interested in arguing whether or not this type of action is actually a socialistic practice. What I am saying is that currently, many people in our country, primarily conservatives, define socialism as such.

This means if the government gets involved in health care, and disrupts the free market, or influences competition; it is guilty of socialistic practices. And this is bad, because socialism is an evil practice used by governments to enslave people.

But is it socialism when a government steps in and influences the free market in the agricultural industry? Currently US food prices are kept artificially high through a system of price supports and government subsidies.

If it is socialism when the government steps into health care in an attempt to lower costs to the consumer, how is it not socialism when the government steps into the ag business to keep prices high for the farmer?

Is it possible that like leadership, it is only socialism when people of the other side of the political spectrum propose direct government intervention and involvement?

I’m just askin’…

Comments on "I'm Just Askin'..."


Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said ... (12:54 PM) : 

Actually, you're only half right. It wasn't so much the conservatives that rallied around Bush on Iraq but rather the neo-conservatives.

There were a whole host of real conservatives/libertarians that opposed it from day one.


Blogger Tim said ... (2:39 PM) : 

Let us not forgaet that "Limosine" socialism is quite all right with Republicans. Free market profits, socialised losses.
The current Health Reform bill would have been much better if at least a few Republicans would been engaged in shaping it instead of stomping their feet and holding their breath until their faces turned purple. I wish we would have gotten Single Payer, but was ready to settle for Public Option, then the over 55 Medicare buy-in, and even though I don't like the final result (giving Big Insurance a big, fat, sloppy kiss of 31 Million new customers)it's better than nothing at all. Hopefully, it WILL be the begining of the slippery slope to single payer, where Big Insurance is slowly pushed out of the system. Obama can only make incremental changes to a political system bought and paid for by business lobbyists of all kinds. It will take years of electing liberals and socialists to change it in a meaningful way.

The free market is not the answer to every social problem under the sun, I have nothing against business, but now the deck is so stacked in their favor while undermining the comman person that the pendulum needs to swing back the other way.


Blogger Beth said ... (7:51 PM) : 

These are good questions, Dave. I think when we have principles that we follow, however, it really makes the answers quite simple. I believe in the Constitution, so when a politician is making an decision (whether it is a popular or an unpopular one), then I look to first whether he or she is following the Constitution in their decision making.

The Constitution does give our federal government the duty to protect our rights, so President Bush using force to keep us safe is in line with his Constitutional duty. Whereas, there is no Constitutional basis for the government intervening in the free market economy. So whether it is bailouts (started by Bush and not agreed upon by true Conservatives) or subsidies (corp welfare is wrong in my opinion) or if it is taking over car companies and the health care industry, there is just nothing in our Constitution that gives these duties to our politicians!

It doesn't matter what party you belong to, just put any issue up against the Constitution and you really should be able to see what is right and wrong.


Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said ... (6:25 AM) : 

Let's remember then that the Constitution is silent on the issue of abortion. There is no provision for the Federal Government to take a position on it. The issue thus resides with the states and each state may decide where they come down on the issue.

To respect the Constitution of the United States of America is to accept this fact.


Blogger James' Muse said ... (9:32 AM) : 


There is nothing in the Constitution about whether the government can intervene in health care. In fact, it depends on your own personal interpretation. The Constitution does charge the Federal Government to care for it's people, and the current President views Universal Healthcare as following that charge.

And the government never "took over" the car industry. It bailed out two of the three to keep jobs here. We would have had closer to a 15-20% unemployment rate if they hadn't...

But other things Bush did were SPECIFICALLY stated as illegal under the Constitution. Example? Wiretapping under the PATRIOT act...holding US Citizens without due process (Jose Padilla), holding others on american soil without due process or charge (Alli al-Marri, who was a university student arrested on US Soil and kept in solitary confinement without official charge for seven years, which was signed off on by GWB)...and the whole "cruel and unusual" provision in the US Constitution that happened at Guantanamo...

I think that, as Dave is saying, it just depends on your interpretation and party affiliation, but it is almost always the "other side" that is violating the constitution, and it is rare for one side to recognize the wrong its own candidate did. Just as you whitewashed GWB by saying he was protecting us (which, btw, doesn't excuse what I mentioned above legally whatsoever).


Blogger Name: Soapboxgod said ... (11:21 AM) : 

"The Constitution does charge the Federal Government to care for it's people..."

I presume you're referring to the General Welfare clause wherein the Preamble it is stated:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It is thereafter in the articles of the Constitution that a specific outline is put forth on what specific action this new Federal Government could take promoting (not providing) the general welfare and thus secure the blessings of liberty.

If it is to be believed that the Constitution of the United States is a blank check for the Federal Government to take whatever action deemed necessary to "care for its people", there would be absolutely no reason whatsoever for the Constitution to extend beyond the Preamble outlining its specific course of action.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (11:42 AM) : 

Come on guys, stick to the questions...

When is it leadership, and when is it ignoring the will of the people?

When is it socialism and when is it a hand up?

These are the types of things that are driving people nuts about politics.

It's like this. There are politicians who are for a specific bill "when their party controls congress and the White House."

But when the other party controls those levers of power, they are suddenly against the same specific bill when it is reintroduced by the other party.

How is this consistent and in the best interests of the American people?

How is this not playing politics?

Isn't that what it is when one party calls government aide and subsidies socialism and yet the other doesn't, and the only difference is the party in charge or which party introduced the enabling legislation?


Blogger Beth said ... (6:52 PM) : 

Party should not matter, if that is how you make your decisions then you are not a leader, does that answer the question?


Blogger Tim said ... (7:12 PM) : 

Dave, I don't know the answer to your question, but can only give you my opinion. Why is it always easy for us to find the funds for a needless war (Iraq) in a foriegn land (where we build schools and hospitals) but to do so here is "unfairly crippling the free market?" And why is abortion even a part of this discussion?
Dave, our government needs to stop trying to bend the world to its will and address the pressing issues in America, right in your and my states, our towns, today. If a bunch of tea baggers want to scream about it I could give a rat's you know what. Get out of my face and go listen to Rush vent if it makes them feel better. People need doctors when they are sick, they need jobs, and they need politicians that look out for them and not big business. Jesus was a liberal. He probably was a socialist, too!
These "rugged individualists" who want the government to butt out are just a bunch of cry babies who don't like paying taxes. They will be the first ones to complain when the fire department isn't there to put out the fire in their house, or the police don't arrest the burglers, or their trash is not picked up. Even our military is "socialist". We all pay taxes because a certain level of infrastructure is required to promote the private creation of wealth. We are nowhere near the accademic definition of Socialism: that is, the means of production is owned by the people. Right now, the government is the biggest shareholder in GM and Chrysler, but they are wanting to unload that ASAP, and maybe get a profit out of it. I live near Detroit, and as bad as things are here now, it would have been worse than Katrina if they had not saved these two companies. We are still teetering at the brink of collapse, but the worst has been avioded.
Like you said, we can pay farmers not to grow corn and that's okay, because they are well capitalized, have a strong lobby, and Washington's ear. But an auto worker? just a lazy, over paid, obsolete relic who "can't compete in the global economy".
There's a line in the Bruce Springsteen song "Youngstown"

"Them big boys did what Hitler couldn't do". Talking about closing the steel mills there.


Blogger Beth said ... (10:03 AM) : 

Have you found your answer? I may be posting a similar question at my blog. I often get accused of having pre-conceived notions and of not being open minded, but I consider myself to hold certain principles near and dear, so how can that be considered pre-conceived when I simply call it being consistent?


Blogger Beth said ... (10:05 AM) : 

These "rugged individualists" who want the government to butt out are just a bunch of cry babies who don't like paying taxes.

I have never heard Thomas Jefferson referred to in this way, crybaby? Wow.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (9:38 AM) : 

No Beth I am still waiting. I was reading someone else this morning and he is a GOP person.

Yet he was struggling also with a party that says the government should not be in the business of giving handouts to individuals, or businesses.

Now to me that is a principled stand. he is against gov't involvement, period.

The first commenter said he agreed, except when business needed a hand up to keep them competitive with the rest of the world.

What is the difference? If providing direct aid [social security, health care, etc] to individuals is socialism, then why is providing direct aid to businesses seen as the same?

Why does the GOP, and most conservative bloggers, have a problem bailing out banks and car companies, yet they continue to support subsidies to farmers and other businesses across the US?

What is the difference?


Blogger Tim said ... (12:37 PM) : 

These GOP types ARE the farmers getting the money, that's why. There is no difference at all, is I guess the answer to your question. It's just who is getting the money. Do you prefer Robin Hood (take from the rich, give to the poor and middle class) or Feudalism (take from the poor and middle class, give to the rich).

You could I suppose make the case that GM and Chrysler is socialism because the people (Govt.) own the means of production of the goods (cars) but we did not (and I think we should have) nationalised the banks. They are back to their old tricks of not lending money and paying huge bonuses while they nearly caused a depression.


Blogger Tim said ... (12:43 PM) : 

Thomas Jefferson, Beth died heavily in debt, and was less than the paragon of virtue that you hold him up to be (Sally Hemmings).

He spoke of freedom and self reliance while building his extravigant lifestyle and estate on the backs of slaves.


Blogger TAO said ... (6:05 PM) : 


Public opinion is fickle at best but what a leader must do is to listen to public opinion and then find a way to lead and or direct the debate to the goal that the leader believes is in the best interest of the country and its future.

As far as the constitution goes well its speaks of a militia not an army...a militia defends but an army invades...thus our founding fathers saw no reason for us to go around the world waging war...does that make it unwise? Nothing in the constiution said anything about the government buying property but we have bought alot of land over the years...

It is foolhardy to sit here and believe that we should have done nothing during the great depression and or during the financial collapse of 2008...

In regards to socialism, it appears that anything the government does that benefits individuals is considered socialism but yet anything the government does that benefits companies and or special interests is considered capitalism.

Thats the contradiction of the socialism/free market debate that everyone seems to avoid when throwing the terms around.

Your example of agriculture subsidies is a fine example considering that it costs us alot more than what the current healthcare reform bill could ever cost us...


Blogger Beth said ... (8:23 AM) : 

In regards to socialism, it appears that anything the government does that benefits individuals is considered socialism but yet anything the government does that benefits companies and or special interests is considered capitalism.

That is not capitalism in the least!

As for another thought I had regarding leadership, maybe it the members of Congress had to follow the same laws they pass for us, I would consider it leadership, but when they appear or actually are exempt from the laws they pass, it's politics my friend. This goes for Republicans as well as Deomcrats.


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