Remember when Bush came into office with his “passionate conservative” slogan? Remember how that translated? Compassionate conservatism was Bush’s way of saying, “Hey, I’m for capitalism, but only up to a certain point, then I’m for socialism”. In politics, this is a “playing the whole field” approach. It appeases moderates who want to hear milquetoast language, liberals who want the social net, and conservatives who aren’t paying attention (hey, conservatism is in the name, it must be good).
Now Romney, who plays center field with the range of Willie Mays, ran into a criticism after he said that he “didn’t care about the poor”. I know, it’s an unfair media-biased statement taken out of context (he also said he didn’t care about the rich, but that’s not reported) but the political reality is that the media has defined this as heartless. In order to hedge his losses, Romney has turned to Bush’s “Compassionate Conservative” approach with a statement that supports raising minimum wage.
Now supporting a minimum wage increase is stupid. It doesn’t help the poor; it hurts them. This is why I have a problem with the whole premise of “Compassionate Conservatism”. Conservatism is the most compassionate form of government ideas we have. By simply forcing employers to pay a higher wage for their lowest paying jobs many have to either take a loss or hire less.
I’ve been on the losing end of a minimum wage increase. I worked for a construction company managing their in-house tool rental site for contractors. There were a lot of minimum wage “hands” that were used by this company for various jobs. In my area, the minimum wage workers cleaned up used tools, kept the area swept, put away returned tools, scaffolding, and various odds and ends. When the minimum wage increased a few of these hands were let go and I was forced to do their job on top of my own. I lost (more work for the same pay), and they lost (no work for no pay).
Conservatism’s compassion comes with the rules of capitalism. Most workers who make minimum wage are unskilled, young, and just starting to get into the work place. If you’re unskilled, then you start at minimum wage to learn a skill. If you work hard then you can convince your employer that it is more cost effective to keep you than it is to retrain someone else. If that doesn’t get you a wage increase, then you move to a business who wants your skill set or you try learning a more desirable skill set at a starting wage again. The point is that YOU have more control over your wage.
Liberalism says that government is best equipped to enforce wages. It doesn’t trust YOU to make the proper decisions or apply the proper work ethic to achieve higher earnings. Therefore, they have to come in every few years and change the bottom line for employers. Thing is, when government is constantly telling employers how much they HAVE to pay their lowest wage earners, then the employer is less likely to listen to their workers who ask for increased wages. Why would you increase the wages if the government is just going to raise it in a year or two anyway? Negotiation has been done away with along with any effort to self promote.
All of this breeds a community of workers that expect much for little effort. You can find a whole community of them “occupying” various parks and sidewalks in most cities. A few years ago you could find these same mind-set communities being organized by a man who now lives in a white mansion. Apparently Mitt heard about that and thought he would try that same approach. The problem is, the people he’s now pandering to aren’t going to vote for him anyway. Watching someone sell out is bad enough, but to sell out for free…That’s just not the sign of a good businessman.
We cannot let conservatism be hijacked by these liberals masquerading as true believers. It is important that we continue to stand up against liberalism, even when it is called conservatism. Of course, in order to do that, you must be able to tell the two apart.
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