Okay, here we continue the discussion for the conservative side of things. The traditional concept of conservatism was to conserve the original intent of the Constitution. However, since the rise of neo-conservatism, we have seen major changes in this area – especially in two main things: Corporatism and the War-state..
President George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” took progressivism and tried using free market methods to increase government’s ability to accomplish things. Instead of creating a large government bureaucracy to govern the outcome, as we usually see in liberal progressivism or socialism, we see government giving power and money to corporate America with a few regulations, and then let them run the program.
The problem herein is two fold. First, such action picks winners and losers, rather than leaving the market to choose who comes out on top. It can narrow the choices a person has and reduces competition. The housing market’s great rise and crash is an example of this. Regulations were changed to encourage certain companies to take large risks, while promising to protect them from the downside of a collapse or bankruptcy. Hence, we bailed out Wall Street, Fannie Mae and big banks in 2008 after they did some very stupid things.
This form of corporate welfare continues, as Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve, with the blessings of government, are printing $85 billion a month and basically giving it to the banks and large corporations to artificially keep them not only buoyant, but breaking Wall Street records. Meanwhile, government has chosen the American people as the losers, as bankruptcies and home foreclosures continue at an alarming rate. The artifcial money printing also has created a hidden tax for average Americans: wages are stagnant, but food and other prices are skyrocketing.
On the war front, we find corporatism alive and well, also. War can create a short term economic boom. The infusion of money to build ships and planes can stimulate the economies of cities and sometimes even entire states. There is nothing better for defense companies than a good war. And if one war is good, why not two? Invading Afghanistan was justified and understandable. 9/11 was an act of war by Al Qaeda.
However, Pres Bush’s concept of pre-emptive wars tramples on key concepts of the Constitution. It means we enter into a state of never ending wars. They are justified by shouts of “patriotism.” Going to war in Iraq, and then dragging out for more than a decade the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq can only be explained by a desire to finance the Corporate Defense Structure.
Actions put forth in the name of pre-emptive “strategery” include the “Patriot Act” (talk about NewSpeak), which was the genesis of the current NSA invasion into American privacy. Whereas FDR took Constitutional rights away from Japanese Americans, current presidents justify themselves with the term “patriotism” to take Constitutional rights away from ALL Americans.
George W. Bush pushed forward one of the biggest changes in medical history: Medicare Part D. This is an unfunded program that gives seniors cheaper drugs. It is not an earned benefit, because it is an unfunded benefit. Along with two wars, it helped double the national deficit to $10 Trillion during Bush’s 8 years in office. Only Barack Obama has had larger deficits in American history.
And we have seen an increasing attack against American freedoms by conservatives. Limiting people’s right of association (such as LGBT issues) risks a big counterattack as we now see happening, where religions are now fighting to retain their own Constitutional rights they once sought to deprive others of.
Finally, let’s face it. The war on drugs has been a failure. We have imprisoned millions of addicts simply for using. We don’t arrest people who sit at home drinking beer, but we toss many into jail for smoking pot instead. History showed that Prohibition didn’t work. Instead, it created crime bosses, such as Dillinger and others, who made their money running illegal speakeasy joints. Today’s war has helped create and finance the gangs that rule streets in many cities. It places police in incredible danger as they turn what could be peaceful actions into criminal activity. Trillions of dollars have been spent to support the prison industry – another corporate world that only seems to get bigger.
So, here are the tough questions:
1. If today’s conservatism professes to support the Constitution, why does it approve of the Patriot Act, the war on drugs, and other issues that reduce freedom?
2. Why do conservatives hate it when Democrats spend huge amounts of money on their own form of corporatism, but love it when they get their own chance to do so?
3. If you have tried something for decades and it still doesn’t work, why seek increased funding for it (such as the war on drugs, or war in Iraq)?
4. How did real conservatism lose its way?