Monthly Archives: May 2014

ModCon Advice

Dear Mrs. Right,

I am a young, educated conservative that is deeply involved in the political process. Each month when I go to my local Young Republicans meeting, I feel engaged but also concerned. Although we agree on many things, the majority of my colleagues subscribe to the dogma that is preached from the national party. I, however, have different views on social policies. After the meetings when we discuss these ideas, conversation tends to become heated against my stance on X, Y, or Z. It has gotten to the point where I am considering not going anymore. What should I do?

Signed,
Red Sheep

Dear Red Sheep,

I’ve been you. Whatever you do, do not stop going just because you are on the outside of the echo chamber.

The purpose of the group’s existence and meetings is to strengthen and grow the movement, right?  And just like a muscle, some resistance and is needed for health and resilience before going out into the arena that is public America.  So, your contrariness is justified.

While some members–even leadership–may have lost site of the group’s purpose, make yourself a leader by reminding them of it.

As is often the case, tone and delivery will determine whether your message is received properly.  If you have a “reputation” amongst the group, reach out to the next meeting’s agenda-setter in private, and ask for a few minutes of stage time at the next meeting.  Say you fear you may have inadvertently caused discord in the informal discussions, and that you would like to clear the air with the club in a thoughtful, well-planned environment, with a facilitated discussion.  The truth may be that you were simply misunderstood and want credit for your smarts, but serving them instead of yourself is both morally right and way more likely to get you what you’re asking for.  Ask someone reasonable to “referee” the discussion for you (and then actually let them do so).

This may all feel like an overreaction and like you are admitting to a crime worse than anything you really did, and that’s exactly what it is.  People love that.  It makes them realize you are responsible and super self-aware because you take a minor problem so seriously, and then they will trust and follow you.  Think of how every hiring manager says they need someone “detail-oriented”–the small things matter, and are usually the things that are in your control and that you can thus be constantly leveraging to your advantage.

You have now created time to plan and then speak your general argument without interruption.  Hooray!  Wow them with your superior logic.  Talk about how historical trends of progressivism support your predictions.  Talk about how moral legislation is diametrically opposed to the conservative principle of limited government.  Talk about how, principles aside, Republicans need votes from social moderates to stay viable.

I truly believe hitting the reset button like this, and getting your message out in an articulate, nonemotional way, will win you converts (or at least friends).  Not everyone in the group may have known you or what you were about, but you showed courage and original insight.  So get ready to run for Chair and then continue that influence.

Mrs. Right

So-Called Random Acts of Violence

Elliot-Rodger
Elliot Rodger, who killed six and wounded 13 in CA on May 23rd before killing himself.

What many people call random, or senseless, acts of violence are usually neither.

Such words have been used to describe this weekend’s mass shooting at UCSB by Elliot Rodger (pictured above).

Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano–current head of the University of California system–said that a mass shooting in the community around UC Santa Barbara is, “almost the kind of event that’s impossible to prevent and impossible to predict.”

Yet, Rodger’s web video series of detailed threats, his parents’ outreach to police, and his long record of mental health intervention lead one to think that events like this are, in fact, almost assured if there is insufficient intervention first.

Gift of Fear author Gavin de Becker has spent his career preaching that there are reliable indicators of violence.

Unfortunately, this shooting was highly predictable, and could have been prevented had both mental health and crime prevention services been more aggressive.

 

Introducing: ModCon Advice

ModCon Advice is our blog’s newest feature–a Q & A with two writers: Mrs. Right and Mr. Wrong.  Our first question was addressed to Mr. Wrong.

Dear Mr. Wrong,

I want to be one of the cool kids, but I’m definitely a nerd at school.  I don’t know how to dress, talk, or act to get all these people to think highly of me.  I want to be the guy whom people laugh at his jokes and invite to their parties.  How can I become that guy?

Signed,
Social Studies

 

Dear Social Studies,

It’s a tough life being a nerd. Many people on the internet will try to make you feel better by telling you that it just gets better. They might say that everyone had a tough time in high school, and that you should concentrate on your studies. They might try to make you feel better by saying that college is awesome and that with hard work you could do more important things like have a fulfilling and well-paying job, or travel the world, or be a productive member of society. They might even say to dress well and be nice and to help others as much as possible and that eventually people will start liking you enough to be your friend, which is much more important and meaningful than parties.

But those idiots are probably nerds, too. Take it from me, Mr. Wrong, that if you’re not cool in high school you will never be cool. So get your nose out of those AP review books and start doing the following:

1.) Start fights. This works in jail, which is where the majority of my social experience comes from. That way, you establish yourself as the alpha male, and everyone will be afraid of you. Then, you will realize that everyone laughs at your jokes, regardless of if they are funny or not.

2.) Start Smoking. Nothing says “I’m awesome” like a cigarette in your mouth. In fact, have as many cigarettes in your mouth as you can. I would routinely sit out front of my high school smoking 5-10 Marlboros on a regular basis. Sure, I have lung cancer now, but everyone knew I was the coolest.

3.) Start Shoplifting Clothes. Clothes are everything in high school, and if you don’t have the trendiest stuff then no one will ever like you. If you Shoplift your clothes, it not only provides you with access to new clothes all the time, but it also is dangerous, and that is always cool. Try to keep the tags on, too. Especially the anti-theft stuff. Wear those around enough, and I guarantee you will be at every party.

Those are my surefire ways to be the coolest guy in school. Follow them to the letter, and everyone will laugh at your jokes and you will be at every party. Granted, I only was able to do them for a few weeks until I dropped out. Plus, being in and out of jail and detention didn’t really allow anyone to know me well enough to invite me to many of their parties, but that’s okay. Nowadays I work at the local Mugs and Jugs bussing tables, and the bartender here was the coolest guy in our class! Yeah, everyone always laughed at Mike’s jokes and he was even Prom King. And we’re best friends now!

In fact, most of the cool kids still live around here and we party all the time. Mike and I have a sweet apartment together, and we all get together on the weekends and drink after our shifts. It’s pretty awesome (when I’m not in jail or in the hospital).

You’re Welcome,
Mr. Wrong

Curriculum “Trigger Warnings”

In today’s NY Times, the idea of implementing university curriculum “trigger warnings” for sensitive material is discussed.   These are written statements that appear on syllabi warning students of literature or films that depict violence, sexuality, racism, suicide, poverty, etc. Lately, students at several universities have advocated for them to prevent PTSD reactions in student victims of war, rape, and other traumas. The warnings could give these students the opportunity to back out of exposure to the objectionable material.

Many academics oppose the blanket warnings as limiting and say that creating healthy discomfort is key to gaining a higher education. Of course, accommodations can be made on a case-by-case basis for struggling students, but creating an institution of censoring is frightening.

ModCon also opposes trigger warnings, mainly because they would be imperfect and just give a false sense of security and coddling. Who can know what does or does not trigger anyone?  Yes, while there are some common patterns, someone may have once been smothered by a teddy bear and now has a panic attack when seeing a cute teddy bear.  The point is, no one can unfortunately shut out pain, and all of us need to walk through life with varying degrees of mental resiliency.  “Trigger warnings” won’t protect everyone, and if enough people blindly depend upon “the system” to protect them, the results could be even worse.

Book Review: The Way We Never Were

The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, is a 1992 sociology book by Stephanie Coontz.  In it, Ms. Coontz dismantles the idyllic conception many people have of American marriages and families in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Very real sexism, violence, and poverty were more commonplace, but they have since been glossed over to fit a narrative of midcentury supremacy that “should” be looked at as a model for contemporary society.  This model is used to reached desired outcomes today, regardless of clear cause and effect.  For example, violence was not much less prevalent back then–it just went unreported more often, especially domestic violence.  So this is not a good excuse for, say, making legal divorces harder to obtain, as it was in the 1950s, even though many conservatives would like to do so and it sounds plausible that a society that makes divorce so easy has more violence.

Conservatives are especially guilty of over-romanticizing the post WWII era.  Conveniently, most of the middle-aged people now in charge of our country were either not born or were children at that time–protected from the harsh realities.  The truth is, many of that era’s policies are unfit for today’s demands, and while we were without some of today’s problems, there was a whole other set to take their place, because we live on an imperfect Earth.

LIR recommends this book if you want to challenge your perceptions.

The Tyranny of the Minorities

Introducing new contributor ExecuCon, representing American baby boomers and bringing the executive voice.  -The Modern Conservative

I may not be modern but I am conservative. Recent events have reminded me how minority factions wield undue influence over the majority. For example, a few hundred petitioners object to Condoleeza Rice as a commencement speaker, forcing her to bow out rather than cause an ugly scene. This is just the latest example but it should not come as a surprise to anyone.

The Democratic party is a coalition of minorities; African-Americans, gays, feminists, environmentalists, unionists, etc. and they mostly always vote en bloc. While they represent small segments of the general population, and as individual groups have limited clout, when they band together their influence is, pick your adjective; formidable, impressive, scary.

They stick together even when they disagree, knowing that if they want the support of every faction of the Democratic Party for their own cause, they had better go along.

Take the issue of gay marriage. Most African-Americans are vehemently opposed to it, and it was interesting to note that the negative reactions on social media following the NFL drafting an openly gay player came from African -American players already in the league. Another example is the Keystone Pipeline. Unions want the jobs, environmentalists don’t want it, period. Nevertheless, when it comes time to vote in an election, they will all be on the same page.

What can Conservatives learn from this? Does the end justify the means, getting your party into power at all costs? Or should Conservatives stick to their principles, knowing that they have done the right thing, but also knowing that they will likely never gain the political majorities needed to lead the country?

Capital and What To Do With It: Part II

This is a continuation of Part I.

How about influence and capital? Both in Pikkety’s book, and in a quick tally of the major contributors to political campaigns, data shows that in this country money tends to buy influence. But does that mean that you will have an impact on Humanity’s Direction? Not necessarily. Sure, you may be able to influence a senator, but what has Congress done for anyone lately?

Simply speaking, we feel that you shouldn’t envy those at the top. They’re probably shady and you’re probably going to be much happier if you get yourself into the Upper Middle Class like we are over here at ModCon. We care more about being happy and raising good kids than the amount of vacation homes we own.

However, all that wealth could be used for good. The likelihood that you will have a significant impact in making the world a better place is definitely easier if you have vast sums of money to support your efforts. That was one of few great things about the last Gilded Age: in the early 1900s we had horrible conditions for the common man, but access to vast resources gave men like Andrew Carnegie the ability to do things that would have been unlikely otherwise. Railroads were built. Libraries were constructed. The US became the Big Man on Campus. Was it worth it? No question: yes.

We see similar expensive efforts today in the news on a regular basis. Entrepreneurs are working feverishly behind the scenes to make space flight a tangible reality for all human beings. Bill and Melinda Gates are well on their way to curing polio for good. As many shrewd conservative thinkers are pointing out, investments in philanthropic research are becoming more impactful than many government investments. Publicly-traded companies are using their vast sums of Financial Capital to create free internet for all, clean energy for most, and better education for our youth. In a nutshell, these members of the super rich elite are making the world a better place. As a Conservative, we know that Government has it’s faults. Businesses and Social Institutions these days are picking up the slack where government is unable or unwilling to intervene. Many of us here at ModCon work for benevolent companies that try to deliver goods and services to citizens to make their lives markedly better. Being associated with that daily transfer of money into quality of life is pretty awesome to be a part of.

Now, not everyone is being so beneficent. However, the point we here at ModCon are trying to make is that the world is different now. To compare the Gilded Age to the Internet Age is folly. We are not turning a profit on child laborers for gain anymore, for example. Companies and individuals accumulate wealth and resources while also providing purpose and financial independence to those of us lucky enough to work for a decent wage. Living in this era allows the superrich to create Impact for Everyone. We now live in the Information Age. We can study problems with better Data, track progress easier, and measure Impact better. We can do more good with less, if you know the new system. Continue reading Capital and What To Do With It: Part II

Castle Doctrine Case

Castle Doctrine is the right to shoot or kill an intruder in your own home whom you reasonably believe poses an imminent threat, without fear of prosecution.  Naturally, gray area abounds.

This 65 year old guy in Minnesota, having once been burgled, expected the teen perps to return.  He then made it look like he wasn’t home, waited in his basement with a gun, and shot the kids to death when they came back.  Then, he waited hours before reporting the incident and recorded his rambling thoughts–thus ruining any argument of sanity.  He has now been sentenced to life in prison.

What do you think?

 

Dr. Condoleezza Rice Withdraws from Rutgers Commencement Speech

Condi reminds us of her class by giving this response to the millenials who gave a sit-in protest to her selection as commencement speaker:

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration … Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community … I am honored to have served my country. I have defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas. … But that is not what is at issue here. As a Professor for thirty years at Stanford University and as its former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.”

LIR aspires to be like Condi, but would have realistically probably still given the speech anyway, just to show these bored juveniles what power and intelligence really looks like.

master-class-condoleezza-rice-2-600x411

Capital and What To Do With It: Part I

Recently, French economist Thomas Pikkety published a landmark book entitled Capital in the Twenty First Century. Regardless of what you think about its conclusions, it’s groundbreaking stuff. We here at the ModernConservative are big fans of economics, specifically macroeconomics. In our opinion, the moving around of dollars and cents in this world is as close as we can come to tapping into humanity’s heartbeat and planning it’s direction for the future. Money takes into account the best and the worst of society and boils it down into the one thing that we love after God and Family here at ModCon: Data. Track the  Data right, and Truth opens itself up for you like a perfect, holy blossom. The search for Truth has defined humanity throughout the centuries, and Pikkety does his best to simplify his accountings of tax records over decades to come up with his idea of Truth in our modern age.

Spolier alert: As always, the Truth is a bitter pill to swallow.

We won’t get into the technical jargon of his book, but in a nutshell Pikkety believes that wealth in our modern society is becoming increasingly concentrated. The rich, specifically the super rich, are able to hold on to vast sums of money much easier than the upwardly mobile are able to acquire it. He believes that the superrich not only are able to buy yachts and supercars with this Financial Capital, but are also able to influence the power structure of our society. In essence, Financial Capital is far outpacing the Human Capital in regards to power in our society. You could be a smart twentysomething from an upper middle class family, but your contribution to humanity’s direction will most likely be outpaced by a another twentysomething from a wealthy family. Or at least your earning potential will be.

Now, we’ve heard this in the news before. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. That we are entering into a New Gilded Age. In Pikkety’s terms, the “drift towards oligarchy” begins with the rapid accumulation of wealth by the superrich and the passing on of that wealth to their heirs. It is alarming, but unfortunately it is the Truth. Many old-guard conservatives deny this fact, but they are fools. To deny this basic concept in a time where everyone feels it in the air is to doom Conservative Thought into the realm of the obsolete. Wake up, people. This is happening.

So what should we do as Modern Conservatives? Should we fill the airwaves with misinformation and political spin in the attempts to discredit this theory? Should we continue to promote the false idea that this wealth is inherently tied to performance–and therefore deserved? We here at ModCon don’t think so.

Instead, let’s focus on what’s really important: Impact.

Impact is a more difficult concept to figure out. Sure, it’s very easy to detail that wealth is being concentrated, but what does one buy with that wealth? Can it buy you happiness? Sadly, no. Study after study has shown that after the threshold of $75,000 – 100,000, Happiness takes a precipitous plunge. If your income is below this threshold, as you rise up in the ranks you become increasingly more happy in your newfound security and access to resources. Anything higher than this, and the trappings of modern wealth begin to take hold: Selfishness, Laziness, and a disconnect from the Common Man.

Can this type of wealth guarantee your children’s success? Again, the Data proves otherwise. Sure, your children will be cultured by taking ski trips to the Alps or having tuition paid for at the college of their choice. However, income tends to stay the same or drop from one generation to the next if you’re too rich.

More importantly, if you were to base success on the pride of your son or daughter’s profession, the Data shows us that most doctors, pHDs and “job creators” of our society tend to begin from humble beginnings. The more likely scenario of wealth is that your children will associate with other affluent snobs and end up perpetuating their own wealth, rather than furthering your name or the success that you created by being a job creator…

Part II: Stay tuned for the doctor’s prescription!