Monday, November 17, 2008

Conservative Thinking and the Big Picture

The major premise, as I understand it , among conservatives is that a smaller government should do less for its citizens and that such limited role in the lives of its citizens should keep it small. The corollaries of these thoughts are a) that a citizen should conduct his/her affairs in such a manner that does not depend on government handouts. In short, a citizen has the obligation to assume responsibility for conduct that will not lead to a need for such handouts and b). government, in turn, will let you alone and allow you to conduct your affairs free and unfettered from red tape and regulation. The latter phenomenon is referred to as free marketing and government regulations are considered by such advocates as the antithesis of this desirable feature of conservatism. Looking through this prism it is easy to understand how or why some Republicans in Congress are opposed to bailing out the Big Three in the current economic climate. But, putting this particular observation aside, is not the reason I am writing today. I am trying to step back and look at the big picture in terms of the long term policies of free marketing Republicanism that have been in vogue since the Reagan era and I am going to suggest that these policies are now achieving their original stated purpose.

First a little background about the current ongoing state of affairs among governments. At the local level, cities and towns around America are shutting down major services to citizens. As a result of lost jobs and diminished tax receipts, these small units of government can no longer provide basic service and can no longer borrow money to do so. This same phenomenon is now rapidly extending to the various states of our society; my home state of Michigan is the current leader in this downfall primarily because of the ills of the automakers. The free fall is such that basic services that every one, including libertarians of the strictest stripe, agrees should be provided, but cannot due to falling tax income and inability to borrow. Looking forward to the potential impact on our federal government, I suppose that nationally we can continue to hand out money to various enterprises so long as printing presses can continue to print money, but it doesn't take a degree in economics to see where that can end up if our hallowed financial structure collapses around us.

The big picture, as I see it, will be that the free marketers-Republicans, because of the predictable and inevitable avarice and greed arising from unchecked free marketeering, will in the end get exactly the result they wanted; limited and small government with every individual in our society needing to assume personal responsibility for themselves. Taxes will be low, if not non-existent, simply because no one will have sufficient money to be taxed. Karl Marx wrote about this phenomenon. He characterized capitalism as irresponsible and self-devouring. From all appearances, this is where we are headed simply because of the inflexible, but principled, conservative notion that regulation of corporate conduct is inappropriate. Almost everything that the Nameless One has done in the past eight years reflects inflexible adherence to this principle and the pain that it is going to inflict on us all is still coming. What a terrible realization for a Monday morning. Sorry.

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