Conservatives are racists. They are social Darwinists who hate the poor and love money. They wage wars on women and minorities, and couldn’t care less about disadvantaged people. They are xenophobic and homophobic, anti-science and education, and overall ignorant, bigoted, and evil.
The saddest thing in the world is that a large portion of the American people and even foreigners would agree with the previous paragraph. To be honest, up until a few years ago, I was under the impression that a lot of that was true too.
The absolute source of these fallacies and misconceptions is hard to determine (though I have my theories [cough, cough… academia, the media, and Hollywood]), but I would say that it manifests as the lack of discussion and interaction between Liberals with Conservatives on a grand scale entirely. If Liberals were to speak calmly and open-mindedly with Conservatives from time to time, there is no way reasonable Democrats or Liberals would be able to sensibly come to the conclusion that Conservatives are generally bad or maniacal people.
In this three-part series, I will try to explain why many Conservative policies and theories are just as compassionate and caring as any from the left, and why they are often falsely perceived to be bigoted or from a place of hatred.
A theme that will be prevalent throughout this entry is the false dichotomy posed by the left which essentially claims that either the central government can solve the problem, or no one can.
How Conservatives Hate the Poor
Conservatives are typically opposed to welfare programs and raising (or even having) a legal minimum wage. So they obviously hate the poor, right?
Conservatives hate entitlement. Conservatives hate laziness. Conservatives hate getting something for nothing. Conservatives hate wasted opportunities. Conservatives hate government meddling. And Conservatives hate when the Constitution is violated.
Conservatives care about the poor more than anyone, and that’s not to say Liberals do not. The fact of the matter is that Conservatives believe that their ideas will help the poor (along with society itself) far more efficiently than Liberal policies, and they have excellent reasons to believe so.
Their point is that while welfare programs may keep the poor well-fed, they do not help the poor become less poor, and that while the minimum wage may help some people already employed at low salaries, it will ultimately hurt the poor and limit their opportunities to move up the economic ladder.
For welfare, the line of reasoning goes something like this:
- Joe was born poor. Joe’s parents are not skilled or educated. Joe is at a disadvantage.
- Because if you want to get something done, you should do it yourself, Joe is the best person to help Joe.
- While giving Joe free stuff may help him survive, it is not likely to help him achieve his full potential. If we provide welfare for Joe, he will learn to depend on other people to give him free stuff without earning it.
- Joe will become entitled and complacent if he becomes accustomed to welfare, and in turn will never embark on a journey to improve his life. As a result, he will never be independent, free, or wealthy.
- If we coach Joe up by figuratively teaching him how to fish instead of giving him fish, Joe will learn to acquire fish on his own.
- This will give Joe a reason to live, a way to improve his life, a way to enhance his freedom, something to make him happy and busy, and, subsequently, make him a productive member of society.
- If we treat all poor people this way, more of them will develop better attitudes and work ethics and create better opportunities for future generations.
- This will make everyone freer and happier while improving our standard of living collectively.
This thought process is seldom understood, let alone listened to, by many on the left. Liberals believe that is their duty to maternally help the poor directly (though “directly” is questionable as it is not necessarily proponents of welfare who bear the costs) rather than take a tough love approach to encourage them to help themselves. Liberals often think who are we to tell Joe what to do with his life? He is a special and unique snowflake, and we must pity him, not embolden him. Anyone who objects to empowering the government to enforce more and more welfare is clearly anti-poor and uncaring. The poor need resources, not paternalistic advice.
As far as the opposition to minimum wage laws go, Conservatives follow this train of thought:
- If Joe is born poor, has no experience or education, and has no skills, his labor is not as valuable as the labor of someone born into a more privileged position with experience, skills, and other advantages (such as a car, nicer clothing, or superior language skills).
- The only way for Joe to compete with more privileged individuals is to offer his labor at a lower cost.
- Presented with the option of an unskilled laborer for a relatively low cost or a skilled worker at a premium, an employer may give Joe an opportunity to work, earn money, and develop his skills, and effectively better himself. The employer may even favor the unskilled laborer because he can be shaped and molded to do exactly what the job entails. The more advantaged laborer may have preferences or habits that run contrary to what the employer prefers.
- With a minimum wage, it becomes illegal for Joe to offer his services at a competitive rate. If the minimum wage is $15 an hour, and that seems costly to an employer, he cannot risk hiring an unskilled worker who will not produce the value of his price tag. The employer is forced to choose the skilled worker, who is likely more privileged than Joe to begin with, out of sheer economic necessity of keeping his business alive and profitable.
- The skilled worker who was born into a decent situation keeps his economic opportunities, and Joe is burdened with a high cost and low value to potential employers, and the law prevents him from combating it.
- Joe’s opportunities become limited, and he is more likely to remain unemployed, unskilled, and poor.
- This is not to mention that there is nothing in the Constitution that suggests the federal government has the right to set wage standards (or create social welfare programs).
This is another thought process that few Liberals entertain. They seem to believe that there will be no effects from raising the minimum wage other than increasing everyone’s salaries.
Since job creators must be prudent with their investments, there is no way this can be true. If plastic is too expensive, a businessperson will switch to aluminum. When labor becomes too expensive, they will switch to automated systems and fewer employees, and will likely lose the means of assisting potential employees who need a helping hand.
It’s fine to agree with the Liberal point of view. We all have the right to our own opinions. But to smear Conservatives as callous towards the poor is dishonest, ignorant, or mistaken.