Archive for the ‘Conservatism’ Category

scrooge1I’ve encountered the sentiment often, if not the exact words, “Conservatives hate poor people.” The notion is, of course, silly on its face, but there are people who really believe it. To prove it, I Googled “Conservatives hate the poor” and got many hits. One was a Yahoo question that asked, “Why do conservatives hate the poor?” The answer rated best by those polled was this one by this generation’s answer to Thomas Paine:
“they demonize the poor (“poor=lazy”) to give themselves a sense of self-importance while justifying their 19th-century free market economic fundamentalism, and because licking the arses of the filthy rich makes them feel like they are part of the same elite.” Eleven people thought that was good stuff.
Another answer came with penetrating insight into the dark hearts of Republicans:
“because the Republican propaganda machines sells them a dream that one day if they work hard enough they can be rich. But that is only if the socialists don’t prevent their ability to be rich by helping the poor survive.”

The Daily Kos weighed in with a very insightful discussion on the subject titled, “Mommy, why do Republicans hate the poor people,” oddly written by a man. Perhaps from the new kind of family. It is delightfully told from the perspective of a mom, sharing her insight with her daughter, as in former days she might warn her of big, bad wolves. You can see it here, if you have a strong stomach for such things: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/06/15/985340/-Mommy-Why-Do-Conservatives-Hate-the-Poor-People.

But I am not writing this primarily for the primates who have destroyed their brain cells through recreational pharmacology. I am writing this for good people I know who have bought into this notion that conservatives have something against poor people. This is for those good people, who are otherwise right thinking, but believe that it is compassionate to support government handouts to people who did nothing to earn them. Let’s examine the premise and the results of such policy.

The federal government has the means and the responsibility of taking care of every need Americans have. Now everything is regarded as a right of citizenship. Healthcare is not just a good idea, it is your right. But as economist Walter Williams points out, to say that I have a right to healthcare, is to say that I have a right to the time of my doctor and his office. I have a right to the benefit of his years of study and practice. I have right over his time. Healthcare is rather a privilege. More to the point, it is a commodity. It is something I must pay for. I may buy health insurance, or take my chances that I won’t need a doctor or health care provider often enough to justify the cost of insurance and pay out of pocket should something unforeseen arise. I do not (should not) have the right to ignore my responsibility for my own healthcare and expect others to take care of it for me. That is not fair to all those who must subsidize my choice to be irresponsible. If I fail to exercise, choose to smoke and eat a steady diet of junk food, I should not ask those who have been more responsible to help pay the bill for my irresponsibility.

Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornell West have written a book, which they are promoting nationally, called “The Rich and The Rest of Us.” They were on with Bill O’Reilly the other night. O’Reilly asked them how high the minimum wage should be. West offered that if it had kept up with inflation, it would be $16-$20 an hour right now. It was their view that that would help the poor. But when you raise the cost of something, such as entry level work, what happens to the supply of such? That’s right, class, you get less of it. If the minimum wage were to be increased, even by a dollar, much less doubled, those on the lower end of the income scale would suddenly find themselves joining the 23 million Americans out of work.

O’Reilly continued. Okay, now this single mom is getting $19 an hour for her work, what is she going to do with her child?

“We believe there should be free child care.”

And if they can’t find a job they qualify for.

“There should be free job training.”

All of these “solutions” are predicated on the notion that the federal government has a limitless supply of money and it is their responsibility to take care of people. These men have not received the memo that our country is broke. It is not just broke, it is $ 16 trillion in hock. This kind of government largess is unsustainable in a strong economy, much less Obama’s economy.
They are also predicated on the notion that these programs will ultimately be helpful to people and the economy. While everybody would like to make more money, the result of these ideas would be more unemployment, especially for those on the lower ends of the economic scale. But they get credit and positive headlines for “fighting poverty nationwide” (a description of an article in the Huffington Post found on Google). You see, despite the actual results of their policies (were they ever enacted, though not even President Obama would adopt them–at least not in his first term) they get credit and slaps on the back for being compassionate, and for “fighting poverty.” But the policies they push would promote more poverty.

This idea flies in the face of 6,000 years of recorded human history. The composite wisdom of the ages is, “there ain’t no free lunch.” You can give a man a fish, or teach him to fish. “Early to bed, early to rise…” “If any man will not work, neither let him eat.” The bottom line is that it is not compassionate to make men dependent.

The second premise inherent in the fallacy of government as compassion should be obvious. We have so much debt right now that we are putting a burden on our children that is now over $50,000 per person. We cannot continue to fund every giveaway program just because it sounds compassionate.

Liberals love getting credit for having compassion when they propose spending other people’s money to give to those who didn’t earn it. Let’s talk briefly about real compassion. Conservatives, and this is consistent across the nation, give far more of their own money to charity than do Liberals. We know that real compassion means making sacrifices with our own possessions. Conservatives start homeless shelters and crisis pregnancy centers and orphanages in far-flung reaches.

John Fried (among others) has shown that Republicans give significantly more to charity than do Democrats, despite income levels (see here http://tinyurl.com/bwrarn5). It is well known, or perhaps not so well-known, that Red states give a much higher percentage of their income to charity than do blue states. Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University was astounded by the results of his own study on who really gives in America.

“In his book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservativism (Basic Books, 2006), Brooks discovered that approximately equal percentages of liberals and conservatives give to private charitable causes. However, conservatives gave about 30 percent more money per year to private charitable causes, even though his study found liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year in income than did conservative families. This greater generosity among conservative families proved to be true in Brooks’ research for every income group, ‘from poor to middle class to rich.’”

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/castingstones/2008/04/conservatives-give-more-to-cha.html#ixzz2O073yGHS

This discussion can become silly at some point. Suffice it to say, that on average, conservatives give a higher percent of their income to charitable causes than do liberals. But even if they did not, it would not change the basic argument I am making here. It is not compassionate to entrap people in a cycle of poverty and dependence on government hand-outs.
In the Old Testament of the Bible their was a plan for charitable giving. Farmers were to leave the edges of their fields unharvested. The poor could come and glean from the edges of their neighbors fields. It was not the farmers responsibility to harvest the field and bring the crop to the poor. The responsibility for gathering their food still fell on the beneficiaries of the charity. They had to do some work. Work is good. It is good for the soul. It is good to feel that you have earned your food. The value of that food increases, along with the appreciation for it, when it is won through labor and sweat.
The beneficiaries of any charity should be required to have a hand in paving their own path to independence from it. When we make unemployment benefits, food stamps and other government hand-outs more valuable than an entry level job, we get more people willing to forgo the job market with all its work and sweat and mean bosses who teach hard life lessons, to live the soul-destroying life of a taker. We deprive people of those skills needed to survive and even thrive in a free market society that offers limitless opportunities to those who understand that they were created to achieve significance. We deprive them of the self-respect that comes at the end of a many days of falling and getting back up, learning and growing, of finding their unique gift they can contribute to the rest of society.
Perhaps that is the fear–that if we should treat people with such dignity, they might become conservative.
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No-Fault Society

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Conservatism, Economics

It began with no-fault insurance. Two cars collide. It’s an accident. It was nobody’s fault. That’s why they call it an “accident.” My insurance company covers the cost of my car repair. Yours covers you.

Then came no-fault divorce. Two people just drifted apart. No need for the messy identification of a guilty party here. The decision was mutual. “We just weren’t right for each other.” The two split. Nobody is to blame. Blame is so ugly!

But if I am the guy waiting for the light to turn green and get rear-ended by a distracted driver playing “Words with Friends,” I am going to feel that I don’t share the responsibility for the accident. It is Somebody’s fault. Namely, the dumb guy with the smart phone. If I am the wife whose husband was caught cheating with the office bimbo, I am not going to feel I share in the responsibility for the marriage falling apart. It is Somebody’s fault. The husband who could not keep his marital vows is the culprit.

This no-fault attitude is permeating our society. It is killing us. We can no longer claim anything is really wrong. We must understand the situation. It is killing us morally, economically and intellectually.

A young girl needs an abortion because she had an accident. Accident? Abortion is our “no-fault” answer for dispatching such accidents. The accident is not that she allowed herself to be seduced by her lover. It is that she failed to use a contraceptive. Of course we can’t expect kids with raging hormones to actually repress them. Why, that would be repressive.

A man “finds himself” unemployed. To be fair, this is often not his fault. (It often is.) So he goes on Unemployment. He gets so much money for not working. We have constructed this safety net to help families when such a crisis occurs as the loss of a job. It was not intended to last forever. Now we extend unemployment benefits, it seems, indefinitely. Most self-respecting people will try to get back into the work force as quickly as they are able. Unfortunately, our no-fault society has created a class of people who have no such self-respect. And, honestly, many will operate on the very reasonable economic equation that unless they find a job making substantially more than they receive in unemployment benefits, it makes little sense to flip hamburgers or houses. Why take that job in the factory with the cross boss, long hours and hard work when you can do nothing and get paid for it? It is interesting to note that once unemployment benefits run out, people find jobs much faster than when they could still receive them. I wonder if there is any connection there. As Alan Reynolds noted (http://tinyurl.com/yjlvvx5), “When the government pays people 50 to 60 percent of their previous wage to stay home for a year or more, many of them do just that.”

The upshot of all this non-judgmental, no-fault attitude and the concomitant public policy, where real crime goes unpunished, where sloth is often rewarded while industry is punished, where immorality is at least as acceptable as morality, where drug-abusing celebrities in Hollywood and sports are lauded, we all pay. When the perpetrator is vindicated, the victim pays. When the abused wife must share custody of her children with the abuser, she pays the price. When millions live off the government dole, we all pay. We pay, not only in higher costs of government in the form of higher taxes, we pay in the overall collapse of what used to be known as the “social contract.” When crime goes unpunished, we get more crime. When immorality is winked at, it flourishes. When sloth is rewarded, we have more people relying on government hand-outs. When those who work hard and play by the rules are punished with higher taxes, then told they are not “paying their fair share”, we will find fewer such people–people who have been made to feel like saps in a society that has tilted against them.

Atlas will soon shrug.

So the flowers are ordered, the date is set. Someone may get lucky tonight. It probably won’t be the American people.

President Obama will give his State of the Union address tonight. He will be addressing a more civil and convivial group of legislators. Or, that is the image we are supposed to embrace. Mary Landrieu will be sitting with her BFF from across the aisle, Olympia Snow. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) from New York will be wearing the wrist corsage from her new beau John Thune (R) from South Dakota. They may spoon. Chuck Schumer (D, NY) has agreed to hold hands with Tom Coburn, Republican from Oklahoma. Love is in the air, and Valentine’s Day is still three weeks away.

Why this renewed show of bipartisanship? It all stems from the demented actions of the dope-smoking liberal whack-job who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) two weeks ago in Tucson. Immediately following the shootings, voices from the left tried to nail the blame to the evil voices of Conservatives on the radio and in politics. Sarah Palin was the chief culprit. Then the truth came out that Jared Loughner did not listen to talk radio or much else, and that he was in fact a radical leftist obsessed with the Congresswoman. But the thread-bare narrative that the divisive nature of political discourse must have had something to do with the shooting stood.

I don’t think it is a bad thing that Democrats sit with Republicans. I do think there are some good reasons they should not. First, it seems to be a tacit admission that the rhetoric of the right may have played a role in the shooting in Tucson. They are now sorry and will show their change of heart by doing works fitting repentance.By sitting with their opponents across the aisle maybe they will forgo tough talk about policy differences. But such talk is necessary to define the issues. That doesn’t mean the talk need be vitriolic or petty. But truth should not be an ancillary victim of the Tucson shooter.

The second reason it seems a bad idea (if you’re a Republican) is that it will diminish the optics of the huge majority won in November. Republicans dispersed among the Democrats will diffuse the stark picture of the dominant majority they hold. The Democrats would love for the American people to forget about November and still believe they are in charge. Republicans seem willing to allow them the charade.

I am sure there will be plenty of well-worked lines that both parties will applaud. Perhaps they can clap with arms entwined with their opposing party counterpart. We will hear that the state of the union is strong. When is it not! We will hear talk about the need for more investments in education and infrastructure. In a less civil world we might call this deficit spending. But tonight we will put aside our differences and enjoy the glow of the bi-paritison date night. So gather your lover to your side, pop some popcorn, snuggle up with a mocha latte, and enjoy a night of post-partisan courting. But tomorrow, let’s remember who won the elections in November and get back to the business of dismantling the damage the policies of the past two years have wrought.

 

I am writing this on the morning of the historic election, where the first African American is running for president on a major party ticket.  Should Barak Obama win, many will say (as they always do when a Democrat is elected) “Conservatism is dead.”  This will be especially true if the Dem’s dream of a filibuster proof majority emerges in the Senate and a supermajority in the House.  At first blush, it might seem so.  The conservatives will have been turned out and conservatisms values repudiated.  It will be time for Republicans to go back to the drawing board and come up with a more palatable plate of politics by which to woo the undecideds.  Maybe a return to the Gerald Ford/Bob Michael brand of bland, vanilla politics!  Call it “Democrat Lite.”

But will conservatism have been rejected?  Let’s consider.  Has Barak Obama been running as a proud liberal?  Has he been revealing his true colors as a European-style socialist?  He has not.  He has tried, and with the help of his friends in the Main Stream Media, has managed to hide from his history.  He has at least been able to color that history to make it seem like an edible slice of American Pie. 

Radical associates?  What radical associates?  William Ayres?  “Oh, he was just a guy who lives in the neighborhood.”  Jeremiah Wright?  “Well as soon as I heard that he was radical race-bater I left that church.  In my 26 year association with him I never heard him say anything controversial.”  Tony Rezko?  “Tony Who?”  Rashid Kalidi?  “I’m sorry, I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

But what has Obama been talking about?  You would think he studied under Ronald Reagan!  He wants tax cuts for the middle class.  He is all into God and Family.  He was raised with Kansas values received at the feet of his sainted grandmother.  It sounds like Obama recognizes, if the MSM doesn’t, that it is still imperative to sound conservative if you want to win elections in America.  You can win in Vermont and areas of Chicago and much of California by touting your radical creds.  It doesn’t play in Peoria, however. 

McCain won the nomination because two other, more conservative men split the conservative vote.  Had Mitt Romney, or even Mike Huckaby won the nomination, Obama would not have a prayer of winning.  McCain could not energize the conservative base, which is the key to winning if you are a Republican. 

The MSM now claim that Sarah Palin was a drag on the ticket.  Of course, they say it proudly because it was only their efforts to cast her as a dim bulb that resulted in a lowered opinion of her.  She was a star immediately out of the gate.  What McCain could not do, Sarah did.  She energized Conservatives to get revved up about the prospect of a pro-life, pro-family, pro-military, pro-energy, Conservative woman in the administration.  She was not a drag on the ticket.  Check out the crowd numbers at McCain rallies vs. the numbers at McCain/Palin rallies.  She is a rising star.  It is her conservatism.  Her looks are an ancillary benefit. 

Is conservatism dead?  Far from it.  Conservatism is what both candidates are running toward in order to try to secure the swivel chair in the Oval Office.  If Obama wins he will probably make an immediate dash to the left.  But if he wins, it will be because he veered so far to the right in order to sell himself to the Amerian public which still shares the Reaganesque view of America as that shining city on a hill and the last, best hope for the world.