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Conservative or Progressive

What are we saying when we talk about conservative politicians or being a conservative?  We might contrast it to being progressive or progressivism.  There are other terms we could use as well but these should do for this discussion. 

In the United States both progressives and conservatives invoke the constitution from time to time in order to indicate some support for their ideology and to give the appearance that their policies are somehow attached to it.  One however, progressivism, is very contradictory to the ideals of the constitution and to personal responsibility.

Philosophers have noted that laws are unnecessary, good people don't need them and bad people won't follow them.   The constitution is only effective if we know what it was meant to do.   It was established on the basis that men and women, could govern themselves.   It was and is dependent on people having inner values or foundational principles that dictate their conduct and their work ethic.

The laws of society exist to express the values of the people and give the basis for enforcing penalties when they are not obeyed.  This is our justification for removing people from society that infringe on the right to life, liberty and the happiness of others, including the taking of their property.  Those that fail to work when able to do so and share the responsibility of self governance impose a burden on the rest of society.

The question is not how many laws can we pass in our legislatures in order to remove crooks from society but how can we strengthen our homes so that the values that cause us to act with respect towards one another in all areas of life are the driving force of society.   In this way we have less need of policing, less need of government and very little need for prisons and jails.   The limited government that the founding fathers envisioned hinges on the success of what is learned in the homes of the citizenry. 

As society has progressed in technology and comfort of life which is common when a people prosper, somehow we often lose perspective and begin to think that because of our affluence we can do whatever we want and not have some consequences correspondingly good or bad.  First century author and philosopher Plutarch said it well "Nothing is harder to direct than a man in prosperity; nothing more easily managed than one in adversity" This is why the divide between rich and poor is exploited by progressives and has been the downfall of more than one republic. Their "progressive ideals" will save the poor man from his adversity.

The progressive claim and basis for government intervention in almost every aspect of life is based on a lack of personal responsibility. They promote the fallacy that if the government doesn't do it nobody will. By having paid officials administer a program of "caring" for the less fortunate they absolve themselves of this responsibility and compensate themselves with other peoples money for doing so.  There should be no federal involvement in matters of welfare.

In ages past the sense of entitlement was that of rich children squandering their parents fortunes in unproductive living.  Today entitlement pervades our society at many levels fomented by government giveaways and incentives from education to food stamps and housing programs.  Rather than spend their own fortunes, public officials sponsor these giveaways and have succeeded in convincing large portions of society that they are owed something for living in the United States.

The principles of governing oneself have always been founded in the religious teachings of a society.   For us it is Christianity. The forces of secularism will fight against spiritual values as people seek to justify their own bad behaviors that contribute to moral decline yet keep the bounds of the law. Plutarch again observed," Moral habits, induced by public practices, are far quicker in making their way into men's private lives, than the failings and faults of individuals are in infecting the city at large." As private lives become more corrupt however it eventually infects the whole community. This is also why our public officials must exemplify private virtue.

When a society becomes corrupt in its moral foundation they will turn to codes of ethics that they hope will keep their conduct such that they can trust each other enough to have commerce.  For a time this will work but ultimately the social order moves towards breakdown.

The traditional moral and religious values are what give us the institution of marriage and therefore the family.  This is the first institution of government.  Depending on how it works determines the need for more or less government outside the home.   If personal responsibility is not learned in the home and assumed as one moves into society on their own, and an individual fails to produce or work to satisfy their basic needs in life, then that responsibility shifts to someone else as long as they live and refuse to take responsibility. Who that someone else is depends on several things.

In the past when there were no government programs or entitlements to turn to they had to go to their own family.  As families become less functional and unwilling to take responsibility for their failures to teach and enforce correct principles in the home another shift of responsibility occurred as shortsighted politicians gained political traction by "helping" people through government programs.  This shift required that responsible people pay taxes to let the politicians take care of their "unfortunate" circumstances without any knowledge of what caused them.  There is no effort made to discern if they are failing to be responsible for their choices.

The fundamental reason that people fail to learn responsibility is often because they are not taught to take it.  As marriages fail because of falling moral values, families likewise suffer and children aren't taught or fail to learn.   People also turn to coping mechanisms.  Often drugs including alcohol and also illegal substances.  The "pursuit of happiness" becomes a hopeless pursuit and people become more prone to pursue the amoral pleasures of life rather than seek the enduring relationships that promote chastity and lasting joy.

Just like paying people for not working when they lose a job reduces their initiative and stifles their willingness to pursue a new opportunity the money spent to pay bureaucrats to manage these systems further kills productive use of capital that is confiscated through taxes, regulations and fees.  

Calls to take care of the poor and abused children ring from the mouths of many that government must do something.  The fact is government can't do any thing successfully in this arena.  Freedom requires personal responsibility and a willingness to work. Take these away and you will eventually take away freedom as well.

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