Two Conservative Principles Worth Following
Currently, the dangerous politics is on the right, orchestrated by the libertarian Koch brothers, Murdoch, and a few other extremely rich capitalists. In spite of this, there are two old-fashioned conservative ideas that progressives need to pay more attention to:
These provide a path to good government and are not a prescription for no government. But what should government do?
The Three Roles of Government
- To protection us from bad people (with laws), bad business (with regulations), and from external threats (with the military).
- To “promote the general Welfare“:(1) From the first sentence of the U.S. Constitution, this phrase does not mean the federal government can do whatever it wants. But it does mean that it should do things for the common good that are within its powers.
- parks, highways, clean water, inventing the internet …
- unemployment insurance, disaster relief, medicare, social security, …
- To stabilize our market economy — for jobs and growth.
In all cases, the government should do what markets do not do well and should not do what markets are better at doing. For example, if the market provided the streets leading your house, each would be owned by one company with a monopoly on that street. Would you want to pay tolls to such a free-market company? On the other hand, would you want the government to take over the car companies? Markets do some things extremely well, but for other things, we really need the government. It seems silly to need to say this, but we live in silly times.
Is This Site Liberal or Conservative?
Liberals are more optimistic about human nature and conservatives more pessimistic. So liberals favor cooperation and conservatives, competition. Competition is great in sports and business, but cooperation is the right approach for most of life — families, education, religion, science, non-competitive sports, health, etc. Liberals often try to push cooperation too far, at least for this stage of history (say the next 200 years).
Cooperation is good to the extent we can make it work, but that requires a hard-headed approach that most liberals find uncomfortable. The result of being too “liberal” is failure — and less cooperation. Occupy Wall Street is showing us just that badly disorganized cooperation can make a little progress, but will soon fail. Also, the most extreme 1% of the left gets heavy handed. That’s just ugly. If there were such a thing, I’d be a compassionate conservative or a hard-headed liberal. Since there’s not, I’ll call myself progressive, which, in honor of Humpty-Dumpty,(2) See About zFacts. will mean just what I choose it to mean.(3) When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' (Through the Looking Glass) And, so it is with "progressive."