There is an idea brewing in our nation and at the heart of this election that people like myself who prefer economic decisions to be made by individuals in the market - are not as compassionate as people who prefer those decisions be made collectively by politicians and ‘Central Planners’ in Washington.
This belief has been held by at least some in society, and from time-to-time has begun to grow, and then later decline. It is seldom even thought of as a belief that should be checked against facts.
Belief in the superior compassion of the political left is a worldwide phenomenon that goes back at least as far as the 18th century. But in all that time, and in all those places, there has been little, if any, effort on the left to check this crucial assumption against facts.
When an empirical study of the actual behavior of American conservatives and liberals was published in 2006, it turned out that conservatives donated a larger amount of money, and a higher percentage of their incomes to philanthropic activities. Conservatives also donated more of their time, volunteering for causes and actually donated far more blood than liberals. What is most remarkable about this study are not just its results. What is even more remarkable is how long it took before anyone even bothered to ask the questions. It was just assumed, for centuries, that the left was more compassionate.
Milton Friedman pointed out that the heyday of free-market capitalism in the 19th and 20th centuries was a period of an unprecedented rise in philanthropic activity.
The Basic Point of Debate (and much disagreement) as a part of this election is simply this:
Helping those who have been struck by unforeseeable misfortunes is fundamentally different from making dependency a way of life.
Once again, as back in the 1980’s – we are facing a decision and making arguments about what is good or even inherently bad about welfare.
Many on the left try to shut down the debate in order to shut out conservatives by insisting that we are evil, lack compassion, greedy, etc. Well… based on various studies, conservatives are provably compassionate – so certainly people who are Democrats or otherwise are exaggerating when they try to argue that we are greedy and lack compassion for the poor.
Here is a university study regarding this premise. The study titled THE MORAL STEREOTYPES OF LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES; conducted by the University of Southern California, Los Angeles & the University of Virginia,Charlottesville, VA.
The questions and conclusion of this exhaustive included but were not limited to:
Who is most accurate and who exaggerated the most when it comes to stereotypes about liberals and conservatives? Answer was - It depends on the type or definition of morality.
In the end, the study concluded that people in both the Liberal and Conservatives camps certainly exaggerate. The study answered the question – who was most accurate when describing the morality or moral concerns of the opposing side?
Conclusion – Conservatives were most accurate about the individual-focused moral concerns of either side, and liberals were least accurate. (Liberals were more likely to exaggerate their position or about their perceived positions of others).
This again begs the question – “Is it more moral to have a system that perpetuates dependency on government or charity? – or – Is it more moral to have a system the provably lifts more people out of poverty and eliminates dependency on government and charity? The results of the conservative policies of the 80’s and 90’s. - we now know that welfare reform and conservative fiscal policy lifted up the middle class and lifted more people out of poverty than any other 10 to 20 year period in our nation’s history.
This question was at the very heart of the welfare reform debates of the 1980’s; and it is again today. One of the greatest contributors to the debates and the ultimate changes in policy came from author Charles Murray who became well known for his book titled ‘Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980’ in 1984, which discussed the American welfare system.
When conservatives accuse Barack Obama and some on the left of ‘Class Warfare’ – what we mean is that although the big word on the left is "compassion," the big agenda on the left is dependency. The more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state.
Optimistic Republicans who say that widespread unemployment and record numbers of people on food stamps hurt President Obama's re-election chances are overlooking the fact that people who are dependent on government are more likely to vote for politicians who are giving them handouts.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood that, back during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was re-elected in a landslide after his first term, during which unemployment was in double digits every single month, and in some months was over 20 percent.
It is high time for us conservatives to boldly state the truth – that we actually hold the moral high ground when it comes to the ‘results of our compassion’. I use that term because I wish to point out and acknowledge that most liberals are compassionate people – they have a genuine heart for people in need and want to help them. Most conservatives are also compassionate – we just simply disagree on which policies and approaches actually help and provide the best possible outcomes.
We now have the recorded history that concretely proves that conservative policies have lifted more people out of poverty than any other form of leadership.
Under conservative leadership in 1986 and by the latter year the nation was well into a 96-month-long economic recovery during which 20 million new jobs were created -- the longest peacetime economic expansion in modern American history.
· 20 million new jobs were created; Inflation dropped from 13.5% in 1980 to 4.1%
· During Reagan’s Administration, growth in government spending plummeted from 10% ... The seemingly insatiable Federal government was on a much-needed diet.
· The net worth of families earning between $20,000 and $50,000 annually grew by 27%.
· Real gross national product rose 26%.
· The prime interest rate was slashed by more than half, from an unprecedented 21.5% in January 1981 to 10% in August 1988.
· Given actual rates of inflation, through 1987, the Reagan tax cuts saved the median-income two-earner American family of four close to $9,000 in taxes from what it would have owed in 1980.
What about the 1990’s under Bill Clinton – With a Republican Controlled House & Senate
Clinton ushered in a robust economic growth by COOPERATING WITH CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP.
Clinton cooperated with Republicans in the 1990’s to:
- Cut spending – Obama’s plan dramatically increases spending.
- Lower personal and corporate taxes – Obama plans to raise taxes.
- Usher in welfare reform that ultimately reduced the welfare rolls by 54% and put millions into jobs – Obama recently wiped away the foundations that created success in welfare reform - under Obama’s leadership the welfare rolls have more than doubled and are at record highs.
In the mid to end of 1980’s the economy set new records of growth that improved the lives of millions of Americans. This carried over into the 1990’s. In 1996 the economy was still growing.
The time is long overdue for optimistic Republicans to understand what FDR understood long ago, and what Barack Obama clearly understands today. Dependency pays off in votes — unless somebody alerts the taxpayers who get stuck with the bill.
The Obama administration is shamelessly advertising in the media — whether on billboards or on television — for people to get on food stamps. Welfare state bureaucrats have been sent into supermarkets to tell shoppers that food stamps are available.
I am looking for Romney/Ryan and Conservatives to make ‘Moral Arguments’ for conservative fiscal policy. The results clearly show that our policy legitimately has a better moral outcome than liberal policies.