So we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke received, if not a deluge of comments to our post from a couple days ago, A Plea to Conservatives Everywhere, let’s call it a handful. A good percentage of which were from almost exclusively well-behaved self-described conservatives taking exception to much of what we’d written. It would’ve been time-consumingly impossible to respond to each one individually. Instead, we’re lumping them together into a single response post which, undoubtedly, will look as if we’re misrepresenting what everyone wrote and deceptively framing the terms of debate in order to make ourselves seem much smarter than we actually are.
Alas, the burden of ultimate editorial control.
There seemed to be four currents of argument running through the anti-comments that came in. When we asked to be shown “…how further corporate tax cuts will kick start our economy,” we got a lesson in the theory of corporate taxes. Yes, we understand the concept. We just weren’t sure where the proof was that cutting them further at this particular time was going to help. Unless you’re one of those anti-Keynesian absolutists, reducing spending along with taxes in such an anemic state of recovery doesn’t make a whole lot of economic sense.
Besides, we’ve been hacking away at corporate tax rates both federally and provincially for a few years now, haven’t we? When should we expect to see positive results? And if corporate tax cuts are such an effective weapon in stimulating the economy, why not lobby for their complete removal? Eliminate them entirely. If 13% is going to help, why not 0? Point to a jurisdiction with significantly lower corporate tax rates than ours are currently and say, see? They work. And if I can’t find one, like say Mexico, that counters your argument, I’ll lay down my sword.
A number of commenters suggested the burden was on me (or the entire Left) to prove that de-regulation and less oversight was the source of the global financial meltdown. I thought they already had. Google Nobel Prize winning Paul Krugman and see what he’s been saying over the last couple years. Or Jeffrey Sachs if he’s more to your economic taste. Check out Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone for the naked criminality at the very heart of the meltdown. Read Michael Lewis’s The Big Short or Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big To Fail. Watch Charles Ferguson’s documentary, Inside Job. The case has been made quite definitively. You dispute it? You refute it.
And on a couple little side notes. One commenter asked if we wanted to return to the days of the Glass-Steagall Act “…which limited credit growth and therefore slowed down economic growth…” Errr, am I wrong in remembering that the full repeal of Glass-Steagall occurred in 1999, at the height of one of the biggest economic expansions in history? So how exactly did it slow down economic growth? The commenter then went on to point out that no Canadian banks failed due to smart regulations — which, while in opposition, the current Conservative government fought against — and kind of proves my point for me, doesn’t it? We missed the brunt of the financial shitstorm because of government regulation and oversight not because a lack of it. Or am I missing something?
“Prove this whole trickle-down theory to me,” I taunted. “How rising tides raise all boats.” That brought forth a litany of indignation, mostly in two forms. One, things were much better now than they were 100 years ago, owing to the miracle of free market capitalism. OK, sure. But my line of attack wasn’t necessarily directed at the idea of free market capitalism, only how it’s been conducted in the last 30 years or so. Cast your minds back, 50, 60 years ago, to the more immediate post-War era. Where governments taxed the richest of the rich more prodigiously and spent massively on things like infrastructure, established universal health care and sent men to the moon. An era when a single bread winner could buy a house, raise a family, put the kids through college and retire comfortably.
A picture, I’m sure, more idyllic than it actually was but one that is a pipe dream nowadays. Much of our prosperity is built on a mountain of debt. Two income households are the norm. Post-secondary education has grown into an onerous financial burden that is increasingly failing to deliver on its promise of leading to better lives.
Secondly, please, please, please stop bringing up China and India when attempting to defend modern day capitalism. Yes, millions of people are climbing their way out of poverty. And yes, China in particular has turned away from its Maoist past and heartily embraced aspects of the free market. But as another commenter pointed out, both countries remain planned economies, control highly centralized. If our governments here attempted to intrude into the economy the way the Chinese and Indian governments do, conservatives would howl in outrage before soiling themselves and passing out. Witness the reaction to the various stimulus packages.
Finally, conservative commenters took exception to our painting them all with the same brush. There were pro-environmental conservatives who believed in anthropogenic climate change. Conservatives who suspected the War on Drugs was a bust. Pro-choice conservatives. Non-Rob Ford voting conservatives.
Fair enough but that type of red Toryism or socially liberal conservatism is hardly in the ascendancy. Your movement has been hijacked by the radicals under your umbrella and they’ve seized Washington, Ottawa and city hall in Toronto. They’re attacking women’s rights. They’re declaring climate change hokum and maybe even beneficial. The federal Conservative government is trying to close down a safe injection site in Vancouver in the face of overwhelming evidence of its positive contribution. At the same time they’re attempting to roll back drug laws to a Draconian state in order to fill the prisons that they are building. These neocons hate government and everything it stands for.
They don’t believe much of anything you’re claiming to believe. In fact, your views sound much closer to my left wing bias. So why are you fighting me and not those who are doing great damage to your conservative brand and giving you all a bad name?
— respondingly submitted by Cityslikr
Left wing, right wing, what is this a hockey game? If it is then we certainly need a stron center, kind like the Leafs.
When I was young and sort of good looking I was a devoted Liberal. Then, about 14 years a go, something happened when I became a partner is an small fabrication business. I quickly realized that our business was built on straws because we were too isolated from the rest of the world. It was a time when life was good for businesses and employees with plenty of work and decent wages. But, it became very clear very quickly that our world was due for a change. It was then that the luster of my Liberal ideals has worn off and I felt that there was impending doom as competitive battles were forming in various developing countries. How could we defend ourselves? Can our welders weld better than those in emerging nations? No! Did our guys produce a higher quality product that customers would continue to pay a premium for? Not very likely! It was this turning point that put me on the path to Conservatism. It was made very clear to me that the status quo was not sustainable and something had to give. What were our options? Higher productivity? No, our people produced at a high level. Reduction in wages? No,this would be the death of the business as employees would walk. Then what?
The reality was very simple. The answers are not very theoretical and don’t come from some fancy pants theory of economics (unless there is some name for what happened). The only answer was to batten down the hatches and ride the storm until it swallowed us up. And in 2004 it did just that.
Workers lost jobs. Suppliers lost customers. Liberals who worked in businesses started to realize that as wonderful as social spending makes you feel you need money to make things happen. Liberals started to think in more conservative terms realizing that we just couldn’t keep spending forever. Where would the money come from? Do we borrow it against the future? The Liberals wanted to continue the course and keep spending while the business Liberals began to demand spending reductions as they slowly, and perhaps unknowingly, turned to Conservatism. And this is where we sit today. The remaining Liberals have dug in their heels demanding that the world not change, but thats not working out too well. Markets for Canadian made products are disappearing daily but the Left wants to continue to spend and hope that things will get better and return to how they were in “the good old days”.
Which reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend back in the early 90’s when everyone was waiting for the economy to bounce back. My buddy predicted that as bad as things were at that time, in 10 years time we would be looking back and refering to that time as “the good old days”. Which is exactly what happened.
I was a Liberal when life was good. I then got hit in the face real hard with economic reality and coverted to Conservatism, not because it was the cool thing to do but because it became very clear that Liberal ideology could not support itself economically under difficult economic circumstances.
The remaining Liberal sector will continue to drop in numbers as the economy continues to putter along, especially here in Ontario. Manufacturing jobs will continue to leave the province as our energy costs rise and employees continue to demand higher wages.
I’ve been around long enough to understand that there is no turning back to where we came from. We can only have continued social spending if we can keep businesses employing people at the customary high wages and keeping them here by allowing them to make money.
I can’t help but feel that in 10 years time we’ll be looking back at this time and refering to it as “the good old days”.
Walt: Doesn’t your argument fall apart when faced with the reality that the Conservative Party of Canada has not cut government spending?
I do think there’s a distinction to be made between old-school conservatives like Bill Davis and Barry Goldwater in the U.S. and modern conservatives, who tend to lean hard on populism while not-so-secretly prioritizing corporate profits above things like social welfare and societal good. But I’m not sure that distinction really matters because, as you say, that old-school conservativism is dead.
The most maddening thing about the modern conservative movement is that it proposed absurdly simple solutions to complex issues. Economy bad? Lower taxes! Expensive social service? Privatize it! Threat of terrorism? Bomb everything!
You noted historical tax rates in your post as well. Here’s some context for that: in the 1950s, thought of as a golden age among conservative types, top earners in the United States faced a top income tax bracket of more than 90%. In 1952, every dollar anyone made over $200,000 – that’s 1.6 milion in today’s dollars – was taxed at 91%. (Sources: http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/151.html & http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Chart_1.png)
Matt, I will grant that Bill Davis was a PC. Harper is more Reform, Alliance than Con. Which means that a lot of hidden things in the agenda are coming to light defunding Kairos to curry favour with dononrs/voters of the Jewish faith.
The conservatism of the past 3 decades are personified in flat wages relative to inflation & a rise in the wealth of the rich.
Under Reagan who would have been 100 a couple weeks ago. The top 20% had about 75% wealth. By the time Bush Jr. left, it was the top 5% holding 90% of the wealth. Most deficits to fund “tax cuts for the rich” came from all citizens. See mostly conservative finance ministers at the G20 to have deficits cut in half by 2013(negotiated in Toronto) go out the window with some bailouts…
I dabble in International Relations(IR) & observe China in that it has to plan for 8% growth to maintain stability. Whereas India is more “oligarchical” in that 10 families hold about 70-80% of the stocks.
I would liken PC leader Hudak to the Tea Party/Palins in that he opposes anything McGuinty does but offers no realistic alternative. Nor does Ford’s Sheppard subway?!
P.S. It is good to see some young people are involved in political revolution! “Walk like an Egyptian… Oh whey oh.”
The problem with being in the centre these days is that the mainstream conservatives have swung so far to the right that the centre is actually on the right. We currently have a prime minister who has said “I don’t think any tax is a good tax.” Tell me that is not an extreme right position.
You can always be left which is the center in corpoland. Harper doesn’t have a problem subsidizing corporations at the expense of citizens. The federal Libs called the HST; the Harper Sales Tax because it helps business’ save on accounting & writing down equipment & takes from average Canadians…Harper would label you a socialist if not a separatist as the talking point this election.
thanks for the clarification. your article did seem like an all-encompassing bashing of conservatism.
>Fair enough but that type of red Toryism or socially liberal conservatism is hardly in the ascendancy… So why are you fighting me and not those who are doing great damage to your conservative brand and giving you all a bad name?
if “ascendancy” was the measure of truth, you should jump off the good ship liberalism. and on that note, what party or ideology is perfectly homogeneous and free of infighting? your criticism seems a bit hypocritical.
as for why people are fighting you, uhh, i think you threw off the gloves first. your writing is good (actually it’s very, very good), but perhaps you should concentrate on specific issues instead of shotgun attacks.
mettle; I would bash fiscal conservative councillors for voting with Ford’s $9.4 billion proposed budget because it consists of MORE spending than Miller & is also reliant on revenue from the land tranfer tax that Ford promised to eliminate…
Unless I’m mistaken, you mean “anthropogenic climate change.” Otherwise, we’re talking some kind of sentient monster climate change that thinks and feels and is going to destroy us with malice in its heart.
Yes, thank you. We here at all Fired Up in the Big Smoke did indeed mean ‘anthropogenic’. Although, in the case of climate change, ‘anthropogenic’ as you’ve laid out could be fitting as well.
We stand humbly corrected.