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Saturday, February 6. 2016
Something to think about: What if Conservatism Doesn’t Work?
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If conservatism doesn't work we're screwed. After seven long years we know damn well the alternative doesn't work.
I'd say the article was written by a leftist: "The free market doesn’t exist, and never has. The periods of our nation’s history closest to it aren’t evidence for its benefits, because it’s unclear how relevant they are to modern economic discussions. We no longer have free land to the West for all."
There are other errors as well. Whoever this guy is, he gave a piss-poor description of markets and understands little about economics. I passed on the rest of the article.
It is kind of like asking college kids if abstinence works. The sample size is not large enough anymore to know.
Reagan was a conservative but out of 535 congress people perhaps 100 were conservative. When you look at governors and state legislators that ration declines rapidly. We do not know if conservatism works because we haven't tried it. And worse the liberals and Rinos work overtime to downplay any conservative wins and to reverse any conservative inroads.
I think it is too late; the die is cast, the Rubicon is crossed. What we will see in the future a relentless shift further and further left. Our country is now a country of 'tribes' who vote for free stuff. Our debt/budget is a disaster because of this and the politicians unashamedly tell us the only solution is to raise taxes and spend more (to buy votes). We are in a death spiral, it may not appear that bad but that is because the truth is covered up and reality is disguised by borrowing and printing money to pump up the indicators. All the tribes will continue to demand free stuff and all the politicians will emulate Hugo Chavez or Karl Marx just to stay in office and be able to dispense favors.
It has been a great run since 1776 but it's over. Now it is simply how bad will it get and when is the coup de grace delivered. (Really! Coup de grace you say? A little over the top, right? No. It is the inevitable result of cutting our defense to keep propping up the free stuff machine.)
I don't know who he's been talking to or what they've been saying but he didn't convince me he was talking about conservatism.
There's lots of things I could say about this article but there are a few points I think you have to get past first.
1. Our government is basically democratic. That system does not give you the best choices necessarily, it requires you to make the best choice of the given options.
2. The available options are broadly between free(r) markets (excepting Trump) and free money.
3. Where has free money worked in the long run?
It is sometimes tempting to say that a feature of one society works well there so why don't we do it here? Sometimes that feature is dependent on other features that we might not like.
The basic premise of conservatism is to conserve, or maintain the status quo. Which as we Germans know from our own recent history, would not have been such a great idea. Imagine "conserving" the attitudes and values of the Nazi party even without Herr Hitler.
Go backwards prior to the 1900's when Germany was a new nation, built upon the unification of German kingdoms in 1871. Yes, Germany as a nation, is actually younger than the United States. Would anyone want to maintain (conserve) the values of Bismark? Probably not. Or the laws, values and attitudes of the individual kingdoms prior to Bismark? Again, not very likely.
Would you want the conservative policies of the late 1800 and 1900's in America which gave corporations the same rights as individuals and subjugation of workers under the conditions of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"? Surely no one would want to cheer the Luddites as "Progressives" by breaking up the weavers looms and returning to the days of child labor under conservative policies of that day.
Only those elements of the past which work; Jeudo-Christian religion, values and respect for human rights, should continue to be conserved. But other ideologies which have proven to be failures should be abandoned; slavery, communism, socialism, the abuse of corporate power, abuse of civil liberties, etc.
There must always be a balance between those things we hold worthy to conserve, while embracing the successful progression of scientific, political and social efforts that benefit our civilizations.
In the US, conservatives mean to generally conserve the values of the Constitution recognizing that the power of the state is the individual's greatest enemy.
As usual, I agree with much of what you say, but in your list of abuses, I would add abuse of labor. I don't know a lot about how unions and management work in Germany, but the little I have read leads me to believe they have a much more constructive relationship where here in the US, they are often adversarial. Given history, that may be somewhat understandable, but it is often corrosive to individual freedom. A friend of mine is an airline pilot and the rules the pilot's union was formed under required that if you felt you were being mistreated and left to join a competing airline, you had to start at the bottom of the pay scale - if you had twenty years of experience. Also laws in many states required you to join a union in order to work in that field. These rules and laws encourage you to stay in a job where you feel you are mistreated or require you to pay dues to and follow policies of a union you don't want to be a member of and that may use those dues to fund political campaigns you may not agree with.
Obviously, the topic of corporate labor abuses is a big subject (especially if you're typing on an iPad!), but I believe the employment landscape has evolved (the number of employers, the mobility of the employee, the general culture of the vast majority of employers, etc.) such that as long as the economy is reasonably strong, the abuses of the past would be very difficult to maintain.
"The free market doesn’t exist, and never has." That's a bit extreme. Today there's a bit of a free market, but government regulations have hobbled it. One test of a free market might be, how many new businesses have started and lasted more than 5 years?
Facebook (for one) didn't grow from government funding.
@ Mudbug - German unions, for the most part, work in cooperation with business. Back in the day, the Meister (master) tradesman was free to hire who he wanted (apprentice) and was responsible to train the workers and he also ran the shop floor. Early management did the business work, labor did the construction, engineering did the math and science, all in mutual cooperation.
As you know, under Bismark early social insurance programs required that everyone contribute some amount out of their paycheck so all could benefit from health insurance in the event of injury or sickness. This wasn't so much out of a benevolent attitude towards workers, rather that highly trained professions who got sick, didn't work. So it was to the benefit of the company to ensure their workers were taken care of.
The idea of management taking over the decisions of skilled labor was an American invention based on the British form of labor which developed in the early 1900's. This was around the time when labor was broken up into various skill sets which were then heavily managed by non-technical people. This is probably why American unions formed independently of of the company and are typically adversarial.
Even today, most German unions are really work counsels, that provide more of a human resources function than to break the will of management. Yes, we still have strikes, and German workers still get upset about hours and pay, but not like our French neighbors who have made it a national pastime.
Keep in mind we have had universal health care for over 100-years. And no, it's not free social health care as you Americans have been lead to believe...everyone who can afford to pays. We also have 30-days of holiday, of which 2-consecutive weeks are required by law to force people to go on holiday and get away from work. And as you get older, you get an additional 2-day of holiday per year, up to a maximum of 6-weeks, once you get into your 50's because we all know older workers need more time to rest and recover.
Having worked in Silicon valley for 10-years back in the 80's and 90's it was clear Americans have really no concept of work-life balance. Which is really unfortunate. How Americans can manage any sort of real life outside of work with only a few days of holiday a year is beyond anyone's comprehension.
The Ricochet post was brilliant. In particular, he captures why we have lost the young. And old people can huff and puff but if the young have lost hope (and it is NOT always because they are screwing around and getting drunk or even because they are PC), we are doomed.
I like what Karl Horst has written above. In particular his reminder that untrammelled capitalism abused labor. Any sane conservative knows that government is not the enemy, government is US. Government of the people, by the people, for the people. We should stop idolising robber barons. Americans have always rhapsodized about free markets and our freedoms (as we should). But, as a people, we have historically averted our gaze from all the people who have come here in search of opportunity and failed. We celebrate the Horatio ALgers, the success stories. We go on and on ad nauseoum about small businesses but most small businesses fail, taking with them the life savings and hopes of their founders.
I grew up in England as an American expat pining for home, and I am simply staggered by the insulting and childish things Americans say about the sensible ways that Europeans have provided a basic social safety net for their populations since World War II. Calling them "Euroweenies" and other obnoxious terms and implying that one saps initiative if one removes the terror of bankruptcy by providing health care and affordable education to a population. Absolute rubbish! When my own beloved country is now ranking near countries like Bulgaria and worse on things ike infant mortality and income inequality I am ashamed. I also grew up in Latin America and I can honestly say that living here reminds me more and more of there. Islands of gross wealth with virtual slaves attending to every need and whim of the wealthy. While those wealthy alternately scorn and sneer at the poor or decide episodically to do charitable works for them. It's not American and it's not democratic.
My children grew up incredibly conservative and patriotic, but how could they vote for a single one of our repulsive Republican candidates without holding their nose? Trump is the vilest, but none of the others pass the sniff test. Rand Paul and Paul Ryan came the closest to appealing to them. This leaves them only Sanders, because at least he isn't Clinton. That ridiculous scene with that harridan Abright scolding young women to support Hillary. I don't know a single young woman who will. It's only what I call the Old Hag Liberals who do. My point is, my kids know it is their duty to vote, but they are disgusted by the choices. Our politics have become like our pro football. Nothing more than bread and circuses while lobbyists and interest groups divide the spoils behind the scenes.
Perhaps I will be less cranky after some coffee...