Sunday, May 20, 2018

What's wrong with American conservatives?

I have spent copious amounts of time and blog posts criticizing the regressive left and its totalitarian ideology. I suppose it's only fair that I sometimes present some criticism of right-wing (ie. "conservative") politics, especially when it comes to American conservatism.

Because of the antics of the extreme left, especially in the United States, American conservatism has become more and more trendy. Essentially, the left is pushing "centrist" and mostly neutral people towards the right, towards the conservative side. After all, due to the madness that has infected the extreme left, and is spreading to all of society, in a twist of irony the political right, the conservatives, are now the side that are advocating for what the left was once known for: Human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, individualism, and so on.

When one side of the political spectrum is saying "freedom of speech is conditional, we should ban, censor, restrict, silence and punish all people who present dissenting opinions", while the other side is saying "freedom of speech is for everybody, it's sacrosanct, and everybody should have the same right to express their opinions, no matter what they are", it's no wonder why people on the fence are being drawn to the latter. We have become a world where defending people's free speech gets you labeled "fascist" and "nazi", and expressing the wrong opinions could even get you to jail. And it's not the right wing that's doing it.

American conservatives are taking advantage of this, and riding on the opportunity this situation has given in order to make their political views more palatable and enticing.

But we should really make a reality check here. American conservatism has its share of idiotic and detrimental political views, ideologies and attitudes as well. They should not be forgotten. It's time to bring some of them back to the light.

One of the biggest issues I have with American conservatism is how corporatist their ideology is. This takes many forms.

Many conservatives will defend the rights and privileges of corporations over the rights of the individual, and the environment. Conservatives have taken the opportunity of the current political climate to criticize anarcho-communists, who want to get rid of government altogether. Anarcho-communism is indeed a completely idiotic world view, but conservatives criticizing it is rather rich, given that many of them are pretty much anarcho-capitalists.

Anarcho-capitalism is the worst possible and most exploitative form of capitalism and corporatism. It means that corporations are allowed to operate completely freely with literally zero intervention and restrictions from the government. No taxes, no regulations, no restrictions, no laws, no protections for customers and citizens or the environment. Nothing. Complete and literal anarchy, when it comes to corporations.

(I think that even outright blatant anarcho-capitalists think that laws that apply to individual citizens should apply to the people running corporations, as in, for example, a corporation outright murdering someone should have legal consequences for the people responsible. However, anarcho-capitalism posits that the government should have exactly zero say in what corporations do as corporations, when it does not come to actual crimes made by people against other people.)

This means that corporations should be free to engage in exploitative business practices with complete impunity, including exploitative practices towards their own customers. No consumer protection, no laws against unfair business practices, no environmental laws, nothing. And no taxes, of course.

In fact, many American conservatives are against taxation of any kind, of anybody. The sentiment "taxes are theft" is very common. Conservatives have a very extreme and completely unhealthy attitude towards anything that they think is even slightly "socialism". This includes pretty much any public service that the government offers the citizens using tax money, such as health care, education, infrastructure, social services, and so on and so forth.

The funny thing is that this anti-tax sentiment is very contradictory with many of their other views, and the roles that they think the government has. For instance, most conservatives very much support the United States having a well-funded army. They have a great respect for soldiers, and the work they do to protect the country. Yet not many of them seem to think where exactly that money to fund the army is coming from. You may find the exact same person saying "taxes are theft" and strongly defending their well-funded military, without even realizing the contradiction between these two things.

Overall, many conservatives have very contradictory sentiments against their own government. On one hand they have strong feelings about who should be in the government, they rally for and vote for their preferred candidates, want them to become representatives and presidents, and to run the country in the good old American way. On the other hand these exact same people may show a great distrust of the government, oppose the government meddling in their lives, oppose taxes, and have all kinds of conspiracy theories about how the government is out there to get them, take their guns away, and trample all over their rights. They may defend the government in one situation, and want pretty much anarchy in another.

Going back to the topic of corporatism, and how deeply pro-corporations many American conservatives are, they are so much so that they will often defend the rights of corporations against the rights of individuals.

For example, many, perhaps most, of them think that corporations should have the right to discriminate against people based on things like religion and sexual orientation. (Which is quite rich, given that many times at least some of these same people will criticize some institutions, such as universities, discriminating against conservatives.)

Also, many/most American conservatives are climate change denialists, and this is motivated directly by their corporatist world view: They think that combating the effects of climate change and global warming would require corporations and industries to restrict their own activities, to spend money on environmentalism and reducing pollution, to lessen their production efficiency because of the restrictions put onto them for environmental reasons. They also oppose the idea of their use of cars being limited and restricted (personal cars are the holy cow of most American conservatives). Because of this, they are very eager to believe the conspiracy theory that climate change is nothing but a ploy to exploit corporations, restrict their business practices, and get money from them via taxes. Believing this makes them feeling better about using their big cars to drive to the store that's 100 meters away from their home, and have those heavy industries pouring pollution to the air and rivers.

And if cars are the holy cow of conservatives, guns are even more so.

Gun control is a complex issue, but conservatives tend to become quite irrational when discussing it, especially when compared to other countries. You wouldn't believe how much they will twist and weasel when you bring up comparisons with other countries. The amount of excuses is just astonishing. (For example, if you bring up how in Australia the number of mass shootings dropped to zero for decades after guns were pretty much completely banned, while in the United States mass shootings are still pretty much a weekly occurrence, you wouldn't believe how many excuses they will make in order to not acknowledge that there might be something there.)

And if their attitude towards cars and guns is almost religious, so is their attitude towards health care, but in the other direction. Which is strange, really. Why health care in particular? Schools? Fine. Public roads and infrastructure? Ok. Sewers and other such services? Yeah, quite necessary. Libraries, postal offices and such? Perhaps not necessary per se, but not very problematic either.

But public health care? Nooooo! That's like the most evil thing in the world, somehow.

Study after study has shown that European style universal health care is actually less expensive than the American system. Even though universal health care is tax-funded, the citizens and the government end up spending less money on it, than the citizens and government in the United States for their health care system. And universal health care is in no way of lesser quality. (And it's not like universal health care would forbid private practice and private hospitals. They are extremely common all over Europe. If you really want to pay hefty sums of money for a private specialist, you are completely free to do so, and there's plenty of supply.)

But no, to American conservatives public health care is evil, because it's socialism, or something. It wouldn't even matter if using such a system wouldn't increase taxes (eg. if the government reallocated some of their tax revenue to public health care, and thus taxes wouldn't raise at all). It's a matter of principle more than a matter of money.

And thus, when pretty much everywhere else if you sprain your ankle you get to a doctor and have to pay nothing (or in some cases just a really nominal laughably small sum), in the United States you end up having to pay literally hundreds of dollars for a 10-minute visit to the doctor. Which many people can't afford. And if you need some medicine for whatever is your problem, expect often having to pay hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars more (when in most other countries you still pay only something really nominal, sometimes nothing.)

And, once again, the universal healthcare system, where you don't pay for doctor visits nor medicine, is overall cheaper to everybody than the American system. But that doesn't seem to matter. It's not a question of money. It's a question of principle.

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