“And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable. Oh clinical, oh, intellectual, cynical.” — Roger Hodgson
This is a question I get every so often. It was a question my college roommate asked me when we first started rooming together. He noticed that I lived a fairly conservative lifestyle. I never did drugs, smoked dope, or drank excessively. I wasn’t sleeping around. Of course, that one may have never have been an option for me, but you never know until you try I guess.
The fact that we are still very good friends probably says something. Yet, the question was a good one. How could I live a conservative lifestyle and be a liberal politically? Of course, one issue is in how we define these things. What is the appreciable difference between a liberal, progressive, and leftist? I really don’t know and so I will simply describe where I am and let other people do the heavy lifting of applying a label for that.
I classically divide politics into two halves. There are social issues where we try to define how much personal freedom individuals should have. We each acknowledge that perfect freedom does not and should not exist. You literally can’t do anything you want to do. So, the hard work for any society is deciding where to draw that line.
What I decided long ago is that my lifestyle is not necessarily for everyone. So, the logical dividing line in my head meant that others could do whatever they wanted as long as it had no negative impact on others. So, that may include sexual activity, drugs, and other things. We all agree minors deserve special protection and usually go from there. We all agree that harder drugs are impossible to use responsibly and usually go from there.
Where it gets difficult is when I go into the second category of politics and that is with economic issues. Simply put, I subscribe to two truths. The first truth is that a free market economy will always have winners and losers. If we are to call ourselves a Christian society then we have a responsibility to make sure that everyone has at least a minimal standard of living. We can disagree as to what that looks like, but we cannot leave anyone behind. We cannot let anyone starve, freeze to death, or be without a basic level of care. Again, how we prevent those things is open to debate and what exactly that looks like is also open to debate. What isn’t open to debate is our responsibility to humanity.
The second truth is that most people when left to their own devices will do whatever benefits them and them alone. This really isn’t a bad thing necessarily by itself. We are self-interested beings. We should not be surprised when businesses take advantage of consumers. Without regulation, most of us would do the same thing.
So, we need regulation. We need rules. We need guardrails. The difference between the left and the right is view of big business. The right views business as a benevolent force that brings good to the world. Leave them unfettered and they will do the right thing. That’s a bunch of hogwash. Big business does what is best for people and society when that is the profitable thing to do. The minute that profit motive points to doing something else they will do that something else.
Gas and education are perfect examples. We have been discussing college loans recently and the cost of education. The right sees those things as natural consequences of government action. If that government action weren’t there then the cost of those loans and that education would be far less. That’s patently ridiculous. The reason those costs have exploded is that right has been eliminating regulations one by one to free those loaning institutions and higher education institutions to charge the prices they want.
The same is true of the gas prices. Brandon doesn’t set the gas prices. We live in a market economy. If it were really Brandon’s fault then the gas companies would have made less profit than they did before. Instead, they have made more than ever did before. It’s almost as if that were by design. That’s because it was. It comes down to human nature and my belief that ambition must be made to counteract ambition. I seem to remember reading that somewhere once. Of course, that’s just my opinion.