Thursday, September 13, 2012

Conservative Side of the Conversation

The conversation continues. My friend asked me to explain a little more about conservatism from my point of view. How do you think I did at answering her question?

“What are the guiding principles and applications conservatives use with regards to taxation, foreign policy, education, and representation at the Federal and State level? Please go beyond the typical phrases like "limited government." I get that sentiment...I'm interested in knowing what "limited" looks like to a Conservative, as an example. What do you support (compared to what you oppose)?”

To answer your earlier question- and keep in mind that conservative ideas vary from person to person just like liberal or progressives would, and many Republicans, especially old timer Washington types, are not conservative at all. I definitely refer to myself as a C and not an R, - but I will do my best.

Taxation-low taxes, fair taxes such as the flat tax are more desirable. A sales tax only would probably be the most fair of all but it would require such a high level of involvement and observation that most conservatives wouldn’t desire it. Personally I would like a flat tax with little or no gradations, just everyone paying the same percent, which is the fairest way to do it, even welfare recipients, because then they have skin in the game. We are nearing a point where only half of Americans pay taxes, and once we cross the line to more than half then they can vote for any increase they want and we become slaves. I do not know much about corporate tax, but I know that a flourishing economy helps towns and states, and I have observed in my lifetime how a state like California gets greedy and will overtax a business, which will drive the business away. States who understand this principle offer incentives to companies because they bring jobs, new homes, more goods and services and a thriving economy. I liken this to the story of the Goose that laid the Golden Egg. You can get a golden egg, in this case taxes and prosperity for your region, on a regular basis, or you can get greedy and cut it open to try and get more, and you will get nothing because the goose will die.

Foreign policy to most conservatives means peace through strength. We want to not start wars, but to defend ourselves and to deter war. In the global age we live in though, you can be threatened from the other side of the planet. Terrorist acts, which are acts of war, are taken against Americans wherever they may be, and we also have made a significant investment to protect our allies, and in some cases our national interest, the greatest being to protect fledgling democracies around the world. High on this list is Israel, a lone democracy and an ally (up until president Obama). The liberal tendency of appeasement to those who threaten us seems wishy-washy and na├»ve. It doesn’t work and only makes our enemies bolder.

Education-I think the teachers unions are the main cause of the poor quality of education. (and most conservatives are decidedly anti-union and pro merit). Good and outstanding teachers will not be afraid to stand on their own merit, but instead they are dragged down by the weight of bad teachers that can’t be fired. Also an exceptional 5th grade teacher, instead of being paid on his or her merit as a teacher, will have to move up to high school to get a significant raise, and maybe then on to the administrative side. Much of the technology in the school is wasted. A great teacher is worth all the ipads and smartboards in the state. Personally I think come raise time teachers should be stack ranked based on a combination of student scores, goals met, numbers of special needs students taught and feedback from the parents, The top ranking teachers getting the big bonus, and the bottom ones getting the boot. This may be extreme even for many conservatives. But the product would be a well educated student. And more new teachers coming into the workforce would get their chance. Oh, and I’d probably cut the dept. of Education altogether and put it at the state level.

I’m not entirely sure what you mean by ‘representation at the federal and state level’, other than that, in both cases I want a representative that will care more about the country at large than bringing home pork to their district.

I will add that conservatives favor close adherence to the Constitution and Bill of Rights and reject the liberal notion that it is a living document meant to be shaped to the needs of the times. It is a solid guide, inspired by God to provide a home of liberty where the gospel would be able to come forth.

Government is established to protect our rights, not to furnish us with our needs. That is each person’s job, in their own life and own family. Most conservatives would still agree that there should be some welfare system as a safety net. But government should not siphon funds from my family to pay for the livelihood of another family any more than someone should barge in my house at gunpoint and demand the contents of my wallet, or fridge, or medicine cabinet. They have no right and that power is not granted in the constitution. Conservatives do believe in giving to charity and according to surveys give a lot more to charity than liberal people. But they believe in doing it in private and not waiting for the camera crews and praise of the world. And to me it seems like liberals and progressives want to give freely to the poor- but not of their money but ours.

I suppose when it comes down to it the real question is power. Liberals want power over their fellow human beings to make them do what they want. Conservatives want to clear the way for people to live their own lives with as little hindrance from the government as possible.

1 comment:

  1. I would add to this list that we want a federal government that respects its constitutional bounds. There was a reason why the founders put the 10th amendment in there to start with; a reason why the list of powers to the executive and legislative branches is so explicitly spelled out in the articles of the constitution itself.
    With regard to social safety nets, education, health care, etc. - there should be 50 experiments going on the country right now. 50 opportunities to find what works for a given population and for other states to borrow and adapt based on that. We are a very large and very diverse nation. What works in Mississippi may not work at all in Washington.

    Another thing I'd say regarding corporate tax rates...
    The US has about the HIGHEST corporate tax rates in the world right now. Higher than Germany. Higher than Japan.
    Corporations don't "pay taxes" in the traditional sense as we would think about it. A tax is just another cost, like raw materials, wages, and utilities. It all gets passed on to the consumer of their products. How else could it work?

    Finally, trickle down economics. I think that most Conservatives would acknowledge that this is not a theory - rather it is the ONLY way an economy can actually function and grow. This is easier to see in a small economy than a large one, but if you look at Botswana or Rwanda right now, you see very forward looking economic policies that make it easier for the "few" at the top to expand and employ more workers. Those workers wages can then result in increased consumption, expanding the set of working people to those in stores, and wholesalers, and importers, etc, etc.
    There's really no other model that works.