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The Disengenous Platitude

Nick Englehart

Posted on November 18, 2019 01:00

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What we mean when we try to merge two opposing ideas.

Ask someone who doesn't have a strong interest in politics and they'll repeat the mantra, “We’ll I’m socially Liberal but fiscally Conservative.” I heard it so much growing up I used to repeat it without knowing what it meant!

It just seems to make sense, obviously conservatives know what they're doing with money -- the T.V ones seem to have a lot of it -- and of course, those liberals are right on social issues because none of them believe being gay causes hurricanes. As it turns out, this contact-free flag football centrism is an impossible dream.

Let's take it back to 1929. The ’20s were a time of economic prosperity or at least the appearance of it. Industry boomed thanks to a decimated European economy and a business practice known as stock buybacks. These buybacks would decrease available stock and according to the laws of supply and demand increase the price of those remaining.

Investors and the already wealthy got richer while wages stagnated for the remainder of the country. When productivity and eventual sales ended up providing little back to small investors the bubble popped and the banks who loaned up to 75% of initial investment tanked. The richest (like JP Morgan) would then buy up the stocks. For the rest of America, 25% would become unemployed or take wage cuts on average of 77%.

The president at the time was Hoover who ran on the slogan, "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage,” the promise that Americans would be given a slice of newfound prosperity. His opponent following the crises FDR would run on reform programs for average citizens and an end to stock buybacks.

Over the next fifty years when stock buybacks could be heavily investigated by the SEC fearful companies invested in R&D and labor. Productivity doubled, the minimum wage doubled and the American economy grew in gradual prosperity.

In the ’80s, "greed is good" became the new slogan, stock buybacks were re-instated and wages stagnated. Unions were busted and corporate leadership combined with government apathy lead to two recessions in 1990 and 2008.

Even if we ignore issues like the Nixon and Reagan era drug war fueled levels of mass incarceration (which we shouldn’t -- please read, “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander), a fiscal philosophy of government will never lead to social progressivism.

A corporation's only job is to make money. To assume that because humans are involved morality will intervene is disingenuous sociologically and historically. If someone truly considers themselves socially liberal they'll be forced to concede some liberal fiscal policy.

In an economy where labor supply will always be higher than demand, where any misstep can cut off your aid, and rock bottom is a literal street corner, we cannot continue to separate economic and social ideology. The two are antithetical, opposites, it just an attempt to seem sympathetic to those who will never reap the rewards of your policy.

Nick Englehart

Posted on November 18, 2019 01:00

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Source: CNN
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