Home > Conservatism, Politics > Conservatives Do It Better

Conservatives Do It Better

Milton Friedman

One of the 20th century's foremost economists, and supporters of conservative ideals, Milton Friedman

What is “it” exactly?  Well, at the risk of over-reaching and over-generalizing, I would say almost everything.  In this post, I would like to cover just a couple of the things that I believe a conservative or where conservative ideals can compete better than any other.  I believe that a conservative government can, and does, operate much more like a natural, hands-off government political system would, and without so much of the of waste.  One of the main strengths that conservatism can count on, is its retrospection – looking backward to find the best path forward.  It has the all the benefit of playing the Monday-morning quarterback, without so many of the problems that plague modern liberalism (waste, a disconnected government, failed central planning policies, etc.)

The ability to reflect on issues and programs that worked (or did not work), and then to increase or eliminate them one of the most attractive things about conservatism.  Its bane, is any activity that chooses an action, then falls, either through laziness or sheer neglect, into the pits of repetition.  An example?  How about the U.S. government’s decades of collecting and either wasting or misappropriating Medicaid and Social Security funds?  These types of programs are brought into being by well-meaning politicians (or, if you are the cynical type, vote-buying politicians), and they quickly become staffed with friends and associates of politicians.  Within ten years, wastes burgeon, and the original purpose for the program is long forgotten.  Then, year after year, the programs’ wasting budgets are explained away, and a Congress happily spending others’ money away, funds them anew.  I would like to think a conservative government would be far more careful about money that is not theirs, and would audit any programs that try to claim huge increasing needs in their spending, without worthy rationale.  A big, bloated government has never been proven to work better than a streamlined one, and never will.  As the programs grow, the increase in personnel makes it easy for lazy and lackadaisical nepotists to blend in, and leech from the system without ever contributing much.  We still feel the massive and ongoing repercussions from Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programs, and they’ve caused an unfunded entitlement fiasco that we now must figure a way to finance.

More appealing facets of conservatism, are its rejection of moral relativism, and its embracing of personal responsibility.  While the left would love to have you believe, “If it feels good, do it”, is a wonderful way to live your life, it’s disingenuous and dangerous to embrace loose morality, without recognizing and understanding how personal responsibility goes hand in hand with it.  People know enough not to yell, “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater – why?  Because there are serious ramifications if you do.  However, leaving someone stay anonymous or skating on charges, via doctor-patient or attorney-client privilege, allows people to do many things that they may not otherwise do.  Now, don’t think for a second I am going to advocate ending those important relationships, but I would like to see a more consistent judicial system to punishing people who break laws.  A higher priced, better networked lawyer should not have the ability to more easily buy your freedom than a public defender.  Either something is illegal and its law is enforced, or it is not, and it is ignored for all.  Having a lawyer whine and explain away the reasons that a person committed their 87th offense, and letting that offender attend merely anger management and therapy (again), is folly in my opinion.

A bird in the hand...or snake eyes?

Are you happy with where you are, or would you risk it on a roll of the dice?

It is sad that with the technological ease and ability to look back, and cherry pick from things that have worked in the past, we as a country have so consistently rejected that, for the promises of politicians and snake oil salesmen, with their new programs and schemes, promising to deliver us the moon.  “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is a hackneyed phrase, but it is true.  We should be happy with what we have at the moment, and build upon that, but instead, we risk the whole thing for a bigger “sure thing” in the future.

Categories: Conservatism, Politics
  1. June 21, 2011 at 14:36

    “It” must not be “balance a budget with tax cuts” because conservatives suck at doing that.

    There’s actually no proof that a streamlined government works better, whereas, the 220 year history of OUR government, and the economic growth and social equality this country has enjoyed during big government interventions: women’s suffrage, civil rights legislation, WWII (big gov’t spent 120% of GDP), and you claim we’re still feeling the effects of the New Deal, and if by effects you mean: taking care of old and poor folk, a balanced economy that doesn’t just help the rich while squashing the poor; then yes, we’re still feeling those, but who knows for how long.

    Your third paragraph is a joke. You complain about liberal’s moral relativism, and you only list unjust trials and people getting away with crimes as your proof. You fail to mention the: abstinence only, no abortion, no contraception, war on drugs loving right wing of this country. Conservatives love to point to their Judeo/Christian foundations as their basis for laws and rights. If that’s not imposing your morals on someone, if that’s not leading by morality, I don’t know what is.

    We should be happy with what we have at the moment, and build upon that
    If that’s what you believe, why do you like conservatism? The aim of conservatives is to essentially kill Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment insurance, food stamp programs, department of education, EPA, the way we get oil for our country and what energy powers us, and the tax system.

    All things we “have at the moment” and have had for decades for that fact. So if you like conservatism, when you said “have at the moment” you must have written that from a 1920’s point of view.


    • June 21, 2011 at 21:32

      The U.S. has never really had a conservative House, but in the mid 90s, the GOP-led House DID give Clinton a budget that he frequently gets credit for balancing (he did do a bang-up job signing it though).
      You say that there’s no proof that a streamlined government works better, and you claim periods of social unrest and war have benefited. I don’t propose to speak for you, but I said streamlined, and you seem to offer a ‘peace’ vs. ‘chaos’ dichotomy. It’s my belief that you can maintain a streamlined, efficient government even during the chaos of wartime – in fact, I it would be beneficial.

      The examples I listed for the personal responsibility and moral relativism have become cliche’d. Rich guy does something stupid, gets caught, and get a slap on the wrist. Justice? I don’t think so.
      As far as pregnancies and abortion goes – do 15 and 16 year olds really not understand that sex can lead to pregnancy? Really? That’s called ‘personal responsibility’. Everything a person does, whether they like it or not carries some sort of consequence.

      It’s interesting that you mention my bias for a “1920’s point of view”. While it started with a bang, and it was generally considered a boom time of wealth-building. My view isn’t a static, anachronistic view, as I said in the very first paragraph, it has the major benefit of looking backward to see what works.


      • June 21, 2011 at 23:58

        So you’re telling me the GOP was FOR the tax hikes in the 90’s? That’s news to me. Regardless of whose responsible, the tax hikes worked in the 90s (just like they worked in the 80s)

        I wasn’t claiming the war vs peace thing was what was beneficial. I was saying the government intervention was the beneficial part. I listed the peace time of the 80s and also the 90s were pretty peaceful and higher taxes helped the economy.

        You still haven’t given any proof that a streamlined government works. It’s just a theory, it’s easy to rationalize: “big government has too much regulation, and bureaucracy, which makes things sluggish and bad. Less of that, smaller government would be good.” But there’s no proof. unlike history which proves that our big government, progressive legislation has been good for the country.

        I’m not advocating dumb women using abortions as birth control. But research has proven, the girls who get abstinence only education get pregnant more often. When they’re faced with sexual peer pressure, or simply the idea of loving their boyfriends, they don’t know enough to avoid getting pregnant. They just do it and let the man do what he wants, they don’t know enough to have responsibility over their bodies. Kids who are taught of all the options, know better if and when they have sex.

        my problem is that you don’t actually seem to be looking back. History hasn’t shown that conservatism works. Conservative presidents have accomplished almost nothing that has helped the country move forward.


  2. June 22, 2011 at 17:41

    Big government and progressive legislation hasn’t been good for the country. How on earth can a person justify a government that micromanages facets of peoples’ lives, without attempting to understand those peoples’ rationales? To me, it’s a case of, “you must do this because we think it’s better” vs. “have at it, let’s see what you can do”. It’s giving people a vested interest vs. paying them to either continue doing something that’s wasteful (generational welfare comes to mind), while never really giving them incentive to get off the dole and be productive.
    A streamlined government, while “theoretical” as you put it, has a capacity to micromanage important, national issues (which is what they should be doing), while allowing state and local governments to fix state and local problems. I really don’t think the federal government shouldn’t be concerning itself with where state and local funding goes (unless the funds are illegally funneled or embezzled, and there’s a pattern of corruption). How on earth is a slow-moving, sluggish behemoth of a government supposed to be a better thing? By the time it would get around to pressing issues, the issues are moot or have been solved (hopefully) by the local politicians.
    I’m glad to see that we both seem to agree that abortion is a terrible birth control method, and shouldn’t be used as such (don’t we?) I don’t really think girls are so stupid as to believe that having sex for whatever reasons is without options. Birth control is available all over the place, and there’s no way the teenage birthrate should be as high as it is. With a flaky teenage father, how do the girls really expect to raise that child? I shudder when I think of interviews and comments about, “The government will take care of me and my baby…” There is no reason for the government to be in the parenting business.
    It’s hard to look back and find a conservative president when there really haven’t been a lot of them. Everyone claims Reagan was, but I don’t really know if he was a conservative or a dreaded neo-conservative. Looking at just laissez-faire economics, it seems an unheralded guy like Martin van Buren (yeah, who?) was the most business friendly president.


    • June 22, 2011 at 23:20

      I agree with the notion that the government is slow and inefficient. There’s too many rules to run a country properly, too much bureaucracy, and too much waste. But those are problems with the government, not reasons to get rid of the government.

      And again, on the flip side, there’s no proof that a small government can handle this country. A small, states focused government can’t swoop in and help in natural disasters, it can’t infuse money into a national economy when the economy is slow, and it states that set out to screw it’s citizens (perhaps a southern state discriminating against black people, or midwest states discriminating against gay people, or [just imagine] california discriminating against registered republicans. If the state holds most of the power and the fed can’t really sway the laws, how will this be a united country? It’d be a loose collection of similar city states that aren’t a whole country.

      And if you make exceptions for things like that: “if a state is discriminating, then it’s ok for the fed to come in.” Then when do the exceptions stop? What if a state defunds it’s food inspectors and that state suffers from a huge e coli outbreak, another exception for the fed? It’s easy to say “small government” is better, but when it comes time to govern, people start cherry pick they like the government do and stuff they don’t, and you can’t run a country with cherry picked politics.

      In the late 90s and early up until 2004 I worked in community outreach based out of a hospital. We taught sexual education for middle school kids, self esteem for primary school, “life skills” for high school (getting a job, IF you have a kid be a father not a deadbeat, getting into college help) things like that. The sex stuff was funded from different grants, some abstinence only, some left us free to teach whatever a curriculum included. For 6 years before 2001 teen sex rates were shrinking, every year (except hispanic girls) and then Bush had abstinence only curriculum as a focus. The hospital lost a couple of the more “liberating” grants. And now statistically, teen birth rates are rising. It’s not a coincidence.

      Yes I agree that abortions shouldn’t be abused. In fact I have no respect, and no shred of consideration with someone whose had multiple elective abortions. They are lazy pieces of shit women who don’t think things through, or don’t care enough. I hope they mess up their cervixes and never have kids, they’ll most likely raise terrible kids. After you make a mistake, you learn from it, if you don’t, if you make the mistake again, I have no sympathy for idiots.

      Yes teens know sex leads to babies, but a lot of them also think you can jump, shake, or wash the semen out of their vaginas. Lots of them think you can’t get pregnant the first time. And sadly, lots of them think mountain dew kills sperm count and will stop you from impregnating someone. You can’t teach kids the truth in those issues if you aren’t allowed to talk about sex, which is the main point of abstinence only education. Those kids are just told “don’t have sex, period. You’ll get pregnant, or a disease, or both!” Then when their hormones are raging and they have the house to themselves with their boy/girlfriend, they don’t know enough to take care of themselves. They don’t know where to get contraception, they don’t dare to go buy it, it’s too shameful and if christianity was part of the abstinence education, there’s NO WAY that teen would go out in public and buy condoms.

      All those things are fact.

      Not, WHO?! Van Buren was the 8th! with mutton chops!
      Well at least you don’t deify Reagan with a bunch of ideological based lies that don’t match his record. In our discussion, conservative would be subjective, I think there’s been plenty, but for you, not conservative enough.

      I’ll conclude that conservative is all relative, and we simply agree on politicians’ conservative records.
      But the idea that big government vs. small government isn’t subjective, there just isn’t proof that a small government can do what this country needs to keep chuggin along. And there’s no real proof that big government is ruining our country, other than some hurdles in doing it well. Rules and regulations may suck and inconvenience you, but it’s part of the trade off. You may hate taxes or the new light bulbs and you say, “screw big government!” But to me, I hate the war on drugs, I hate being the world’s police, but I’ll take it because the government inspects my food and makes sure my water is drinkable.


  3. Una
    July 12, 2011 at 17:29

    this blog should someone print out and put on every bicycle in paris


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