By David Beilstein
IF one of the characteristics of conservatism, as William F Buckley, Jr., elegantly stated long ago, is “a submission to reality” the conservative movement in the aggregate will have to submit to the idea progressive’s have won over large swaths of the electorate in believing it is the progressive’s understanding of economic matters in America that has the moral high ground.
Any dismantling of the progressive advantage on economic matters, then, must first concern it’s self with persuading large swaths of the electorate that progressivism is immoral economically, and at the same time, increases immiseration upon the populace of these United States. The fact progressivism does not create the lofty realities it foresees, is not enough. The moral argument must be made especially since American’s have a deeply compassionate streak. It is a streak easily misled and needs accountability. The accountability must come from the people working from logical, coherent, ideas about markets and men—of supply and demand. Of the causes and accelerators—and the brakes, and destroyers, of prosperity.
Progressives and conservatives alike desire more wage increases across more diverse jobs. And both seek more men and women working more jobs with marketable skill sets, a byproduct creating higher wages. Both progressives and conservatives desire more vocational opportunities, more work and work that helps stem the tide of poverty and lift more boats, on ever rising fiscal tides. So said JFK when announcing the reasons behind the tragic president’s massive marginal reductions in tax rates at the beginning of his presidency. But marginal rate reductions—or scientific tax policy as President Coolidge called what would become a byproduct of the Laffer Curve, always go hand in hand with budgetary restraint. President Coolidge maintained he would rather see budget reductions before tax reduction. His record is one of supply-sider triumph. He cut taxes and was an aggressive and effective budget cutter. Tax reduction brings more revenue into the federal treasury. Fact. But government tends to spend the extra revenue and more still, causing steep deficits. A government spending less money equals more resources to the people and as an added bonus, more individual liberty. This is moral.
Historically, Democrats are known to turn around and say tax cuts cause deficits. That is because on the Republican side all the great tax reducers—and their reductions dramatically increased federal revenue—also had steep deficits. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush come to mind. Economic vitality increased, especially under President Reagan. But so did government spending. Democrat’s are wrong in their prognosis of tax cuts—but Republicans face an uphill battle sticking up for tax cuts, while clinging to steep deficits everyone agrees are not good. Republicans need to be as aroused at budgetary cutting as tax reduction in the future. And the future of the conservative movement will have to be based on sound policy: economic policy being one such area.
Tax cuts must go hand in glove with budgetary cutting—like love and sex.
In large measure, Republicans have been able to win approval for tax reduction—which is important. But more important is a shrinking federal budget. The government costs too much—and that cost is always passed on to citizens. Those who are hurt worst are those whose income—whether temporary or chronic—is low. Government resources use up the resources most men and women need to rise economically, and improve their stations in life at higher and more inefficient cost because state interference.
Even so, conservatives have done a semi-good job over the last 30 years arguing more state control of an ever larger economic slice has increased poverty, restricted employment opportunity, and shutdown large areas of innovation and technology—creating a typhoon of economic immiseration across sundry cultures and income levels. Such progressive policies have also created an economy more prone to class connections for high wage jobs, rather than merit and hard work.
A tragic, and decidedly deadly occurrence.
President Abraham Lincoln was famous for saying the great ride of America was based on the reality one man could come from the circumstances he did—growing up in rural America, learning to read by firelight—and rising to the Chief Executive of these United States in a single lifetime. Lincoln used to say this was because ambition, sweat, and ability, all meant something more in America than anywhere in the world. Slavery undercut this mesa of hope and self-improvement in Lincoln’s eyes. Its spread into free states at the time is where Lincoln made his stand initially. I have always said Republicans generations after Lincoln learned the wrong ideas about his presidency. Though the Great Emancipator created the Grand Old Party, it was Lincoln’s connection of freedom of slaves based on individual, inalienable rights, with freedom of the market place and minds that were evincing of Lincoln’s great mind.
To often, we are supposed to venerate Lincoln’s “progressivism” in relation to civil rights—but it is his ideas about America’s individuals—of men and women working and striving in free markets—the freedom of individuals to rise; the attendant right to life such rise characterises, which were the great accomplishments of Lincoln’s presidency.
Civil rights begins with the right to life. But must include freedom of property and minds. This is Lincoln The Great’s great lesson. The right to a free market without state intrusion—or criminal coercion, is a byproduct of the right to life in America. It is one moral argument—always seen as interconnected, never separated.
To see Lincoln The Great as the emancipator of one idea over the other is to see his ideas profoundly inaccurate.
The progressive intoxicant of the early 20th Century, while aimed at alleviating inequality—deeply undercut such cultural and physical apparatus. Woodrow Wilson declared constitutional inalienable rights were “illusionary.” The state was at the top of the constitutional edifice in his eyes—not the individual. President Wilson’s was America’s first fascist experiment—a great admirer of fascists in Europe and elsewhere. Progressivism’s rebirth over the last 30 years has become violently worse in its imprisonment of the individual and human nature altogether.
Progressivism is, and has always been, anti-individual. And it is wholly against submitting to the reality people occupy under this universe’s sun. Whilst valuing the collective over the individual, progressives have forgotten the hand is only as healthy as the individual members making up that hand. All organs work together, but organ shutdown in a hospital patient is anticipated by a shutdown of one organ system creating a chain-reaction of organ shutdown.
It is now happening in America, economically and culturally, slowly, but surely. And so, the health of the individual—in poverty, economic or cultural—characterises the collective. The conservative is concerned with the individual, consistent with Enlightenment thinking. But their concern does not end there. Conservatives know the individual has many needs and many wants. And one of those needs and wants is community. Individuals form communities. And those communities take on the character of those individuals. The process of building a healthy community is thus begun with the individual. We have seen how tough it is to reform whole communities. Look at Chicago and Detroit. They are bastions of unhealthy individuals making up unhealthy communities.
In light of those facts, the American character is now sucked into impoverishment on a wide-scale, both culturally and economically. The cultural decay American conservatives have been trumpeting for generations is a symptom of a larger disease riding like hell on a battlefield of America’s blood stream.