“Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly get any dumber, you go and do something like this… and TOTALLY redeem yourself!”
I’ve been feeling bad about our country’s chances of staying on as a first-world power for a while now. With Democrats being herded along by class warfare tactics, Republicans being herded by social issues or marginalized in the TEA party, both sides claiming that they are losing badly (in order to keep dollars flowing from concerned donors), and independents being re-districted so only about a third of their votes count, I was just tired.
And then I saw today’s opinion page.
I live in the Tacoma area, and the News Tribune does its thing here with an amazing sports page but otherwise just your average, local-paper. The op-ed page is more conservative than Seattle and Olympia’s, but has all the usual baises: incumbents, 2 democrats for every 1 republican, establishment over radicals, but if anything smells like a cause–they’re for it.
So it shocked me to see common sense filling the entire editorial page, with titles like this: “The federal empire: Who made this mess, anyway?” and “”Big government last survivor from old-style economy.” Not only were the big issues dealt with, their stance on little issues were awesome and exactly right: “Pirates must be defeated on land, not sea” and “Drugs, gunshots and jail – for many, it’s just another day in a life,” which chronicles poverty issues in ways that I can confirm are real. It ain’t easy being a poor conservative.
All this indicates that hope does indeed spring eternal. IF these views finally spread as normal opinions, we may finally make the cuts and systemic audits that I consider hallmarks of true conservatism: good management, a realistic worldview and the balls to actually make a change.
The GAO report referenced by the top op-ed backed up what many conservatives have been saying in a big way: the US government can spend TONS less money and still give the same level of services to us.
The real kicker and the reason this has never happened yet in any real way has to do with Keynesian economics. During the great depression the federal government spent money on huge projects some of which were actually useful, like the Hoover dam. But they also spent money for men to dig holes, and then paid money the next day to have them filled by a different crew with shovels. The reasoning was that money spent by the government forced the circulation of funds, and spurred the economy forward. So even massive waste became good, or at least the cost-to-benefit ratio was close. Some form of this thinking has been argued by economists to this day, and Republican after Republican has died politically on those walls.
This is the essence of the debt debate going on in our country today. On the one hand some Dems say that debts don’t matter, and some Repubs say that debts REALLY matter, both use simplistic arguments to convince you the voter, and then the majority of Repubs and Dems pass a bill that satisfies the people who elect them. Dems have the advantage of this not being a conflict of interest, since anything they allocate is going towards the great cause of prosperity in the larger picture.
Republicans, and more accurately conservatives, have to provide a defense for their spending. They are helped in a huge way these days, because we had to spend huge amounts of bailout money that scared the people of our nation temporarily. They finally have an audience and this is what they need to say: Government has to take money out of our system before they can give it out, so the question of spending is one of efficiency. Many people have rightly stated the first half of this equation as a way to refute faulty economic arguments, but we need to complete the thought. Government spending is GOOD, if it accomplishes our goals more effectively, significantly more safely or more cheaply than leaving it to private sector actors. Otherwise, it shouldn’t spend. Inefficiency matters, if you want the sound bite. When effectiveness becomes our model and standard, we can cook with that. It’s been tried before unsuccessfully, but now’s an unparelleled opportunity to change the debate in America. Republicans, you have voters’ ears, and just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you went and did this. And totally redeemed yourselves.