hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Saturday, July 27, 2002
here are my preliminary rough notes:

general thoughts on liberalism:
justification for liberalism: to mitigate the consequences of increasing returns, or that e.d. hirsch verse in mathew, new testament: the more you know the easier it is to learn, the less you know the harder, therefore unless a strong effort is made the knowledge gap will keep widening.

For a society to thrive, that is to be a Great Power or a respected ally of a Great Power, two and only two things are required: a sufficient number of its citizens must be enterprising and hardworking, and it must have ready access to the most advanced technology of the time, especially military technology.
fighting for a liberal society in a conservative world.

various core spectrums of liberalism versus conservatism,

equality vs. hierarchy, social reform vs. social stability, altruism vs. self-interest, tradition vs. progress, cooperation versus competition; forgiveness versus accountability; freedom vs. fairness

what America needs to be done: a suggested platform for idealistic liberals

three phrases, six words that could make the Democrats the majority party:
"Middle Class, Common Sense, Golden Rule"

books ideally, that one would like to read: halstead & lind; chernyi the next deal; the nader guy (micah sifry); herbert croly; texeira; greenberg middle class dreams; almanac of american politics; blinder hard heads soft hearts; charles peters; mickey kaus; kevin philips, ej dionne; robert novak; steve allen, martin gross, philip howard, jacob weisberg, john judis, jonathan rauch, dinesh d'souza; michael kinsley; andrew tobias; carville & begala; lasch revolt of the elites and betrayal of democracy; heaven on earth, rise and fall of socialism; why it didn't happen here socialism in US, george orwell; gene lyons; really, the list is damned near endless

middle class: tax policy, financing for health care & education, auto insurance reform, eliminating many specialt interest tax breaks and subsidies, instead of granting licenses, hold auctions for many public resources. pro private-sector unions.

common sense: war on drugs, abortion, education, national defense, gun control, special interests, tort and regulatory reform, judicial reform, environment;

common sense: war on drugs, tort and regulatory reform (sticking it to both trial lawyers and corporations), death penalty, violent crime, national defense, environment, race relations. annexation of DC residents by Maryland;

golden rule: employer of last resort “guaranteed minimum wage job”; foreign aid, education, equal-opportunity programs in general for the poor, nation-building, voluntary program for humanitarian intervention.

golden rule: generous tax credits for health care and education for the working poor, welfare (government as employer of last resort), foreign aid and nation-building.

ending the war on drugs, and starting a war on violent crime.

stepping back from the faustian bargain. reforming civil-rights law.
end the war on drugs, start a war on terrorism and violent crime

moderate on abortion (safe, legal and rare), separation of church and state (freedom of religion, not freedom from religion) , gun control (sensible efforts to keep guns out of the hands of children, criminals and the mentally unstable), while protecting the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns for hunting, sport, and to protect their family and property), and national defense (anti-Star Wars, pro-everything else), public sector
unions,(good compensation, but greater accountability), environment (pro-ANWR drilling, anti-letting mining companies mine on federal land for free, tradable emission permits, etc.)


Using conventional labels:

liberal on the war on drugs, fiscal policy, health care, private sector unions, non-violent crime

maverick on welfare, education, tort reform, death penalty, regulatory reform, campaign finance reform

conservative on violent crime