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It’s gotta be credible.

Transparent lies convince no one, and make you look like an idiot.

…when they referred to their discoveries as “Laws”. It gives ‘way too much credit to the egotistical opportunists who claw and scratch one another (and us) until they get to be In Charge — legislators, ministers, governors, presidents, princes, kings, and the like.

Nobody decreed the Law of Gravity*. The Laws of Thermodynamics are not the product of “bipartisan compromise”. No Parliament ever debated E=IR or F=MA, and the value of pi is not subject to Legislative amendment.

The Laws of the Universe are no such thing. They are conditions — we really don’t have a single word for what they are; they are statements about how Universe works, based on observation and experiment. The only correct answer to anyone who challenges them is “try it and see” (appending “fool” to that is a matter of taste). If they do try it, and it works, their version becomes the new “Law” because the central thing about the Laws of the Universe is that we don’t know what they are, because they aren’t written down anywhere.** We can only discover what they are by trying things and seeing what works.

The people who discovered and described the Laws of the Universe weren’t and aren’t “cold” or “heartless” or “cruel”. Their avocation is to try things, see the results, and report back. A baby who falls off a high ledge is going to be hurt or killed, but that was no part of Sir Isaac’s intention when he formulated the Law of Gravity, nor did he leave it out from uncaring or inattention; he was simply reporting what is, in a format a little more sophisticated than “things fall down”.

There’s a famous SF story called “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin (the Wikipedia article is uncharacteristically neutral), published in the Fifties. Two generations of good-hearted liberals have tried to find a hole in it, and failed because there isn’t one — you can criticize the engineering that led up to the problem, but the physics is immutable. We even had a real-world example not long ago. The shuttle Columbia had a broken heat-shield tile, which led to its destruction upon re-entry. Why didn’t it just go to the Space Station and wait for a fix? Not enough fuel to get there. Neither Godwin and Campbell, the characters in the story, nor the astronauts and engineers at NASA in 2003 were “cold”, “cruel”, “heartless”, or “uncaring”. Universe works a certain way, and continues to do so no matter how compassionate (or not) anyone might be. The best you can do is figure out how Universe works and allow for it in your planning, and “intent”, “compassion”, and “caring”, or their obverses, are irrelevant — as is Political Necessity.

Conservatives have theories about how Society, as a subset of Universe, works — that is, we think we know the applicable “Laws”. We criticize Left-Liberal and Progressive proposals on that basis. We don’t want people to die, we are observing the conditions under which people do die and reporting back — and we criticize Progressive proposals because, if our theories are correct, they will not only produce horrific side effects, they won’t fix the problem and in fact will make it worse; in the very best case, they will push the effects from one place to another without affecting the underlying problem in the least.

Get that, Progressives? We don’t believe you. We don’t believe that your proposals will save a single baby, brown or otherwise, without killing somebody else off, probably lots of “somebodies”, and we don’t believe that they will provide “access to health care” to anybody without denying it to legions of others. After listening to the “debates” and the political logrolling, and the insults and calumnies you are pleased to freely distribute, we don’t believe that you believe it, either. At least, we don’t believe that the politicians and active proponents believe it, partly because if they did they wouldn’t be working hard to exempt themselves from it!

Conservatives, you/we need to be arguing from that point of view. We think we know how Universe works, at least in the subset of Universe that is “Society”. We think Progressive proposals violate those “Laws” and thus can lead only to fire in the sky and dead or dying people, and we have a lot of experimental and anecdotal evidence that that is the case. If they prove us wrong, we’ll be happy to change our ways — but they can’t do that by repeating failed experiments for the nth time. Throwing another baby off the ledge, with the explanation that your intent is to disprove the Law of Gravity, is not going to cut it, and we conservatives need to be arguing in those terms.

[*] You’re a believer? Then you believe that it was decreed by God — Allah, Apollo, Ba’al … YHVH, Zeus, pick the one from the list that suits your compression ratio. The point remains. You can’t argue with God, either.
[**] Yeah, I know. Open your Holy Book to the Lorentz-Fitzgerald Equations. No? That isn’t a deficiency of the Book, because that’s not what the Book is for.

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When I Posted

October 2009