As I See It: When words lose their meaning

In engineering, we use the term conservative a lot. What it means to engineers is confidence. Doing what you know will work every time, then we add a safety factor. Doing what you know you can afford, and what you know can be finished when promised. On time on budget is the Holy Grail, so to speak. Otherwise, it’s an experiment.

The words conservative and liberal have lost meaning in political discussion. Each seem to me to mean someone who agrees or disagrees with me, in a way that puts the other person in a certain group. Liberal seems to be used with a sneer to refer to anyone who wants to change something. Conservative, used with a grunt means anyone who resists change, or want’s change undone, which in itself is a change.


Liberals have lost control of the title and it is used by ill-liberals as an all-purpose insult usually in a context where the naïve would conclude it meant crazy or stupid. The term conservative has been hijacked by ethnocentrists whose policies are only conservative if a conservative option is to their narrow interest. Otherwise, their proposals can be quite radical.

Political Conservatives often push for change though that Liberal politicians oppose. Outlaw abortion, as if outlawing things made them cease to exist. What they can actually accomplish is outlawing safe affordable abortion. The wealthy will always get what they want. Liberal politicians associate themselves with things that they think are good that often don’t work, like Socialism, a fine system for bees and ants but unworkable for a human group larger than a family. There are elements of socialism, that might just be called civilization like: public works, libraries, schools, roads, water, sewerage, police, fire department, unemployment insurance, Social Security, etc.

People align themselves with the L or C camp and then fall into group-think. If all the other Liberals favor more gun laws, then I do too. Never mind whether they work. If all the other Conservatives favor anti-abortion laws, then I do too. We need to ask whether the law accomplishes the greatest good for the greatest number, or least harm. Abortion is traumatic for three organisms, one the embryo, although there is doubt whether the embryo is a sentient being. Second, the woman, who has to make a tough decision whether the trauma of an abortion outweighs the trauma of going through an unwanted pregnancy, delivery and parenthood that she is not prepared for. The third, a population is emotionally involved but has no direct standing regarding the outcome. They typically will not accept responsibility for a future child. It is one thing to outlaw unsafe abortions, but the current batch of state laws do the exact opposite; instead, they penalize safe professional abortions. That tactic will drive desperate women into the reaches of quacks and amateurs who will put women’s lives at risk.

We must question the morality of driving distressed women seeking a medical treatment, already traumatic, into the further trauma induced by such laws to satisfy the emotions of uninvolved political forces. What is really motivating the abortion opponents, do we really need more conscripts, delinquents or unskilled laborers? Are we in danger of extinction like some isolated tribe?


It seems instead we are in the thrall of a political minority that behaves as if it does not believe the people are capable of making their own decisions and must be controlled by the people in power. They seem to consider themselves entitled to govern, even if unqualified, and make all decisions no matter how personal. These same politicians though preach self-determination when it comes to any other issue if it suits their agenda. For example, trying to stop mask or vaccination mandates, that will undoubtedly save lives of the already born. Who benefits from these bizarre policies?

Ken Obenski is a forensic engineer, now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. Send feedback to