Fiscal Conservatism is Social Justice

Back in the 1980’s I listened to a speech by Art Laffer, who at the time was still a USC professor of economics, and was considering a run at one of California’s U.S. Senate seats. He said something that needs to be said more today, in reference to the running argument between liberals and conservatives over the role of government – he said “we both want the same thing.” Liberals and conservatives both want increased prosperity, and both want social justice. While a cynic might dispute this assertion, most of us probably agree. Well-intentioned people on both sides of the political divide want the same positive outcomes, they only disagree on how to get there.

The problem for fiscal conservatives today to convince voters they really mean this (notwithstanding the fact that few of them have the courage of their convictions, as the Bush II administration amply demonstrated) is mainly because it’s a harder rhetorical argument to express. After all, isn’t the role of government to redistribute wealth? And therefore, of all things, shouldn’t this redistribution be designed to help the less fortunate? The communist extreme, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs” is a much easier rhetorical argument to make. It is virtuous to suggest that government should help people in need, and it is easy to assail anyone who argues against further empowering government to perform this role.

One would think the complete collapse of communism in Russia and China would provide a […] Read More