Conservative Socialism

The modern Conservative, who is in fact not a Conservative at all, is
one that has adopted – on a rhetorical level – perspectives
that were classically Liberal (especially in regards to Market Liberalism),
but yet has perverted these perspectives into something distinctly
authoritarian. The perversion is not uniquely their own, however.
Neo-Conservatism adopts an ignorant, self-denied love for New Deal–styled
Socialism and increased regulation.

Lies are nothing new to politics. It’s arguable that Neo-Conservatives
have lied to us on a regular basis on a variety of issues, ranging
from foreign policy to the supposed destruction of the nuclear family,
which they claim would result from allowing homosexuals the same
rights held by heterosexuals. But in each of these cases, the lie’s
impact is diminished by a healthy level of scepticism. The most
successful lie propagated by Neo-Conservatives would have to be
the conclusion that they are fiscal conservatives. Few of us, unfortunately,
question the existence of a Free Market appreciation within the
ranks of these "Compassionate Conservatives."

Give the people a few small tax cuts, call your opponent a fiscal liberal,
sit back, and let the votes roll right in. After all, your Capitalist
credentials are set, right? Forget that you’re bleeding the economy
through deficit spending. Forget that you approve huge spending
bills loaded with pork. Forget your fiscal irresponsibility. Why
focus on the petty details?

Rep. Tom DeLay, employing doublethink as best anyone can, recently claimed
an ongoing
Republican victory
against wasteful federal spending. "Yes,
after eleven years of Republican majority we’ve pared it down pretty
good." This was Rep. DeLay’s response to whether or not the
government was running at peak efficiency. It should come as no
surprise that Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Rep.
DeLay (and Rep. Don Young) "Co-Porkers of the Month."

This is really nothing new. When the Republicans gained control over
Congress in the mid-’90s, many hailed it as the changing point:
the new age of fiscal responsibility in government. The Contract
with America, as it was called, had begun.

And eleven years later, if we’re to believe DeLay, pork is dead and
fiscal discipline reigns supreme.

This must explain the $2 million wasted on the USS Sequoia Presidential

Oh, and the $6.3 million wasted on wood utilization research. We just
gotta have...wood utilization research. Without it, how will we
ever know how to utilize...wood?

These are not things we need. These are merely pork-barrel projects, slipped
into large bills for political gain. When Congress passed a $388
billion spending bill last year, it contained a provision allowing
the House and Senate appropriations committees or their agents access
to "Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns
or return information contained therein."

Since the disaster wrought by Katrina, the Federal government has approved
$62.3 billion worth of contribution, most of which will go to the
Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many have been calling for
congress to offset the spending by making cuts elsewhere, but not
Rep. DeLay, whose response "to those that want to offset the
spending is ‘sure, bring me the offsets, I’ll be glad to do it.’
But nobody has been able to come up with any yet." Perhaps
Rep. DeLay has never heard of Citiznes Against Public Waste, but their "Congressional Pig Book"
identified 13,977 pork projects just in the fiscal 2005 appropriations
bills. Combined, this fat totals $27.3 billion that could be saved.

But subsidies (such as the $20 billion a year spent on farm subsidies
which benefit large farms and agribusinesses, according to the Heritage
Foundation) aren’t the only indication that the modern Conservative
opposes Free Markets. We must also take into account the regulations
supported by these Brave New Pseudo-Capitalists.

I’m thinking of course about CAFTA, the "Central American ‘Free’
Trade Agreement" which passed in both houses of Congress, and
which was applauded by Neo-Liberals and Neo-Conservatives alike.
Rep. Ron Paul, known by many as the taxpayer’s best friend, stated:

We don’t need CAFTA or any other international agreement to reap the economic
benefits promised by CAFTA supporters, we only need to change
our own harmful economic and tax policies. Let the rest of the
world hurt their citizens with tariffs; if we simply reduce tariffs
and taxes at home, we will attract capital and see our economy

CAFTA, which was similar in many respects to NAFTA (the North American
"Free" Trade Agreement), opened the door to international
regulation over dietary supplements and vitamins, an issue of concern
for many people. It is a cruel joke played on anyone who supports
these bills because of their titles, since the regulations they
enact do nothing to truly liberalize the markets.

This can also be said of international regulatory agencies such as the
World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These are essentially unelected bureaucracies
whom are not responsible to any of the people they affect. Yet the
WTO is not only supported by Neo-Conservative elites, but is touted
as a promoter of Free Trade. This is also true in the distorted
eyes of the media.

On November 14, 2001, :/]
Pres.George W. Bush said,[/url]

I commend the decision by the world’s trading nations, meeting in Qatar,
to launch a new round of global trade negotiations. This
bold declaration of hope by the World Trade Organization (WTO)
has the potential to expand prosperity and development throughout
the world and revitalize the global economy. It also sends
a powerful signal that the world’s trading nations support peaceful
and open exchange and reject the forces of fear and protectionism.

Today’s action advances the United States’ agenda to liberalize world trade –
something that will benefit all Americans. By promoting
open trade, we expand export markets and create high-paying jobs
for American workers and farmers, while providing more choices
and lower prices for goods and services for American families.

One has to wonder if he actually believes what he says.

The modern Conservative is a new animal, not a supporter of small government
as many would claim is the inherent nature of Conservatism, but
rather a supporter in strengthening the Leviathan for security.
The inevitable result is more Big Government in all spheres of public
life, from inappropriate restrictions on rights resulting from bills
like the USAPATRIOT Act of 2001 and the REAL ID Act of 2005 to exorbitant
federal budgets and appropriation bills.

It seemed no one in Congress wanted to acknowledge that the last budget
Bush signed into law was too big. All anyone talked about on Capitol
Hill were the cuts, and how they would improve (or hurt) our economy.
Were cuts made? In places. But overall, the budget increased seven percent from the previous year. That was 41% higher than
even Clinton’s biggest budget.

the completion of the Clinton-years, Democrats have been losing
ground in political battle after political battle. But there is
a solution waiting for them, if they’re willing to embrace it. If
the Democrats want to regain their political relevancy, they’d be
well-advised to borrow a page from the Libertarian handbook and
begin looking critically at the "spend-first, ask-questions-later"
fiscal policy of modern Conservatism. Of course, to be successful
this would necessitate a welcome change in the Democrats’ approach
to economic policy. It would be a smart and decisive move, catching
the GOP completely off guard. Although it’s a change I’m not actually
expecting to see, my fingers are crossed.

September 24, 2005

Alex Peak [mailto:allixpeeke@yahoo.comsend him mail]
is the President of the College Libertarians of Towson, at Towson
University, Maryland.

© 2005