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Old 07-24-2019, 06:01 PM
Wrenching Spanners is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: London
Posts: 620
Originally Posted by steronz View Post
As a bit of background for my own point of view, I live in a neighborhood that was founded in racism. About 100 years ago, racist developers bought a bunch of land, incorporated as a city, and sold off deeds that prohibited blacks or Jews from ever owning those plots. Where the city lines ran up against existing housing, the lines were drawn so as to exclude individual blocks (or even specific sides of individual blocks of streets) that were considered to be "too Italian," or too ethnic. When discriminatory deed restrictions were ruled unconstitutional in 1948, the neighborhood continued to keep blacks out by requiring potential homeowners to receive a majority vote from neighborhood associations. This persisted until challenged in court in the late 1970s.

Within the community there's always been a strong pro-social movement. Churches, civic associations, and clubs all exist to help out neighbors in need. People feel responsible for their neighbors. And yet, 100 years ago, the initial residents felt so little responsibility for neighbors who didn't look like them that they built an entirely new city right next to the old one just to keep them out.

The 3rd generation residents of my neighborhood, many of whom are still living here, might now, as modern conservatives, still feel no strong responsibility for communities outside of this one, instead feeling that those residents should take personal responsibility for their own situations.

In this way, I can't help but feel that "personal responsibility" as a value cannot be disconnected from the racist history of a society. It's very clear that a moral wrong was committed; that this moral wrong has a lasting effect on residents of the city on both sides; and that many residents who benefited and continue to benefit from that moral wrong feel that they didn't inherit any responsibility in correcting that moral wrong under the guise of personal responsibility.
You and the other residents of your neighbourhood have a personal responsibility for the actions that take place in your neighbourhood, not the neighbourhood down the road. You also have no personal responsibility for the actions of the people who founded your neighbourhood, whether or not you were related to them. Blame is not an inheritable liability. That is my belief and it is very much a conservative belief.

Where you do have a responsibility, both personal and collective, in in ensuring fair allocation of collective resources. Say you live in Neighbourhood A which is mainly upmarket, and Neighbourhood B on the other side of the tracks is the same size and mainly downmarket. Suppose for the sake of hypothesis that Neighbourhood A and Neighbourhood B each have a school. Regardless of the property values or income levels of each neighbourhood, both schools should receive the same funding. Thatís fair. I regard fairness as a conservative value. However, suppose that the Neighbourhood A school has a much more effective PTA than the Neighbourhood B school and thus performs better. Thatís an unequal situation, but not an unfair one. The conservative/liberal divide then is on how many resources and how much effort should be used to address the inequality. My belief is that a traditional conservative wonít want the resources taken from the Neighbourhood A school simply because itís performing better. However, if there are specific issues at the Neighbourhood B school that can be addressed through additional funding, then it should be considered. If Neighbourhood A schoolís advantage is parental involvement, youíre not going to match that advantage at the Neighbourhood B school simply by throwing money at it. A different example might be study software. If Neighbourhood A privately funded study software for its schoolís students, and found that it worked, then whoeverís at the district level above both Neighbourhood A school and Neighbourhood B school should consider expanding the distribution of study software to the entire district. Thatís effective use of resources which is also a conservative value. The follow-on is whether to pay for the additional cost of the study software by reducing another cost, by raising taxes, or by borrowing and paying for it in the future. Based on an uncertain future return, a traditional conservative would select trading costs, raising taxes and borrowing in that order. This is my view of conservatism, and within this thread Iím not interested in assessing how current national governments match to my vision of conservatism.

A different example of the allocation of resources would be fighting crime. In theory, Neighbourhood A and Neighbourhood B should have equal crime-fighting budgets and equal amounts of policing. However, suppose Neighbourhood B has more crime. Thatís a situation where, in my opinion, unequal allocation of resources is justified. Neighbourhood B has more crime and therefore should receive more policing and other crime-prevention resources in order to reduce the amount of crime. However, there should be a baseline police service, and that service should not be diminished in Neighbourhood A. Also, in terms of personal responsibility, itís wrong for Neighbourhood B to blame its crime problem on Neighbourhood A. Likewise, if Neighbourhood B has more crime than Neighbourhood A, its residents shouldnít complain about being more heavily policed. The burden of being more heavily policed is a collective responsibility issue, but itís a counterpart to the additional resource allocation to prevent crime.