Guest Commentary: Is Stephen Harper an Economic Conservative?

Fri, 2008-09-05 08:15Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Guest Commentary: Is Stephen Harper an Economic Conservative?

Guest Commentary

… As I constantly awake to politics, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the so-called Conservative Party of Canada is not really all that conservative – at least not economically conservative. While they might or might not be social conservatives, they really are not living by the dogma of small, non-intervening, free-market loving government. It is possibly a tribute to the thickness of the smog that people do not see through it. Many say to me, “yeah, well I know he is not living by his stated principles, but that is just political reality… politicians have to compromise their principles, especially in minority situations”. But when you stop, look at and think about the record – and not the words and rhetoric – it is hard, if not impossible to believe that he is just a bad conservative. What is he then? I don`t know for sure and I`m sure my thinking will evolve with time, but right now my thinking is that everything is far more in line with him being what I`m calling corporatist. Someone who is best understood if you assume that he`s working first and foremost on behalf of large corporations. Conservatives as I understand them work from principles that don`t put corporations before people and country. They know that companies come and go and that markets and companies serve people and countries, not the other way around. But the “conservative” bit is a nice smoke screen. It helps draw in a bigger crowd so he can show us his oh-so-great (mis-)leadership.

Climate and energy are the main way I`ve come to this conclusion. First off, it really struck me as unconservative to deny science. I figured `true` conservatives want to know physical truths as much as anyone, right? Rational, skeptical debate of course…but denial no. Yet here they were full-force against science … and scientists. Then when they were finally forced to do something about it because the polls changed, they chose regulations (previously derided as “command and control!”) as their policy tools of choice. How odd….Weren`t `true` conservatives supposed to espouse market-based mechanisms (taxes, fees, feebates, emission allowance trading, etc.) and not regulations which can often err on the side of being inflexible, crude and bureaucratic? Wouldn`t these other policy tools better keep government out of the Market`s role? Nope, they wanted regs. They also started talking about nuclear power. Again … so weird. Weren`t true conservatives supposed to let free-markets decide which technologies rise and fall in the marketplace? True conservatives also want government to be small, but nuclear costs tens and tens of billions and only those dreaded “central planners” are paying for it these days around the globe, never the free-markets. And when those `spineless` Liberals stood up and said, “You know what? We think market-based mechanisms are the way to go. Let`s lower taxes on what we earn and raise them on what we burn”. Well, those supposed conservatives flipped. This would hurt the economy now…stutter, stammer… this would tax everything! Yet again, their response is totally at odds with all the economic training Harper is claimed to have had. An externality had been clearly identified which the market was failing to address appropriately and it was government`s role to internalize it. And yes, true conservatives believe in market failures. They even recognize that accounting for them and intervening because of them is a way to *improve* the economy. It is just that they choose mechanisms which help the market account for this and adapt as efficiently and seamlessly as possible.

So why betray every one of the most cherished conservative principles in the most obvious of ways for everyone to see? Mostly likely because they are actually not your principles. Your main principle, if this can be described as one, is about using public institutions and funds to support private enterprise. Deny physical truths because they are inconvenient to the profits of the biggest of companies. Choose regulations because you can control and minimize the progress of competitors to these companies and so that you can create loopholes or wane on enforcement when nobody is looking. Promote nuclear because the few benefit at the expense of the many and because of its linkages to the biggest profit business of all – war. And fail to account for pollution in the tax scheme because, well, that would be a highly effective way for a not-so-all-knowing government to let the market do its magic and the market has a magic that does not care about the profits of the biggest of corporations the way you do.

Comments

Then you do not understand what a “true” conservative is. To find out visit www.politicalcompass.org as there are varations of conservatism just as there are variations of liberalism (actually in the early 20th century “liberals” were conservatives. “liberal” free market economy)

Simple answer:
No.

http://greyfalcon.net/canadadebt.png http://greyfalcon.net/debt2.png

Years 1960-79 Liberal Accumulated deficits (debt) 69.751B

Years 1979-1980 Tory Accumulated deficits (debt) 7,746B

Years 1980-1984 Liberal Accumulated deficits (debt) 86,544B

Years 1984-1993 Tory Accumulated deficits (debt) 292,185B

Years 1993-2002 Liberal Accumulated deficits (debt) 126,470B

Total debt for each party

Liberal 282,765B
Tory 299,931 B

If you look at each year PET was in power you can see the ramp up of deficits 1976-1984

6,718 LIB
11,305 LIB
17,317 LIB
7,746 PC
14,113 LIB
14,266 LIB
27,537 LIB
30,628 LIB

Not much difference in the two. Besides the Mulroney Tories were considered “red” tories. That’s why that party disappeared.

Well thats the thing.

“Economic Conservative” and “Social Conservative” aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Infact, the term “Liberal” almost anywhere outside of the US implies a “Economic Liberal”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkfL6PcKA98

_

George Bush for instance, is a Social Conservative, and an extreme Economic Liberal.

Confusing statement:
“First off, it really struck me as unconservative to deny science.”
Since they havn’t, I don’t understand the comment.
Conservatives generally deal with the real world, rather than the virtual world of liberals. They don’t typically use the rose coloured glasses lefties use.
So, With no valid science to support AGW other than some expensive computer games and a loose but backwards correlation between CO2 and historical temperaqtures, the denial is really on the Alarmist side.

That is why they are called reality deniers.

[x]
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