Social conservatism v. economic conservatism

The difference is that economic conservatives are not always wrong and social conservatives are not always evil.

IMO and IME, economic conservatives sometimes have arguments worth listening to. But their actual, unstated motive is usually if not always to defend the interests of the haves, and that is the general tendency of their arguments whether intentional or not – in short, always evil.

Social conservatives, OTOH, while they might well be sincerely well-intentioned Christians or whatever, are always entirely wrong – not about everything, perhaps, but definitely about everything that distinguishes them from others, everything on their particular agenda.

N.B., however, there is an important corollary to that:

In politics, social issues are usually (not always) much less important than economic issues.

E.g., in America we have a lot of needless deaths by gunshot every year. But, in the general scheme of things, that is no more than a bit of oh-too-bad; it is no existential threat to American society, and unemployment blights far, far more lives than does violence armed or unarmed. The Dems (and for that matter the Pubs) should be placing much higher priority on reducing unemployment than on gun control/gun rights.

By the same token, it’s too bad gays are having such a hard time getting SSM recognized; but, they can thrive without it. What matters more than anything else is that the law no longer criminalizes sodomy, etc.

Of course, some pols (in both parties, but Pubs mainly) who understand the above perfectly are not above using social issues as a distraction or a voter-turnout spur.

So they’re always entirely wrong, but not about everything. They’re entirely wrong except for things they’re not entirely wrong about. Well, how about that.

They’re entirely wrong about the value of social conservatism.

And, probably and not coincidentally wrong about a lot of other things as well, such as scientific questions (climate change, evolution, gayness-as-choice); but, not necessarily all of them and by definition.

What does that even mean?

It means that they contribute nothing of value to public debates. That all their distinguishing positions are wrong, morally, socially, and, to the extent applicable, scientifically. They’re wrong about evolution, homosexuality, church-state separation, and everything else that particularly matters to them.

And that matters, because in large part the social conservatives are now calling the GOP tune.

I actually agree with you about something for once. Social issues in politics are both a smoke screen and a distraction used to keep the general public focused away from the real issues which are almost always economic in nature. Unfortunately, the general public falls for it time and time again because anyone can have a passionate opinion on abortion, gun-control or gay marriage. Spouting off opinions on relatively unimportant social issues let’s them think they are contributing something meaningful to the political process when they really aren’t. Meanwhile, corporations, lobbyists and politicians can decide whatever they choose to about the actual important issues. I disagree that Republicans use these tactics more than Democrats. They both do it and constantly and both have a deep tool chest full of emotional social issues that they can use to incite or corral the public at will.

Most people enjoy talking about repetitive, fluff social issues much more than they do, say, the Fed strategy for the next year or how to address the national debt even though the latter are vastly more important in the long run.

Our agreement breaks down at the end however because I am one of those evil economic conservatives. I don’t believe that morality should play a determining role in economic issues at all because economics itself has its own laws that don’t have values or morals. They just are and we have to work within them to get the optimum results. There may be some room to fit in values and morality in at the end if there is a choice between to nearly equal strategies but it shouldn’t be a primary focus.

Also because those things are a lot easier to understand than economics.

Perhaps economics does, but the playing-out of economic forces has real-world consequences not always desirable to all, and then government has to deal with those issues, and it cannot and is not supposed to deal with them in a values-free way; always some choices must be made between winners and losers on any particular point, and it is values that drive those choices. And, “Let the haves keep and get” is not a good value for the purpose.

You do realize that this is your value judgment, right, and not an objective truth?

Creationism is objectively false, yes. I don’t think that there is a scientific answer to questions like “should abortion be illegal” or “should church and state be separate”, or “is homosexuality a sin”. Those are moral questions, and my moral premises may be different than yours so I come to different conclusions.

I agree that economic ‘conservatism’ (i.e. unrestricted capitalism) is evil, though.

Putting the OP another way,

Economic conservatives use their head too much and their heart not enough, supporting positions that may maximize GDP and company profits regardless of its effect on individual citizens.

Social conservatives use their heart too much and their head not enough. Running with their gut feeling that homosexuality must be harmful, evolution must be wrong, and zygotes are little babies when analysis of the evidence might lead them to other conclusions.

There clearly was a fair bit of well poisoning in the OP, but I think that this doesn’t do a bad job of summing up the liberals view point of the problems with conservative ideology as it exists today.

I know there are a lot of debatable points in the OP. That’s why it’s in GD.

I consider myself a conservative. The only problems I really have with most of the liberal agendas is that I feel they are used to buy blocks of votes and will often be extended to reach out beyond a sensible boundary. The recent Vet bill that was voted down was a good example of this, it was simply to far reaching in it’s attempt to buy the votes of the vets and their families.

BG, let me explain something you really ought to understand. There are no debatable points in your OP. You did not, in fact, make any points in your OP. You stated that you think very strongly that the people who espouse views you don’t agree with, are wrong. There’s nothing to debate because you posted a tautology.

Do you have a specific position in mind?

I think this is a bit simplistic. Some of it is wrong on first principles. After the crash the New Yorker had an interesting article where the writer interviewed a bunch of Chicago economics professors, most of whom refused to admit that their theories were wrong in any way. I’m sure that they were not doing that to help the rich. Politicians are another matter. But it is possible that some sincerely believe in trickle down, and, like many fundamentalists, refuse to see evidence that their theories are wrong.

That is true, but it is not how many people see them. The guy with the steady job maybe should worry about economic issues more, but he is probably going to be more amenable to social ones, especially if the authority figures in his life tell him that the gays are going to destroy marriage. He doesn’t understand economics, and can’t decide which professor’s theory is right, but he sure understands the Bible.

You can’t separate these things. If Mr. Republican says that tax cuts for the rich will cut unemployment and preserve your job, and that your taxes will soar if “those people” get Medicaid, you might believe him since he doesn’t want to take away your gun.

Which demonstrates how important they are to people.
If we had a functioning government we could do both things.

And there you contradict yourself. What should be considered as “optimal results” is most certainly a moral question, and it is at the heart of all disagreements between economic conservatives and economic liberals (and socialists, and others outside the Overton Window of American politics). To a rough approximation, an economic conservative will hold that the economic strategy that is most effective in making the nation (or world) as as whole wealthier is the optimal one, even if it results in most of that wealth being concentrated in a very few hands, and leaves most or many people worse off than they would be otherwise; the economic liberal will consider the optimal economic outcome to be that which most improves the economic well being of the greatest number of people, even if it does not increase the wealth of the nation or world as a whole as much as might otherwise be possible. (It is perhaps conceivable that those goals might not be in conflict, but most plausible economic theories, perhaps especially those most favored by conservatives, suggest that they are. Unreconstructed Marxism might be an exception, I suppose. Marx though the way for humanity to get to be as wealthy as possible involved being as equal as possible, but very few people, even on the left, buy into that these days.)

Of course, there is also a lot of room for disagreement as to what those laws of economics are. They may exist, but the science is certainly not developed to such a stage that we can confidently and objectively say what they are yet. In such circumstances, liberal and conservatives will generally be tempted to favor those economic theories that suggest that their own preferred optimum can be reached relatively painlessly, without getting us too far away from the other side’s optimum (which, generally speaking, each side acknowledges to be a good, just not the most important one). However, even if the laws of economics were known, with objective certainty, there would still be plenty of room for liberals and conservatives to disagree on economic policy, because of their moral disagreement as to what sort of optimum we should be aiming for.

Well, the Austrian school of economics certainly is; pure-D rationalistic anti-empirical pseudoscience, no less so than Marxism

Is that any less true of conservative agendas?

No, I posted a position. Should you care to contradict it and give your reasons, we can engage. I’m not obliged to give my reasons first, that is, we can begin debate without that. In any case, the basic objections to each social-conservative issue-position are, I’m sure, far too well-known to all Dopers on all sides to need mentioning in that context. The picture WRT economic conservatism is, of course, more complicated, but as stated in the OP my objection is essentially values-based: Persons of good will always should sympathize with the poor against the rich and the weak against the strong, not because the poor/weak are always in the right or deserving or even good people, but just because they’re usually the ones who are suffering and always the ones who go into every conflict or dispute or market-negotiation or political-negotiation at a sharp disadvantage, and they need a helping hand/leg up/thumb on the scale and the rich/strong don’t.

N.B.: An economic conservative is not always a deficit hawk or government-minimalist. It all depends on whose ox is being gored. What distinguishes economic conservatives from purist economic libertarians is that the former always side with established business interests – whatever is good for those is argued to be good for the country. Economic conservatives just love them some sweetheart contracts and government subsidies and big military spending and even budget deficits (who do you think holds the T-bills? mostly not China or any other foreigners), just so long as it’s mostly the poor and middle classes who bear the tax burden.