Conservative Logic

There is no such thing as a free lunch . . . except for free trade which makes everyone everywhere better off

It is naive and foolish to imagine there is some magic pot of gold which will make us all magically richer . . . but competition magically makes everyone richer

As Adam Smith said, the “invisible hand” of the free market ensures everyone is best off . . . even though Smith never said that about the market but rather about protectionism.

We should never rely on one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t take account of the specifics of each case . . . and cut taxes in response to every problem

The government makes everything worse . . . which is why countries like Somalia which have no government are so much better off

Greater equality just means everyone is poorer . . . which is why the most equal countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway) are the richest in the world

Welfare creates a culture of dependency . . . whereas tax breaks for corporations and the rich encourage entrepreneurship

If the rich don’t get to keep a large share of their millions they’ll have no incentive to work . . . beats me why anyone works for the minimum wage

Affirmative action is terrible and hurts everyone including minorities . . . and I know this because I am a middle class, white, English-speaking male

America was built by immigrants . . . which is why immigration is bad

When my ancestors first arrived in America, natives thought they were lazy, violent and dishonest, but we showed them . . . but current immigrants are lazy, violent and dishonest (I wrote this with the Irish specifically in mind, but it can be said about almost every ethnic group)

Obama has made race relations worse . . . we should go back to when there was only white guys in positions of power

I want to reduce the debt so I’ll vote Republican . . . despite the fact that no Republican has reduced the national debt in 50 years

If you want to be wealthy all you need is hard work . . . and to be born white, middle class and male

Obama has cut taxes, maintained many elements of Bush’s foreign policy, based his healthcare plan on a Republicans’, introduced no new major regulation, failed to tackle inequality, governed as an essentially moderate Republican and generally left things to the free market . . . he is clearly a Communist

Corporate profits are at a record high and we are stuck in recession . . . but trickle-down economics still work

America has record low taxes and one of the smallest government in the OECD . . . clearly we need to cut taxes and reduce the size of the government

Union political power is disgraceful, they are buying the election! . . . because it’s not as though corporations influence politics

Government regulation fails because governments lack enough information . . . I can prove this in my model which assumes consumers know everything

Private healthcare is more expensive, less equitable and less efficient than European public healthcare . . . which is why we need less government not more

I’m pro-life . . . and in favour of the death penalty and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

The free market is better for poor people than government welfare . . . never mind the fact that welfare prevents mass poverty and enormous inequality is irrelevant

The past century is a clear example of the supremacy of the free market . . . but we’ve never had a free market in America

I believe that having received public education, public healthcare, public transport and used public infrastructure . . . I should not pay taxes, it’s not like I owe the government anything

The problem with America is that people think they’re entitled to things . . . I shouldn’t pay so much tax, I’m entitled to all my wages

Republican are guided by Jesus . . . feed the poor? Cure the sick? That’s socialism!

Single parent families are a cause of many of America’s social problems . . . they would be much better off if they married the deadbeat or abusive father

Gays are a threat to the institution of marriage . . . because if gays can marry I’ll divorce my wife and marry a horse

Just because almost every scientist supports evolution doesn’t make it true . . . if you use that logic global warming must be true!

Government cannot create jobs . . . Obama has failed because he hasn’t created enough jobs

The unemployed are too lazy to get a job . . . Obama has failed because he hasn’t done enough to help the unemployed

The recession was caused by a lack of regulation . . . therefore the solution is less regulation

During the 2000s government avoided intervening in the economy and left the market to itself . . . therefore the crash is somehow the government’s fault

What’s the question? . . . Doesn’t matter, the answer is cut taxes

Decades of laissez-faire, small government and free trade and the third world is still in deep poverty . . . let’s try more laissez-faire, small government and free trade

Communism was a failure and Eastern Europe is so much better off now . . . as can be seen from the mass exodus of people leaving low income and mass unemployment

Obama has continued in Afghanistan, launches drone attacks killing innocent civilians and has maintained military aid to our allies . . . what a bleeding heart wimp

Socialism is un-American . . . we need more Austrian economics

The beauty of Austrian economics is that it has never been tried, so it can never be proven wrong

Unemployment is cause by the welfare system . . . even though we had the mass unemployment of the Great Depression before the welfare state

Central planning never works . . . except when multi-national corporations do it

Let’s completely unregulated banks . . . what’s the worst that could happen?

In the free market, competition would drive racist firms out of business and there would be no discrimination . . . just because this has never happened before doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future, right?

If Austrian economics is so great then why has no one in Austria ever tried it?

In a world without government, the market will regulate itself . . . just like it did with Enron and the financial sector

The problem with Communism is that it is an appeal to a perfect utopia . . . unlike a world with minimal government, that would be perfect

The only way we can decrease gun crime . . . is if more people have guns

CEOs are the only people who can create jobs . . . even though those jobs wouldn’t exist if no one bought their goods

Everything is better if it’s left to the market . . . which is why we should sell votes, organs and our children

Regulation is used by businesses to increase their profits . . . it also destroys businesses . . . at the same time

The Internet: A project invented by the government and now filled with people complaining about how useless the government is

The source of the greatest direct duress experienced by the ordinary adult is not the state but rather the business that employs him. Your foreman or supervisor gives you more “or-else” orders in a week than the police do in a decade.
Bob Black

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6 thoughts on “Conservative Logic”

  1. I don’t consider myself a conservative, but I’ll happily have a swing at this.

    “There is no such thing as a free lunch . . . except for free trade which makes everyone everywhere better off.”

    Free trade enables people to exchange their goods and services with one another without interference, thereby facilitating increased co-ordination with one another and improving productivity thanks to the benefit of increased specialisation. Nothing is produced “for free”, but more can be produced overall because we can rely on others to supply us with the goods which we don’t produce for ourselfes.

    “It is naive and foolish to imagine there is some magic pot of gold which will make us all magically richer . . . but competition magically makes everyone richer.”

    Competition enables consumers to do business with the producers which give them the most value, whereas monopoly enables the producer to extract great profits at the expense of the consumer. I would not defend the so-called “conservative logic” which you wrote in this case, because a monopolistic producer should generally be capable of becoming quite rich.

    “As Adam Smith said, the “invisible hand” of the free market ensures everyone is best off . . . even though Smith never said that about the market but rather about protectionism.”

    Adam Smith is ok but I don’t feel the need to defend everything he says.

    “We should never rely on one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t take account of the specifics of each case . . . and cut taxes in response to every problem.”

    I guess this statement could sort of be defended on the grounds that cutting taxes will enable many seperate individuals to come up with their own solutions to a problem, rather than leaving it up to the government (which cannot possibly replicate the choices and preferences of millions of people in its actions).

    “The government makes everything worse . . . which is why countries like Somalia which have no government are so much better off.”

    Somalia is a war zone.

    My broad complaint against government is that it inflicts violence, threats and intimidation against innocent people. It therefore disrupts what would be a peaceful and increasingly prosperous order.

    Somalia, as a war zone, is a place of extreme violence and is therefore something which is closer on the spectrum to socialism than to laissez-faire.

    “Greater equality just means everyone is poorer . . . which is why the most equal countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway) are the richest in the world.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita

    They’ve been overtaken by less equal countries, city-states and non-democracies. Even if they were still the richest, though, it wouldn’t prove anything fundamental (they could be rich for historical or geographical reasons).

    “Welfare creates a culture of dependency . . . whereas tax breaks for corporations and the rich encourage entrepreneurship.”

    Tax cuts should be supported because they enable people to be fully compensated for the value which they produce for society. It’s not “welfare” because it’s a reduction in theft from the producers, not a subsidy. “Welfare” should also be supported, as a private institution.

    If the rich don’t get to keep a large share of their millions they’ll have no incentive to work . . . beats me why anyone works for the minimum wage

    “Affirmative action is terrible and hurts everyone including minorities . . . and I know this because I am a middle class, white, English-speaking male.”

    Don’t feel guilty just because you are a middle class, white, English-speaking male 😉 Follow the truth wherever it leads.

    “America was built by immigrants . . . which is why immigration is bad”

    I have a rather subtle perspective on this, and it’s not a strictly conservative one. I’ll let this one go.

    “When my ancestors first arrived in America, natives thought they were lazy, violent and dishonest, but we showed them . . . but current immigrants are lazy, violent and dishonest (I wrote this with the Irish specifically in mind, but it can be said about almost every ethnic group)”

    I’ll let this one go too.

    “Obama has made race relations worse . . . we should go back to when there was only white guys in positions of power.”

    I guess there are probably some conservatives who don’t like Obama just because he is black. You can have this one too.

    “I want to reduce the debt so I’ll vote Republican . . . despite the fact that no Republican has reduced the national debt in 50 years”

    You’re right here too.

    “If you want to be wealthy all you need is hard work . . . and to be born white, middle class and male.”

    As a matter of statistics, it certainly helps to be born white, middle class and male. It’s not an argument for socialism by any stretch but you are right that some people have a lot of advantages.

    “Obama has cut taxes, maintained many elements of Bush’s foreign policy, based his healthcare plan on a Republicans’, introduced no new major regulation, failed to tackle inequality, governed as an essentially moderate Republican and generally left things to the free market . . . he is clearly a Communist”

    I agree that Obama is not a Communist and that he is not very different to the Republicans.

    “Corporate profits are at a record high and we are stuck in recession . . . but trickle-down economics still work”

    I think you’re right here too, although nobody has ever really explained to me how “trickle-down” economics is supposed to work.

    “America has record low taxes and one of the smallest government in the OECD . . . clearly we need to cut taxes and reduce the size of the government”

    The OECD includes some ruined economies; they shouldn’t be treated as a benchmark 🙂

    “Union political power is disgraceful, they are buying the election! . . . because it’s not as though corporations influence politics”

    I’d prefer if political power didn’t exist in the first place, and therefore there would be none of it to buy or sell. Where corporations act to gain subsidies or restrict competition, I agree that they are just as harmful as trade unions.

    “Government regulation fails because governments lack enough information . . . I can prove this in my model which assumes consumers know everything”

    I don’t like models or mainstream economics either!

    “Private healthcare is more expensive, less equitable and less efficient than European public healthcare . . . which is why we need less government not more”

    I can’t give you this one. Socialism in healthcare has led to what it always tends towards: rationing and outright shortages.

    “I’m pro-life . . . and in favour of the death penalty and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan”

    “Pro-life” people would say that they are defending the innocent, which they might argue does not necessarily include those who suffer the death penalty or everyone who died in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    “The free market is better for poor people than government welfare . . . never mind the fact that welfare prevents mass poverty and enormous inequality is irrelevant.”

    I believe in welfare, but there is no need for the government to provide it. With less government, especially with the abolition of wage controls and labour laws, then there would be a job for basically anybody who wanted one. There would be no need for anyone to go hungry. The small numbers of disabled people, and the few people who fall on hard times, would receive assistance from others (we know this, because so many people claim to be in favour of these people receiving welfare).

    “The past century is a clear example of the supremacy of the free market . . . but we’ve never had a free market in America”

    From a European perspective, the 20th century was unfortunately the century of democracy, socialism and total war. The 19th century was much closer to demonstrating the power of the free market (in both Europe and America).

    “I believe that having received public education, public healthcare, public transport and used public infrastructure . . . I should not pay taxes, it’s not like I owe the government anything”

    If I steal from you and buy you a Coke, can I then demand that you pay me for the Coke?

    “The problem with America is that people think they’re entitled to things . . . I shouldn’t pay so much tax, I’m entitled to all my wages.”

    Whether one is “entitled” to something depends on whether you have received it through legitimate and peaceful means. In the context of wages, the answer is probably yes. In the context of welfare, the answer is probably no.

    “Republican are guided by Jesus . . . feed the poor? Cure the sick? That’s socialism!”

    I have no interest in defending the Republicans, who I consider to be just as bad as the Democrats. You might consider, however, that studies show red states give more to charity than blue states.

    “Single parent families are a cause of many of America’s social problems . . . they would be much better off if they married the deadbeat or abusive father.

    Hmm, I have no interest in defending that claim. It would be better if they hadn’t got pregnant in the first place, I suppose.

    “Gays are a threat to the institution of marriage . . . because if gays can marry I’ll divorce my wife and marry a horse”

    It would be pretty funny if somebody actually said that.

    “Just because almost every scientist supports evolution doesn’t make it true . . . if you use that logic global warming must be true!”

    It must be remarked that there are financial reasons why some scientists would want to hype up the issue of global warming. There isn’t the same money in evolution, so I think we can trust the scientists in this case 😉

    “Government cannot create jobs . . . Obama has failed because he hasn’t created enough jobs”

    I’m not interested in attacking Obama. It would be the same if there had been a Republican.

    “The unemployed are too lazy to get a job . . . Obama has failed because he hasn’t done enough to help the unemployed”

    Not interested in this either.

    “The recession was caused by a lack of regulation . . . therefore the solution is less regulation”

    The recession wasn’t caused by a lack of regulation 😉

    “During the 2000s government avoided intervening in the economy and left the market to itself . . . therefore the crash is somehow the government’s fault”

    Except that Greenspan put rates down as low as 1%, created moral hazard by getting involved with LCTM (the “Greenspan put”) and allowed M4 to go through the roof. Meanwhile Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started guaranteeing most of the US housing market, creating layer upon layer of government guarantee and moral hazard in the government-inflated financial system. Not exactly standing by and doing nothing…

    “What’s the question? . . . Doesn’t matter, the answer is cut taxes”

    Agreed!

    “Decades of laissez-faire, small government and free trade and the third world is still in deep poverty . . . let’s try more laissez-faire, small government and free trade”

    The countries which have become very rich very quickly are the ones which have actually embraced free trade: Singapore and Hong Kong, for example. China is increasingly capitalistic and living standards there are rising like never before. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much genuine progress in Africa.

    “Communism was a failure and Eastern Europe is so much better off now . . . as can be seen from the mass exodus of people leaving low income and mass unemployment”

    Eastern Europe still has a long way to go. However, you might have noticed that there are quite a few jobs which have moved away from the broken Irish economy and are now out there instead.

    “Obama has continued in Afghanistan, launches drone attacks killing innocent civilians and has maintained military aid to our allies . . . what a bleeding heart wimp”

    Agreed, he is not a “bleeding heart wimp” (unfortunately).

    “Socialism is un-American . . . we need more Austrian economics”

    Those who argue the case for Austrian economics tend to do so because they think it is true. They might also think that socialism contradicts American ideals. Those positions aren’t logically incompatible as far as I can tell.

    “The beauty of Austrian economics is that it has never been tried, so it can never be proven wrong”

    Firstly, Austrian economics is a body of knowledge, not a social experiment. You wouldn’t say that “biology has never been tried”.

    Secondly, if you are referring to the free market: We live in economies which are partly free and partly unfree. Whenever you engage in a voluntary interaction with another person, you are using the free market. The challenge in any debate is to figure out if a problem was caused (or could be solved) by either the free market or by coercive intervention.

    “Unemployment is cause by the welfare system . . . even though we had the mass unemployment of the Great Depression before the welfare state”

    Unemployment is not always caused by the welfare state.

    “Central planning never works . . . except when multi-national corporations do it”

    That’s the problem with multi-national corporations: they become so big that they resemble governments, inefficient and filled with useless bureaucracy. Unlike governments, this bureaucracy often leaves them vulnerable to competition.

    “Let’s completely unregulated banks . . . what’s the worst that could happen?”

    Discussed elsewhere.

    “In the free market, competition would drive racist firms out of business and there would be no discrimination . . . just because this has never happened before doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future, right?”

    There might be some discrimination. We accept this as the outcome of living in a free society: some people have views and do certain things which we disagree with.

    “If Austrian economics is so great then why has no one in Austria ever tried it?”

    That’s more of a joke question than a serious comments 🙂

    “In a world without government, the market will regulate itself . . . just like it did with Enron and the financial sector”

    Enron was found guilty of fraud and no longer exists. If only we could say the same about the government!

    “The problem with Communism is that it is an appeal to a perfect utopia . . . unlike a world with minimal government, that would be perfect”

    A world with minimal or no government intervention would not be perfect. It would simply be a world where we did not have unnecessary barriers in the way of solving problems.

    “The only way we can decrease gun crime . . . is if more people have guns”

    Gun control doesn’t prevent too many criminals from having guns. It does, however, prevent all law-abiding people from having guns.

    “CEOs are the only people who can create jobs . . . even though those jobs wouldn’t exist if no one bought their goods”

    It sounds like you’re almost suggesting that CEO’s shouldn’t bother showing up to work, or maybe just shouldn’t get paid much. Whoever owns the business is in the best position to decide how much they are willing to pay management.

    “Everything is better if it’s left to the market . . . which is why we should sell votes, organs and our children”

    As a matter of fact, votes are already bought and sold, and it is considered legitimate. Organs are also bought and sold regularly, although, unlike votes, this happens secretly instead of out in the open. As for children, it’s generally only the very poor and non-capitalistic economies which are so poor that any parent feels forced to sell their children.

    “Regulation is used by businesses to increase their profits . . . it also destroys businesses . . . at the same time”

    Yes, regulation is used by businesses to increase their profits. It has the effect of creating a barrier to entry which only large businesses can afford to pay for. Sometimes it goes further than that, and it begins to kill even the larger businesses.

    “The Internet: A project invented by the government and now filled with people complaining about how useless the government is”

    The discovery of this technology is a great thing, and it’s good that government spending does produce some value 🙂

    “The source of the greatest direct duress experienced by the ordinary adult is not the state but rather the business that employs him. Your foreman or supervisor gives you more “or-else” orders in a week than the police do in a decade.”

    But the “else” which your boss gives you is “or else you’re fired”. The “else” which the government gives you is “or else you’re going to prison”. It’s a completely different type of threat. One is the the threat of disassociation from a fellow member of society who has no power to force you to do anything you don’t consider to be worth the salary which he is offering you in compensation. The other is the threat of violence.

    I’m lucky I’m a fast typer and a quick thinker…

    1. Ok this was meant as a light hearted joke post. It’ll take all day to go through all your points and we’ll never reach an ending. I can do that if you really want to, but you kinda overthought the process

  2. Fun post…in general, conservative politicians have done a tremendous disservice to economics as a profession by somehow successfully convincing large swaths of the public that they are the ones making sense when it comes to economics…

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