Liberals Views of Conservatives Not Factual
- 26 July 2009 by Author 0 Comments
Liberals Views of Conservatives Not Factual
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 07/26/2009
It’s always amusing to observe the benighted, simplistic fashion by which some from the political left characterize and demean those from the right. Last Sunday’s Idaho State Journal provided a perfect example with a “letter to the editor” by Leonard Hitchcock. Although attempted satirically and tongue-in-cheek, it nonetheless accurately characterizes the typical liberal perception of conservatives, which warrants a brief analysis.
His letter begins, “The Republicans’ conviction that big government is bad government rests upon a simple premise: It is good that the poor, the ignorant, the sick, the old, the foolish and the unlucky suffer the consequences of their various disabilities; it is good that they are victimized by the clever and rapacious; good that they sink to the bottom of society. Their misery serves as a salutary lesson for the rest of us, motivating us to be the exploiters, not the exploited, and, providentially, they also provide a source of cheap labor, which the economy requires.”
First off, there is little evidence that the contemporary Republicans in Washington have much less of an opinion of big government than the Democrats do. Truncated to a single line, we could fairly accurately characterize the actions of the Republicans as being for big government, and the Democrats as being for bigger government. An ancillary to the latter corollary could be, in the era of Obama, they advocate explosively burgeoning, liberty infringing, generational debt-producing government.
I can’t speak for Republicans, for I feel that the party has to a large extent divorced itself from its principled roots. But from a conservative or classical-liberal perspective, we hold to Thomas Jefferson’s mantra, “That government governs best which governs least.” That’s why there were specific functions identified in the Constitution at the time of the founding that articulated precisely what the government had the power to do. That great masterwork further declared that all rights and powers not enumerated to the federal government were reserved to the people and the states. It was written so precisely as to “guarantee” maximum individual freedom while restricting government’s ability to make us subservient to it.
In most basic terms, the premise for conservatives is “viva la liberté.” For with every expansion of government, individual freedom is further eroded. With every trillion dollar spending plan or budget, our economic freedom is further encroached, since those funds will come out of our pockets. Many of us live on fixed incomes, and when government seeks to increase taxes on everything from energy consumption, to health care, income, property, and even soda pop, our economic liberty is assaulted. Increased regulatory and statutory control over our lives, combined with restrictions on our constitutionally guaranteed rights serve additionally as an affront to liberty. In short, when government expands its reach, liberty is sacrificed.
Now let’s see if Mr. Hitchcock’s unflattering depiction of conservatives as miserly holds up. Last year, Arthur C. Brooks of Syracuse University, authored a book titled “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism” based on massive data research which surprised even the author, an avowed independent. Perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the subject, Brooks discovered that although liberal families’ incomes average six percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal household. He also found that conservatives also donate more time and give more blood. And here’s the real knock-out punch; those who disagree with the notion that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition. Read that last line one more time just to let it sink in.
So not only is it erroneous to refer to “rich conservatives,” since liberals average six percent more in income, so is it erroneous to, even satirically, characterize conservatives as miserly and penurious. Conservatives apparently give, while liberals think the government should. The logical deduction is that conservatives are charitable with their own money, while liberals are magnanimous with others’.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.