The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-03-2010, 11:18 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Is the U.S. government the most conservative among "developed" countries?

I hear Australia's gotten pretty conservative but generally my impression is that even our Dems are way further to the right on the political spectrum than most of the "conservative" parties in other developed countries.

Also many of the "developing" countries, which have highly conservative governments, are also rife with corruption. Is there an appreciable positive correlation between how far right-wing a government is and its country's corruption index?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 11-04-2010, 07:23 AM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: England
Posts: 2,246
All American politics seems pretty conservative to us. Your ever-so-slightly-left-of-centre-with-a-teeny-little-social-conscience Democratic Party would probably fit quite comfortably inside our Conservative Party here. Makes me smile when I hear Americans denouncing Obama as a 'socialist' (or worse). They've never had any socialism.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-04-2010, 09:15 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Posts: 31,713
Depends what issues you want to talk about. If I place my emphasis on different issues I could reasonably argue that the United Kingdom is more conservative than the USA. I could argue Japan is more conservative. It all depends on what matters to you.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-04-2010, 09:49 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Maine
Posts: 9,374
A few data points:

Abortion is generally illegal in a few OECD member states, including Chile and Ireland. It's been generally legal in all U.S. states since 1973 (due to a court decision; a few states had liberalized their statutes earlier).

Capital punishment is still used in a few OECD member states, including the U.S. (in the federal system and some states), Japan, and South Korea. Israel still has it on the books but no one has been executed there since 1962.

Homosexual activity is still illegal in Singapore. It's been legal in all states of the U.S. since 2003 (again due to a court decision; many states had liberalized their statutes earlier). Singapore is an advanced economy but is not a member state of the OECD.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-04-2010, 10:17 AM
septimus septimus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Since the U.S.A. has just elected the most right-wing Congress ever elected by any country with remotely fair elections, let us do please recall the thread title:

Is the U.S. government the most conservative among "developed" countries?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bibliophage View Post
Abortion is generally illegal in a few OECD member states, including Chile and Ireland. It's been generally legal in all U.S. states since 1973.


Is Roe vs. Wade the reason U.S. waged the stupid Trillion-dollar War?
Is Roe vs. Wade the reason U.S. fiscal policy is to emasculate public investment so billionaires can afford to feed caviar to their pets?
Is Roe vs. Wade the reason Fire Departments stand by and watch a man's house burn?
Is Roe vs. Wade a sensible basis on which to place one's vote for national office?

Let me give you a clue. The very last thing that the billionaires behind Palin, Beck and the new Congressional majority want is for Ros vs. Wade to actually be overturned !
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-04-2010, 10:43 AM
Rand Rover Rand Rover is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 8,307
Your question (and, really, all discussion on the SDMB that uses the word "conservative") would benefit from a distinction between fiscal conservativism and social conservatism.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-04-2010, 10:52 AM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rand Rover View Post
Your question (and, really, all discussion on the SDMB that uses the word "conservative") would benefit from a distinction between fiscal conservativism and social conservatism.
I'd agree, but I'd say even these too categories need to be broken down further. For example, on some metrics of social conservatism, we're probably more conservative than many developed countries (gays in the military, for example). On the other hand - our First Amendment grants an absolute protection to freedom of speech and demonstration that very few other countries can match.

The economic side of the coin is probably less nuanced, though - I doubt there are many areas in which we are more *politically* liberal in the economic realm than our OECD comrades.

(This is where the language gets a confusing - in US politics, "liberals" support government intervention in the marketplace, while Europeans and economists refer to less interventionist policies as "liberal".)
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-04-2010, 02:33 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Burlington, Ontario
Posts: 31,713
Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Since the U.S.A. has just elected the most right-wing Congress ever elected by any country with remotely fair elections, let us do please recall the thread title:
Well, since most countries don't call it a "Congress," that isn't a very big group.

And you do know the Democratic Party controls the Senate, right?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-06-2010, 01:52 PM
Yookeroo Yookeroo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: San Clemente, California
Posts: 4,581
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
And you do know the Democratic Party controls the Senate, right?
They have a majority, but I'm not sure you can call that "control" these days.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11-07-2010, 02:44 AM
Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is online now
僕は女性の香りが大好きですよ。フア!
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: 小浜国
Posts: 5,128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yookeroo View Post
They have a majority, but I'm not sure you can call that "control" these days.
The Democrats don't even control their own minds these days. They wait for the Republicans to rail against something stupid and then prostrate themselves on the alter of a shame that doesn't even exist. Idiots, the lot of them, not to mention useless.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11-07-2010, 03:50 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
From my PoV I agree with Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur in IS IT JUST ME OR IS EVERYTHING SHIT?:
Quote:
Clearly, some freaky voodoo madness is currently overtaking the States and, clearly, the Democrats are less evil than the Republicans - less bigoted, less likely to wage biblical wars for patently made-up reasons. But it's hard to see them as much of a port in any storm when, faced with this madness, they don't say: 'No more madness', but instead opt for: 'Well, okay then... some madness, if we must...'

And being 'less evil' than the Repubicans doesn't actually equal being 'good'. Certainly, in terms of being a progressive force in US politics, the Democrats have come on since the days they were dominated by Southern slave owners - but they' voted for Bush's civil liberties-busting Patriot Act, and the Iraq War, and are right up to their shitty necks in corporate funding.
That said, I suspect you could find one or two developed countries that are more "conservative", depending on how you define it. Brunei an oil-based economy and the Sultan is the ultimate uncontested ruler. But wait! It has UHC! So is it conservative or not?

Well OK, let's try Singapore. Profoundly capitalist economics, authoritarian leadership - but a massive social safety net that is mandatory.

Ireland is a post-socialist country with many socialist policies still in place - yet with two very deep-seated conservative religious anomalies floating around - abortion, and the second being that divorce is only just legal and even then is a pain in the arse to enact compared to other Euro countries.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
Depends what issues you want to talk about. If I place my emphasis on different issues I could reasonably argue that the United Kingdom is more conservative than the USA.
Go for it - I'm genuinely interested. (Presuming you will cite the "state religion" and the royals?)

I think the answer is that politics is so fragmented, and there's such ingrained tradition with regard to a few governmental policies in many countries, that you can't draw a strict line, and nor can you base your analysis on the nature of US politics, since there are so many variables compared to that country; not even the terminology is transferrable. You also have to take into account anomalies based on tradition. I therefore agree with Mr Rover that you need to break down social/fiscal conservatism - at least.

One issue is very pertinent though: almost no conservative politician in a country with UHC wants to dismantle it.

(Note with all the above I refuse to accept the US conservative meme that attempts to equate authoritarianism with socialism: it exists at both ends of the spectrum.)
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11-07-2010, 05:13 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 16,062
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigamarole View Post
I hear Australia's gotten pretty conservative .....
Well our Prime Minister is an unmarried woman who lives with her partner and is a self confessed atheist. And no-one here gives a shit. Let me know when the US catches up.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 11-07-2010, 06:43 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
I agree that we need to separate the economic and social issues. It could be argued though, in any country with an existing strongly capitalist market that the party in charge is fairly irrelevant providing they are not trying to dismantle the whole system. Things might become more or less friendly to certain types of businesses but the basics will march on regardless.

Social issues though are universally experienced as they address basic human conditions. The right to food, shelter, health care, or control over one's body are issues that affect every human to some degree, and as other countries have shown, can be quite separate from the type of leadership in place.

Considering that the only countries that are less socially progressive than the US are also heavily dominated by the catholic church, I would say that we are not doing so well in those areas. We would probably be like them if not for the mandated separation of church and state.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 11-07-2010, 07:56 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
I would say that the Conservative in Canada would be slightly to the right of the Dems. But then so might the Liberals, whose policies--if they have any--are hardly distinguishable. On economic issues, I note the US seems to be the only developed country that has not gotten into deficit reduction. Of course, the Reps say that would, but they are fiercely fighting for tax reduction and increased military funding so it is hard to take them seriously. The UK, for example, has just instituted draconian budget cuts. It will provide an interesting test of Paul Krugman's theories. He predicts that they will enter into a Japanese style stagnation.

On the other hand, there is no developed country that has allowed health care to degenerate to the point that poor people are faced with the "choice" of die or go bankrupt and often they cannot even go bankrupt to save themselves. And the majority of Americans (judging by the recent election) seem perfectly happy with that. Here is an almost direct quote from my cousin the lawyer who grew up and still lives in Richmond: "I don't see why my taxes should go to pay the health care for some guy who chose to buy a fancier car or take an extra vacation instead of getting health insurance." This is not exactly social, nor exactly economic, but something else.

On many social issues the US seems well to the left of many developed countries. Gay marriage may arrive in a few years or a decade. On the other hand, abortion is one conservative justice away from being again banned. Divorce has gotten so easy it is derisory. The one issue--and it is a major one--is the number of blacks going to prison for minor drug offences (possession). This is so obviously racial it is a scandal. My sister used cocaine for many years (she's been off it for 20 years) without ever having the slightest fear of apprehension. And if she had, she's have got off with a warning or a suspended sentence. Not so a black.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 11-07-2010, 08:27 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: California
Posts: 36,511
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
I agree that we need to separate the economic and social issues. It could be argued though, in any country with an existing strongly capitalist market that the party in charge is fairly irrelevant providing they are not trying to dismantle the whole system. Things might become more or less friendly to certain types of businesses but the basics will march on regardless.

Social issues though are universally experienced as they address basic human conditions. The right to food, shelter, health care, or control over one's body are issues that affect every human to some degree, and as other countries have shown, can be quite separate from the type of leadership in place.
The problem is that there's an awful lot of overlap between social and economic issues. Businesses don't want money spent on social issues, they want it spent on them. They also prefer that people be miserable and desperate enough to take low paying jobs with terrible working conditions, aka "labor discipline". They also want to be able to pollute as they please, despoil the land as they like and so on; business impacts people all the time in ways that qualify as "social issues".
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 11-07-2010, 08:47 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
The problem is that there's an awful lot of overlap between social and economic issues. Businesses don't want money spent on social issues, they want it spent on them. They also prefer that people be miserable and desperate enough to take low paying jobs with terrible working conditions, aka "labor discipline". They also want to be able to pollute as they please, despoil the land as they like and so on; business impacts people all the time in ways that qualify as "social issues".
Sure, but a country that has determined that the basic necessities of life are not something to ultimately be bargained for has reduced the worst of those abuses significantly. Even in the foulest example of such an economic climate, people would be adequately fed, clothed, cared for when ill, and sheltered. Once that is completed, everything else is of lesser concern but can be worked on by progressives.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 11-07-2010, 09:14 AM
athelas athelas is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: In Transit
Posts: 3,351
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Well OK, let's try Singapore. Profoundly capitalist economics, authoritarian leadership - but a massive social safety net that is mandatory.
More extensive than the US, but much less extensive than Nordic Europe, and it's heavily means-tested, which wouldn't sit well with the American left in practice.

In general, I'm amused by "cosmopolitan" types who claim that all the world is more liberal than the US, while looking only at Western Europe and ignoring, say, Asia. Then they turn around and criticize historical Eurocentrism.

Last edited by athelas; 11-07-2010 at 09:15 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 11-07-2010, 04:45 PM
penultima thule penultima thule is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
Well our Prime Minister is an unmarried woman who lives with her partner and is a self confessed atheist. And no-one here gives a shit. Let me know when the US catches up.
This.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 11-07-2010, 08:23 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Behind the rabbit
Posts: 17,506
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigamarole View Post
I hear Australia's gotten pretty conservative but generally my impression is that even our Dems are way further to the right on the political spectrum than most of the "conservative" parties in other developed countries.

Also many of the "developing" countries, which have highly conservative governments, are also rife with corruption. Is there an appreciable positive correlation between how far right-wing a government is and its country's corruption index?
To be fair, there was also plenty of corruption in the Soviet Union and the other avowedly socialist countries of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. IMHO it's more likely that leftists and rightists are equally prone to corruption, but the exact nature and mechanism of the corruption varies.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.