December 04, 2003

Stupid Conservative Myth #13

Here we go with another in the occasional series of myths held mostly by know-nothing conservatives who think Bush is a real ass-kicking hero:

Liberals believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.

In political discussions, I am occasionally confronted with the conservative question: How high do you think taxes would be? What would satisfy you? Honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that there are some great liberal programs in America that I think deserve funding. You want to ask how much? I would respond by asking what value of M1 (the money supply) would make the economy prosper the most efficiently right now.

What's that? You don't know? What, I thought you were an expert on economics, being a Republican who supposedly knows all about how taxes and everything else affect the economy. Well, then, can you estimate how many joint strike fighters we should purchase in order for our country to be safe? How many warheads (with how much mega-tonnage and what distribution) should we keep on hand? Not sure? Hey, I thought you were an expert on defense, being a conservative, so what are you whining about?

You see, in the end, the details of taxation, economic and defense policy (not to mention other areas of government) should best be left to the professionals. All liberals and conservatives are really there for is to provide guiding principles. My guiding principles are that everyone should have an equal opportunity at a quality education, quality health care (though I agree cost controls are needed, and I like Oregon's system as the best of a bunch of bad choices I've seen), employment and legal rights. I also believe in progressive taxation, because in general, I believe the wealthy can afford to put back in more than the poor because the wealthy couldn't have made it happen without this country.

They owe a social debt to America to help keep it strong, and it doesn't hurt them to pay it. Does it act as a disincentive? Only a very mild one. A tax dollar that goes back in a poor person's pocket perhaps doesn't stimulate as much economic growth as one in a rich person's pocket (depends on what they do with their money) necessarily, another drawback. So I recognize that there is a balance to be struck there. A flat tax isn't it, and the current regressive taxation system is *definitely* not it. Do I think taxes should be higher? Yes, on a certain segment of the population, but not across the board.

ATM fees? Who cares. Maybe that's something consumer protection laws (something conservatives in power right now abhor) should deal with for low income citizens who get ripped off by banks, but that's pretty damned far down on the totem pole of the problems this country faces today. Anyway, this whole series has me thinking a lot about what it means to be a liberal, and I found a great post the other day in Steve Gilliard's blog on this subject, but I can't link the exact entry. So I'll quote it at length:

You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

What has conservatism given America? A stable social order? A peaceful homelife? Respect for law and order? No. Hell, no. It hasn't given us anything we didn't have and it wants to take away our freedoms.

The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, slaveowners and pornographers, smugglers and terrorists, understood one thing, a man's path to God needed no help from the state. Is the religion of these conservatives so fragile that they need the state to prop it up, to tell us how to pray and think? Is that what they stand for? Is that their America?

Conservatism plays on fear and thrives on lies and dishonesty. I grew up with honest, decent conservatives and those people have been replaced by the party of greed. It is one thing to want less government interference and smaller, fiscally responsible government. It is another thing entirely to be a corporate whore, selling out to the highest bidder because the CEO fattens your campaign chest. They are building an America which cannot be sustained. One based on the benefit of the few at the cost of the many. The indifferent boss who hires too few people and works them to death or until they break down sick.

Cheap labor capitalism has replaced common sense. "Globalism" which is really guise for exploitation, replaced fair trade, which is nothing like fair for the trapped semi-slaves of the maquliadoras. In the Texas border towns, hundreds of these women have been used as sex slaves and then apparently killed,the FBI powerless to do anything as the criminals sit in Mexico untouched by law.

For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment. It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers.

Bush and the people around him disdain that. They think, by accident of birth and circumstance, they were meant to rule the world and those who did not agree would suffer.

Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense. We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it.

It was the liberals who opposed the Nazis while the conservatives were plotting to get their brown shirts or fund Hitler. It was the liberals who warned about Spain and fought there, who joined the RAF to fight the Germans, who brought democracy to Germany and Japan. Let us not forget it was the conservatives who opposed defending America until the Germans sank our ships. They would have done nothing as Britain came under Nazi control. It was they who supported Joe McCarthy and his baseless, drink fueled claims.

Without liberals, there would be no modern America, just a Nazi sattlelite state. Liberals weak on defense? Liberals created America's defense. The conservatives only need vets at election time.

It is time to stop looking for an accomodation with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?

A bit over the top on some issues, like any good stump speech, but rousing nonetheless. We liberals have a lot to be proud of, a heck of a lot more than most conservatives can hang their hat on. We have the moral authority and the duty to this country to oppose the awful administration currently in power. As the saying goes (paraphrased), all that evil needs in order to flourish is for good men to stand aside and do nothing.

Posted by Observer at December 4, 2003 07:56 AM
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