Why Conservatism is Bad for Capitalism

Capitalists are (gasp) Liberals!

Conservatives like to bash us progessive-minded folks, while claiming the mantle of patriotism for themselves. What’s good for conservatives is good for America, they say. Not so fast. A quick reality check within any mainstream business text will suggest otherwise.

Well-known CNN Business News commentator Paula Nelson says, “Going into business for yourself, becoming an entrepreneur, is the modern-day equivalent of pioneering on the old frontier.”1

Isabel M. Isidro, Managing Editor of PowerHomeBiz.com, in addition to citing all the standard stuff about working hard and thinking positively, adds that a willingness to learn is key to success. “To succeed, you must be willing to ask questions, remain curious, interested and open to new knowledge.”2 Sounds like solid, patriotic, progressive thinking to me.

Outside America, even corporate giants like BMW understand this point. “When it comes to driving innovation, forget formal meetings, hierarchy, and stamps of approval. Each [BMW] worker learns quickly that pushing fresh ideas is paramount.”3

Contrast this with less nimble, more unyielding, more conservative and sadly (in this case) American companies. “Rigid hierarchies that stifle fresh ideas and slow reaction times are one problem facing General Motors and Ford.”3

The Energy Puzzle

In 2007, America is in a real bind of its own making. Two decades ago, when we had a chance to remake the energy playing field on our own terms, business leaders chose the conservative straight-and-narrow policy of “milking the cash cow”. In the 1980s, gasoline prices were low, people were happy consumers, and oil companies were getting rich rich rich. So why change the status quo?

In 1985, America could have risked inventing a new energy economy based on progressive scientific thinking. Had we succeeded – in solar, bio-fuels or whatever – America today could well own a global energy economy with a better value proposition than all the oil sitting underneath Middle Eastern deserts. The world could have walked away from oil in favor of an American alternative.

However, our nation’s conservatism gave emerging global economies enough time to light up. So today, as America tries to engineer itself away from Mideast oil dependence, there are dozens of countries ready to jump in and consume their share of the oil. It will be several years before America is in a position to offer the world energy alternatives with similar or better value.

Progressive Thinking is a Renewable Resource

As a nation, let’s remember that we were born from some of the greatest risks ever taken by humans. Explorers sailed out onto the flat earth in search of god-knows-what. Pilgrims brought their families, pennies and dreams across oceans to a new way of life. Pioneers crossed great American deserts in rickety wagons, leaving the last of their earthly east-coast possessions as fodder for the antique shops of St. Louis or Kansas City, all in pursuit of land, gold, dreams and that most precious asset – freedom.

I think we’ll see some hard times as a consequence of decisions already made. But I believe in a progressive human sprit, such as that which America has displayed on its bright days. By abandoning conservative thought and action – by abandoning fear – we’ll be on our way to the best of what our business and social systems may offer.


1. http://creativequotations.com/one/1191.htm.
2. http://powerhomebiz.com/vol19/secrets.htm.
3. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_42/b4005078.htm.

One Response to “Why Conservatism is Bad for Capitalism”

  1. If conservatism is good for the economy why do progressive states do better economically. California has a larger and more diverse economy then Texas which is pretty much bound to the oil companies. This just doesn’t apply to states you can see this effect on the county level.

    The Mercury news published a map of which counties produce the most taxable income and which use the most taxes in all cases conservative counties got more in taxes then they sent to Sacramento while progressive counties payed more because they produced more and got back less.

    If you look at where the innovation occurs its not in states like Mississippi this not because the people their are stupid. It is because they have less opportunity and less access to capital because almost always their economies are tied to one or two companies this limits competition. If you are the only game in town you do not want rivals rivals driving up the cost of workers and that is not something you want to change. After all if you are king of your little swamp pool you want to stay king. This is conservatism the preserving of the status quo.

    If conservatives had their way the union movement would never have taken root in this country and the sixteen hour day would be the norm. Health care and retirement would be reserved for those that could afford them. The rest of us would get a pine box not a gold watch.

    Everything that has made life better for the working man has come over the objections of conservatives. Social security, medicare, civil rights, seat belts, employer paid health care all came after a long hard fight that cost lives on both sides. The idea that people that do not like change have done anything that did not benefit them directly is a as ridiculous as the notion that greed is good.

    David Hovgaard

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