Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Conservative Politics

It is true that I am an evangelical Christian. However, that's not the reason I lean to the political right. At least, it's not the primary reason. I'm not driven by topics like abortion and gay marriage, despite the efforts of many on the right and the left to elevate those two issues to the top of the priority list.

No, my reason for moving from a liberal in my younger years (my first presidential vote went to Dukakis in 1988; I also voted for Ann Richards for TX governor in 1990) to my current conservative status owes more to the fact that I took a few history and economics classes in college.

The more I understand economics, the more I understand that less government is better, on two levels: a practical level and a deeper level. By practical, I mean that one can easily demonstrate with numbers how an economy will benefit when the government stays out of it. You give a dollar to the government, and it stays there. You give a dollar to a business, and that dollar gets spent several times, and it gets taxed each time. Businesses gain money, families get fed, and the government still gets money from the fact that the dollar got spent and passed through so many hands, being taxed each time. (By the way, this is why I'm against the lottery; my religious ideas are not even involved). When getting my 2nd degree, I took a class with a boring name (something like "Economics of Public Policy") and explained it very well. The professor, Roger Meiners, is extremely knowledgeable in this area. He's worth googling.

But beyond the practical level is the question of how we are affected at the core. When we think it's OK to force the rich to support the poor, when we think it's OK to expect a handout from the government, I think it's bad for the soul. This past Fall, while the press piled on the guy known as Joe the Plumber, the real story was not him, but what Obama said to him. He said we need to "spread the wealth around." By which he meant having the government force you to spread your wealth to those who have less than you.

While we all should give to those less fortunate, such giving should be voluntary. Forced giving is wrong even when it's phrased in seemingly harmless ways, such as "spread the wealth around", or when we glorify such practices in stories like "Robin Hood", but the result is damaging.

Sadly, I think our nation has devolved into a mindset that forced giving and the expectations of government handouts is the norm now. That doesn't mean it's any less harmful to our soul, but it does mean it's probably irreversible.


Cobbey said...

"You give a dollar to the government, and it stays there. You give a dollar to a business, and that dollar gets spent several times, and it gets taxed each time."

I don't understand economics at all. (It might be fairly convincingly argued these days that hardly anyone does.) And I sure didn't like the sound of "spread the wealth." And I always flinch at comments about how the rich need to be taxed more because they get unfair breaks that the middleclass and poor don't get. But I'm not sure I follow your comments above all the way.

Who's giving the dollar to the business? If the government is keeping the dollar, who's the government and where are they keeping it? In the bank? Or are they paying their employees, who are maintaining our roads, teaching (or babysitting, depending on your perspective) our children, promoting our interests around the world (or making and killing our enemies), finding cures for our diseases, encouraging innovation in the arts (which benefits all of us), etc.? And are these employees then paying their dollars to businesses, which are then paying dollars back to the government?

It doesn't seem so black and white to me. Maybe you could speak a little slower for me. Or maybe you could direct me to a good book. (I guess I could look up your professor.)

I'm also not sure that it's bad to force the rich to support the poor. I think that's pretty much all government does if you break it down far enough, isn't it? In "the old days," if you had a castle and land, you were the government. You were rich enough to protect yourself, make your own roads, pay your own police force. Maybe in certain parts of the world you could do that now if you had enough money. But in our culture, the government forces you to pay for the poor. Bill Gates might be able to purchase all of the land between his house and his office, and all of the Seattle's Best coffeeshops and grocery stores and golf courses he needed to get to. Then he could build his own roads and a hospital and pay for his own police force, etc. But we don't think that's good enough. We, the "poor," say he needs to pay us so that we can all have that stuff, too. We, the "government," force him to do so.

James said...

Luther, I don't think I need to speak slower for you ;) I respect those who see this stuff differently than myself, but think I will elaborate a little based on your comment. My main point wasn't about what happens to a dollar when it gets spent. My main problem with "spread the wealth" politics is that it is, at its core, based on class envy. That's why I said it's bad for the soul.