Sunday, June 11, 2006

George Lakoff, old school leftist

Hot Air introduced me to Professor George Lakoff. Although I am certain I have heard of him, I was unable to place it. I read the piece on Hot Air, and then did a Yahoo Search for him. I found his website, and read several, meaning more than three articles on "framing the discussion" which near as I can tell, are about spinning Progressive (read Liberal) failed policy into moral crusades.

I am joking to some extent, but only to a small extent. However it's also the situation within Liberalism. They couch the Abortion debate as "Choice" yet never will discuss Gun Control as "Choice" as in being Pro Choice on guns. They aren't Pro Choice on Smoking, Pro Choice on food, automobiles, or anything else that the left feels needs to be regulated. The term Choice is an example of the lefts framing of an argument, to use the Professor's term, yet he doesn't see it that way.

The Professor is correct when he indicates we see things differently, Conservatives see Government as part of the problem, not part of the solution to most of lifes issues. We don't see salvation in Beurocratic departments. We don't see the answer as being more beurocratic red tape.

For examples, I am going to address a couple of his ideas as stated, and describe why they are flawed. I readily admit I'm not lettered, but if the theory doesn't pass either the test of logic, or the test of common sense, then it is flawed.

From Professor Lakoff's commentary on the State of the Union. Now consider social programs. In the strict father framework, they are immoral; they give people things they don't earn and lead them to become undisciplined, dependent, and incapable of moral behavior. Cutting taxes to produce a huge deficit rewards good -- successful -- people, and in addition takes away money from immoral social programs, which are referred to as "wasteful spending."

The obvious problem is how do you define wasteful spending? For a Liberal, any money spent on Defense, for example Missile Defense, is wasted. What they want is more social and really wealth redistribution programs, you see the Rich don't deserve to be Rich. Professor Lakoff states that under his view of Conservative Principal, the good get rewarded, thus rich, while the bad morally wanting people get punished, thus poor. Take another case. In the strict father framework, massive tax reductions are rewards for those good people, the wealthy, whose discipline has made them self-reliant and deserving. But an equally important goal is to eliminate the funding for social programs.

Professor, please forgive this, but phooey. Professor, by the same analogy, the Progressives, which you can read to mean Liberals, see Rich as evil, having done something wrong, underhanded, cheating, to become rich. They built a better mousetrap, as most of the wealthy in this nation are self made. They earned it in short, and I don't look at life with envy towards those who have a more expensive house, car, or whatever. I will admit that a fraction of the rich used some underhanded method to gain wealth, certainly. However by fraction I mean fraction of one percent (.XX%) for those of you with math skills.

From the Bush perspective, it is thus a moral obligation to eliminate social programs that lead to dependence. He calls it "reform" -- Social Security reform, Medicare reform, education reform, and so on. If the reform is moral, those who oppose it are immoral and opponents of progress:

Professor, here we have a different definition of Morality. We should celebrate those social programs based upon how many no longer need it, because they have moved themselves and their families up the ladder, into contributing members of society. There is an old saying, "If you give a man a fish, you have fed him for a day. If you teach that man to fish, you have fed him for a lifetime." The problem with those programs is that they never teach anyone to fish, to put it bluntly. Welfare was intended to get people the substance they needed to survive, while they looked for work, seeking employment. In short, these programs were meant to help the person while they learned how to fish. Instead of a Safety Net, to keep people from hitting bottom, they became a hammock, allowing people to remain with no effort. We Conservatives believe that these programs exist now for the sake of existence. Instead of celebrating the numbers of people who have moved up, moved on in life to where they no longer need that assistance, Progressives chastise those who encourage this movement.

I will offer another idea Professor. In neighborhoods where people own their homes, we don't see the destruction we often see in Public Housing. Instead we see people who do minor repairs around the home, keeping their home up, because it is THEIRS. They OWN it, or are paying for it if you like.

If I printed and gave you a certificate that stated you won the Olympic 100 meter dash, Gold Medal Winner, you would crumple it and toss it away. It would be meaningless, because it was given to you. There is no pride in something received free, something which you had no hand in getting. On the other hand, if you had run that race, and come in third, you would proudly hold up the certificate that stated you had come in third, knowing you had earned that document. It meant something, reflected the effort, skill, and training you had put forth in an effort to perform the best you possibly could. That is what earned is, it has value. Value is relative Professor, because something you earned is more cherished than something given. That is the Conservative message, that you should want to earn what you get.

No Conservative ever suggested that flipping burgers would provide satisfactory monetary compensation to provide a comfortable existence to you and your family. We never said you could survive on what you make flipping burgers, or any other minimum wage job. We tell people that this job, flipping burgers (which I did) is an entry level job, to give you the work history and reputation needed for other higher paying jobs. That job isn't the end of your job search, it's merely the beginning. Very few stay with that job, satisfied with their compensation, satisfied with the situation they are in. A vast majority of people move on, taking those skills, and moving on to other higher paying jobs, and in the mean time gaining skills needed to become skilled labor, or schooling to become management, or technical labor, or in your case Professor, a lettered man of learning.

Professor, your theories may be entertaining, but they aren't accurate. They don't accurately describe the logic and truth behind the principals that Conservatives hold dear. While you state it's moral to believe in progressive ideals, it really isn't moral. Morality is learned, and moral means you do the right thing, and keeping a class of people perpetually dependent on barest of subsistence as the best they can do is immoral no matter how you look at it. Dooming Humanity to this lowest possible standard of living is not moral, it is unimaginable. It is even the definition of evil, and if you doubt me, spend some time talking, and listening to people from the housing projects. You will find something missing after a time, that thing that is missing is realistic hope for the future. Other than Lottery winnings, the people have no hope for a better future, and that is the most depressing fact of all. I say give those people hope, give them training for a skill, and get them out of that neighborhood. Get them into owning their own home, and watch the pride take effect, pride in their own accomplishments. The same pride you feel when you are introduced with your academic achievements.

I said I was going to address several, but only really got to one, and could spend the next month explaining over and over again, using different examples, logic, common sense, this one commentary of his. What I don't understand is how a supposedly educated individual can so mis-understand Conservative Principals so badly while trying at the same time to make failed Progressive (Liberal) programs sound better by using different terms and "framing" the discussion to their advantage is beyond me.


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