13 August 2010

Fiscal Conservatism's Social Roots

Why is there a difference between Fiscal Conservatism and Social Conservatism?

Social Conservatism puts forward that a defense of culture is necessary to sustain the Nation, as a whole, and that a culture firmly rooted in its past and abiding belief in the Divine will come to good ends.  Thusly it is the contribution of the individual to society that upholds that society and creates a common values space for a strong culture.

The Progressive Era began with strong attacks on the roots and foundations of the common culture of the United States by pushing concepts that the Declaration of Independence was not a statement of mankind and the right of the individual to be individual, but a passing list of grievances with some hyperbole thrown in to make it sound good.  That is overstating the case, of course, but the idea that those firmly established values in which the individual is paramount to creating society, and then government is created to ensure the safety of that society and all individuals within it in a Nation was and is the basis for The Enlightenment and moving to Westphalian Government.  By attacking the division between Church and State by, on the one hand, belittling religion through such things as Darwinian concepts mis-applied to society, and, on the other, by seeking to put government funds and their strings into religious affairs, the Progressive movement has sought to shift the base of religious self-responsibility to one of group responsibility.  From that the individual no longer can seek personal salvation through a relationship with the divine, but is relegated to seeking the impossible salvation of everyone, simultaneously.  With government funds come government directives so that the Peace of Westphalia is broken as government, yet again, encroaches on the divine to use churches to preach the gospel as the State wants it preached.

Success in doing these things has led to Social Conservatives coming to view the State as an arbiter of society and that if 'good' and 'moral' legislation can be passed then society will be 'healed' by that.  At taxpayer expense, of course.  This is the exact same attitude taken by the Progressives as they, too, wish a 'perfect' end state of society, and that is to be enforced by government.  Unfortunately you cannot legislate morality, nor ethics, and the very act of having government decide what are 'good' choices for an individual to have, the less leeway an individual has to make the right choice out of conviction and, instead, make it out of fear of being convicted.  That is not uplifting the moral judgment capability of the individual, but making him or her fear the lash of that Punisher we call government.  Making a 'right choice' out of fear without regards to the morality of that choice is an immoral precept, and a debasement of our understanding that individuals are fit to judge, for themselves, what is good, moral and upright and what is not.

This goes far beyond 'abortion' or 'gay marriage', but to the heart of things like President Bush (43) and his outreach to religious institutions with government funds, and to things like Gov. Huckabee's attempts to place his personal diet upon schoolchildren while he was in office.  Social Conservatives are not adverse to using the power of government to put their views across and give them the power of law in doing so.  Thusly, the actual immorality of abortion, for individuals, is given first place, while the much larger immorality of the government having any say in this decision is put far off the stove so that it isn't even on a burner.  By putting forth that the decision of Roe v. Wade is 'wrong' and then only addressing the results of the decision (often without reading it, and I would claim that most people involved in the protests have not actually read that decision) the point of government intrusion to a personal, private, moral, ethical and family situation isn't even talked about.  Which is worse: the actual decision or the tacit acceptance that government at the National level can decide this for everyone in the Nation?  It is by that tacit acceptance of government coercion that allows the idea that government can have an outreach to churches and religions, that it can enforce obscene concepts of borrowing and lending, and that it can dictate to children what they will eat and via the strings on federal funds, what they will learn.

The source of bad decisions is not the Courts, per se, but the acceptance that the Courts actually can decide these things.  If you only go after the decision and not the root cause of it, then you become a de facto Progressive who sees the Court system as a legitimate way to 'reform' society via the fiat of government.


Now lets look at fiscal conservatism and its basis in society.

Fiscal Conservatism is based on the idea that personal liberty leads to unequal outcomes of work and that men gain in proportion to the skills they have, their workmanship, and the relative value of what they create.  Thus it is a personal responsibility system that devolves upon happiness: the idea that one can make their way through life by crafting circumstances and the fates via their personal abilities and outlook and prosper in accordance to how well they do that.  In this view of the world it is incumbent upon the individual, just as it is in Social Conservatism, to build society, but here it is done via the work ethic, the concept of having moral obligation to one's neighbors, and to ensuring that one's family is cared for and benefit from the fruits of one's own labors.  Morality of decisions, then, are left up to the individual and they can then practice as they wish either by using a fraction of their earned value (their wealth) or in direct donation of their time and energy to causes they support.  To uphold society, then, one must uphold oneself, first via the means of learning valuable skills and then applying them through one's life so as not to be a burden to others.  Society is not an other-oriented paradigm in that the uplifting of society is done directly through the direct support of institutions or via directly working towards good ends (caring for the sick in hospitals, as an example).  Thusly you do not depend on others to lift your social burden for you but, instead, work with others to hold those social burdens in common and address them together as individuals.

Taxation is recognized for those things that are necessary to support the infrastructure of the State or Nation so that individuals can accomplish good works, and that it is a framework, only, and not the actual good works, themselves.  The attacks of Progressivism to twist the moral values of large amounts of society to invest the welfare of individuals as a purview of the State has meant the diminution of individual power to contribute to society and has left only direct time contribution as an untouched venue (so far, although this Administration wishes to change that to be State oriented also).  To do this the apparatus of the State, once a framework of common law, has now shifted to become a redistributive power so as to tax those who work and benefit via such work in good proportion with their skills and fate, and take that wealth to be applied by the bureaucratic State to the 'uplifting' of the poor, sick, etc. via government handouts.  Unfortunately this adds an expensive middle-man to the proposition and reduces the actual leverage that individuals exercise by finding lean charitable institutions to direct their funds to.  And because these are put into the political venue, they are prone to the corruption of politics and the slow shift from equality of application of the law to an unjust system of equality of outcome regardless of actual circumstances of the individuals involved.  That is a form of prejudicial law in that there are prejudices add into the law aimed to remove the equality of protection for all citizens and to benefit a segment of the population at the cost of others, who are usually in a minority.  If you over-tax the top 1% to benefit the bottom 10%, then what is that but a punitive form of law making via the tax code and then having government take the middle-man's cut and apply bureaucratic rules to the needy?

That is immoral on its face.

Fiscal Conservatism aims at moving the structure of government back to its framework ideals, and remove it as the meddling middle-man (and skimmer off the top) and allow the wealthy, the middle class and even the poor to contribute to society as is within their means and ability.  Money is not everything and a very rich individual spending an hour tending to the sick is exactly equal, in all terms you care to name, to a poor person doing the same work.  Changing a bedpan is changing a bedpan, and there is no distinction in direct contribution of time to do so no matter what your other social status may be.  The affluent have more to spend, yes, and they have often donated large amounts to universities, schools, libraries, theaters, and other civic venues that could not get such funds via normal means.  When those funds are taxed away, the end products also start to die away with them, and charitable institutions based on personal wealth of individuals or families who endow their money to that institution then start to become less prominent on the landscape of society.

The values of thrift, work ethic, free exercise of liberty and personal responsibility for oneself, one's family and directly to one's society would appear to be the basis for all of 'Social Conservatism'.  When individuals need to make the moral choice of who to donate their time or funds to, they must come to understand their place and role in society, and then apply themselves as their understanding tells them to do.  That cannot be taken from the individual, and no amount of legislation can change that basis for personal morality and ethics to be exercised, save to stunt them, diminish them and thusly impoverish the individual not only in wealth but in those very morals and ethics necessary to create a good society.  From this view the disease of expanded government requires something that is not a mere symptom, but the feedstock of it: taxation.

You cannot have an oppressive government if it is kept small, limited, and on a starvation diet.

Doing so then gets rid of the symptoms in which the government sees fit to rule over public morals and ethics, as it will not have the expansive power to misuse, nor will it have the ability to enforce rulings that go against the public's will.  When the public controls government and keeps it in fear of retribution by the public, liberty is ascendant and people learn to make good choices for themselves and, by that, for society, by application of their happiness to those ends.  To get to that point requires a major roll-back in not just government but in our understanding of the role of government and our relationship to it, so that government understands it cannot dictate our morals, ethics and our relationship to each other and the Divine to us via the law.  Any such law is immoral and it is unethical of lawmakers, executives and the courts to enforce such laws that do not place all individuals equally before justice and the due process of law.  It is the due process that is corrupted to get 'fair' ends which gives us unfair means and inequality of statutes to get there.

I would put forward the proposition that Fiscal Conservatism is the rawest, nastiest, cleanest and keenest form of Social Conservatism around as it closely identifies the power of the individual as that transformative power within society that is the basis for building public morals and expectation of ethical behavior, and that government is merely an equal arbiter to ensure the safety of society and to treat everyone within it equally regardless of race, color, creed, social standing, wealth, or any other thing.  Goodies and 'good things' are not given to government to do beyond the safety of the Nation and all of the citizens within it via equality of due process and law which is the very best we can ever expect from any government.  That which governs least allows the greatest liberty to be used by the people, and that which governs most enslaves the people to be followers of government as it encroaches on every aspect of life to become totalitarian.  It becomes the totality of your life to serve government and your liberty is squelched to its service as it dictates your life to you for you to lead to its benefit.

Getting rid of this concept requires ending excessive taxation, rolling back the powers that government voluntarily assumes as a 'good thing' that are not given to it, and that the minimal remainder, at the National level, is then starved into compliance and given hard, fast and deep representation from the people in its most diverse form so that there are hundreds, if not thousands, that must get agreement for anything to be done within government, ever.  You get power moving away from central, National government and down to the States and localities by that process, and by increasing representation you also start to fix those levels by making it harder for them to encroach upon your liberties.  That will get you the end of meddling courts and politicians looking to peddle soft tyranny because it sounds good to a limited number of representatives that they can game, easily.  If you are only arguing over outcomes and accept the process, then you agree to the tyrannical nature of government that is being pushed upon us.

And there is no good that will ever, not once, come of that.


Hard Right Rudder said...

The majority of the Founding Fathers were social conservatives, not libertarians. Hate to break it to you but they had laws against sodomy, divorce, bigamy, and all kinds of other vices.

You just mindlessly parrot the liberal canard that "you can't legislate morality." Funny, that is exactly what we do with prohibitions on drugs, animal abuse, beastiality, pedophilia, polygamy, theft, and a host of other issues.

A Jacksonian said...

HRR - We also had 'Blue Laws' to prohibit economic activity on Sunday, and yet those conflicted with running a modern economy... You can make laws against an activity, yes. Making a law against an action are not the same as making people adhere to morals. There is a distinction between the two that must be recognized and understood.

Or would 'Blue Laws' be considered adhering to virtue and stemming vice? Do we really want people to stop economic activity on Sunday, too?

And if you don't have a sound economy that actually supports liberty and freedom and rules, instead, by government fiat, then where does morality come in? If government is the final arbiter of morals, then does that justify making people eat right and a misdemeanor if they do not? I do not argue about laws that protect individuals, quite the contrary, but I do argue about laws with an intent to create morality that go beyond that protection.

The Founders saw the connection between liberty, limited government and individual morality that supports society. When government controls morality it then dictates to society based on the power of government.... is that really what you want in life?