Friday, September 30, 2011

I Promise There is a Point to this Post

Like the king from Alice in Wonderland, I like to “begin at the beginning” when I approach a problem.  With that in mind, just about every post I write begins with the premise that the healthy individual and the healthy society are interdependent.  One cannot exist without the other.  So when we talk about policies, trends and movements that impact the individual it naturally follows that we must also consider their impact on society.

To clarify, a “healthy” individual, in my view, is one who can take care of his own needs and the needs of his dependants without unduly burdening others in his society.  A healthy society, I would say, is one that offers the kind of environment and protections where people can succeed at being healthy individuals.  Others may be able to improve upon those definitions but they should suffice for now provided no leftists or lawyers join the conversation.

The reason I bring this up is that many conservatives, particularly those with libertarian leanings (and I tend to include myself in that group), are understandably apprehensive about anything that appears to advocate what’s best for society if it seems to come at the expense of individualism.  However, any time two things are interdependent, the first priority must be to protect each from mortal injury in order to ensure their mutual survival.  In my essays, when I opine about what is best or necessary for the future of our society, please know that I have weighed this against what is necessary for the future of the healthy individual as well.  Never do I intend to place the society above the individual unless I perceive that to do so is ultimately necessary for the survival and perpetuity of the healthy individual.  Some may disagree with my conclusions, and I will welcome those debates with my best attempt at an open mind because the importance of getting this right from the beginning cannot be overstated.  The question of what matters more – the individual or the group – is central to the war between Left and Right.  


  1. Enlightened self-interest -- and with it the exercise of liberty -- is itself a benefit to society. Some call this "selfishness", so I then contend that selfishness benefits society.

    Those who consciously act in the best interests of themselves and their families, and maybe close friends for whom they especially care, act so as to produce maximum benefit for said. They produce what will profit them.

    To profit, what they sell must be valuable and enriching to others. Whether the Idaho potato farmer or a young-college-dropout Bill Gates, they enrich themselves because, and only because, they enrich the greater community.

    Such is liberty. When, for example, a Ted Turner, ceases to enrich himself by developing new ideas like cable news and 24-hour news ala CNN and TBS, and, rather, donates millions to the United Nations, that to enrich community rather than self, he fails at just that.

  2. Superb post, CW. This is a deep subject and you raise some excellent points to discuss. Like you, I have libertarian leanings while being a conservative.

    However comma I'm not as adept at putting down my thoughts as you and DrPete. So here is my top-of-mind reaction:

    It's mittens vs. gloves. Mittens keep the fingers warmer than gloves, but gloves afford the opportunity to engage in more intricate tasks using the hands. I don't fancy myself as being part of the mitten-class. I'm in the glove-class. I get basic protection from the cold while still being able to execute the tasks "at hand" (attempt at humor alert).

    No doubt this is a lousy analogy, but it is the first thing that popped into what can be loosely called my mind.

  3. Drpete –

    I agree. The ability to pursue and maximize one’s own self-interest, while at the same time respecting mutually agreed upon rights, promotes healthy individualism and this in turn benefits society as a whole.

  4. Thank you, Mrs. AL. I don’t know about my “adept”ness but I think you do a great job of inspiring conversation and this is a blog, after all.

    I get the mittens vs. gloves analogy. Not that I want to go overboard with the analogies, but I look at it is as if we’re all on a big ship together (pun intended). While conservatives want everyone to learn how to swim, take responsibility for their own safety, and have the freedom of movement to keep the ship operating at maximum speed, liberals want to yoke us all together, limiting our freedom of movement and thus hampering our ability to operate the ship and increasing the risk that we all sink together.

    Conservatism, through its focus on individualism, naturally promotes a healthy society. To say that liberals focus on the society first would be giving them far too much credit because their actions aren’t even that noble. The liberal focus is on the worst kind of selfishness – ego gratification at the expense of everything and everyone else. Liberals might SAY that they want to yoke us together in the interest of “fairness” and “compassion” for those who can’t swim on their own; but in reality, their willingness to place us all at risk is purely so that they can be seen as do-gooders or so that they can better control us.

  5. Interesting post CW. I agree with the premise that the state and society are related and totally agree that the individual take top priority. If individuals take more responsibility and become more accountable then society benefits. However, our problem is that society is giving people options to not be accountable or responsible.

  6. Hi Patrick!

    First let me say that I have been reading your posts but not commenting as I didn’t want to subject you to the antics of the deranged anarchist who continues to target me and other bloggers. It pains me to desert my fellow bloggers (plus you know how I have to have my say on everything), but maybe he’ll eventually go away.

    You are absolutely right about individual responsibility and the ultimate benefit to society. In fact, that was what I was originally getting ready to write about (sort of), when I thought that I would first clarify where I stand on the individual vs. society.

    Regarding your posts on “Food Wars,” both are very well written and very interesting, especially the discussion on the BMI metric and conventional farming vs. organic. You educated me on some things I didn’t know. The gov’ts attempt to involve itself in controlling people’s diets is one more example of progressivism breading progressivism. It is the erroneous assumption that other people (i.e. the taxpayers) are ultimately responsible for our healthcare that is used to justify gov’t oversight of our health. But putting the burden on taxpayers is a CHOICE made by the liberal progressives controlling our legislature, not a mandate under the Constitution. The way to correct it is to put an end to taxpayer-funded healthcare and force people to take responsibility for themselves through private action. They would then naturally be forced to get into the insurance market, pay out of pocket or suffer the effects of their decisions about diet and exercise.

  7. Yea, the liberal/leftist/progressives amongst us prefer we all go down with the ship instead of being able to survive on our own. Good analogy, CW (I personally like analogies [envision smiley face here].

  8. CW, I completely understand your situation and not commenting on my site. It is okay, I see what is going on. I think some of these folks are being paid to harrass us.

    A well written blog, thanks, that is something I very rarely hear. I am a math guy, not a writter. My much younger half sister is a leftist food nut - so that is why I know alot about the subject.

  9. CW - Patrick wanted me to let you know he is not ignoring you at his place here on blogspot. He can't seem to comment on his own site (which is really odd). When I joined his site, it put up one of those sillouettes instead of my usual avatar. Equally odd.

  10. CW, for some reason I cannot post a comment on my own new site. Thanks for stopping by - I am not ignoring you - and you were the first to comment.

  11. Hi CW,

    That is strange because I cannot log in to leave you a comment here. I have to leave it as annonymous - even though I have a blog on the same site (blogspot). I do not get an option as annonymous on my site. I am probably doing something wrong.

  12. Patrick,

    Unfortunately I am probably the most technically challenged person on Blogspot and can’t offer any advice. Let’s hope you figure it out soon.

  13. Well said. This difference between individual and corporate concerns is at the core of my annual 9/11 post ( where I point out how Christianity has a balanced concern for both.

    And Alice in Wonderland is a marvelous source of good quotes (e.g., see my Quotable Quotes page), along with Through the Looking Glass. For example:
    “Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”