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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Compassion and Conservatism


Burke

One of the most annoying traits of the left is to consider themselves compassionate; while the right is supposedly stern and cruel. This is a level of hypocrisy that would make a Biblical Pharisee choke on his dinner.

And many on the right are stupid enough to buy into it. As when George Bush the younger called for “Compassionate conservatism,” or when Romney described his record as “severely conservative.”

One leftish Facebook friend recently asked me, “How can you, a Christian, support Trump?” I did not, mind, support Trump; she was assuming this, perhaps from the fact that I was a professed Christian. She, of course, was not.

If I thought this were true, that left-wing policies were compassionate, and right-wing policies were a matter of sticking it to the poor and vulnerable, I’d be a left-winger. But the whole notion is based on a Marxist fantasy, an inverted idea that free markets promote greed, while a government intervention is a corrective to this.

This is the opposite of the truth. The whole point of a free market is that it prevents greed and selfishness. Try to ask for more than your product is really worth, and you go bankrupt. Try to take out more profit than you’ve earned, and you go bankrupt. Granted, there are distortions. But the solution to such distortions is to end them, not to add them.

And with a free market, if there is misconduct, if there is oppression, the remedy is immediate: you stop buying the product. You stop working for the company. You pull out your investment. You cannot do this with government. At best, you get input about every four years, it is just up or down for everything, and you have to hope a majority of your countrymen agree with you.

On the most important issues, it seems to me consistently the left that acts selfishly and is prepared to screw the less fortunate.

Abortion is the most obvious. Who is more vulnerable and in more need of society’s help? Abortion is now the worst holocaust, the greatest mass murder, the world has ever seen, and it is happening now. How can anyone on the left think that anyone on the right could, in conscience, vote for the left, now that they demand abortion paid for by government, on demand, and without apology? And ban from their ranks anyone who disagrees? Is it okay because the left does not see the unborn as human? Was killing the Jews okay because the Nazis did not see them as human?

School choice is also an obvious marker. This would, of course, be most valuable to the poor; the rich can already send their kids to the schools they want. I note with knowing horror that of all Trump’s cabinet choices, the left is most opposed to Betsy DeVos, the advocate of charter schools. When it comes down to what is most important to them themselves, screwing the poor is top of the agenda. Failing schools are the surest way to keep down rising generations. Note that these wealthy liberals almost always send their own kids to private schools. Guaranteeing their class privilege.

This probably explains their opposition to the free market. It allows a poor person or poor family to work their way into the upper class. Mired, of course, with all the filth of trade. The poor are supposed to stay poor. Welfare does that. The rich are not supposed to have to compete with the hoi polloi.

Trade protectionism. Trump is a protectionist, but the right in general is not; the left have been the protectionists over the last few decades, certainly in Canada. While protectionism might be good for some local workers, it is necessarily always at the expense of poorer workers abroad. And even at home, what is gained by some workers is at the expense of poorer people on fixed incomes or without work, whose cost of living must go up.

Minimum wage laws: these benefit those who keep jobs against those, necessarily poorer, who now cannot get jobs. The haves are given at the expense of the have-nots. Most hurt are the young, looking for their first job. Simple truth: if I want to work for X money, and you want my work for that amount, we both have an absolute human right to make that deal. Prohibit it, and I starve while you do without.

Burke parodied for wanting rights for Catholics. "Driven back to his native potatoes."

All of this is aside from a social safety net. There may be crazies on the right who oppose a social safety net, but this is certainly not the conservative tradition. The fundamental concept of Burkean conservatism is that society has responsibilities to its weakest members. More recently, classic liberalism has also been labelled “conservative,” but when did classic liberalism, either, involve or advocate failing to provide for the poor? (I consider myself a liberal, not a conservative.) The debate here between left and right is on how to do this most fairly, efficiently, and respectfully. All else is straw.

And the difference is, first, the left wants the bulk of the money to go to well-off bureaucrats, instead of to the poor. Second, the left sees poverty as a permanent state that should be permanent, while the right wants the poor to become, if possible, better off.




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