I leave you this fine evening with a column by Jonah Goldberg. Has anyone besides me noticed the asymmetry between “progressivism” and “conservatism”? It should be “progressivism” and “conservativism.”
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
At the risk of obscuring important differences between proponents, the basic commitments of left-libertarianism can be stated fairly simply. Its proponents have staked out a middle ground between the two dominant strains of contemporary political philosophy: the conventional libertarianism of those such as Robert Nozick on the right, and the egalitarianism of those such as Rawls, Dworkin, and Sen on the left. Both the right and the left, in this oversimplified political topography, refuse to distinguish sharply in their distributive schemes between internal endowments (for which I shall use “talents” as a placeholder) and external resources. The libertarian right permits individuals to assert strong ownership rights over both; the egalitarian left permits individuals to assert strong ownership rights over neither. Left-libertarians have, in effect, split the difference between the two. They side with the libertarian right in favor of a strong (“universal”) right of self-ownership. Like traditional (Lockean) libertarians on the right, they take self-ownership to mean, among other things, that individuals own the products of their labor, and (at least at first cut) by extension own the differential incomes those products can command. But they side with the egalitarian left in holding that individuals have no right to a disproportionate share of the external resources of the world—a view (borrowing further from the right) that they house in Locke’s famous proviso that each may appropriate only so much as leaves others with “enough, and as good” a share. That middle way represents, for left-libertarians, the “road not taken” by libertarianism when it veered off into radical individualism in the late nineteenth century, led (in an abrupt about-face) by Spencer himself.
(Barbara H. Fried, “Left-Libertarianism: A Review Essay,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 32 [winter 2004]: 66-92, at 67-8 [footnotes omitted])
To the Editor:
Re “What Part of ‘Illegal’ Don’t You Understand?,” by Lawrence Downes (Editorial Observer, Oct. 28):
I am, by any standards, a liberal, and am therefore much disturbed by the blanket terms “immigrants,” “immigration” and “migrant workers” when the distinction between legal and illegal is not made. Many illegal immigrants are admirable in their drive, determination and willingness to do whatever it takes to get here and work here. But they are here illegally, send vast amounts of money out of the country to their home countries and are often paid under the table. The cost to taxpayers of supportive services outweighs the value of illegal worker contributions.
Illegal is illegal no matter how touching, courageous or worthy the back story is.
Stamford, Conn., Oct. 28, 2007
To the Editor:
Lawrence Downes shares a laundry list of derogatory comments that he has supposedly heard within the context of the immigration debate. He may be listening to real voices, but he is not listening to the majority of people who oppose illegal immigration.
We oppose illegal immigration because it is illegal, unfair and unwise. It is an illegal act that seriously undermines the rule of law. It is a selfish act that is terribly unfair to millions of other aspiring immigrants who patiently participate in our legal immigration system. And it is an unwise act because it creates a class of people in this country who are uniquely vulnerable; and also unwise because it sustains an underground culture and economy that could one day convey, shelter and support a small number of people who wish to destroy our cities, our freedom and our way of life.
Rincón, P.R., Oct. 28, 2007
To the Editor:
I am repeatedly frustrated by the implication by Lawrence Downes and others that by default those who oppose illegal immigration are promoting (or at the very least laying the ground for) a racist agenda.
The word “illegal” is not a dirty word. It is to the point and honest, as it spells out the obvious difference in this case between those who are here lawfully and those who are not. To suggest that it is a “code word for racial and ethnic hatred” is disingenuous at best and only adds fuel to the fire. It has been used over and over in an attempt to stifle honest discussion on this topic as well as on a range of others.
We need an honest debate. Let’s keep the question of race out of it.
Minnetonka, Minn., Oct. 28, 2007
Note from KBJ: Sad to say, but many progressives (such as Lawrence Downes and Brian Leiter) are incapable of addressing arguments. When someone says something with which they disagree, they seek to discredit the person. This is why you see so many accusations, by progressives, of racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, colonialism, homophobia, bigotry, prejudice, and xenophobia. The problem, of course, is that motives are not reasons. Badly motivated people can make sound arguments, and well-motivated people can make unsound ones. Whether an argument is sound depends on two things: its form and its content. It has nothing to do with who makes it, or why. If you’re committed to rational inquiry, you might want to think twice about collaborating with people who devalue it.
Note 2 from KBJ: I commented on Downes’s op-ed column the other day. See here. Note that I did not do what Downes does. Suppose I had. What would it look like? It would look like this: “Downes is a xenophile. He loves Mexicans. That’s why he advocates open borders.” That’s scurrilous stuff, isn’t it? But it’s exactly what Downes does, in the opposite direction. He simply accuses his opponents of xenophobia, or hatred of Mexicans. How edifying. That the New York Times gave him a forum for this pointless, insulting rant tells you everything you need to know about the New York Times.
Can we talk—about Alex Rodriguez? I like to think I understand him, and the effect he has on a baseball team, since (1) I used to like him (when he played for the Seattle Mariners and my adopted Texas Rangers) and (2) I now dislike him (once he began playing for the New York Yankees). He played for the Rangers for three years. During this time, I watched every game on television, saw every one of his plate appearances, read everything he said to local reporters, and listened to what his manager and teammates said about him.
A-Rod is a cancer. It’s hard to articulate why. First, understand that no current teammate of A-Rod’s would dare criticize him publicly. So the fact that A-Rod’s fellow Yankees haven’t said anything bad about him during his time there is not evidence that they liked having him as a teammate. It’s even reasonable to believe that his teammates will say good things about him even if they don’t believe them, for the sake of team camaraderie.
The first negative effect A-Rod has on a team is that he consumes a large proportion of its salary. This means that the team can’t spend as much money on other players. Yes, A-Rod puts up big numbers. He always has and always will. He is a wonderfully talented athlete. But are his numbers big enough to justify the expenditure? Maybe not. Second, there is this thing called envy. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. Every human being experiences it, even if few are willing to admit it. How do you think Derek Jeter feels when he looks to his right while playing shortstop and realizes that A-Rod earns several million more dollars per year than he does? Envy eats away at people. It can’t but hurt a team’s performance. Once again, Derek Jeter would never say that he’s envious, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t. If anything, we know that Jeter wouldn’t say anything even if he were envious. He’s a classy person.
Third, if you listen to A-Rod, he talks mainly about himself. He’s egotistical. His teammates hear this and come to the conclusion that, if push came to shove, he’d look out for himself before sacrificing for his team. Just look at A-Rod’s career. He has always sought the main chance. He fled Seattle; he fled Texas; and now he is fleeing New York. Loyalty isn’t the only thing, to be sure, but it’s important. Players who don’t demonstrate their loyalty, in both large and small ways, forfeit their teammates’ respect and trust. This is not good for a team. Would the Yankees have won more games with Mike Lowell at third base than they did with A-Rod at third? Don’t just mindlessly answer no, based on A-Rod’s numbers. Look at the whole picture, including the intangibles. Players don’t win World Series; teams do.
It would be inaccurate to say that A-Rod cares only about money. He wants to win, and that’s good. But what is he willing to do to win? Is he willing to take a pay cut? Is he willing to sacrifice individual awards? Would he lay down a bunt in an important situation? A-Rod quarreled with Buck Showalter because Showalter told A-Rod that he would no longer be allowed to call pitches from the shortstop position. I kid you not. Several Yankee fans have said during the year that A-Rod was thoroughly integrated into the team. They said that A-Rod’s teammates genuinely liked him. The teammates (it was said) looked on in amazement when A-Rod hit towering home runs, and celebrated uproariously whenever he hit a walk-off home run. All this shows is that A-Rod’s teammates wanted to win. They valued A-Rod’s contribution. This may offset any negative feelings they have about him, but it doesn’t negate those feelings.
I realize that this is not a knock-down, drag-out argument. Much of what I say here can (and should) be contested. It just seems to me, having watched A-Rod for many years, that he has a number of subtle but negative effects on a team. I don’t think it’s an accident that he’s never played in a World Series. I wouldn’t be surprised if he never did.
Addendum: Have you heard the expression, “Love is blind”? Think about what it means. When you’re in love, you literally don’t see the faults in your beloved. Your friends do, but you don’t. I came to dislike A-Rod at about the time he left the Rangers. There are two explanations for this. The first (cynical) explanation is that it’s sour grapes. Keith can’t have A-Rod, so he pretends he doesn’t want A-Rod. The second explanation is that his leaving gave me detachment. I was blinded. When he left, I was able to see things that were hidden from me. (If you’ve ever broken off a relationship, you know what I’m talking about.) The person who is best able to understand A-Rod is someone who has both liked and disliked him. I’m one of those people. If A-Rod leaves the Yankees, as he almost certainly will, Yankee fans will gain the necessary detachment. They will begin to see the subtle ways in which he harmed the Yankees.
Addendum 2: Here is a New York Times story about A-Rod. If you’re a Yankee fan, tell me what you want. Do you want the Yankees to pursue A-Rod as a free agent? Do you want the Yankees to pursue Mike Lowell? Should the Yankees trade for a third baseman? Also, do you think A-Rod will insist on going back to shortstop for whichever team signs him?
Addendum 3: Is Joe Torre going to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers? See here.
Watched Hannity interview Mitt & Wife last night. Almost throughout Debonair Mitt allowed his Lovely to hold his hand in hers IN HER LAP.
The word lapdog came to mind. One needs both hands FREE when gesticulation is required. And it IS when making strong (manly?) statements. The hand-holding nullified otherwise sensible ramblings. Keep the damn spouses OUT of this! (The clutched hand reminded me of a moth caught in a web. Apt.)
Jeez. A year to go. Apoplexy. Come next November I should just buy a small gentleman’s farm and do nothing but raise golden retrievers. Let there be peace in the valley as the Queen Bee no longer needs to dissimulate and life as we know it begins to circle the drain. I’ll frolic with golden pups in a misty meadow. Serene. No pantsuits. No cackling. No icy stares. No thrown lamps. No disdain. No sanctimony. Let the world digest Her without me.
Will “Give Me a Candidate with Onions” Nehs
Note from KBJ: President Hillary will grow on you, Will, so much so that you will vote for her in 2012.