I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about emotion and how it tends to get in the way and cloud the issue of rational thought. This applies to everything, from a rational evaluation of religion to a rational evaluation of politics. Recently, I had someone accuse me of being just as emotional as a conservative as I’ve accused liberals of being. That is incorrect and here’s why. I’ll limit this to the basics of conservative fiscal policy and if anyone wants me to do the social side, I’d be happy to oblige.
First, we have to evaluate society. I assert that a functional society has to remain functional for the long term, any political ideology can be up and running for a short while, it’s the ability to go on and on over an extended period of time that really matters. I think that’s a criteria that everyone can agree on, what’s the point of investing in a society that’s just going to fall apart and fail? So there are certain financial realities that we have to deal with in order to keep society functioning in the long term. Among these, and perhaps most important is a balanced budget. No government can survive in the long term if it spends more money than it takes in. That’s just a basic fiscal truth. You cannot just keep borrowing money from creditors forever, which is unfortunately what we’re doing today. Eventually, the well dries up and those bills come due. It’s fine for a short term financial boost, to kick start your economy so that you can get back in the black and pay back your debts, but when you routinely run in the red and run up all of your credit cards, eventually you do run out of places you can go for money. Unfortunately, in this country, all we’ve been doing for years is borrowing trillions of dollars and hoping that those bills will never come true. So far, at least, that’s been the case because the financial failure of the United States will result in widespread fiscal failure around the world, but it won’t always be that way. There just isn’t a never-ending magical bag of money that we can keep dipping into so we can maintain our high standard of living and swing our dick around the globe. That’s an unrealistic view of the world.
Therefore, it seems logical that if we’re going to rely only on our national workforce to supply our financial needs, we need to ensure that the overwhelming majority of our work-age citizens can find jobs. The more people work, the more people pay taxes, the more people spend money in their local, state and even federal economies, thus strengthening the economic status of the nation as a whole. Unemployment and underemployment must therefore be kept relatively low. That’s not to say that some people may be incapable of working, certainly we know that some are physically or mentally unable to do even the most rudimentary things. I don’t expect those people to go out and get jobs and support themselves, although they should do whatever they are capable of doing, I don’t buy having capable people sitting at home watching TV all day. I do think that the relatively small percentage of people who are demonstrably incapable of making it on their own can get a small stipend from the government and that private charities ought to step in to help further, if possible. We can also have a form of very short-term welfare which catches people when they fall and helps them get back on their feet. After all, it is in our financial self-interest to get as many people paying taxes and advancing the economy as possible, but this welfare ought to be very short term and very rudimentary and ought to come with a lot of strings. One of those strings must be the education or job training of the individual, such that they are required to gain job skills that will help them get a job. Another must be the enforcement of personal responsibility, if the public is paying your way, even temporarily, you are beholden to them and they get to make the rules. If you don’t like it, get a job and get off welfare. When you’re paying your own way, then you have much more control over your life. This means no breeding while you’re on welfare. It means no drugs. It means no criminal activities. If you cannot control yourself, why should society do it’s best to help you?
So now that we’ve established that a long-term functional society requires a working citizenry and a limited welfare state, that leads us straight to fiscal conservatism. Fiscal conservatism relies on all of the things that I’ve established here. It requires that people work and be personally and financially responsible for themselves. It requires that both the people and the government live within their means and spend no more money than they actually have available to spend. It requires that in good times, people stock away a nest egg so that when times are not so good, they have money to rely on. It requires that people make good financial decisions and that both business and the government maintain an even and equal playing field that doesn’t put short-term profits above long-term sustainability. There’s no emotion involved here, there’s no pie-in-the-sky wishes, dreams and desires, it’s mathematically precise and it just plain works.
Now, do we think the liberals can do this for their own fiscal plan? I don’t think so either.