selfish values, not stupidity, describes conservatives.

I’ve always subscribed to the Millsian notion that while all conservatives are not stupid, stupid people tend to be conservative. But while that may be true, it seems to me that the greatest difference between the ends of the conservative/liberal continuum, or Republican/Democrat - to over simplify - is that the conservative/Republican point of view is rooted in selfishness. I got mine - you go get yours. There is a fundamental difference in the idea of social responsibility. Conservatives seem to feel that we are all - and SHOULD be - responsible for ourselves. Liberals seem to feel a greater measure of responsiblity for others. There is an element of altruism in the liberal stance, which seems to be totally lacking in the conservative view. I think they both would exercise control over others behavior, but in different arenas, so the big/small government issue is a non-starter. So, I’d like to see some debate on this notion: the difference between conservative and liberal views is not a matter of intelligence, but of beliefs. And the judgement I’d make is that conservative viewpoints come from a more selfish and even greedy point of view, and liberal viewpoints come from a more altruistic point of view. Further, conservatives tend to be more fearful and threatened, and liberals tend to be more trusting of human nature. What do you think?

Oh, so conservatives aren’t stupid, they’re just selfish? Thanks for the back-handed compliment.

I’m not a conservative, but as a libertarian it seems that you would be addressing your comments to me, too. So let me try and illustrate some fallacies of your assumptions.

I don’t know any conservative or libertarian who is unconcerned about his fellow man. In fact, many that I know are very concerned about what happens to others. However, just because one has a concern for his fellow man does not necessarily mean that this concern will translate itself into backing a liberal political agenda. As a libertarian, I’m concerned about those who are homeless and the unemployed and all the other people that liberals are concerned about. However, I think the best way to help those people is not to give them a government program, but instead for them to find a way to help themselves become productive members of society. And government is not the best way to help them help themselves. Private charities, in my opinion, do a much better job than any social program.

Furthermore, it is my belief that government programs often hurt those they intend to help. Welfare programs, instead of providing an impetus to better oneself, simply subsidize a destructive lifestyle.

You can say that a liberal view is “altruisitic,” but someone like me views it as naive or even stupid. You aren’t helping anyone by supporting these government programs. Instead, you are subsidizing their bad behavior and trapping them in a destructive lifestyle. To me, that’s just cruel.

And how is creating a government program being altruistic? If you really cared for your fellow man, you’d be out there supporting private charities and giving your money to them. Instead, liberals support the government taking money from everyone and setting up these programs. Why is it so altruistic to demand money from others to pay for these programs? There is no virtue in forced charity, and there surely is no virtue in demaning that the government force others to give money.

Altruism is caring for your fellow man. Liberals and conservatives/libertarians simply disagree on how to do that.

What do I think? Thanks for asking!

Perhaps you mean to be provacative. At least that’s what another poster said when called to task for a recent thread that started out as foolishly as this one did. Being obnoxious is not provacative. It’s just obnoxious. And it suggests that maybe the difference between conservative and liberal is indeed one of intelligence.

I’m not much for labels, although I see the expediency of them. I don’t think of myself as a conservative, but if pressed would say that I better fit the common description of a conservative than a liberal on many issues. (although not all)

Nonetheless, if I was interested in engaging those with different viewpoints I wouldn’t imagine that I’d get a warm reception if I started out by calling them stupid. :wally

I don’t think conservatives are “selfish,” they just don’t believe the government should responsible for taking care of everyone. From my experience, they tend to believe that private organizations (churches, non-profit organizations) and individual citizens are responsible for helping the less-fortunate, not the government.

While this may come off as callous, I think it shows much more faith in humanity than the liberal view.

Renob’s response certainly supports my beliefs. Government programs are automatically bad. Private charity is automatically good. That type of thinking IS stupid. His professed altruism is clear for all to see in this statement:

I think the best way to help those people is not to give them a government program, but instead for them to find a way to help themselves become productive members of society.[\quote] Someone - not Renob - should help those folks to help themselves. Don’t take his taxes to help others. And then there’s this lovely characterization of those who need help:

you are subsidizing their bad behavior and trapping them in a destructive lifestyle.[\quote] It is this demeaning and dismissive view of others that is so galling. You mask a disdain for those less fortunate in an unconvincing plea for support - from others, of course. Renob’s response is short sighted, stupid, and disdainful of others. Selfish. Just what I was suggesting.

For the more ignorant of us (me) could you please offer up some context for this term- “Millsian”?

I take it you mean out of proportion with the general population, yes? You are asserting that a disprportionate number of ‘stupid people’ are conservatives?

Your ‘non-starter’ is the crux of the biscuit.

Your whole selfishness vs altruism angle is misguided. It’s not about that. It’s about how to help our fellow citizens. Liberals and conservatives each believe in help those around them.
Conservatives think that individuals are responsible for helping their fellow man and are willing to do so. Liberals think that the government is responsible for helping their fellow man and are willing to let the gov do so.
Conservatives view government bureaucracies as inefficient means of allocating resources. Liberals think gov bureaucracies are great ways to solve social problems.

Maybe about beliefs in the effectiveness of politicians and bureacracies. Liberals think these two are swell and conservatives distrust them both.

This is a myopic judgment.

These qualities are fairly amorphous, so it’s not easy to be sure that we are discussing the same things; however…

Conservatives realize that in reality, there’re bad apples and that they need to be dealt with.
Conservatives give people the credit of being responsible for their own actions and are hold accountable for them. Thus they expect that strengthening individual character is the best way to go about improving society as a whole.
Liberals have the less charitable and more dehumanizing view. They tend to see people as chaff in the socio-economic winds and as such are not capable of being responsible for their actions. Because they try to place responsibility for individuals actions on to external forces, their attempts to fix things center around trying to monkey with these forces. the only problem is that those who’d monkey with these forces are just more chaff in the socio-economic winds.

In short liberals see their fellow humans as incompetents whose well being depends on government nannying.
Conservatives see their fellow humans as equals and free beings who can take care of themselves and each other.

CC response certainly supports my argument. Private charities are automatically bad. Government programs are automatically good. That type of thinking IS stupid.

Actually this is the precise opposite of what he said.

This is quite a leap of faith on your part. You have yet to demonstratethat this is in deed the thoughts inside of renob’s head.

CC, you just have to decide whether or not you think government bureaucracies are efficient or not.
If you think that they are efficient then you are a liberal.
If you think that government bureaucracies are not efficient then you are a conservative.

I have a philisophical disagreement with all govenrment programs, so, yes, I do think they are bad. However, I also think that almost all government programs are bad even if you accept that the government has a role to play in helping people. These programs often waste a large amount of money and give little discernable benefit. Thinking that just because the government is saying that it’s fighting poverty means that poverty is actually being reduced is stupid to me. You need to actually prove that these programs are helping people. That proof, to me, is sorely lacking.

And I never said all private charities are good. Private charities, on the whole, do a better job of serving the poor than the government.

Did I ever say that someone – not myself – should help others? No, I did not. I believe in charity and give money and volunteer. I think that I am responsible to help others. However, I don’t believe that this means I have a responsibility to force someone else to help, too. How is that being altruistic? How is it virtuous to forcibly take money from others for a cause in which you believe? If you care about the poor, go out there and help them yourself. Don’t pawn off your responsibility on others.

So you’re saying that welfare does not subsidize bad behavior? There are families on welfare who have been receiving benefits for generations, and they don’t know the first thing about work. How is that helping them? People who are able-bodied should work. That’s not selfish, that’s common sense. If a government program subsidizes this, then that’s subsidizing bad behavior. If a government program subsidizes single motherhood, it’s subsidizing bad behavior. Programs to help people should do just that, help them, not provide them with a living if they simply refuse to work. It’s not selfish to refuse to help those who don’t want to help themselves.

Are you intentionally mis-characterizing what I wrote? I never said that it wasn’t my responsibility to help others. I said that I don’t have the right to force others to support these programs. I believe in helping those who truly need help. I also believe, however, that many of those on government assistance today do not legitimately need help.

No, actually, I believe that it’s stupid to belive that an able-bodied man should get welfare instead of working. I believe it’s disdainful of others to be paternalistic and think that they need a government program to live their life. And it’s short-sighted to create these programs to assist those in need and not think that there will be plenty of people who will milk the system.

That’s all? ok. I think bueaurcracies are inneficient, almost by definition. Therefore, I’m a conservative? I didn’t realize it was that easy.

Look - Renob wants to make this a discussion of whether government programs are good or bad. I’m saying that I don’t think that’s the issue. I think it’s more a matter of what michahjn was suggesting - a difference in the way people see the world…who has responsibility for helping others, etc.

Along those lines, it seems to me to be at least slightly disingenuous to suggest that the government has no business helping those who aren’t doing enough to help themselves, when you have no problem at all with the government making, say, air flight safer by building in regulations that keep planes from landing whenever and wherever they want. It’s not a matter of government or no government. It’s a matter of how you want it to be used. Again, this is what Micahjn alluded to. that’s the type of debate I was hoping to see.

Actually, you make it an issue of government programs. I believe that we all have a responsibility to help others. However, I think this responsibility should manifest itself with private charities. You, however, seem to think the only way that the poor can be helped is through government. You see, we both agree on who has the responsibility for helping others, but we disagree on how to go about doing that.

Actually, as a libertarian, I don’t believe in the government doing much of anything. And even if you believe the government should be helping people, you can surely recognize that some people feel that the government fails at this because it’s very inefficient. Furthermore, the government often makes problems worse because of their short-sighted anti-poverty policies (the slum eradication of the 1960’s, for instance). Even if you don’t agree with these assertions, it would be ignorant to dismiss them out of hand as simply “selfish.”

But this is precisely the sort of debate you are seeing. You simply refuse to see that government handouts are not the only, and perhaps not the best, way for the government to help people. What others here are suggesting is that the best way for the government to help people is to create a safe society in which more individuals can help themselves.

Perhaps you are only reading selective responses? If so, simply ignore the ones which are not part of this debate you want. And respond (thoughtfully please) to the questions you have been asked, and the points raised in objection to your OP.

Not sure why I’m wading into this morass, but let’s just take a look at this statement. If liberals are more trusting of human nature, why is it that they tend to want a government program to solve every social ill instead of trusting human nature to deal with the problem without coercion?

And there is absolutely nothing altruistic about taking someone elses money and giving it to another person. Leaving aside for the moment whether altruism is good or bad, the actual meaning of altruism is sacrificing something of ***yourself ** * for another person, not sacrificing something of your neighbor’s.

I think the OP is right about some conservatives, but only some. Some conservatives are selfish and greedy and their conservative beliefs are how they think they can best preserve their own interests.

On the other hand, some liberals are quite selfish, but they don’t want to look selfish or feel bad about themselves so they vote to give away other people’s money to those in need.

But there are plenty of conservatives who care a great deal about the less fortunate, but who disagree with liberals about how best to help them. Giving people money is not always the best way to help them (as when you give a wino some money and he uses it to buy more booze). And sometimes it’s far more effective to give money directly to the people who need it, or through private charities, rather than have it involutarily taken from citizens and funneled through government beaurocracy.

Anybody have any actual data about how much conservatives vs. liberals give of their own money, time, etc. to charitable causes? That might settle the “are conservatives selfish” argument.

then why would you call the thinking that calls for a more efficient use of resources stupid?

I know what you said. I’ve already explained why what you said is wrong.
It is about whether or not one wants to accept personal responsibility for helping his fellow man.
Those who do accept this personal responsibility want to do so as effectively and as efficiently as possible.
Those who are unwilling to accept this personal responsiblity want to pawn it off on gov bureaucracies even if that means that their fellow is not as well served.

Conservatives are more altruistic than liberals.
Liberals want the problems of their fellow to be someone else’s problem and are willing to ask everyone else to fund their denial of their own individual responsibility to their fellow man.

Why don’t you ask micahjn about the reasoning behind the post you’re referring to?

If one were to ignore the very large and fundamental differences between these two examples, I can see how one could reach such a conclusion.
Because a gov sets traffic regulations in no way whatsoever means that it is an efficient or effective method of helping one’s fellow man.

Sure, sure. Liberals want gov to be used inefficiently to remove their personal obligations to their fellow man. Liberals don’t want to personally help their fellow humans.
Conservatives are willing to accept the personal responsibility for helping their fellow man. Conservatives are much, much more altruistic.

Go ahead and ask micahjn why conservatives “don’t believe the government should responsible for taking care of everyone”.
Go ahead and ask micahjn why " it shows much more faith in humanity than the liberal view".

You’ll find yourself reading a post with points similar to my own.

A part of the function of society is to support it’s members. I’ve never understood this “taking your neighbor’s stuff” that people who oppose government keep trotting out. If you mean, only the strong survive; then say that and pray you’re time doesn’t come.

I’m not a big fan of government OR corporations; I don’t trust them. We home school, We grow 70% of the food we eat and we’re going to pull off the electric grid sometime next year…and everytime I write a check for property taxes, I curse at the waste. That being said…there are some problems that are created by society and only society can control them…society being you, me and your neighbours…

The problem that I have with private charities is that they are private and should have the right to pick and choose whom they help. I have no problem with a private organization being private…but I understand the abuse that such institutions can allow. I remember when they emptied out the mental instutitions in NYC and said that PRIVATE institutions would care for them…as we stepped over homeless people.

I live in a rural area and one of my neighbours fell on HARD times, the local business that employed her closed down and that was that…living paycheck to paycheck, is a bitch when that last paycheck doesn’t clear…fortunately her rent was paid.

So she went to the local religious based charities to get some food while she looked for work and they treated her like a whore. I assumed that when you walk into such a place, they give you food, no questions asked…which is what she needed.

Not once they saw her children were bi-racial and learned her father was dying of AIDS, well so much for Christian charity…

Anyway she ended up on our doorstep…did we help her? Sure did…and she’s working and all’s well. However the other neighbours didn’t, some just didn’t care (some of them were in the same boat and couldn’t) and while helped HER, we certainly couldn’t have taken in or supported 1/2 dozen young women with children or dying people or elderly people and IMO neither would the town.

That’s where the government steps in, while Holmes couldn’t support 50 women, the town could even if they didn’t want to…via taxes. Am I forcing them? Damn straight, anyone who would turn their back on a woman with children and a sick, dying man…need to be ‘coerced’.

I will actually agree with what SimonX says - and I’m a liberal. Conservatives may very well be more altruistic while liberals are lazy hypocritical. However, I am still a liberal - you see, there is third way to look at this.

Here is the key: The liberal viewpoint recognizes that people are selfish and so takes this into account in its governmental policy. The liberal methodolgy of instituting governmental social programs is a pragmatic solution to the charity issue.

holmes’ story provides a good example of this. He could be considered an altruistic conservative - he chose to do good and help the lady. He also pointed out that the other townsfolk did nothing. You see, the liberal viewpoint recognizes this selfishness and so it builds in devices (ie, government programs) to prevent it.

Please take note of my disclaimers in the titles of my posts.

There’s a need for a balance of different approaches that is too much for the context of this thread.

John Stuart Mill, in his “Reflections on Representative Government” called the Conservative Party “the stupidest party”. When he was asked about this later, he said that while not all Conservatives were stupid, stupid people tended to vote for the Conservatives.

Not quite sure what you’re getting at there. I was agreeing with what you said about conservatives. Although more precisely, I was saying that it really doesn’t matter if its true or not.

What I find interesting is the the conflict between CC’s liberalism and the asininity of the OP.

I mean, can liberals be stupid? Can stupid people be liberal?