Conservatives: Do you believe people with money should run things?

If not, who should? Either way, why?

Difficulty: Please don’t argue to inevitability or wishful natural laws, ie “people with money will always run things.” Let’s see your ethical skin in the game. Should they or shouldn’t they?

Difficulty #2: No ranting about government. You may construct alternate scenarios to big government, but government as such is not to be your boogeyman.

Moved from General Questions to Great Debates.

General Questions Moderator

As my first post here on SDMB I’m going to out myself as a conservative. Bad choice?

The question needs some clarification. If by “run things” you mean “impose their will on me and you and boss us around” then no, I don’t think anyone should “run things” in that way.

If “run things” means to control the levers of government, the answer would be more of a maybe. Whoever the people choose should “run” the government. If the people want to choose billionaires, then so be it. If they want to choose penniless bums, then that’s fine too. My personal preference might give a slight edge to trusting people who have “succeeded” in life more than those who have a history of failed ventures and bankruptcies to “run things,” but I accept that the will of the people should win out in this case.

Do I favor the rich running things? No. Is there a way to prevent it? Not any way that anyone has come up with yet. Government by nature creates an elite. Should the elite be the greatest achievers ,or should the elite be the most loyal state functionaries, or should the elite be chosen by family relations as in the old monarchies?

Solve that problem and you’ll have successfully evolved human society.

Parliamentary system. Solved.

Well, it’s not without its drawbacks.
But I also would like some clarification on what “things” are being run. Legislation? The military? International diplomacy?

I would say that any powerful elite is going to seek the maximum influence in any sector of society. Military commanders or diplomats might not come from wealthy families, but they will further those families’ interests and represent their worldviews abroad if so ordered. Likewise, legislators will do so at home if elites lobby and deliver the vote.

There’s also a disconnect - among liberals and among conservatives - about what is, and isn’t, an elite. Conservatives are more concerned about an educated elite coming to have too much power - a group liberals might not consider an elite at all. With liberals it’s a business elite that needs reining in, whereas conservatives don’t necessarily think of big business as elitist.

Yet another question: Do the well to do/productive/business class best serve the country by looking after their own interests, or those of all classes?

The elites don’t run things in Parliamentary systems? I granted that money elites run things in the US, but other elites are not better.

Conservatives do like to rail against Ivy Leaguers having so much power, but like the business world, their power is based on merit to a large extent. Like the liberal railing against the business elite, the conservative railing about the educated elite is mostly just complaining about people with a different ideological bent than them having too much power.

But in our system, we have a combination of both running things.

Should everyone look out for the common good, or is this only a responsibility of the wealthy? And isn’t the common good best served when everyone is trying to better themselves as best they can? We can pass laws to limit the harmful ways people try ot better themselves, but I don’t think we can change human motivation. And the motivation of a rich guy is the same as the motivation of a poor guy.

I think this is a spot-on observation.

I think conservative definition of “elitist” has less to do with their actual education level (after all, they routinely support and elect people with graduate-level degrees) and more precisely include several groups: the media, academia, bureaucrats, politicians. Liberals tend to focus more on income and wealth, with less concern with whether the money was inherited, earned in a small family business, or by running a large Fortune 500 company.

I have always thought of elite as being a state of mind amoung the elitists. Intellectuals tend to think of themselves as being elite even though the common sense factor may be missing. I see it here all the time where those with higher educations and better writing skills will " bully" those with somewhat less ability to express themselves even though their general line of thought is based on sound reasoning.

But right now it’s a particularly tense alliance. There’s education for all, and there’s education that’s useless, or even spreads corrosive ideas and behaviors. There is (or was) healthy economic policy for all, and there’s economic policy only for the haves, or worse, that lets the richest get richer at all costs. Merit can be measured in profit generated or papers published, but ultimately, there’s not that much for the eggheads and the greedheads to agree on.

The alliance between elites could easily come apart if they continue to splinter. This might actually benefit conservatives, because I think they’ll fight harder, and with unity, to regain the hearts and minds of the country.

Yes to a); no to b). I think the common good is better served when none tries to better himself to others’ detriment, which, unfortunately, is becoming a sacred right in what now passes for free-market thinking.

Factually, the only reason the little guy has anything, is by keeping the business class in check.
If Walmart had ANY scruples, they would give their employees insurance…along with many other businesses. Sure, for the small business man, it would be too expensive.
These big businesses want to f@&k their employees over as much as they can. There really isn’t a discussion about it.

Why is success bad! We have checks and ballances that will protect workers in this country. Durring good economic times things favor the worker, when things go south indusrty gains some advantage. We are all greedy and our system helps to maintain some ballance. Movie stars and athletes can make millions and no one seems to mind but when a man invests money and work and risk and becomes successful somehow he is evil because he didn’t split the money equally amoung his workers.
Everything is about sustainabilty. Free market will ebb with the tides. Forcing economics will throw everything out of ballance and their will not be enough for anyone.

Ill assume by “run things” you’re talking about the government.

When there is a government people with money will most likely control it. That’s why I wouldn’t give much authority to the government. People tend to enact policies that benefit themselves.

Couldn’t a party in this kind of system sell itself to corporate/other interests, at least to some extent? It will still need funds, for example, for the generally shorter election campaigns.

But in so doing you leave the door open for control by moneyed interests over and above government.

What some conservatives believe, but won’t admit to believeing, is that government is the only possibility for people without money or influence to have a say in society, and that they’re afraid[ of them having a say. They think the rest of us are better off when such people are powerless.

Like others, I request that you define what “things” you’re talking about. I believe that all human beings should have freedom and that government should exist to protect that freedom, as outlined by the founding fathers of the USA and by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. Government leaders should be chosen democratically, with anyone of any income level allowed to run. In all other organizations, participation is voluntary. If a leader is needed, the participants will find a way to choose that leader. I have no particular bias for or against wealthy leaders. Voluntary organizations have the advantage that if a leader leads badly, the participants have options to either remove the leader or simply stop participating. Hence a bad leader eventually either gets replaced, or else the organization eventually fades away. In government, on the other hand, bad leaders often stick around for a very long time.

I believe that freedom and democracy are desirable as ends in themselves, and that’s there no need to explain why I support them.

I can’t get any real meaning from this question. In my understanding, economic policy is not split such that some policies help the wealthy and others help the poor. Instead, there are some policies–high taxes and intrusive regulation–that hurt both the rich and the poor, and there are some policies–low taxes and a government that stays within its Constitutional limits–that help both the rich and the poor. When wealthy innovators such as Henry Ford innovate, they benefit both the rich and the poor and everyone in between. When new technologies appear and new methods of production drive prices down, that benefits the rich, the poor, and the middle class. When taxes and regulation stifle innovation, that hurts the rich, the poor, and the middle class.

Not a conservative, but I like the idea of people who are qualified to run things running things.

If we disqualify “people with money” we’ll have to throw most of our current leaders out of office, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.