Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Truth Table: Conservative, Capitalist, Liberal, Progressive

Elections profile voter motivations. Elections also birth consequences. There are consequences for voters, and for those who are voted into office. And, those consequences in turn change the ranking of local motivations. What motivations might shape Whatcom County life in months and years ahead?

I would like to examine and whimsically profile two commonly associated public policy categories, social and fiscal values. Social values may include both caring for the weak and denying or indulging passions. Fiscal values may include work, wage, capitalization and taxation elements. Both social and fiscal public policies are determined by governments, which are formed by the leader “worthships” (elections in America) of its citizens.

Both social and fiscal policy have a nexus in work. I would say that fiscal policy enables social policy, and social policy redeems fiscal policy. This is one reason why Whatcom Works =).

Here is my analysis.

Social Fiscal

Conservative x x single family capitalized Reformation Protestant / Catholic

[Classical Music Home/Public School Family]

Conservative x
bank capitalized Ref. Protestant/Enlightenment Catholic


x [Age 50+ Lynden Business/Farm Family]

bank capitalized Enlightenment Protestant / Pragmatist


x [Country Republican/Tea Party/Young Lynden Business Family]

mixed bank/tax base capitalized Post Modern Pragmatist


x [Bellingham Businessman/NGO/Gov’t Agency Sector]

tax base/bank capitalized Post Modern Evangelical


x [CCM / Russian immigrant / Home or Public Schooled Family]

Progressive x x tax base capitalized age 18-45 Modern/Post Modern Utopian

[Huxley-WWU, Bellingham lawyer/medical/educator class]

[global multi-national high tech business circle e.g. Bill Gates]

Progressive x
single family capitalized Post Modern Communitarian

x [Grow Local, Food Coop, Under-employed Wage Worker]

Conservative x x single family capitalized Post Modern Catholic, Mormon, Hispanic, Muslim…

[Union Wage Worker, Corporate Wage Worker]

As a service and remodel electrician, I work in many homes. I enjoy conversations with many sectors of people. As I stated above, this is a whimsical, anecdotally driven analysis. But I think it is fairly accurate.

Conservatives generally minimize risk and value continuity. They value traditional community, family and God relationships as their mile posts in life.

Liberals are the end product of the incipient globalism of the 1500’s, the colonizations of the 1600’s, the industrialization and enlightenment of the 1700’s and 1800’s. Liberals take a pragmatic, largely live and let live approach to life. Liberals absorb and discard social mores throughout their lives, and largely disdain the social and faith based strictures of conservatives. Liberals see no reason why broken people can’t be fixed with money. Aging liberal grandparents decry the rot from socialist fiscal policies in their grandchildren, yet advocate for youthful flaming sexual passions. They then continually bemoan the revolving bedroom door of living partners of their offspring. Liberals fixate on the surface social elements of aboriginal cultures and spiritist religion, then destroy those same people by transferring boat loads of money from local taxpayers into aboriginal circles.

Many current Progressives are rebranded liberals who are hyper dogmatized like many conservatives. They harshly impose their social values, only, without God and with an enlarged, somewhat dysfunctional definition of community. In reality, progressives are their own mini-gods, and spend an inordinate amount of time propping up their sagging self-image. Go progressive left far enough and you meet the utopian instincts of the religious right. Most grass roots progressives give an amazing amount of their time to their neighbors. Maybe too much for the good of either party. At elite levels, progressives are usually closet capitalists, and could care less for social needs.

Capitalists struggle to fulfill social responsibilities. The burden of corporate upsizing exiles its inhabitants to a moonscape of cash flows, collections, markets, and materialistic fulfillments. Capitalists who are elected into public office may promise tax reductions, but unless they are rooted in a conservative religious element, have a very small relational resource base to drive solutions for community social problems. After the election, they rather quickly capitulate to the system of transfers of tax revenue to non-religious NGOs and government agencies. They find themselves unable to counter NGO and government financial bloat and relational inefficiencies.

Many evangelicals consider themselves social conservatives because they donate money to faith based charities and advocate heterosexual marriage for life. However, there is little difference between them and most liberals. The common ground is closing the home’s door to larger families, (“two children is more than enough”) which also blunts skill and vision for later social service contributions.  Hypocritical evangelical birth control usage is glossed over, yet abortion is unconscionable. The end result in both groups is fewer children and more materialistic freedoms. And, abortionists laugh all the way to the bank. Small time family capitalization gives a “lower” standard of living, but the long term benefits for children are much greater with limited family capital than with big time bank or tax base corporate capitalization. Most evangelicals seek loans and reject children.

In the chart above, there is a sequence. At the top is a Reformation era/type of person. Most early European Americans came from German, Anglo and French Reformation stock. As material prosperity was enabled by global exploration, colonization and industrialization, a corporate mindset replaced family and clan capitalization and culture. Capitalization became a driving and increasingly resented marker in the enlightenment era. God became a distant or non existent reality for elites flush with world capital.

European continental social passions were openly indulged in increasing measure in the 1700’s and later. The ravages of early industrialization were tempered by confrontations with corporations in the late 1900’s, but the social equity of capitalism remains very low. Working for a corporation has more value than not working at all, but corporate “family job wages” do not compensate for reduced formative time with one’s children. The public school is also a poor nanny. Many young families are having to rediscover nuclear family life.

The chart lists several concurrent groups.

Progressive wage workers grapple with falling standards of living, either living in welfare or seeking some elusive tryst with nature and aboriginal cultures.

Older capitalists and wage workers struggle to maintain retirement prospects by shifting their investments through a dizzying range of unstable stock portfolios.

Progressive grant tycoons compensate market job losses by enlarging local grant driven agencies. As government (and progressive millionaire) resources dry up, grant based agencies will shrink and scale down their grand progressive agendas. Many welfare supported families will get very upset. There is a reason to base income on work initiative, not need.

Younger capitalists eat their own health, carrying family killing loans and pleasures.

My harshest words are reserved for my own kind. Christians. Fundamentalists. Evangelicals. Conservatives. We have lost touch with the transcendent power of a God who waits to show his power in meeting the material needs of his bond servants. We have become unaccountable, materialistic wraiths, slipping through life, grasping for college degrees, houses, late model cars, cosmetic beauty, athletic honors, with a modicum of theological correctness after Sunday dinner.

We spend an inordinate amount of time in church buildings and with church friends.

Conservative Christian, take my challenge. Do what your Master says. Lift up your eyes and look about you.  Engage in the public square. Enable the worthy leader, elected or appointed, as he moves resources to meet needs. Take the transcendence and power of your God into the public square. Sharing CCM worship music in a mall is tripe in the public square. Christian athletes and models suck when compared to Christian businessmen who know and address local social needs.

Evangelical father, develop financial discipline. There is a time for elegance and academics, but how much of that is needed, and when? Now is the time to get down and dirty, to earn and share your capital. Teach your children to major on work, not on loans for college and homes, not on football and beer parties. Also, put your time and children in the public square, not just your money.

Finally, expect to go it alone. Your Christian friends will likely not follow you, at first. It is the uncommon ground that counts, but uncommon ground has risks, and does not have a “predictable” financial return. But then, who came to the uncommon ground as a baby 2000 years ago? Go figure!                       -- JK

Monday, December 2, 2013

Uncommon Ground

Epistemology. What is it? Webster’s Collegiate Fifth, page 336—

“ the theory or science of the method and grounds of knowledge,
especially with a reference to its limits and validity.”

In other words, how you know what you know.

A couple of nights ago, I viewed a documentary on climate change, the geological speculations of Michael J. Oard . Historical climate change. Warm seas. Wet warm valleys. Cold, glaciated mountains. Millions of dead woolley mammoths, buried beside hippopotamii. Washington State’s Missoula Lake flood. Interesting ice age theories. Interesting stuff. Controversial stuff. How does he know what he says he knows?

Michael J. Oard, has a B.S. and M.S. degree in atmospheric science from the University of Washington. He was a research meteorologist for 6 years at the University of Washington. In 2001, he retired as a lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, Montana.

As for myself, I grew up in Alberta, Canada. Cold, dry air winters were the norm. Maximum three feet of snow on the ground. Extreme temperature swings of 80 degrees were common, when arctic air was pushed aside by dry chinook winds from the west coast. Sidewalks with a ground temperature of -30 F built up a half inch of frost when air temps moved to +50F in a matter of two hours. Could this be called climate change? Three feet of snow was reduced to a half a foot in one day, and rivers of water flowed down sloping streets.

Then, the bitter cold came back with a vengeance, leaving streets and sidewalks a dangerous aggregation of frozen slush and lakes in various non-navigable patterns. The ground frost remained all winter to a depth of at least four feet. No one dug new foundations until the middle of May. Climate change! Yeah! Of sorts.

Our family moved to the West Coast 23 years ago. I love the mild winters where I can “play” in the dirt all year around. Granted, the gray, watery days keep things in perspective, but I love the ground here.

Uncommon ground. A very wise man once wrote, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house”.

What creates commerce? Markets? Need! Some would say, desire.

We live in an age of specialization. The great majority of people do not produce their own food. They have largely forsaken the field, the ground. Silly city people hug trees and finger shells and pretend food independence. For them, growing food is uncommon, something to preach about and regulate for others, but not to do.

Soil is relatively heavy to a man. Opening the soil for seed, whacking weeds, training vines, turning in amendments and fertilizers, digging out the precious fruits—this takes strong arms and backs.

Fossil fuels (and electrical power conversions) have made possible this detachment from the soil. In Washington State, significant water power has been harnessed as well. Wind and solar power is a dream that moves closer, but (grind your teeth if you wish), it is oil that puts food on our plates.

Uncommon ground. In 1994 we purchased five acres as a family playground and homestead. In 1999 we purchased four milking sheep. Our family has grown to nine, that is seven children. This is uncommon ground. I get asked if I am a Mormon or a Catholic. I am neither. We see children as a gift, the seed of the next generation, a legacy of hope, not something to be flushed down the toilet the morning after, like many other “Christians” of our day.

Uncommon ground. Sheep take work. Children helping is a win-win situation. We had to weather several learning curves at once. Fieldwork. Animal husbandry. Farm shelters. Milking skills. Cheese and yogurt making. Ice cream making was not so hard! We did this on the cheap. No bank loans. Seasons of waiting for cash to build up. Seasons of trying to orient to government health rules based on large, quick capital infusions. We wanted our children to see how businesses used to be started when grants and loans were not the norm. We have enjoyed not feeling the bite of the bank.

Uncommon ground. We took the time to relate our heritage to our “farm”. Have you ever read what the Bible says about farming? About sheep? About milk? The Bible is a big thing in our larger family circle. Maybe not yours. Probably not, especially if you are one of the privileged, “educated” class who eats what other people grow. (I do have a college degree). We love to contribute in our local church fellowship. We share our soil’s produce and our Bible insights there.

Uncommon ground. You may notice that I will post to Whatcom Works less frequently in days ahead. I am working on another website which will be called UnCommon Ground. Whatcom Works is supposed to be a local “Drudge” page for news and conservative commentary. Digging up and writing stories and aggregating news has to take a back seat to earning a living. I do not have EPA grants to allow me to watch other people all day as they grow my food.

But, it is the uncommon ground that holds the potential for the future. Political process and public policy spring out of the community of people in their given locale. Neighbors actually have a lot of uncommon ground. How can we come together? A lot of acceptance is needed. Patience. Negotiating. When uncommon worldviews mix without trust or giving, there are wars.

Uncommon ground. He who sits above the circle of the earth walked uncommon ground with men 2000 years ago. Christmas has roots. So does Easter, or Pasqua, or Passover. If you don’t like religion, don’t read our work at Uncommon Ground. But then, don’t brag about being a tolerant liberal.

Thanks for your time. Have a good Whatcom work day!

--- JK