The Importance of Being Apathetic: or, The Birth of a Liberal


For most of my young life well through college, I considered myself apathetic to politics because I didn’t know enough about the issues to care (as a good little Christian Youth, I was Republican by association, but it wasn’t something I got heated up about).  As I have little to no belief in the ability of politicians to make big changes, I still am rather apathetic towards Politics.  But, that’s not to say that I am apathetic.

Most people choose their political leanings based on one or two issues that end up pigeonholing them as Conservative or Liberal.  While everyone likes to think of themselves as reasoning automatons, usually if you go Conservative socially, you end up being Conservative fiscally, too, as with Liberal.  Are there exceptions?  Certainly, probably millions.  But if you’re not particularly worked up about some political issue, it’s easiest to go along with the flow of the people you’ve surrounded yourself with.  A Pro-Life rally is likely going to consist of people who oppose big government (ironically), while a Pro-Gay Marriage rally is most likely going to share a mailing list with the Pro-Health Care Reform rallies.

Which brings me to my political views.  I fully admit that my stances on all the obvious issues – Abortion, Gay Marriage, Immigration, Gun Control, blah blah blah – are predictably liberal and it would be easy to think I’m just a bandwagon jumper.  But most of my political views come as a logical progression from a single realization:

There is no God.


One of the first big ‘issues’ that I became impassioned about (and remain so) was the vast and debilitating poverty that overruns Africa (I know, a random concern for a white middle-class kid from Kansas).  Along with poverty comes disease and genocide, making Africa a continent truly beleaguered with the greatest crises in the world.

Before some troll erupts in my comments, I am well aware that some parts of Africa are actually well-off; that’s beside the point.

As I looked more into the issues that affect Africa, I studied Fair Trade vs. Free Trade, the Rwandan and Darfur genocides and the AIDS crisis (along with countless other diseases, most of which we in the West no longer fear).

I first developed my interest in Africa in college, around the same time I was losing my faith in God.  Some of the first divisive arguments I found myself having with the Christians in my life were about differing approaches to giving aid.  The Christian method of aid so often comes with such dangerous preconditions that I refuse to be mollified by, “At least they’re helping.”

In the Good Ol’ Imperial Days of Christian Charity, if you needed help from one of Christ’s disciples, you had to convert.  Nowadays, well, things haven’t changed much.  There may not be an overt expectation of religious conversion, but there certainly are moralistic expectations aplenty.  Take the Catholic Church’s approach to fighting AIDS in Africa as example:  Lie about the effectiveness of condoms and expect the continent to practice abstinence.  I guess they thought, “The abstinence only approach works so well here in the U.S., let’s play Russian Roulette with an entire continent.. and that’s load all the chambers just to make it more interesting.”

The point I am making is that belief in God can taint even the best intentions.*  Worse, it leads to despicable governmental policies.  Somehow, the Conservative notion of the Free Market became a tenet of Christianity (even though it was Jesus who said sell all of your things and give your money to the poor… it’s not one of those subtle verses, either).  What does belief in the Free Market lead to?  Well, apparently, it leads people to believe that the Rich are chosen by God and the poor are just shit out of luck.

What people don’t seem to understand (or willingly ignore) is that there is no such thing as the “Free Market”, not in the totally autonomous sense that is often meant.  There are always agents working both in front of and behind the scenes.  These are the people making sure the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.  They are the ones creating laws that favor the powerful and step all over developing nations (the meek aren’t inheriting much).  Free Trade is an ideal, but it doesn’t exist, and that’s why Fair Trade is necessary.  Most of the arguments against Fair Trade are that it hinders nations in a Free Trade system, but it ignores the fact that the Free Trade system is a lie.  Just look at our own recent recession to see the abuse of power that happens when no one is watching the markets.

(EDIT – I didn’t realize I was going to have to make this explicit:  I think the Free Trade Ideal is superb and if it existed, I’d be all for it.  I’d be all for an all-loving, all-knowing God who wanted nothing for me to be happy, too, but neither one exists so I adapt my expectations for the world and the universe.)

Learning more about Africa taught me more about politics and the way the world really works.  Rarely does anyone look out for the oppressed unless a news camera is in their face and the first priority is always about getting their pockets lined.  You think that isn’t true for the Catholic Church (or churches in general)?  Well, were they doing anything about the child rapes in their midst until it became a huge scandal?  And what does their presence in Africa do if not guarantee more people belonging to their church, pledging more tithes?  All the better to get the Pope a Gold-Plated toilet seat.

Am I cynical?  You bet your ass I am.  I know how the world really works.

How does this all tie in to the non-existence of God?  Well, some political views are obvious:  If there is no God, why oppose Gay Marriage (the sanctity of marriage argument is bullshit)?  If there is no God, abstinence is no morally better than using protection, and only fractionally safer.  If there is no God, no person or group has a ‘God-given right’ to anything, whether that be land, wealth or even freedom.  (I’m not arguing that freedom is not a human right, only that it is not a gift from some invisible Beard in the sky).

But beyond the obvious, atheism reveals even more: If there is no God, then the atrocities in Africa are not a punishment from God, they are not God’s will or even a method for testing his Faithful (one of the more perverse explanations for evil in this world).  No, without God as an excuse, what is happening in Africa becomes much simpler:  Human greed, selfishness and fear is at the heart of Africa’s problems.

It can be traced back to the slave traders who raped the continent, but Conservatives are always quick to say, “Don’t blame us for the sins of our fathers” (even though that’s the foundational belief of Christianity, Original Sin).  Well, you don’t have to go back 400 years to find people using and abusing Africa for their own profit.  It goes on today.  Governments and corporations thrive on the backs of cheap labor (not just in Africa, worldwide), lax regulations and trade treaties that protect their interests.  And many of the people working behind the scenes to keep these conditions in existence are doing so with the belief that they are doing God’s work.

These are complex issues, far more complex than I could ever claim to understand.  I know I have a lot to learn about global economics, but I am willing to learn.

I’m not claiming that everyone who is Conservative or Christian is guilty of these crimes (or even complicit), not at all.  But what I will say is that the Conservative view, in my experience, is always narrow.  It looks at a problem like immigration and says, “Kick illegals out,” without looking at the larger political spectrum and acknowledging that illegal immigrants are not the problem, they are a symptom of a corrupt global economy (and the governments that support it).

Unfortunately, Liberals can suffer tunnel vision, too.  Well meaning Liberals will find a pet cause and protest the hell out of it, and pat themselves on the back for every little victory.  But the underlying conditions still exist and a victory in Seattle is just one more defeat in Haiti.  We have to think globally.

I am liberal by natural extension of my atheism, but I’m not political.  I’m still totally apathetic when it comes to the political system (I had a lot of hopes for Obama; they have been tempered, but I haven’t given up on him completely).  I think my political apathy is a good trait, because it keeps me from falling for the lie that all I have to do is vote and that will take care of the world’s problems.  Real actions are required (which is not to say that I don’t vote, because I do).

I don’t put my faith in politicians and I don’t put much stock in going to protests.  I think bringing attention to problems in the world is necessary, and so I do not look down on anyone who wants to beat the street with their message; I just question how effective it is.  When I’m not broke and I have a little extra cash, I’ll throw money to causes I believe in, but I know that money is nothing more than a band aid for a broken bone.

The most common argument against Atheism is that it provides no moral foundation, but that is preposterous.  Atheism takes away the excuses for lazy morality.  If there is no God, no invisible hand to guide human history, then it becomes clear that the world is only as good as we make it.  For me, knowing there is nobody watching over us, no force that is going to punish evildoers, I feel the burden to fight for what is right, to fight for those who cannot fight.

You tell people that Africa is being treated terribly, and usually the Conservative view says, “The world ain’t fair.”  On the other hand, if you dare say, “The rich should pay more in taxes,” Conservatives cry, “That ain’t fair!”  Well, I agree.  The world is not fair.

My goal in life is to make it a little more even.  That is why I am a Liberal.


*The argument that faith gives people a reason to do good is suppose to be admirable.  I just find it sad.  You need to believe in an overbearing Master of the Universe for you to give a shit about the poor and downtrodden?  Here’s a cookie.

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10 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Apathetic: or, The Birth of a Liberal

  1. After reading this, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that liberalism is born of ignorance. I’m with you on your atheism, but the reasons you say it “logically progresses” to your liberal views are flimsy. Are you really a student of Africa?

    You wrote,

    the Conservative notion of the Free Market became a tenet of Christianity

    Really? Granted, some Christians support free market economics, but to conflate the two demonstrates a vast ignorance of both. The fact of the matter is, Christian views of the market are as diverse as those of non-Christians. As I demonstrate on my blog, the Christian anti-market (pro-communist) pedigree extends back centuries. Ever heard of Liberation Theology?

    What does belief in the Free Market lead to? Well, apparently, it leads people to believe that the Rich are chosen by God and the poor are just shit out of luck.

    Funny. Ayn Rand, one of the 20th century’s more forceful defenders of the market, was an atheist. How do you explain pro-market atheists like her?

    What people don’t seem to understand (or willingly ignore) is that there is no such thing as the “Free Market”, not in the totally autonomous sense that is often meant.

    Sorry, this is a silly strawman. The free market is composed of voluntary exchanges between at least two parties. There can be nothing autonomous about it.

    There are always agents working both in front of and behind the scenes. These are the people making sure the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

    Always? No. Sometimes? Yes. These agents are usually governments seeking to restrict or modify free market exchanges. Some times the government is working on behalf of, say, corporations or unions, in order to restrict competition. Other times, the government is working on behalf of liberal thinkers who’re trying to “fix” market exchanges to promote outcomes they favor. This is what creates poverty, or at least, slows progress toward wealth. We have so much evidence that government interference inhibits economic well-being, and that when such interference is reduced or eliminated people become wealthier, there really is no longer any serious doubt.

    As a student of Africa, of all people, you should know this.

    Free Trade is an ideal, but it doesn’t exist, and that’s why Fair Trade is necessary.

    This makes as much sense as saying “Fair Trade is an ideal, but it doesn’t exist, and that’s why Free Trade is necessary.”

    Sorry, but it’s obvious you know virtually nothing of free trade, or why so many economists regard it as beneficial.

    By the way, who determines what’s “fair”? Free is easy to define. Shouldn’t individuals decide for themselves what’s fair, rather than someone deciding for them?

    Just look at our own recent recession to see the abuse of power that happens when no one is watching the markets.

    This one really made me laugh out loud. The financial services and banking sectors, where many problems were exacerbated, are among the most heavily regulated and watched sectors in any economy.

    Am I cynical? You bet your ass I am. I know how the world really works.

    So far, it doesn’t appear that way…

    No, without God as an excuse, what is happening in Africa becomes much simpler: Human greed, selfishness and fear is at the heart of Africa’s problems.

    It can be traced back to the slave traders who raped the continent…

    Not to minimize African slavery (most of which was inter-continental, btw), but failing to mention the economic policies pursued by African governments following independence is really astounding. And what of the billions of dollars in loans and so-called aid during this time too? You didn’t even mention colonization, which is a favorite liberal rationale.

    I’m very curious how you explain Zimbabwe. Here’s a country that virtually eliminated the market and any sort of free trade during the last 20 years. Accordingly, it should be a land of milk and honey, right? Instead, it’s an economic basketcase. Why?

    These are complex issues, far more complex than I could ever claim to understand. I know I have a lot to learn about global economics, but I am willing to learn.

    Wait. So now you don’t know “how the world really works”?

    illegal immigrants are not the problem, they are a symptom of a corrupt global economy.

    Actually, they’re a symptom of statist and interventionist economic policies promoted by individuals (mostly on the left, but some on the right) who arrogantly regard themselves as superior than the market in allocating scarce resources.

    If there is no God, no invisible hand to guide human history, then it becomes clear that the world is only as good as we make it. For me, knowing there is nobody watching over us, no force that is going to punish evildoers, I feel the burden to fight for what is right, to fight for those who cannot fight.</blockquote

    *Applause*

    You tell people that Africa is being treated terribly, and the Conservative view says, “The world ain’t fair.” On the other hand, if you dare say, “The rich should pay more in taxes,” Conservatives cry, “That ain’t fair!” Well, I agree. The world is not fair.

    So we should repay unfairness with more unfairness? When did two wrongs make a right?

    My goal in life is to make it a little more even.

    The irony is that that policies you appear to support would actually impede that goal.

    • You wrote,
      “the Conservative notion of the Free Market became a tenet of Christianity”
      Really? Granted, some Christians support free market economics, but to conflate the two demonstrates a vast ignorance of both. The fact of the matter is, Christian views of the market are as diverse as those of non-Christians.

      Since you have not read my blog before, I will have to start with one of the most glaringly obvious points: I know that Christian views are diverse. I understand that on the individual level, Christians believe a vast number of things, and I have enough experience with Christians to know this. When I say ‘tenet of Christianity’ I do not mean it is literally a tenet in the sense that it is preached from pulpits (though it is in some churches). What I mean is that in the mainstream (as well as extremist) Christianity of America, the common fiscal belief is one of Free Trade… hence the connection between the generally Christian Teabagger/Conservative movements and the predominant view that Free Trade economics is superior than, say, Communism.

      Funny. Ayn Rand, one of the 20th century’s more forceful defenders of the market, was an atheist. How do you explain pro-market atheists like her? I explain pro-market atheists like her the same way you criticized me… by saying that Atheists are a diverse group with a vast number of point of views. Ayn Rand’s version of atheism was a cruel, overbearing one, though, with people used as a means to an end. I don’t agree with that view and believe that you don’t need a God to understand that people have intrinsic value, whether they are powerful or weak.

      “What people don’t seem to understand (or willingly ignore) is that there is no such thing as the “Free Market”, not in the totally autonomous sense that is often meant.”
      Sorry, this is a silly strawman. The free market is composed of voluntary exchanges between at least two parties. There can be nothing autonomous about it.
      I meant autonomous in this sense: “existing and functioning as an independent organism.” In other words, people treat the Free Market as if it is a self-governing idea that those ‘two parties’ enter into, like throwing two liquids into a glass container. But those two parties can mold the container, even break it. My point, if it isn’t clear, is that the Free Market is a nice ideal if the two (or more) parties always played by the same rules, but more often than not, one party or another rigs the system in their favor. You may say, “All is fair in love and Business,” but I disagree. There should be rules.

      These agents are usually governments seeking to restrict or modify free market exchanges. Some times the government is working on behalf of, say, corporations or unions, in order to restrict competition. Other times, the government is working on behalf of liberal thinkers who’re trying to “fix” market exchanges to promote outcomes they favor. You’re not refuting anything I’m saying. My point is that the Free Market, in a perfect vacuum, would be great. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in the reality of this world, and whether it’s agents acting to support a corporation’s desires or fighting against a corporation’s desire, there is always somebody somewhere manipulating the Free Market. Can you honestly name any time in history where the Free Market was truly running unhampered by the machinations of some active agent?

      “Free Trade is an ideal, but it doesn’t exist, and that’s why Fair Trade is necessary.”
      This makes as much sense as saying “Fair Trade is an ideal, but it doesn’t exist, and that’s why Free Trade is necessary.”
      That’s exactly what I meant. I don’t believe Fair Trade is a sustainable way of running an economic system, only that it is necessary as a balance to the manipulators who wield the Free Market to their own advantage at the expense of others. In a perfect Utopia, both Free Trade and Fair Trade would be essentially the same thing, but that world doesn’t exist, so we need the balance. (And I know you disagree so don’t waste time saying it unless you can tell me, again, of an instance when Free Trade truly ran without manipulation.)

      I know why economists love the Free Market. I even agree with the ideal of it. I just disagree that that ideal exists. The reason most economists support it is because they live in the powerful countries who benefit from the uneven Market. If the Free Market was truly working, we wouldn’t exist in a world where a nation like America can be obscenely wealthy while entire nations can be destitute. The Free Market in a global age should be raising everybody up, but it’s not. Ergo, Fair Trade (yes, ‘fair’ is hard to define, but so is ‘Free’ because it doesn’t exist).

      “Just look at our own recent recession to see the abuse of power that happens when no one is watching the markets.”
      This one really made me laugh out loud. The financial services and banking sectors, where many problems were exacerbated, are among the most heavily regulated and watched sectors in any economy.

      Shocking, in support of your view you quote a conservative think tank. That’s like asking a Christian if the Bible is true. Well, I can do the same thing. Here are a bunch of economists who say we need more regulation (and remember, it wasn’t just the banking industry that caused this recession; unregulated Wall Street played a big role).

      Your point about intercontinental slavery is the usual Conservative response. Shift the blame: “America isn’t as bad as Africa, so you can’t count that.” My point isn’t that America needs to be punished, only that actors (both in and outside of Africa) helped decimate the continent’s economy.

      I don’t know much about Zimbabwe (unlike you, I was willing to admit that I can’t possibly know everything about the entire subject), but once again, you’re proving that you missed my point. I’m not claiming the Free Market is evil, only that it isn’t the ideal Conservatives chalk it up to be. I think there are two ways to fix the Free Market: Eliminating all the manipulation and backroom deals that hamper it, or use Fair Trade as a tool to balance the inequalities. Since the former is a more of a pipe dream, I support attempts to patch the holes. Someday, though, I’d like to see the manipulators exposed and stopped (is that naive? yep, but I can hope).

      “You tell people that Africa is being treated terribly, and the Conservative view says, “The world ain’t fair.” On the other hand, if you dare say, “The rich should pay more in taxes,” Conservatives cry, “That ain’t fair!” Well, I agree. The world is not fair.”
      So we should repay unfairness with more unfairness? When did two wrongs make a right?

      I don’t think it’s unfair to expect the rich to pay taxes at the same percentage rate as everyone else. To take it one step further, I say, if it’s unfair for the rich to pay at a higher rate, than so be it. It’s not ‘repaying’ unfairness, it’s just taking some of that unfairness and spreading it around. The poor are already burdened with a world of unfairness. The rich have taken plenty advantage of that. If that means they pay more money, so be it. This concept that the rich deserve their obscene wealth is laughable to me. (You just went and proved my point, by the way. Conservatives are always looking out for the Big Guy, “Don’t be unfair to the rich, boohoo”.)

      What it comes down to here is that you spent half of your response ranting about my ignorance all the while missing my main point, that the Free Market is not ‘free’. There’s not an ‘Invisible Hand’ guiding it, it’s the rich and powerful rigging the system. You can say that the Free Market has worked rather well for America, and I don’t refute that. I just happen to think that the world extends beyond the US borders, and as an Atheist, I don’t need to be told to love my neighbors, I know that our species is better off when more of us our thriving, not just a select few.

      The atheism you seem to support is the Randian, Social Darwin version, the type that completely misunderstood Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection and has been screaming that might makes right. Your arrogance is just a mask for your own ignorance and blind naivete. I didn’t write this to convert anyone, I merely wrote it to express how my views (and humanist morality) developed. You haven’t refuted anything I’ve said, merely reinforced that those who believe in the Free Market are worshiping an invisible God (which explains why Christianity and Conservative Economics so often go hand-in-hand).

      Godspeed.

  2. Since you have not read my blog before, I will have to

    start with one of the most glaringly obvious points: I know that

    Christian views are diverse.

    Perhaps you should express yourself more precisely, rather than

    making sweeping generalization and assuming the reader has a

    background knowledge of all your blog entries to know who you’re

    really talking about is some people in one particular country.

    Ayn Rand’s version of atheism was a cruel, overbearing

    one, though, with people used as a means to an end.

    Please explain. How can a lack of belief in god(s) be “cruel” and

    “overbearing”? I always figured it was simply that: a lack of

    belief in god(s).

    If you’re actually referring to Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, a

    more ignorant claim you could not have made. It was precisely the

    use of people as a means that Rand vehemenently argued against.

    My point, if it isn’t clear, is that the Free Market is

    a nice ideal if the two (or more) parties always played by the same

    rules, but more often than not, one party or another rigs the system

    in their favor…There should be rules.

    More demonstration of the very first thing I said: liberalism is

    born of ignorance.

    Of course the free market has rules. It would not exist if

    there wasn’t any. You’ll not find one proponent who suggests

    otherwise. Rules on property rights, fraud, contracts, dispute

    resolution, etc.

    You’re not refuting anything I’m saying.

    Actually, I am. My claim is that third-party interventions in the

    free market are what create the rigging you complain against. The

    solution? Minimize or abolish those interventions!

    My point is that the Free Market, in a perfect vacuum,

    would be great. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in the

    reality of this world, and whether it’s agents acting to support a

    corporation’s desires or fighting against a corporation’s desire,

    there is always somebody somewhere manipulating the Free

    Market.

    Another straw man. The free market doesn’t have to exist in a vacuum

    in order to work. We have many examples in the world where

    economies based on its principles not just exist, but thrive (e.g.,

    Hong Kong). Does a perfectly free market exist? In some areas of

    the world, undoubtedly, but not on a national scale. But that

    doesn’t mean economies can’t be structured toward the ideal. Your

    argument denying this commits the fallacy of the false dilemma.

    If you were more knowledgeable about economics, you’d know it’s not

    possible for some agent to “manipulate” the entire market. Can some

    people, some of the time, influence some market transactions in

    their favor? Yes. But that’s a far cry from controlling the entire

    thing. You’re bordering on conspiracy-mongering here…

    The reason most economists support it is because they

    live in the powerful countries who benefit from the uneven

    Market.

    LOL! Really, this is rich. Do you have even a scintilla of

    evidence to support this view? I thought not.

    If the Free Market was truly working, we wouldn’t exist

    in a world where a nation like America can be obscenely wealthy

    while entire nations can be destitute.

    Unless, you know, their economies are not based on free market

    principals. If you open your eyes, you might actually find some.

    Shocking, in support of your view you quote a

    conservative think tank.

    Your claim was that the recession was caused by “no one…watching

    the markets.” I refuted that claim with evidence that the financial

    and banking sector (many of whose firms are represented on

    Wall Street, btw) are among the most heavily regulated and watched

    in the economy. Instead of providing support for your initial

    claim, you attack my source, thus committing an ad hominem.

    Further, you cite some economists who think we need more regulation

    in the commodities futures markets, which is irrelevant.

    Here’s your opportunity to substantiate the claim that the recent

    recession was caused by “no one…watching the markets.” If you can

    provide no such evidence, then we can only conclude this is a

    faith-based statement and may justifiably be dismissed.

    My point isn’t that America needs to be punished, only

    that actors (both in and outside of Africa) helped decimate the

    continent’s economy.

    And my point is blaming Africa’s current woes on an institution that

    mostly ended over 100-150 years ago is quite laughable. You’d think

    someone who, you know, actually studied Africa would be apprised of

    more recent events and circumstances.

    I don’t know much about Zimbabwe (unlike you, I was

    willing to admit that I can’t possibly know everything about the

    entire subject),

    When did I ever imply I know everything about the entire subject?

    Really, these assertions made out of thin air are the domain of

    religions.

    I think there are two ways to fix the Free Market:

    Eliminating all the manipulation and backroom deals that hamper it,

    or use Fair Trade as a tool to balance the

    inequalities.

    Except that, as you admit above, it’s “hard” to define what you mean

    by fair trade. Moroever, you sidestep the question of why your

    notion of fair should override someone else’s notion of fair,

    particularly when you would seek to interject yourself into a

    voluntary exchange they have with someone else. To me, that’s not

    fair.

    It’s not ‘repaying’ unfairness, it’s just taking some of

    that unfairness and spreading it around.

    An excellent example of the liberal mentality at work – the ability

    to contradict oneself in a single sentence.

    This concept that the rich deserve their obscene wealth

    is laughable to me.

    So, when someone gets rich because they’ve provided a good or

    service that many others are willing to pay for, this is obscence to

    you.

    People like Fidel Castro probably couldn’t agree more, and look how

    well his country has turned out…

    What it comes down to here is that you spent half of

    your response ranting about my ignorance all the while missing my

    main point, that the Free Market is not ‘free’.

    Besides a few sweeping generalizations about nefarious agents

    allegedly controlling the market (the Rothschilds, perhaps?), you’ve

    utterly failed to support this main point at all.

    You can say that the Free Market has worked rather well

    for America, and I don’t refute that. I just happen to think that

    the world extends beyond the US borders

    Well…if you admit the free market works, then doesn’t it logically

    follow you should advocate it for other places besides America?

    The atheism you seem to support is the Randian, Social

    Darwin version,

    So many varieties of atheism! Please explain, how a lack of belief

    in god(s) can be Randian or Social Darwinist.

    and has been screaming that might makes

    right

    And how would you impose your notion of “fair trade”? That’s right,

    the only way you can, through the might of the state.

    Your arrogance is just a mask for your own ignorance and

    blind naivete.

    “I know how the world really works.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

    What you’ve demonstrated here is that the liberal mind isn’t far removed from the religious mind. Both take mythical objects and build whole doctrines off them. Fortunately, the whole edifice crumbles under the evidence and facts.

    • I’m just going to stop the whole back and forth quote commenting thing, because it’s the easiest way in the world to miss the larger points. Nitpicking what each other has to say is getting us nowhere. So let me just get to the root of my point, which was obviously lost on you. (I’m mostly going to ignore the spots where you clearly didn’t read what I actually said, such as my point on slavery.)

      The Free Market is a very successful system, a very useful and necessary economic engine. I never argued that point. I never said we should subvert it or replace it with Fair Trade. While there may be people out there that think Fair Trade is a sustainable economic plan, that is not my argument (or my belief). I am asserting Fair Trade as a patch, a temporary fix for a torn pair of jeans. Asking me to define ‘fair’ in Fair Trade is missing the point, because as I see it, Fair Trade is not about establishing new rules for the global economy, it’s about working to correct the injustices (some intentional, some unfortunate but innocent byproducts of a complex global economy) that have led to the subjugation of entire nations for their cherished goods (for instance, coffee, whose Free Market boon in the developed nations has caused 3rd World Nations to spiral further into poverty as they produce the product without fair compensation… fair, in this sentence, meaning enough to sustain a livable economy).
      You can claim that some nations are poor because they were socialist or they rejected the Free Market, but that ignores the dozens of third world countries that are trying to enter into the Free Market system but are finding their pathway blocked by a system that favors the powerful and rich. I don’t expect you to read this, but here’s evidence.
      (As a Conservative, you seem to be so focused solely on the economics of Fair Trade that you ignore what else the movement does: It protects the workers/farmers, ensures better working conditions and a living wage.. that’s what Fair means.. the kinds of things we take for granted in America because some evil socialists and brainless liberals fought for (and won) ‘fair’ work conditions in the US many years ago).

      Did I fail to support my point well in a blog post? I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I needed to include a citations page. I’ve just provided you with three books of support of my points. I assume now you’ll go off and read those books.

      You accuse me of making an ad hominem attack. It should be noted though, that the article you provided wasn’t ‘proof’ that “the financial and banking sector… are among the most heavily regulated and watched in the economy.” It was really a biased critique of another group’s research. It’s whole argument is predicated on the assumption that regulation is bad. It argues that regulation helped lead to the collapse, but it doesn’t actually provide any evidence for it (evidence being facts relevant to this actual crisis, not just anecdotal examples). It’s a predictably conservative assessment of the crisis from a Conservative think tank. In this case, the source is relevant to the critique, and a good logician knows that occasionally pointing that out is necessary. Numerous economists came out after the crisis hit to speak out about the lack of regulation, or perhaps more importantly, the lack of enforcement of the regulations.
      Thus, what it comes down to is a battle of ideological economists, and all it proves is that Conservatives agree with Conservatives and Liberals agree with Liberals. Your ‘proof’ is lacking.

      You can label it conspiracy theory (and frankly, as I mentioned in the original post, that isn’t necessarily a wrong view of the world) to suggest that self-interested actors are lining their pockets on the backs of struggling nations, but I’ve provided you 3 books that outline the history (and actually, The Family touches on the subject as well). It’s easy to have faith in the Free Market and claim that anyone who isn’t thriving under it just isn’t doing it right (hmm, now that sounds like religion to me), but the truth is, the system has problems. Pointing to success stories is mere misdirection, because it ignores the very real disaster stories that exists all around this world.

      (Also, you’re being intentionally dense about atheism, aren’t you? Atheism is non-belief in God(s), and that’s all it is, but every individual can take that non-belief and create their own worldview from it, which is why you can have a liberal atheist and a conservative atheist.)

      What it comes down to is that Free Market is upheld by Conservatives as the Holy Grail of Capitalism, and the only reason bad things happen under its watch is because people aren’t doing it right. Well, I kind of agree with you, only, I suggest that it’s naive to believe that the Free Market can ever run as cleanly as Conservatives imagine it does. Somebody is always getting rich, but somebody else is always going to get poorer for it.

      What you’ve demonstrated here is that the conservative mind isn’t far removed from the religious mind. Both take mythical objects and build whole doctrines off them.

  3. The Free Market is a very successful system, a very useful and necessary economic engine. I never argued that point.

    Now, you’re simply changing your tune. Previously you asserted that a Free Market and Free Trade don’t exist, that they’re “a lie”, that there are always “agents working both in front of and behind the scenes” to keep the rich rich, and the poor poor, and that is why Fair Trade “is necessary”.

    I am asserting Fair Trade as a patch, a temporary fix for a torn pair of jeans.

    If the underlying free market/trade system is essentially rotten, causing nations to “spiral further into poverty”, then Fair Trade – however defined – merely addresses symptoms. Wouldn’t the smart thing be to work on rectifying causes?

    You can claim that some nations are poor because they were socialist or they rejected the Free Market, but that ignores the dozens of third world countries that are trying to enter into the Free Market system but are finding their pathway blocked by a system that favors the powerful and rich.

    Implementing free market reforms doesn’t require a nation to enter into any kind of “system”; it can be done completely domestically. Perhaps you mean the global trading system? I agree that the trading system is in many ways gamed, but its often that way because of powerful lobbies, such as unions, farmers, or corporate conglomerates who complain about “unfair” trade practices. In order to implement “fairness”, tariffs, quotas and subsides are granted, which have the effect of suppressing other nations’ producers and keeping them in poverty.

    The solution, then, is to promote a trade system free from artificial barriers (e.g., NAFTA, WTO), but since that will create some pain for the domestic lobbies, who vote, it’s a very unlikely and halting process.

    [Fair Trade] protects the workers/farmers, ensures better working conditions and a living wage…

    Here’s a good question for you: what do you propose be done when the products of workers/farmers are simply no longer demanded, or demanded at reduced prices owing to economic shifts?

    Your ‘proof’ is lacking.

    LOL…you’ve STILL failed to support the claim that “no one…watching the markets.” It is you who made this assertion, to which I merely responded, and despite multiple requests, have not cited any evidence to support it. The only thing you can do is attack my source with ad hominems.

    Whose “proof is lacking”? Seriously…

    (Also, you’re being intentionally dense about atheism, aren’t you? Atheism is non-belief in God(s), and that’s all it is, but every individual can take that non-belief and create their own worldview from it, which is why you can have a liberal atheist and a conservative atheist.)

    What you don’t seem to understand is that there’s nothing about atheism that implies a political viewpoint. One of the best books I’ve read on atheism is Dr. David Eller’s Atheism Advanced. If you think me dense, then your argument is with those like Dr. Eller who know their stuff.

    What you’ve demonstrated here is that the conservative mind isn’t far removed from the religious mind. Both take mythical objects and build whole doctrines off them.

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

    Really, though, the joke’s on you. Five seconds poking around my blog would prove I’m no conservative. Which goes to show, once more, your views are seemingly built on ignorance.

    • Let’s start backwards:
      “Really, though, the joke’s on you. Five seconds poking around my blog would prove I’m no conservative. Which goes to show, once more, your views are seemingly built on ignorance.”
      You got on me for assuming that someone reading a post on my blog would understand my background (as is explained in my blog), and now you’re expecting me to go read your blog to know you’re political leanings? I don’t care if you are liberal or conservative in real life, only with what you’re arguing in these comments. In and the comments, you are obviously arguing the Conservative side of things, so that’s how I addressed you. So I’m ignorant for not reading your blog, and you’re not? Hypocrite.

      “What you don’t seem to understand is that there’s nothing about atheism that implies a political viewpoint.”
      I understand that (as I am an atheist). My point isn’t that atheism leads to one political view or another, but rather that my atheism led me to my liberal stances. No where in my blog or in my comments did I ever suggest that atheism equals liberalism.
      When I said, “most of my political views come as a logical progression from a single realization” I was saying it was logical progression from my realization of no God. Since every person’s path to that knowledge is unique, I don’t expect everyone’s logical progression to be the same. You’ve accused me of making a Straw Man a few times, but here you are taking my blog post and attacking it like it was my attempt at a Manifesto. It’s just a discussion of how my personal political views developed out of my personal beliefs (or lack there of).

      Okay, so I agree, I said “no one was watching the markets” and that was hyperbole. You got me. What you don’t seem to ‘get’ is that my larger point is still valid (as far as your proof goes): Deregulation is not a solution, it’s a bad thing. Other than that Conservative Think Tank, most rational people understand that this recession happened because the regulations were not properly regulated. Even if the Banking system has the most regulations in the world, they’re meaningless unless they are enforced (which they were not, as my links all argued).
      Congratulations, you understand what “Ad Hominem” means. What you don’t understand is that sometimes, questioning the source is valid, especially when the source isn’t providing ‘facts’, merely opinions and conjectures (as your source was).

      “what do you propose be done when the products of workers/farmers are simply no longer demanded, or demanded at reduced prices owing to economic shifts?”
      I have no great proposal for this. I understand supply and demand comes and goes. I don’t think we should bail out every company that fails just because their services aren’t in demand. But you (seem to) have this narrow belief that people who are poor are all poor because they just didn’t succeed in the Free Market. You’re ignoring the fact that some people (nations) never even get a chance to participate in the Free Market because the global system is rigged against them from the get go.

      The rest of what you said all goes to my original point: If I thought Free Trade could truly work, unmolested by outside forces, then sure, I’d be all for it. But I live in the real world. When I said, “I know how the world works” I was saying, I know that there is no such thing as a pure Free Market. You can say we should strive for it, and that’s fine, but that’s like Christians who are striving to enforce abstinence until marriage. Sure, it would be the best solution for stopping the spread of AIDS, but it isn’t going to happen, so we should still use condoms. Think of Fair Trade as the Trojan Max for the STD-infested system that is Free Trade.

      “…then Fair Trade – however defined – merely addresses symptoms. Wouldn’t the smart thing be to work on rectifying causes?”
      Yes, YES, I agree. When you figure out how to rectify the greedy governments, corporations and national treatises that corrupt the system, then I’ll slap on a Free Trade sticker. Until then, I’m going to practice ‘safe trade’ and suggest everyone wear a condom.

  4. You got on me for assuming that someone reading a post on my blog would understand my background (as is explained in my blog), and now you’re expecting me to go read your blog to know you’re political leanings?

    Er, no. I replied to the statements you made in this post, but you objected that if I had been reading your blog all along, I would have known what you really meant by those statements.

    I don’t care if you are liberal or conservative in real life, only with what you’re arguing in these comments. In and the comments, you are obviously arguing the Conservative side of things, so that’s how I addressed you. So I’m ignorant for not reading your blog, and you’re not? Hypocrite.

    See, this simply demonstrates your ignorance. You divide people in two camps: conservative and liberal. But the fact of the matter is, there are other political ideologies besides these two. Many more.

    I never stated I was a conservative but you incorrectly assumed I was. Rather than assume, the better approach is to do a little investigation to find out for sure.

    I was saying it was logical progression from my realization of no God.

    Well, now you know that your logical progression, as you call it, is based partly on ignorance. Logic is consistent with itself. So if one person’s atheism “logically” leads to liberalism and another’s “logically” leads to conservatism or some other ideology (e.g., Marxism), then clearly there’s problem.

    Okay, so I agree, I said “no one was watching the markets” and that was hyperbole…Deregulation is not a solution, it’s a bad thing.

    We’ll just chalk that up to more hyperbole.

    Other than that Conservative Think Tank, most rational people understand that this recession happened because the regulations were not properly regulated.

    Funny how the people who agree with you are “rational” but those who don’t are biased and dismissed out of hand. So why aren’t YOUR sources expressing “merely opinions and conjectures”?

    So what caused the financial crisis – let us count the ways!

    1) No one watching the markets (i.e., laissez-faire)
    2) Deregulation
    3) Improper regulation
    4) Lack of enforcement of the regulations
    5) Unnamed agents “working behind the scenes”

    I’m sure with your next post, we’ll be able add a couple more.

    You’re ignoring the fact that some people (nations) never even get a chance to participate in the Free Market because the global system is rigged against them from the get go.

    Answered previously. Guess I’ll have to repeat myself:

    “Implementing free market reforms doesn’t require a nation to enter into any kind of “system”; it can be done completely domestically.”

    You say this:

    I know that there is no such thing as a pure Free Market.

    But previously said this:

    You can say that the Free Market has worked rather well for America, and I don’t refute that.

    So there’s no such thing as a “pure Free Market”, but this Free Market has done well for America. Ok I got it.

    When you figure out how to rectify the greedy governments, corporations and national treatises that corrupt the system, then I’ll slap on a Free Trade sticker.

    There’s volumes of material out there how to do this. Of course, you won’t find it by reading the same liberal sources you always do. You could start with a site you linked to already: mises.org

    • You have called me ignorant about a dozen times in this post, but you haven’t actually proven any point you’re trying to make. You just keep ignoring what I’m saying and claiming I’m wrong.

      “You divide people in two camps: conservative and liberal. But the fact of the matter is, there are other political ideologies besides these two. Many more.” No shit Sherlock. I wasn’t arguing that there were only 2 ideologies, only that you were arguing a traditionally Conservative fiscal one. Again, it doesn’t matter what you are in your day to day life. You’re so focused on semantics, it’s getting meaningless.

      “Implementing free market reforms doesn’t require a nation to enter into any kind of “system”; it can be done completely domestically.”
      You are so ignorant.

      The Free Market is not merely national, so if the US or some other nation thrives on it, but other nations crumble, that is not the sign of the Free Market’s success. It shows that it is corrupt.

      You haven’t actually proven any of your points, you’ve just come over and over again saying I’m ignorant and it’s getting old. Your only “proof” was a biased site (I wasn’t saying my biased sites were better than yours, only that it was easy to find a biased site to support any view… that’s why your “proof” is as meaningless as my “proof”. You never provided facts).

      You are boring, condescending and ultimately lacking in any legitimate arguments. You’ll go away from this believing you destroyed me, but you never actually made any arguments. You nitpicked my word choice, selectively attacked sentences but ignored their larger context and hypocritically attacked me for doing the same things that you were doing.

      Congrats. Go away, you’re boring.

  5. You have called me ignorant about a dozen times in this post, but you haven’t actually proven any point you’re trying to make. You just keep ignoring what I’m saying and claiming I’m wrong.

    The only point I have to prove is that you’re not proving yours. It’s you who are making the claims. Therefore, it’s incumbent on you to support them – something you’ve been incapable of accomplishing.

    No shit Sherlock. I wasn’t arguing that there were only 2 ideologies, only that you were arguing a traditionally Conservative fiscal one.

    Funny then that you said I had a “conservative mind”. Do you even know what fiscal means? Where were we even discussing fiscal issues? Good grief…

    You are so ignorant. The Free Market is not merely national, so if the US or some other nation thrives on it, but other nations crumble, that is not the sign of the Free Market’s success. It shows that it is corrupt.

    LOL! If there was the equivalent of Fundies Say the Darndest Things for liberals, this would easily make it. Really, repeat this in front of any economist and watch him either laugh in your face or peer at you like some kind of nutcase.

    Rather than spout nonsense, which, chameleon-like, changes with every post, perhaps you should devote a little time to actually educating yourself.

    • “The only point I have to prove is that you’re not proving yours. It’s you who are making the claims. Therefore, it’s incumbent on you to support them – something you’ve been incapable of accomplishing.”

      I wasn’t trying to prove any point. My post was an explanation of my social/political stances. If people don’t share them, that is not my problem. You were the one who came here asserting that my ignorance is so obvious, yet you haven’t actually shown why.

      “Rather than spout nonsense, which, chameleon-like, changes with every post, perhaps you should devote a little time to actually educating yourself.”

      This is why it is incumbent. upon you to provide proof. You are the one making assertions about my ignorance and insulting me, yet you haven’t provided any actual facts. You just keep saying over and over again, “You’re wrong, you’re so ignorant,” but you aren’t providing proof.

      My original point can be boiled down to this: The world is an unfair place where the poor are heaped upon by the rich. The Free Market is a nearly religious ideal that Conservatives (and others) tend to believe in blindly, even though there is no place on earth where there aren’t corrupting forces skewing the ‘free’ aspect of it. Because of those corrupting forces, there should be people who are willing to fight for the less fortunate.
      There’s the Cliffnotes.

      I’ve provided numerous book references to support this in my comments. I don’t think that a blog post is where I write a nuanced college thesis on global economic patterns. I kind of figure my readers will go with my points or they won’t, and all I really want from them is to go on and investigate the topic further.

      Your belittling technique sans actual substance makes me think you’re 20, 21, somewhere in college. I enjoy insulting someone as much as the next person, but I do it by providing actual sources with facts. You keep falling back on Appeals to Authority (“repeat this in front of any economist and watch him either laugh in your face or peer at you like some kind of nutcase”) and even more rabid exclamations of my obvious mental deficiencies.

      (If you aren’t 20ish, you should be embarrassed.)

      I repeat myself: Go away, arguing with you is like arguing with a petulant child.

      (Any further comments from you that consist of insults and no substantial facts will just be deleted, so save us both the time.)

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