The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Moderates," "centrists," and labels

Among the blogs I read frequently are some that use the terms “center” or “moderate.” For example, there is Solomon Kleinsmith's “Rise of the Center” and Rick Bayan's “The New Moderate.” And while I generally think of myself as a “moderate,” I certainly have my disagreements with these blogs. In fact, the comment pages of this blog have seen discussions with Kleinsmith highlighting strong disagreements. Presumably, if other “moderates” read this blog, they also disagree with me on some of the issues I discuss. Which is why I hate these one-word labels.

One thing that got me to thinking again about these labels, and why they are so problematic, is the recent spate of news articles about Jeff Bezos' support — backed up with two and a half million dollars! — for the pro-gay marriage side in the referendum to be held in Washington State. We will have a similar referendum in Maryland this same November. And I will be voting for gay marriage, of course, as anyone who has read this blog could figure out. But I will also be voting to scuttle another law that Governor Martin O'Malley has pushed through Maryland's legislature: the so-called “DREAM Act.” (Unlike the Federal version, Maryland's simply extends in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens resident in Maryland — although they are actually not properly termed “resident in Maryland” since they are not legally resident anywhere in the United States!) In a sense, this is a “moderate” position, as I'm supporting a “left” position on one issue and a “right” position on the other. But I would bet that more people are going to vote exactly the opposite way from me on both issues. And are they to be called “moderate” as well?

Kleinsmith, I know from his comments on this blog, has his own definition of “centrist.” And I don't think I would qualify, though I will not try to put words into his mouth, so I'll let him, if he is still reading this blog and decides to comment, say whether he would call me a centrist or not. But two years ago I supported a primary candidate for Senate, Dr. Neil Cohen, who frankly proclaimed we needed a “moderate” candidate. And I did this mainly because he and I were in agreement on a lot of issues. I certainly agreed with Cohen a lot more than I did with Eric Wargotz, the eventual nominee. And I agreed with him even more than I did with Barbara Mikulski, the actual winner of the Senate election that November. So in that sense I do qualify as a “moderate.”

And yet, I don't really know what that means. Two people might both call themselves “moderates” and yet differ on every important issue.That's what is so bad about one-word labels.

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