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.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Good Intentions Never Fed a Starving Child

Apologies to all you Clintonites out there for partially stealing his slick phrase, but it works so well.

This post has been in the works for a while now. The main thrust has been a question of mine since I was old enough to really start learning and following politics, around seventh grade. It’s more like a two-part question actually:

Why, when we have so much evidence that their policies do not work as they claim, do Democrats continue to get elected?

And why do so many people judge these policies and the politicians pushing them based on their “good intentions”?

It seems like common knowledge these days that Republicans are for Big Business and Democrats are for “The Little Guy”. But do these stereotypes truly hold water? And to go even further, is there any cross over? Is it possible that our preconceived notions about these monikers are wrong?

Let’s examine the Big Business claim about Republicans first. Is it a good assessment of conservative Republican (and let me just throw out the RINOs for this analysis) policies and beliefs to say that they are the party of Big Business? Well, here is the basic platform of Conservative Republicans as it relates to the economy:

1) Cut tax rates (for everyone who already pays taxes, so individuals, corporations, small businesses, consumers, on down the line)
2) Remove as much onerous government regulation as is possible and still maintain a good framework of rules for good business practice

The Conservative wants the Individual to retain as much autonomy as possible. He believes in the power of the market, of millions of interdependent decisions being made constantly, to produce the best and most efficient use of our resources and also promote the greatest expansion of wealth and quality of life. So while I believe it is true that Conservative ideals support big business, it is merely a byproduct of supporting the whole of the economy.

The Liberal will counter and claim that Capitalism may produce the biggest and best, but what about the poor and those who fall through the cracks? If one has no practical value to add to the market, they claim Republican policies leave that person hanging. Well, Adam Smith pointed this out as well, and Conservatives have conceded a very basic safety net in the form of unemployment benefits, social security insurance, etc. The Conservative believes that independent charities are far better at caring for the truly destitute; however we make some exceptions and permit a very limited role for government with respect to welfare.

Now lets look at the Liberal stereotype, that of being for the little guy. It is this attribution that has me most questioning the reasoning power of the American people; especially the millions of poor people who keep voting Democrat election after election without seeing their lot in life improve. Let us examine the first Great American Socialist – Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In many respects, this man’s presidency greatly resembles that of our current president. He swept into office amidst a quickly worsening economic crisis and promptly set about enacting the very same sorts of “stimulus” programs to try and save the economy as our current administration. The idea of “make-work” programs was begun under FDR. People were literally paid to dig ditches and then fill them back up. Vast amounts of money were spent on shoring up state governments, as now. However, two UCLA economists determined that because FDR did what he did, the Great Depression endured 7-8 years longer than it would have if left alone. Remember, the unemployment rate during FDR’s years preceding 1941 and the boom of WWII never dropped below 10%. And yet for some reason, despite the obvious failure of his liberal policies to revive the economy and improve the plight of not only the little guy but everyone, he is remembered as this great president.

Fast forward to LBJ, the Great Society, and what is now the longest running war in American history, The War on Poverty. In a comment on SJ’s previous post, I declared the War on Poverty a failure. I believe that statement is undeniably true. Just look what the Democrats keep telling us about how terrible it is for women and minorities. We need this National Healthcare to provide for the common welfare and ensure that all can have access to healthcare when needed because of the huge impoverished population out there. We have spent billions and billions of dollars redistributing wealth from the producers to the nonproducers and still the problem persists. Yet we are constantly told that we must do more, we must give up a little more of our money for taxes, just this next program will be the salvation.

When will the poor in America wake up and realize that they are being perpetually kept in a state of poverty? Whether by ineptitude or by design, liberal policies supposedly enacted to get people out of poverty has done the exact opposite – and yet the bulk of the group being kept in poverty keeps sending their slave masters back to Washington.

The following is a collection of links to video clips showing many of these poor souls in Detroit, Michigan – one of the bluest states in the Union – as they clamber for “Obama Money” and even praise him for giving him money from “his stash”

To me, these two sound/video clips are heartbreaking. The poor women in the first clip are pressed on the question of where is Obama getting the money he plans to pass out and neither of them can answer the very easy true answer, “The taxpayers of America”. They have literally been brainwashed by liberal propaganda into believing that Obama is going to care for all their needs and give them money. They even admit the whole scheme “that’s why we voted for him!” The sad truth in all of this is that there are millions of Americans who barely eek out a life, never fulfilling their dreams, never pursuing levels of success of which they are most certainly capable.

I had an epiphany the other night. Here is the best way I’ve come up to explain the difference between liberalism and conservatism. Forgive me, but I’ll need to use some psychology to explain.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow introduced a paper in which he discussed the hierarchy of needs that motivate human behavior.

He used a pyramid to demonstrate his point. At the bottom of the pyramid are purely physiological needs (oxygen, food, water, sex, etc). The next level is safety needs (base security of employment, body, family, health, property). Then he lists love/belonging and self-esteem as the third and fourth level. The ultimate top of the pyramid is Self Actualization.

I assert that Socialism/Leftism/Statism not only specifically targets the first and second levels of this needs hierarchy, it can only hope to provide for the first two levels! Think about it for a minute: liberals ultimately propose that we place ever increasing taxes on the rich and successful in order to provide for a meager subsistence for “the masses”. This has been true for all of Statism’s failed attempts all throughout the history of Man. Just look at the examples of audio I showed before; these people are giving up ALL dignity and self-respect for the mere chance of getting some of the scraps from Obama’s table. Unfortunately, as the great Margaret Thatcher so eloquently pointed out, “The problem with socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money”. That truth cannot be overstated nor avoided.

Meanwhile, at its core, conservatism represents the rugged individualistic spirit of the American Founding. The Conservative seeks to inspire everyone, despite their current station in life, to strive to succeed as wildly as possible. The Conservative knows the weakness of government and as such, he wants to remove as many restrictions on individual freedom as possible. This provides for the opportunity for each of us to seek the fifth and highest level of Maslow’s needs hierarchy: Self Actualization.

The quirky thing about Self Actualization is that it cannot be provided to you. No matter how many stimulus programs get passed or how many billions or trillions of dollars get redistributed, the State cannot satisfy this need. Conservatives know that the country will be most successful and the greatest number of people will experience the highest quality of life if more and more people are Self Actualizing – that is, doing what they truly were born to do. Keeping “the masses” doped up on government handouts prevents this success from occurring.

I do not believe all liberals see the poor and minorities as simply blocks of voters to be exploited. For instance, I fully believe that my liberal counterpart on this blog has the best for America in his heart and that we just disagree on how to achieve that. The sinister problem is that the elected Democrats in office do see the thousands of poor blacks turning out in Detroit, looking for Obama money, as a good thing. Obama sees those people as permanent voters. He and his liberal elites are promoting a huge con game on these innocents. And the reason they are able to do so is that they have infiltrated the most important tool for preventing such brainwashing: The Education System.

As SJ has pointed out in previous postings and I have agreed, our current educational system is severely lacking. Both of us agree that the solution is not in pouring more money down a black hole, rather its in fundamentally changing the system so as to promote true success – both by students and, possibly more importantly, by teachers. Also, the corruption must go. We need some radical changes to be made. Many conservatives argue vouchers are best. I like this idea but realize it may be impractical for all Americans. We need a way to work within the bounds of the public system to shake up the choke hold that liberal elites have on what is being taught to our children. No more social promotions. No more “WAM”. No more “Late work is not allowed” BS. Teach students real-world accountability. Teach them the truth of the American founding. Teach the principles of the free market. Stop promoting a one-sided liberal agenda (I know its not utterly universal, but the vast majority of teachers are liberal and unfortunately, most have a problem keeping their political views to themselves).

Most importantly, we need our schools to be the primary place where Self Actualization is preached. For this, we need teachers who give a damn. I really respect my counterpart in this regard because I personally know the extent to which he works every day to see to it that at least the students he touches learn this important message. Unfortunately, too many students get pushed through the system just to keep up the allotment of school days.

In summary, I hope this message has made you think about your fundamental precepts about politics. While neither side has a monopoly on the answers, it is my belief that the American people are best at providing them, not government bureaucrats. Liberals may have good intentions, but we ought to examine their results every now and again and ask ourselves, “Are we any better off with all these liberal policies or are we just digging ourselves a hole from which it is getting harder to escape each and every day?”


  1. Interesting application of Maslow. In fact, I can't disagree with your assertion. In essence, you describe exactly why we need both a liberal and conservative outlook. If one can not meet the first two levels, then the upper levels can not be met.

    The first two levels are social obligations, the third level is a mix of social and personal and the top two levels are individual obligations.

    Social versus individual...Hmmm...Sounds like the basic disagreement between a liberal philosophy and the a conservative one.

    I actually have a post in the works on liberal philosophy in the works and will probably post it later in the week.

  2. I think you misunderstand. I asserted that the Social can only hope to provide the first two levels of needs. However, as Margaret Thatcher pointed out, the Social needs the individual to earn money it can tax and redistribute.

    There is a way for socialism to "provide" for the first two sets of needs, but it can only ensure equal misery in so doing.

    The real divide in philosophy is whether or not Reagan's assertion is true - that a "rising tide floats all boats". You see, socialism comes at the economy from a mercantilist view. This means the socialist seems to view the economy as a static pie and if one man gets rich, another must get poor to compensate. Ever heard the phrase "zero-sum game"? This is what that phrase means.

    However, our economy is not a zero sum game as liberals would have us believe. I can get rich independent of you getting poor. It is possible for everyone to experience growth in wealth over time. It is true that capitalism results in an unequal distribution of wealth, but those inequalities provide the means for income mobility.

    Here's an anecdote from history. When the Mayflower landed and began its first colony in America, the settlers experimented with socialism. Everyone was to work the fields and then take his share of the harvest. Unfortunately, human nature took over and with no incentive to work, they soon had a problem with freeloaders. The colony was really in trouble. The Governor William Bradford began the first experiment with capitalism. He divided up the land and told each family that they could keep whatever they produced and trade the excess. The results were astounding, and America never looked back...for long.

  3. Something else that differentiates conservative philosophy from liberal philosophy:

    You see the first two levels of needs as "social obligations". I presume to understand that you mean society has an obligation to provide for basic physiological needs and for the safety need.

    I view this slightly differently and its because of my individualistic outlook.

    I think society has an obligation to make available the means for individuals to provide for these needs for themselves. Obviously in the case of children and other invalids who are, by no fault of their own, unable to provide for themselves, the obligation does then fall to society to ensure at least the first two levels of needs are met.

    But being poor does not qualify one as unable to provide for themselves. If one is physically capable of work, then in this country there ought not be any reason why the most basic needs cannot be met. I say "ought not be" because in the absence of government mucking around in the economy as we had with the Community redevelopment and reinvestment act in 1970, TARP, and this bloated "stimulus" package, prolonged periods of high unemployment are not the norm. The market adjusts and things get back to normal quickly.

    Sure, people need help every once and a while, but prolonged exposure to the government welfare state serves as an opiate to the individual spirit. People don't need cradle to the grave protection from government; they need a firm hand up and sometimes, a swift kick in the behind to have some self-respect, take some initiative and provide for themselves.

    "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life."