Some Positive Words from John McCain

I’m on record as having previously been a fan of McCain. Over the past six or so years I’ve been extremely disappointed and disillusioned by his seeming veer to the right, and I’m vehemently opposed to his hawkish foreign policy tendencies. But when McCain continues to say things like this, I can’t entirely rule him out.

The senator briefly addressed the troubled economy, saying that struggling Americans, not corporations, should receive a hand from the government.

“There are people who are sitting around the kitchen table, families today, that are saying, are we gonna have to take an extra job? Are we gonna have to dig into our savings? Are we gonna have to take extraordinary measures in order to remain in our home? And I want to emphasize that those are the people that should be the object of our attention and our care,” the senator from Arizona said. “Not the lender who lent money under circumstances which were very onerous, or to people that did not really qualify (KCPW report, 03/28/08).”

Maybe it’s just empty words, like president Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.” But given McCain’s history of fighting corporate welfare and lobbying, the fact that his domestic agenda has typically been more populist than the typical Republican, there is a part of me which still holds out hope.

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31 Responses to “Some Positive Words from John McCain”

  1. jennifer Says:

    Well, I don’t exactly adore John McCain, but I don’t loathe him either. We could certainly have a worse nominee from the right. I think that some of his ideas for immigration reform are worth hearing and considering (what I understood is that he proposed securing our borders and finding ways to allow undocumented/illegal immigrants already here to work towards citizenship over a period of time if they meet the conditions)

    His response to the economic woes echo many people’s sentiments. Perhaps more troubling is that now even businesses and individuals who have worked responsibly and prudently will be picking up the tab for businesses and individuals who were greedy and foolish. They’ve managed to share the risk of their dealings with all the taxpayers. Last week on the radio I heard a proposal to follow the lead from the UK wherein tax money could be used to “bail out” certain scenarios, but that the taxpayers must be reimbursed by profits (meaning we can share the risk if we can share the benefits too). Made a lot of sense, but not likely to get much traction here in the US.

  2. Nikki Says:

    I wish he had a better healthcare plan for America than more of the same. This an issue that is also crippling our economy.

  3. jennifer Says:

    Bankrupting us collectively and individually – – – –

  4. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Just a couple of thoughts. I know I am about to tread on some very thin ice with some of you, but I have some very hesitant feelings about a bail-out. He’s certainly not perfect, but I find a lot to admire about McCain (his 30-year fight against government waste, his take on immigration, etc.) However, I’m not sure what to make of his comments here. There are certainly lenders and businesses who have been predatory. They are scum, they should be punished, and I in no way defend their actions. However, I just can’t see why people feel entitled to be shielded from their own actions. For every lender who pushed through a loan that shouldn’t have gone through, there is a head of family who knows his/her credit history and should be able to accept responsibility for making payments. I don’t want to be a merciless bastard, and certainly have empathy for them, but in most cases it is largely their own mistakes that put them in the situation in the first place. I have taken an extra job before, just last summer, to make ends meet while I built up a business that was not producing much for the first little while (and still have a long way to go), so I know how much it sucks to have to do those things. But it’s not an epic tragedy either. Sometimes we have to suck it up and do what’s necessary to help ourselves, and we come out better in the end. I would like to hear more about what is being done in England.

    Secondly, I take somewhat of an exception to the assumption that because Bush has made more of a mess out of the Middle East, his “compassionate conservatism” is just empty words. There was an article in Time Magazine a couple of weeks ago that really made me reconsider some of the labels we’ve given him. The writer pointed out the billions of dollars that Bush has given to Africa, exceeding anything that has been done before, and the lack of recognition it’s gotten. And he hasn’t even made a great effort to point it out, which shows me that despite his many flaws, he really isn’t overly concerned or egotistical about his own legacy. And this one is really going to draw fire: I would say that the tax cuts show compassion. People like to talk about how much corporations have gotten from it, but the fact is that everyone has benefited. Before you go on about how he is ruining the budget and we shouldn’t be passing the buck on to future generations, I agree. As a so-called conservative and having been in business as long as he was, there is no excuse for him to not have tried to balance the budget. But the m.o. of Washington existed long before W. was even a twinkle in Barbara’s eye, and the war, as expensive and head-crushingly frustrating as it has been, is not even close to the biggest part of the budget, although many would like to be able to say it has broken us by itself. It is just one more thing we are pumping way too much money into.

    Okay, now retort.

  5. Jennifer Says:

    Sorry Aaron I don’t have more details about the England situation. Don’t be shocked here – but I don’t solely blame corporations and lenders on this one. There was greed and foolishness for both lenders and borrowers to go around.

    Calling the tax cuts compassionate is, well, one way to look at it. I think that most families earning less than say, $80,000 would rather have the money spent on reforming our health care debacle. Any home equity or investments can easily be wiped out from a medical emergency (insurance aside). And those families often cannot buy health insurance w/the tax cuts.

  6. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Aaron, there is no purpose in rehashing the moral conservative argument against social justice again. But I would ask you how you like lenders being bailed out (ie, Bear Steans). Should small individuals be required to accept responsibility, while large, powerful institutions bailed out?

    As to President Bush’s claim to the compassionate conservative label, I would generally disagree. He isn’t some subhuman monster, but he has hardly fulfilled the promise of compassionate conservatism. He established the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and then (according to David Kuo, deputy director of that office and by no means a partisan liberal) did little to promote charity/social causes, instead exploiting it for partisan purposes. Jim Wallis wrote a very good essay on Bush’s lack of compassionate works at home.

    Given the amount of press and posturing Bush did on his recent trip to Africa, I would hardly think it shows humility or lack of interest in his “legacy.” He reminded me of Clinton’s last minute effort to try help Israel and Palestine arrange a peace; both realized that they are looking pretty mediocre in the public eye, and want to find something they can hang their hat on for the history books. And while I’m encouraged at the funds being spent in Africa for health needs, I wonder what role U.S. interests in AFRICOM and the various oil resources might play in the administration’s largess.

    Very good points about health care, Jennifer and Nikki (welcome, Nikki!). Another point Wallis addressed. And yes, Jennifer, you are right. Tax cuts (even in the form of rebates) are hardly compassionate. They are merely conservative policy.

  7. D. Sirmize Says:

    “Should small individuals be required to accept responsibility, while large, powerful institutions bailed out?”

    Absolutely not. Bail nobody out. Sometimes change is only possible once you hit rock bottom. If you don’t let somebody (or a company, organization, industry, etc.) hit rock bottom, you only enable their negative behavior.

  8. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Derek… I’m confused. What do you mean there’s no point rehashing the social justice argument again? It came up again, and you refuse to hold individuals to the documents they signed, which seems to go against the arguments you love so much about honoring one’s word. Why are you throwing the argument of lenders being bailed out at me? I already said, and I quote, “They are scum, they should be punished, and I in no way defend their actions”. And I would add, no, of course they shouldn’t be bailed out. And I’m not against looking at some hardship cases that in the long run could help everybody to provide some relief for. But it is reprehensible to me how many people can’t be adults, and how quick you are to point at the lenders as the guilty parties. Do individuals have no responsibility in their own financial affairs anymore? Educate yourselves; the information is out there. Sirmize is absolutely right that this only enables negative behavior and even downright stupidity.

    About the Bush aid to Africa, it started long before the public had soured on him. Unfortunately, I think your dismissive attitude is where we’re at in political discourse now: everyone’s motives are always suspect no matter what. It couldn’t possibly be that Bush actually cares about people. Everything is analyzed to death, and I guess we’re beyond giving a politician we don’t like his dues for anything at all.

    Lastly, tax cuts not compassionate? Hmm. I guess it’s more compassionate to let the big bloated federal government spend it, because we certainly aren’t capable of spending it wisely. Won’t come in handy to low-income families at all. I am starting to steam a little bit here. Health care is going to take some time, and obviously isn’t a big priority for Bush, but it seems fairly obvious a major review is likely to come next year. I repeat what I said earlier: can’t you have a little gratitude for what you are getting? Rather than look for what’s wrong and what Bush should be doing instead, can’t you be a little happy that now you can take a trip to Yellowstone, or start a little savings account, or pay off some debt. Explain again how liberalism is optimistic?

  9. Aaron Orgill Says:

    By the way, Jennifer, I have this soft spot for you for some reason, so it pains me to rebuke you: I’m not sure how you can speak for the majority of those making under $80,000 per year. There are at least three major class groups in that range. And if you belong to the lower-income of that spectrum, (and I don’t mean to degrade, as I happen to be at the same level right now), I would think some extra cash could come in handy. I share your concern about health care, but it seems that there is a lot to talk about before we can fix that mess, so in the meantime, I hope the extra check in May from Uncle Bush gives you and your family a boost, whether you appreciate it or not.

  10. jennifer Says:

    Look Aaron – we’re cool. You and I disagree on some things, but we do agree on plenty of other things.

    Lumping that income group together was maybe not the best explanation, but I used the number to illustrate that large swaths of people are vulnerable to bankruptcy and asset liquidation – here in the industrialized USA where citizens are personally liable for injury and illness – and even people with insurance are going bankrupt when faced with medical crises. We can tackle it now or wait till all the baby boomers are really old and really sick. It ain’t getting cheaper.

    Yes, I will find uses for the Beijing money, I mean Bush money. It just doesn’t make any sense to borrow the money from China to stave off recession (which most people agree is already upon us). Since we’re already borrowing billions of dollars every month to fund the escapade in Iraq/Afghanistan…. (but not listing it in the annual budget)

    See, if I could run my family budget like that, I’d be set!

  11. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I feel ya. I really do. And I admire you for being one with the brains to say, “I’d rather have health care fixed than a piddling one or two thousand that is going to be sucked up into something else”. It is fairly clear from the state of things that a lot of people don’t have the foresight to think that way. And no, it’s not getting cheaper, and I would rather we start talking about it now rather than wait until Obama or whomever is in office, but I’m not sure that $1200 to $1800 per household is enough to fix the problem, so I just think we should take what we are being offered now and try to better our situation, regardless of what other problems are there. As I already said, the monumental fiscal irresponsibility of Washington has been around for years, so that Bush isn’t changing things singlehandedly is no surprise. One wishes that someone would just put a stop to it, but to be fair, for one man to take that on is kind of like walking into the middle of a raging river and putting his hand forward to stop it. So I don’t give him points for trying, but I don’t penalize him either. It just makes him another politician who is part of the problem. The war, as expensive and unpopular as it is, isn’t nearly as big a part of the budget as many think, and that of itself reveals why we’re in a heap of trouble.

  12. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Aaron, the moral conservative argument against social justice (or compassion) is that by being compassionate toward (“bailing out”) the poor, disadvantaged, and abused will breed carelessness and laziness. You are using that argument against helping out those hurt by the subprime mortguage fiasco. I’m not interested in once again refuting that position; go back and read the post on the moral conservative argument if you need to have that argument refuted again. If you believe the moral conservative argument trumps the King Benjamin, there is no reason to rehash it here.

    BTW, I agree that there were land speculators and others merely trying to make a bundle only to have it blow up in their faces. I’m much less interested in their plight. But those who were merely trying to have a home, and who were suckered in by disingenuous sales-speak and confusing legalese, those deserve compassion.

    I was not “throwing the argument of lenders being bailed out” at you. I was asking you a question, a sincere question about where you stood on how to address the issue of this or other economic crises.

    You apparently misunderstand the meaning of compassion. Compassion is about sacrificing to help those in need. Tax cuts go primarily to those who already have, much less to those who don’t have and who need. Not compassionate. Liberalism is optimistic because we believe we can do better than that sort of selfishness.

    Yippee. I’m getting a few hundred bucks back. Happy now? I’m not gushing about the tax rebate or tax cuts because I’m not interested in token efforts or one-time productions. I’m concerned with systemic change to better protect the interests of the least of us, changes that will speak for the powerless against the powerful.

  13. D. Sirmize Says:

    “The moral conservative argument against social justice (or compassion) is that by being compassionate toward (“bailing out”) the poor, disadvantaged, and abused will breed carelessness and laziness.”

    Two words for you, Derek: New Orleans.

    You can argue the causes of the Katrina mess. You can argue the inadequacy of FEMA’s response to it. But New Orleans was/is the poster child for liberal social justice. The longtime practice of liberal social justice has made it a nanny city, with the bulk of its residents completely dependent on government. if you want a peek at liberal social justice in action, look no further than New Orleans (pre or post Katrina- doesn’t matter).

    But it was liberal social justice that created a

  14. D. Sirmize Says:

    Sorry, that last sentence was a thought I started, but then re-worded but forgot to delete.

  15. Aaron Orgill Says:

    No bloody way, Derek. I will fight you on this until the trumpets of the Apocalypse sound, because you are being so smug in your own righteousness on this issue. I really disapprove of how you try to define the meaning of compassion as if you own it. I have been in defense of the King Benjamin discourse before on this very blog, so I don’t want to be lumped in with those who don’t want to consider mercy because people have made mistakes, and I think if you read carefully what I said, I made that clear. I am more than happy to look at viable options, but I don’t want to create more of a problem. Sirmize is right about New Orleans. Not that the residents don’t deserve compassion, but there is more to compassion than the very narrow definition the left uses that can only be solved by throwing money.

    I think we could accurately say that my primary problem comes down to the overuse of government which even you would have to acknowledge is the m.o. today, with taxpayers really having little or no say. The bailouts which have been our primary focus in this conversation are a great example. Yet just today my heart was warmed when I heard that a local mortuary had offered to cover the funeral of the murdered little Asian girl, and there has been a tremendous outpouring of love, money, and compassion to this minority family who doesn’t even speak our language. People respond to these things all the time with no prompting but that of their own consciences, and no thought of incentive. That is why liberalism is in no way optimistic. I don’t care that you “believe we can do better”. Of course we can, and that’s why we’re on the earth, to do better of our own free will. You are an absolute pessimist in that you are focused on what is negative in the now, and rarely show appreciation or voice gratitude for the many things that are good, and somehow seem to think that being forced into certain policies will somehow better us in the same way learning to be compassionate of our own free will and choice would do. I’m sorry, and you’re going to hate my saying this, but I just see a lot of Satan’s plan in a lot of what you embrace. You want to stop bad things from happening. Well, tough. That’s not God’s way, and not what you signed up for. Liberals want to fight every fight and take the whole world on their shoulders, but that’s already been done by the son of God much more effectively than any of us could ever do. And I say this with some understanding, because I have the same inclination at times, particularly when I hear the stories of little children who are suffering, and it’s a lesson I still have to learn over and over. I find a favorite J.R.R. Tolkien passage very applicable to well-meaning but overzealous people who are trying to save the world: “It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” Wise counsel from Gandalf the Grey.

  16. jennifer Says:

    Why should we ascribe only ONE cause to the fiasco of hurricane Katrina? Many issues were involved, and still are. I disagree with the over-simplification of those problems, esp. since I grew up in south Louisiana.

    Were some victims lazy? Sure.
    Were some victims gainfully employed? Sure.
    If the government establishes levies but does not maintain or upgrade as needed, are they partially to blame? Sure.

    I think that the condition of the most vulnerable citizens indicates the compassion of a society. Remember the lovely passage in 4 Nephi about the happiest people ever who took care of each other to the extent that there were no poor among them…….. ?

    But Aaron’s right. There are some fantastic people and organizations out there who accomplish amazing things. There are some great government programs too ( 2 that pop into mind are CHIP and HeadStart, since they both serve children who cannot possibly be blamed for their predicaments). Individuals, groups, AND governments can go a long ways to improve the lots of our vulnerable citizens, whether they be children, sr. citizens, refugees, the poor, the sick, the unemployed, etc. etc. They need the support from all corners! We, as Christians, should seek out any and all opportunities to bless and assist.

  17. D. Sirmize Says:

    Jennifer, if you re-read my post you’ll see that I’m not arguing the causes of the Katrina disaster. I’m talking NOLA in general. Look at NOLA pre-Katrina. Much, much different from the rest of Louisiana (even areas like Slidell and Waveland/Bay St. Louis).

    By creating a nanny city, New Orleans’ leaders assures that nobody (aside from Angelina Jolie and Garden District homeowners) is self-sufficient. It’s the old Chinese proverb- “Give a man a fish…”

    The near-perfect liberal social experiment was/is New Orleans. And aside from a charming Vieux Carré and some decent restaurants, New Orleans was/is a glorified slum ridden with crime and corruption. Before Katrina hit in August, 2005, the city racked up 202 murders. I wouldn’t necessarily call New Orleanians lazy. They’re just products of a welfare society. There’s no better example of the fruits of liberalism in America (though there are plenty in Europe)

  18. jennifer Says:

    Well, I’m not sure I follow your logic. You say that NO people weren’t lazy but illustrate a nanny city? You say that NO was a liberal social experiment but was markedly different from the rest of the state or the rest of the nation? NO is not a city state in a vacuum and still functions w/in the state and federal framework as other cities. What makes NO more “liberal” than Atlanta, San Antonio, Seattle or Indianapolis?

    Are you looking at percentages of the population on welfare? Are you looking at the murder rate? Are you looking at the levels of government corruption? Are you looking at poverty rates and public housing???? huh?

    You can’t say that the leaders of NO assured that no one is self-sufficient. Plenty of people had all kinds of thriving important businesses there beyond restaurant work. There were some great success stories there, including art communities and higher ed. THe whole city was not on welfare – – – you’re making some bad generalizations. Lots of people who work still need assistance from others. THat is true in every urban center in the US.

    That Chinese proverb is well-known and worth further discussion. If conservatives really want to end “welfare” and “social liberalism” I would expect THEM to propose ways to teach people “how to fish” : comprehensive education, training, mentoring, vocational assistance, child care etc. for those people. It costs more than handing out proverbial fish, and I’m not hearing it proposed by the right. I do hear it proposed by the left. Conservatives in general are not willing to teach people how to fish. They prefer to call other people lazy and then regale us with tales of their own hard work, studying, saving, sacrifice, and suffering. Compassionate??

  19. D. Sirmize Says:

    Compassionate? Yes. Sometimes compassion calls for tough love. You have to sometimes let people fail. Handouts should at least come with restrictions. Huge chunks of NO’s population are on complete government assistance with little to no restrictions. Most of the crime comes right out of the projects (think Iberville and Desire, where most of the Katrina plasma TV looters came from. Iberville sustained hardly any flood damage).

    Those are the people completely dependent on government. The government subsidizes their rent, gives them food stamps, provides medical care, and even picks them up to take them to appointments. So was it any wonder why they were so disillusioned when government didn’t sweep them off to safety when it became apparent that they were in the hurricane’s track?

    “Are you looking at percentages of the population on welfare? Are you looking at the murder rate? Are you looking at the levels of government corruption? Are you looking at poverty rates and public housing???? huh?”

    Indeed I am, Jennifer. I can’t find an aggregate percentage of people on some kind of government assistance pre-Katrina, but you and I know the numbers of people qualifying for public assistance was/is huge. Over 5000 families lived in government housing before Katrina. That’s a huge chunk of NO’s pre-katrina population of 484,674.

    NOLA had 162 homicides in 2006, giving it a per capita rate of anywhere from 63.5 to 72.6 per 100,000 residents. The numbers were similar (as I mentioned) before Katrina

    Government is corrupt at all levels- from the police department on up to the NO district’s (LA 2nd Congressional district) U.S. representatives (think bribe-man Dem William Jefferson). Nobody is arguing these things.

    New Orleans was a disaster long before Hurricane Katrina. And there was never a conservative hand in any of that. That was purely a product of liberalism.

  20. jennifer Says:

    Therefore we conclude that cities with “conservative” leadership do not have families on welfare, do not have murder problems, and are too upstanding for corruption?? We all know better than that. Faulty logic.

    Look, we agree that there were many problems going on. But to say “there was never a conservative hand in any of that. That was purely a product of liberalism” is naive, disingenuous, and simplistic.

    Politics in Louisiana does not work like politics elsewhere, and it goes back decades (if not centuries) before the Jefferson bribery incident. I could write pages about corruption, voting scandals, indictments, etc of public officials just from the snippets I remember. But they weren’t ALL Democrats. Corruption affects all kinds of politicians and leaders, regardless of party, and it thwarts the work of well-meaning citizens on both the left and the right. Corruption is FAR more to blame than any partisan ideology.

  21. D. Sirmize Says:

    “Therefore we conclude that cities with “conservative” leadership do not have families on welfare, do not have murder problems, and are too upstanding for corruption?? We all know better than that. Faulty logic.”

    I’m not sure we have many examples of cities with conservative leadership. Actually strike that- Plenty of Texas cities are very conservative- and I’d have to pull some stats- but none of them come close to NOLA’s social problems.

    “But to say “there was never a conservative hand in any of that. That was purely a product of liberalism” is naive, disingenuous [sic], and simplistic.”

    How so? Do tell. I just spat out a whole lot of data and made a pretty concise argument based on it. And you respond with “naive, disingenuous, and simplistic” with “faulty logic.” You back it up with nothing. If you’re going to argue with me, at least try to back up some of your refutations.

  22. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Wow, this is a pretty interesting little fight we have here. Jennifer, I am with you that far too many people label the less fortunate as lazy and don’t even bother trying to “teach them to fish”. Some of them were brought up never having an example of work, and they shouldn’t be forgotten even if they do need an attitude adjustment. However, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the left are making proposals while the right aren’t. If we’re going to make that kind of generalization, we could also say that the left’s solution is just to give away money. Quite honestly, I don’t see anyone trying to be a part of the solution. I’m not sure the left is doing anything to teach self-reliance as you say; I do see a lot of coddling. I do think there are some good ideas on the left with regard to education and ensuring that the least among us have access to it, but very few public policies I am familiar with do anything to help people help themselves.

    You make an interesting point about the happiest people ever being the 4 Nephi group who had all things common. You will never catch me speaking against that. But you will hear me say that generosity and giving has to come from the heart. I suspect that what made people happy was that they were not compelled to give, but did so willingly. Everything I hear from the Brethren, and the Scriptures themselves, convince me that we should not be in support of anything that moves us closer to communism (which is essentially the law of consecration, but without regard to people’s agency).

    Sirmize is absolutely right in his assertion that “sometimes compassion calls for tough love”. We sometimes twist the meaning of the word into this sick belief that if we aren’t bailing people out, we’re not real Christians, as Derek suggests when he tries to use the King Benjamin discourse as a basis for taking care of everyone who is ever in a bad situation and making it better without any hard lessons being learned. Compassion does not have to mean you give someone a quick solution and say “there, there”. That may be appropriate at times, but sometimes you have to teach people hard truths. If you are truly compassionate, you try to help long-term rather than give them band-aids and warm fuzzies. Or sometimes compassion is just lending an ear and reassuring a friend or stranger that life is still worth living and lending an ear. I will give a very personal and recent example that has taken place over the last couple of weeks.

    About a month ago I was served with lawsuit papers from a company I used to work with under one of their franchisees. Most of their claims are utterly ridiculous, and a couple of attorneys I’ve spoken with agree that my name really shouldn’t even be on the suit. However, I now find myself paying $150 an hour to attorneys in Oregon that I don’t even know, and I don’t know when it will end. On top of that, I came down with pneumonia a couple of weeks ago, which I have mostly recovered from, and there has been some frustration with my oldest son, who is autistic and is giving us some new behavioral challenges the last month or two. So I felt I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I went in to see a client, who is always willing to sit down with me despite a very busy and successful business, and we got into conversations about life, and I told him what was going down, and he spent two hours telling me of some of his own struggles at my age, and left me blown away by how much we had in common, and for the first time in several weeks, I felt hopeful. This particular client is a bishop and has his act together in every way, so I figured he had just always been a well-adjusted guy, but it turns out that’s not the case. I’ve been into his office three or four times, and every single time he gives me his full attention (with several interruptions from his employees bursting in), and we talk about life, business, the gospel, and anything I want to bring up. He never makes me feel like a nuisance. That kind of compassion, and the example I mentioned yesterday with the mortuary and the little murdered girl, is worth far more to me than if he just handed me a thousand bucks. So I hope that we won’t be so narrow-minded to think it always comes down to dollars and cents, as nice as that may be.

  23. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Aaron, compassion is what it is. King Benjamin said what he said (if you have, give). The Savior commanded what he commanded (feed the hungry, clothe the poor, etc). Complaining about it won’t change anything. And if you don’t like reminders of the need to serve the poor, then perhaps you shouldn’t parrot the logic by which the right so frequently denies that service. I’ve already made the case against that logic.

    Why do I “have to acknowledge” the overuse of the government? We don’t approach anything like the U.S.S.R. or Cuba, or even much of Europe. There is still a whole lot farther we could go before we unanimously “had to acknowledge” an overuse.

    Yes, people do good things. I applaud that, and encourage that. I’ve said many times we need to make individual efforts and conscious choices to make the world a better place. I’ve discussed methods by which to do so. But none of that changes the fact that there are many aspects of our economic system tilted towards for benefit of the powerful. I just don’t believe in saying “all is well in Zion” when we have a system constructed in a way which puts the underprivileged at a disadvantage–especially when the scriptures very pointedly and repeatedly call on us to stand for the least of these. And I would note that this entire conversation stemmed from the fact not that I was endorsing any given program, but was agreeing with McCain’s statement that the focus of any government efforts should on helping the people suffering as a result of the crisis, not helping companies.

    I find it fascinating, D, that conservatives like to point to New Orleans as the epitome of a liberal welfare society and its fruitsThere are places in Europe far more liberal, with far stronger welfare states (England? Sweden?). They aren’t perfect and have their own problems, but they don’t suffer nearly the problems of New Orleans (as you say, structural social ones, not Katrina). But the conservatives, in their eagerness to make a political point, ignore that fact and resort to gross oversimplification on New Orleans. Disappointing.

  24. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Disappointing. We don’t have to approach the USSR or Cuba or Europe to have government way too involved in our lives. And I’m not complaining about being commanded to give. But I’ll worry about my own giving, thanks. You worry about yours. Don’t worry about mine, or your neighbor’s, or Bill Gates’s. Honestly, I wonder how you can in good conscience say the Robin Hood approach is a good one. If YOU have, give. It’s not if your neighbor (or even Wal-Mart, for that matter) has, take and give. It’s a lot easier to give when it’s someone else’s money, isn’t it? What’s funny is that you talk about how great a lesson it was when your dad gave you tough love (the “don’t use what they’re doing to excuse yourself” lesson that we all should try to remember), but you can’t see that same principle here. A bailout is not always appropriate, and you’re applying that scripture as if this is the biggest problem in society. I would suggest we let people deal with some of their own problems and sure, give to them, but that doesn’t mean give them each several thousand dollars so they can avoid their problems, for the love of God. There are people dying of disease and hunger every day. You still think it’s a good idea to make this a top priority? Or is financial responsibility and stopping the sick trend of massive debt in this country only good when it suits your political views?

    You’re probably right about one thing, we don’t want to oversimplify and demonize New Orleans. But surely you can’t believe that the welfare state, wherever it is, is a good thing?

  25. jennifer Says:

    Aaron – sorry to hear about your rough patches. Hopefully the legal matter will not drag on. Your friend/client is a gem, and I hope everyone has had similar angelic friends when they had trials.

    I think that if we look around, we see some signs that there are people willing to “teach others to fish”. There are plenty of non-profit groups that do this (United Way, Horizonte, CAI, Big Brothers/Sisters, refugee support groups etc.) many religious groups (look at the PEF in our church), and some government programs too (again Head Start is a great example, so is the GI Bill, the FMLA, subsidized loans/grants for college, Baby your Baby, I could go on but you get the idea). I agree that long-term problem solving is better than quick fixes. I think we can all do better, in all categories. Obviously there’s more to be done – Or even just finding ways to make all these existing things more efficient to assist more families.

    Sirmize, it’s clear that you blame all the crime, corruption and poverty in NO to “liberal society” and no amount of citations will change your views. The data was never the issue, but your logic. (if things are bad, it must the lazy welfare people’s fault and the liberal government that handed it out because conservatives had nothing to do with it). I do appreciate you being willing to write about the issues civilly – a better discussion. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  26. D. Sirmize Says:

    “Sirmize, it’s clear that you blame all the crime, corruption and poverty in NO to “liberal society” and no amount of citations will change your views.”

    What have you cited? Perhaps if you had cited anything, I could either accept or refute it. What, pray tell, is your logic?

    I’m not blaming every problem in NO on liberalism. I’m making the point that it is THE quintessential liberal experiment in the U.S. Honestly, there has never been a social/fiscal conservative in the history NO government, nor has it ever operated under socially/fiscally conservative principles. It has the greatest density of people living in government housing that I’ve ever seen and the most people per capita on welfare that I’ve ever seen. What exactly do you attribute NO’s problems to?

  27. Derek Staffanson Says:

    First, an apology. I’ve too acerbic in my tone on some comments on a couple of different posts/threads the last couple of days. That was inappropriate, and I’m sorry.

    Aaron, you are now going back to the libertarian argument against social justice. I’ll refer you back to that post. Government can certainly be too intrusive, but it absolutely does have a legitimate role in social justice issues (as I explained), especially when some segments of society are using their freedom to harm others (the harm principle), such as by predatory economic practices.

    I will say again that I have not anywhere suggested a bailout. I merely agreed with the sentiment McCain mentioned that any government action should be geared towards helping people suffering because of the crisis. I endorsed this attitude as the appropriate one.

    The lesson I shared from my youth had nothing to do with tough love. It had to do with our responsibility to act morally regardless of what others are doing. The moral action here is to follow the call of the Savior for compassion and social justice by ameliorating the plight of the disadvantaged who were hurt by the current crisis. We can legitimately debate on the best method, but (in reference to the post to which you were referring) it would be morally irresponsible to say we shouldn’t help them because of their actions.

    Finis from me on this one.

  28. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Okay. I’ve been rude and possibly hurtful too. I knew it yesterday and didn’t care, and I too apologize. Thanks for being big enough to start us back on a more friendly tone. I’ll drop this one too. You feel one way, I feel another, enough said.

  29. Brian M. Says:

    “compassion is what it is. King Benjamin said what he said (if you have, give). The Savior commanded what he commanded (feed the hungry, clothe the poor, etc).”

    Yes, individuals should be compassionate… however…

    The government has no right and no authority to be “compassionate” – the government should not be in the welfare business. The governments responsibility is simply to protect the peoples rights of life, liberty and property/happiness.

    When a government gets involved in redistribution of wealth, stealing from one and giving to another, they are simply facilitating satan’s plan.

  30. cody ladurini Says:

    i think that mccain has an awesome plan for our country and highly believe that he could do a much better job at running this country than obama. i feel as if obama is fake with his religion and dont even know how to run his house hold let alone the whole country. palin also would be an awesome asset to our country, look at everything she has done for alaska, she would be a terrific help.

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