Perfection, Conservative Style

What is the most desirable condition? Everyone is responsible for himself; there are no government handouts. Government is cut to its absolute minimum. Taxes are minimal. Laws and regulations are sharply reduced to give us an unencumbered free market. The military is kept strong enough to protect us from anything, including poor immigrants desperate for work. The swarms of dark-skinned lazy people are prevented from living off of free handouts. Ah, yes, the freedom, the wonderful freedom, minus the impediments of intrusive government. What would it be like, if only we could have it?

The radical conservative dream is on its way, thanks to Wall Street’s worldwide market crash and depression of 2008 and the ongoing ascent of the mega-rich, so we should have some pretty good hints.

The swarms of dark-skinned lazy people
would be prevented from living off of free handouts.

The first obvious thing is that the very rich would continue to increase their hold over Congress, continue to increase their wealth, and soon would take over completely. Changes in the past several decades have already created great inequality, and Congress is in thrall to the mega-rich. Most are rich themselves. No politician, Republican or Democrat, would be able to stand against them for long. While their wealth would continue to mount, there would be less money for everyone else, a trend that is already obvious today. New laws and regulations would always favor them. Old laws limiting their activities would be voided.

The second obvious thing is that Social Security and our national health care would be cancelled as a central element of “getting the government out of our lives”. Nor would employers provide health care insurance or other benefits. It would suddenly become necessary for every worker to earn an additional yearly $20,000-$30,000 to provide for health care insurance and retirement savings. Unfortunately, real income has been stagnant or declining for thirty years except for the rich, and few people could afford health care or retirement savings, because of low wages.

Public health would plummet. With no regular health care, serious diseases would not be detected until advanced stages, usually going untreated even then. Mortality would rise sharply. There would be repeated epidemics of common diseases because of decreased inoculation in childhood. Old scourges like pertussis would become endemic, and deadly.

Good education would be
available only to the rich.

Labor unions would be marginalized and eventually outlawed. New jobs would pay a fraction of what they used to, and would include no benefits. Home ownership would plummet. Poverty would skyrocket. It would be a downward economic spiral. Nobody’s job would be safe.

Public school budgets being cut to almost nothing, good education would be available only to those rich enough to pay for private schools. Many colleges and universities would close because almost no one could afford them. This would exacerbate the unemployment problem. The educational level would drop sharply, and ignorance and intolerance would thrive. Other government programs on which we depend would be done away with.

Due to the shortage of trained scientists and technicians and college graduates generally, American science and technology would drop to a lower tier of world prestige and respect. Immigration being discouraged, the work force would be inadequate in numbers and training. Business initiative and creativity would diminish sharply, and American commerce would be considered inferior.

In general, there would be less of everything for most people. Living standards would fall sharply for everyone but the rich. Many people would be poorly educated.

The conservative ideal would create
a world of vast inequality and suffering.

Conservatives seem to think that if their ideal were imposed they would simply have more money and more freedom, and everything would be better. Even a moment’s contemplation tells us that is an error. The opposite is far more likely, and we are already on this downward path. They don’t seem to understand that everything is interconnected, and that there are good reasons for the things we do as a nation: they make us all better off.

The radical conservative ideal would create a world of vast inequality and suffering, and a general decline of nearly everything that is important. It would take us back hundreds of years. It would destroy our democracy and our economy.

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