Sunday, March 28, 2010


What do Conservatives Want?

There has been much excitement lately among the political pundits about the "Tea Party" movement. The Tea Party people seem to be ideological believers in small, inexpensive government, a government that provides few services for the public and doesn't tax the public very much for the services it does provide. The idea among Republicans that small government is the best government, and the smaller the better, may have arisen from an article by a business man who wrote in the 1920's to complain about government regulations that interfered with his business. I don't know what his business was; perhaps he was a bootlegger who objected to the frequent police raids on his inventory. Perhaps he ran a power plant that used the cheapest kind of coal and objected to regulations that required him to install expensive equipment in the smoke stacks to remove the sulfur compounds and the soot from the exhaust.
However, small government that spends money only on things that I approve seems like a belief I could adopt with enthusiasm. The only difference between me and the Tea Party people is the set of things I want government to do and not do. Here is a partial list of things I want government to do:
  1. Provide protection to my home in Los Angeles against fires. If my neighbor's house catches fire, government should send the fire deparment to put it out so that my house doesn't catch fire.
  2. Provide protection to me against epidemics of such diseases as smallpox, influenza, plague, measles, diphtheria, and tuberculosis. To protect me the government should establish and operate medical clinics that screen and treat everyone for such diseases who might come near enough to me to infect me.
  3. Provide, for a reasonable price, clean and reliable water to drink.
  4. Provide or oversee firms that provide other utilities: gas, electricity, telephone, etc.
  5. Provide warnings of impending floods, storms, and other disasters to give me time to evacuate my home and proceed to safety.

Here is a partial list of things I want government not to do or to stop doing:

  1. Put people in prison for long terms for possession or use of marijuana and other relatively harmless substances.
  2. Conduct pointless wars and send Americans to fight these wars and be killed.
  3. Harass homeless people instead of providing safe places for them to rest and sleep.
  4. Harass workers who congregate peacefully in certain places to find work for the day.
  5. Continue to support the cruel policy of the Israeli government against the formerly indigenous people of Palestine.

So, am I a conservative or what? Do you think the Tea Party movement would welcome me?


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