Understanding Liberals And Conservatives And Why Change Is Necessary

A comparison of Liberal and Conservative Principles resulting in why change is necessary.

The University of Virginia Professor Jonathan Haidt, in his book, The Righteous Mind, seeks to understand why some people become liberals and others conservatives, and why their moral frameworks are so different. He found that the principles that guide liberals are significantly different from those that guide conservatives, as we all know. He makes the analogy of comparing the brains of women and men, each succumbing to their own physical nature. However, it is those very differences, in physical nature, that continues to attract us to each other, as well as separating us from each other.  I wonder if the same is true in politics.

 Modern Liberals believe in the supremacy of the state and that an individual's imperfection and personal pursuits impair the objectives of a utopian state.  Modern Liberals, therefore, promote what French Historian Alexis de Tocqueville called soft tyranny, which, unfortunately, becomes increasingly more oppressive and often leads to hard tyranny. Syria is a perfect example of Tocqueville’s transition from soft to hard tyranny, where demonstrations became more violent and destructive and the government more oppressive. Occupy Wall Street, but for the fact that it was in the United States, could have resulted in the same experiences as did those in Syria, Libya and Egypt. And there are a multitude of other examples throughout Africa.  

 Liberals have consistently adopted Keynesian Economic Theory as critical to their beliefs, in Europe and Greece, as well as in American. In keeping with Keynesian theory, their argument is that national prosperity requires that governments manage the macro economy if keeping unemployment and inflation low and growth high is your objective. Conservatives also support low unemployment, low interest rates and high economic growth; however, they do so without the predominance of government. While liberal intentions may be for full employment and high growth, more often than not their policies and regulations result in actions that counter their intentions. When we over-regulate we under-stimulate.

 Historically, American conservatives have stood for the Jeffersonian principle that the government, which governs best, governs least. This philosophy guides the Modern-Day Conservative’s opposition to the intrusions of government into private life; civil liberties, free speech or privacy rights. While embracing these principles, the American Conservative has adopted an increasingly wider variety of social, economic, and philosophical issues. Generally and historically, conservatism is regarded as a defender of tradition, of capitalism, and of individual freedom and inalienable human rights. Liberals, by nature, are people who care, predominantly, about the welfare of those who do not or cannot care for themselves. While commendable, inherent in this belief is an unintentional disregard for the detailed logic that extends any analysis to its ultimate conclusion. An example would be the current Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which endeavors to provide healthcare insurance for some 46 million people, who do not have insurance, without regard to the increased cost to the remainder of taxpaying citizens. How could anyone be against providing for those who cannot provide for themselves?  However, a large percentage of those who will be provided for are young people (under 26 years of age) who have chosen not to have insurance as a result of their invincible, youthful character, yet the liberal philosophy dictates that it be provided.  They are immersed in a compassion that automatically rejects the logic of the situation: pay a small penalty because it is less expensive than buying insurance until they need it (after they get sick). Their position encompasses a total class of people (the uninsured) whether those people need or want insurance, often discounting the financial consequences. 

 As long as there is a division of wealth, where one class has more than another class, liberals will continue to demonstrate actively and often in support of a sharing of that wealth. They argue that America is the ‘land of opportunity’, which should provide rules and regulations that apply to all citizens, however, should you take advantage of that opportunity, in liberal eyes, you automatically shift out of the ‘middle class’ whose rules of fairness for all no longer apply. The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations were a combination of financially well-off liberals supporting not so financially well-off, philosophically youthful liberals, in hopes of making significant social/economic and political points, while diverting attention from the real political issues.  Winston Churchill once said, “ if you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no head.”  The underlying philosophy of this statement, I believe, was to highlight the transition of youthful compassion to the practical reality of life as it progresses.

 What our forefathers intended as a compromise between liberal and conservative political philosophies, has evolved into extremely non-productive partisan politics. Both liberals and conservatives select facts that promote their own political positions without weighing the totality of the circumstancea, increasing our inability to even evaluate the issues, let alone compromise with one another. Each side countering the other side’s negative advertisements with selected facts that support their position only.

Unemployment, still over 8.2% with the total out-of-work reaching 14.9%, is setting longevity records every day, debt increasing at a rate that even our grandchildren will have difficulty paying down, a devalued dollar consuming retiree benefits faster than the treasury can print their social security checks, an economic growth rate that is almost non-existent are still the major issues of today. Whether you’re a Liberal or a Conservative, a Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Independent, change is necessary when a governing body is not successful.  It doesn’t matter who the candidates are this coming November. What matters is that if an administration cannot analyze and identify the causes of our major problems, implement measurable solutions, bring congress and the country together to address those causes, then four more years should not be granted, regardless of party. I have long said and I firmly believe that we have digressed to the point of administering to the symptoms of a condition rather than searching for and correcting the cause of that condition. More government spending addresses the symptom of unemployment and poor economic growth, while ignoring the causes of why our economy has stagnated.  It’s like putting more air in a flat tire without fixing the hole.



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Douglas Brennan July 20, 2012 at 01:15 AM
If unemployment insurance is "insurance" why is it being funded by the Federal Government? After all shouldn't insurance programs be self funding? Will this mean that it will cost more to employ someone in the future as the cost for unemployment insurance will rise for all those that employ people? Will the cost of paying someone for not working through unemployment insurance (similar to college sabaticals) be so high that we can never afford to employ people again as their cost will have risen during unemployment rather then being reduced during periods of low economic activity? Is the government helping or hurting this situation?
Alex Tytler July 20, 2012 at 09:45 AM
The government has ruined the economy. Piling debt upon debt and getting nothing for it, we are permanently damaged.
CuriousOrange July 20, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Unemployment insurance is funded by payroll taxes, Mr. Brennan.
CuriousOrange July 20, 2012 at 01:37 PM
To be more accurate, Mr. Tytler, the government that ruined the economy would be Bush 43 and his Republican Congress. They started two long, unfunded wars and made huge gifts to Wall Street and the pharmaceutical companies. As a matter of fact, they outdid every reign including Reagan, who VP Cheney said, "proved deficits don't matter."
CuriousOrange July 20, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I took away from Haidt's presentation more psychology, demonstrated by behavior, than the points of political science that Mr. Roznicki expresses. What neither Haidt nor Roznicki explains is the ease with which "fiscal conservatives" demand a balanced budget one day and then spend money like a mob of drunken secret service men the minute they have control of spending.
Paul Alexander July 23, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Thank you for not using the "Drunken Sailor" reference. Why so many people choose to libel drunken sailors by comparing them to politicians is beyond me. Drunken Sailors are honorable.
Agent Orange July 24, 2012 at 01:45 PM
So none of this mess had to do with Bill Cllinton repealing the Glass Steagal Act in 1998 which allowed the banks to get into the derivative market ? Or the Democratic Congress which made it law that 15% of all mortgages had to go to low income families ? Before you throw stones, please make sure you don't live in a glass house. There is plenty of blame to go around.
Al(bert) Roznicki July 24, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Agent Orange, it sounds like you interpreted my article as my being a liberal. I think you may have to re-read it.
Douglas Brennan July 25, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Agent Orange: Are you sure that unemployment insurance is fully or partially funded? While it should be I do not think that it has been close to being fully funded in years which means that the taxpayer that is not eligible for the program is underwriting the program. Talk about unfair!
Faith Witten July 25, 2012 at 09:48 AM
While I agree with the majority of Al's article, I'm still in favor of Obama's attempt to rectify the health care crisis in America. We are already funding medical costs for the uninsured thru our insurance premiums and health care costs. Something has to be done now, will it work? I don't know. I'm sure a lot of things will have to be ironed out, but that's the norm for such a huge endeavor. I am in favor of the government becoming involved when we reach a crisis state, such as in heath care. Leaving it alone is not going to remedy anything, it will only get worse. The time for blame on which party got us into this mess needs to be put to bed. We can point fingers all day long at each other, but it isn't going to solve anything.
CuriousOrange July 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Never mind Mr. Roznicki's quaint political theories. They were conceived at a time when barbers would bleed you to get rid of bad blood. The US today pays twice as much per capita for health care as any other developed country -- but scores low on nearly every outcome. Thanks to the heavy hand of industry lobbyists, health care in the US remains the darling cash cow of Wall Street while leaving millions of uninsured to freeload on the rest. The ACA takes baby steps toward practical goals. Thanks to our 'independent' Senator, whose contributions come mostly from out of state, the single-payer option remains a dream -- only in the US.
Al(bert) Roznicki July 28, 2012 at 06:17 PM
It is curious that Mr. Orange did not check out his facts before putting them into print. The United States does not pay twice as much for health care than any other developed country. However, we do pay twice as much as the AVERAGE of other developed countries, which is significantly different and lower than what Mr, Orange implies. Why are so many coming to the US for healthcare services If we're scoring so low on almost every outcome? Perhaps Mr. Orange needs a visit to that old barber shop. According to the New York Times, Burger King remains Wall Street's favorite cash cow, but if everyone eats enough of them we can make Mr. Orange's second point come true. Another trip to the barber shop - Oh my!
CuriousOrange July 28, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Check your facts, Al(bert). I wrote "per capita." You can find OECD and WHO statistics on Wikipedia, List of countries by total health care expenditure per capita, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_health_expenditure_%28PPP%29_per_capita For outcomes, World Health Organization ranks the US 37th, http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html
Al(bert) Roznicki July 28, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Dear Mr. Orange; You are completely correct. I completely missed your "per Capita" statement and was looking only at average costs. Interestingly enough using the OECD data we are significantly higher than 25 of the 34 countries listed, ranging from 2.0 to 8.8 times. Am I ever embarrassed. I'll be going to that barber shop very soon.
Hank Wilson November 21, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Lawyers and their influence in politics as in medicine are the foundation of corruption. Doctors who practice medicine have to be defensive due to litigation threats. I still don;t see the virtue in assigning debt to others for an individuals consumption of healthcare services. The Utopian commune is not something Doctors are wanting. How about we socialize your job and let the government up-regulate your career and downsize your pay Mr.Orange. Liberals are only concerned with the liberal spending of other people's money.
Hank Wilson November 21, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Yeah that totally stinks how those stingy Democrats had to go against their hard fought for record of fiscal discipline that they are so well known for, and make new Government programs and stimulate the economy. Oh BTW, "there are no shovel ready projects" said the naked emperor to the fawning drones.
Hank Wilson November 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Yes- two wars and un-funded tax cuts for the people who work and generate income to be taxed. As evidenced by the focus of letting them expire for everyone except on the richest two percent. Well never mind that war talk - Democrats were for it before they were against it and are now for it again in Libya. How about those poor innocent by-standers the Democrats fighting for the "little man" but not the prenatal little men they are just are too little to count. (55 million and counting MR. Orange). You sir lack perspective. Look at the Community Reinvestment Act and the Fannie Mae Freddie Mac debacles when you come down from your buzz and try on some introspection before you get in the arena of ideas and call attention to yourself as an ideologue. Ive had to come to grips with my guys letting me down and screwing up. It hurts but is necessary to maintain sanity and integrity to the cause of Freedom and whats best for the country. Take off the Che' beret and put on the thinking cap and ask is this only good cause my guys say it is.
CuriousOrange November 21, 2012 at 03:12 PM
@Hank, never mind the lawyers. They have their job, as you have yours. Moreover, you know nothing about me. Perhaps I work for the USPS, the police, the public works, department of transportation, or some other government agency that serves and protects you, your life, and your property. Perhaps your government already up-regulates my career and downsizes my pay. I need health care only when I 'need it,' like fire and police departments. So do we all. Health care should be there for everyone -- and everyone should support it. Maybe you should begin to think of health care in the same way -- as a member of the community, rather than as a cash cow to be milked twice a day, seven days a week. Health care should not be just about making money off the problems of others.


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