Until Midterm Elections...

Scott versus Scott

Welcome to our blog. Here we will debate the days most serious topics and allow users the chance to discuss the topics as well. The range of topics will vary, but one thing will remain certain, the debate will rage on. Scott Lesinski is a proud conservative and Scott Jones is a proud liberal. However, the roles will switch on some topics. Stay tuned.

Scott Lesinski is currently an actuarial associate for a large human resources and insurance consulting firm in Saint Louis. He is also an avid student of US history and enjoys following current events, with an eye to their contextual relationship to the past. He is also, in fact, a former student of Mr. Scott Jones. Scott is working toward his FSA credentials, which is akin to earning a PHD in Actuarial Science.

Scott Jones is currently a high school social studies teacher at a high school in suburban St. Louis, MO. He teaches World History, AP American Government and Senior American Foreign Policy. He has a BS. Ed. (Secondary Social Studies) from the University of Missouri - Columbia and a M.A. (History) from Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on a dissertation in character education to earn a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My guiding philosophy - Scott J.

For our first posts, we decided it would be a good idea to lay out a general political philosophy that we have used to make our decisions about what occurs in our nation and the world as well. To be up front, I consider myself to be a liberal democrat. While you will often see some libertarian ideas in my posts, more often than not, I will tend to fall on the side of liberalism as it comes to solutions.

Many conservatives will point out that liberals believe that it is the job of the government to solve social problems. I will respond to that in a second, but I would like to remind readers that in the Preamble of the United States Constitution, the government is given several jobs including providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare.

All other role of the American government fall into one of those two camps.

First, I want to make it perfectly clear that I do favor the individual for the solution to most problems. John Locke referred to our births as the tabula rosa, the blank slate. However, I tend to fall into the humanist camp as I believe that all humans naturally seek a desire to improve and make every decision through reason to achieve that goal.

However, as we seek to improve, we will sometimes step on the rights of others. Game theory refers to this as the Tragedy of the Commons. In this dilemma, there are five sheep herders sharing a common ground. Each herder has ten sheep on the common ground, which can supply nutrients to 53 sheep.

One herder decides that he can own one more sheep and make more money. He adds his sheep to the common ground and nothing bad happens. Upon seeing this new idea for more profits, each herder add one more sheep to their flock. The result is that all the sheep die because there were now 55 sheep on common ground that could sustain only 53.

In each case, none of the sheep herders did anything basically wrong. However, each broke a social contract. In my view, this is the role of the government.

The government must regulate the common ground and pass laws to regulate the number of sheep so that each herder doesn’t harm the whole from decisions that are basically moral on the surface.

The breakdown of our education system, health care system, crime, etc all come down to our individual decisions that on the surface might not seem wrong, but at its core, cause harm to others. Why recycle? If I don’t what impact can my individual actions have? That person is right, but when everyone makes the same decision, the consequences become readily apparent.

As the government must “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” we must have the government taking care to insure that no person acts in a way that harms another, even if the person doesn’t realize their actions cause such harm.

Obviously, the best way is to pass laws and regulations to prevent such actions.

However, let me be perfectly clear here. If the actions cause no harm to society, or the only harm is to the individual, government must stay out of those areas.

For instance, if two females or two males wish to marry, what harm to others occur?

Other than being offended (which is not enough of a criteria to legislate) or the contrariness to religious beliefs (which should not be a part of any government action), there is no actual harm to others.

As to the idea that it is the role of the government to solve social problems, I agree with Adam Smith. Smith argued that capitalism is essentially moral because the market will eventually kick out the wrongdoers (see Bernie Madoff), but what happens to those hurt by the action before the market principles work themselves out?

The only answer is to have a government with the ability to root out such problems. Granted, 95 percent of us will never do anything that will catch the attention of government, because our actions are either moral or have too small of an effect to cause harm.

In order to check the desires of the 5% (which is another whole post for the future on how to solve that problem) we MUST have government. It is also the role of the government to help us overcome the problems caused by this 5% (see AIG, Lehman Brothers, B of A, Citigroup etc).

As issues develop and Scott and I decide to engage certain topics, these guiding principles will tend to be present in my arguments and comments.

28 comments:

  1. "...if two females or two males wish to marry, what harm to others occur?"

    What's your take on polygamy?

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  2. Polygamy is different from what I implied with the marriage issue. Polygamy is always associated with exploitation of women. A man with several wives has recruited them in the same manner sex trafficers, which is an obvious harm to another.

    With same sex marriage, the development of the relationship and the desire to commit to a relationship is no different than with heterosexual couples.

    My wife and I are friends with a couple (two men) that have shared similar relationship experiences as my wife and I. To deny them the opportunity of marriage is an actual harm to them.

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  3. Scott J, I'm amazed that you and I don't really have quite as different overall beliefs as originally thought. This is going to make for some interesting discussions, especially finding out on how much we actually agree.

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  4. To say that all cases of polygamy are examples of exploitation of women is a gross generalisation. That three or more adults can't participate in a relationship in a healthy manner, in a way similar to monogamous couples, is illogical. It sounds to me like your opinion is based off of being offended and uses similar logic to opponents of gay marriage.

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  5. It may be a generalization, but not a gross one. Polygamy is what's gross.

    Hehehe, couldn't help myself. :)

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  6. Scott J, is the test for an action solely based on if it will cause harm to the masses? Perhaps it was a generalization that was appears in a document that is self proclaimed to be a "general political philosiphy". If so, then fine but I want to take issue with it.

    First off, men marry men and women marrying men in the sheep scenario brings problems to a society. If all in the society participate in this particular action, that society is one generation from extinction since it will not reproduce. Does this argument fail? Or does it make same sex relationship harmful to society and thus something that should be legislated against?

    I will do my best to keep my religious leanings away from the discussion.

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  7. But assuming a whole generation wants to marry the same sex is assuming a whole generation wants to marry the opposite sex. And to take it further, even if you don't allow them to marry it doesn't mean that they won't continue their lifestyle. And if you even do a more unthinkable thing and make being homosexual illegal...it doesn't mean they will marry the opposite sex and create a child.

    So essentially your argument says all men and women must marry the opposite sex and have a child in order to keep society from harming itself. Oh boy that sounds FABULOUS.

    Stopping homosexuals from marrying is not going to stop them from being homosexual...so why do it?

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  8. Here is my view on homosexual marriage...

    Gay people can get married just like straight people can. But "marriage" as it has been historically defined is between one man and one woman. I think alot of conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives, worry about what they view as a devaluing of traditional marriage.

    I may surprise a bunch of you here, but I am still a bit torn on my full opinion regarding the right of homosexuals to marry. In one sense, does anybody have a "right" to be married? It certainly is not spelled out in the constitution. However, we do have the right to pursue happiness. At this point, like Martha pointed out, gay people will be gay just like straight people will be straight, and I see no reason in disallowing gays from receiving similar legal treatment especially when it comes to hospital visitation rights, tax benefits, etc.

    The problem I and many on my side of the aisle have with gay marriage isn't so much the "thing" of it, but the ferocity and outright hatred that we feel is being shoved down our throats. So Massachusets legalizes gay marriage. Or a state judiciary as in California, overrules the VAST majority of its citizenry and overturns a bill defining traditional marriage that passed with 80%+ of the vote.

    This is what MY problem is with the gay movement. Its not enough to be tolerated, they must be actively embraced! Children must be taught about sexuality at younger and younger ages and they are taught that "they might be gay" and its ok. Well, it is OK to be Gay as the saying goes, but do we have to push it on KIDS??

    My opinion still boils down to this: Your rights end where mine begin. You leave me alone, I leave you alone, we do our own thing and be happy. Stop trying to force Christians to accept it, stop trying to (aha!) legislate YOUR version of morality on us! (How do you like THAT one? hehehe)

    Basically, the jury is still out on gay marriage for me. However, I am very torn about gay adoption. I believe the best thing for a child is to be raised by TWO parents, Mom and Dad. Its traditional, its clearly how we reproduce, its the natural way.

    SOrry for the long response.

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  9. I have to disagree with you (haha surprise surprise) with the gay adoption. The best way for a child to be raised is to be raised by someone who loves them. Single, married, gay, straight, black, asian, blue, whatever. A child is raised best in a house full of people who love them for who they are, not by just a household that has a Mommy and a Daddy.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Oh and my FABULOUS comment above came off a little bitchy. That wasn't my intent. I am a 24 year heterosexual woman who has little interest in having children. And if I do decide I want to have children it may be very difficult for me to due to my family history. I would also feel sorry for those women who are infertile. Damn them for being a detriment to our society.

    (I deleted my comment above because it had a major typo haha. The first sentence said was instead of wasn't....whoops.

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  12. To both rikmaxedon and Scott L....

    Assuming a whole generation of children decides to hop on the gay train then you're right, the future of our entire species would be at risk. However, it's guaranteed-never-to-happen arguments like that that distort the truth, and obviously the truth is that that would never happen. If two or even four of the herd of sheep want to go off and be gay with each other that's just fine. They can adopt all the other little accident sheeps produced by all the teen sheeps on prom night.

    I honestly don't see gay marriage as any kind of danger to our future, in fact i see it as helping our future by getting the thousands of orphans living in orphanages and moving from foster home to foster home our and in to homes with parents that love them.

    I also don't see a gay couple adopting a child as "pushing" that lifestyle on them. If a gay child can be born and raised by a heterosexual couple, then why can't in the same way an entirely heterosexual child can be raised by gay parents?

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  13. Interesting that everything I wrote about my guiding philosophy boils down to a discussion about gay marriage. I used the example for two purposed. It is a hot button issue and it fits my example of game theory perfectly.

    First, since homosexuality occurs naturally in only about 4% of any animal population. Let's say 6% of the population chooses to become homosexual for social reasons (i.e. bad relationship with the other sex, etc). That leaves 90% of the population heterosexual. Enough to procreate.

    As to the idea that the only reason to marry is to procreate. I could not find that reason more offensive. For biological reasons, my wife and I cannot have children. Following this line of argument, we should no longer be married. Since it is my wife who has the fertility problem, I guess she is not entitled to a healthy relationship within the idea of marriage. I love my wife more than my own life and she likewise. Children are a byproduct of a marriage when the couple can and chooses to have them. They are not the reason for a successful marriage.

    Therefore, since children are not the reason for getting married, why deny two same sex people the ability to enter into a social legal contract like heterosexual people.

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  14. Rik,

    By all means bring your religious leanings to the debate. While I believe that religion must not be the reason for government decisions, religion is part of our own personal philosophies that influence the way we make decisions. To say otherwise is naive.

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  15. Scott L., you take offense to the fact that a legally oppressed group tries by any means necessary to achieve the legal recognition they feel they deserve?

    Isn't this the same argument the Confederacy made when they felt the Union was attempting to shove abolition down their throats.

    Human rights violations, the denying of a group legal equality in this case, must be stopped and forced if necessary.

    This was also the main reason, after no WMDs were found, for removing Sadaam Hussein from power in Iraq.

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  16. I think that I was misheard on the debate. My point was meant to take a shot at the sheep scenario that Scott J brought up. By no means am I naive enough to think that homosexuality will be the cause of our downfall as a nation because of an inablility to procreate.

    Scott, on a personal note, I had no idea about your wife's infertility. I know a couple that has had that problem and it can deeply painful. You have my prayers. If you are interested, I would like to engage you in that conversation. Perhaps outside this forum.

    As far the religion this goes, I will try not to bring it into the discussion because the state of the church and its most vocal voices in this society are misrepresentative of the sort of Christianity that I hold to. That being the case and tone not being always clear in this sort of medium, I would prefer to not be misunderstood or be lumped in with the obnoxious religious right.

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  17. I wish I knew how to edit my typos.

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  18. Rik,

    No problem about the typos. I have a few in my comments as well. I would love to hear some discussion about Christianity as it applies to this debate. Most people just assume that since I am a liberal that I hate God or something like that. That could not be further from the truth.

    However, I tend to much more of a gospel oriented Christian instead of an Old Testament or a Pauline Christian, two camps that make up most of the religious right. Much of my liberalism is found in the teachings of Jesus.

    I plan on a post sometime in the future on this topic. Stay tuned.

    P.S. Rik, nothing wrong with a round of golf to discuss any and all topics (I'm still working at the country club).

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  19. Scott J,

    Not quite sure how you feel about this, but you did say it...so fair game I suppose.

    I feel like the Confederacy was completely and totally wrong in their outrage over abolition. So while that kind of anger and vitriol may have been present, I'm not sure if it serves your point well to use them as back up for gays wanting marriage rights... ;)

    And yes, I take offense to the indoctrination of children about sexuality in any manner. Six year olds don't need to be reading children books about a gay prince or the boy with two mommies. Lets just keep that discussion of sexuality out of the classroom, especially when we are talking about young children who ought to be learning basic math, reading, and science.

    Martha, I'm not sure where you get your backup for your statement regarding homosexuals raising kids, but I'd prefer to leave this "gay marriage" debate for another day, when we can focus a whole thread about it. Suffice it to say for now, I disagree.

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  20. By all means, let's take out half of the bible and use the half we can manipulate to fit our social ideas. Let's not use the first half that disputes our beliefs. And forget what Paul said about certain issues. Let's just focus on what Jesus did not say. Do you notice how liberals have to adjust the "truth" in any argument and do contortions to always make their points. They draw lines only for those they oppose and label our lines bigotry. The shame is, trying to talk any sense into them is a waste of time. It's the John Wayne v Woody Allen fight. It's not really fair to the liberal.

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  21. smw8,

    What do you mean I pick and choose? Do you eat kosher?

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  22. Now asking if I eat kosher tells me right then and there that you do not know the bible, you need to read what Paul wrote about jews and gentiles and following the laws given in the Old Testament before asking such silly questions. I just love hearing someone say they are more of a new testament christian than old testament. Do I eat kosher? what a silly response, please before you pass on your wisdom and teach make sure you know what you speak of. Read Paul. Read anything.

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  23. Polygamy is a choice, How can you define it as exploitation of woman when they choose the situation. If you are truly for choice and individual liberties then why not fight for polygamy. Why do you deny these people the joy of a union you preserve for yourself. If you are going to argue for choice then you have to be consistent. Conservatives are apparently not the only people who feel they can dictate to others about their personal choice preferences. Welcome to the club Scott J.

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  24. Scott L.

    Didn't mean to make the issue about race. Sorry. All I meant was that when the oppression question is solved, there is no longer a need to be so upfront about gaining rights.

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  25. smw8 - I have no idea who you are, but let's keep the debate on the topics.

    DO NOT PRESUME TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF TEACHER I AM.

    Justy as I have responded to your posts without implying bad things about you (it is okay to disagree without being disagreeable), I would expect the same respect in return.

    If you want to call me ignorant, fine. However, don't show your own while doing so.

    WHAT I WILL NOT TOLERATE ARE YOUR IMPLICATIONS ABOUT ME AS A PERSON AND AS A TEACHER.

    You do not know me, nor I you. Let's act like the adults we are.

    If you would like to read something on this toic since you know how to read and I do not, I would suggest Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends And Influence People."

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  26. @smw8

    Just as I'm sure you don't care what the prophet Muhammad has to say, not everyone cares about what Paul has to say.

    You may feel you are right, but arguments on policy that are based on a religous text will get you nowhere (and rightly so).

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  27. I have reason to believe smw8 is Stan Willis.
    http://twitter.com/smw8. You may remember his 'contributions' from the last Facebook note which have since mysteriously dissappeared.

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  28. Gay marriage, polygamy, children being adopted by gay parents is all wrong and morally defective. People in general are so wrapped up in what they want and what they need. Does anyone ever stop to say just because I can doesn't mean that I should? The thought of two gay parents adopting a child and raising that child is beyond me. We as adults are suppose to be advocates for our children. Instead we want to bring them into situations that are desired by our own flesh to satisfy our human nature without even considering the mental and physical confusion component of such an act. Where do we stop and start teaching our children proper values? Children need protecting and we protect them by showing them the right way and not the deviated ways of life that we as humans have made "right" because we love who we love. God didn't make anything other than male and female with very distinctive parts for very evident reasons.To put those to areas of the body together, that can't even fulfill his purpose, is insane.

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