Lovable Curmudgeons

The wisdom of Charley Reese:

It’s my observation that most of what people vociferously complain about are not things they are forced to do, but things that other people choose to do. A favorite phrase of my father — ‘None of your business’ — seems to have become obsolete in our busybody society. The government is a busybody, its supporters are busybodies, and its opponents are busybodies, making it a conflict among busybodies as to which aspects of people’s private lives the government should regulate.The government should not regulate people’s private lives at all. It should protect them from force, fraud, usury, foreign attacks and the rape of our share of the planet. Other than those, if some people wish to self-destruct, it’s nobody else’s business, least of all the government’s.

Reese’s curmudgeonliness often makes me warm inside. His attitudes typically embody all that is best in conservatism: self-reliance, live and let live, take no guff from nobody, compassion without weakness, and honesty about one’s agenda. It’s because I’m attracted to these traits that I am hesitant to self-identify as a “liberal”, though much of my politics swing far to the left.

The problem with Reese’s analysis above (and in the entirety of his article) is that it fails to consider the nuances of usury and exploitation. A society can be convinced by a corporation, for example, that it needs a product or a lifestyle, either through sly suggestive marketing or outright falsification. Government needs to step in to protect society in such instances, and in other instances where our private lives are under attack from more subtle forces not identified in Reese’s world. I suppose ultimately that is what defines the left-right divide.