Saturday, September 06, 2008

True Conservatism is Hard Work

Now that both party conventions are "in the can" the race for the Whitehouse has kicked into high gear. No more "presumptive nominee" language.

As I ready myself for the face-to-face debates, the TV interviews and all of the "air time," I can't help but wonder which candidates will tell me not only what they promise to do, but the thinking behind their promises. In other words, give us the reasoning behind your positions, don't just promise us you'll do stuff.

What is best for our country and why? Tell me that. Appeal to my intellect, not just my emotions. And tell me why your ideas will actually work and why the other guy's won't.

Obama promises to raise the minimum wage. OK. Why? How does that strengthen the economy? I don't understand. Follow MY thinking on this and tell me where I'm failing to understand.

Let's say that I'm a small business owner with twenty-five employees making the minimum wage. Suppose Mr. Obama takes office and he raises the minimum wage. Now my payroll costs have gone up. Instead of employing twenty-five people, I had to let three go to cover my additional payroll expenses. Three more people just entered the unemployment line.

Now there are ways around this, ways I can keep all of my people and still absorb the minimum wage increase. 1) The government could cut my taxes to offset my additional payroll costs. 2) The government could loosen up or eliminate some of their heavy burden regulations, all of which cost me money to comply with. 3) I could raise the cost of my products/services to offset the additional payroll costs.

Options 1) and 2) would be welcomed. But they are very, very unlikely to happen. Option 3) is not a very good option because I become less competitive in the marketplace. Of course my competitors would also be faced with these same choices, so that may be a wash. But then our collective price increases have just added to the inflationary cycle. Yes, my employees are making more money, as are employees across the country, but prices have also gone up because businesses need to make money to stay in business. So we are back to where we started from.

Help me understand how over-taxing and over-regulating businesses will keep jobs in the country. Help me understand how raising taxes on "big oil" will lower the price of gasoline. I just don't get it. Can anyone explain this to me?

If the government bails out homeowners who over-extended themselves, who maybe did not read the "fine print" about their adjustable rate or their balloon payment, my hard earned money, collected at tax time from Uncle Sam, will be thrown down the drain. My government is using my money to reinforce the bad judgment and bad spending habits of my foolish countrymen.

Psychologists call this co-dependency. Co-dependency takes two parties. One party misbehaves. The other party fails to confront, allowing the bad behavior to continue. The second party is known as the enabler.

Our federal government, and many of its state counterparts are guilty of grossly enabling millions upon millions of Americans who refuse to step up to their own responsibilities.

Someone please explain to me why we continue to throw money at public education. Benjamin Franklin once quipped that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Our public school systems do not need more money. They need more people committed to the idea of hard work and its commensurate rewards, people who have no problem failing students who don't perform, people who will not put up with nonsense. Public education needs to get back to teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, teaching our young ones how to think and reason and analyze ideas. Private schools, charter schools, and home schools are running rings around public schools, and often with fewer resources.

True conservatism is hard work. One has to actually engage the brain. True conservatism requires adhering to principles despite their unpopularity and the temporary difficulty such adherence might bring. It is kind of like walking with Jesus in a way. We are to obey Him even if it makes our lives more difficult.

I don't want platitudes. I want a clear-headed plan. I want a plan built upon sound, defensible, proven principles. And if the plan is good, even though it will cost me something, I'm in.

Liberals, and those who vote them into office, seem to want the easy road. "Give me my share." "Take care of me." "It's my right."

It is easy to be a liberal. All one has to do is point the finger at someone and blame them for their difficulty. As a liberal, one only needs to think loosely, put together a speech or a platform that sounds good. But when it is dissected and analyzed, huge holes in reasoning are usually found. For example, Barack Obama claims that our focus on Iraq has left Afghanistan weakened. What he fails to note or acknowledge is that Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan, is openly harboring and providing succor to Al Quaeda and Taliban terrorists in the mountains that border their country. Could it be that Pakistan, a sovereign country in its own right, has made our job more difficult?

But to be a conservative, one has to work. One has to think and reason. One has to assemble all the pieces of an argument, not just parts of it. It takes work. It requires not only critical thinking skills, but the willingness to employ them.

Being a conservative also means that one has to step up and take responsibility. Todd and Sarah Palin chose to have their baby, Trig, despite the fact that they knew he had Downs Syndrome. Extra work, extra care, extra time, extra thought would accompany this tough decision of theirs and they did not shrink back. They saw Trig as a blessing, not as a "punishment" as Mr. Obama does, reflecting on his response should one of his young girls become pregnant at an early age.

God created us to manage our own lives. Government in its most basic form begins with the self. It then extends to the family. The idea of big governments taking care of millions of people (or should I say trying to take care of millions of people) is not found in Scripture. The only job a civil government should tackle in this regard is "setting the table" to make it possible for people to take care of themselves, to manage their own lives.

Oh sure, we are to be our "brothers keeper," to share his burden and to help carry his load. But that's OUR job, not the job of our government in Washington. And it's OK to ask for help. It's OK to receive charity now and then. My family certainly has. We have been through long seasons of hand-to-mouth existence and have survived because of the kindness and charity of others. But not as a lifestyle. Not as a permanent state of being.

I have experienced a job layoff, collected unemployment, been without work, and stood in the SERVE line for food and financial assistance. I know what it's like to wake up every morning not knowing how my bills are going to be paid. I know the fear of losing my home, losing everything. I have driven cars that were just one breakdown away from the junkyard. I have worked two jobs to try and make ends meet. I got up at 3:30 in the morning to deliver papers. All of this to keep my kiddies fed.

I have started three businesses in my lifetime. Two are now defunct and the third exists only on paper. I know failure and it is not fun. So I write from first-hand experience.

And I still say we need to get off our butts and quit blaming others for our problems. Our lives are our responsibility, not others, and certainly not the government's.

This November, when I go to the polls to vote, I will not vote for the silver-tongued, platitudinous promise maker. I will pull the lever for the candidate who best understands the principles and ideals that made this nation great, the party which has traditionally celebrated and promoted hard work, self-reliance, and personal responsibility.

Voting Republican might, in the short term, make life a bit more difficult, but in the long term will ensure a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.

Voting Democrat might make you feel as if you are voting for "change," but in the end you will only be burdening your children and grandchildren with the bill for the "freebies" you get today.

McCain/Palin '08.

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At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Elizabeth (E!!) Crum said...

You wrote: "Our federal government, and many of its state counterparts are guilty of grossly enabling millions upon millions of Americans who refuse to step up to their own responsibilities."

Or: is it that we, the citizens and voters, are the Enablers who allow the bad behavior, and the elected members of the bureaucracy are the badly behaved?

Who's zoomin' who...?


At 2:18 PM, Blogger weave said...

Elizabeth, how right you are. We Americans just need to look in the mirror. There's the real problem.


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