Conservatism Rough Draft

Conservatism paper VERY Rough Draft! When thinking about conservatism and realizing it is generally assumed that it will have respect for traditional institutions and will generally take things more slowly as they will distrust the government, it is clear to me that the conservative class has not been bamboozled but rather makes decisions based on their deep ceded morals and values.

The best evidence of Conservatism prospering without people being bamboozled is found in Invisible Hands written by Kim Phillips-Fein. This book is dedicated to the many conservative business people who made it their life’s mission to stop the new deal programs. Lemuel Boulware and F. Clinton White are two examples Phillips-Fein lists as making it their ambition to “Combine financial and political strength of business to reshape America.”(188) It was their ambition that working class Americans understood that they held the power to reshape the government and the economy. Some may say that the people were bamboozled to believe certain things, however, the Business Roundtable group rallied to teach economics to the general public beginning in high school. While some of the lecture may have been skewed, it also taught the basic principles of the market to those in attendance. Anytime someone is educated to think and pay attention to the details, will eventually have the payoff of informed decisions. It is this type of thinking that has kept the conservative movement rallying along.

When trying to teach the people about economics, it became clear that the free enterprise system was an important point that required education which came from Lewis Powell lawyer and president of the American Bar association and Eugene B. Sydnore, Jr, Director of the American Bar Association. Together they mobilized with a powerful statement “The first need is for businessmen to recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival – survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people.” The efforts of these two men and others like them enabled people to learn more about the free enterprise system and thus make informed decisions about what to vote for and why it mattered. Some people are good at getting people worked up so they will react to their cause, however, conservatives generally take a look at the heart of the matter and judge it according to their belief system. When using their beliefs as a moral compass, it is easy for individuals to agree that the free enterprise system is the best economic plan for Americans as it required less government control.

When looking at government control providing programs to the American people, the cost was going to come from the tax base which meant the white collar workers were going to suffer the most. Richard Viguerie “believed that the real base for the conservative movement needed to be blue-collar white people, the descendants of Irish or Italian or Eastern European immigrants, with ‘traditional’ social values. He wrote “union members were the ideal constituency for the conservative movement: ‘the individual member began to realize that the more social programs his boss forced on the government, the more it was going to cost him.” Any reasonable thinking adult understands that in order to fund a new program the money is going to have to come from somewhere. Viguerie rallied support from the unions as he began to proclaim the truth of the economic stimulus the government was enacting through social programs as he enlightened the people to the fact that the more the government doled out in dollars, the greater the tax need to pay for it. When people have an economic understanding of money gone for programs that don’t benefit the wage earner, it is easy to vote against many of the social programs established by the government. A very clear example of this is the current Health Care Reform settlements that many states have waged against the federal government. While many people are left without health care coverage, which some choose not to have, it became clear that the American people were going to fund this cause with a greater amount of debt.

As people were falling into the government intervention of various New Deal programs, that were being resurrected, J. William Middendorf a Wall Street investment banker, began to fight liberalism. He stated “One of my main concerns at the time was that businessmen, for the most part, did not understand politics and the mechanics of the political system, while the unions did.” “The lack of political activity in the business community created an imbalance in favor of the unions, and I decided to do something about it.” Middendort an educated businessmen made it his ambition to fight against the unions as they were gaining support for the more socialist programs, and Middendort understood that more support meant government control of the business in general. It was with deep conviction of heart regarding the negative outcomes that government intervention would bring upon the free enterprise system that rallied many other supporters. When a group of people band together to educate the public and specifically business people regarding the evils of government run business, that does not mean people were bamboozled since there would be evidence supporting the claims.

 Not only business people were fighting against government intrusion, but religious organizations as well. Christian conservatives sought “power not in order to establish binding moral rules for the broader society but merely to protect their own institutions from the intrusive government.” One of the benefits that America has is that it’s religious institutions are able to apply for and be approved of a tax exempt status. While many may not think that is a big deal, the religious organizations were the original social services as they were responsible for feeding the poor, orphans and widows. They often pay unmet bills, and provide a host of other services. If the government were to take that status away, the ability to help more people would be drastically cut, and the government would dictate their laws versus the religious institutions following the laws of God and there would be greater conflicts. The people of the conservative movement understand that God is their moral compass and government is often in conflict with His laws and morals and have band together to fight the intrusion of government as their morals and values were the most important principles to live by.

Living by morals and values to some is more important than making the almighty dollar, and at times that idea may be in contrast in the same business. Bwethany Morton, author of To Serve God and Wal-Mart provides evidence that big business like Wal-Mart can operate on Moral values while at the same time making money. One union representative mentioned that if “Mr. Sam comes and shakes their hands, and listens to them, that’s the greatest thing that ever happened. It don’t matter that he did nothin’ – just that he sat there and listened to you.” When reading Morton’s explainations of peoples reactions to Walton, it became clear that the employees felt validated that they were important to Mr. Walton and therefore were willing to work for him. This carried over into the shopping community as well as the customers felt a personal connection to Mr. Walton and were therefore willing to pay his prices for the products they desired to have as opposed to shopping elsewhere. This is an example of customer service and compassion from the higher ups paying larger dividends emotionally for the worker and shopper and larger financial dividends for the employer. In this instance people were being served both emotionally, but also financially.

On the other side of the coin however, is Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?, who mentions that Kansas is skewed with miss led ideas that he calls “close-knit business community, or to penetrate the sweet pink lies that cover Cupcake Land.” His blatant calls of ineptness are representative of his idea that people in Kansas are fooled by the politicians and business owners. However, careful analysis of the people demonstrates that conservative Kansans particularly tend to vote with their money on the issues that they deem follow their ideals and moral values.

 When looking at what makes the global economy work most effectively, the analysis comes back to the values of an individual as remaining near the top of the list of must haves. Morton asserts “Family values are an indispensable element of the global service economy, not a distraction from it.” It is with this idea in mind that Walton established his chain store Wal-Mart and why the consumers are so willing to do business there. Family values are the heart of the people in conservative areas and a business that incorporates those values into their business philosophy would appeal to shoppers and employees. Having an opportunity to work and do business in an area where your belief systems are upheld allows people to feel more comfortable and willing to do business there. When people have a connection, they feel better about the business they are conducting and thus don’t feel threatened. It is with this trust factor that many people operate and therefore are not bamboozled in most cases as word travels fast about the business ethics a business possesses and people learn quickly who they will and will not do business with.

The model that Wal-Mart followed for establishing its working relations with the community was in the social realm. At the time it was generally thought that a woman was to perform the “social skills” aspects and men were to be in business or management. Moreton mentions “The women in the stores-customers as well as waged employees – made their priorities known, and management responded accordingly.” It is with this idea that the people who worked for and shopped in Wal-Mart were most respected by Walton, he was not afraid to listen to what the women wanted and needed and then try to model his business after their ideas. When a business person realizes that the women generally are responsible for the operations of the home and that includes the purchases it is always a wise decision to listen to their demands and suggestions. Women are not just drawn into an establishment for the gimmicks, but also for the customer service, product satisfaction, and general respect they feel when in the establishment. Walton understood this and tried to develop an environment in which the conservative women specifically felt welcome as they had links and networks to a vast world of potential customers, and the price was right in many of those environments so the relationship was a mutual benefit.

The relationship between the general public and political issues is also uniquely tied as the people make informed decisions based on their moral beliefs. Frank cites Tim Golba “You can’t stir the general public up to get out to work for a candidate on taxes or the economy. People today are busy, But you can get people who are concerned about the moral decline in our nation. Upset enough to where you can motivate them on the abortion issue, those type of things.” This brings forth evidence that people are not ignorant but driven by their moral roots and make decisions based on their foundational beliefs.

 Moreton mentions “cheap labor, low state investment in the public welfare, and open international markets for its commodities – survived intact from the South’s nineteenth-century planters.” This idea provides insight that the people who participate in the market with Wal-Mart understand the consequences of being in a business such as this, however, making the almighty dollar is far worth the side effect.

Victimology is an alternative idea that Frank mentions drives decisions made by the Kansas Cons. According to John D. Altevogt Kansans “understand themselves as victims besieged by a hateful world absolves conservatives of responsibility for what goes on around them. It excuses them for their failures; it justifies the most irresponsible rages; and it allows them, both in politics and in private life, to resolve disputes by pointing their fingers at the outside world and blaming it all on a depraved liberal elite.” This idea is preposterous as people in general understand that a hateful world does not absolve you of personal responsibility for your actions. Bibliography Frank, Thomas. What’s the Matter With Kansas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004. Moreton, Bethany. To Serve God and Wal-mart, The Making of Christian Free Enterprise. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2009. Phillips-Fein, Kim. Invisible Hands, The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.

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Comments
One Response to “Conservatism Rough Draft”
  1. Colin says:

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