3.12.2005

Blogging the Future Wisconsin Conference, pt 2
Personal Freedoms


Moderator David Zien
1. Ed Thompson - Libertarian candidate for Gov. in 2002. I didn't know he'd gotten about 10% of the vote
2. Michelle Litjens - proponent of personal responsibilities
3. Sheriff David Clarke
4. Michale Dean - First Amendment law scholar


Thompson goes first. "It's a failure of our society that the people of Wisconsin has lost control of our society." It's the fault of special interest lobbyists. Keeping third parties out of the debates is wrong. He's really fired up!
"We've got a Republican legislature - what are they doing that's so hot?"
He goes on a quick libertarian rant about drugs, especially marijuana. "The only people that will hate it if you legalize pot is the gangs! ... Who owns your body?" Someone says, "God." Thompson: "Yeah. I own my own body!"
I like that Thompson is here - representing the libertarian side of the party is important to me.
"Drop your labels - have the courage to look at every situation as it really is!"
Is he going too far now? He's arguing that we're getting close to something akin to the Soviet Union with all of our regulation.
He says we need the "courage to not be reelected by the politicians."
I like this phrase - "just as sure as ugly's on an ape!" about the danger of receding personal freedoms.

Moderator - "Can't you see this being a travelling road show?"

David Clarke is up next. "I'm still euphoric from the November presidential election." There is a lot of applause from the crowd for that.
He mentions that he was raised in a two-parent home, and says how sad it is that about 70% of minorities are raised in single-parent households. He mentions a proverb: "The ruin of a nation begins in the households."
He criticizes LBJ's Great Society and the War on Poverty, and the Sixties generally. "We've spent over 3 trillion dollars, and ladies and gentlemen, government does a horrible job at social uplifting." Business, education, and the church, and to a small extend government held society together. But businesses fled, schools began to disintegrate, and the church doesn't play the same role any more, he says, so that during the '60s, and underclass was created.
When marriage came under attack, and fathers became less available to their children, and unwed pregnancies and abortions rose.
The universities are in a "stranglehold of liberal orthodoxy".
The Church became marginalized.
To increase personal responsibility, he says, we must regenerate the three pillars that were damaged during the Sixties. He sees a 20-year revival of these institutions coming up.

The moderator has a cool vibe. He gets in some quirky one-liners, but his intangible style is great. He points out that Michelle Litjens is the only woman on the panel. I wonder why he didn't point out that Clarke wasn't the only Black man? These are harder things to talk about, maybe.

So, Michelle Litjens. She's also head of the Winnebago County Republican Party. "I'll be expanding on what Sheriff Clarke has said."
She worries about punishing taxpayers with being overburdened. She complains about the obesity epidemic, school problems, credit card debt, and lack of parents involved with children. She comes back to obesity a few times - it seems to really be an issue for her.
If government can't control its spending, how can it expect private citizens to control theirs, she asks.
Bankruptcy, personal debt - the private sector is not pushing private responsibility either, and government needs private spending to keep out of recession.
Responsible people should not be forced to pay for irresponsible people through health insurance premiums, she says, in regard to the obesity epidemic. Excercise is even good for depression!
Government needs to disregard profits and teach prevention - even though she says that sounds like a "liberal idea". We need to teach kids how to stay healthy.
School problems can also be traced back to parent involvement, she says. Parents shouldn't try to "bully teachers around" - she cites the case recently thrown out of a father who tried to sue a school for giving summer homework.
Because of our diversity, it is harder to have general unwritten social guidelines, but she says we need to embrace diversity and create personal responsibility guidelines.

Moderator makes a joke about Litjens's rant about obesity - he claims to have anorexia.

Michael Dean is up last. He begins by talking about his fight to preserve World Prayer Day. His talk is called "Liberty, Order, and the Freeway."
First, moral restraint is important to everyone, so he wants to talk about "money and sex."
First, money - he gives a quick joke: "What do you call a man who works, only to have all his money taken away? A slave. What do you call someone who works, only to have 50% of it taken away? A free citizen." A lot of politics is generated by resentment of the rich, he says.
Another danger is moral inversion - shifting personal obligations to someone else
Now sex - government should put up traffic lights if needed. However, problem is that focus has changed since Civil War from local government to federal.
found rights which weren't rights - when everything is a right, everything is a federal issue. He implicitly applies this to the gay rights issue, and explicitly to being able to buy porn. There are two theories of morality, he says - one is radical individualism (who needs traffic lights?). He gets physically upset over his involvement in fighting the importation of child pornography, and says there is no way to live life without affecting other people. "Moral behavior does have consequences." He opposes this with the "speed trap theory" - "Someone is watching you, so stay on the road."
But in the end he says he's a federalist - these issues need to be decided at the local level.

It's too bad these people didn't get to talk longer. I would have loved to have heard Ed and Michael fight things out, and Michelle and David could also have made great contributions. Best panel yet.

Update: a good question for David about the Drug War. He says we need to take on new partners - it starts with the acknowledgement that we've lost the War on Drugs."