When I was a kid I have this memory of being in a car with a friend’s grandparents. I remember the conversation between the husband and wife dipped into politics and I was asked how I felt about it. Without thinking, “I’m a Republican,” I stated. To this I received a look of what could only be described as “The Evil Eye” from the husband. He then proceeded to ask me why I would be a Republican, and how horrible the Republicans were, and so on and so forth. What the hell did I know? I was a kid. All the Republicans I heard about in history were great men, not the kind of men this guy was talking about.
The Republican Party I read about was the party of Lincoln, Grant, and Eisenhower. This guy kept telling me how Reagan and Bush (Sr.) had ruined everything. As I’ve gotten older, and wiser, I have learned just how right that man was, and how off the modern Republican Party is today, from what it used to be. In this article I will explore the conservative movement, how it has affected modern politics, but shows how it’s really the same old shit, and how it has always been on the wrong side of history. I will examine the history of conservatism and liberalism, as well as show why that being conservative is tantamount to being all the things that are wrong and always have been for society.
A little History Lesson
Most people, who hear the terms conservative or liberal, have no real idea what they actually mean. When I speak to people on this subject, I am most often told that the conservative is someone who is religious, and the liberal is someone who is not. So let’s first put that notion to rest by saying that conservatism has only as much to do with religion as religion has to do with old ideas. This also does not mean that liberals cannot be religious in nature, only that their views are progressive.
So first, the term conservatism refers to a political or ideological view that holds steadfast to what would be considered “the old ways” by preserving the status quo, and thereby opposing change. Second, the term liberalism refers to a political or ideological view that pushes social progress, and prefers changing the status quo to improve social change.
So there you have it, conservatives are those who choose to stick to the old way of doing things, and liberals are those who prefer to make changes that benefit everyone. How this gets lumped into religion is easy to understand. Religion of course isn’t progressive by its nature, its orthodox in its views, and as such is contrary to everything a liberal would believe. Does this mean that liberals cannot be religious? No, I certainly don’t believe this to be true. However, any Catholic, for example, who has premarital sex, believes in a woman’s right to choose, and the use of birth control, certainly would not consider themselves to be orthodox in their beliefs, thus a liberal they would be.
Let me qualify what I have said a little more to state that although it’s easily possible for the religious to share conservative or liberal ideologies, it most certainly isn’t possible for the atheist, or the agnostic. I am sure to get hate mail, but let me explain. By its very nature, religion is “the old ways.” Its existence is a thing of the past, it holds true to old doctrine that even today, in a fairly modern and liberal society pushes an agenda that is conservative. For example, you don’t hear the Pope calling for an end to the anti-abortion movement, or allowing women in the priesthood. The Catholic Church is stuck in the past; holding on to a doctrine that is archaic by today’s standard, fearful of what social change may bring to the church.
This is by its definition the conservative way, and so when I say that atheists and agnostics cannot be conservative, by their nature, questioning what is past, what is old, and what is held as orthodox belief, makes them liberal by default. One cannot disarm themselves of a belief in the old world, and remain part of it somehow. When the atheist or agnostic questions the nature of faith, they are questioning a doctrine that has existed for thousands of years, and so their view is one of a liberal, progressive nature.
Conservatives are no stranger to fear, the nature of their ideology is built on it. Conservatives fear change, which is why they are always on the wrong side of history. You cannot be a conservative, and be right, it is a rigid contradiction. Bad ideas are born out of fear, from ignorance, and refusal to learn. The liberal views knowledge as progress, and so does not fear the change, even if it’s wrong. I would never claim that the liberal is always right, only that the conservative is always wrong. You cannot live in fear of the unknown, which is how the conservative lives. The unknown derives itself from a lack of knowledge or knowing, so to be conservative is to not only invite ignorance, but to openly want and live by it, thus giving it authority over you.
Conservatism of course can be traced well back farther than liberalism. The nature of man would suggest that it would have been born into a world having the view of a conservative, one who would fear the unknown, and take great care with his environment. The church of course would also fit well into this, exploiting man’s nature of fear, teaching him to fear that which he cannot see, but told God sees all. For thousands of years, this would be how it would remain.
It wouldn’t be until around the 16th century when doctors would begin to wonder how the body worked, that the idea of liberalism would spark in the minds of some. Until this point, doctors were not medical doctors as much as witch doctors relying on spells and incantations to heal the mind and body. It was common belief that someone who suffered did so by God’s hand, or the Devil’s, and if prayer did not heal them, nothing could. However, science pushed forward, as doctors began to wonder how the body worked performing some of the first autopsies in history. Of course, conservatives believed this was not the purview of man, that God would heal those who deserved or needed it, and let die others who he deemed should.
As disease ran rampant through these times, conservatives would call for prayer, and sight the death of those who suffered these diseases, the sinful, cohorts of the Devil. Over the centuries the church maintained the opinion that the Earth was the center of the Universe, and that the Sun revolved around it. However, during the 16th and 17th centuries as telescopes were developed allowing astronomers like Galileo to see things they had never seen before, evidence began to build showing this claim was not true. Again Conservatives feared Galileo’s findings, called him a heretic, and declared war on science.
Galileo and others like him were the liberals of their day, because it would have been easy for Galileo to look through his telescope and tell the world the Church was right, but he was not interested in holding on to orthodox beliefs. Galileo’s pursuit of scientific knowledge would lead the conservatives of that time to put him on trial for heresy, and force him to recant his findings.
The Birth of Liberalism
The 17th and 18th centuries are often referred to as the Age of Reason, or Age of Enlightenment. It was a time in history that gave birth to some of the most influential political, philosophical, and intellectual thinkers of their time. One of those men was named John Locke. Locke was born into a house of Puritans, having a religious upbringing and holding steadfast to his religious beliefs. As a young man Locke attended Oxford, and studied medicine. By 1658 he had been awarded bachelors and master’s degrees, and a bachelor of medicine by 1674. Locke would move to London to pursue his medical career in 1667 by becoming a personal physician.
It was at this time, he began his studies in philosophy that led first to his published work An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In this essay, Locke postulates that the mind is Tabula Rasa (Blank Slate) at birth, something that contradicts the conservative notion of innate memory, a principle which the church held on to in which people are born with knowledge of things. Locke believed this to be a fallacy, instead postulating that humans build memories and experiences through something he called sense perception.
During this time the church’s influence over the English Monarchy was absolute, and injustice and tyranny were just a way of life. Locke would take a trip to France but return by 1679. It was during this time he would write much of his essay The Two Treatises of Government, an essay in which Locke defines the roles of government, and the law of man, something he calls Natural Law.
As Locke began to get more involved in the political movement, it would be at this time the English King would grant the church permission to find collaborators and dissenters of the throne. Believing Locke to be involved in an assassination plot against King Charles II, the church came looking for Locke, and Locke would flee to the Netherlands, until 1688, the time of the Glorious Revolution.
It was at this time, that Locke would release his full essay Two Treatises. Locke’s second treatise of government would help to fuel the overthrow of King James II. In Locke’s first treatise, Locke attempts to refute the notion of Patriarcha, which Robert Filmer had written about in 1680, in which he compared the role of kings to the roles of fathers. In his book he gave the right of the governed to be held under the power of the king, by virtue of the notion that kings were selected by God as the ruler of man. In Filmer’s view, a King could be compared to the Heavenly father, as God was father to all in Heaven; the King was father to all he ruled over on Earth.
Locke brilliantly disassembled this argument piece by piece, and although it’s considered a masterpiece as part of the two treatises, it’s often referred to as a period piece because it dealt specifically to the time prior to its writing, and dealing specifically with that period. The second treatise however was hailed as a revolutionary piece of modern philosophy that dealt with how to govern a civilized society based on natural law and contracts. To say this was progressive is an understatement, because his view flies in the face of the monarchy, church rule, and all governments at that time.
Today Two Treatises can be considered the basis for all modern government, liberty and law. John Locke is often referred to as the Father of Liberalism, and Thomas Jefferson considered him to be one of the most important men to ever live, along with Francis Bacon and Sir Isaac Newton. Without the writings of John Locke, it is unlikely that the founding fathers would have declared independence from England, or used Locke’s own words to do so. Much of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution feature language that can be directly derived from the Two Treatises and other works by John Locke.
It was during the height of the enlightenment, the 18th century that a movement, partly started by the words of John Locke, would form to change criminal law. Intellectuals would argue that people would be better served by speedy and public trials, something that contradicted the old way of doing things. In those days trials would be held behind closed doors, few witnesses would be called, if any at all, and the punishments if found guilty would be harsh. Most often the penalty for any crime would result in death, or severe mutilation. For example, a person convicted of stealing food could find themselves sentenced to a life without their hands. Dissent for example was a crime worthy of death, and most often the church would exact punishment.
The public demand for this would spill over into the Americas, where a group of revolutionaries demanding rights would declare their independence from England. Sparked almost entirely by the words of Locke, Jefferson penned the declaration as homage to the ideological beliefs Locke had on the inalienable rights of the person. Locke believed that each one of us is born with an inalienable right to life, liberty, and property. That these rights are not given to us by government, and as such no government can take them away, without due process and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Conservatives at the time believed that no change was necessary in the laws because what had served the church for so long could continue to do so. Conservatives, who were clearly devout, could not separate the powers of church and state. They believed that Kings were given rule over them by God himself, something Filmer had written about in Patriarcha years earlier. It would have been heresy to question such a thing, so in this way, fear would continue to plague the conservative as it does even today.
They argued that rebelling against King George III would have dire consequences for the colonies that such action would result in a descending tailspin of discord and disorder amongst the colonists. They argued that the views held by Edmund Burke were the only truth. Edmund Burke held that the poor, could only survive if they were ruled by a small minority of wealthy aristocrats, a sentiment echoed by the ruling class, as ordained by the church. Edmund Burke has long since been considered the father of conservatism.
Conservatives would argue that obedience on Earth would be repaid in full, in Heaven, but only for those who opposed this revolution. Of course, conservatives who used Burke’s words failed to seek his council on the matter, for even he supported the American Revolution, though not for the same reason as the colonies. Burke believed that the King did not necessarily need to tax the colonies to rule over them; instead he believed they would only need to tariff the trade between the two nations. Burke believed in a peaceful solution over civil war, and warned England not to fight this war in the Americas.
Part of the argument that Burke made was not that tax wasn’t applicable, only that if the colonies felt unrepresented, then burden their trade, and leave the colonists themselves alone. He also believed that many of the claims of tyranny against the colonies were valid, and since the petitions for grievances were left unanswered, the colonists were left with no other means of rebellion. In his eyes, had the King gave into the demands, which seemed fair, the revolution would have not been necessary, and would have ended as quickly as it began.
There has been no greater miscarriage of justice throughout human history than the ability for one person to enslave another. It is a demeaning circumstance of force that would allow one person to feel powerful, all the while having another feel helpless. And it is one of the only things throughout the world, everyone can agree on…now. In 1948, the UN Article 4 of the Declaration of Human Rights bans slavery globally, once and for all making its practice illegal, and punishable as a crime against humanity. But it wasn’t always like this.
The use of slave labor predates the written word, in fact it is known that entire civilizations were built upon the work only slavery could provide. During the time following the American Revolution, most of the civil societies throughout the world would ban the use of slave labor. The British Empire, for example would abolish the practice in 1833, and become a major opponent of the slave trade, fiercely opposing it on the high seas, blockading ships, arresting crew, and freeing slaves. At the time, the American South was a major agricultural exporter both foreign and domestic. In contrast the North was more heavily industrialized.
When Congress began passing tariff legislation that favored the more industrialized North, the agricultural exports of the South would have stopped, had it not been for the use of slave labor. The Northern abolitionists continued to argue in favor of further tariffs to penalize the South, whose gains were literally made on the backs of others. Conservatives were of course in favor of the continued use of slave labor as a means of maintaining their way of life. The conservative argument relied on the constitution to bolster their view sighting that freeing the slaves, was an affront to liberty. As citizens they were legally entitled to property, their God given right, which did not apply to the Negro, since they were not considered a full person.
They also argued that since the bible condoned slavery, it was their God given right to own them. That in the context of the bible, there were always slaves that some were meant to be rulers and others meant to be slaves, an early argument for intelligent design.
By the Early 19th century the worldview on women’s rights began to change. Women began to demand the right to vote, work and own property. Many Liberals at the time supported these ideas, but Conservatives feared the change and sighted passages from the bible as proof of God’s intent, and women’s subservience to men. The arguments of the time centered on many passages found in the bible that told of women being the property of men, subservient to their husbands, and the natural caregivers to be at home. Conservatives lived in the fear that Women in the workforce could change how even men would be employed.
Surely, if women demanded to work, they would also demand equal pay? And if women had the right to vote, they would be allowed to make decisions over public policy most conservatives believed only men should be making, after all, as the patriarch they were the ultimate decision-makers, in everything, including policy over women’s interests.
What would be next? Would a woman demand the right to choose what she could do with her own body?
By the late 20th century most of the modern world recognized a women’s right to vote, and make her own decisions. In 1979, The UN declared explicitly that women’s suffrage was a right in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Jim Crow and Civil Rights
During the period from 1876 to 1965, southern states formerly part of the confederacy adopted a set of policies referred to as the “Jim Crow” laws. These policies were meant to substantiate the mentality flowing through the minds of southerners that blacks were “separate but equal.” Laws segregating schools would remain in effect until the Supreme Court overturned them in 1954. The fight to desegregate all services would continue. April 4th 1968, one day after giving his most famous speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Only one week later, Congress would pass the Civil Rights Act of 1968; effectively ending the practice of segregation in the United States. Following this, challenges to the Supreme Court would fail, as the Supreme Court rules segregation to be unconstitutional.
Prior to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, he asked that it was finally time for America to live up to its founding principles, equality, liberty, and justice for all. Conservatives regarded King as misinformed, ignorant, and accused him of distorting the constitution which left the rights of states to decide on matters of liberty. Their argument was not that the constitution did not require equality, only that it left such things as state matters. They continued to argue that beyond the legal rights of Americans, the bible, God’s law spoke of white supremacy, which condoned the rights of whites over blacks as a matter of divine law.
Referred to as the Curse of Ham, conservatives argued that according to the bible when Ham, son of Noah dishonors his father, Noah curses him. He states that the descendants of his son Canaan will be "servants of servants." Of Ham's four sons, Canaan fathered the Canaanites, while Mizraim fathered the Egyptians, Cush the Cushites, and Phut the Libyans. During the middle Ages, this was interpreted to define Ham as the ancestor of all Africans. Unfortunately, Conservatives tend to talk about the bible, and not actually read it.
Had they researched this argument further, and actually read their bibles, instead of endlessly bloviating, they’d have realized the Bible restricts the curse to the offspring of Ham's son Canaan, who occupied the Levant, not to his other sons who are supposed to have populated Africa. Not only does this invalidate their argument for white supremacy, but it helps to invalidate any earlier justifications used for biblical slavery over Africans in general, something once used by the Spanish to justify their slave trade through Africa.
Furthermore, conservatives who refuted federal supremacy in favor of states’ rights were once again on the wrong side, and truly ignorant of the constitution for which they were basing their arguments. If they actually read the literature for which they quoted openly, they would know its actual content, and know Article XI, clause two states with certainty that the laws of the federal government supersede any laws at the state level. And I quote:
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
Or had they even stopped to read Amendment XIV, clause one, which reads:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
These two clauses of the US Constitution completely disassemble the argument for slavery, segregation, or any other nonsensical bigoted statement of inequality. It does not matter what people believe in this case, all that matters is what is law. First, the law clearly states in Amendment One: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion… which means that The United States can never be a religion-based nation, thus biblical, or the aforementioned divine law does not apply. Second, pursuant to the Thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery as law, blacks are considered citizens of the United States thus; the fourteenth amendment makes them equal under the law.
It seems so simple to comprehend, yet it took almost a hundred years to recognize the language of the law? Now the conservatives would like to believe that the constitution is on their side, as the founding fathers would be, and once again they would be wrong. Evident in the words of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are not the ideals of a conservative, but rather the words of a liberal, John Locke. In fact, Jefferson was not the only founder who subscribed to Lockean philosophy, as many of the founders quoted frequently from Two Treatises.
The founders were not interested in the status quo, they were interested in revolution. They did not wish to preserve the divine right of kings, but to establish and secure the inalienable rights of natural law. These were not conservative men; they were liberal in every sense of the word.
An interesting argument made by conservatives to bolster their claims is one in which they show that republicanism is synonymous with conservatism. It should be noted that the republican party did not exist during the founding of the United States, that the original major part for which both major parties now owe their existence was once called the “Democratic-Republican” party, which most of the founders were members of. When the party split, the first Democrat to win the presidency, was Andrew Jackson, however the Republicans would have to wait another 24 years for Lincoln to take office.
Although conservatives would like to take ownership of Lincoln under some guise of retroactive ideologue, they remain ignorant of historical events as they always do when it suits them to do so. After the split of Democratic - Republican Party, it was Democrats, not the Republicans who most resembled modern conservatives. This remained true through much of America all the way up through the 1960’s. It was southern democrats who argued against abolishing slavery, and the civil rights movement. Lincoln in no way could even remotely be considered a conservative; his values favored those of the liberal. Freeing the slaves, was not a conservative idea, it was a liberal one.
In the 1860’s when the Republican Party began to gain a foothold, it was built entirely on the radical left-wing liberal ideas, not the right-wing of the conservative movement. As proof, let’s look at their platform which calls for the abolition of slavery, protective tariffs, and progressive taxation. It also calls for the institution of liberal wages. Lincoln himself requested and got the nation’s first progressive income tax, the Revenue Act of 1862. This act repealed the flat tax rate to pay for the ongoing Civil War, and enacted a 3% tax hike for people making between $600 and $10,000 annually, and a 5% increase for those making over $10,000.
So Lincoln, a favorite president to mention by every moronic Republican today, would be appalled by the Republican Congress of today who grants tax breaks and loop holes to the rich, which results in wealthier individuals paying a percentage of fewer taxes than most people at the poverty line.
As if by some calling, like the conservatives who argued against the civil rights movement, again they stand against equality, this time on the question of marriage, and how it applies to same-sex couples. And much like the striking similarities in ignorant conservative arguments, so too are the similar arguments in opposition, to be made to dismantle them. Again the aforementioned Article XI, clause two, and Amendment XIV, clause one of the United States Constitution both apply here, and require no magical interpretation. The law is clear, No state can pass law that supersedes existing federal law, and all citizens must be granted equal protection under the law.
This can be taken in only one way: If you grant marriage to heterosexual couples, you must grant it to homosexual couples, so says the Federal Constitution, for which no state has the right to abridge, for it is the law of the land. Many states however, ignore the constitution frequently, and apply state laws which violate it. In several states laws have been passed that prevent same-sex couples from getting married. This has already been challenged, and has agreed to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. Putting aside issues of party, or ideology for a moment, the Supreme Court has really no choice here but to rule in favor of same-sex marriage, if they follow the law. To dissent would be a miscarriage of justice not seen since Jim Crow was enacted in the first place.
Maybe no issue we have left as a society to deal with is more important than this one that it specifically deals with liberty and its decision could have devastating consequences for a class of people whose only crime is wanting to love and be loved in return, just as we all do. Of course, there is no better time to bring this issue before the courts than now, because never before has there been so much support for marriage equality than exists now.
With the election of the first black president came an invigoration in liberals, which continued with his re-election. His presidency has not only seen the end of Don’t ask, Don’t Tell as a military policy, but a sweeping change in the hearts and minds of the public toward homosexuals. For the first time in history, President Barrack Obama goes on national television and states he is in favor of marriage equality. As more people come out of the closet, and long-held beliefs are shattered by the reality of a friend or family member being a homosexual, views on the issue of equality has changed in the public mindset.
The United States of America 2013 is a center-left nation for the first time in a while, even when it comes to other issues like gun control, abortion, and taxes.
Recently I have written several articles on gun control and the second amendment, so I’d rather you read the articles, The Right of The People To Not Be Shot: An Examination of The 2nd Amendment, What Would Jesus Say...To The NRA, (Guns don’t kill people…) But Without Them, You Look Pretty Silly Yelling Bang! than repeat myself at great length on the issue. Instead I will just try to reiterate some points I have previously made, when referring to them.
As I’ve said the country today is much different than it has been in a long time, leaning toward a more center-left ideology, because of this even gun owners for the first time are in support of a more liberal agenda with respect to gun control. A recent gallop poll showed a majority of Americans support tougher laws than ever before.
91% of Americans are in favor of criminal background checks
67% of Americans are in favor of banning armor piercing rounds
60% of Americans are in favor of banning assault weapons
54% of Americans are in favor of limiting magazine clips
In fact in all categories asked, the majority supported all of the president’s proposals on gun control. So will it happen? Not likely, as long as the Republicans who are bought and paid for by the gun lobby, are in control of the House of Representatives, and as long as that small minority of conservatives who value metal objects over the lives of children, continue to poison common sense.
Although I often hear cries from both sides telling me this isn’t an issue of ideology, rather of an issue of party, to that I say hogwash. When someone tells me they are a liberal who supports the second amendment, I tell them they may be liberal minded on other things, but on this one, they are a conservative, they get fumed. But it’s the absolute truth. You cannot be for maintaining archaic law, when the majority of people are pushing progression. You cannot argue being liberally minded and suggest that gun control is unnecessary.
For one, it’s proven to have an effect on the reduction in violence caused by guns. There is a direct correlation between gun violence, and the availability of said guns. This by its nature is progressive, since it’s a progressive reduction of guns, something that has only increased over time. Two, civil action or criminal action by its nature is progressive. If you choose to be civil minded, its liberal in nature. Also liberals tend to be pacifists or at least unwilling to harm life unless absolutely necessary. This usually shows easily in the divide of red to blue states, where red states are more frequently states with a higher population of hunters, and this is also correlative of states with a high population of guns per person.
Gun control plain and simple is about gun safety, measures that will help to reduce gun violence. You can either support the idea of making firearm safety important, or leave it, ignore it, or reduce, all of which retain the status quo, that doing nothing is preferable to change. And there is no way you can argue in favor of being both liberal, and retaining the status quo.
Congress, the NRA, conservative America, they all want things to remain the same, but this is a different America, a different world, and the majority has moved on this issue. So either they will have to change, or again be on the wrong side of history once again. Come 2014, those in Congress who refuse to take action on this issue, or continue to act the demagogue will find his or her seat taken by someone else.
I encourage everyone to read my article: The Hypocrisy of Religion. In it, I detail my problem with conservatives who call themselves pro-life, but fail to see the ignorance in such a statement as it in no way aligns with any real notion of being a proponent of life. Those who choose to label themselves as pro-life when that life consists of a zygote, but could care less when it actually exists outside the womb, deserve to be smacked repeatedly in the head with that bible they put so much stock into.
Once again, ignorance prevails, and the conservative who quotes bible verses fails to even understand a basic tenet of their own faith, that Jesus Christ, the man on which their entire religion is based was the biggest liberal when I’m sure no one would have been a liberal. He advocated helping the poor, healing the sick, sharing with everyone, pacifism, tolerance, the destruction of greed. Not only was Jesus Christ a liberal, he was a socialist, which is also a bad word amongst the conservatives, even if they are too ignorant to know why.
The Catholic Church which would be considered a pillar of conservatism has long since a base of slipping orthodox followers, specifically because many no longer believe that premarital sex is sinful, or that contraception and abortion are murder. This in and of itself shows that people are more liberally minded than they have ever been on this issue. Which again shows that on issues of common sense, conservatives are once again behind the eight ball, and doomed to be on the wrong side again.
Austerity is one of those issues that should scare anyone in a country that considers itself a modern social and economic empire. When a country chooses to go the route of austerity, they are doomed for failure. It is a process that by its very nature cannot work. Europe is currently in the process of these kinds of cuts to services, and soon the United States may face a similar fate, though it is always unnecessary. You may have all heard about the looming Sequester that approaches in Washington, but don’t be fooled by the language, its austerity and it will destroy the economy.
In the past few days as I have chatted with people on this issue I’ve discovered most people don’t even understand what Austerity is, and that might be part of the problem with why Congress seems to have free range to wreck our economy whenever they are feeling whimsical. Economic Austerity is best described by a reduction in services as opposed to an increase in revenue, to balance a budget.
So when a republican goes on television and mentions the republican plan to save the day by reducing things like social security benefits, or Medicare, or Medicaid, but won’t even talk about increasing taxes, that is austerity in principle. By its nature austerity does not and cannot work because it only helps the wealthy, and harms the poor. The wealthy do not typically take advantage of government services, so if they are cut, they are unaffected by it. However, the consequences for the middle class, and poorest Americans of an austerity cut, would be devastating because most low and middle class Americans use these programs just to get by.
When I talk about Austerity and explain it, I say it’s so simple that even an eight year old understands it’s the wrong solution. I make an analogy that goes a little like this:
An eight year old wants to open a lemonade stand, so he gathers all the things you need to make it happen. And most importantly he needs a good recipe for lemonade, which is basically lemons, sugar, and ice added to water. So the eight year old opens his lemonade stand, charging $1 per cup. The lemonade is perfect and his cost is low, allowing him to make a good profit. The next day he returns to the market to get supplies but suddenly he realizes the price of lemons and the price of sugar have gone up. Now this child can either use less sugar and less lemons, and charge the same amount per cup, resulting in terrible tasting lemonade—or he can make it the same way, making less profit—or he can make it the same way, and just charge more per cup, resulting in the same amount of profit.
In either of the latter two choices, the result will remain the same, good lemonade, either by slowing growth, or by increasing revenue. The economy is the same way. If you reduce the services you offer, i.e., lemons and sugar per cup, you get a bad economy, and bad lemonade. Austerity doesn’t solve anything because you can’t sell bad lemonade to people. It may sell at first, but fewer and fewer customers will buy it going forward until eventually you fail.
If you take the route of slowing growth, this can be achieved easily not by increasing revenue in taxes, or by cutting need services, but by removing the unnecessary waste. In governments there are plenty of programs that are funded that are unnecessary to stabilize the economy or unnecessary because they don’t serve to improve the lives of citizens. For example, over-funding a budget like defense, by giving it more than it needs, or funding a government study on golf? Think I’m kidding?
If you choose to increase revenue, you won’t increase profit, but you won’t slow your growth either. In this case, an economy that uses a progressive tax is way more effective and stable than one that uses a flat tax, or allows loopholes that give some people the ability to escape their tax burden. People who oppose a progressive tax increase see it as a punishment, complaining they are being punished for being more successful, instead of seeing it as a gift they can give to others. And I don’t mean a handout, little cry-babies.
An economy can only be stimulated by spending. There is absolutely no other way to do it. When people spend money, that money goes into business, those businesses pay people, who spend money and the cycle continues. But wealthy people do not spend money, they hoard it. So every dollar that goes into the pocket of a wealthy person is a dollar that harms the economy. Yes I’ll say it; wealthy people are harmful to the economy, because it’s true. In general wealthy people spend less, and keep more. It’s not that they need less money to live on, in most cases they need more, because they spend more on the things they need to live.
However as a percentage of their income, they put less back into the economy than say someone who lives paycheck to paycheck. This is because the people who make the least must use more of their paycheck in order to just get by, leaving no room to save. This makes it difficult for them to get by as services increase in price, but wages do not. All the while as they spend all the money they have, they continue to boost the economy, but the wealthy sit on most of their money, and so any money lost in this way, is gone, and has as a whole harmed the economy.
So when a wealthy person is charged a progressive tax that is congruent with their income, more money goes back into the economy, more is available for services that help those who need it, and wages can be increased, this results in a stronger economy. And the wealthy person has not suffered at all, they are still wealthy, with just a fraction less income, which is distributed back into the economy.
It should be pretty clear, the government doesn’t hoard money, if they did we wouldn’t have a deficit, only rich people hoard money. So each dollar that is returned to the government through taxes goes back into stimulating the economy in some way. There should never be a need for a tax cut in a well-oiled and fair economy where everyone is paying a fair tax, being paid a fair wage, and the government is offering necessary services. This is because the whole does much better when its parts are also doing better. If a government has a surplus, this does not mean it should go back to the people in the form of a tax cut, it just means there is an opportunity to increase funding in an existing program, or create a new program, as long as it serves to improve the economy.
It should be easily understood that an investment in people, is an investment in the economy. The economy isn’t built on banks, and real estate, it’s built on the backs of hard working people who pay their taxes, and expect a fair wage so they can put that money back into the economy.
When conservatives continue to argue austerity as a necessity, it means one of two things they either do not understand economics, no surprise there, or they are liars and thieves.
Fair Work, For Fair Pay
Would it surprise you if I told you that in 1938 Conservatives vehemently opposed minimum wage, child labor laws, and sick leave? As with every issue throughout history whenever something would help someone, they oppose it. There comes a point when you must admit if you are a conservative 1) You are either a moron 2) You are a piece of human garbage, not worth the bag of meat your brain and other organs consume as space or 3) Nah, there is no three.
Yeah so in 1938 conservative doomsayers foretold of the end of the economy at the idea of work standards. This included minimum wage, an 8-hour workday, weekends off, sick leave, overtime pay, and a prohibition on child labor. Called the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, doomsayers predicted an economic collapse. Undeterred Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, …tell you…that a wage of $11 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.” He signed it into law, and he was right.
Proven successful to this day, conservatives are still trying to undo what Roosevelt did. Every single year, bills pass through the congress that attempt to undo child labor laws, or remove the minimum wage. The most pathetic thing is that all the while congress tries to take away your labor rights; they not only freely take advantage of them, but increase them for themselves.
Each year congress is automatically granted a raise, even when most Americans have not seen one in years. Not only that, but all congressmen have a minimum salary that pays them four times as much as the median household makes. They get unlimited paid sick time, while most Americans get 5 days unpaid. Congress gets almost 11 weeks of paid vacation a year, however let’s be honest, they are not required to actually be in Washington to get paid, so technically every day is a vacation for someone in Congress.
I Can’t Breathe
Well it’s no surprise that conservatives have always opposed the clean air and clean water acts, and continue to do so. Conservatives simply have no values whatsoever. In their view if it was here before I came into the world, it will be here when I’m gone. Republicans are now the puppets to the greedy conservative-based corporations that own every facet of the air we breathe and the water we drink, and they continue to pollute it without consequence, in an all for-profit mantra that will result in a drastic change in climate, that if ultimately doesn’t cause our demise, will certainly stunt human innovation and growth.
Republicans, even modern ones believed in something at one time. After all, it was Richard Nixon who proposed the Environmental Protection Agency, and once it had teeth, but now it’s like the cowering bitch in the corner whose teeth have either all fallen out, or she has no more bark left in her to fight. You see once upon a time we had a government that actually ran quite well, with a congress that cared more about people than it did greed. Then a man by the name of Lewis Powell released to the Chamber of Commerce a memo detailing how conservatives could take over America, called The Powell Manifesto. In this memo Powell details how conservatives can influence people, and change attitudes in an effort to change the policy of Americans to take a “hands off” approach to corporate responsibility.
The memo is an instructional manual on how conservatives can convince ignorant, lower class, Americans into supporting an agenda that increases corporate profit while decreasing government oversight, and allowing for maximum greed and profit. It is the sole reason that red state American voters are consistently considered the party of stupid, voting completely against their own interests and not even knowing why. It is the reason why movements like the Tea Party are allowed to exist and even gain seats when they are so obviously anti-American, anti-intellectual, and pro-stupid. They rely on a base of ignorant voters who they can con into electing them to office under the guise of improving their interests.
However, it is impossible, and proven so, to cut all services, cut taxes, and also have a stable economy. It’s basic math. In the last 40 years, every republican to take the office of president has resulted in a failed economy for the low to middle class, and an increase of record profits for wealthy corporations and individuals.
Time after time, history has shown the conservative to be wrong, every single time. They are wrong so often, they don’t even try anymore. They just turn the machine on, and run the wash and rinse cycle over again. The other night after Obama gave his phenomenal state of the Union, token Latino face of the GOP Marco Rubio was left in front of the camera like a lamb to the slaughter. The GOP Promised a new message, something to counter the State of the Union, something that will get people interested again.
You see Barack Obama ran the first time on change, and he made a few, then the republicans locked down congress. Republicans continued to tank the economy all in an effort to convince voters it was Obama’s fault, but they were unconvinced and re-elected him. The GOP errand boy Romney stood before the American people lied over and over again, repeating the same bullshit the GOP has been repeating for years, and they didn’t buy it. So you would assume after a landslide victory by the “black guy” the GOP might want to change tactics a little. Obviously, the message about cutting taxes for the rich and cutting services for the poor didn’t work so well last time.
So Rubio stands before the camera and begins, and within fifteen seconds of him speaking diarrhea began pouring from his mouth. It’s the same filthy diarrhea Romney, and all the other republican idiots tried to use, nothing new, nothing different. Shit from one conservative asshole, out the mouth of another. Besides the awkward water grab, I could have popped Rubio’s head off and plopped on Romney’s and no one would have noticed the difference.
It’s straight out of the Lewis Powell playbook: If you repeat it enough, maybe someone will think it’s the truth.
The only thing worse than the Lewis Powell corporate playbook is the hard-on these conservatives get from idolizing Ayn Rand, and her moral ideology and philosophy of egoism over altruism. She is the reason why most conservatives believe it is ok to be an asshole and not help anyone but you. She advocated sociopathy as a way of life. She often touted that a person should exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. She referred to altruism as incompatible with human life and happiness.
Her philosophy teaches that there is no value in helping others, if it does not serve you do to so. What surprises me, and I think conservatives are generally too dumb to realize it; she was an atheist who insisted only thinking men could reason. This was meant to show her utter contempt for the religious believer, her philosophy on reason being important to establish knowledge through perception. If not for her being a total sociopath, she probably would have been a good atheist to have around.
Rand referred to altruism as a “basic evil” and referred to those who perpetuate the system of taxation and redistribution as “looters” and “moochers.” She wrote in her book “The Virtue of Selfishness” that accepting any government controls is “delivering oneself into gradual enslavement.” In a 1972 edition of her newsletter, she said:
“Morally and economically, the welfare state creates an ever accelerating downward pull. Morally, the chance to satisfy demands by force spreads the demands wider and wider, with less and less pretense at justification. Economically, the forced demands of one group create hardships for all others, thus producing an inextricable mixture of actual victims and plain parasites. Since need, not achievement, is held as the criterion of rewards, the government necessarily keeps sacrificing the more productive groups to the less productive, gradually chaining the top level of the economy, then the next level, then the next.”
Records however show that from 1974 until her death in 1982 she collected social security and Medicare. She had been a smoker and developed lung cancer, which Medicare helped to pay for her treatment. Her husband collected social security and Medicare as well from 1974 until his death in 1979.
It seems rather poetic that the person that conservatives hold up so high on the pedestal is nothing more than an atheist hypocrite moocher.
But again, this wouldn’t be the first time they were wrong about something…