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July 7, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

A conservative who favors government?

It’s always difficult to get through one of conservative commentator David Brooks’ columns, but from a recent commentary I managed to piece together something very interesting from his nearly indecipherable blather: Brooks admits that government is necessary.

To quote him directly, “You can cram all the nongovernmental organizations you want into a country, but if there is no rule of law and if the ruling class is predatory, your achievements won’t add up to much.”

That’s right, all you no-government-is-good-government conservatives, it’s an admission by one of your own that government — and by that, he means good, honest and open government — is the basis for advancing society.

I’m sure Brooks slipped up. He’ll surely deny that was what he meant.

Brooks loves to generalize, and in this generalization he was talking about such nongovernmental organizations as the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders or churches, not private enterprises.

But it’s true, private enterprise depends on government more than any other nongovernmental organization. Without government, there is no system for land ownership, no legally binding contracts, no open trade. Business will stop growing and wither.

Brooks is a big-government conservative. I wonder if he realizes it.

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  1. Mr. Klamann,

    You are obviously confusing the term "conservative" with "anarchist" or even the extreme wing of the Libertarian Party (whose pragmatic wing won out in the 90s saying some government is needed.)

    I am sure you are upset when people assume that all liberals are communists.

    Conservatives (and I presume you mean Republicans by the use of that term) have consistently said they want *small* government, not *no* government.

    The Classical Liberal position is that government should be big enough, but no bigger. (See some of Lincoln's comments on the proper role of government.)

    To say that conservatives desire no government at all is like saying President Obama supports the individual liberty to smoke a joint or marry someone of the same sex.

  2. Nice try. .David Brooks tries to be a reasonable guy. and he gets this treatment A good example of the phrase that"no good deed goes unpunished." Brooks is the NY tTimes version of our own Michael Casler .A guy who tries to be fair minded and well balanced in all of his commentary. A respectable person who tries to present a balanced picture and not take sides .As a conservative myself, which Brooks is not, I certainly recognize the need for a central government. Without one there would be no common defense and excessive greed would run wild. The problem today of course is that the central government is invading all manner of private areas of life and embracing policies that are abusive of free enterprise, and thereby undermines the great potential of private initiative to address national challenges and harness the abundant natural resources of America. We see this everyday in respect of energy policy where the central government drives artificial solutions forward in green energy and intentionally undermines the use of abundant and cheap hydrocarbon based energy.
    The problem then rests with the nature and extent of the Fed's intrusion into the private affairs of the citizenry not federal government per se.

  3. David Brooks is an intellectual and writes that way. Sometimes, I find it hard to follow his thinking and writing, but if I make the effort I am usually rewarded. In other words, he makes me think and question my reasoning. Higher praise, I could not give.

    I consider Brooks a moderate, like me. Brooks knows government is essential, as most of us do, and isn't afraid to say so. He also sees that too much government is counter productive, something I also believe. He wasn't a big fan of former President Bush and sees alot wrong with President Obama as well. I always appreciated Tim Russert having both Thomas Friedman and David Brooks on as guests, often together. Both are brilliant, in my opinion and fair minded. We need many more Americans who take the time these two gentlemen do to understand the issues.


  4. "Government should be no smaller than neccessary in order that the selfish rich don't prey on the poor" A.Lincoln- just making it up thats what all you trickle downers do !

  5. Bob Jack,

    Thank you for the kind words. Many people that write don't like me much because I won't jump on one bandwagon or the other. I can't because I disagree with quit a bit of what both sides do. I do want less government but not no government. I believe with this debt, taxes must go up on all Americans. We must revamp SS and Medicare for future recipients and we must re-write the income tax code and find ways to reduce spending. There is no party that has all that as its platform which is why I won't jump on one of the two bandwagons.


  6. No he's not. Everybody, save anarchists, favors at least constitutional government--ESSENTIAL government services--like police and courts. Many of us don't want "government" doing things they don't know how to: K-12, business and industry, social welfare.

  7. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  8. I agree with Jim Reid there's no defense for conservatism.

  9. In fact there was an article over at that pointed out that a recent survey from Rasmussen, I believe, seems to suggest that conservatives believe less in smaller government than before. They want a more efficient government but not necessarily one that does substantially less than what it does today. Certainly looking at the budgets you can see that if you get past the rhetoric. For the Ryan plan does not have spending ever going down, just growing a little bit slower than otherwise. But where would we be without all the hyperbole from both sides about spending or not spending? Oh, we might actually fix some things.

  10. I'm for a smaller government, and we can start with the military-industrial-complex. David Brooks is not the first and only conservative to write about having a need for government. There are many Republicans who feel the same as he but they have been labeled RINO and banished from the party. The problem is the radical right over reacted and pulled the party to the edge of reason and sanity over issues that were settled years ago.

    "Many conservatives, particularly those who are clearly authoritarians, are not aware of their illogical, contradictory, and hypocritical thinking. If made cognizant of it, they either rationalize it away, neglect to care, or attack those who reveal their human weaknesses. Because such thinking seems to be a reality of contemporary conservatism, anyone operating from a logical mind or has the inclination toward a reasoned judgment will have a problem with this." -John Dean "Conservatives Without Conscience"

  11. Vernos,

    I am as tired of hearing you generalize about Conservatives as I am about people on the right generalizing about Liberals. Sure, there are radicals on both sides, but the majority of both groups are not radicals.

    Conservatives for the most part do not want no government, anymore than those on the left want all government all the time.

    This demonizing by each side simply prevents any real compromise.

    All this bullcrap about any group being illogical, contradictory or hypocritical does not belong in a 'generalized' discussion. Yes there are people like that, but the whole group IS NOT like that... on either side.

    The military industrial complex, as you call it, does need to be reduced, as does the social contract complex. Both are highly inefficient and wasteful.


  12. This economy is so intertwined that if big banks or a big corporation like GM were allowed to fail, many innocent Americans would be financially damaged. That is why both were bailed out in ways that minimized the bad effects.

    Dennis doesn't like the bank bailout but likes the GM bailout, but the truth is that if either had been allowed to fail, many Americans who had done nothing wrong would have been hurt financially.

    The problem with this whole scenario is that the government (Taxpayers) have limits to what we can afford. A bad precedent was set with the bailouts under Bush and Obama and we still are not managing the debt and deficits. If we don't get a handle on the debt and deficits, eventually the government won't be able to bail everyone out and then this house of cards will come crashing down. Obama isn't handling it. I don't think Romney will handle it and I know Congress won't.


  13. nice try, not going to work.

    Manchurian Obama!

  14. One of the main reasons I'm voting for President Obama for another four years is primarily because I don't want Mitt Romney riding in Air Force One with a dog crate strapped to the top of it when he takes off to go on Presidential visits.

    I'm saving Seamus insufferable pain and misery by not voting for his master.....

  15. The usual blather from the usual fools.

  16. Re Vernos. Another astute and relevant comment. I've decided to keep my comments short, and let informed comments lead the way. Keep it up.

  17. Re By Press. Most vehicles "made in the US", are "made", at least partially, in other countries. Deal with it.

  18. "I am as tired of hearing you generalize about Conservatives as I am about people on the right generalizing about Liberals."


    You may be tired of generalisms but that doesn't change the fact that mainstream Republicans catered to the far right for votes. We have elected representatives saying the most outrageous things and moderate Republicans are afraid to speak up. Only recently a handful of them did speak about the polarization because they no longer are seeking office. The following is a miniscule list of batcrap comments made by ELECTED representatives, and if the left said these things, I would react the same.

    "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?" -Rep. Michelle Bachmann

    I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concerns is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums. -Rep. Michelle Bachmann about FEMA Camps

    Rep. Allen West said "he's heard" up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names.

    Rep. Joe Walsh said Obama was elected because he is black.

    Senator Richard Shelby - "Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven't seen any birth certificate."

    Congressman Roy Blunt - "What I don't know is why the President can't produce a birth certificate. I don't know anybody else that can't produce one. And I think that's a legitimate question. No health records, no birth certificate.

    Representative Nathan Deal - "I am joining several of my colleagues in the House in writing a letter to the President asking that he release a copy of his birth certificate so we can have an answer to this question."

    Senator David Vitter - "I personally don't have standing to bring litigation in court, but I support conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court. I think that is the valid and most possibly effective grounds to do it."

    "This guy appears to be a communist. His beliefs are the liberal of the liberals [sic]. There is no evidence whatsoever that this man was influenced by Sarah Palin or anybody in the Republican Party. This man is not a conservative; he's a fan of communism -- that's the opposite of conservatism." Rep. Virginia Foxx

    Rep. Louie Gohmert - "But then when you find out we're being sent to Libya to use our treasure and American lives there, maybe there's intention to so deplete the military that we're going to need that presidential reserve officer commissioned corps and non-commissioned corps that the president can call up on a moment's notice involuntarily, according to the Obamacare bill."

  19. Re ALL: Can't we all get along? LOL. This blog is and shall ever be what it is: Right vs Left, with no compromise. It's time to have a real intelligent discussion on this blog: Screw Romney and Screw Obama. Let's agree on the future of this country. It takes revenue and tax cuts to get us, and the future generations, where we/they should be. The same old same old gets boring, and more importantly, does nothing to advance the prospects of the working folks of the US. Let's get over the partisan crap, and think about what's best for this country! And please spare me the nonsense of the "Ryan budget". Simpson/Bowles is the answer, and it always has been. I will gladly pay what's necessary to achieve a balanced budget, but will not support destruction of the "safety net" that has protected and saved those of us who have no other alternative.

  20. ressince73,

    Such a discussion would be good. In my opinion, the starting point should be this quote from Abe Lincoln:

    "The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. The desirable things which the individuals of a people can not do, or can not well do, for themselves, fall into two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, and those which have not. Each of these branch off into an infinite variety of subdivisions. The first that in relation to wrongs embraces all crimes, misdemeanors, and nonperformance of contracts. The other embraces all which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself. From this it appears that if all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need for government." ( taken from )

  21. Re boftx. Lincoln is the prime example of the Republican Party as it used to exist. I thank you for your intelligent post, and agree with it. It's a shame that today's political climate is so toxic, that compromise cannot be achieved, much less passed, by the extremists in both parties in congress. Compromise must be achieved for this country to move forward. COUNTRY BEFORE POLITICS.

  22. Vernos,

    Nice list of 7 out of how many R's in Congress? Just to rebutt, but not 'defend' the nucklehead comments made by these folks and others:

    "Well the good news is our emissions are way down because of the recession." -- Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

    "This deal is a sugar coated satan sandwich." -- Rep. Cleaver (D-MO). That's how one Democratic lawmaker described the bipartisan compromise to raise the debt limit.

    "We have negotiated with terrorists. This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money." -- Rep. Doyle (D-PA); "They have acted like terrorists." -- Vice President Joe Biden.

    "When a woman got raped, blame her because she was wearing a skirt too short, she looked the wrong way or she wasn't home in time to make the dinner. . . "We've gotten by that. But it's amazing how these Republicans, the right wing of this party -- whose philosophy threw us into this God-awful hole we're in, gave us the tremendous deficit we've inherited -- that they're now using, now attempting to use, the very economic condition they have created to blame the victim -- whether it's organized labor or ordinary middle-class working men and women. It's bizarre. It's bizarre." -- Vice President Joe Biden.

    "What we're trying to do here is save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today." -- Nancy Pelosi.

    Vernos.... I could find hundreds more and worse. The difference between me and you is that I condemn all these nucklehead comments and the nuckleheads that make them, not just the ones stated by a side I disagree with.

    Come On Vernos! This just isn't one sided...


  23. JefffromVegas,

    You have every right to favor the D's and vote for them, as does Vernos. However, until more people on both sides are willing to admit that both sides are pandering for popularity instead of doing the work we elected them to do, we will continue to get very little that matters done.


  24. acejoker,

    I guess my example wasn't very clear. My point is that it is as wrong to say the Republicans want no government as it is to say Obama supports gay marriage. Republicans are not anarchists, and Obama does not support gay marriage.

    Neither can one say that Democrats are Communists.

    However, it is a fair statement to say that much of the Democratic platform is socialistic. FDRs "Second Bill of Rights" is an almost exact formulation of what is called for by Social Democracy, which is a widespread form of socialism.

  25. No self respecting anachist would hang with the likes of Ron Paul.

  26. Sorry I meant anarchist.

  27. Jeff,

    I won't deny at all that there are socialistic aspects to our government. The Lincoln quote I posted clearly implies that some such are necessary.

    The real question is how much do we need and/or want?