In last week's Time magazine, Fareed Zakaria observes that conservatives once held the world view that their approach to problem solving was based upon an analysis of reality. "Unlike the abstract (woolly-headed) theories of Marxism and socialism, (conservatism) started not from an imagined society but from the world as it actually exists. From Aristotle to Edmund Burke, the greatest conservative thinkers have said that to change societies, one must understand them, accept them as they are and help them evolve." Zakaria continues, "Conservatives now espouse ideas drawn from abstract principles with little regard to the realities of America's present or past. This is a tragedy, because conservatism has an important role to play in modernizing the U.S."
"Consider the debates over the economy. The Republican prescription is to cut taxes and slash government spending - then things will bounce back. ... But what is the evidence that tax cuts are the best path to revive the U.S. economy?"
When Reagan was selling his view of economic reality, he coined the term "trickle down economics," the notion that cutting taxes on the rich generated money in the class of entrepreneurs who then would create jobs, thus leading to a rising tide of economic growth which in the safe harbor of a U.S.-dominated world economy would "float all boats." But Reagan did not factor in the impact of another huge achievement of his administration, the end of the Cold War. Rather than having the U.S. and the Soviet Union wage economic battles to divide third world countries between themselves and thereby maintain a huge risk for making investments overseas, now "trickle down" is more likely to float boats moored in overseas harbors. And with an outwardly reaching Chinese government looking to do business in the new world order, the U.S. finds itself lagging behind in the competition to do business.
In large part, both political parties ignore this harsh reality. After all, explaining a tough problem is more likely to cause resentment for the message bearer than to wake the electorate up to the harsh message being delivered. Zakaria concludes: "Conservatives used to be the ones with heads firmly based in reality. ... It turns out that conservatives are the woolly-headed professors after all."
Dale Whiting, Chandler