This Thread: Sanctuary from Healthcare Debate.[Gen'l Fiscal views of Right & Left]

No debating health care in this thread. Please.

That said, I think I’ve come to an insight about the difference between (fiscal) conservatives and (fiscal) liberals. Conservatives think that money (or a lack of it) is acquired almost completely through skill. Oh sure, they acknowledge that luck is sometimes involved, but most, they say, comes through the talent and willpower (or lack thereof) of the person. Liberals, meanwhile, attribute money, or a lack of it, primarily to luck. Oh sure, they admit that skill can make a difference, but the primary method of wealth transfer, they say, is being in the right place at the right time or being the child of the right people.

I think the difference between a fiscal conservative and a fiscal liberal (whatever that is ;)) has nothing to do with thoughts on how one acquires wealth, and more to do with how the government spends taxes. Broadly, a fiscal conservative thinks the government should work within a strict budget, and limit the amount of spending to a minimum, while maximizing the amount of wealth generated by business, while a fiscal liberal (though I have to admit it’s not a term I’ve heard many times) would probably be more in favor of using government taxes for social engineering, maximizing things like fairness and social and economic equality through redistribution of wealth, regulation of industry and the like.

It’s simply a difference in philosophy, and, for my part, I think there is a balance point between the two world views that probably makes for a somewhat optimal outcome.


Money (or lack of it) is for the most part neither a consequence of skill or luck. It’s a consequence of money. Money attracts more money. With none of it at all, it’s spectacularly hard to accumulate any of it.

I don’t think so. Someone told me once when I was very young that if we “threw all the money up in the air,” (spread it out evenly between everyone, just once), all the same people would become rich again before long. Everything I’ve observed in my life has supported this. I firmly believe it to be true.

I think the difference is that fiscal conservatives are fixated on money for whatever reason (mostly because of their lives being otherwise empty, IME), and fiscal liberals see money as merely a tool with which to help people.

Which amounts to a claim that the poor are genetically inferior, since there is a strong correlation between the income bracket you are born in, not to mention how much money your ancestors had and the income bracket you stay in.

In other words, you are blaming the victim by claiming they have bad blood.

Bzzt, wrong. You’re assuming money is inherently good. I hope to die broke.

Budget? I don’t think there’s a single politician in Washington that knows the meaning of the word. How hard is it to legislate based on definable/verifiable goals and demonstrate a verifiable source of revenue to pay for it?

Am I wrong for expecting politicians who work for me to spend my money wisely?

I think conservatives feel an individuals talent, creativity, intellect and ambition determine their economic stance. Liberals actually agree with that (the ones I know do), but we also feel an environment that is conductive to success (one with good universal education, second chances, a government that removes roadblocks and allows fair competition between the weak and strong, security, etc) is also important.

I think taken to extremes some people use the just world fallacy to explain income discrepancies. The world seems safer if you assume poor people are poor because of bad decisions and rich people are rich because of good decisions. It takes away the confusion, gray areas and complexity of the real world. You don’t have to deal with complex environmental or cultural issues, just tell poor people to stop consciously making bad decisions and they stop being poor. “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong” is a good way to describe this worldview.

Liberals like myself do feel that personal talent plays a role. But so does environment and there is complex interplay between the two.

The factors mentioned probably correlate, but I don’t think they’re at the root. The primary difference between fiscal conservatism and liberalism is this:

Conservatives believe that money, once earned, is private property; that taxation, therefore, is akin to eminent domain proceedings.

Liberals believe that money is…something different; like water rights. There are property rights associated with it, but it’s also a public resource, and the state has an obligation to maintain equity.

I can tell you how fiscal conservatives view fiscal liberals: as people who want to give their (the conservative’s) money away. They feel that those who would like the gov’t to spend more (on social services at least) don’t have much skin in the game. This at least applies to the ones I know.


At the same token, I can tell you how fiscal liberals view fiscal conservatives. As people who enjoy the benefits of the welfare state w/o realizing it or wanting to pay for it. A good number of members of the tea party are on social security, unemployment insurance and/or medicare.

Then your powers of observation are lacking. Are there people who, given little or nothing, become rich through hard work and skill? Certainly. There’s also a definite element of luck in most of those cases. They hired a particularly talented employee, say, or bought property in the right place at the right time, or moved into a new technology or market just as it was ready to mature.

The vast majority of rich people, however, were born rich and stayed that way. That isn’t to say that because they had a trust fund they were bound to succeed, but their parents’ affluence also enabled them to go to the right schools, associate with the right people, and opened doors for them when they were ready to start making their own money.

That species of conservative died out over 30 years ago. Starting with Reagan, it was more important to cut taxes now, and promise to cut spending later, and deficits don’t matter (unless there is a Democrat in the White House).

Quoth Der Trihs:

That doesn’t necessarily follow. Even if you redistributed all the money equally, at least some of the advantages bought with that money would remain. For example, level of education is a big determiner in how much money someone will make, but in turn, college is both expensive, and culturally discouraged in much of the lower class. So if you evened out all the money, those with college educations (who were able to get them because their families had money) would end up with more money, just like they had before the great distribution. There’s also value in other intangibles, like social networking.

Wesley Clark, where’s that quote from?

Well, define “rich.” I’m thinking of people with incomes in multiples of 6 figures and up. If you’re talking multi-multi millionaire, get driven around in a Rolls-Royce type people, I know very little about them. I grew up around 1 multi-millionaire but he was almost 50 years older than me, so it’s not like we talked finances-- all I know is that he came to this country with $60 in his pocket-- and my dad knew a legitimate billionaire for awhile, also self-made, but I never met the guy.

Rich people (my definition), in my experience (and I know / have known a lot of them) REALLY WANT TO BE RICH. Some poor people do, too, but not enough to do anything about it. That’s what sets them apart, even if it goes back generations, and is handed down (unconsciously, most likely.)
The suggestion that it’s genetic is so ridiculous that it’s hardly worth addressing. That’s just Der Tris taking whiny liberalism to an absurd end to try to make a point (and I say that as an unapologetic whiny liberal.)

What is the quote from Citizen Kane? Not going to look it up because I’m on my phone but it’s something like: “it’s easy to make a lot of money, if ALL you want to do is make a lot of money.” Most people, including myself, want to do other things. It’s all about priorities. People who say it’s luck are usually wannabes. As some athlete once said, “it’s funny: the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Personally I don’t give two shits about ever being rich, so it’s not like I’m praising these people’s hard work - I don’t even think it’s a good thing in a lot of cases; most of the “rich” people I know have fucked up personal relationships - I’m just acknowledging it.

Of course, none of this has ever occurred to you because your powers lack and something something blah blah I’m cooler than you and all my observations and opinions matter way more and are totally 100% valid and yours are shit blah blah mr. rolleyes.

Three comments.

(1) It seems like you’re using “fiscal conservative” to denote someone opposed to income redistribution policies. I thought the emphasis was more on budget balancing. It would be great if Dopers identifying themselves as “fiscal conservatives” would post a synopsis of what that means. (In a recent thread, a “libertarian” presented a synopsis of his views some of which contradicted what I’d thought was the “libertarian” position. I was hoping for responses like “I’m a libertrarian but I disagree with …”, but none came.)

(2) It seems like the conservative view you present is based on “the rich have money because they did something to deserve it.” I’ve come across comments by GWB and his ilk that very plainly support the rich because they’re rich regardless of how their wealth was acquired. (Sorry, I should have taken more care to bookmark such comments.)

(3) Fiscal conservatism seems to center on the doctrine “Keynes was wrong.” I’ve thought that most modern economists would agree that Keynes’ basic principles are essentially correct and that modern refinements are just that: refinements. Is this not what modern mainstream economists think?

I’m a fiscal conservative, but I may not be representative of others. For me, it means that:

  • Absolutely everything in society can be put into economic terms
  • The goal of regulation is increased productivity

That’s it, basically. But note that all the following increases productivity, and are good candidates or guidelines for regulation (no particular order):

  • Stability
  • Freedom to do whatever you want
  • Property rights
  • Safety from crime
  • Affordable education
  • Affordable social security
  • Affordable health care
  • Social mobility

As I said, I believe you can use economics to discuss all questions. An extreme example is abortion. I (like many others) believe that a human life has an inherent value, even before birth. What does “inherent value” mean? It MUST mean that I should be willing to pay to keep that life, otherwise it is meaningless. If nobody is willing to pay, it has no value. I also believe that the costs of banning abortions are high, with reduced productivity, reduced security and so on. The result must be a compromise.

Every decision is a compromise. If you always strive to find the true costs and benefits of your options, you can hope to make the best choice, but you can never be sure.

Well, my father was a immigrant from El Salvador. If he had a trust fund, he concealed it quite skillfully. I didn’t hire any talented employees, my only property is my mortgaged home, and I haven’t moved into any new technology or market at just the right time.

Yet I am reasonably comfortable, money-wise. How could this happen??

This is correct. I see plenty of people whine about money. Meanwhile, they take nice vacations every year. They trade cars every two or three years, leasing instead of buying. They take off work for “mental health days” because they want to “balance” work and home life, and then are astounded when someone else gets promoted.

They are like someone who wants to be a concert pianist but doesn’t really want to practice for hours every day.

And then they look uncomprehendingly at the person who does get hired by the Philharmonic, and say, “Well, he was just lucky. Right place at the right time. And his parents probably know someone.”