Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Debunking "Limited Government" II

Earlier I stated that the stated conservative goal of Limited Government was both a manipulative way of preventing the terms of economic policy from being contested and thereby maintaining the existing state of power relations favorable to the haves of society at the same time it was hypocritical and disingenuous because conservatives routinely and vigorously throw the assumption of Limited Government under the metaphorical bus when their aim is to enact punitive, invasive policies to restrict the sexual practices of individuals, compel religious adherence, and regulate activity otherwise normally reserved to the private sphere.

To that I will add a critical third point. Even where it concerns the intervention in and regulation of economic behavior or the establishment of economic institutions, the notion of Limited Government is really about as useful and principled a paradigm for conservatives and the rest of us as a wad of phlegm. That is, when conservatives claim to support Limited Government the truth is they do not really mean it.

If conservatives really believed in Limited Government there would not be any funding for scientific and medical research and development, the benefits of which flow to many of our supposed bastions of Free Enterprise, like the pharmaceutical industry (PHARMA). If conservatives really believed in and truly wanted Limited Government there would not be any mortgage interest tax deductions or any employer deductions for providing health insurance to their employees. If conservatives really admired Limited Government there would not be any subsidies to large agribusiness farm conglomerates. If conservatives really favored Limited Government there would be no need to regulate or prohibit employee unions, as they would have the same right to organize as any other group and could negotiate work conditions or not with employers as necessary, free from government interference. If conservatives really wanted Limited Government they would not be as falling down begging eager to make sure military bases and associated contracts stayed in their districts or states the better to keep the local economies alive.

To sum up, the world conservatives have tried to foist on us is unwarranted politically, is not morally or practically consistent, and is not economically realistic or sensible.

So, the whole conceptual and moral deck of cards of which the conservative movement is supposedly constructed, that of Limited Government, is at best a fraud. At worst, it represents a non-plausible and inconsistent set of policies that are economically neither sustainable nor desirable but which are nonetheless morally hideous and disastrous.

This is why Democrats cannot move towards The Center.

1 comment:

kim said...

I'm not sure what conservatives mean when they use the expression "limited government." Certainly, if you look at the tooth and nail fight against the New Deal, it came across as a class struggle thing.

To the extent that the phrase has any meaning these days, I believe they're saying: "we'd like a return to the feudal system."