Critique of fiscal conservativism

19 08 2007

This post by Dan Acona at the was so spot on I had to cross-post it on IntheKut!

Dan Ancona

Why I am not a fiscal conservative

“I’m socially liberal but fiscally conservative.”

Hear this much? As Schwarzenegger’s victory in supposedly-blue California and Mike Huckabee’s recent populist-driven, expectations-beating 2nd place in the Iowa straw poll both indicate, progressives are still incredibly vulnerable on economic issues. Simplistic as it is, and seemingly regardless of how many bridges and levees collapse, anti-tax messages still have amazing traction with the American public.

To start to turn back this kind of thinking, we need a good, positive story about the economy to tell. We’ll get there. But before we get to people saying “I’m socially liberal and fiscally progressive,” we need to first budge folks off the dime. When we start to hear “I’m socially liberal and fiscally, I don’t know what I am, but I’m definitely not a conservative,” we’ll be making progress.

To that end, for your debating with the conservative relatives pleasure, here is a grab-bag of a few points on why fiscal conservatism just doesn’t work:

Inequality sucks – unless you’re into shorter lifespans, more homicide and violent crime, more people in jail, paying more for police, more unemployment, more folks on food stamps, less high shcool graduation, less spending on education, more disability, higher cancer rates, worse health overall and less health insurance.

Capitalism has a tendency to concentrate wealth and power, and this is the concentration that drives inequality. It’s up to everything else in society – the government, labor, civil organizations – to break up that power. That doesn’t mean fiscal progressives want to smash capitalism. Not by any means! We just want balance.

Economic inequality and political polarization feed on each other. If you, like most Americans, want a functioning and less polarized government again, we need an economic system to support that.

Having homeless people, people without health care and kids without health care, etc. in the richest country in the world is flat-out immoral.

Flat wages suck. The economy is a lot more than just the market.

Even given that the economy is much more than the market, the market does better under Democrats by 5-10 points.

When you hear tax cuts, think collapsing bridges, eye fungus, Katrina, E. Coli, prisons instead of schools and melamine.

“Nanny state,” “job killer” and “but you’re a socialist!” are all meaningless name-calling. Really. You would get more rhetorical mileage out of “neener neener neener.” Drop the talking points, quite whining and make a real argument. It is an appalling indication of the decay of media in this country that that Republican candidates can spew this kind of meaningless red-baiting and can still be taken seriously.

Update: Here is the permalink.




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