Friday, January 29, 2010

The Republican Conservative Dichotomy

It has long been my joy to witness that pure dichotomy that is the Republican party and the Conservative movement. For those unfamiliar with the term, is refers to the splitting of a whole into two parts. In this case, I'm using it metaphorically in a mutually exclusive sense to refer to Republican Speech versus Republican actions. Two parts of the whole in which nothing can belong simultaneously to both parts. That is to say, their actions cannot match their words. In case you are wondering, this is not a good thing. Now, I'm sure this has not always been the case, but at least since Reagan, the Republicans and Conservatives have had a nasty problem combining the two parts of Conservative politics, what they say, and what they do. We should examine my claim critically, because it is revealing.

Fiscal Conservatism. This is one of my favorites because it has long been held that the Republican party and Conservatives in general are the ones that are fiscally conservative. But what is fiscal conservatism? Fiscal conservatism generally encompasses three major talking points. Lower government spending, decrease and eliminate deficit spending, and lower the national debt. Now, in keeping with that principle, we should see all three of these principles working over time in the last thirty years since we have had three republicans presidents and a republican majority for most of that time. They should have made changes that permanently decreased all three. So how did they do?

Not to well I'm afraid.

See, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush all ran budget deficits the entire time they were in office. All three are Republicans who ran on and got elected on Conservative principles and values, including fiscal conservatism. Bill Clinton was a democrat and he managed to work from a deficit to a surplus. And before you say it, no, he didn't take from Social Security or anything else. How did he do it? Well, its easy really. Fiscal Conservatism, outside of the political realm, means making sound financial decisions. In other words, the way to reduce your deficit is to take in more than you spend. What these three Republican conservative presidents didn't understand, and what many conservatives don't understand still, is that you cannot lower taxes without increasing the deficit without drastic spending cuts. And they never made drastic spending cuts. So what did they have to spend money on that was so important that they needed to sacrifice the deficit of this nation? They clearly didn't decrease government spending. And, if you look at the history of the national debt as a percentage of the GDP (and thats really what matters) we can see that it went down every year after the Great Depression until Ronald Reagan. It then went up every year until the changes enacted by Bill Clinton, and then it started going down. When George W. Bush took office, it started going up again.

So again we see that conservative Republicans are clearly NOT fiscally conservative in any sense of the word. They don't reduce spending, they have increased deficit spending more than democrats/liberals, and have increased the national debt more than democrats/liberals. So how is it that they can claim the title of the fiscally conservative party? It simply isn't true. They say one thing, but their actions are those of someone who spend more, illogically cuts taxes at the same time causing sky rocketing deficits, and politicians who increase the debt. So next time you vote, do yourself and everyone else justice and don't vote for a party that claims fiscal conservatism and responsibility when they clearly are not.

Capitalism. This one should be easy. Be all for free market and make only laws which protect that free market from becoming a corporatist fascist entity that runs the country. If you were a dyed in the wool capitalist, you would make laws and tax laws designed to better assist the small business owner and entrepreneur and NOT the big corporations. You would make laws and enforce laws that make sure that Corporations cannot run rough shod over small business and the American consumer by cornering markets and unethical business practices. So, how do they do?

Horribly I'm afraid. Never was this more evident when the Graham-Leach-Bliley act was passed in 2000. This act removed the restrictions that prevented investment banks and regular banks from intertwining. Why? Because if the stock market crashed, like during the great depression, the congress and the country didn't want it to be able to take down the entire financial system, like it did recently. Their foolishness nearly caused another great depression when the stock market crashed in 2008. Very little is more dangerous to capitalism than a full blown financial collapse. But this isn't the only one.

As any good, well informed, well read capitalist would know, monopoly is the enemy of capitalism. It is the enemy of competition! Adam Smith, author of "The Wealth of Nations" (founding principles of capitalism no less!) had this to say about monopolies. a great enemy to good management. The Wealth of Nations, Book 1 Chapter 11 Part 1

The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly under stocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price. The Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 6

So, what company does this remind us of? Well, lots of them. For starters, Wal-Mart. They buy products for pennies on the dollar overseas, under stock popular items then sell them for a thousand percent profit all the while still selling them less than everyone else based on where they buy them. They make so much money they can buy more at one time as well. It is market abuse and they are bad for market competition with their deliberate supply manipulation. But they aren't the only ones and they certainly aren't the Republicans or Conservatives fault. Even though they have been in power most of the last thirty years and could have done something about it, they cannot be directly blamed. But what about Health Care? Costs are out of control, and in most states, one company controls 80-90% of market in that state. This is a true monopoly. So why haven't they been taken to court and broken up? Well, its a long story that I will try to shorten. In 1945, the Supreme Court ruled that insurance was indeed commerce and could be regulated by the Federal Government. So the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 was passed give that power to the states, which almost never enforce monopoly laws due to the cost of such a battle. It effectively made the insurance companies regulation free unless there is a law written specifically towards them.

Well, it wasn't until recently that this became a problem. Health care insurance companies have become so big that they simply do what they want, including deny coverage after years of paid dues and coverage, or deny payment when its due, or announce that they will raise prices if certain laws are passed. So, being that this is anti-competitive you would think Republicans and Conservatives would be lining up to get this changed right? Well, no. They aren't. In fact, numerous times during the last 30 years, attempts to repeal this have been attempted by democrats, only to find that the Republicans majority simply ignores it and it never makes it out of committee. Or they filibuster its passage and the bill gets set aside. Even when there was a bi-partisan bill with Trent Lott and Patrick Leheay, it still couldn't pass the Republican majority congress. And now, currently, Patrick Leahey is again trying to get it repealed and what is the response? Silence. Nothing at all. And when asked about it, the only thing I ever hear is about not wanting to harm business. And that encompasses the total of their problem with capitalism. When all you care about is the Corporations, laws you make cannot make capitalism thrive. Capitalism requires a strong middle class and the reality that you can truly come from nothing to be rich. The Republicans and Conservatives are clearly not on the side of that little man trying to come up in the world. They constantly side with big Corporations. Even now, the SCOTUS rules in a fashion that the conservatives like, in the Citizens United case. It was a conservative "watch dog" group that was run by regular citizens but funded by massive corporations who put out the movie Hillary during a campaign season. Republicans have backed this group the entire way and still do. They are in essence backing the corporations ability to dump millions into campaigns. This is not capitalism, it is corporate fascism.

Family Values and small government. This one is a problem. Why? Because in supporting "family values" you are necessarily stating that you are the purveyor of all knowledge of what is a family value. This arrogance has led them to make some hideously poor choices and decisions. From blocking gay marriage (based on another conservative platform of religion) to violating their own views of small government by trying to stop a family member from pulling the plug on their own comatose wife! Republicans and conservatives have long held the ridiculous dichotomy of SAYING they want smaller government, while simultaneously advocating for government intervention into the every day morality of Americans. Gay marriage and abortion are two of the biggest, but not the only ones. Gays in the military, reducing the rights of children, these are things that clearly should not be on their agenda, but are. They want to tell you who can and can't get married. They want to tell you what medical procedure you can and can't have. They want to dictate who can die for this country based on sexuality. They want to make sure parents have maximum control over their children by shooting down child rights laws. They want all sex education to be abstinence only, with no disease education or real sex ed involved at all, and they fund it fully! All the while the conservatives and republicans of this movement are usually having affairs (like Newt Gingrich) or have gay sex with meth head, prostitutes in airports, and congressional pages (Teg Haggard and several senators). These are the keepers of family values? No!

American Exceptionalism. Well, this is less a dichotomy than a simple delusion. The idea that America is simply better than everyone else is just arrogant and ignorant. Any fool can look up the states and see we aren't even in the top ten in health care. We aren't the top ten in quality of life globally. And quality if life rankings for just the America's? Nope, not a single US city in the top five. In fact, for cities globally, the highest ranked US city in the world is Honolulu, at number 28. That’s pretty sad. We aren't the best country in the world. Our citizens aren't the happiest, the healthiest, live the highest quality, or enjoy their lives the most. The arrogance of conservatives and republicans has led to ignorance and a refusal to make changes to better American. It is, in fact, dragging us down every year they are in power, even for a moment!

I have simply picked a few key conservative republican platform generalities to show that what REAL conservative Americans vote for, is not happening in the republican party or the conservative movement. Now, I know the response to this already. Dems are the same way. Well, hold on there. Fiscal liberalism says you spend more encourage growth, then when growth occurs, you raise taxes to cover your deficit and recover the debt. Is that not what the democrat party has done and does? Isn't tax and spend what they are accused of? So yes, they do what they say financially. Dems have led the way and will finally lead the way to make insurance companies, and hopefully banks, accountable and keep them regulated. Good for capitalism, unlike what the conservatives do. Family values? Well, pushing for children’s rights, equal rights for all including gays, seems like a great value to have to me. And most do not feel that America is better than the world, but want to improve America via the entity that is best equipped to do that, the government.

So no, its not the same for dems. That dichotomy simply doesn't exist within the democrat party or liberal movement. It doesn't. Now, I'm willing to discuss anything, but if you come to the table with that weak argument, you better have some examples that back it up.

The simply truth is this. If you are really a fiscal conservative, you can't vote republican. In fact, you should be voting democrat. Why? Because democrats have lowered the debt and decreased and eliminated the deficit when republicans have only raised both. The democratic party is more fiscally conservative than the conservative party. If you want a party that consistently says one thing but its actions clearly do something different, all the while being told that this is conservatism, then vote for the republicans. Go ahead. We all know that what conservatives and republicans really want is to just keep believing they are right, despite the evidence.