Some year-end musings

This post puts in writing something I have been thinking about for much of the year.

People on the right – in particular those who believe in classical liberalism – are simply nicer people than those on the left. I am talking averages here and would not claim that every liberal is a nicer person than every social democrat.

I think it probably comes from the belief among liberals that people are fundamentally OK and can be trusted to make their own decisions. Social democrats are inclined to believe that people are not very bright and need to be lead – to be told how to spend their money and to live their lives.

Take politicians – who would you rather have dinner with, Gillard or Abbott? No contest really, Abbott is lively, interesting and has a good sense of fun. Or Howard v Keating? Howard is good company – well, not always the life of the party but a good conversationalist – but with Keating you never know when he is likely to explode and spread colourful character assessments around the table. How would you like your dinner guests to be called a “mangy maggots” because they had some reservations about the design of Barangaroo? Entertaining for some perhaps, but not my idea of an enjoyable meal. By the way, I do not think of  Howard as a true liberal, but he is more or less sitting towards that end of the spectrum. Unlike Fraser who nowadays is some kind of conservative social democrat. I suspect he has had some bad luck in his life to embitter him so.

On a different level, Rupert Murdoch or Al Gore to come round for pizza? See what I mean?  You would not hesitate for one second. Gore would want to bring his slides…

You can see much the same difference among bloggers. Sure, JC does get impatient with those whose arguments are weak and then sometimes does become a bit abusive. But so far as I can see, he only bursts out when sorely provoked. And the rest of us at Catallaxy are (usually) models of reasonableness and all-round nice people.

Among the social democratic blogs there is an air of what you can only call nastiness. Any intruder with a different opinion is jumped on and beaten to the ground. As Deltoid cycles through his three subjects: climate change, DDT and deaths in Iraq he occasionally picks up someone who wants to say “Yes, but…” They never finish the second word before the violence begins. I think he must have DDT on a watch list – just wait a minute, he will probably appear here with his trademark character assassination.

JQ is not as bad. He personally gets a bit snarky at times but generally leaves the rough stuff to his acolytes. And they do get rough. I used to try to inject a slightly different view of the world and have the bruises to prove it. No more. Unless he says something really dopey and then I feel a sense of obligation.

I have remarked already about the split personality between Harry Clarke and his nom de keyboard hc. In his own blog he is thoughtful, insightful and usually worth reading. When, as hc, he appears to comment here and in other blogs he becomes, well, pretty unpleasant, like most social democrat bloggers. Very strange. I am not sure that Harry is a social democrat but as they say, if he walks like a duck…

So, as well as a more accurate view of the world and much better prescriptions of how to (with a very light hand) manage it, we liberals are just nicer people.

I do think the difference comes from our greater respect for our fellow humans’ ability  to make decisions for themselves. Some might call this a zombie belief. I would prefer to call it faith in my fellow members of the human race.

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87 Responses to Some year-end musings

  1. Rococo Liberal says:

    Speaking as a Tory, I tend to think that human beings are not perfectable. On the whole humans are not wonderful. Some are evil, some are good, but most are in between. And most should beleft alone to make their own mistakes.

  2. C.L. says:

    Obama or Palin for dinner???

    🙂

  3. Peter Patton says:

    I think human beings are wonderful, because they are imperfectible. When people stomp around screeching to everyone that what they are politically motivated by is “a better world”, it’s hard not to see that as a projection onto others – even the world – of what they really yearn for in themselves. Life would be much more fun if they busied themselves more with that particular project.

  4. Peter Patton says:

    If we’re dining at Hooters, we could have both. 🙂

  5. C.L. says:

    Peter, both seem quite fun – Obama the pol is a disaster but he seems quite charming as a person.

    Plus he smokes and all the interesting people are the ones who still smoke.

    😉

  6. jtfsoon says:

    This is a rather simplistic post.

    I like individual humans but dislike and distrust humanity, the mob, the masses …

    I could be best described as a happily cynical mistantrophe, like, I guess, HL Mencken.

    I am a classical liberal because I believe people are selfish and inclined to opportunism and therefore no one should be trusted with too much power and whatever power we confer on representatives should be severely restricted. For the same reason I believe in a strong but limited state that takes care of defence of our borders very well but doesn’t engage in too many ambitious projects.

  7. C.L. says:

    Amazing to relate but seven years ago Soon and I would have argued about the ideal he describes.

    Now it sums up my own view to a tee.

    Although…

    I still think Australian libertarians are too concerned with economics and too casual about abuses of social liberty. Economic libertarianism, to me, is the means to an end – that end being social and cultural liberrty. AKA freedom.

  8. jtfsoon says:

    Oh and needless to say, my liberal Hobbesiansm includes support for a strong State to encode and enforce the rule of law to ensure we don’t get carried away clubbing each other to death or ganging up on each other though with the same perpetual suspicion of the very same State. And because as a mass we’re all so nasty and stupid, that State shouldn’t overestimate its abilities.

    I believe in market failure but I believe in government failure just as much.

    I certainly don’t think of classical liberalism of this sort as akin to the beliefs of happy clappy kumbaya-singing anarchists who believe we can all get along.

  9. Peter Patton says:

    I have to agree with Ken, but not 100%. Only because he insists on that bloody vapid “social democrat”. I just find it so non-descriptive. Most of these people are statists. And, even if they are not Marxists, they are still socialists. Now that I’ve got that out of my system! 🙂

    I agree that right-wing/Conservative/Libertarian/Blah types are far, far superior company [on the whole]. As I said, I dine with the Tories, and meet up with the luvvies for drinks afterwards. Why in that order? The Tory will be delighted that a Socialist or ratbag is coming dine so long as s/he is clean. The Tory will be solicitous, generous, and ever so polite – as one friend’s Tory mother said to me a young student; “X [son], where is that dear socialist friend, you brought home from that university; he’s sitting next to me”. OTOH, the luvvies are uptight, poe faced, and ever anxious they will be censured for their next utterance. At least when they’re pissed they loosen up a bit. Then they can be sensational bitches! Of course, another reason is that the Tories are richer, and keep sensational cellars. 🙂

  10. Boy on a bike says:

    Here’s a belief that I heard once that is worth passing on – only one perfect man ever walked the earth, and that was jesus. The rest of us are full of flaws and we will never get close to perfect no matter how hard we try (or no matter how hard others force us to be perfect).

    Conservatives and libertarians tend to accept this idea, even if they aren’t religious – but lefties can’t.

  11. JC says:

    Back to the thread . Social democrats can’t stand criticism. It’s like their mental make up can’t handle it and believe that by not hearing criticism will make things better. It’s almost child like.

    There’s isn’t one single thing a person can learn from that ideology. Not one.

    The stakes are so much higher now , which is why it becomes imperative to stomp on any of those ideas.

    Their close cousins, the Greens are simply poison to humanity and anyone that publicly says they voted for them receives no public respect from me until they make a public apology. I find anyone’s support for the Greens simply offensive.

    The stakes are so much higher now when you see the traditional social democratic states basically falling apart with all the human misery that entails.

    When you see the starkness of social democracy… the deficits, the out of control borrowing and the economic disaster that brings homes why it needs to be not just challenged but stomped out.

    I have remarked already about the split personality between Harry Clarke and his nom de keyboard hc. In his own blog he is thoughtful, insightful and usually worth reading. When, as hc, he appears to comment here and in other blogs he becomes, well, pretty unpleasant, like most social democrat bloggers. Very strange. I am not sure that Harry is a social democrat but as they say, if he walks like a duck…

    He thinks he isn’t, which is even more amusing.

    There’s nothing unusual about his behavior, as I’ve always tagged him for being a hypocrite.

  12. Peter Patton says:

    I like individual humans but dislike and distrust humanity, the mob, the masses …

    Yes, such situations can be rather grim. That is what illicit substances were invented for.

  13. Sid Vicious says:

    I’d like to dine with some strong and real Aussies. I’d invite Damir Dokic, Mamdouh Habib, Shane Warne, Sir Les Patterson and Cardinal Pell. With an eclectic bunch like that the night would be full of brio and the conversation would be uplifting.

  14. MarkL of Canberra says:

    hey, hang on, I’m an Imperialist!

    MarkL
    Canberra

  15. pablo says:

    ‘A conga line of suckolds’ was a Latham invention, not a Keatingism but in the context of Barangaroo it is about right.

  16. hc says:

    The Australian political system is entirely social democratic. Both major political parties endorse a social safety net and a broad range of public interventions in the economy that go well beyond the provision of public goods. Its the same in all western economies. To get into a debate about whether I (or anyone else) is or is not a social democrat is pointless.

    The less-than-one percenter extremists on the right and left don’t agree with social democracy and want pure laissez faire or extreme socialism. They will fail in their efforts.

    The task of libertarians is not to try to win power on the basis of views almost no-one accepts but to focus on fundamentally unsound government interventions that restrict liberty. It’s an area where the liberal right can engage with the real political process and make a contribution.

    Its the reason I always think about libertarian critiques. They put a particular blowtorch to many policies I am interested in. Its a powerful intellectual tradition.

    For example the work of people like Des Moore on labour markets is widely respected but his delusional views on climate change are not. That I reject his latter views does not mean I support labour market reregulation. Nor do I support restrictions on free trade in goods and services.

    To set yourself up as opposed to all government spending and all taxes, to oppose protection of the environment because it interferes with laissez faire and to promote delusional views on climate change leaves you talking only to yourselves.

    Catallaxy often fails to be a vehicle for civilised discussion. There are bright people who do think things through with powerful independent minds but the few blow-hard bigots with low intelligence who dominate discussions have damaged the site and change the tenor to being one of malicious attack. You can either ignore these morons or counterattack.

    These people lie at the tail of Ken’s niceness distribution but they have an impact on Catallaxy out of proportion to their brains and their numbers.

  17. Peter Patton says:

    For example the work of people like Des Moore on labour markets is widely respected but his delusional views on climate change are not

    Jesus, if this is what you people consider scintillating dinner party repartee, I really am glad I am not there when it takes place.

  18. Samuel J says:

    I think it probably comes from the belief among liberals that people are fundamentally OK and can be trusted to make their own decisions.

    This is where I depart from you Ken. I don’t accept that governments have the right to determine whether individuals can be trusted to take their own decisions. That is one of the most fundamental human rights: the right to think as one wishes, and the rights to take decisions – and to accept the responsibility for the outcome of the decision.

  19. Ev630 says:

    Conservatives and libertarians tend to accept this idea, even if they aren’t religious – but lefties can’t.

    Whatever. Not every classical liberal is a god-botherer.

  20. JC says:

    Clarke, you dishonest unprincipled, hypocritical prick.

    1. You are not a conservative and stop passing yourself off as one. You are a Greens supporter and have publicly stated this as a fact. To suggest you’re conservative is dishonest.

    2. Name one single Libertarian view that you have ever supported. One.

    3. You’ve spent your time at this site attacking the writers and all and sundry because their views disagree with yours.

    4. You have attacked people on their religious beliefs and racial backgrounds calling them Micks and wogs because their social democratic economies have failed sooner than others.

    5. You’ve accused people of acting dishonestly in their support of the ALP suggesting they were only doing so because of their various consultancies ignoring the fact that they may also have those views irrespective of whether they earned money or not.

    6. You have accused mining executives of being liars and cheats because they refused to bend to Rudd and Swandive’s will over paying and effective rate of 57 cents in the dollar in taxes.

    7. You have failed to publicize the fact that Henry cited your pathetic excuse of a study to get as many cars off the road because they somehow offend your delicate senses.

    8. You have called people all sorts of names because they refused to accept the depredations of the CPRS.

    9. To set yourself up as opposed to all government spending and all taxes, to oppose protection of the environment because it interferes with laissez faire and to promote delusional views on climate change leaves you talking only to yourselves.

    You dishonest bastard. There are reams of threads where people discuss these issues and have come up with great solutions with less intervention

    10.

    Catallaxy often fails to be a vehicle for civilised discussion. There are bright people who do think things through with powerful independent minds but the few blow-hard bigots with low intelligence who dominate discussions have damaged the site and change the tenor to being one of malicious attack. You can either ignore these morons or counterattack.

    Every time you have tried to attack people, especially the writers, you end up walking hobbled

    11.

    These people lie at the tail of Ken’s niceness distribution but they have an impact on Catallaxy out of proportion to their brains and their numbers.

    Your first port after school was Macquarie. You have no business ever trying to measure the brains of others unless it’s to say something positive because there isn’t much of a crowd where you reside in levels of intelligence.

    What a thoroughly unpleasant individual you are.

  21. JC says:

    One other thing Clarke.. You have the freaking audacity to be accusing other people of being delusional about climate change when you were wetting your adult nappy over some ridiculous nonsense that cow farts and/or burps could lead to catastrophic consequences for the climate. What a clown you are. You twit.

  22. rog says:

    I have to agree with PP

    I have to agree with Ken, but not 100%

    JC wold have to be the most objectionable and unpleasant creature I have ever had the misfortune to meet and if he is representative of “da roight” I think that the brand name, and image, could be damaged beyond repair.

    Lance the boil I say and have an Xmas free of JC.

  23. Tillman says:

    Nope – can’t think of any unpleasant people on the right.

    Look, Hitler did have a temper but God knows he was sorely provoked by those leftists.

    I also think people on the left are much more prone to generalisation than right wingers.

    Don’t you agree, Ken?

    Anyway, a very good post. Very soundly researched.

  24. Tillman says:

    Oh sorry, I forgot.

    Hitler was a leftist.

    My bad.

  25. JC says:

    Wodger:

    You’re the other low Iq’ed red neck that attacks the writers and the commenters without adding to a discussion. Ever. You have the integrity of a skunk at his smelly worst.

    Take a vote Wodger and see how popular you are at this site. Aak people. Go ahead.

    Ask people here how much you ever add to a discussion other than stupid basic stuff and ask them if you’re really wanted. You won’t do it though, will you?

  26. JC says:

    Tillers….

    I know that sort of comparison is at times way over the top, but really how often was that comparison made about Howard and Bush from the left?

  27. Tillman says:

    This post puts in writing something I have been thinking about for much of the year.

    Holy fuck. It took you a year to come up with this? “Lefties are dickheads”? That took you a year?

    God knows what insights you’d provide if you had some time to really get your brain in gear.

  28. John H. says:

    I like individual humans but dislike and distrust humanity, the mob, the masses …

    There is something odd about humans when it comes to groups. Groups entrain our minds. Recent studies claimed that lovers know what each other is thinking because when their brains are imaged the same patterns of activation are present. This appear to happen over time, reminiscent of women entraining menstrual cycles. I sometimes wonder if mavericks can have succcess not because so much of superior insight as not having their cognition gobbled up by groupthink. Perhaps the two are to some extent synonymous.

    Sigrid Glen has an interesting video on what she calls interlocking behaviors. When people enter groups their behavior becomes entrained and when they are not in the group the behaviors they have acquired are expressed in other social settings. Raises interesting questions about individual intentionality.

    There is also research indicating that some aspects of human group behavior can be mathematically modeled. In some contexts the behavior is not that unsimiliar to animal herd behavior.

  29. rog says:

    Hey pipple! Is JC just the smelliest of smelly?

    1,2,3,4,5…..the votes are pouring in. You win JC! You is the alpha of odours.

  30. Tillman says:

    Hey Ken

    Polar bear versus lion. Who wins?

    Please provide a stream of consciousness response in a single paragraph of no more than 500 words.

  31. FDB says:

    What a steaming turd of a post.

    Merry Christmas.

  32. Tillman says:

    So, as well as a more accurate view of the world and much better prescriptions of how to (with a very light hand) manage it, we liberals are just nicer people.

    You know what I like the most about people like you, Ken?

    It’s that you are not at all smug.

  33. Big Dumb Fu says:

    I basically agree with the premise, but I find this post kind of useless. Both sides think of themselves as the generally nicer side. I mean lefties think Howard and Bush are on the same level as Hitler, so of course they see themselves as much nicer than people who would vote for Howard or essentially in their eyes Hitler.

    Also, nice rip JC.

  34. Kevin Rennie says:

    I’m stunned! Anyone for a mirror?

  35. hc says:

    Every time you utilise pixels you condemn yourself Cambria. No-one needs to comment

  36. JC says:

    (Two can play this game)

    Professor Clarke (latrobe)

    No-one needs to comment

    You certainly can’t after those points, Clarke.

    One other thing, when you’re accusing others of having special interests and being delusional about “climate change, have you ever bothered to disclose your association with this group? Are you receiving compensation?

    http://ccep.anu.edu.au/people/

  37. Sinclair Davidson says:

    IMHO both HC and JC are good people with valuable contributions to make.

  38. Peter Patton says:

    Good grief, Sinc, you sound like Julia Gillard! 🙂

  39. Gab says:

    I was thinking more like the Dalai Lama, Peter.

  40. This post starts off with an observation I myself often thought of during the Howard years: the moderate right basically trusts people more, and doesn’t get so easily sucked into the belief that its political opposition is (more or less) evil. It tends to think more about results than purity in ideology.

    It can be hard being friends with fervent Labor aligned people when the Coalition is in power, because of an underlying assumption that they are, obviously, the caring party who are currently thwarted in their plans for creating a just and fair world. It is a very uncharitable view of politics.

    However, the post then goes wildly delusional in a head up its backside sort of way.

    As I complained many months ago, in its comment threads at least, this place is now every bit as bad a shrieking harpy of a blog in hyperbolic and uncharitable criticism of Labor as Webdiary ever was at the height of its Howard hatred. And I say that as someone who never supported Rudd.

    Name calling never helps political commentary be taken seriously. It’s par for the course here.

    On political philosophy generally, I think the key players in the comments threads have moved more firmly to the libertarian wing than were before, and as I like to point out, this means they are now often tilting at windmills because of the idea that something having become less regulated should never be re-regulated in any way, regardless of the evidence that suggests there is a problem to be addressed. Ironically, I detect in such arguments the same arrogant assumptions that Labor had towards Howard – of course we are correct, we are liberal and ideologically pure of heart. (And, like Labor, this means caring less about the situation on the street than ideological purity.)

    So to suggest that comments threads show Catallaxians “are (usually) models of reasonableness and all-round nice people” is, frankly, completely laughable; at least in terms of the way people chose to conduct themselves in debate.

    And by the way, Ken, your arrogant comment yesterday:

    “we need to recruit more and better opponents.
    Perhaps we’ve ground down the current lot or perhaps they were rubbish in the first place, but mostly they are not worth arguing with.”

    might be more a sign of “worthy” opponents being repelled by the tone of debate here than the quality of your opinions.

  41. JC says:

    So to suggest that comments threads show Catallaxians “are (usually) models of reasonableness and all-round nice people” is, frankly, completely laughable; at least in terms of the way people chose to conduct themselves in debate.

    First if it offends you greatly I’ll stop calling you the worst names even though I think that about you steve.

    Secondly the issues of reasonableness is also relative and it’s certainly relative and dependent on the surrounding environment: not trees, weather or shrubs which you ostentatiously care about.

    The last three years have been pretty deplorable a lot of people here would consider we have experienced possibly the worst government since the Federation outside of the current labor government in power in NSW.

    The stupid Grocery watch, Fuel watch.

    The attempt by Controy to censor the web, going to the point where he wanted to ban showing small breasts.

    The fucked up stimulus spendathon that basically was a fraud. Related to that the massive house burn and the schools spending fiasco.

    We’ve had possibly the worst PM in history get dumped by his own party replaced by a woman who takes us for idiots by trying to convince us of her capabilities using dense captions like “moiving fiorward and daolokue”

    We have really stupid policies that promise to stop the boats and then over 170 people are dead with over 30 drowning the other day.

    We then have the shambles of the NBN and the abomination of pudding a pwice on carbin.

    When they ran out of money they then tried to steal it from out most productive industry sector.

    Those aren’t all the grievances against these incompetent trogs but just a few to highlight the abundance we have to work with.

    So people are are intolerant as well as justified to be really pissed about these retards.

    That’s what is obviously showing through.

    So when a leftist shows up they had better have some decent answers as to why they support these morons. And quite frankly Calling Howard names doesn’t work any more.

  42. C.L. says:

    …the way people chose to conduct themselves in debate…

    What Steve is saying is that there should be more gratuitous and entirely made-up references to the private life of Tony Abbott. And to “funny” airline disasters.

    Steve, excellent Hi-Allanism there too, buddy, with the multiple faux-supportive references to Howard and how hardly done by he was – you know, by people who compared him to Hitler for misplacing Cornelia Rau but who give Rudd and Gillard a pass for getting 200 asylum seekers killed.

  43. JC says:

    What Steve is saying is that there should be more gratuitous and entirely made-up references to the private life of Tony Abbott.

    It’s not about who you support Stevie. I really don’t care which side of politics you come from.

    The sneaky bullshit of pretense is the thing a lot of people here find transparent and really quite offensive. It’s the idea that you think you can fool people.

  44. Ken Nielsen says:

    Thank you pablo. Of course you are correct. “suckholes” was a Lathamism. I’ve changed it for a genuine Keating term of affection.

  45. John H. says:

    “we need to recruit more and better opponents.
    Perhaps we’ve ground down the current lot or perhaps they were rubbish in the first place, but mostly they are not worth arguing with.”

    Translation: we’re so clever no-one can prove us wrong. So there is nothing we lefties can teach libertarians, they have everything wrapped up. Fair enough, I’ll take that as a given and in 2011 will never presume I might have something useful to say here.

  46. rog says:

    The dago greaseball known as JC just digs himself deeper and deeper and deeper

    people are are intolerant as well as justified to be really pissed about these retards.

    …And quite frankly Calling Howard names doesn’t work any more.

  47. Tillman says:

    Ken

    You truly are one of the most insufferably smug, pompous, and oblivious nincompoops I have ever come across.

  48. Slim says:

    Pure gold! Best Catallaxy post ever!

  49. Tillman says:

    Hey Ken

    Don’t like the phrase “mangy maggot”?

    Here’s how respectable conservatives dish out the abuse:

    ““Howard. You’re a cunt. You haven’t got my support, you never will have and I’m not going to rubbish you or the party tomorrow but I feel a lot better having told you you’re a cunt.”

    Very sophisticated.

  50. As for CL: this was the comments rule at the last version of his own blog:

    Anything obscene, abusive, actionable or judged unacceptably, maliciously offensive to another commenter will be deleted. A warning may or may not be given.

    Irony: much.

  51. Peter Patton says:

    Lefty Kim has a theory on why the Green Left hates the suburban workers. It all comes down to the deserted shopping malls she encountered this Christmas. Rejecting the Gerry Harvey’s of this world, she shares

    On not doing Christmas shopping

    I have a feeling, though, that a little more is going on…It’s possible, I suspect, that having lots of stuff is losing its lustre. Once you have a big screen tv, do you really need a new one that’s in 3D? It may also be that a more human way of celebrating friends, family and loved ones is trumping a mad frenzy of rushing about to a deadline set by the timetable of a consumerist feast. And there might be some resonances with broader cultural shifts we’re seeing – the rise or return of DiY, slow food, and so on.

    If you think about that for a minute, and think about the capitalist rationale for consumerism, then you get a bit closer to the underlying ideological significance of the “Greens/inner city latte lefties despise McMansions and plasma tvs” line of attack.

    But what if the desire to consume is reaching a limit?

    Except, that given that one of few things shared by all human societies since we came down from the trees is gift-giving and exchange, it would be hard to find a more human tradition than exchanging gifts. Happy Hairshirt Day.

  52. Tillman says:

    Ken

    You are too modest.

    You should also have mentioned that conservatives have a much better sense of humour than lefties.

    Take, for example, this piece filed under “Humour & Satire” at Online Opinion.

    It’s absolutely sidesplittingly hilarious! The bit where you get sarcastic about The Age and The Guardian is so fresh!

    You are a really funny guy.

    And modest.

    And not at all a smug git.

    And totally self-aware.

    And not a moron. I know some people think you are a moron. But I don’t.

  53. Dandy Warhol says:

    Having met JC a few times I can tell you he is a genuinely good bloke.

  54. dover_beach says:

    I seconded that, DW.

  55. JC says:

    Hahahhahaha

    Frequently Wodger has a racist breakdown.

  56. whyisitso says:

    I’m with JC. He’s spot on about Clarkey.

  57. daddy dave says:

    I don’t agree with this in terms of the general population. I have friends who are left wing and good company.

    However, it may well be true at an institutional/movement level. That is, prominent left-wingers may be nasty or insufferable because snark, cynicism, and bigoted hatred toward the List of Despised People is the accepted stance.

  58. Peter Patton says:

    dd, I think you are right about the “movement” types. I have some very close friends who are leftists, and always have been, who are fantastic people, witty, not remotely po-faced, let alone PC. But now that I think about it, one thing all my close left-wing friends has is children. Oh, and not one of them would even know what a blog is.

  59. Boris says:

    Although I consider myself closer to classical liberals than Social Democrats, my observation has been the opposite of Ken’s. I find lefties on average better people. I have no explanation for this; that’s my experience. Even quite extreme lefties. But I do not mean politicians.

    And Ken’s examples are selective. Gore is a fatal bore but Bill Clinton is always fun.

  60. JC says:

    Gore was supposed to be quite fun to be with in private settings, Boris.

    I actually know people that are/were Demolition party financial supporters and the found Gore to be great in a in private setting. This of course prior to the 2000 election.

    My theory is that Gore became very bitter after that contest and was much a changed person beyond that. The present version is simply awful.

    Hard to generalize about people/ their voting habits and what they’re like.

  61. Boris says:

    JC, I remember 2000 campaign. It is during that campaign (and not after it) that Gore showed himself to be incredibly boring. I do admit that this is his public face. Private may be different.

    I agree generalisations like this are difficult. All I know is that people with extreme left views, who, judging by their views, I should truly hate, turn out to be nice and caring people. Sometimes selfless etc. I think extreme idealism is bad as a model for society but actually make people selfless and nice. Conversely, egoism is a great engine of progress but extreme and aggressive egoist is not always the nicest person. Sure Ruppert Murdoch is an interesting guy, but a nice person? I donno…

  62. JC says:

    I’m not sure that in politics “niceness” means anything up to a certain point.

    someone once said that Clinton wasn’t a nice person but a good President. That about has it right. Similarly, despite what leftwingers say I think both George Bush and his father were nice people, but mediocre presidents.

    Rudd was publicly a nice person (butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth) while privately he is an atrocious human being. People I know that have met him all say the same thing about him. In fact the anecdotal evidence seems to correlate fully with the internal party’s perceptions as they couldn’t stand another day with him in power.

    As for friends… I don;t really care what they political views are. Some of them are really fucked up so I generally don’t go there and try to avoid those sorts of discussions.

  63. hc says:

    I like Al Gore. He has a good sense of humor and was a university student who developed an interest in climate science from a founder of the field. He has done a lot to get an important view across to millions with intelligence and humor. That’s why he got a Nobel prize.

    Oh, but that’s right – these are precisely the reasons you lot dislike him. He cares for the environment and must by definition be a deadhead.

    I guess you guys would prefer to have dinner with Sarah Palin. I am sure she would keep you entertained with foreign policy jokes and stories from the Readers Digest.

  64. JC says:

    Another stupid comment from Clarke.

    Of course you’d like the public Algore. It’s pretty redundant that you would even mention it, as you seem to show like or dislike towards other people by the magnitude of their concerns over cow farts and burps.

    He has a good sense of humor and was a university student who developed an interest in climate science from a founder of the field. He has done a lot to get an important view across to millions with intelligence and humor. That’s why he got a Nobel prize.

    A sure dinner party winning topic when he was younger: Global warming. You don’t know a thing about him other than his climate science stance. No kidding is there anything fucking discussion you enter when this crap isn’t raised, you crushing bore?

    Oh, but that’s right – these are precisely the reasons you lot dislike him. He cares for the environment and must by definition be a deadhead.

    No, I dislike him because I think he’s an unprincipled dishonest jerk off, as I’ve actually followed his political career from the mid 80’s onward and recall a number of things he’s done that suggest he’s a complete prick in public life. Senator Alan Simpson mentioned the time in the first gulf war Gore privately made his “Yes” vote conditional on him (Gore) being able to score peak viewing time for his speech the evening the vote was being counted on the senate floor. Simpson is a pretty ethical person, highly respected on both sides of the aisle and currently Obama’s co-chair on the deficit commission. Sure enough there was Gore making his speech on why he supported the war standing out like a spare dick at a wedding because only senior senators were speaking and strongly suggesting that what Simpson said was right.

    His performance in the 2000 election was abysmal and the American public chose wisely that time not to elect him president.

    I guess you guys would prefer to have dinner with Sarah Palin. I am sure she would keep you entertained with foreign policy jokes and stories from the Readers Digest.

    You’re such a turnip, Clarke. You seem to have picked up emulating all the unattractive sides of the inner city Greens supporting left. Firstly why would Palin necessarily be an awful dinner guest? I would tend to think both would be interesting people to spend a few hours with.

    I could well imagine you dinner party conversations, Clarke. You’d have people snoring in the first few minutes and later drive them to potential suicide if they couldn’t run out the door in time.

    And yes, I don’t like Gore because of his environmental views, as they’re dishonest. Any environmentalist that doesn’t support nuclear power is fundamentally a dipshit.

  65. JC says:

    oops quotes never showed up please delete the first one.

    Another stupid comment from Clarke.

    Of course you’d like the public Algore. It’s pretty redundant that you would even mention it, as you seem to show like or dislike towards other people by the magnitude of their concerns over cow farts and burps.

    He has a good sense of humor and was a university student who developed an interest in climate science from a founder of the field. He has done a lot to get an important view across to millions with intelligence and humor. That’s why he got a Nobel prize.

    A sure dinner party winning topic when he was younger: Global warming. You don’t know a thing about him other than his climate science stance. No kidding is there anything fucking discussion you enter when this crap isn’t raised, you crushing bore?

    Oh, but that’s right – these are precisely the reasons you lot dislike him. He cares for the environment and must by definition be a deadhead.

    No, I dislike him because I think he’s an unprincipled dishonest jerk off, as I’ve actually followed his political career from the mid 80’s onward and recall a number of things he’s done that suggest he’s a complete prick in public life. Senator Alan Simpson mentioned the time in the first gulf war Gore privately made his “Yes” vote conditional on him (Gore) being able to score peak viewing time for his speech the evening the vote was being counted on the senate floor. Simpson is a pretty ethical person, highly respected on both sides of the aisle and currently Obama’s co-chair on the deficit commission. Sure enough there was Gore making his speech on why he supported the war standing out like a spare dick at a wedding because only senior senators were speaking and strongly suggesting that what Simpson said was right.

    His performance in the 2000 election was abysmal and the American public chose wisely that time not to elect him president.

    I also doubt his real position of climate change in view of the large financial conflicts he has.

    Dr Pach also received a Nobel and he’s a crook.

    I guess you guys would prefer to have dinner with Sarah Palin. I am sure she would keep you entertained with foreign policy jokes and stories from the Readers Digest.

    You’re such a turnip, Clarke. You seem to have picked up emulating the unattractive side of the inner city Greens supporting left. Firstly why would Palin necessarily be an awful dinner guest? I would tend to think both would be interesting people to spend a few hours with.

    I could well imagine you dinner party conversations, Clarke. You’d have people snoring in the first few minutes and later drive them to potential suicide if they couldn’t run out the door in time.

    And yes, I don’t like Gore because of his environmental views, as they’re dishonest. Any environmentalist that doesn’t support nuclear power is fundamentally a dipshit.

  66. hc says:

    I guess it’s Xmas Day in Australia but Cambria you can probably score some Largactil somewhere. If you see flecks of foam on your bib you know it’s time for another tab.

  67. John H. says:

    Any environmentalist that doesn’t support nuclear power is fundamentally a dipshit.

    Take heart JC, even Anna Bligh just today stated that we need to rethink nuclear. For all the energy wasted discussing AGW most forgot the fucking obvious: we have no choice but to go down the geoengineering road. One reason why I avoid AGW debates is because I think too many people get their jollies attacking these models when any twit knows a priori that anticipating anything specific in 100 years time is intellectual hubris.

    AGW is just one problem. We have a far bigger problem. In this week alone I have read:

    33 out of 35 drinking waters samples in a US study found unacceptable levels of a PTE, a dangerous carcinogen.

    Californians are being warned to stay away from beaches because of all the chemicals being washed out of the soil and into the ocean.

    More reports of unacceptable mercury levels in tuna.

    High levels of lead in drinking water present a real problem in some American cities.

    No doubt there were plenty more. We gotta stop shitting in our own nest. By comparison AGW is a minor problem.

    Enjoy the season JC and all the best for yourself and family in the coming year.

  68. JC says:

    Clarke:

    Your sanctimoniousness annoys people: especially me. If you say something stupid you will be called out on it and no amount of appealing to the gallery (who for the most part incidentally seem to share the same view as me about you) will change things.

    Stop provoking people by irritating them about climate change all the time in between changing your adult diaper.

  69. JC says:

    Enjoy the season JC and all the best for yourself and family in the coming year.

    And to you John.. Have a great xmas.

  70. Boris says:

    “I like Al Gore. He has a good sense of humor ”

    This line made me really laugh.

    No I did not even know he was concerned about climate change when he exposed himself as a total bore during 2000 election campaign. As I said I do not know how he comes out privately.

    As for Clinton, well, we know enough about his private life to say that he is not a nice person but I think he is still fun. Again, maybe it’s just an impression, but it is pretty hard to imagine to be incorrect.

    So apart from public vs private we need another distinction within private: nice person vs fun to dine with. and so on…

  71. Boris says:

    And I totally agree with JC’s approach to (not) discussing politics with friends- and especially colleagues. It is my favorite topic but it can really poison relations with otherwise sensible people – on both sides (I can get into a heated argument with both left and right).

  72. JC says:

    Boris:

    No I did not even know he was concerned about climate change when he exposed himself as a total bore during 2000 election campaign

    People picked him as a phony: and out and out phony with few redeeming qualities.

    He should have won that election by a romping mile as the tech crash hadn’t wasn’t obvious then and public perception was the economy doing great.

    He lost the election because the public simply saw a dishonest aide to him.

    Look at him now… no environmentalist ought to be agitating against nuclear power in America. Yet he does. Dig a little deeper and you can see why.

    Gore sits on the the board of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield, a major league private equity firm making a bundle from arbitraging the subsidy out of the two subsidy whores: solar and wind.

    They are major league involved in that and Gore is make a fortune from it.

  73. hc says:

    The case for nuclear fuels is weak because of the high capital costs and the inordinate delays and variability in completion dates. That’s why private firms haven’t built a reactor in the US for 20 years. Of course they will only be economic with a price on carbon but even then the case is not so strong.

    Another issue is that there is no standardization in plant design -the plants all look different. Hence no learning-by-doing gains. I think China will build about 60 reactors and when they don the standardization might bring costs down a lot.

  74. PSC says:

    The case for nuclear fuels is weak because of the high capital costs and the inordinate delays and variability in completion dates.

    Markets developed this neat concept called “debt” to deal with high capital costs. The inordinate delays are often due to sovereign risk – which makes that debt expensive.

    A simple regulatory framework with coherent enforcement is all nuclear need to take off.

  75. hc says:

    There are plenty of debt markets in the US and there is no sovereign risk there. It’s not just a regulatory matter. The technology is expensive -not extremely so but enough so that the case for nuclear is not straightforward. The main issue is to set a high enough price on carbon- that obviously improves the case.

  76. C.L. says:

    I like Al Gore.

    LOL.

    What a surprise.

  77. hc says:

    Yes CL I like Al Gore but not the Pope.

    LOL

    What a surprise.

  78. Boris says:

    I am told by an American friend (a Democrat) that the reason no nuclear plants have been built recently is due to actions of environmental lobby. They can delay any project by decades (working mostly through state and occasionally federal government, and courts). This has ruined a number of projects and can deter any potential investor.

    Yes it is expensive and yes, the biggest problem is insurance, but this can be easily left to the market. We do not need to band nuclear energy because it is expensive. If it is too expensive, no one will build them. BTW it is obviously less expensive than solar or wind.

  79. C.L. says:

    I am told by an American friend (a Democrat) that the reason no nuclear plants have been built recently is due to actions of environmental lobby.

    Your friend really has his finger on the pulse of things, Boris.

  80. PSC says:


    There are plenty of debt markets in the US and there is no sovereign risk there. It’s not just a regulatory matter.

    There’s massive sovereign risk in the US.

    Let me give an illustrative example.

    Suppose I submit plans for my new nuclear plant with a 30 year life, a 12% IRR and and a 5 year construction time. Assume the plant operator’s funding costs are 10%.

    Assume the construction costs are $100 and spread equally over the construction time of the plant. For a 12% IRR you need to be returning $12 a year. With gearing you’ll get a nice profit.

    Now assume there’s a long lawsuit – green groups start a court action which puts a 3 year stay on the plant opening, just at the end of construction. The court case has no merit and the plant opens after 3 years.

    Now your IRR is 9.5%. With a 10% cost of capital you’re losing money. Effectively the three years of capitalized interest on the plant turn it into a loss-making exercise.

    Just because the state can’t technically sieze your assets doesn’t mean that the state cant force you to bear a loss – i.e. sovereign risk.

  81. Boris says:

    PSC’s example is exactly what I mean. Except that the time scale should 2-3 times this.

  82. JC says:

    PSC:

    You can legislate that sort of thing out of the risk equation.

    Vexatious legal attacks like that are nothing new by enviro nazis.

  83. Taylor says:

    Getting back to Jason’s comment @ http://catallaxyfiles.com/2010/12/23/some-year-end-musings/comment-page-2/#comment-144482

    I favour Locke more than Hobbes. Hobbes sees the state of nature as typically a state of war, Locke regards it as mainly one of good will.

    For Locke, the point of government is that it allows us to achieve by positive laws more than we can from natural law.

    However political power is given by us on trust. Like Locke, I don’t see government as inherently bad except as far as it exceeds this trust. Unlike Locke, I think an independent judiciary is essential to controlling executive power.

    The ultimate goal of society must be to free each individual from arbitrary power, and to enhance his or her natural reason. In terms of economics, sometimes this means regulating the market, but only so far as it fails to achieve these goals. Where market failure causes involuntary unemployment, that would be a prime example.

  84. Senexx says:

    The comparisons in the blog are false as none are classical liberals – they’re all Conservatives. The Conservatives are Howard, Abbott, Keating, Murdoch and not one would I consider a nice person. I remain ignorant on which side of the simplistic (and false) left/right paradigm Gillard sits. Gore is the only one that I could put categorically on the left.

    Not a single mention of the social liberals – perhaps they share too much in common with the classical liberals and are nice people too in the author’s eyes.

    Other than that Taylor, as far as Hobbes and Locke go, I find your view eminently sensible.

    Happy New Year Catallaxy!

  85. Peter Patton says:

    What on earth is a social liberal? A liberal who enjoys going to parties?

  86. Senexx says:

    It means the same as modern liberal. You’re Welcome.

  87. Peter Patton says:

    Que?

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