Monday, August 26, 2013

A post specifically for liberals who are sincere Christians

I've been wanting to do a post like this for quite a while, and now - due to an opportunity presenting itself - I present it here.

I dislike both major political parties. I have some pretty considerable disagreements with most conservatives as well - but at the end of the day, my political views tend conservative. I oppose universal health care mandates, I oppose federal welfare states, and more. At the same time, I'm open to state and, especially, local health care and welfare policies - and I'd like to offer liberal Christians a chance to tell me just why I'm wrong in taking such a broad position.

My only requirement for commenters in this thread is that they be civil, and that they be sincere, believing Christians. Which here means, literal belief in God and the resurrection of Christ.

This is largely aimed specifically at two people in particular, but otherwise, all comers are welcome here.

24 comments:

malcolmthecynic said...

*Sits back, munches on popcorn.*

Crude said...

None may reply, but this isn't meant to be some kind of debate where either 'side' tears through the other. I legitimately want to discuss issues with Christian liberals, because I think their understanding of what qualifies as 'conservative' views is mistaken.

aporesis said...

Hi Crude
For those of us across the Pond, could you outline what you think the main tenets of liberal Christianity are? Do you mean theological or political liberalism? Is it "Big State" vs "Little State" considerations? A question of where you ground authority?

Crude said...

aporesis,

I meant political liberalism. In this conversation I'm really not interested in theological liberalism.

As for the tenets, I was hoping a liberal Christian would come here and tell me what their own tenets are - why have me speak for them, eh? But I think, in a broad sense, there is a belief in the necessity of a large welfare state in general. Particulars may vary.

Thomas said...

I would not consider myself a liberal Catholic but instead take the better parts of both parties that are morally acceptable. on the other hand my wife (who is a very well read up Catholic) has a primary issue with opposition to gay marriage. this is because she views the portion of the Catechism regarding gay marriage to only entail sexual acts and therefore we would just be judging their possible actions that they haven't committed.

I personally see this as incredibly wrong in the similar vein to cohabitation being wrong but it can be a tough sell to her sometimes.

In her political views i think it comes down to her picking the the side she agrees with more even if there are some other things she disagrees with. In her mind she sees issues like abortion and the like to be social not legal issues.

Crude said...

Thomas,

I would not consider myself a liberal Catholic but instead take the better parts of both parties that are morally acceptable.

That's more than fine. What parts of the 'conservative' side do you find morally unacceptable?

this is because she views the portion of the Catechism regarding gay marriage to only entail sexual acts and therefore we would just be judging their possible actions that they haven't committed.

I don't think gay marriage is mentioned in the catechism, is it? Homosexual topics are addressed, and yes, it's the acts that are central. I don't understand her complaint - is she arguing that same sex marriage is alright, because hey, it's not like they plan on having sex?

As for the rest, I wouldn't want to criticize her views without her representing them, so I'll just let that slide without comment. I'd say that abortion absolutely has social aspects to it. Then again, so does robbery and rape.

Thomas said...

Crude,

my objections to what i would consider conservative issues would be issues such as advocating for death penalty, the occasional war hawk mentality, and using pro-life issues as a platform and not really caring.

I guess for me it is when people are too detached from the issues to care about human life on both sides of the political spectrum.

I think you are accurate in saying that she believes because we aren't witnessing the sexual acts to ensure they occur then we cannot say their union is really wrong. it is a very strange point of view to argue against.

Crude said...

my objections to what i would consider conservative issues would be issues such as advocating for death penalty, the occasional war hawk mentality, and using pro-life issues as a platform and not really caring.

Alright. The death penalty, I understand. War hawk mentality? I don't see that as a 'conservative' issue - there's no shortage of liberals who love a good war (take a look at this current administration, and more or less every Democratic administration in the past), and quite a dedicated conservative anti-war base (Pat Buchanan comes to mind).

The pro-life issue doesn't seem like a 'conservative' problem but a 'party' problem. I don't think it's a conservative view to be, say, 'pro-life but totally insincere about it'.

I think you are accurate in saying that she believes because we aren't witnessing the sexual acts to ensure they occur then we cannot say their union is really wrong. it is a very strange point of view to argue against.

It's strange, but I don't think it's hard. Ask her if she thinks siblings should be able to be married, parents and children, people and inanimate objects or animals, etc.

Jayman said...

I'll bite. I'm a 32 year-old American male who has largely voted Democratic in national elections. I'll just briefly comment on health care and welfare since those are the topics you mentioned. Feel free to ask about others.

Christian teaching clearly stresses care for the poor and sick. It's from this basis that I try to determine what the best way to care for the poor and sick is.

Individual U.S. states have tried to create their own health care plans but have not done too well. It seems to me, based on looking at other countries, that single-payer health care at the national level would work best. But I realize this can have its own downsides too.

As for welfare, I would like a system that finds a happy-medium between helping the poor and encouraging them to work. If you are able to work, the welfare payments should be small enough that you will want to work, but sufficient to get you by.

Your support for state and local health care and welfare is intriguing to me. I would love it if each state had great health care and welfare programs so that the federal government was not involved in those matters. I'm just skeptical that it can and will be done.

I also realize both health care and welfare are incredibly complex topics and I'm almost certainly wrong about things to one degree or another.

Crude said...

Your support for state and local health care and welfare is intriguing to me. I would love it if each state had great health care and welfare programs so that the federal government was not involved in those matters. I'm just skeptical that it can and will be done.

It's not merely a state issue. It's a state issue, a local issue, and a personal issue.

What role do you see for charities? Or do you think they should be completely obviated by the state?

And more than that - what is your criticism of conservatism as you understand it? One thing I'm hoping for here is sincere Christians who are actually hostile to conservatism. I'd like to see where they are coming from.

Jayman said...

What role do you see for charities? Or do you think they should be completely obviated by the state?

On health care I just don't think charities have the resources to do it. I know doctors, nurses, and dentists sometimes do charity events where they give free care. That's great but it isn't going to result in every citizen getting quality health care. On welfare I think there is a role for charities. I would not want there to be no charitable organizations.

And more than that - what is your criticism of conservatism as you understand it?

I wouldn't say I'm hostile to conservatism. One of the things I dislike about politics is the hostility. With that said, here are some conservative positions I disagree with (off the top of my head):

- On health care the Republicans don't seem to have any realistic alternatives. Most Americans understand that if they don't have health insurance they are one major illness away from bankruptcy. Even if Democrats propose bad ideas at least they appear to be trying.

- Conservative opposition to the regulation of firearms. It seems many Republicans are beholden to the far right on the issue while some regulation seems popular among most Americans. Note: I do not take a far left position of being against the personal ownership of firearms.

I'm leaving work so maybe I'll come back with more later. And I also have problems with some liberal positions too.

Crude said...

On health care I just don't think charities have the resources to do it. I know doctors, nurses, and dentists sometimes do charity events where they give free care. That's great but it isn't going to result in every citizen getting quality health care. On welfare I think there is a role for charities. I would not want there to be no charitable organizations.

What do you think charities should do that the government should not do?

It seems many Republicans are beholden to the far right on the issue while some regulation seems popular among most Americans.

What regulation do you support?

Jayman said...

What do you think charities should do that the government should not do?

I admit I don't have a detailed answer to the question. Ideally I would like to see charities do as much as they can if they can do it well. The government would then come in to pick up the slack.

What regulation do you support?

- Make it illegal to shoot a firearm while intoxicated.

- Add background checks for guns sold at gun shows.

Crude said...

I admit I don't have a detailed answer to the question. Ideally I would like to see charities do as much as they can if they can do it well. The government would then come in to pick up the slack.

Here's one problem I have with this.

If this attitude is taken, then it seems like the result is the perpetual eroding of charity. There's no provision for the government getting out of the way if charity would or could pick up the slack. Instead, government expands - often federal government - and charities are simply pushed out.

I have additional problems with this. My own experience is that people regard charity they receive from neighbors or friends as charity. They regard charity they receive from the government as something they deserve and will fight to keep regardless, if they can. Likewise, as the government keeps expanding, perceived 'slack' and problems more and more become the government's problem, not the community's or neighbor's or anyone else's problem - which leads to more slack, etc.

I'm not saying my solution is perfect. But I am extremely suspicious of the continued push towards federal welfare policies, as opposed to state or local initiatives, etc.

Likewise, you said that you didn't think any state solutions to health care would work. But supposedly Obamacare was modeled after the 'Successful' Romneycare, which was a state plan. Do you disagree that that state plan worked?

Add background checks for guns sold at gun shows.

Alright. You know that the 'gun show loophole' isn't related to gun shows, right? It's pretty much about any personal one to one non-store interaction, like selling a gun to a friend, or a sibling.

Jayman said...

I agree that there is a risk in the government pushing out charity. But what is the alternative? And doesn't restricting welfare programs to the state and local level have the same problem?

You make a valid point about how people respond to charity and to government welfare programs. Yet government is one way for a community or neighborhood to respond to problems. So, in order for people to adopt your views, you need to explain why charity, not government (or, local government, not federal government) should address certain problems.

Another relevant point is that there is a difference between the giver freely giving his time or money and the citizen being taxed or employed by the government. This is one reason I don't want to see charity become swallowed up in government.

I'm not a fan of Obamacare and hence do not feel the need to defend Romneycare. Reluctantly, I favor a system like those in Canada or much of Europe. I don't see a free-market solution that can handle people deemed uninsurable and I'm not willing to let such people suffer and die.

I realize a gun show is not the only place people can sell guns to each other without a background check. But the same principle can apply.

Crude said...

I agree that there is a risk in the government pushing out charity. But what is the alternative? And doesn't restricting welfare programs to the state and local level have the same problem?

In terms of 'What will solve the problem altogether'? Nothing. I don't think such solutions exist.

You make a valid point about how people respond to charity and to government welfare programs. Yet government is one way for a community or neighborhood to respond to problems. So, in order for people to adopt your views, you need to explain why charity, not government (or, local government, not federal government) should address certain problems.

I'm not against the government solving problems. I want as local a solution as possible to be pursued for local problems.

I think there is a difference from receiving money from friends and family, receiving money from the neighborhood, receiving money from the city, receiving money from the state, and receiving money from the federal government. In each case, the people who you are paying money to, or taking money from, are getting further and further away, and are becoming more and more abstract. I think it's easier to feel indebted to, or to serve, one's own community than it is to feel indebted to or serving 'The federal government' or 'Millions of poor people'.

I don't see a free-market solution that can handle people deemed uninsurable and I'm not willing to let such people suffer and die.

Okay. You're not operating under the view that you're going to eliminate that, right? People suffer and die under all government solutions. Services get rationed, people get prioritized, others get left out, etc. And that's even if the system works.

I don't think 'free market solutions' exist, in terms of there being a policy, because the very idea of a policy in relation to the free market doesn't make sense. In the free market, people can spend their money on what they like - including on charities or other initiatives. They can buy their own health insurance, they can buy health insurance for others, etc. I agree absolutely that charities are, right now, not going to be in any position to foot the bill for all the uninsured and underinsured. On the other hand, I don't think the government is either. (Take a good look at Greece - the medical care system was one of the first things to get the axe when they went broke.)

I realize a gun show is not the only place people can sell guns to each other without a background check. But the same principle can apply.

Right. I'm just saying that this isn't some gun show loophole. Let me put it to you this way: do you think a family member should need to put a relative through a background check to give them a gun?

Crude said...

By the way, don't take my questions as sneering/haughty 'Are you aware of this little tidbit of information?' passive aggressiveness. I tend to focus on minute details, and I ask if someone is aware of this or that because I literally want to know what they're aware of or where they're coming from. Some forms of inquiry or general civility don't translate very well via text.

Jayman said...

Note that I said I reluctantly support a single-payer health care system. I realize it will not be perfect and there will still be problems. In fact, there will be problems unique to a government-run scheme. I just don't see a better solution.

Yes, I think there should be a background check even when guns are passed between family members.

Crude said...

Note that I said I reluctantly support a single-payer health care system. I realize it will not be perfect and there will still be problems. In fact, there will be problems unique to a government-run scheme. I just don't see a better solution.

That's fine. I disagree, but the point of this thread wasn't to take down anyone's arguments or prove them wrong. It's just to communicate, so I'm skipping over the usual 'And now I reply and explain why I think you're wrong' portion of things. I think you see some of where I'm coming from, and I see where you're coming from, and we both realize the good motivations for both views. That's what I was aiming for, even if you're not very 'liberal' yourself.

Al Moritz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Crude said...

Al Moritz,

I invited you here to have a conversation with me personally regarding liberal and conservative views. If you want to ignore me altogether except to snarkily say 'At least you concede that liberal views can be well-motivated' - a position I have consistently held for years now, and repeated on this blog and elsewhere - then you've made it clear you're not interested in any discussion at all.

You're welcome to try again, but if you can't even manage an actual civil discussion with fellow Christians who disagree with you about politics - much as I've managed with Jayman - then I'm just going to take that as a sign that you value your political party more than the Church. Walk that route if you wish.

Crude said...

Jayman,

Note that I said I reluctantly support a single-payer health care system. I realize it will not be perfect and there will still be problems. In fact, there will be problems unique to a government-run scheme. I just don't see a better solution.

One problem I have with this.

There would be problems with every solution. There's a problem with nothing but the free market and charity. There's a problem with local government intiatives. Problems with state initiatives.

Why do you see federal as being superior - with all its problems - to those alternatives, with their problems?

Jayman said...

Why do you see federal as being superior - with all its problems - to those alternatives, with their problems?

- A federal plan will cover all Americans. Individual states are not coming up with their own plans (generally speaking) and thus leaving things to the states is not working in actuality (it could work hypothetically). A big part of being better is covering more people.

- Movement between states and localities is relatively easy compared to moving between countries. I fear that migration patterns might undermine state and local plans that would have worked with a more static population. I also fear people trying to game such a system in some way.

Crude said...

See, here's my view. By making this a federal plan, we have produced the absolute maximal distance between the givers and the receivers, short of a world government. There is no incentive, short of vulgar carrot and stick operations, for anyone to improve their behavior. It further alienates people from their communities at a base level. Tens of millions of people receive coverage paid for by tens of millions of people - but it's politicians and government figures who get the credit. And in exchange, we're going to see rationing of care, prioritized by who the government decides is most valuable and most deserving of moving to the front of the line - and we're going to foster a culture where those sorts of calls are considered acceptable. All while just what's offered becomes yet another battleground, as we saw with contraception and abortion - and we may not even be able to pay for it.

I think that's too high of a price to pay. I'm willing to accept that there will be less formal, guaranteed medical coverage by relying on state and local and charity initiatives. I believe the benefits outweigh those costs. The value of people receiving care that they know is paid for by their neighbors, or the people in their city, or even in their state is considerable. It benefits the recipients, who then have a more identifiable person or group to feel grateful to, and to motivate them. It benefits the givers, who are granted an opportunity to improve and work with their community, and set an example. It obviates the abortion and contraception issues.

So, that's where I come from.