Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Why I'm a Republican, Part XIII  

A buddy who knew me long ago asked why I became a Republican.  Here's my reply:

The Democrats stopped being the party of Truman. They deserted me and abandoned most Americans to fixate on five flawed values:

1) Equality should be maximized, even at the expense of liberty.  Better to beggar all than to sanction some success.  No one should have to rely on self-reliance; that's what government's for! 

2) Money is a zero sum game. What I mean is:

  • Dems do NOT understand that trade and commerce create wealth for both parties to the transaction. They forget that every voluntary exchange is motivated by the expectation of increased value. If one person only has cloth, and he trades with another person who only has wine (the example used by David Ricardo, a personal hero of mine, in his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817)), than the each party winds up with both cloth and wine--and pleased by prospect. This is known as "Comparative Advantage"--the foundation for free trade.  Vilfredo Pareto supplied the math in his Manual of Political Economy (1906).

  • Because Dems wrongly overlook Pareto efficiency, they favor forced redistribution of wealth. But, unlike trade and commerce--which adds wealth to society as a whole--redistribution impoverishes one to support another. This is the very definition of a zero-sum transaction (actually, negative-sum after transaction costs).  The scope and intensity of government-ordered redistribution is the principal reason why Western European GDP growth rates have been half that of America over the past two decades.  No wonder Sweden's poorer than Alabama with more crime than Mississippi

  • As a result, Dems treat "corporations" as if they were aliens. Dems demonize businesses and assume they stuff corporate profits under the CEO's mattress--rather then creating jobs and goods or services for Americans.  They forget most businesses are small businesses and that larger companies are owned by millions of ordinary middle-class shareholders and/or pension plans.  Democrats see commerce as "us vs them." They reflexively oppose growth. And so they layer business with unnecessary regulation and confiscatory taxation, never considering potential risks to the economy.

3) There is nothing "exceptional" about America. I believe America's balance of public and private interests--governed by constitutional ideals and the rule of law, stimulated by personal and economic freedom--offers opportunity and hope for all humanity. I also believe America's mission is, to some degree, divinely inspired. See Matthew 5:14 ("Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid"). But Dems are strictly secular. They insist that neither the U.S. government nor its people possess commendable virtues or morality, and thus are not entitled to lobby for liberty abroad. Moreover, were they to share these ideals, Dems believe America's (asserted) deficits in democracy invalidate it as a template elsewhere. 

This explains why Democrats reflexively blame America for the villainy of others (e.g., Islamic terrorism is America's fault), and why they assume America's present power derives from an accidental abundance of native natural resources (or access to unfairly coerced resources abroad).   Both notions are nutty.  Terrorism is but a modern label for murder of innocents, which has always been man's most malevolent act.  See Genesis 4:11-14 ("And now art thou [Cain] cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth.").  And the source of America's strength is neither oil nor gold--it's our founding father's foresight to start a society where ordinary human dreams would foster in freedom.     

4) Paternalism is necessary. The poor/under-educated/minorities/whoever-the-man-be-keeping-down-this-week cannot comprehend their own interests and so choose unwisely. This necessitates empowering government bureaucrats--backed by abundant no-conservatives-in-my-tree-house academics--to make the "right" decisions for them.  When conservatives object, they call us "fat-cats" or "elitists."  Never mind the fact that campaign donations are exactly the opposite--the majority of political contributions from Americans with annual incomes over $100k go to Democrats, while most Americans making less than six figures contribute to Republicans.  

5) Reasonable people can resolve any dispute. Continental Europe claims diplomacy makes war obsolete. Tell that to the Czechoslovakian Neville Chamberlain bartered to Hitler--in return for a dictator's empty promise. Tell that to the 100 million victims of Communism. Tell that to the Bosnians--who died by the truckload while the E.U. dithered. This is wishful thinking, not logic--despots don't share our concept of honor.  And it's similar to the "mirror image" dilemma of the Cold War: Liberals consider themselves beneficent and just, and assume everyone everywhere is the same.  See, e.g., Jimmy Carter. 

I'm reminded of a first-season Star Trek episode called "Devil in the Dark."  Answering a distress call, the Enterprise landing party investigates mysterious underground deaths in an energy-producing colony.  The plot turns on Spock's discovery that a "rock creature" (called Horta) murdered miners only to protect the eggs of its next generation.  Slam-bam, the sub-surface is split, a treaty signed, and the Enterprise warps away.  Problem solved, right?  Yet I'll bet ten minutes later--cops gone, camera off--the rock killed again. Liberals--and boy was Gene Roddenberry a liberal!--will bargain with anyone, creature or tyrant. 

*   *   *

It's one thing for a TV program to pursue pabulum; quite another when a major party's platform is premised on pessimism and perpetual victim status.  According to Democrats, America can survive only by shrinking.  So, in sum, I renounced the Democratic party as soon as it espoused societal suicide.  


I'm late to the party, but Zell Miller--senior Senator from Georgia and a Democrat--is more eloquent, in a subscription-only Op Ed from Monday's Wall Street Journal:
when it comes to taxes and services, you'd be pressed to find anyone more opposed to the interests of middle-class Americans than John Kerry. Except maybe John Edwards. Both voted against tax relief for married couples, tax relief for families with children, and tax relief for small businesses. Now Mr. Kerry wants to raise taxes on hundreds of thousands of small-business owners and millions of individuals. He claims to be for working people, but I don't understand how small businesses can create jobs if they've got to send more money to Washington instead of keeping it to hire workers.

Worst of all, Sens. Kerry and Edwards have not kept faith with the men and women who are fighting the war on terror -- most of whom come from small towns and middle-class families all over America. While Mr. Bush has stood by our troops every step of the way, Messrs. Kerry and Edwards voted to send our troops to war and then voted against the money to give them supplies and equipment -- not to mention better benefits for their families. And recently Mr. Kerry even said he's proud of that vote. Proud to abandon our troops when they're out in the field? I can hear Harry Truman cussing from his grave.

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