Summary: Those who call themselves, "conservative", profess to hate collectives, but they love collectivism when necessary to support their economic interests and ideology. Examples: "support the troops", corporations, and "cost-benefit" analysis.
This letter was published (edited) 3/27/13 in the Colorado Springs Independent under the heading,
The conservative line.
Those who call themselves "conservative" tend to focus on the individual. But not when it comes to "the troops" and corporations.
Doug Holdread's letter, The military's two faces, observes that conservative, "support the troops" rhetoric is sometimes a euphemism for "don't criticize spending on the military-industrial complex." When funding wars, "deficits don't matter."
But deficits do matter -- a lot -- when it's an individual focus to "support the soldiers." Example: Last September Senate Republicans filibustered a $1 billion jobs bill to address 11 percent veteran unemployment; it would have put veterans to work tending federal lands and staffing local police and fire departments. Republicans said they opposed it because there are veterans' job training programs; never mind those programs may not result in actual jobs.
And conservatives love "unions of money" -- called corporations -- that use the collective power of money to increase return on capital. But they despise unions of persons that seek to increase returns for work. They even say, "corporations are people, my friend." To make that clear, a Montana Republican state legislator proposes each corporate collective have the right to vote in elections. That's even as Republicans pass laws making harder for real people to vote.
Conservatives love get-tough-on-crime laws for people, but promote deregulation -- read lawlessness -- to increase corporate "freedom" to pollute, injure and kill. "Burdensome regulation" prevents our "freedom" to rob banks. But Republicans oppose laws preventing banks from being "too big to fail", which makes them "free" to extort taxpayer bailouts based on threats the U.S. economy will crash without them.
Conservatives say they hate collectives ... smacks of commies, doncha know. But they love conservative collectives when they support their economic interests and ideology.
PS. Another example:
Individually-logical: If the benefits obtained by correcting a safety or environmental problem don't exceed the costs a company incurs to correct the safety problem, then it should not be done. The benefits don't outweigh the costs.
Collectively-irrational: This is not valid when a corporation decides whether to spend to protect public health and safety. Thats because the corporation saves costs but, another entity, the public, loses the benefit.
The "conservative" point of view is that of Republicans like Sen. James Inhofe, OK, who endorse what they call "fiscally responsible policies ... based on ... cost-benefit analyses." They believe that if the benefits obtained by correcting a safety problem don't exceed the costs a company incurs to correct the safety problem, then it should not be done. They use the same logic for arguing against pollution controls to maintain clean air and clean water.
On the surface, this sounds reasonable. Here's why: "Cost-benefit" analysis is valid when an individual decides whether to spend to obtain benefits: the person who saves the costs loses the benefit. That is, some people have increased costs and get to be injured and even die so corporations can increase profits. But no one gets jail time, much less the death penalty. (Examples: The Pinto gas tank; 55,000 Vioxx deaths even though company studies revealed problems years earlier.)
Corporate cost-benefit analysis privatizes profits and socializes costs; it's an insidious form of the collectivism that libertarians supposedly despise. Communism is a no-no when it comes to redistributing income, no matter what the social good. But it's OK to redistribute costs, no matter what the social harm. More importantly the problem with cost-benefit analysis is that it's "people in service of the market," rather than "the market in service of people." William Greider notes in his book, Who Will Tell the People, that "cost-benefit" analysis has the "whiff of fascism."
This is relevant now in Trump-world. Here's an article on the change: "Guess Which Word the EPA Just Deleted From Its Science Mission Statement. "Science" is out. "Technologically achievable" is in.
Diabolical Republicans are now pursuing what they should realize is what they dread: a "collectivist mindset" that "we're all in this together". That's the effect when the EPA's Office of Science and Technology substitutes "economically and technologically achievable" standards for "science-based" standards. Their goal is to impose "cost-benefit analysis" on their decisions. This scam is a form of "capitalist collectivism" to allow more pollution and even more redistribution of costs onto the public.
To understand why it's not either the individual or the collective and why we must attend to both for true freedom, see What's This Site About.
Freedom? Liberal vs. Conservative: Freedom seems a simple concept, but there are different and opposing views of freedom. For some time I've realized that, if people are to be truly free, it's necessary to have a broader view of freedom. That's because, when the system fails, many individuals also fail through no fault of their own.
For those who don't understand why unions, which are collectives, are necessary to prevent wages being driven by national policy to between subsistence level and zero, see
Why Unions and a Minimum Wage are Necessary, 5/14/14.
Unions and a minimum wage are absolutely necessary. That's because the number of jobs in what's called the "labor market" is manipulated by federal-level policies. U.S. wages are depressed by illegal corporate collusion to drive down wages, offshoring, importing foreign workers, using prison labor, and hiring undocumented workers without labor protections that allows wage theft.
To understand why the Libertarian Menace is more dangerous that the Communist Menace ever was, see Explaining Liberal Principles.
On the conservative fear of Collectives, see Collectives. Libertarians say that any idea of a collective dimension of reality is the ridiculous creation of a "socialist mind" and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a common fool. Hardly. Most of us acknowledge many collectives, all of which are greater than the sum of their parts and demonstrate collective behaviors which are different from their parts: families, military platoons, and mobs.
To understand how the "invisible hand" works see Invisible Hand Drops Ball & Economics 101. It explains "free market" weaknesses and failures and why government is necessary for "market forces" to effectively and efficiently balance supply and demand.
To understand how competition has undermined the Colorado Springs' economy, driving massive and growing infrastructure backlogs, see Colorado Springs: A Broken Region.
On what can be done locally to respond to massive regional manufacturing and IT job losses, see Economic Development: What to do locally? The same principles apply to the U.S. economy.