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Conservatism explained, part 2

June 14, 2017 - 12:05am

As a self-defined conservative, with an admittedly libertarian bent, I’m happy to help explain my position to Dr. Blum. I grew up in what is currently the reddest state in the union – Wyoming (at least based upon the recent presidential vote) — and have spent the last 40 years in the bluest state – Hawaii. This has given me some perspective on the impact of conservative vs. liberal policies.

My first point addresses a number of Dr. Blum’s comments: We don’t believe it is the government’s job to provide for everything that is necessary or desirable; nor is it government’s job to regulate or prohibit everything that is potentially harmful. My kids loved Sesame Street, but a lack of a federal subsidy would not prevent it from being available. Anything that is popular on public radio or TV would likely be embraced by commercial television. Alternatively, it could be supported by private donations. But I see no justification for requiring the taxpayers to fund it.

I agree we need standard rules of the road. This isn’t a meaningful infringement on my liberty. But true liberty involves allowing us to make bad choices that don’t significantly interfere with the liberty of others, and we must be allowed to suffer or benefit from the consequences. Some liberals would seem to believe that all poor choices potentially adversely affect others, so they must be regulated. But that argument is a slippery slope. Should the state regulate our diets, perhaps fine those who are overweight or don’t exercise regularly? After all, obesity causes a need for far more medical care than would car accidents involving people who might choose not to wear seat belts.

I believe that individuals are entitled to reap the rewards of their efforts. Conservatives are often accused of being greedy and caring only for the rich. However, a recent study showed that conservatives give much more to charities than do liberals. Conservatives believe in helping the poor and assisting their neighbors. We just don’t think it’s the government’s job. The economist Thomas Sowell once said: “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you’ve earned, but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

Sure, conservatives believe privatization works best. Which operation is more efficient: FedEx or the United States Postal Service? And no, the high prison population is not the result of private prisons. Judges sentence people to prison, not the prisons.

Yes, we support the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We don’t believe that human nature has changed much over the generations. We believe, with the Founders (and Lord Acton), that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Conservatives believe that personal satisfaction comes from personal effort – not from government handouts. People sometimes need help in order to become self-sufficient. But we believe that help is best provided by family, friends and community. Not by a one-size-fits-all government entitlement.

No, we’re not opposed to birth control. We just don’t believe the taxpayers should pay for it. As a youth, I learned the saying: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” If we ask government to provide for our care, then government will decide what care we can receive.

Liberals claim to want the rich to pay more, but only the other rich. I’ve never heard a liberal report that he had voluntarily paid more than his required tax liability.

As for tolerance, it is not generally conservatives who call those who disagree with them names. I can’t think of any names used by conservatives that are the equivalent of “evil, stupid, racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynist and Islamophobic” that the other side repeats continually. We don’t doubt that our opponents genuinely believe they know best; we just don’t believe that they’re right.

Bill Hastings is a resident of Kamuela

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