The following commentary was not written by Johnny Irish, he has posted it to preserve the anonymity of the writer:
Written by: EssaySea
I would like to share ideas that, to some, follow the edict of reason. I don’t kid myself into thinking I will single-handedly change your viewpoint, but as a fellow American, I’m hoping you’ll let reason overrule tradition, upbringing and community influence. For people of any religious faith, when arriving at conclusions, I hope your community hasn’t convinced you that you have to be a conservative, liberal or anything in between or else you’re “betraying” your faith. Religion derives no politics and therefore the religious community should not dictate politics.
Anyway, I’d like to give insight to the inner workings of ideas/conclusions that are, more often than not, labeled “liberal”, and provide an understanding of the motivation behind the progressive movement, so often labeled “liberal”. I’d also like to point out some fallacies commonly argued against some of these values by conservatives.
1. The poor person, especially one in need of public assistance, is just lazy. This is not only wrong, but just plain mean. It’s the ultimate “blaming the victim”. It assumes that wealth is somehow directly related to hard work. It’s not. Hard work is often required, but wealth has much more to do with opportunity…and opportunity is influenced much more by the social constraints of any society than by personal work ethic.
Opportunity must deal with prejudices, fears, education, etc. The simple fact is the “haves” receive more access to opportunity than the “have-nots”. This is also unavoidable, which is why reasonable people don’t attempt to change this fact, but attempt to shape other societal forces (fiscal policy) to minimize the negative impacts and hopefully minimize the gap between “haves” and “have nots” as much as possible so that the opportunity gap is as small as possible at the start.
2. Tax breaks for the wealthy creates jobs. This is an outgrowth of the trickle-down/ supply-side economics that has been popular for a while. It hasn’t always been the “conservative” view (Kennedy had it first), but it’s always been wrong. There’s plenty of economist published work out there to discredit it if you wish to find it, but I’ll get back to the jobs point.
The creation of new jobs is a business decision. I address this myth as an MBA, not a “liberal”. The decision by a company, particularly a publicly owned one, to expand operations (job creation) is one that must be driven by the belief in the possibility of expanding one’s bottom line…either by discovering a new target market, or the belief that you can expand your market share of the existing market by appealing to consumers desire for higher quality, cheaper prices, etc. This type of decision must stand up to the rigors of a thorough cost/benefit analysis, and will or will not occur based on the previous factors regardless of a company’s tax structure. If a company attempted to expand operations when these factors were not present, or conversely, chose not to expand when these conditions did exist, they would have hell to pay to their shareholders.
Also, the idea that because the government gave the company a tax break, the shareholders are going to approve the decision to just pour that money back out by hiring people just because they have extra money is ludicrous. If the time isn’t right, the “extra” money will need to either be re-invested in the company or paid out in dividends.
Long story short, job creation happens based on market/industry behavior and the company’s health within that market. Tax structure has nothing to do with it. I know that may be a little heady for some, but think of it this way: The “tax cuts for the top helps everybody” theory is often expressed as “a rising tide lifts all boats”, which seems to make sense at first. The thing is, the rising tide will not change the rowboats to yachts, and if everyone just got raised the same amount, then proportionally speaking, the poor are still just as poor and the rich are still just as rich aren’t they?
Everyone knows that just because I have a $5 bill now doesn’t mean it’s worth 5 times as much as the $1 bill I used to have. Currency valuation is all relative/proportional. A million pesos doesn’t make you rich.
3. The Founding Fathers’ ideals were more along the lines of “every man for himself” and less “help thy neighbor”. This is also false. Although the Founding Fathers did cleverly remove any criticism of slavery and class oppression from Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence because they judged profit more important than freedom, one must notice that they chose not to put such ideals in writing…and rightfully so, they’re far from noble.
The ideals they did choose to publish were those of “all men created equal”, “promoting the general welfare” of all citizens, and “securing the blessings of liberty” (liberty being commonly accepted as a person’s right to choice). So, although the Founding Fathers may not have lived up to such ideals in their personal lives, they certainly knew that the ideals born in the concepts of equality, altruism, and freedom of choice were the nobler.
It’s also worth mentioning (in light of the modern immigration debate) that one of the reasons we threw off King George in our Declaration of Independence was:
“He (George) has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands”.
The Founding Fathers were not against immigrants. They knew the “Great Experiment” which is the USA requires immigration. It requires seekers of opportunity and requires a system that will allow them to succeed. Any philosophy, and especially any policy, that is not based on the idea of allowing both newcomers and existing members of the society to experience, equally, every benefit it has to offer, and instead proposes that the X group of people is detrimental to our society as a whole is a bad one. That’s how it starts. If anyone asks you to buy into an idea that blames a certain group for a societal problem, a bell should go off in your head.
Americans are not to divide people into “us and them”. If you are here (and I mean physically, not as defined by any document), then you are one of us and we will work your needs and desires into our Great Experiment as we meet the challenges ahead. That’s what we understand the USA to be. That’s the America we understood to have helped liberate Nazi Germany. That’s the one we want around for our children.
I see the modern conservative movement as being based very much on exclusion and not enough on helping your fellow man. I think much of it is a remnant of the cold war, except now they just replace the Russians with Homosexuals or Mexicans, or “liberals”, etc. Remember: these are the types of characteristics they would often attribute to “the commies” back in the day…the anti-socialism thing is most definitely playing up that fear.
The “average Joe” conservative literally thinks socialism is another word for communism, they don’t know the difference. Hell, they don’t really even know what communism is, they just know that Ronald Reagan and most of the 80′s action heroes fought against it – I could have used Kennedy or Ike, but that’s really a generational thing. Anyway, this type of thing bothers us because we see it as a school of thought born of perceived “loyalty” rather than logic, reason, compassion etc. which are the ideals of western civilization.
Every person should be aware of the power of ideas for both good and bad. Especially ideas centered in “love it or leave it”, “these people are dragging us down”, “the rest of us are paying a price because ____ people are getting away with something”, etc. These are the ideas that are often sold to the masses as some form of patriotism. Mislead patriotism is but one small step from nationalism, and that’s just plain dangerous.
After what this world has seen, every country must be wary to avoid that slippery slope, and we Americans especially simply because of the power we possess. And I beg of everyone not to think this is implausible. Look what we’ve done to homosexuals – we almost placed persecution of them into our federal constitution a few years back – not to mention the hate crimes that occur regularly; to immigrants (i.e. the damn “foreigners”) – I’m sure you’ve heard of these vigilante groups out there shooting people crossing the border. It’s madness, and it’s done while waving an American flag.
4. The idea that because I experienced a hard time, others should have to do the same. This is simply contrary to most of the known leadership strategies. Think of the family dichotomy…the point is to help the young ones avoid the “hardships I had to face when I was a kid” etc. A leader within the public sphere has the same responsibility. He/she hopes the next group will not need to “learn the hard way”, but accept our help (both advice (policy) and funding (social programs)) and lead their next generation of Americans to prosperity that will hopefully exceed their own.
Who do you know that would choose to help certain of their children succeed, but punish their other children if they asked for assistance as well? As far as that example is concerned, what parent do you know that would focus help only on the children who already have the most natural ability to succeed, and blame their more handicap children for being “lazy” or “needy”? It just doesn’t make sense, yet we do this all the time on a state/national level.
Anyway, I hope all that helps. They’re definitely worth thinking about and I hope whoever reads this does just that. I’d like to point out that I’m not just defending some liberal viewpoint and that there are some ideas traditional liberals and I would disagree on, but the conclusions I reach are more than likely to fall on the “liberal” side. I feel this is due more to my being influenced by events in Western civilization such as “The Age of Reason” and “The Scientific Method” than by any predetermined “left or right” or “red or blue” which I’m supposed to belong to.