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[Time] How Today's Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by GladiatoRowdy, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2077943,00.html

    "Conservatism is true." That's what George Will told me when I interviewed him as an eager student many years ago. His formulation might have been a touch arrogant, but Will's basic point was intelligent. Conservatism, he explained, was rooted in reality. Unlike the abstract theories of Marxism and socialism, it started not from an imagined society but from the world as it actually exists. From Aristotle to Edmund Burke, the greatest conservative thinkers have said that to change societies, one must understand them, accept them as they are and help them evolve.

    Watching this election campaign, one wonders what has happened to that tradition. Conservatives now espouse ideas drawn from abstract principles with little regard to the realities of America's present or past. This is a tragedy, because conservatism has an important role to play in modernizing the U.S.

    Consider the debates over the economy. The Republican prescription is to cut taxes and slash government spending — then things will bounce back. Now, I would like to see lower rates in the context of tax simplification and reform, but what is the evidence that tax cuts are the best path to revive the U.S. economy? Taxes — federal and state combined — as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest level since 1950. The U.S. is among the lowest taxed of the big industrial economies. So the case that America is grinding to a halt because of high taxation is not based on facts but is simply a theoretical assertion. The rich countries that are in the best shape right now, with strong growth and low unemployment, are ones like Germany and Denmark, neither one characterized by low taxes.

    Many Republican businessmen have told me that the Obama Administration is the most hostile to business in 50 years. Really? More than that of Richard Nixon, who presided over tax rates that reached 70%, regulations that spanned whole industries, and who actually instituted price and wage controls?

    In fact, right now any discussion of government involvement in the economy — even to build vital infrastructure — is impossible because it is a cardinal tenet of the new conservatism that such involvement is always and forever bad. Meanwhile, across the globe, the world's fastest-growing economy, China, has managed to use government involvement to create growth and jobs for three decades. From Singapore to South Korea to Germany to Canada, evidence abounds that some strategic actions by the government can act as catalysts for free-market growth.

    Of course, American history suggests that as well. In the 1950s, '60s and '70s, the U.S. government made massive investments in science and technology, in state universities and in infant industries. It built infrastructure that was the envy of the rest of the world. Those investments triggered two generations of economic growth and put the U.S. on top of the world of technology and innovation.

    But that history has been forgotten. When considering health care, for example, Republicans confidently assert that their ideas will lower costs, when we simply do not have much evidence for this. What we do know is that of the world's richest countries, the U.S. has by far the greatest involvement of free markets and the private sector in health care. It also consumes the largest share of GDP, with no significant gains in health on any measurable outcome. We need more market mechanisms to cut medical costs, but Republicans don't bother to study existing health care systems anywhere else in the world. They resemble the old Marxists, who refused to look around at actual experience. "I know it works in practice," the old saw goes, "but does it work in theory?"

    Conservatives used to be the ones with heads firmly based in reality. Their reforms were powerful because they used the market, streamlined government and empowered individuals. Their effects were large-scale and important: think of the reform of the tax code in the 1980s, for example, which was spearheaded by conservatives. Today conservatives shy away from the sensible ideas of the Bowles-Simpson commission on deficit reduction because those ideas are too deeply rooted in, well, reality. Does anyone think we are really going to get federal spending to the level it was at under Calvin Coolidge, as Paul Ryan's plan assumes? Does anyone think we will deport 11 million people?

    We need conservative ideas to modernize the U.S. economy and reform American government. But what we have instead are policies that don't reform but just cut and starve government — a strategy that pays little attention to history or best practices from around the world and is based instead on a theory. It turns out that conservatives are the woolly-headed professors after all.
     
  2. robbie380

    robbie380 ლ(▀̿Ĺ̯▀̿ ̿ლ)
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    ...And keeping govt spending and entitlements in their current state is totally sustainable and reality based too.
     
  3. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    Who is arguing for "keeping govt spending and entitlements in their current state"? Certainly not me...
     
  4. Major

    Major Member

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    Is this some version of the "well they suck too!" defense?

    Excellent article, and very accurately sums up the problems of the GOP today. They used to be an idea factory based on provable results. Now, they are out of ideas. Tim Pawlenty's brilliant fix to the economy and the deficit is an $11 trillion tax cut. There's no substance anywhere in the GOP right now - that has to change.

    The Dems have always been the theory side of the equation. It creates a good balance between the two parties. Right now, you don't have that good balance.
     
  5. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    Completely agreed. In days of yore, liberals would propose a policy and conservatives would pull on the reins to make sure nothing too radical was attempted. These days, both parties have radical agendas that are polar opposites, so if anything gets done, it is without the tempering of an alternate viewpoint.
     
  6. geeimsobored

    geeimsobored Contributing Member

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    I have nothing to add except to say that Fareed Zakaria is the man. His show is the only thing I can watch on CNN. (He also spoke on this same point on sunday)
     
  7. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    theory being that if you just tax the **** out of everyone and everything, the economy will magically improve, companies will start hiring, and jobs will materialize?
     
  8. robbie380

    robbie380 ლ(▀̿Ĺ̯▀̿ ̿ლ)
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    more like a "they all suck" point.
     
  9. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    LOL, you just exemplified the article, taxes are at historical lows.

    this is really what the article should say, conservatives just talk out of their arses
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. LosPollosHermanos

    LosPollosHermanos Houston only fan
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    ron paul .


    ron ****ing paul people.
     
  11. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    No, if you want to do that, the best thing to do is to increase government spending. It's not really magic so much as it is arithmetic. Though I certainly understand why it may seem magical to someone of your diff.ability.
     
  12. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    we did that the past 30 months. how has it worked?
     
  13. GladiatoRowdy

    GladiatoRowdy Contributing Member

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    Actually, the VAST majority of the recent spending increases happened before Obama took office. Try again, rookie...

    [​IMG]
     
  14. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    the past thirty months, that's cute. how about we start doing it with bush's tarp after he ran the economy into the ground with a war of choice following tax cuts.
     
  15. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    the chicken hawks are now deficit hawks, perfectly exemplifying the article. it would be funny if it weren't true. the nerve of the deficits don't matter crowd
     
  16. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    30 months would encompass tarp.
     
  17. pgabriel

    pgabriel Educated Negro

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    edit: no Oct 08 is when it passed.
     
  18. gifford1967

    gifford1967 Contributing Member
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    The fact that you have the luxury of posting on an internet message board and aren't standing in a bread line tells me it's worked fairly well. If the Democrats had been able to get through more short term spending on infrastructure as recommended by non-wingnut economists it would have worked even better.
     
    #18 gifford1967, Jun 20, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  19. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    We did? lol, no we didn't.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Major

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    Theory being that regulating banks can prevent them from taking on excess risk. Or that providing health care in a new way can reduce costs. You're a perfect example of the modern GOP - your entire logic train focuses on taxes and nothing else, despite the fact that reality shows otherwise.
     

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