Archive for April, 2009

Conservatism as Delayed Gratification

If it comes easy, it’s not worth much. If it requires blood, sweat, tears and years, here you’ll find great value. And herein lies why conservatism rings true to me.

Delayed gratification is the $2 way to say it. That phrase, vis-a-vis instant gratification, pervades every tenet of conservatism.

BUSINESS. Conservatives want free markets to judge winners and losers over time. Economist Art Laffer notes that if economic crises are left alone, wealth transfers from the foolish to the prudent, from those who borrowed or lent too much to those who didn’t. Though painful to watch, conservatives prefer this process over instant government bailouts.

EDUCATION. Conservatives want to expand educational delivery methods and enrich parents to make decisions for their kids. Protecting failing incumbent school systems is easier than the hard work of disruptive systemic change, but it is equivalent to the insanity of doing the same thing and expecting different results.

HEALTH CARE. Conservatives want individual choice and responsibility to drive medical decisions, e.g., they want a system that encourages the discipline of preventing diabetes with diet and exercise, not one where taxpayers subsidize diabetes medication for any obese citizen.

JOBS. Conservatives want entrepreneurship and innovation to drive higher-order job creation, a more sustainable and competitive foundation than merely raising the minimum wage or forcing companies to keep their lower-end jobs on U.S. soil.

NATIONAL SECURITY. Conservatives want to see a conflict through to completion. They envision the preferable future birthed by a battle well fought. Avoidance offers the perception of immediate safety but not the promise of perpetual protection.

SOCIAL MORES. Conservatives want restraints that protect vulnerable citizens from harmful sights, sites and substances. Opening the floodgates to alcohol at any age, drugs at any place, sexuality at any stage is easy in the short-term, but destructive in the long.

SOCIAL SERVICES. Conservatives want to educate, empower and employ in order to lift citizens to independence. While this strategy takes longer than instant handouts, it is ultimately more sustainable. (Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day …)

TAXES. Conservatives want low taxes in order to grow the economy over time. This approach ultimately results in greater government revenue. Conversely, high taxes fill coffers quickly, but depress economic expansion over the long haul.

I could go on: abortion, criminal justice, transportation, etc. Instead, I’ll delay my gratification and trust you get the point. Besides, I need to go explain to my son why he must eat his beans and cornbread before he gets an ice cream cone.


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