I always find it amazing that the debate between the Keynesian and Friedman view of economics continues despite the complete failure of the latter.
It seems that no matter what happens – the collapse of the economy, the failure of tax cuts to promote growth, the inability of the private sector to intelligently regulate itself and the continuing widening of wealth inequality and extreme poverty – nothing convinces conservatives that their ideology is utterly bankrupt in its current incarnation.
The Republicans in the US believe that stripping down the functions of the state and giving back more money to the mega wealthy will pull the country back from recession. The Tories in the UK are actually acting on those instincts and have been engaging in some of the most savage cuts to the welfare state in British history.
The Right believe poor people will lift themselves out of poverty if they work harder and stop leaching off the system. They neglect to acknowledge that the US and UK are essentially feudal socities with little to no social mobility. According to the OECD ‘Going for Growth’ report, the US and UK are at the bottom of all developed countries in terms of social mobility. Essentially, if you are born poor in the US or UK, you stay poor. The welfare state is crucial to the poor’s survival because without it, they would literally starve, yet conservatives want to cut off the line of support in order to restore ‘fiscal stability’ to government. To put it in perspective, in the UK, welfare costs the tax payer 1 billion pounds a year, whereas middle class tax evasion costs around 42 billion. And what do conservatives preach for the middle classes? You guessed it, more tax cuts.
We know those measures don’t work, can’t work and won’t work for the majority of the population.
Conservatives can’t be stupid, so there must be another explanation for their seeming blindness to reality.
And the answer is that they simply don’t care.
The current incarnations of the conservative party in the UK and the GOP in the US are simply organizations that represent the interests of the rich. The members are wealthy elites elected to do the bidding of other wealthy elites. Their job is to sell their brand of corporate socialism to the public disguised as some sort of ‘free market, get the government off your back’ populism, and they spend millions of dollars doing it year after year.
I’d like to have an honest argument with a conservative, because debating whether free market capitalism works is like arguing whether the world was created in 6 days with a creationist. We know it doesn’t work so I’d ask my fellow Tories and Republicans to stop the charade. You’re in it to make money, or you really aren’t that bright.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.