A Voice in the Wilderness In Defense of "Mere Conservatism"

4Aug/10Off

What I Learned In The Rose Garden

By: R.J. Moeller

President Obama held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden on July 19th for the purposes of pressing congress to extend unemployment benefits past the 26 weeks the law currently allows for.

The president focused like a laser beam on the emotional aspect of the economic worries that millions of Americans have right now.  His brief statements that day tell us three important things about the psyche and ideology of modern progressive-liberal Democrats.

After offering the boiler-plate “I feel your pain” commiserations with struggling American families, the president said:

“I know the only thing that will entirely free them of those worries, the only thing that will fully lift that sense of uncertainty is the security of a new job.  To that end, we all have to continue our efforts to do everything in our power to spur growth and hiring. And I hope the Senate acts this week on a package of tax cuts and expanded lending for small businesses, where most of America's jobs are created.”

The first important conclusion to draw from the president’s remarks is that the Left thoroughly misunderstand economics.  With Leftists running the legislative and executive branches of our federal government, this is a significant problem, to say the least.

President Obama is right to say that job-creation could solve many problems in our economy, and he is also right to acknowledge the benefits of a “package of tax cuts and expanded lending for small businesses,” but other than lip-service, he thus far has proven to be unwilling to pay the political price with his own party it would require to actually enact the policies needed for true, sustained economic growth.  Policies like across-the-board tax cuts, a prolific slashing of the federal budget, and a freeze on entitlements and handouts (like the one he called the press conference to ask congress to extend).

Jobs are important, and when people become desperate for work they are willing to take nearly anything, but you cannot create one out of thin air.  There are, in fact, jobs that hurt the economy and prolong recessions (or lay the groundwork for yet another one).  For example, when the government hires employees it doesn’t need, with money it doesn’t have.  The only sector of the economy currently seeing job growth is not “small businesses,” where most people are employed, but in the size and scale of the workforce of the federal government.

We absolutely need a certain amount of civil servants, including state and federal employees.  This is not in dispute.  But whether the nation is in an economic downturn or not, the Left’s “solution” to unemployment is always to put more people on “we the people’s” payroll.  Do you want to take a guess which political party most of those newly-minted government workers vote for come election time?

The unavoidable reality is this: governments do not create wealth; they only forcibly collect and arbitrarily re-distribute it.  For President Obama to sing the praises of tax-cuts for small businesses and then continue to tax-and-spend at break-neck speeds is like simultaneously urging your neighbors to water and fertilize the trees in whose branches they are sitting while you cut those same branches off from under them.

The cash to provide unemployment benefits comes from the businesses (and owners of those businesses) that end up having to fire people because tax rates and regulation have made it un-profitable (or impossible) to hire more employees and/or grow their business (and our economy in the process).  This is the tragic irony, and fatal flaw, of modern liberal economic thinking.  Eventually you will run out of other peoples’ money.

Jobs are created (and people are removed from unemployment or welfare) when the private sector is growing, not the public sector.

This does not mesh with the Left’s collectivist, anti-capitalist ideology.  It also does not sell well on the campaign trail.  Promising free stuff that greedy “rich people” have allegedly held back from you sounds much better at a union-backed rally than does promoting personal responsibility, cuts in government spending, lower taxes for the people and companies that create jobs, and the need to rely on your friends, families, and houses of worship in times of economic duress.

“But even as we work to jump-start job growth in the private sector, even as we work to get businesses hiring again, we also have another responsibility: to offer emergency assistance to people who desperately need it, to Americans who've been laid off in this recession.  We've got a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families, even as they are looking for another job…

We need to pass (increased unemployment benefits) for women like Leslie Mako (ph), who lost her job in a fitness center last year and has been looking for work ever since. Because she's eligible for only a few more weeks of unemployment, she's doing what she never thought she'd have to do -- not at this point, anyway -- she's turning to her father for financial support.”

The second telling point to emanate from the president’s press conference is the progressive Left’s fervent belief that dependency on “the State” is a noble, moral good.  To their (and our) detriment, liberals never ask the all-important question, “How did we become prosperous enough as a nation that we are able to provide any benefits at all for those in need?”  Gone are the pretenses that Big Brother should merely serve as a “safety net” for those ravaged by natural disasters; here to stay is the notion that the government has the primary “responsibility” to pay your bills should the economy turn south or you, for whatever reason, lose your job.

The woman the president referenced above, Leslie Mako, in fact did not "lose her job" in the traditional sense.  She was convicted of drug fraud and politely asked never to come back to work again.  Setting aside (for now) the gross incompetence of the White House in putting a woman like Ms. Mako on television next to the president without doing a thorough background check, we hear in the president’s own words his disdain at the thought of Americans having to turn to their families for help in tough economic times.

Progressives, liberals, collectivists, socialists, and Marxists have certain core ideological characteristics and beliefs that they generally all share in common.  They believe in centralized power in the hands of the few.  They believe that free market enterprise (and the private sector of any economy) is less trustworthy, less productive and more selfish than the benevolent public sector.  They believe in “equitable” re-distribution of wealth, conveniently adjudicated by the same centralized government they humbly offer to run for us.  They believe that “the family” is an antiquated concept that has been replaced with what Hillary Clinton would call the “It takes a village” mentality.  Collective responsibility, in the mind of a Leftist like President Obama, trumps individual and familial responsibility.

The government gets no glory and Democrats get no votes when relatives are helping relatives that would otherwise end up dependent on the government for their livelihood and sustenance.  The same goes for local churches and synagogues.  The fact that Ms. Mako would actually have to seek financial help from her father, instead of being taken care of by compassionate legislation enacted by compassionate liberal politicians, is objectionable to President Obama and a central argument in his case to the country as to why more funds should be spent on federal entitlements and handouts.

“Over the past few weeks, a majority of senators have tried, not once, not twice, but three times to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis. Each time a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote, denying millions of people who are out of work much-needed relief.

These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job should talk to these folks….It's time to stop holding workers laid off in this recession hostage to Washington politics. It's time to do what's right, not for the next election, but for the middle class.”

The third and final revealing thing President Obama’s press conference brought to light is the stark and vivid differences between the two prevailing political ideologies in this country.  Some 40% of Americans describe themselves as being “conservative,” while around 20% are “liberal.”  Among the remaining 40% of “independents,” the majority support what are essentially conservative and/or libertarian positions on the most important issues of our time.  This is a Center-Right country, plain and simple.

No responsible parent raises his or her child to practice what liberals preach.  Spending money you don’t have and sending the bill to someone else (including future generations) is reckless and immoral.  Giving someone a job because of the color of their skin and not their qualifications is silly and wrong.  Teaching young people that their government owes them health care, bailouts, and welfare entitlements is de-habilitating and unsustainable.  It would be impossible to live out these types of values and have any degree of success in your own life.

But it just might work for the government of 300 million people, right?

Certainly there are sizeable blocks of pro-choice, pro-gay marriage liberal voters, but when it comes to economic and foreign policy matters, very few Americans practically embrace Leftist principles on a day-to-day basis (where it matters most).

President Obama sees every disagreement with his policies as nothing more than petty, partisan bickering.  This is to the detriment of his presidency and the nation’s well-being.  How could someone who believed in limited government and fiscal responsibility keep quiet while Democrats pass 2,000-page bill after 2,000-page bill?  How could someone who desperately wants the federal government to take seriously its constitutional duty to secure the borders and maintain the integrity of American citizenship look the other way as the administration makes states like Arizona the villain instead of those breaking our laws?

How could someone who believes deeply in the institution of the family, and in the integral role the local church ought to play in the lives of “the least among us” in its community, sit idly by as our own president undermines both and actively seeks to put the secular government in their places?

Come November, regardless of which party they may hail from, we must rid ourselves of any and all politicians what think like this.  I mean it: if there are Republicans who are promoting a progressive agenda, or have participated in advancing one in the past, kick ‘em to the curb.  Make your allegiance to your family, to your values, and to the truth.  Real change is coming to this country, in one direction or another.

Choose liberty.  Choose prosperity.  Choose to live in a country where family members freely and voluntarily helping other family members in dire economic straits receives the same kind of praise modern liberals lavish on government handouts.

Comments (11) Trackbacks (0)
  1. “No responsible parent raises his or her child to practice what liberals preach. Spending money you don’t have and sending the bill to someone else (including future generations) is reckless and immoral. Giving someone a job because of the color of their skin and not their qualifications is silly and wrong. Teaching young people that their government owes them health care, bailouts, and welfare entitlements is de-habilitating and unsustainable. It would be impossible to live out these types of values and have any degree of success in your own life.”

    BINGO my friend. B-I-N-G-O!

  2. Wow… I can’t believe I never thought of that. I’m referring to the revelation about being ashamed to go to a parent instead of the government for assistance. If you are ashamed to ask your parents for help, I think you did something wrong or something stupid to put yourself in that position.

    Every time the president speaks, he talks about how evil the “partisan” Republicans are. Let’s think about who the real partisan is. Is it the minority Representative that votes true to the policies that people elected him to follow or is it the [Congressional] majority President whose only acts of leadership have been attacks on the character and motives of anyone who disagrees with him? Isn’t there some possibility that someone who voted against one of the policies he supports simply thought we could do better than the bill we had?

    Thank you for a very straightforward analysis.

  3. This is an excellent article.

    Obama’s policies, not anything Bush did (although he made some big mistakes), are responsible for the high unemployment rate we have now. Liberals will never be fiscally responsible. Also, if you want more of something (unemployment), subsidize it (well beyond a normal time frame). If you want less of something (private sector economic activity), tax it.

    The idea of passing all this debt along to our grandchildren should be considered in the light of the likelihood that it will actually be “paid,” i.e., repudiated, through high inflation, paid with cheap money, as it were.

    John Maynard Keynes, “being dead, yet speaketh.” And the government’s interpretation of Keynesianism leads to very destructive economic policies.

  4. You sir, have got this spot on.

    And it isnt just an American problem, every western society is dealing with the issues of welfare dependency and government bloat.

    The figures spent on the US stimulous are so big I can’t even visualise it in my head, yet all my friends in the US tell me how bad the jobs situation is.

    Just seem incredible how bad a president Obama has been.

    Big wave to my fellow conservatives from Australia!

  5. Excellent article, sir!
    “Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist, seeing the rich man and his fine home, says: No man should have so much. The capitalist, seeing the same thing, says: All men should have as much.” ~ Phelps Adams
    “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

  6. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/New-claims-for-jobless-apf-3631266616.html?x=0&.v=6

    Surprise? Not if you understand that Keynesian economics do not work. – http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Surprise-rise-in-jobless-rb-3752948140.html?x=0&.v=4

    Folks, it is time to wake up your neighbors and friends. The only way to repair this stupidity is to remove these dolts from office. To shout from the rooftops that this can be fixed and that we have a way to do it. Amazing how history provides no lesson for these people. Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Carter and now Obama’s implementation of progressivism and liberalism have been and are failures.

  7. Trouble lays ahead for this country if we continue to elect politicians with such misguided views of private property, human nature, appropriate levels of taxation, and the proper role of government in our lives. That is the KEY question for all Americans to ask themselves (and discuss amongst themselves):

    What is the proper role of government in our lives?

    But also other questions, such as: What does the Constitution say about it? What do my values/morals/ethics say about it? What does history teach us about it? What does my religion/religious text have to say about it?

    We’re giving away a blessing from God when we sit idly by while corruption and waste and incompetence reign in our nation’s capital.

  8. Since part of a person’s salary (unofficially of course) goes toward the unemployment tax (premiums) that each company is required to pay for each employee, so-called “unemployment insurance” or “unemployment benefit” is the only government hand-out that I feel is legitimate. The problem with it is that like all government hand-outs, it is abused by some people, especially those who are constantly using it (consistently in and out of work) and who are given the same benefits that someone who has been working for 20 years and has never used the help gets. There seems to be something inherently wrong with that.

  9. I am so happy I am not Liberal

  10. “No responsible parent raises his or her child to practice what liberals preach. Spending money you don’t have and sending the bill to someone else (including future generations) is reckless and immoral. Giving someone a job because of the color of their skin and not their qualifications is silly and wrong. Teaching young people that their government owes them health care, bailouts, and welfare entitlements is de-habilitating and unsustainable. It would be impossible to live out these types of values and have any degree of success in your own life.”

    This quote really exposes the close-mindedness and egoistic mentality the general conservative and right-wing populous employs.

    First “spending money you don’t have” is not something liberals (as you stated) “preach.” Rather, liberals seek to solve an enormous national deficit caused by a reckless foreign and domestic policy under (your very own) George Bush Junior. Unfortunately for President Obama, such a large deficit and economic crisis is solved by creating long term “investments” of taxpayer capita. You can’t expect to have the strongest military in the world, good health care, a decent education system, public works (i.e. roads and bridges), and anything else everyone in America feels so entitled to without taxation. Simply stagnating the government and letting money flow takes money away from all those things that make first world living possible (once again, roads and bridges…) and gives it to corporate America and Wall Street to squander.

    Second you stated that parents should not teach their children that “Giving someone a job because of the color of their skin and not their qualifications is silly and wrong.” While the whole article did not take this tone the blatant racism in this quote is appalling. What made President Obama, a less appealing candidate in the sense of his credentials? nothing…other potentials such as John McCain with his abomination of a vice presidential candidate between them had no more “qualifications” than Obama and Biden. Stating that he was elected on the color of his skin is an infuriatingly racist and empirically false claim.

  11. Andrew S-

    I thank you for taking the time to go through an old column of mine and post your thoughts. I really do appreciate it! I love interacting with readers, regardless of their ideology and political affiliations.

    Let me tackle your remarks here one at a time. It makes it easier to have a productive dialogue this way.

    This quote really exposes the close-mindedness and egoistic mentality the general conservative and right-wing populous employs.

    It’s unfortunate that your view of conservatives is so jaded. I don’t hate or harbor any personal resentment toward liberals or progressives…just their ideas. I am not egotistic, just supremely convinced of the soundness of my views. I would wager that you are too, otherwise you wouldn’t be posting a strongly-worded response on my website.

    First “spending money you don’t have” is not something liberals (as you stated) “preach.” Rather, liberals seek to solve an enormous national deficit caused by a reckless foreign and domestic policy under (your very own) George Bush Junior.

    One of the core tenets of modern liberalism is bigger government. The only way to get a bigger government is to tax and spend more. The government cannot create wealth, merely re-distribute other peoples’ money. Yes, we do want roads, but anyone who says that the current system is sustainable is a fool. It isn’t. We have to cut back, across-the-board. The military spending is a fraction of what we spend on welfare entitlements. If you are against the war, that is fine, but to say that George Bush spent too much and that the answer is for Obama to spend more than every other president combined (including Bush) is nonsense. It really is. I mean no disrespect, but that doesn’t even pass the common sense smell test. Your ideology has clouded your judgement.

    You can’t expect to have the strongest military in the world, good health care, a decent education system, public works (i.e. roads and bridges), and anything else everyone in America feels so entitled to without taxation.

    You are getting at my point: we feel too entitled and shouldn’t expect everything we get now. We need to cut back and restrain our spending appetites. Both parties. This isn’t a puff piece for Bush or Palin. Conservatives can act and spend like liberals too, and when they do, it infuriates me. We like in an imperfect world. There is too much power in Washington, and again, this is my point.

    Your comment about stagnating the government doesn’t have any real correlation to reality. I want tax breaks for everyone. It’s our money, not yours, not the government’s. Tax revenues go up when tax rates are cut (see: Kennedy and Reagan administrations). Again, the only sector of the economy that can create wealth is the private one. We want money in the hands of the citizenry. Greed exists in every area of life. But when greed is centralized in the hands of the government, we’re all screwed.

    This stuff is real simple, man. True conservatives are completely aware of (and sickened by) reckless greed and corruption in Wall Street. We also hate it in the government. One has the power to control your lives…the other can be boycotted, sued, held accountable, reported on, etc. etc. Every example of governments that annex more and more power for themselves ends with that government crushing the citizenry. I’d rather be free and have to pay for my own healthcare (especially if that health care has been opened up to be sold across state lines and there is tort reform passed) than be told where to work and where to live and have more than half my paycheck taken by Nancy Pelosi (or even Sarah Palin).

    I would highly recommend to you the essays by Frederic Bastiat entitled “The Law”. I would absolutely love to have you read that because I feel it very clearly and succinctly articulates my worldview: http://www.constitution.org/law/bastiat.htm

    Also, check out my Mere Conservatism essays at the top-right of my website.

    That’s all for now. I’m not going to respond to your charges of racism, but will let other readers see what I said, see what you said, and make up their own mind.

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