How Today's Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality By FAREED ZAKARIA
"Conservatism is true." "That's what George Will told me" (and Duane in the forum would say-Mahilena's comment)
"when I interviewed him as an eager student many years ago. His formulation might have been a touch arrogant, Will's basic point was intelligent. Conservatism, he explained, was rooted in reality. Unlike the abstract theories Marxism and socialism, it started not from an imagined society but from the world as it actually exists. From Aristotle 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"
"Watching this election campaign, one wonders what has happened to that tradition. Conservatives now espouse
ideas drawn from abstract principles with little regard to the realities of America's present or past."
"Consider the debates over the economy. The Republican prescription is to cut taxes and slash government spending
— then things will bounce back. Now, I would like to see lower rates in the context of tax simplification and reform, what is the evidence that tax cuts are the best path to revive the U.S. economy? Taxes — federal and state combined
— as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest level since 1950. The U.S. is among the lowest taxed of the big
industrial economies. So the case that America is grinding to a halt because of high taxation is not based on facts is simply a theoretical assertion. The rich countries that are in the best shape right now, with strong growth and unemployment, are ones like Germany and Denmark, neither one characterized by low taxes.
Many Republican businessmen have told me that the Obama Administration is the most hostile to business in years. Really? More than that of Richard Nixon, who presided over tax rates that reached 70%, regulations that
spanned whole industries, and who actually instituted price and wage controls?
In fact, right now any discussion of government involvement in the economy — even to build vital infrastructure — impossible because it is a cardinal tenet of the new conservatism that such involvement is always and forever Meanwhile, across the globe, the world's fastest-growing economy, China, has managed to use government
involvement to create growth and jobs for three decades. From Singapore to South Korea to Germany to Canada,
evidence abounds that some strategic actions by the government can act as catalysts for free-market growth."
"Of course, American history suggests that as well. In the 1950s, '60s and '70s, the U.S. government made massive
investments in science and technology, in state universities and in infant industries. It built infrastructure that was envy of the rest of the world. Those investments triggered two generations of economic growth and put the U.S. of the world of technology and innovation.
But that history has been forgotten. When considering health care, for example, Republicans confidently assert their ideas will lower costs, when we simply do not have much evidence for this. What we do know is that of the
world's richest countries, the U.S. has by far the greatest involvement of free markets and the private sector in health
care. It also consumes the largest share of GDP, with no significant gains in health on any measurable need more market mechanisms to cut medical costs, but Republicans don't bother to study existing health care
systems anywhere else in the world. They resemble the old Marxists, who refused to look around at actual experience.
"I know it works in practice," the old saw goes, "but does it work in theory?""
"We need conservative ideas to modernize the U.S. economy and reform American government. But what we have
instead are policies that don't reform but just cut and starve government — a strategy that pays little attention to or best practices from around the world and is based instead on a theory. It turns out that conservatives are the professors after all." Republicans have just become the priest of a new anti-government religion that simply
does not work..
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