Monday, November 20, 2017

Conservatives Want a "Strict Father" To Make Everyone Personally Responsible - Except Corporations

George Lakoff has argued persuasively that an underlying cause of the deep conservative/liberal divide is that, while both tend to view government as like a family, they have different theories of what kind of parent is best to lead a family.  He calls these two views "strict father" and "nurturant parent," respectively.

This helps make sense of why conservative policy is so hard on welfare recipients.  They believe a strict father should make children become responsible and self-supporting.

This also explains why they want "fathers" of all kinds to have a free hand.  Theirs is a patriarchal theory in the most literal sense.

Which brings us to the mystery of "trickle-down economics."  As an economic theory it has failed repeatedly.  However, conservatives doggedly stick to it as the solution to all problems.  Give the rich more money and give corporations a free hand, and they will do what is best for their dependents.

Liberals regard corporations as economic institutions, which respond to incentives.  If you want them to create more jobs, then tie their tax breaks to actually producing more jobs.


Barry said...

The book Tribe by Sebastian postulates the liberal/conservative divide will always exist because of two views held by our ancient ancestors: 1. Individuals should have some responsibility for themselves and work for the common good of the tribe 2. The tribe has a responsibility for providing for those who cannot provide for themselves.

Mac McCarty said...

You and Lakoff lost me at "strict father" and "nurturant parent." Talk about loading the discussion. Why not "responsible father" and "over-indulgent parent?" My parents, both of whom came of age during the Great Depression," endured and triumphed in WWII, and helped build the modern United States, were both strict and "nurturant." They raised my brother, sister, and I to work hard, take advantage of a public education that prepared us for life in classrooms that were over-crowded, with the primitive teaching aids of blackboard, chalk, and a discipline that came from respect for teachers and the knowledge that if we got in trouble at school, all that awaited us at home was more of the same. We knew we were to love our Country (74 years ago today, my Dad made the first of his five landings in the Pacific at Tarawa), respect institutions, and that it was the role of the church and the local community to care for the truly needy, because the community knew who was truly needy and who was trying to abuse the natural charity of American citizens. As an adult, I came to realize how tenuous was our financial situation, but we never missed a meal, our clothes were always clean and neat, we were assured that we were loved and safe....and we would have to be sitting in the ashes of a destroyed city before we would look to government to do what we could do for ourselves through hard work--and maybe not even then.

That society came about as a result of Ford Motor Company and United States Steel and Standard Oil and the great railways of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Corporations that enabled us to turn a frontier continent into a great Nation. On could argue it was the closing of the frontier--I'm sure you have read Frederick Jackson Turner--that changed the American spirit in ways that we are still paying for 125 years later. Did corrections have to be made? yes, and they were. But they came at the cost of bureaucracy that having solved the problem it was created to solve found new "problems" to solve rather than disappearing into the night and getting productive employment. One need only look at the federal "Department of Education" which does not educate a single child but finds all sorts of ways to distract schools from educating future citizens.

So I get pretty fed up hearing how awfully we treat the poorest of our nation. We have schools--the worst of which would have looked pretty damned good to me--where children are allowed to run wild, terrorizing incompetent teachers and staff who are up on the latest educational gimmicks, but couldn't lead the condemned out of Hell. I am tired of a system that insists that my kids know all about the Harlem Renaissance, but are unable to explain the causes of the Civil War, the Great Depression, WWII or the Cold War, and of younger children who can use a computer and a calculator, but cannot find a book, rather than a snippet on Google, or make change unless they use a Texas Instruments Top Notch, A Number One, Willy Whizbang, 107 function graphing and dinner cooking calculator or the latest cash register that does the same thing. After the collisions involving Fitzgerald and John S McCain, the Navy has decided that having the Quartermaster of the Watch on the bridge use the old pencil and paper plot to make sure that the screens and keyboards in the Combat Information Center haven't so mesmerized their users that they overlook approaching tankers until they hear metal screeching and shipmates dying.

Until we begin to hold responsible those who are not truly unable to do for themselves, I'll opt for more strict parents and fewer over-indulgent ones. In the home or in government.

Gary said...

Thank you Mr. McCarty....