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A Defense of Conservatism

Ameriman
Posts: 622
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4/28/2012 7:25:08 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Thank you Contra, for your thoughtful and substantitive defense of progressivism.

In response, I feel obligated to offer my own defense of my own conservative beliefs.

First, let me say, that we agree on many points. First, we are all in this together. I certainly don't deny that. And, I certainly don't believe in any type of "you're on your own" society.

I also agree that we have many problems in our society. I live in the USA. Health care here is expensive and complex, there are too many people who are unemployed, and education seems to be something of a mess. These are just a sample of the problems that the USA faces.

Perhaps most concerning is the fact that the USA seems to be in decline. Military decline, economic decline, cultural decline, and virtually every kind of decline that you could imagine.

If things continue the way they are going, we will not maintain our superpower status for too long. I assume you agree with at least a good portion of what I have said so far.

However, where we disagree is why these problems exist and how they need to be adressed. You explained the progressive view in your post. Now, let me lay out my own conservative view.

I argue that the root cause of our ills is, in fact, a deviation from the principles and values that have historically allowed the USA to prosper. The values are hard work, responsibility on the part of individuals and institutions that are not governmental, a strong faith in God, and a strong patriotism.

Governmental policy, in my view, needs to get back to trying to promote, or at least not stifle, these values. This translates into a government that encourages and promotes free enterprise instead of inhibiting it. We've had enough leaders who demonize successful enterprises and the free enterprise system in general. Taxes, and especially marginal tax rates, need to be simpler and lower.

Government needs to stop trying to pursue these silly policies of "stimulus" by injecting temporary payments into the economy either in the form of tax rebates or checks. Likewise, the Federal Reserve needs to stop trying to manage the economy through discretionary policies. Instead, the government needs to pursue clear policies that are focused on both the long term and short term and take the uncertainty they might create into account.

In terms of health care, it needs to be recognized that government distortions have played a large role in the high price of health care. These include tax distortions that pushed individuals away from the consumer based health care market, numerous governmental regulations that encourage hospital monopolies, defensive medicine, and limit the supply of doctors, and governmental health programs that have exploded in terms of costs.

Once these are recognized as the core drivers of our health care woes, health care reform can focus on restoring a degree of freedom and decentralization to health care.

These same principles of decentralization fo decision making and a focus on restoring the principles that made the USA great can be applied in education, finance, and virtually every other sector that is struggling.

In terms of the military, we need to have a military that is capable of defending our large nation. Our military power has been a source of greatness historically. Quite simply, in order to maintain our status as the most powerful country in the world, we must maintain a strong military.

All in all, the conservative view, or at least the view I hold, is that the USA's greatness lies in it's founding principles, and that the recent decline of the USA is due to a deviation, not a reliance, on these principles.

I hope you can at least see where I am coming from on this. Thank you for reading.
We spend too much our time measuring compassion for those in needs by measuring inputs. How much money are we spending? How many programs are we creating? But we are not focusing on outcomes. Are these programs working? Are people getting out of poverty?
-Paul Ryan
Contra
Posts: 3,941
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4/28/2012 7:37:43 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I see.
"The solution [for Republicans] is to admit that Bush was a bad president, stop this racist homophobic stuff, stop trying to give most of the tax cuts to the rich, propose a real alternative to Obamacare that actually works, and propose smart free market solutions to our economic problems." - Distraff

"Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility." - Paul Ryan
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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4/28/2012 9:27:16 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Your post certainly follows the basic theme I've come to expect from a conservative. Not that I consider it bad, but it is the complete opposite way that progressives/liberals feel issues should be addressed.

Progressives believe in mostly the same principles and values conservatives do, we just feel that real problems require real solutions. One common theme in all your solutions seems to be the basic idea that government should get out of the way and let the free market work itself out. That's fine, but when the free market fails then what?

This seems to be the point that divides us. From my view and experience conservatives seem to care only about process. That is you guys care more about how we accomplish something then what is actually accomplished, and hatred for government seems to be at the core of every issue you guys have.

For example; you guys didn't want the government involved in the auto industry despite the danger it was in. However the Obama stepped in and bailed them out, and today we have an auto industry thanks to his actions. Are conservatives happy about that? No, of course not. They are still upset that government got involved regardless of what the alternative might have been. When you listen to one explain their reasoning they seem to believe that even failure would have been better because it would have been "natural". How do you argue with someone who would rather fail on their own terms then to succeed on yours?

It is impossible for government to solve anything without getting involved, yet if they get involved conservatives will not be happy about it regardless of the outcome. In my view this is the dilemma that separates us, and I see no way around it.
Greyparrot
Posts: 14,264
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4/28/2012 9:36:58 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
This is what happens to industries that are insured against failure with government subsidies.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

A train wreck I hope no American would really want to watch.
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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4/28/2012 9:47:12 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/28/2012 9:36:58 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
This is what happens to industries that are insured against failure with government subsidies.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com...

A train wreck I hope no American would really want to watch.

I think you posted the wrong link. I am sure your intention was not to respond to a comment I made about the auto industry being alive in 2012 with an article about how it might not survive in 2008.
Ameriman
Posts: 622
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4/28/2012 9:49:22 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Double_R,

I think you make some interesting points. But, I'm not sure you understand where us conservatives are coming from.

We conservatives, too, consider ourselves problem solvers. The difference is that often times, at least in our view, excess government is the problem and not the solution (not meant to be a Reagan reference).

So, in many of the situations where progressives claim that the "free market failed" (like health care, the housing crisis, etc.), we see it as misguided (but sometimes well intentioned) government policy failing. If we are correct about the root causes, then we would be solving the problem by trying to get the government out of the way.

Of course, we could be wrong about all of this. And, the government could be the solution to fixing all of our societal ills. However, it is not correct to say that progressives are for solving problems and conservatives are not. In fact, we are all for solving problems. We just identify different problems with different causes and different solutions.

In my humble view, progressive policies are often times problem creators, not problem solvers.

As far as the auto bailout goes, I did and still do oppose it. It is simply impossible to judge in certainty what would have happened in the absence of the bailout. However, I do think it is fair to say that the only reason that the auto industry got bailed out was because it is a politically popular industry that is important in a number of swing states. Not because of economic efficiency.

Had we allowed them to fail, our economy as a whole would be better off. Don't forget, failure is necessary for progress. After all, how would the car industry ever have springed up if we had continuously subsidized carriages?
We spend too much our time measuring compassion for those in needs by measuring inputs. How much money are we spending? How many programs are we creating? But we are not focusing on outcomes. Are these programs working? Are people getting out of poverty?
-Paul Ryan
Contra
Posts: 3,941
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4/28/2012 11:38:56 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
So, in many of the situations where progressives claim that the "free market failed" (like health care, the housing crisis, etc.), we see it as misguided (but sometimes well intentioned) government policy failing. If we are correct about the root causes, then we would be solving the problem by trying to get the government out of the way.

We see it is a market failure, in which all of us collaborating together (business and government and the people) participate in Smart Government in which we work together to create the best prosperity. For example healthcare. We think that Single-Payer health care results as the best option for health care reform. All pay for medical care, and overall, the societal benefits are amazing.

In my humble view, progressive policies are often times problem creators, not problem solvers.

And we see the converse. However, on both sides there are pragmatists, who sometimes see a fault in their side. An example for me of Progressive ideology is trade. I think that free trade is fundamentally beneficial. Prices are lowered for all, and the slippery slope effect makes it that nearly everything non American has lower prices, because many things include foreign made parts. Quality of all goods increases. Americans can specialize in high-tech, modern goods, and we can control that market. However, I favor the government running job retraining programs to help the workers laid off by free trade agreements. I also favor environmental protections so that we do not let nature pay the penalty for progress.

Had we allowed them to fail, our economy as a whole would be better off.

Not meant as a political attack, but exactly how would this even close to be true? Unemployment (especially in the Midwest) would skyrocket.

After all, how would the car industry ever have springed up if we had continuously subsidized carriages?

That's something different. Your analogy compares a modern and nonmodern industry. In reality, both industries are modern. The application of your analogy would only be viable if the bailed out Big 3 were outdated, and the other foreign automakers had green cars and the domestic car companies did not.
"The solution [for Republicans] is to admit that Bush was a bad president, stop this racist homophobic stuff, stop trying to give most of the tax cuts to the rich, propose a real alternative to Obamacare that actually works, and propose smart free market solutions to our economic problems." - Distraff

"Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility." - Paul Ryan
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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4/30/2012 11:30:50 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/28/2012 9:49:22 PM, Ameriman wrote:
We conservatives, too, consider ourselves problem solvers. The difference is that often times, at least in our view, excess government is the problem and not the solution (not meant to be a Reagan reference).

So, in many of the situations where progressives claim that the "free market failed" (like health care, the housing crisis, etc.), we see it as misguided (but sometimes well intentioned) government policy failing. If we are correct about the root causes, then we would be solving the problem by trying to get the government out of the way.

As far as the auto bailout goes, ...

Had we allowed them to fail, our economy as a whole would be better off. Don't forget, failure is necessary for progress. After all, how would the car industry ever have springed up if we had continuously subsidized carriages?

I never claimed that progressives are problem solvers and conservatives are not, I just don't regard many conservative solutions as "real" but instead more like a means to satisfy their own values and principles which seem to be centered on hatred for government.

My comments about solutions were in regards to what happens when the free market fails. It's pretty tough to blame the failures of the free market on government policies. But according to conservatism (in my experience) the free market can never fail, because failure of the free market is really just success in disguise. Meanwhile success of government intervention is really just failure in disguise.