Out Of The Past 5

Rethinking Conservatism –  Part One

January 24, 2008
4:20 AM CDT

As the Republican primary season wears on, I find myself becoming increasingly introspective—and not just because of the sheer paucity of originality among the front-running Republican candidates (who are actually parodies of stereotypes, rather than actual candidates): Huckabee, the born-again Old South Democrat evangelist; McCain, the authoritarian war hero; Giuliani, the Big City über-lawyer, and Romney, the East Coast Establishment liberal Republican.

Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter, the only real conservatives in the race, proved to be damp squib candidates; which leads me to ask: are we conservatives actually in the minority in this country? Are our views no longer even close to the mainstream in American political thought? Have we, as a society, drifted so far away from our founding principles and the Constitution, that we are doomed to end up as only a slightly-more conservative society than that of, say, the European Union?

If the above are true—and they may be—then we have an awful lot of work ahead of us, and an awfully-large number of people we need to educate in the values of conservatism, if we are ever to preserve the Republic in any semblance of the vision designed by the Founding Fathers.

(An aside: if you think the job is too much, or if you want to just throw up your hands and give up, uttering defeatist statements about “sheeple” as you do so, or if you start muttering about pressing “reset” buttons, then please stop reading at this point. I know your opinions and rationale, and I’m not interested in hearing them again. This is a working session.)

Most importantly, we conservatives need to reexamine the very essence of conservatism, see what works (and just as importantly, what doesn’t work), and start putting together a consistent vision for others to read, understand and support.

The most obvious way, one would think, is to revisit the principles of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Or is it? Conservative columnist Mona Charen, in reviewing David Frum’s new book doesn’t think so:

When Ronald Reagan ran in 1980, the top marginal tax rate was 70 percent. Inflation was eroding the purchasing power of consumers. Overregulation strangled businesses. One out of every three households had been victimized by crime within the previous 12 months. The Soviet Union had added 12 new countries to the communist domain in the previous decade. American hostages in Tehran were paraded on international television. Welfare rolls were expanding.

Reagan’s reform package spoke to those issues. He favored tax cuts, deregulation, welfare reform, stricter law enforcement, tight money and a strong national defense.

I’m not so sure that Reagan’s reform package is that inappropriate today, but let that ride for a moment.

Inflation was painfully wrung from the economy in ‘82 and ‘83. The Soviet Union was brought low. Crime has dropped to levels not seen since the 1960s. Bipartisan efforts have reduced regulation. Welfare reform was finally accomplished in 1996.

But it wasn’t just the triumph of conservative solutions that left the Republican Party without a unifying theme; it was also the conduct of Republicans in power. Complacency, corruption and lack of imagination have combined to undermine the Republican brand.

Absolutely true. And yet, like so many diagnosticians, most of the “whip-smart” Frum’s prescriptions for conservatives to regain the high ground are dreadful:

A carbon tax. That’s right. To discourage the use of gas and oil and to fund more tax breaks for young families.

Let me spell this one out: no Republican has ever come to high office promising new taxes.

Cut the inheritance, corporate, capital gains and dividend taxes to zero to encourage wealth creation.

Much better. Not only would this allow Americans to keep more of the money they earn (and I don’t quite care whether it’s earned by actual work, or by investment; one creates the other), but this would dismantle the tax-collection apparatus which Government uses. I used to think that a flat 1% corporate tax would suffice, but I was wrong: 1% becomes 2% becomes, eventually 15%.

Modify an idea from Bill Clinton and permit “USA accounts” within Social Security that would permit even minimum wage workers to save a small fortune. Frum runs the numbers: “That should be our conservative and Republican promise to American workers: ‘Every American a millionaire by age sixty-seven!’“

I would rather privatize Social Security altogether, using Chile as an example, but I’m starting to think that it’s a no-go proposition. Putting a Trojan horse inside SocSec might be a better idea.

Reform the nation’s scandalous prisons. Conservatives put all those people behind bars to make the rest of us safe, Frum argues, but it is intolerable that there are 240,000 prison rapes yearly (compared with 90,000 rapes in the larger society).

Forget about this. I don’t care how awful prison is (although I agree that the situation is horrible), and I suspect that most conservatives don’t care about it, either. It’s a red-herring issue.

Revive conservation and create “green conservatism.”

Oy… and how do we do that? With green taxes and more regulations? That’s not very conservative.

Negotiate with Iran, sure, but resolve to deny nuclear weapons to them, whatever it takes.

Screw negotiation with any of these insane countries like Iran, Syria and North Korea. They are not the U.S.S.R., and treating them like they are simply gives them too much leeway to cause mischief. Warn them, then bomb them. End of story. We have bigger things to worry about.

Limit immigration to the skilled, and close our doors to radical Islamists, even if they have Ph.D.s.

I don’t have a problem with that. We didn’t allow avowed Communists to come into the country once (why bother, when we could create our own in Berkeley, Harvard, Austin and Stanford?), and we should do it again, with a different enemy.

All that is well and good, and we could debate them all ad infinitum/nauseam. I’d like to start from a few bedrock principles—principles of government, and of human nature (for government is after all just an extension of mankind’s baser instincts) which are immutable, and which we know have been proven true by history, time and time again, to the point where they are axiomatic. Then we can shape conservative principles around those axioms, avoiding wishful thinking no matter how tempting the proposition.

I also want to ignore the peripheral issues—the Republic is not going to fall because of lousy prison conditions or stem-cell research funding.

The axioms below are in no order of importance: all of them are important. Most critical, however, is this observation: the converse of every single one of these axioms forms one or another plank of a socialist party’s platform.

Axiom #1: All capital (i.e. money) belongs to the individuals who earn it, and not to the State.

—This seems to me so self-evident that I hardly know how to explain it. Suffice it to say that in countries where capital has been considered the property of the State, those countries have generally collapsed, and been saved only by other countries where capital is not the property of the State.

Axiom #2: If you remove the incentive to perform a specific task, then the task will not get done, or at best get done half-heartedly.

—So welfare/unemployment payments are inherently self-defeating, in that they remove the incentive for anyone to get a job. (Note: I am not talking about people who are genuinely needy, such as the crippled, retarded or insane. No decent human being can deny succor to people like that. But the definitions of “crippled, retarded or insane” need to be severely limited and carved in stone.)

—Included in this “welfare” clause is retirement. The problem with having the State provide retirement benefits is that people have not therefore involved themselves in providing for their own retirement, and here we are, with a system wherein income is soon not going to be sufficient to cover outlays.

Axiom #3: In the long run, government tends to become more tyrannical, while The People tend to get less so.

—Ignore for the moment the fact that, under our Constitution, The People are the government—because that’s not strictly true, in any event. We The People do not vote on regulation, only on legislation—and most tyranny comes not from legislation, but from the regulations which follow and underpin the laws. We have seen, time and time again, that over time, government becomes more oppressive, even our own. The Fourth Amendment becomes, eventually, ignored by government agents who seize assets and conduct searches and raids without a warrant or proper legal procedure.

—In the long run, The People will tend to correct egregious mistakes in our laws and society. (To think otherwise is too depressing to contemplate.)

Axiom #4: Government will always grow, and develop an insatiable appetite for revenue.

—Like most axioms, this needs little explanation, just a cursory study of history and/or economics. Here’s one:

Government spending as share of Gross Domestic Product:

1910: 8.2%
1997: 31.1%

And just so we know what that “GDP” really represents:

1910 GDP: $472.7 billion
1997 GDP: $8,703.5 billion. (+1,740%)

Government spending grew from $419.51 per person in 1910, to $9,927.74 per person in 1997. And that was before the Republican-led Congress of the early 2000s started their insane spending spree.

Axiom #5: An armed society is a polite society.

—By this, I don’t mean that people tip their hats or curtsey to each other in the streets. The true definition of a polite society is that with 80 million armed citizens in the country, government has to think twice before loading “undesirables” and “non-conformists” into cattle cars. The ability to defend one’s person against the aggressions of other individuals is a secondary (although worthwhile) benefit; and the ability to defend oneself and one’s family and community against baleful furriners a tertiary one. Any action by government, therefore, to curtail that citizen armament, should not only be viewed with suspicion and circumspection, but with massive resistance. (Remember, in order: soap box, letter box, ballot box and cartridge box.)

Axiom #6: America is not what’s wrong with the world.

—We may, and do, have our faults as a nation. But in general, what we do benefits everyone—whether it’s providing Marine choppers to rescue tsunami victims, or providing the economic engine for the entire world, or providing a blueprint for a free and prosperous society. Once again, this needs little proof other than a glance at the Press photos of the 2004 Asian tsunami aftermath, at the fact that the U.S.A. contributes nearly a quarter of the world’s GDP, and at the lines of people waiting for entry visas at our embassies and consulates abroad.

There are more, but those will do to start with. Note that I have not included anything to do with abortion, or education, or stem-cell research, or strip clubs, or homosexual activity. These are red herrings in the political process, and have nothing to do with government. Most importantly, none of them are allowed, or proscribed, in the Constitution.

Moving Trends

Now this came as a surprise to me:

Why Some Americans Won’t Move, Even for a Higher Salary

Apart from the Great Wetback Episode Of 1986 (emigration, for those who haven’t been paying attention), I’ve moved around the U.S. on several occasions, mostly for job reasons (better job, more money), and every one of them was wrenching.  And of course none of my moves in the U.S. was from my home town, so I can well imagine that someone who has grown up and spent most of their life in (say) Indianapolis would be reluctant to leave family, friends, business contacts and so on to start all over again in a new location.

Many people, of course, take moving as part of life (I’m excluding Armed Forces folks from this, because moving is part of the deal), and I suppose I’m probably one of them — but that’s because my first move was so comprehensive and so final, the uprooting was total.  Subsequent moves, while somewhat disturbing, were much easier by comparison.

After Connie passed away, I gave serious thought to starting all over again, not just in another town, but even in another country.  During my sabbatical travels, I discovered that the cost of living in the south of France, for example, was about the same as living here in Plano, and for the briefest moment I considered it.  I love France, always have, and with little or no language issue, that part would have been easy.  The cultural change, however, would not  have been easy, and so I didn’t move Over There.  (Interestingly enough, while I love Britain even more than France, that was never an option, because the cultural change would have been even more  pronounced.)

And finally, I realized that the urge to move, to start all over again somewhere else, was more a factor of bereavement than from any desire for change:  so I stopped considering it.

Going back to the chart, however, I am very interested in the downward trend of the phenomenon.  If we assume that when America was still an agrarian, immobile society until the Industrial Revolution caused the mass migration to cities, could it be that the beginning of the study (in the late 1940s) was simply the crest of the wave, and that people were once again preferring to remain settled than to move?

And in recent years, of course, the technology has increasingly been able to support work-from-home or work-from-home-city, so one would expect the incidence of moving to slow even more.  That said, however, if one is able to work from home, then it doesn’t really matter where home is — so people could be expected to move elsewhere to improve their standard of living, say to cheaper housing.  So what do the numbers say about that?

Even the “housing” number has been falling — and I suspect that if one were to take away migration away from high-cost areas like the Northeast and California, the trend would be even more pronounced.  Interesting indeed:  I would have assumed the precise opposite trends, from both  charts, but apparently not.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.

News Update

Thome pithy commenth about the newth of the day.

1)  Apparently, Commie-In-Chief Nancy Pelosi wants to see President Trump in prison.  — yeah, well I want to see Red Nancy dangling from a lamp post — her, and all the other socialists in Congress So we’ll call it even.

2)   “Why Have the Revered Crocodiles of This Island Nation Suddenly Started Killing People?” —  because they’re fucking crocodiles, and that’s what crocs do?  I’m not even a zoologist, and I can answer that one.  (No link because NY fucking Times)

3)  Amazon Turns To Snitching –and–  Amazon Sending Out The Dronesand if we find out that the two activities are in any way linked, we’re going to need a LOT more shotgun ammo.

4)  Gypsies Take Over Villagenever an errant MOAB when you need one.  (Mr. TrueBrit disagrees with me, says  he wants Vietnam-style napalm carpet-bombing, for maximum suffering.  I like the way he thinks.)

5)  Woman Bites Off Would-Be Rapist’s Tongue(I’d like to comment, but I’m paralyzed with laughter)

6)  Austrian Cops Kick The Shit Out Of Greenie Scumand inexplicably, some people are upset by this.  My only quibble is that they didn’t give climate-scold kiddie Greta Thunberg a new parting for her hair.

7)  Africa Wins Again — anyone have an idea of how much meat a dozen lions can eat?

News Roundup

Wherein I comment on news items not worthy of their own post.  This episode:  sexy stuff.

1)  Sex doesn’t have to hurt — but where’s the fun in that?

2)  Friction Burns — as I keep reminding women:  pubic hair has an actual purpose (as a dry lubricant), so shaving yer pubes is eventually going to cause trouble.  Now “science” proves me right.

3)  Dick Enhancements Don’t — just about anyone with an IQ over 50 could have told you that;  but no, we needed “science” to prove it.  (And a piece of caustic advice for any man who gets criticized for his ummmm shortcomings:  tell her it’s not that your dick’s too small, it’s that her box is bigger than the Lincoln Tunnel.  Instant neuroses, guaranteed.)

4)  Russkis need help with sex — I would have thought they had that pretty much under control, considering that the phrase “like a Moscow street whore” has entered the popular vernacular.  On the other hand, it may just be the older, Soviet-era women who have the problem:

…in which case, gawd help us all.

Border Force

Now we’re talking:

At their talks in Budapest on Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini agreed on the importance of strong nation states, on the need to give priority in Europe to European culture based on Christian values, and on border defence.
At a joint press conference held with Mr. Salvini – who is also head of the Italian government party Lega – Mr. Orbán said they both believe the following: that there will be no strong Europe without strong and successful nation states; that on the continent priority must be given to European culture based on Christian values; and that “Europe’s borders must be defended against the migrant invasion”.

I know it’s kinda unfashionable to talk about “European culture” and “Christian values” in this day and age, especially at the national level, but let’s hope they can do it.

Oh, and screw the EU, especially Old Commie Angela Merkel and Grab-A-Granny Emmanuel Macron.

Economists Confused

…because they’re fucking idiots.  From Sundance:

The professional financial punditry can’t explain it. Flummoxed academics run around bumping into walls amid economic numbers that continue to defy expectations. All caused by a simple return to common sense ‘America First’ MAGAnomics.
Low unemployment (3.8%); wages growing (+3.2%); inflation stable (1.6%). These measures all have a cumulative impact on paycheck-to-paycheck Americans. Prices for durable goods are stable and wage growth is exceeding inflation. That means more disposable income in the middle-class…DUH. Which, when combined with the increased pay from lower middle-class tax rates, is exactly the intended outcome of MAGAnomics.

One more time:  come the reign of Emperor Kim, economists will all be forced to wear wizards’ hats in public.  To put it even more simply (for those of the economist persuasion):

The U.S. is where the growth is. We are in the period where exporting U.S. wealth (globalist policies) has been slowed/halted. We are confronting protectionist tariffs abroad which impede our exports, and simultaneously applying reciprocal tariffs toward those who want access to our U.S. market. As a consequence, capital investment is returning to Main Street USA (nationalist policy).
This is the heart of MAGAnomic policy.