Apropos of the big news of this week — the leak of what is presumed to be the Supreme Court’s position (if only in draft form) that it will overturn Roe vs. Wade and return the issue of abortion to the state legislatures — here are some excerpts from the chapter on Abortion in my book, American Conservative — Reclaiming Conservatism From the Right (2016).
A snippet from the conclusion:
An embryo or fetus with the higher cerebral functions not yet engaged – pre-sentient and without the consciousness from which may eventually emerge self-awareness and free will – has the potential to become human not the quintessence of humanity. In my areligious worldview, with no faith in some revealed and ancient catechism to instruct me on whether or not a soul exists independent of corporeal sentience and on when such a soul might manifest, I cannot justify surrendering to government unfettered authority over a palpable liberty that already exists in the defense of some ineffable essence that may yet come to be.
And yet, I must agree with the religious conservatives – not out of any theological insight but out of a humanist and libertarian respect for human dignity – that such potential for ineffable essence has value. And, therefore, I equally cannot countenance the view that discarding such potential is an act utterly without moral import. Nor can I countenance the view, extreme but seemingly common on the far “left” and particularly among the feminist fringe, that such ineffable essence somehow suddenly and miraculously materializes at the emergence from the birth canal and not an instant before.
It seems clear, to me at least, that at some point, after the cerebral cortex begins functioning and prior to full-term birth, the potential of a human fetus transforms into the quintessence of a human baby. It seems equally clear that by exercising one choice – to carry a pregnancy to that point of quintessence – a woman, herself, circumscribes other choices including, in particular, the choice to have an abortion thereafter.
Part 2 of a 2-part sequence on different aspects of how American society deals with risk:
It seems that government policy – and social convention, and cultural aspiration, and the tyranny of public opinion expressed through social media mobs – is now all too often fashioned by a destructively self-reinforcing partnership between those, on the one hand, who have lost all trust in their fellow citizens and who want so badly to be protected from risk, and even from discomfort, that they will trade away almost any freedom for a promise of a bit more security; and those, on the other hand, whose innate and fervent proclivity is to tell everyone else, with great piety and self-assurance, how to organize and operate their lives.
The more we have come to – and the more we have been taught to – rely on government to regulate the behavior of others, the less we have come to rely on – and the less we have been taught or practiced – the virtue of regulating ourselves. The more success the solipsistic fringe – economic more than cultural on the “right”, cultural more than economic on the “left” – has had in attacking and emasculating the economic and religious and social and cultural mores that historically disciplined such self-control, the less able we are to count on self-regulation and the more pressure there is to empower government to impose yet more external regulation upon us.
We can no longer negotiate and compromise – we can no longer embrace a shared process for governance rather than seeking a raw power over others – because we no longer trust each other either to have empathy or, more importantly, to act in good faith. Why are we intolerant of risk? Because we feel a lack of control. Why do we feel a lack of control? Because we don’t trust each other to do the right thing, either as individuals or as a polity. In the absence of trust, even small risks loom large.
I will grant the validity of your assertion that there is no such thing as a free tax cut.
Will you acknowledge the validity of the counter-assertion: That there is no such thing as a free tax?
Or, for that matter, a free regulation?
That is why America is more risk tolerant than other countries and societies in the world: because to guarantee security you must always sacrifice some amount of liberty; and, in assessing that sacrifice, Americans have traditionally factored liberty higher in the equation than have most other peoples.
It was not the Naples Community Hospital that stopped people from creating their own local alternative, but the state of Florida acting on its own technocratic vision about how medical services should be “optimized” by central planning.
Ten years ago, I wrote a post about the cost-ineffectiveness of solar power. Things have changed.
Today, we have a solar power array on our house that has, over the two years of its operation, supplied about 86% of our overall power needs and saved us about 6% on our electricity bill after accounting for the cost of the array, itself.
That glowing summary, however, reflects not actual day-to-day array performance but only an annualized average, made possible by a “net metering” policy that allows us to use the local electric grid as a “battery” and that provides some fairly generous — if hidden – subsidies to help defray the cost of the system.
That glowing summary also hides some fairly strict logistical limits that put an upper bound on how much solar power the grid can support without the net metering policy falling apart.
This is my report on my two years of experience with solar power, along with some musings on its benefits and constraints.
The only stated reason I’ve ever heard for why we need to constrain political participation by limiting campaign contributions is to prevent undue influence over government actions by those who contribute.
Perhaps Frank Guinta took too much money from his parents. But why is that such a huge thing? What are we afraid of?
Are we really concerned that his parents now have too much influence over him because they gave him money for his campaign?
Perhaps it is the rule that is a problem, not how well or badly it was followed….
If the legislature has delegated its authority for making law to an executive agency, then it would seem prudent for the legislature to cast a critical eye on who it is allowing to exercise that authority on its behalf. In fact, it would seem downright irresponsible for it to do otherwise.
There is a small but virulent group that would ban abortion outright and that hopes to use “common sense” regulations as steps toward that goal. And there is a small but virulent group that would ban gun ownership outright and that hopes to use “common sense” regulations as steps toward that goal.
And so, those “common sense” regulations are, perhaps, not so common and not so sensible. And so, perhaps, we actually can’t agree on them.
Regardless of how it may or may not benefit the banks themselves, the ability to pay for purchases with a debit card is a service of convenience that a bank provides its customers; and they have every right to charge for it at whatever rate they choose.