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Someone asked me recently why I lean in the political direction I do. The reason is that when I grew up, the following words were considered to be wonderful aspirations:

  • freedom
  • profit
  • independence
  • growth
  • prosper
  • strength
  • wealth
  • self
  • work
  • success
I still aspire to these things, so my political leanings are just a natural expression of these aspirations.

Oh, and the word "aspire." That should be in the mix, too.


by Brett Rogers, 9/17/2009 1:37:31 PM


How Norman Rockwell-esque! Good for you. One must wonder how your list might be different had you grown up poor and black in a society in which some feel threatened by equal rights and equal opportunity. Have a nice life.



Posted by M. Schaeffer, 9/17/2009 3:08:49 PM

And here I thought freedom and success held universal appeal... it is what I wish for everyone. Bummer that not all of us feel that way, but then that gets back to why I am involved in this fight as I am. I think everyone deserves the opportunity to be free and succeed.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 3:21:23 PM

I just love comments like this. I doubt the person really knows what your life was like. Why must one wonder how the list may be different? Feeling threatened by things such as equal rights and equal opportunity? The essentials of freedom. Are we supposed to feel bad about being raised with values to achieve? Feel bad for encouraging others to reach out and achieve their goals?

I have very little respect left for liberals at this point so I'll leave it at that.



Posted by Pale Rider, 9/17/2009 3:39:01 PM

You're right, PR - they have no idea about my life, although whatever the details of my upbringing, those details have no impact on the unalienable rights people should enjoy.

I feel sorry for people like this. If they were ever to achieve success, they would feel guilt about it, as opposed to using the wisdom they'd gained in their journey to help others achieve their goals. Instead, they'd rather pout and avoid helping others from a position of earned strength. Pretty selfish.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 3:52:15 PM

At the risk of rattling cages (but hopefully opening minds), I agree with the notion of the universal appeal of the "words" (values) on your list--if conceived by and held from a Euro-centric, Adam Smith capitalist world view. However, the matter does not end there, folks. If only it were that simple!

Alas, there is more to the matter than the socially-constructed reality of the privileged is apparently able to comprehend. In fact, access to those values is not universal, and as such they are outside the realm of experience for many in our society (victims who, ironically are often maligned for their inabilities or failures to participate fully in the fruits of society, according to the critic's template). Step outside yourselves and into the shoes of another, if you can.

Inequality in all its forms is a systemic condition that is historically-based. However, we can work to change it and heal society brick by brick and block by block. Hence the collective and historical struggle of the left to advance social, political and economic justice predicated on equality for those who have not shared equally in the blessings of freedom and liberty in this nation--despite fighting and dying for them. We find ourseves at a moment where some sob and weep hysterically, "I want my country back," and others, long-excluded, are celebrating a giant step toward equality. What gives?

Struggle is no stranger to hope, and the progressive march toward social justice continues. Change is coming, with or without you. All aboard??



Posted by M. Schaeffer, 9/17/2009 4:54:14 PM

M. Schaeffer,

I have no idea who you are. I'm pretty public about my identity, so you can at least have a sense of who I am - but I guarantee that you don't know me. Allow me a moment, because your notion of "privilege" is offensive...

I grew up very poor, the son of a knocked-up high school mother, who eventually married a severe alcoholic who drank his paychecks and abused his family. My mother wound up in the ICU for three days before she finally left him when I was 13.

Later in my life, I was homeless. I sponge-bathed myself in gas station bathrooms at 5 AM with paper towels. I lived out of my van in the winter, scrounging up work where I could find it.

I'm about as bootstrapped as they come. I never graduated from college, when I finally did go, far into my adult life. So please - leave your assumptions about my "privilege" checked at the door.

In the course of my life, I've learned that people can aspire to more than they are, seek out success, and strive for freedom. Struggle? I know it well. If your "all-aboard" train doesn't demand that others push for the quality of life they seek, but instead demands that quality of life be sucked from others, then we'll part ways.

I'm not going to tell you how to live. I don't want anything from you. I encourage you to chase your dreams and become everything you can. My message - that message - is the same to everyone.

I will vehemently object to you telling me how to live, inviting yourself to the private property of others. What's moral about that? No one is generous or compassionate when they're donating other people's earnings.

But if you can see that everyone has the unalienable right to choose the direction of their own life, then I'll gladly welcome you aboard the train of freedom. That's the change that's coming... because no one wants to be controlled, from teenager to senior citizen.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 5:31:21 PM

Why does the left always use code language. I find that when most people speak of offering "equal opportunity", what they really want is "equal results". Redistribution of wealth and income parity to right age old wrongs and level the playing field.

So why can't they have the intellectual honesty to just come out and say that. Say that you're advocating for socialism. Then a true debate could take place.

But you never will, because even the historically disadvantaged among us would not follow you then. Because they, like us, prize their rights and know down that road lies enslavement.

They don't want to go back.



Posted by Casey Head, 9/17/2009 5:40:42 PM

PR, your comment exemplifies the problem.

The question "Why must one wonder how the list may be different?" implies that there is only one set of values worthy of contemplation, and any others are irrelevant. It seems that more and more people are incapable of stepping outside themselves and understanding the power of empathy. Rigid adherance to

For example, if I put myself in your shoes I find myself saddened at how you have succumbed to the lure of an ideology which has enslaved your mind and intellect, rendered you a self-absorbed conformist, in short--one of the growing herd of "sheeple." Of course, the perspectives derived from empathy are not the final word; indeed, the final word on anything is NEVER in. And so it is with this list. Such is the value of the open mind.

Finally, you ask "Feeling threatened by things such as equal rights and equal opportunity?" Indeed. It is a fact that some people in this society have felt very threatened by those things. Those people who have felt threatened are the ones who fought against civil rights legislation, and who voted or acted in opposition to equal rights, or who opposed Equal Employment Opportunity Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and all other socially progressive legislation.

Yes, PR, there are many who have felt threatened by equal rights and equal opportunity. Get it? The people who currently feel most threated are those who feel their power is slipping and who seek to disrupt the public discourse of change while desperately clinging to the liferaft of the wreckage of their dying ideology.

Are you on the side of social justice...or injustice?

Thanks Brett for a wonderfully thought-provoking article. : )



Posted by Anonymous, 9/17/2009 6:00:40 PM

Casey - bingo! Yeah, the whole garbage about economic justice never applies to, say, other areas in life, such as grades in college. And these folks never part out their own stuff as a testament of their beliefs. "Lead by example" isn't one of their principles.

And this nonsense, addressed to PR: "If I put myself in your shoes I find myself saddened at how you have succumbed to the lure of an ideology which has enslaved your mind and intellect, rendered you a self-absorbed conformist, in short--one of the growing herd of 'sheeple.'"

Good lord, PR advocates people thinking and doing for themselves, and Schaeffer advocates for "collective" - and Anonymous suggests that PR is the conformist?? "Collective" is conformist. OMG, what a hoot. If that statement came from a mind that was college-educated, it's unfortunate that critical thinking skills weren't absorbed in the process.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 6:40:27 PM

Brett, I apologize for the apparent confusion, but you either fail to comprehend--or choose not to. Whether unintentional or otherwise, you distort my position by 180 degrees. Allow me to clarify.

Read again, my friend:

The question was posed, "Why must one wonder how the list may be different?" As I put myself in Pale Rider's shoes (minus concealed weapon) to illustrate empathy for and with his condition, I state to him:

"I find myself saddened at how you have succumbed to the lure of an ideology which has enslaved your mind and intellect, rendered you a self-absorbed conformist, in short--one of the growing herd of 'sheeple.'"

Alas, my statement to him is a criticism of the collectivist mentality that enslaves itself to ideology, liberal or otherwise. In the absence of an open mind, one is little more than a tool of Orwellian "groupthink." Thus, the implication of my statement is that the open mind is a precondition of authentic individualism; I one extends that logic, it could be argued that intellectual freedom is a central element of that greater "freedom" that we all aspire to.

The twin engines of human progress have been the question and thought. It is in our nature to question. When we cease to question we lose an integral part of our humanity--and an essential quality that makes us free.

Sorry for the confusion. Your turn.



Posted by M. Schaeffer, 9/17/2009 7:40:00 PM

To answer the question: "Why must one wonder how the list may be different?" I'll consider the alternatives you suggest that we're missing to a few of the words.

If I don't aspire to "freedom," then I might wish to be controlled. For me, because I suffer from the same condition that PR suffers, I believe that an adult ought to be free to choose the course of their own life. Having someone else tell me what to do or coerce me to do what they wish are alternatives, but why anyone would wish for such an existence is beyond me, I confess. Battered women seek freedom from controlling spouses. Abused children can't want to escape the environment of their coercive home. The elderly don't want to abdicate the decisions of their existence to others to accommodate convenience or inheritance. Freedom, from my read of others in my own life and in my read of history, is a universal cry. I read of entire civilizations, be it Indians led by Gandhi, or Americans who rallied for their own liberty, and "Give me liberty or give me death" defines a very real desire. And on the flip side, have you spoken with those who endured Marxist regimes, where no one has the choice of their own vocation? Given that, what attractive alternative to individual freedom would there be?

Let's take "success." Anything that I attempt, whether it's walking as a toddler, or studying in school, or searching for a mate, working in my career - I wish for success. What other alternative end result would there be? Again, I suffer from the same condition that PR suffers. Unafraid to try new things, I try. I fail. And then I try again. This web site, my paintings, my children, my wife, my budding business... in what area is anything but success that I wish for myself?

One more: "profit." When I begin a business, which I've done a few times, if I don't have profit, I can't hire anyone. Profit is what allows me to provide for my family, grow my business, to create opportunity for others, to offer greater benefits. Where is the evil in obtaining profit from voluntary exchange with others through the good or service I provide in my business? I realize that you don't like capitalism, but if voluntary exchange repulses you, with what would you replace it? Involuntary exchange? What's the moral basis for that?

Now I've taken time to look at your side more fully. I look forward to your alternatives to these three and the explanation of your reasoning.

One last thing: an open mind has value for ideas worth considering. I used to be a raging liberal. Been there, done that. Was given the t-shirt. It didn't work. Then I tried hard work and personal freedom and success. I have become a much better human being as a result, and I am happier. In my success, I'm also able to give much more of myself to charity - when I choose to do so. I find that the stronger I am, the more I can give of myself. If I'm dependent on others, I can't be depended upon.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 8:52:22 PM

We'll I guess I'll add "self-absorbed conformist" to the list of names hurled my way these days. Kudos to Brett on the responses though. Since his were so well written it saved mine, which these days are of the 4 letter variety. Debating those going full speed ahead on the hopenchange train usually ends in a double dose of tylenol.

Ya know, I'd bet $20 that we have I.C. Narrowminds back under a different handle.



Posted by Pale Rider, 9/17/2009 9:40:49 PM

Or they're at least schoolmates :)

I'm astonished that freedom is so threatening. I seriously don't get it. If I were a politician or some bureaucrat, that makes perfect sense. But just a citizen? Wow...



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 9:54:30 PM

I'd hoped this strand would lead to this point.

I'll respectfull decline to play your silly comparison game. How you or I define freesom, profit, success, etc., while not significant, are never the less subordinate to the larger principle. My time and intellect is better spent focusing on principle.

The principle that has been sacrificed at the altar of dogmatism is that FREEDOM is inexorably and ultimately about ALL of us. In a state of civilization, freedom is a socially-shared construct. It belongs to all of us (that's not to imply that all share in its blessings equally). Nor is it unlimited, as the Libertarians among us would hope for. It never has been, except perhaps for a primitive past marked by survival of the fittest as each individual competed for themse lf.

Judging from the ascendancy of Randian objectivism and radical self-interest that appears to lies at the core of current conservative ideology, it seems we are wtnessing the resurgence of Social Darwinism. The poor, weak, tired, hungry, be damned! Inidividualism has run amok. This is ugly.

In this context, some individuals have expropriated the historic meaning freedom, emphasizing the "individual" aspect at the expense of the society, and in effect distorting it. Indeed, the concept of the "social good" is rejected out of hand by them--they hardly even know it. Instead, they shower disdain and contempt on their needy neighbor, refuse to help their fellow citizen, despise the government, succumb to hatemongers on right-wing radio who feed their head, and they cling in fear to guns and religion. I'd remind those folks that Cain, when asked if he knew where Abel was, replied disdainfully to God, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

The distortion of freedom has run rampant recently in the free unregulated market system where unscrupulous players seek profit through unprincipled actions. Perhaps this is what we should expect from the "Me generation."

I note that your latest argument about freedom is quite "you-centered." Indeed, freedom seems to be all about you. I wish you continued success in your pursuit of self-interest. And if, as you claim, you were once a radical liberal, whatever remnant of your liberal conscience remains, rest assured that others will carry the banner of social justice and tend to the great store of society.

I'll close with the immortal words of Spock as he gave his life to save the ship and all others on it: "The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few...or the one."

Incidentally, very nice art!



Posted by M. Schaeffer, 9/17/2009 10:22:06 PM

OK M. Schaeffer, please tell us your view of social justice? Is it creating a larger percentage of the population who depend on the government handouts? This approach hasn't worked in the last 40 years. I prefer an approach based more on the individual having opportunities to advance themselves. For many of us who are now middle class, that required parents to sacrifice to teach a younger generation to work hard. Now I'm not talking about the mentally ill or those who are physically ill/disabled, I'm talking about the segment of society that doesn't want to work hard and bitches that they don't have the 60" plasma tv. And no a janitor doesn't deserve to make pay equal to a doctor. That kind of thinking is actually dangerous as it threatens to destroy society. Take away the desire to achieve and everything shuts down. Nobody works hard in that environment.

Is it healthcare? You don't hear many on the right (conservative or libertarians) saying people shouldn't have health care. What we oppose with all our being is it being a government run program. These have shown around the world to be abysmal failures and end up with raitioned care. It really isn't governments place to even provide a program like this. What it should do is fix what is broken in the current system. Tort reform, allowing companies to offer policies across state lines, and relax the taxes so people can afford decent plans. Trying to ram a government option down our throats that exempts members of congress and the big unions (actually throws billions at union plans) is ridiculous. Social justice my ass. Oh and by the way, at least here in NY, last time I checked if anyone shows up at a hospital/clinic needing care they don't get turned away if they don't have insurance.

As for the free unregulated markets, see Chris Dodd and Barney Frank. Back in 2006 "nothing wrong here, move along please." Sadly both sides were out to lunch on this and combined with some unscrupulous lendors lead to one leg of the financial meltdown. Dems were responsible for the second leg, $4 gas prices by prohibting any expansion in capacity for using our own natural resources. And don't try to global warming bullshit with me as it won't fly. That was another attempt at social re-engineering that is failing.



Posted by Pale Rider, 9/17/2009 10:49:53 PM

Glad you like the art.

I too was hoping we'd get to this point.

Have you ever seen a person drowning? Rule #1 of lifesaving: you must secure yourself before you can save another.

That's the problem, the irreconcilable problem you liberals who hate capitalism run into. Everything I do to help someone else requires me to first secure myself. Only from that position of strength can I help others.

If I want to donate money, I must have excess to give. If I give my house payment to someone else, now I'm in need of assistance. And next month, the person I helped is out of help. Now two are drowning.

If I want to give my time, I can't just leave work and do that. I can get fired. It's a great cascade of failure. But gosh - how noble.

Nothing you liberals promote is sustainable. Medicare is broke. Medicaid is broke. Social Security is broke. And guess who the anchor is in this chain of your "social justice?"

Children! Yes, children. They will all inherit the math you can't perform because eventually the numbers catch up to you, whether you feel like doing the math or not. All of your bleeding heart compassion means sucking the life ambitions of children out of them because you advocate for leaving all of this debt to them. What depth of cur do you have to be to be so heartless to not care one whit about the impact of your social engineering on children?

There are several problems with that Spock reference, by the way.

  • Capitalism doesn't require anybody to die to save the whole system. Voluntary exchange and desire and effort combine to fire up engine of economy. It's why China abandoned communism and moved toward capitalism.
  • Spock didn't do what he did because he was ordered to do so; he did it in an act of his personal freedom. You know, choice? Freewill? I know that we're dangerously back to that silly notion of freedom I espouse, but Spock was the only one on the Enterprise who could have done what he did. He acted from a position of preparedness and strength. All of those times that he meditated and studied - that was time spent alone. How selfish. But those acts of self-improvement paved the way for your expressed frosting on your sloppy socialist cake. Spock thought of others! Yes, just as corporations are a major source of charitable donations. Just ask non-profits.
  • And the final point, which is the absolute apex of the pitiful thinking embraced by you liberals: your reference is not historical fact, but a goddamned movie. Me, I bring up historical reference. You quote a fictional character. You liberals always want to script society according to the way it ought to be according to your theories, which never work out, as socialist country after socialist country in history shows. Not that historical fact would move you. If at first Marxists don't succeed...
Good luck, Schaeffer. You'll need it.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 10:57:00 PM

Save your curses and wild exhortations for your next tea party, Pale Rider. There is culpability on all sides, right, left, up and down. The current administration is working diligently to repair the neglect and abuses of an administration whose action are the very definition of tyranny--and I don't need to list their transgressions. Of course, you were silent then because your oil men deluded you into thinking $4 gas and record oil profits were the fault of Democrats. Have you failed at dot-to-dot? Connect the dots.

Your diatribe speaks of a mean-spirited resentment toward the needy, an insecurity and fear that your meager middle class wealth will be expropriated, and antagonistic toward policies that are frankly in your interest. In case you haven't heard or have chosen to forget this convenient fact, the upper class tax cuts never trickeld down to the middle class. The middle class had shrunk under the last regime, poverty has risen, and the needs of many have increased.

You and others like you represent the epitome of the Marxian concept of "false consciousness." Despite your tenuous and precarious economic position within an economic system that is based on and perpetuates inequality, you exhibit a delusion that has you identify with those who manipulate and oppress you, e.g., big oil, military-industrial complex, big insurance, and the hateful mouthpieces of the status quo who seek to propagate fear and divisiveness in an effort to maintain their own power by driving a wedge in the heart of middle class solidarity.

Peace, and good night all. :)



Posted by M. Schaeffer, 9/17/2009 11:34:50 PM

What a rube Schaeffer was...

In case of a return, I'll answer one charge:

"In case you haven't heard or have chosen to forget this convenient fact, the upper class tax cuts never trickeld down to the middle class."
Au contraire. I hold forth one glorious example:

Me. Bootstrap boy. So put all of your lame talking points away, Ruby. I'm living the contradiction of your fiction.

Hey, if you're ever in Des Moines, look me up. I'll buy you lunch and explain the concept of the velocity of money :)



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/17/2009 11:53:09 PM

I began to read your post Brett and stopped. How paradoxical that you would use the analogy of drowing to make your point, yet have it fall so flat.

Yes--I have seen a person drown. My 14 year-old sister, one year my junior, drown in the Maquoketa River right before my very eyes while we were on a church-sponsored youth canoe trip. As she was carried, screaming, by the swift undercurrent, I bolted from the sandbar and sped along the bank, downriver, hoping to intercept and save her. I would have jumped in to do so, but by the time I got to where she was she was gone. Under. We buried her on Father's Day in 1975.

There wasn't time for a rope, Brett. The situation was desperate. I would have gladly given my life to save hers, but it was not to be. Yeah, I've seen someone drown, and I'm here to tell you that the premise of your analogy (securing yourself) is tragically flawed. Somewhere within this there's a metahpor, but suffice it to say your position is selfish. And I know that from firsthand experience.

I may read the rest of your thoughts tomorrow. Or I may not bother. We'll see.



Posted by M. Schaeffer, 9/17/2009 11:55:57 PM

Does the velocity at which a dollar changes hands account for whose hands, how, or why, or who is used and abused in the process? There's more to velocity of money than meets your eye, I suspect. ; )

I could "school" you, too.



Posted by M. Schaeffer, 9/17/2009 11:59:56 PM

I'll reply since I'm up late working (I'm my own taskmaster, so tomorrow, in liberal fashion, I'll disdain my capitalist self)...

How exactly is my position selfish? I give examples, and you don't. You refuse to elaborate. Hard to school me without some meat on that bony positional framework.

Velocity of money: who exactly is used and abused in a voluntary transaction? Again, with examples, maestro.

And while we're at it, what society has successfully implemented socialism? Why did China move toward capitalism? Boredom?

Facts and examples, dear Schaeffer. Something more than rhetoric. Prove me wrong.

P.S. I'm sorry to hear of your sister. That had to be horrible... my sincere condolences and apologies for the unfortunate reference.



Posted by Brett Rogers (, 9/18/2009 12:18:20 AM

Schaeffer you are right about one thing, there is culpability on all sides. I for one was quite critical of the Bush administration for many reasons. Unfortunately you are more interested in labeling people and reading your own words than facts and logical thought.

"The current administration is working diligently to repair the neglect and abuses of an administration whose action are the very definition of tyranny." Can I get some of what you are smoking? What a hoot.

"Your diatribe speaks of a mean-spirited resentment toward the needy, an insecurity and fear that your meager middle class wealth will be expropriated, and antagonistic toward policies that are frankly in your interest." Once again you are dead wrong. Any mean-spirited resentment I have is towards arrogant, self-inflated, gas bags like you who think that socialism is the way to help the poor, the needy, that people below your self assumed class aren't capable to think for themselves, to know what is best. There is no way to debate that, I know your type too well, you are impervious to logic and rational thought.

So enjoy pushing your socialist agenda, knock yourself out. I'll continue to exercise my rights and we'll see what the people really want.



Posted by Pale Rider, 9/18/2009 9:26:20 AM

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