What Makes Us Tick?

February 7, 2005

By Tom DeWeese

Our nation, indeed our world has become much polarized in the right/left spectrum. People now are categorized in one camp or the other based on certain ideas. We live in a world of sound bites.

For example, today, if you attack the irrationality of the actions of the United Nations, you’re a “black helicopter kook.” If you support the idea that government should stay out of your bedroom you’re anarcho-lefty. There is confusion. The sound bites and instant labeling boxes us in and keeps us apart. If the shouting were to calm down, perhaps we might all find that the left and the right have some very common ideas.

For example, recently I received an email from a reader named Stuart, a Canadian. In his message Stuart said, “I’m a lefty and often look around for what it is that makes conservatives tick. So I’m no friend of yours, but on the ID cards I agree.”

Stuart went on to describe how ID cards (already in place in Canada) may soon be used in that nation to create dossiers on each citizen for the purpose of tracking consumer purchasing in order to aid business marketing. “I mean,” Stuart asked, “how naïve could someone be to believe that it wouldn’t be a data snooper bonanza?” And then he finished his note saying, “And you are absolutely right. This would have zero effect on terrorist activities,” referring to one of my articles on the subject.

Here is my response to Stuart, picking up on his puzzlement of what actually makes conservatives “tick.” Stuart, you may find that we actually have quite a bit in common. Keep in mind that there are all kinds of conservatives just as there are all kinds of liberals. We don’t all agree even if we fall into one of those categories.

What makes conservatives tick is the desire for freedom. We believe that granting government the power to control any aspect of our lives, even a program that sounds worthwhile, surrenders freedom because the government will always strive for more control. Once the door is open there is no stopping it.

Stuart, your example of the intrusion of ID cards for marketing purposes could never be done by a private business without having the force of government behind it. In the world of free markets, business would be controlled by the consumers. If a business uses practices that are harmful to consumers or to the communities in which they operate, then people have the power to stop shopping there. The business then must either change its ways or go out of business.

In the world of big government, businesses care less about the customers and cater more to the hands that control the power and public treasury. In that way, business can buy its way into government protection and destroy its competition.

Today, through a program called Sustainable Development, which creates partnerships between government and business, certain selected companies are allowed on the inside of the power bubble, while others are forced to exist outside.

The insiders get special privileges, using the power of eminent domain, for example, to get prime land and low rates to build their stores. They can control the market, not with superior products or service, but with the money coerced from taxpayers and all of the power provided by government, backed by police forces, courts and jails.

However, as a society, we have accepted the mantra that free markets are bad and must be controlled by government. As a result, reason has been sacrificed for the drive for power. Remember, only a very few can hold such power at the expense of the rest of us. The adverse consequences of such power are wrongly blamed on capitalism. Powerful companies that are backed by the force of government, destroying competitors, are not practicing capitalism. This is why conservatives stand in support of free enterprise and in opposition to government being used in such a manner.

And such abuses of government power are not just in the immediate market place. Today we are told that we must accept the UN’s Kyoto Climate Change treaty even though most parties involved agree that it will have no effect on climate change, but will have a devastating effect on national economies, particularly ours in the US.

The Kyoto treaty is really about creating a new international economy in partnership with some selected big businesses and undeveloped nations at the expense of others. Some argue that such policy is fair and necessary for our protection. Conservatives disagree with such policy.

Some argue that government power is the only way to protect the environment. And so today we have the Endangered Species Act that is so punitive to property owners, that any who find themselves unfortunate to have an endangered species on their land are forced to “shoot, shovel and shut up” in order to survive sure destruction by the government if the species is discovered.

This does nothing to protect the species, but to even discuss fixing such bad law is shouted down by the elite who use the law to maintain their power base that has become more important to them than the stated purpose of actually protecting endangered species.

Though the sound bite kings would argue that such policies are the fault of liberals, the fact is both political parties are guilty. Both parties have accepted the premise that it is proper government conduct to loot the public treasury as long as it’s in the name of their favored program.

Conservatives argue that the only way to protect the rights of citizens in this nation is through limited local government that is held in check by the local electorate. The farther away government gets from the people, the easier it becomes for government to ignore their rights. Conservatives believe that limited, controlled government is the only effective government.

Government, through unlimited taxation, is empowered to control our private land; inject political propaganda into our schools; control our medical system—forcing costs to explode; track our every movement with national ID cards; dictate our food choices in restaurants; control the rearing of our children; and invade foreign nations without the approval of elected representatives. With eyes glassed over from drunken power, government ignores reason and it ignores liberty.

Conservative opposition to government spending programs doesn’t stem from a lack of compassion for the unfortunate as some claim. Rather, it’s because we have compassion that others may live their lives as they choose and use their wealth in the way they choose. In short, we believe in the power of free individuals and fear unbridled power in the hands of others. That, Stuart, is what makes us tick.

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.