Transcript: Conservative Thinking Rant, Apr 03 2007
The Libertarians are splitting with the conservatives.
Thom's "Conservative Thinking" rant 3 April 2007
Well, the Libertarians are splitting with the conservatives; you can see that from the Cato Institute and from our guest. A lot of Republicans are splitting from the conservatives, or arguably the conservatives are saying, 'Well, the Republicans aren't us. Rudy Giuliani isn't a conservative Mitt Romney isn't. Doonesbury has been having a lot of fun with Mr. Romney. 'Ah, we're so pleased that you support gay rights. 'Well, actually, I don't anymore'. 'We're so pleased that you support abortion rights'. 'Well, actually, I've changed my mind on that'. Ah, yes.
But see, here's the bottom line. What Libertarians, who I refer to as 'Republicans who want to smoke dope and get laid' and conservatives are promoting in the United States, and have been promoting for the better part of 230 years, this is nothing new. You know, the real genesis of modern conservative and liberal thought goes back to the debate, as it were, between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Hobbes writing in the early part of the sixteen hundreds, Locke writing in the later sixteen hundreds; Hobbes writing in large part to justify the ascension of Charles the Second to the throne back to the throne after they kicked out Oliver Cromwell and Locke writing to justify the glorious revolution when the kicked out Charles the Second's brother James the Second and said, 'Enough of this king stuff already' and threw him out and, you know, the glorious revolution exiled him to France and then brought William and Mary in.
But before they did they passed the first British Bill of Rights. As I recall, this was 1688. I may be wrong, but it's more or less right around then [1689 - ed.] and that was the beginning, arguably, of democracy in the United Kingdom. And so John Locke was arguing for democracy and Hobbes was basically, and the difference between the two was real simple, and it continues to this day to be the fundamental difference between liberal and conservative thought. And that is that the conservatives believe that the essential nature of humans is evil. Thomas Hobbes writing about if the essential nature of humans was allowed to act out, our human nature was allowed to actually be free and unfettered, we would live in a state of perpetual war, because is the natural state of mankind according to conservative thought and that without the restraining force, the iron fist of government or church, life would revert to its original state and be nasty, brutish and short.
Whereas John Locke came along and said, 'No, the natural state of humans is to be good and that we form government in order to allow people to maximize their potential; in other words to fulfill the goodness that's inherently within them, whereas Hobbes said, 'No, no, you create government to restrain people from the evil that's in them.
And everything else comes out of that. You can boil all of conservative and liberal thought down to those two basic notions.
Conservatives fundamentally believe that humans are evil and therefore need to be restrained and never trusted, and liberals believe that humans are fundamentally good and the purpose of government is not to restrain evil impulses of people. Obviously when it happens you want to punish and try to correct, but the goal of government is to give people the backstop. You know, the necessary platform, the floor, the starting point.
And so, conservative thought now has been ascendant in the United States. Liberal thought in the United States basically controlled this country from 1933 with the installation of Franklin Roosevelt after the '32 elections until 1981 when Reagan came in. And conservative thought has pretty much ruled the United States from 1981 till today, including, I would argue, during the Clinton administration. And conservative thought has by and large article, particularly when it comes to things like trade, brought us just a 'wonderful' collection of things. See, they say, "We don't want government', but they do believe that there mist be some kind of restraining force. There must, according to Russell Kirk, you know, order and classes in society. So, if you don't have government, who's in charge? Well, multinational corporations and very wealthy people. That's the ideal in conservative thought.
You know, they're going to rail, for example, against the Supreme Court ruling saying that the EPA has the right to you, on behalf of we the people, we have people elect our officials and they create this organization, the Environmental Protection Agency, to protect the environment and do what we want done. And the conservatives will say, "Oh no! Nameless, faceless bureaucrats are going to be regulating how much carbon dioxide you can emit. You don't want that". Well, yeah, actually we do want that. That's why we created an EPA. But it's incredible how they're just, you know, freaking out, because they don't believe that government should restrain people except when it comes to do with sexual activity or whether or not they're going to have an abortion or if they decide to desecrate a flag or something. Then the government should be in your face fast with a gun, but otherwise, no.
If it comes to commerce, if it comes to throwing things in the atmosphere that we may all have to breathe or that might change the atmosphere, that should be regulated by private industry; that should be up to the so-called private market. And the results of this are pretty dramatic; the results of 26 years of conservative thinking in the United States, particularly economically. But we see it in social policy, we see it right across the board, this foundational conservative notion that there must be a restraining force; but that the appropriate restraining force isn't one that's under the control of the maximum number of people because you can't trust democracy after all in conservative thinking. Government - you know, reflecting the will of the people - that's a dangerous thing. Instead, we've got to have governance by a small order of very wealthy and powerful people known as multinational corporations and the rich. And I'll tell you right after this break exactly what the results of that are.
By the way, the reason why John Locke, the original liberal philosopher, is so significant and relevant to us as Americans, even though he was writing in the latter part of the sixteen hundreds in England, is that his Second Treatise on Government contained the phrase, "life, liberty and estate" and elsewhere he referred to it as "life, liberty and property" as the justification for government; that government is created in order to preserve and maintain life, liberty and private properties, essentially, and Thomas Jefferson looked at that and said, "Yeah, we'll take this a step further" because by that time they, you know, they had, the enlightenment had grown a little and matured a little. This was, you know, nearly 100 years later that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and he's changed it to "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and said, "No, that's why this country is being founded. We're going to be even more radical and John Locke was".
So, anyhow, what conservative economics have brought us; just a couple of quickies here. This from today's Wall Street Journal. The headline: "China plans a US Spending Spree". Yep, they're going to buy $2 billion worth of soy beans and $500 million worth of cotton. The Chinese are buying raw materials from us is well as machinery, electronics and other things. They're basically, we have gone from, they're basically buying the raw materials necessary to make the things that they will then sell back to us.
We have gone from being the world's largest manufacturer and exporter of finished goods in 1980, the year that Ronald Reagan was elected, and we had been that for a long time. In 26 years of conservative insane trade policies and insane conservative economics, we've gone from being the world's largest importer of raw materials and exporter of finished goods. We brought in the soybean, w e bought in the cotton, and we shipped out the clothing, the Levis. Now we export the cotton to China and we import the Levis. We don't make Levis in the United States any more; at least, not that name brand. I remember when they closed their last factory. I wrote about it in my book, Unequal Protection: The rise of corporate dominance and theft of human rights. So there's that story in today's Wall Street Journal.
Here's another one. This is from the San Diego Union Tribune. North Canton, Ohio's the dateline. "The Hong Kong-based company that acquired Hoover", as in vacuum cleaners, "earlier this year from Whirlpool Corp. said Monday it will close the main campus and some manufacturing operations of the vacuum cleaner business by fall, resulting in 750 job cuts in Ohio… Techtronics made a difficult decision after assessing its operations" Where are these jobs going? El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico.
Circuit City - this from Bloomberg - Circuit City to Fire 3,400, Hire Less Costly Workers. This is why you will not find me shopping for my next computer in a Circuit City store. That's just a personal statement, you know, I'm sure they sell great products. " Circuit City Stores Inc., the second-largest U.S. electronics retailer after Best Buy Co., fired 3,400 of its highest-paid hourly workers and will hire replacements willing to work for less. The company said its eliminating jobs that paid ``well above'' market rates. Those who were fired can apply for the lower pay, company spokesman Bill Cimino said today. He declined to give the wages of the fired workers or the new hires." I'm guessing he also declined to say what his pay check was.
And this from the New York Times, David Cay Johnson: Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows. "Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans… receiving their largest share of national income since 1928... The top 10 percent… also reached a level of income share not seen since before the Depression… The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each." The top 1 percent saw an increase in the year 2005 of $139,000 per person. "The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans", 300,000 people, "collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. " Combined. "Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980."
Now, as I've said many times, I have no problem with people doing very well thank you very much and I believe that if we're going to have an economy and we're going to have an functioning economy, it has to function in a way, as Teddy Roosevelt pointed out, as Franklin Roosevelt pointed out,' as Abraham Lincoln pointed out, and certainly as the founders, none of whom left huge dynasties or estates.
The first millionaire in today's terms was in 1790 in the United States. The first serious robber barons, the first dynastic families emerged in the 1880s in the United States, in large part as a result of government welfare. The huge railroad giveaways, which produced the railroad, what in today's dollars would be billionaires. And that came about as the result of the Civil War.
But the bottom line is that the economy should serve society as a whole as well as the individuals it, not just the individuals in it. And that's the central cleavage between Republican/conservative/libertarian Republicans who want to smoke dope and get laid thought and progressive and liberal thought, period.