Free Enterprise and Traditional Conservatism
One area Traditional Conservatism is weak is economics, which is interesting as most other Political Philosophies have economics front and centre. In fact some of them seem to be economic theories with political ideas added later. But Traditional Conservatives often seem to know instinctively what economic ideas they support and which they reject. But because we don't tend to talk about it, it becomes hard to answer questions about why we believe in some things but not in others. To some we seem inconsistent because we often oppose what is regarded by most as the "Conservative" answer. I hope to provide some of the answers here.
The standard "Conservative" economic view looks something like this, Conservatives believe in Capitalism, creating wealth and not putting stops on money, for example taxes or controls on the movement of money. But that isn't Conservative, it's Right or Economic Liberalism. We do share somethings in common but we do not share everything.
First of all the word Capitalism was coined by Marxists in the 19th century to describe how Factories and Companies gathered money or capital together, hence the term Capitalism. It is a word that was taken up and used even by non-Marxists but it is not the same thing as Free Enterprise. Free Enterprise is the private ownership of wealth and the means of creating wealth, it is not about assembling money or capital, it is about ownership, effort, self sacrifice and self reward. Traditional Conservatives support Free Enterprise.
The two biggest economic problems that need answers are how to create wealth and employment, if an economic system cannot provide answers to both it's not working. An economic system that provided the answer to one but not the other is simply not good enough. Why are they both important?
Because without creating wealth an economy cannot survive, it does not need constant growth but it does need more growth than contractions. A contraction is the oppose of growth, when the economy shrinks in size. Just as we are not constantly happy, the same applies to the economy and there are both good times and bad. When it is good the economy grows, when it is bad it contracts. The growth is required to allow for those times when the economy is not growing, we live off the fat that was produced in the good times. If there is constant contraction then it is only a matter of time before the economy dies, then it's bad times all round, the creation of wealth is that important.
Just as the creation of permanent employment is important, for without permanent employment there is no joy to be gained by creating wealth. Wealth should exist to solve problems not to create them and when society is unbalanced thats a problem. As I've said before it is not that some people are rich and others aren't that is the problem, we believe in different social classes, but that in a country of plenty there should not be people who are trapped out of the economy. The wealth should be enjoyed by as many as possible. That means that all social classes should benefit not only one social class. In short we believe in social stability and without permanent employment people cannot afford to marry or have a family, it is a great wrong to both the individual and to society as a whole. Permanent employment spreads wealth and allows people to be self sufficient.
Another thing we are quite keen on is small and local. A local business owned by locals, means that nearly all of the benefits from that business will accrue to the local community. The money spent in the business will support local jobs and most of the profit and wages will also be spent locally. Unfortunately that cannot always be said of large businesses. They accrue money from all over and it often goes far far away. But we also like practical and sometimes small and local is not practical. So we are not against large business just for the sake of it.
We do however believe that there should be a level playing field. That businesses no matter there size should be able to compete on an equal footing with any other business. That brings Government into the equation, Government has an important role to play in the economy. It should 1) set standards and enforce rules, 2) it should build and maintain infrastructure and the functions of Government and 3) it should control all monopolies.
There are some who say that Government is too overbearing and that it should mind it's own business, the problem is the economy is it's business. It relies on the efficient running of the economy to finance it, all taxation relies on a functioning economy. To be involved in the economy and to set rules and to enforce them is a legitimate role of Government.
Just as in society were we believe in a balanced society so we believe in a balanced economy. An economy that benefits the most amount of people and not just special interests. An economy that spreads wealth through employment and local ownership instead of through wealth redistribution. An economy that encourages both self sufficiency and community instead of dependency. These aims are not unreasonable or unrealistic and if they came to pass they would help keep alot of people happy and very few unhappy.....at least economically.
Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future