“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Embarrassed to be conservative

I find myself going "off topic" more frequently on this blog as it becomes an avenue for me to express opinions on sociological and political matters. This may cause some dismay for those who've followed me to understand how it's possible to get 21 m.p.g. in a Land Rover or the effect on U.S. primary energy consumption should everyone switch to hypermiling. Sorry.

As I've intimated from time to time, I'm not a big government liberal. If anything, my political philosophy revolves around small-l libertarianism. That is, personal responsibility for outcomes and minimal government involvement in the day-to-day lives of the populace. I don't tend to support the attitude of "there's something we don't like, let's involve the government in the solution," and thus could be considered "conservative" in a sense. But what is it I'd like to conserve?

I'd like to conserve the natural resources necessary for both the advancement of civilization and the health of the entire ecology. I'd like to conserve our financial resources to enable us to invest in our future. I'd like to conserve our freedom to act in our own best interest so long as it can be done without the use of force, the threat of force, fraud, or coercion. In a nutshell, I believe that's what conservatism should mean.

I don't want to waste time and bytes on the truly wacko birthers and the like, though I'd point out that those who decry that conservatism leads to birther morons must then acknowledge that liberalism leads to truther fools (though I'll concede that there are nut cases of the black helicopter variety in the truther movement as well). In any case, my problem is with what has now become "mainstream" conservatism as represented by James Inhofe, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, George Will, etc.

These spokespersons and their ilk have turned the political discourse into a win at all costs war. Among the casualties of this war are civility, honesty, integrity, and reason. The "death panels" are one of the latest examples of the intellectual corruption of the conservative movement. As Mark Hoofnagle states in his Denialism blog post, there is a debate to be had on health care, but the idiotic shrieking and bald faced lies of the so-called conservatives are preventing us from having it.

Similarly, how to proceed to a world of lower energy conversion rates, given the extremely low rates and high populations of the developing world and their reasonable desire to increase those rates, is a complex topic requiring reasoned discussion and rational action. Whether one comes at the energy issue from the point of view of peak oil and resource depletion, climate change, or both, it's clear to any thinking person that we can't have nine billion people converting primary energy to heat at the U.S. rate of 11 kilowatts per capita. This would lead to a complete collapse of civilization, either through self-poisoning or complete resource depletion, or both, economic theory notwithstanding.

Yet the Moranos and the Inhofes continually propagate all manner of distortions implying that business as usual is the answer.

I'm not a big fan of categorizing my political philosophy with a single word, but if those I've mentioned are conservative, I most certainly would be embarrassed for the word to be applied to me.

1 comment:

Francis Bell said...
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