Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Does Pride Still Goeth Before a Fall?

I have to ask after seeing this story about the formerly affluent who now need assistance.

For the charities, the surge in demand has tested their resourcefulness -- and sometimes their patience. Not only must they stock millions of pounds of additional food in bigger warehouses, but they also must adopt fresh tactics to help the newly needy, who can be more bewildered, more emotional and more selective than their traditional clients.

One intake volunteer at Food for Others in Fairfax County, for example, has learned that the formerly affluent won't wait outside in line for food at evening neighborhood giveaways, lest they be spotted.

They'd rather go hungry than be seen getting help? That's not just absurd, it's pathetic.

Security Over Prosperity?

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"

That thought came to mind after reading this story.

By a ratio of nearly two-to-one, survey respondents say they would prefer a job that offers better security (59%) over one that offers higher pay (33%) but less stability.

There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting a job that's secure over one that offers a greater reward with greater risk. In fact, at some point it's a pretty responsible attitude to have. I'm a husband and a father now, with responsibilities of my own. I'd prefer to have a job with some security, even if that means the chances of me becoming a billionaire are miniscule.

I do worry that this healthy attitude can have an unhealthy extreme, however. When you prefer security over everything else, you might as well just hire yourself out as a servant or volunteer to be a slave.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Building Buckley

Over at The Next Right, I have a piece about the need for our generation to take charge of our destiny.

I'm 35-years old, and I've lived in the D.C. political universe for about five years now. While I keep my identity private on this blog, I move in the same social circles as most of the young conservatives inside the Beltway. The only problem is, we're not necessarily the young conservatives anymore. Neither are we a generation that has created anything to call our own (outside of blogs, which, to be perfectly frank, are as problematic as they are purposeful these days). I worry that my generation is wasting our opportunity. We have become a chattering class, not a creator class, and now seem content to tweet while Rome burns.

I want more from my generation. I want more from me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What Do We Do When We Get There?

Over at the Next Right, Rick Moran sums up the current intra-party conflict among conservatives in his post "Movement Conservatives vs. The Pragmatists: The Battle is Joined"

I could have just as easily titled this piece “Ideologues vs. The Realists” or some other descriptive caption for what boils down to a debate now fully underway among conservatives about the best way back to power.

Honestly, I didn't read the rest of what Moran wrote, beceause I was struck by the thought that Moran (and a lot of others on both sides of the argument) is misreading what this argument is about. This is not about finding the best way back to power. Our politics are cyclical, and the Republicans will have future success if for no other reason than the two party system is entrenched in our society and sooner or later (I'm guessing sooner) the party in power will screw up enough that people vote for the alternative. Want to really know the best way back to power? Just wait for it.

This fight is one of those arguments that flair up, almost generationally, to define conservatism itself. One could make the case that the argument actually started during the 2008 primary season, and we're now witnessing the populist/traditional conservative backlash to the failed candidacy of a moderate/pragmatic politician. Backdating the source of our current disagreement is less important, however, than simply and fundamentally recognizing that this isn't an argument about policy, it's an argument about philosophy.

In other words, sooner or later we'll be back in power. The real argument is, "What do we do when we get there?"

Having quickly scanned Moran's post, here's one more thought.

The "modern" conservative movement was created largely in the 1950's with its culminating victory in the the 1980's. A lot has changed in the world since then. I'm of the opinion that a "post-modern" conservatism (however it may come to be defined) should be taken as seriously as the "modern" conservative movement. The arguments between the "elitists" and the "rubes" leaves out one distinct possibility: neither side is completely right, and neither side is completely wrong.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rewriting History

Retired USAF Lt. Col. William Astore says it's time to demilitarize our culture. There are some points I agree with (our support for soldiers should extend to their return home), some I disagree with (I don't find giant flags or military flyovers to be scary), and one statement I have to correct.

Astore, who's now a history professor, writes:

we shouldn't need reminding that this country was originally founded as a civilian society, not a militarized one. Indeed, the revolt of the 13 colonies against the King of England was sparked, in part, by the perceived tyranny of forced quartering of British troops in colonial homes, the heavy hand of an "occupation" army, and taxation that we were told went for our own defense, whether we wanted to be defended or not.

Actually, as far as societies go, our nation was much more militarized at its founding than it is today. True, we didn't have much of a standing army, but able-bodied men were expected to defend their homes, towns, and country against enemies foreign and domestic.

As for the revolt of the 13 colonies, the quartering of British troops before hostilities happened in one location (Boston), and that quartering took place as a result of the citizens of Boston's outright refusal to obey the Stamp Act. Further escalation of troops into Boston came after the destruction of tens of thousands of dollars in private property (the Tea Party). Yes, clearly the quartering of British troops was something that stuck in the craw of our Founding Generation (which is why we have the 3rd Amendment), but I wouldn't say it was a chief cause of the revolution in Massachusetts.

As for the "occupation army", the British troops weren't seen as interlopers or foreigners, because the vast majority of colonists considered themselves to be British, at least until Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" was released in early 1776 (after Lexington, Concord, Fort Ticonderoga, and Bunker Hill). Paul Revere, despite what you may have read, never shouted "The British are coming!" on his midnight right. Instead, he yelled that the "Regulars" were on the march. This was a civil war, not an invasion by an occupying army.

Finally, the taxation issue wasn't about "taxation that we were told went for our own defense, whether we wanted to be defended or not." Oh, the colonists had no problem with defense. In fact, many of the older fighters in the American Revolution fought in the French and Indian War (including George Washington). The problem the colonists had was with the direct taxation from Parliament, rather than taxation through the state assemblies. Perhaps the professor remembers the phrase "No Taxation Without Representation"?

If Professor Astore wants to make his case, that's fine. There's no need to rewrite history, however.