Fiscal Conservative, Social Liberal: A Guaranteed Non-sequitur

A week or so ago I was playing golf with several gentlemen that I have met but don’t really know. The conversation drifted briefly to politics in response to someone suggesting that former President Jimmy Carter must be comforted knowing that he is no longer the worst president to ever hold office – President Joe Biden (D) having surpassed him in every aspect of the presidency. One of the players nodded in agreement but then felt compelled to describe himself as a “fiscal conservative and a social liberal.” My reaction was a teeth grinding silence. Let me explain.

I am a conservative. I am not a Republican. I am registered to vote in the Republican primaries simply because there are no conservatives in the Democrat Party. I’m a real conservative. I am not the stereotype suggested by CNN, MSNBC, and most of the rest of the liberals – a slobbering backwoods Neanderthal, nor a gun-totting bigot, nor a neo-Nazi, nor an effete intellectual snob like Bill Kristol, nor a self-aggrandizing ego like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The conservative principles that I have embraced fit as easily into this Twenty-first Century as they did when first enunciated by Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) over fifty years ago.

I am also a happily married man who is intent on remaining so. Because I am generally outspoken and sardonic, I have promised my wife that I will be careful in my conversations with people until I get to know them well. So instead of saying, “Well, then you are an idiot because you cannot be both,” I simply nodded and asked, “How’s that working out for you?” There was a puzzled look on his face and I stepped to the tee to end the conversation.

I’m never quite sure why people suggest that they are a fiscal conservative and a social liberal but I suspect they do so in an attempt to be on the prevailing side regardless of what that is. But here is why you cannot be both.

A fiscal conservative is someone who believes in the tight constraints on the purpose of government. In other words that government has a limited role in our lives – our safety both foreign and domestic, guarantees of a free and open market constrained only by a rigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws domestically and reciprocal treatment internationally, free and unfettered speech (even that with which we don’t agree), the right to vote (with the reciprocal responsibility to ensure that voting remains corruption free), a rigorous basic education, and assistance for those who cannot provide for themselves. The corollary of that is that the cost of government should be relatively low and that people should make whatever decision they wish with their own earnings.

In contrast a liberal (Democrat, progressive, socialist, whatever sobriquet in use today) believes that government has an expansive role. That every problem has a government solution. However, the solution to every problem is the same – throw more money at it in order to ameliorate the visibility of the problem without actually solving the problem. (Emphasis supplied) And this is the important part – throwing money at a problem without addressing the root cause and without establishing standards by which progress is measured never works. Never, not once. There is not a single government program enacted or adopted to deal with a social problem that has worked. Here are a few examples:

1. The Welfare State. In 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the War on Poverty in his State of the Union speech. After a minimal drop in the number of Americans found to be at the poverty level, the figures returned to their historical range and have remained there consistently. According to a report by The Heritage Foundation in September of 2014 our governments have spent approximately $22 Trillion over the first fifty years of the programs. That was eight years ago and it is estimated that today we spent nearly $1 Trillion annually. And while Mr. Johnson claimed that his purpose was to remedy the causes of poverty, the program(s) simply have papered over the results of poverty. But like all liberal social programs, the remedy was to throw more money in the same fashion at the problem – and periodically change the names of the programs and/or the definition of poverty. Today there are over 100 programs providing welfare payments and not one of them has a measurable as to whether they are effective. Quite the opposite is true. Under Mr. Biden’s administration the poverty level has risen to its highest level in over a decade.

2. Race Relations. In the 60’s civil rights activists and students fanned out across the United State – particularly in the deep South – to demand that the invidious forms of discrimination towards African Americans end. The “equal treatment under the law” guaranteed by the United States Constitution:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

was generally ignored in many of the southern states as well as large metropolitan areas such as Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit and New York where “separate but equal” governed access to public accommodations, discriminatory hiring ensured racial separation, and the blind eye of law enforcement encouraged violence against African Americans – up to and including rape, beatings, and even murder. (The use of NHI – no humans involved – appeared on police reports in virtually every major city in America.) Congress and various state legislatures passed “civil rights” acts which criminalized discriminatory conduct but did little to enforce them. Instead, the liberal/progressive elements created quota systems and minority preferences wherever government money was spent – state and federal contracting, public education, government grants, etc. And while they could be measured (how many African Americans participate) they did little to deal with the underlying causes of racism – again seeking to mask the problem with money rather than dealing with the underlying causes. Because the liberal/progressives feared that “accountability” could be viewed as discrimination, they did little to monitor the programs for other than body count – which in turn presented the grifters in the world an opportunity to game the system and reap the rewards of getting preferential treatment without actually conforming to the purposes of the preferential treatment. Billions of dollars were lost to phony Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) where a person of color was listed as the owner but the revenue flowed through that person and onto the white grifters. And yet they threw more money at it by expanding the use of minority preferences.

Heightened scrutiny by governments and large enterprises led to increasing attention to the demographics of employment in lieu of the competency of employment. This in turn led to is own form of racial animus as the traditional migration of whites to promotions and increasing incomes was interrupted. Those denied expected promotions and raises viewed themselves of victims of “reverse discrimination” and blamed African Americans rather than the governments and hierarchies that imposed these requirements.

Racial tensions in the forms of riots were highlighted by the mainstream media in a fashion that suggested that every African American man and woman was either a participant, observant, or sympathizer – none of which was true. Even the election of Barack Obama did nothing to quell the increasing racial animosity. A CNN story from October 15, 2016, in the waning days of Mr. Obama’s tenure noted:

A majority of Americans say relations between blacks and whites in the US have worsened under President Barack Obama, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

The survey results come as an increasing number say discrimination against blacks is a very serious problem and concerns about bias in the criminal justice system remain widespread.

Overall, 54% say relations between blacks and whites have gotten worse since Obama became president, including 57% of whites and 40% of blacks. That’s up sharply compared with last June, when 43% said things had gotten worse shortly after a racially motivated shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.”

A February 22, 2022 article in the New York Post noted that the Biden election heightened rather than dampened racial animus despite Mr. Biden’s slavish attention to racial profiles:

The 2020 political cycle was arguably the most divisive in American history. Friends and family withdrew to partisan corners, and decades-long relationships ended. I experienced this myself, as people I knew for years suddenly treated me as a pariah simply for being conservative.

One of my best friends with whom I traveled the world raised money for Joe Biden. We remained close friends when he worked for the Obama administration, but something was different this past election. He ended our friendship over the politics of the moment.

How could this happen? One culprit is the political class, which poisoned our politics. Fostering racial tensions was one of their most potent weapons.

Indeed, the pundits would say if you supported President Donald Trump — or any Republican, for that matter — then you couldn’t support the black community. In fact, you were deemed an enemy of the black race. That was the line drawn in the sand for Americans, especially African Americans, who voted last year.

The elites told us that Biden would protect black people and believe black lives mattered. They also said he would ensure the black community’s prosperity and success. How could anyone back a racist over the savior of black people?

Here’s the problem: The Biden presidency has been the antithesis of black prosperity, black safety and black security.”

Crime in historically Black neighborhoods continues at a disproportionate level – most involving Black-on-Black crime. Poverty levels remain stubbornly high. Poor health – including the recent COVID pandemic – remains disproportionately high. While Mr. Biden has raised the profiles of a select few African Americans the quality of life for the rest continues to deteriorate.

And the reason is simple: throwing more money – even when accompanied by high publicity promotions merely ameliorates the visibility of the problem without actually dealing with the actual causes. And like most paint jobs designed to cover up flaws, they fade, flake and disappear over time exposing the flaws and scars that never actually went away.

3. Environmental Engineering. When liberal/progressives can find a workable solution to a problem, they invent a different problem – particularly one for which there is no measure of progress established, or the measure of progress is so broad that they cannot be held responsible for it. But the first element is to always scare the holy bejeezus out the population with predictions of existential doom. Global warming is just such a problem.

While former Vice-president Al Gore self-anointed himself for a variety of things – inventing the internet, being the character in Love Story – he is in fact as responsible as anyone for boosting the threat of global warming. His book, An Inconvenient Truth, enriched him enormously has allowed him universal access to a media already prepped to broadcast the latest existential threat. (You may want to remember that historically the battle cry of the mainstream media has been “If it bleeds, it leads” and what could be bloodier that the extinction of the entire human population.) It has allowed him to circle the globe in his private jet spewing massive amounts of carbon emissions in his “crusade” to eliminate air pollution. (Same thing with his former government colleague, John Kerry.)

It was supported by the scientific community who developed a climate model to – wait for it – predict a global crisis due to global warming. The problem has been that the scientific model has been in existence since 1969 and undergone a variety of “adjustments” usually to account for the fact that it (they) have failed to accurately predict the progress of climate change in the over fifty years of its existence. The participation of the scientific community accelerated as it began to understand that access to government funds for grants, studies, models, etc. was wholly dependent on their support for the thesis of global warming. Billions of dollars have now been spent and predictions of irretrievable catastrophe characterized by the “hockey stick” effect* have come and gone in twelve year cyclesthe latest coming from noted scientific genius and barmaid Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) who has pushed the inevitability of mankind’s demise out to 2032.

Now let’s not get stupid here. There is no question that there is climate change. There has always been climate change. There will always be climate change. The recorded history of climate change has been only a brief moment in time if you look at it in the context of the recorded history of mankind. The ecosphere of Earth is so amazingly complex it is not surprising that there are periodic disruption both large and small. Eventually balance is restored and evolution progresses.

And while billions have been spend on studies and guesstimates of what will happen next, government has simultaneously spent additional billions pursuing alternative energy designs which they have guessed will solve the problem. At the same time they have been spending additional billions canceling existing energy sources – coal, oil, natural gas, hydroelectric (often times preferring trash fish over food production) and the cleanest source of energy today – nuclear power. It is done without regard to whether these new forms of energy can be brought online at a pace commensurate with dismantling of existing sources or whether the new sources actually reduce carbon emissions. A good example is the electric motor vehicle. It produces about the same level of carbon emissions to make an electric motor vehicle as it does to produce a gas or diesel version; thus no reduction in carbon emissions. Over eighty-five percent of electrical power is delivered through the use of fossil fuels (61%), nuclear (19%) and hydroelectric (6.3). Fueling electrical vehicles will require an enormous increase in the use of electric power. While we are blowing up hydroelectric dams, closing nuclear power plants, and shutting down coal production available electricity from renewable resources is not even keeping pace with those reductions let alone accounting for the anticipate increase in power requirements for electric vehicles. And we are doing all of this with massive amounts of government spending – and all without a measurable pace to ensure that supply load will meet the demand load. We are much more likely to freeze to death in the dark than we are to die of ozone holes that seem to open and close without regard to the amount of green house gases produced in America. To date, the monies spent may make us feel virtuous but they have done nothing to solve the problem because we still don’t know how much of the ongoing climate change is due to mankind as opposed to natural phenomena – you know, like volcanoes, forest fires, solar flares, or the countries that are exempt from climate treaties such as China, India, all of Africa, and Russia.

I have to stop here. There are too many examples to give full breadth to the problems that we have papered over by throwing money at them. I recognize that for many liberal/progressives there is an earnest concern over these societal problems. (I do not subscribe to the theory that there is an over-arching cabal dedicated to the destruction of America – at least not a domestic one.) The purpose of this discussion is to demonstrate that that spending vast sums of money without measurables has not solved our societal problems.

It is, however, fiscally irresponsible. If you want to be a liberal/progressive that is your business. Just don’t claim to be fiscally conservative at the same time. It’s an oxymoron – with emphasis on the “moron.”