Thursday, April 9, 2009

Social Conservatives Make Conservatism More Human

The National Post has published an excerpt from David Quist’s recent presentation to the Manning Networking Conference and Exhibition in Ottawa.
If we accept that social conservatives are concerned with the social well-being of our nation — of our society — then we need the support and co-operation of other conservatives. A strong, healthy, vibrant society is less expensive. It is a safer society. It is more productive. And it needs little if any government interference.

If on the other hand society is in a downward slide, we will need more tax dollars to pay for policing, to take care of those who for whatever reason cannot take care of themselves. That will require more government interference. Social conservatives are those that make the conservative movement a little bit more human and therefore more acceptable to our society — and for those in politics that spells votes.
The publication itself sparkled a fierce discussion with lost of angry comments posted from both sides. But let's actually try and compare the policy proposals.

For example, when it comes to abortion funding, mainstream Conservative / PC parties either consider that as integral part of healthcare funding or, simply choose to maintain the status-quo. The Libertarian / FisCon approach is - just get the government out of the healthcare business altogether, leaving the actual decision to the private insurers. In this situation, the Social Conservative position makes the most sense: elective injurious procedures (including abortions that are injurious to the mothers and deadly to the babies) should never be funded by medicare. The Medical Saving Account system proposed by the Family Coalition Party of Ontario would maintain universal, single-tier publicly funded healthcare, while opening door to more competition between service providers, encouraging accountability, personal responsibility and healthy living.

But what if we look at something less controversial, let's say: education. Unlike what the angry commenters have posted, it's the Liberal/Progressive camp that uses our schools to proselytize. To make things worse, the mainstream Conservative / PC parties rarely dare to go ahead and reverse even the nastiest Liberal/Progressive policies in education. Again, beside trying to "trim the fat" in management and to cut back on administration costs, they choose to let the sleeping dog lie. The Libertarian / FisCon approach is as always - get the government out of this and let the private owners decide what's better for their schools. But what about the SoCons?

Believe it or not, but the FCP policy book proposes parental choice in education. The principle is simple: the funding should follow the students. If the government spends a hefty sum on education (about $9000 per student each year) - it better provides that money directly to the parents in the form of education vouchers, so that the parents could choose which school they want for their children. Again, we have a middle ground approach which maintains universal access to education (at lower cost to the taxpayers,) while encouraging competition between schools and offering a lot more choice to the parents.

Now, what about taxes? The mainstream Conservatives often choose go on a spending spree, so even if there are some tax cuts - each dollar in tax cuts is often matched with 2-3 if not five dollars or more in new spending. But even if the Conservatives are determined to cut spending, their strategy to avoid controversial issues just won't allow them to eliminate the real waste. They simply won't dare to defund and dismantle institutions whose sole purpose is Liberal/Progressive social engineering (HRCs, SOW, gun registry, you name it,) so any serious spending cuts usually come at expense of essential services. The Libertarian / FisCon position is that less government is better, even if it means slashing essential services. What about the SoCons?

We've seen how SoCon policies in healthcare and education allow for the best quality services without excess taxation and all-pervasive public sector management. Now, here's a theory of Economic Optimalism, recently presented by the FCP leader Giuseppe Gori. Many Optimalist principles (including the government's "don't do list") resemble Libertarian / FisCon position quite closely. Moreover - even the optimum amount for taxation is to be determined by independent economists, not by politicians. On the other hand, the government gets the maximum potential of the economic performance, without overburdening the economy with excess taxation. Once again, we have a middle-ground approach that would ensure optimum amount of government revenues to finance the social safety net, education and other essential services while keeping the taxes low.

So, like it or not, but David Quist is right; Social Conservatives are the ones who make the conservative movement a little more human. To that I'll add - Social Conservatives are the ones who put the common sense into Conservatism. And, if the mainstream Conservative parties were more open towards real Conservative views (instead of bending backwards trying to lure disgruntled Liberal supporters) they would be getting more votes.

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