Thursday, October 18, 2007

Extremism IS a vice!

Barry Goldwater famously said: I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!

But you know what people? He was wrong wrong wrong.

It's that kind of thinking that gets brilliant economists making an absolute black and white case for Free Trade when they know it's not correct because they don't want to give aid and comfort to the "enemy".

It's that kind of thinking that gets people arguing that the Bush tax cuts have paid for themselves, when it's clear that the Laffer Curve argument does not apply to the current US situation, because they want a smaller government.

On the other end of the spectrum, it's that kind of thinking that gets people spinning out doomsday scenarios about global warming well in advance of any science because people need to be mobilized.

It's that kind of thinking that makes people claim that Bush is "denying insurance to poor children" by vetoing a larger increase in coverage than he was willing to accept because they believe in the social justice of government single payer health care.

What I don't get is why these people can't see that their rabid extremism makes their arguments totally non-credible. Nothing makes me dig in my heels more than a sanctimonious, shrill, know it all.

I'll close this sermonette by echoing my main man, Isaiah, "Come and let us reason together".

Can I get a Amen?


Fundman said...


Anonymous said...


You do know that it's about rallying the base?

Notice how all the shrillness about the enviroment, from the 1970s activists to AlGore has in fact shifted median preferences in the US on the environment so that (for example) recycling has become the de facto "moral" position regardless of its actual merits. I fear the same will come true for many of the policies pushed by the global warmers. They won't "win" big, but they will change what "decent" people are allowed to think.

Angus said...

Fundman: Lol, yep me and the prophet Isaiah, just like marx and lenin.

Anonymous: Don't you ever call me Mike again. I will hunt u down.

Actually I think the global warmers have had their main impact through our public school system and what it "teaches" kids. If I ever had any kids, I fear I'd have to home school 'em at least till their BS dectectors were well developed.

Shawn said... could just sit 'em in front of some T2.

Anonymous said...

I'll close this sermonette by echoing my main man, Isaiah, "Come and let us reason together".


was that Isiah Thomas to Browne Sanders?


Robert S. Porter said...

Should I take that to mean, then, that morality should give way to realism?

With free trade for example, I think the moral case for free trade trumps any economic case, even though I think the evidence does support it heavily.

The tax cuts, similarly, may not make economic sense, but I think people paying less taxes is always good (though I suppose one could argue it will result in more taxes and troubles in the future, etc.).

Now, I am all for telling the truth and being consistent, so perhaps I am reading too far into this. Or maybe I'm missing the point. But extremism on moral arguments, the most important argument to be made, is no vice. What is a vice is altering ones ideals because it may not be perfectly efficient.

Angus said...

Hi Robert: by all means make the moral argument, I'm just axin' for people not to deliberately lie to advance their agendas (what a dreamer). I guess it's just another way of sayin' the end doesn't justify the means.

btw, I'm a free tradin' open immigratin' tiny governmentin' guy myself!

Angus said...

Shawn: its like what Homer Simpson said about being a parent "what with the internet and all, they practically raise themselves!"

Robert S. Porter said...

Thanks. I was just trying to make sure that you weren't arguing that that was the only legitimate argument to be made.

And I realize you're libertarian minded, I just needed some clarification.

Jeremy said...

I don't think Goldwater meant that extremism is ITSELF a great thing. But to be uncompromising about what is right is commendable, according to him. I happen to agree.

The problems you're talking about come from people simply not being correct or consistent, not from being passionate. What we need is more intellectual honesty and an ability to admit when we don't have the complete answer to a given problem.

But Goldwater was talking about values, not factual or logical points. Since I think liberty and justice are part of what makes us human, I'm totally on board with being extremely human.