Sunday, March 27, 2011

From Liberal To Conservative To Stossel Libertarian-A Bridge Too Far?

This blog was originally titled "Recovering Liberal" and was created to convey my thoughts on various topics based on a lifetimes experiences. I made it clear that I had progressed, as I saw it, from the left-wing views of  my youth to the conservative views of, I trust, my more mature frame of mind.

In considering the presentations I was making, I was struck by the need to not simply discuss events from an ultra-conservative, or reactionary point of view, but to ensure topics always had reasoning and facts as their basis-rather than simply being rants. 

I felt a strong contrast between formerly held liberal views, which were based on emotion, and now held conservative views which are based on reason. This demand for reason naturally led to seeking out the views of major conservative thinkers such as Hayek and Milton Friedman.

There, challenges arose. In reading Hayek and his anti-statism views there was, I considered, little to disagree with. Friedman's economic views on the other hand became a matter of much self debate. This as regards his flat tax prescription, the validity of his monetary approach as opposed to the Keynesian in relation to the current economic turmoil, and more pointedly, the actions of Bernanke in dealing with it-a matter of much soul searching for me.

This applies also to Friedman's other economic prescriptions which include his attitude the Social Security Administration which he advises could be abolished "at once" his call for completely free trade amongst all nations, and to abolish the FDA.

The biggest challenge however is Friedman's libertarian outlook, He seems to me to take free will to the point of excess in e.g. his attitude to drugs "let us be free to choose what chances we wish to take with our own lives."

My first instinct is to reject these concepts outright as running not only contradictory to my life's outlook whether liberal or now conservative. This reaction is however tempered by the totality of Friedman's proposals in his book 'Free To Choose' and of course by the respect one must hold a Nobel Prize winner in economics.

What further tempers this gut instinct outright rejection of what appears an extreme libertarian philosophy, has been viewing the recent television presentations by John Stossel. It is, for anyone who takes a dispassionate, non-rigid look at Stossel's show, difficult to find fault with the premises he presents. 

Stossel demolishes, for example, the administrations farcical rescue packages such as "cash for clunkers" with a clear, unarguable lucidity. He brings a worrisome portrait of this destruction by governmental waste, in such a manner that it would be foolish to reject his premises out of hand.

However, so ingrained is the accumulated mental dependence on the state, so engrained is the regard for the "government knows best" idea that one struggles to believe ones eyes and ears when watching Stossel's presentations.

For me, now, Friedman and Stossel are "a bridge too far" but a bridge, whose outlines in the distance are becoming clearer, and the fog surrounding it is slowly, but steadily lifting.

No comments :