Crisis of Conservatism

If you ever want an argument for another term of Labour government, just look at how the 8 years of Clinton-Gore have been undone by 8 years of President George W Bush. The Center for American Progress, once headed by new budget chief, John Podesta, recently summarised the unbelievable inheritance left for Pres Obama. As they put it;

‘Today, working Americans feel less and less secure, and their prospects for economic mobility seem more and more remote. People are working longer hours than ever before, change jobs more frequently, and have more volatile incomes. Forty-seven million live without health insurance. Few are represented by a union. Many face tough competition from lower-wage workers abroad. The land of the American Dream now has less inter-generational income mobility than many other developed countries. Family incomes have risen on average within generations only because the incomes of women have risen as their participation in the workforce has grown dramatically; incomes of men have stagnated. The additional income from the second earner is essential to cover the rising cost of healthcare, energy, and childcare, among other things’.

Now, even neo-conservatives, like Francis Fukuyama, are attacking the Republican record on markets (he wrote recently ‘very few Republicans have come to terms with the fact that it was some of the key tenets of Reaganism—in particular, its hostility to regulation and belief that tax cuts would be self-financing—that lie at the root of the country’s current problems’), as the left – with writers like Paul Krugman, attack Republican attempts to block the stimulus. Not just economic leaders, but moral leaders, like Jonathan Sacks, have added to the critique.

Dr Sacks recently argued; ‘The fault is not with the market but with the idea that the market alone is all we need. Markets don’t guarantee equity, responsibility or integrity. They can maximise short-term gain at the cost of long-term sustainability. They don’t distribute rewards fairly. They don’t guarantee honesty. When it comes to flagrant self-interest, they combine the maximum temptation with the maximum opportunity. Markets need morals, and morals are not made by markets.’

If the US teaches us anything, its that that Conservatives are wrong about the social safety net, wrong about markets and wrong about plans for recovery. We should keep them as far from government as possible

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