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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pragmatism or idealism?

Friday I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to a person I have admired greatly for some time -- Dennis Miller.
I've always found the gentleman uproariously funny, but I also got to watch his transformation from typical Hollywood lib to conservative commentator. And I was struck by the courage and intellectual honesty that took.
So when I had the opportunity to be interviewed by him on the air I naturally jumped at it.
He said something to me during the course of the interview which actually caused me to stop for a moment and think when I had a chance to listen to it later. He said he was a pragmatist, and this blog was "a pragmatists delight."
Now aside from the flattering nature of the statement and the enlargement of a head (mine) which many would suggest NEEDS no enlarging, I realized I had never thought of myself that way.
I would have said I was an idealist almost to the point of being an idealouge.
However, I see his point.
I suppose I am a pragmatist -- in that I have come to realize that one must temper one's ideals with a little pragmatism.
I am a firm believer we need to abolish all entitlement programs. Medicare, welfare, food stamps -- all of it. The costs of those liabilities are hamstringing our economy. At the same time I'm enough of a realist to know that is simply not going to happen. There are no politicians who are willing to commit suicide in order to get that done -- or at least not enough of them.
The reality is, we must all learn to be more pragmatic. Liberals especially, must come to understand that ideals must be sacrificed at times to what is possible.
Unfortunately, too many simply do not understand that.
Moreover, too many Americans are not able to understand what things actually are possible.
They have been taught the government can do anything, that government largess is unending.
Meanwhile, fewer and fewer of us actually pay the bills.
And that brings us right back to pragmatism.
Pragmatically, many of those who used to invest their money are now holding on to it, because they have no idea how much of it is going to be taxed away starting in just a few months. They don't know how much it's actually going to be worth. And we have a government which is out of control.
Why start a business when the government can step in and destroy it through taxation or regulation.
Why provide health insurance for your employees when if you don't the government will force them to pay for it?
Business owners, much like nations, do not look at things necessarily in terms of right or wrong, but what's in their best interest.
This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Employers who are smart tend to spend money on their employees. Happy employees tend to be productive employees. This is why a benefits package is an important part of compensation. This is why they offer paid vacations and things like bonuses. If you keep your people happy they will be productive. If they are productive then you make more money. This allows you to increase wages, hire more people, expand all the things that keep the economy moving forward.
These are done generally not because it's the right thing, but because it is in the best interest of the business.
The problem we have as a nation is we've stopped looking at things that way.
We need to return to that pragmatic approach.
We need to stop trying to do what's best for the world, and do what's best for the United States.
We are the largest economy in the world. Trust me, if we do what's best for us, it will benefit everyone.
And in the end, isn't that what's RIGHT as well?
All IMHO, of course.


  1. Patrick,

    If you can meet Dennis, I guess I can introduce myself to you. I'm Rachel Peepers. And I love the title of your blog, not to mention what you put into it.

  2. Greetings Rachel and welcome to my brain


  3. Hi Patrick - I catch up with some of Miller's interviews from the previous week on podcasts. I'm glad I grabbed yours'. I heard it this evening. Great job.

    I'm not sure pragmatist is the right word for Miller. I think he's just open-minded.

    I think it was during your interview he said he tends to start with the data, whereas libs tend to start with the emotion and work back from there. That's true. But, often when they are faced with facts that counter their emotion, they still cling to it.

    Miller takes the best approach possible: "I could be wrong." It's refreshing. Some conservative commentators could learn from that approach, but hey, I guess whatever they're doing is working for them.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your stuff. Good to know that there's someone else in the neighborhood. I'm also in flyover country (nice title), just up the road in KC.

    If you have the chance, stop by my blog (linked in my name). I'll keep an eye on yours'.