Recently a reader pointed out that I should stop writing about what liberals believe because I couldn’t possibly know what they think. The reader suggested that I should write about what conservatives believe.
The first part of their suggestion is without merit, but the second is something I will attempt to do.
As I have pointed out repeatedly, conservatives understand liberals more completely than liberals understand conservatives. We have gone to school, read newspapers and been immersed in other media, all of which have been controlled largely by liberals.
On the other hand, liberals remain in cultural enclaves and sneak out only occasionally to throw rocks or to study the natives.
As Charles Murray pointed out in his latest book, "Coming Apart," the philosophical foundation for modern liberalism can be summarized in three or maybe four points. In fact, it is almost always possible to predict what a liberal will say or do about any topic in advance and seldom be wrong, a phenomenon about which B.F. Skinner had some interesting things to say.
So what do conservatives believe? In this limited space, I will point out only those areas that make us most different from liberals.
1. Human beings are generally responsible for the things they do. Consequently, most people do deserve what they have gotten, good or bad. It is not a matter of "winning life’s lottery." There is no moral virtue requiring that the economically successful give over what they have earned to the government based on the premise that they were randomly successful. It is also not inappropriate to say that someone may be lazy or irresponsible.
There are obviously exceptions, but a society that operates on the basis that the exceptions are the rule will be poorer and less able to care for those in need.
2. Properly designed government interventions cannot correct problems of human behavior. A government is a creation of the people, and will be no more capable or moral than the people who create it.
Welfare states are designed in ways that violate basic human nature. You cannot take away the incentives to work and expect that people will not take advantage of this, even if the government social engineers fancy themselves to be smarter than the workers.
Fathers will not continue to parent when the government takes over the role of a father. Conservatives view those who believe that these efforts would work, if only the government did it correctly, to be extraordinarily naïve.
3. Conservatives state that it is an empirical fact that people are not equal in their latent abilities and characteristics. Suggesting, therefore, that the outcomes of life should be equal is unwise and unnecessary. Significant differences between people and groups of people do exist, and those differences can be both positively and negatively meaningful.
Suggesting, for example, that discrimination exists solely because two groups do not have the same percentage-derived equality is not only statistical nonsense, but generally a violation of reality.
As another example, the idea that all children should go to college and obtain a degree is unrealistic and if implemented into policy only destroys the value of the degree for everyone.
Cultural values are not equal. Some values such as hard work, family solidarity, honesty and maintaining religious activity result in more prosperous societies. That is not to say that one culture is globally better than another, but in any given area of human attainment, certain cultural values are better than others.
4. Governments are like a fire. You need what a fire can do for you, but you want it to be as small and as controlled as possible. Just as we may want the smallest possible fire that will do the job, we want the smallest government possible that will fulfill the required functions.
5. Free people are happier, more prosperous and more generous than government-controlled people.
6. Conservatives don’t believe that those who disagree with them are inferior, just wrong.