Posted by: jackslife | March 30, 2009

British Conservatives on to Something?

One of the biggest internal conflicts that I have had over the last few years has to do with juggling my belief in the free market with my loathing of big box retail and bloated corporations.  I am deeply inclined to support local over national, and I am far more hostile to big business than many of my fellow conservatives.  My personal crusade has been to find a way to justify my localist tendencies within the framework of the free market, and although they may not be all the way there, it seems that the Tories in the UK has come much closer than the Republican party in the US.  Rod Dreher posts this on the subject, and he excerpts this article by Sasha Issenberg.

My question with the Tories, or with the ideas of “Crunchy Conservatives” is, “what specific policies could be put into place to facilitate the kind of local community that is better for it’s people?”  Up to this point I have mostly just accepted the fact that there are no policies that can do this and remain consistent with fiscally conservative ideals.  On a certain level I think that there is still some truth to this.  At some point what is required is self regulation and self restraint on the part of individuals.  Still, it seems that there are some policy decisions that the Tories are making that could be used as a guide by the American conservatives, should they decide they are willing to divorce themselves from the service of big business.

Here are some free market solutions that the Tories are proposing –

The British Conservatives’ plan to preserve local newspapers is merely deregulation of media ownership, keeping local post offices open is an initiative to decentralize government services, and what lies at the heart of their campaigns to save shops and pubs are classic Republican-style tax cuts.

I think that all of these elements are well within the arena of modern conservative fiscal policy.  Deregulation is certainly a conservative value, as is decentralization of government services.  Tax cuts are as well, but I wonder what my conservative friends would have to say about tax cuts targeted at supporting local businesses.

Can modern American conservative ideas be justified with a communitarian, localist movement?  I recognize that there are some key differences between UK conservatism and US conservatism, so maybe they can’t.  If so, what are some other ideas that would both preserve free markets, and benefit small and local businesses and communities.  I would be interested to know what some other conservatives think about this topic.  I would also be curious to hear some discussion about whether it might be in our best interest to limit highly centralized corporations, just as much as it is to limit a highly centralized government.  I personally see the health of small and local businesses as providing greater stability to the economy than a system of hugh mega corporations.  I think that the current economic crises supports this point, although it is hard to say whether this can really be extended beyond the financial services world.  Feel free to simply state that you think I’m wrong and that you don’t think that localism is even a desirable goal if that’s your opinion.

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Responses

  1. I probably do not keep up with all this as much as you do, but I don’t really think of US conservatives as being in favor of “big business” at the expense of small businesses. Conservatives have been labeled as friends of big business by liberals, but I think it would be more accurate to describe us just as “friends of business” (the left seems to be enemies of even small, local businesses).

    Personally I tend to believe in thinking of these things in terms of incentives. I’m all for reducing the costs, risks, taxes, etc associated with starting a small business. I’m not as comfortable with your proposed regulations/disincentives towards “mega corporations.” It seems to me that rules like that would really only lead to creative corporate structures, etc designed to get around the rules when a business reaches whatever size is determined to be “too big.”

    I’ve heard statistics like 80% of new jobs are from small businesses, and like I said I’m really all for making it easier to build a business, but I don’t really buy that big companies are evil. Think of the wealth, jobs, growth, even the number of small business like our employer generated by one big company – Microsoft.

    I think the current crisis is probably more attributable to the incentives that arose for giving loans to people who couldn’t afford them than to the size of the businesses involved. Also from what I’ve read about it all something as simple as regulation of credit default swaps could have saved us from a lot of this trouble.

    Anyway, I haven’t read your links yet or thought about this much but I thought I’d give you my initial/gut reaction.

    • Thanks for the reply Matt. I may have given a little bit of the wrong impression. I don’t think that big companies are evil, at least not all of them. My personal dislike for big box retail has less to do with it being evil than the effects that I think it has on local business and communities. I am also inclined to think that local businesses have more accountability within the community, and as such tend to have incentives to work in the communities best interest. I do recognize that there are a number of good things about these larger businesses, and I don’t think that they should be regulated out of business or anything like that. I’m more interested in policies that support small business.

      I do think that conservatives here have made it a priority to support big business. That might be part of a larger desire to support business in general, but I think that there has still been an effort to support larger corporations. I also think that both parties have supported policies that make it more difficult to run a small business. I’ll use the example that I have been reading about recently, which is agriculture. There are a number of regulations on agriculture that when applied without regard for size, are punishing small farms. The large farms are able to absorb the costs of accommodating the regulations far more easily than the small farms. This is especially frustrating because the large farms are the ones creating the problems that lead to the regulation. Personally, I think that we need to remove the federal regulations on these businesses, and both Republicans and Democrats have been responsible for these regulations.

      I agree with you that incentives would be a more useful solution than regulations. I didn’t mean to say that we should regulate or give disincentives to mega corporations. In fact, the British example that I gave was the deregulation of newspapers. I tend to favor regulation coming at state and local levels where possible. I think that the area that I’m most concerned about businesses getting too big in would be the financial industry. I think that the businesses that were “too big to fail” were also too big for the financial security of our country. If any business is going to have to be bailed out to save our economy if they fail, it seems to me that it would be better to just not allow that company to get to be that big in the first place. I know that’s not very free market, but I think it might be more free market than the government having to tip toe around the fringe of nationalization of that company later.

      I’m sorry that I started out by claiming that I have a “loathing” for big business. 🙂 I really just have a very strong preference for local business. I do have a mistrust of big business, but I think it’s the same mistrust that I have of big government. You are correct though, businesses like Microsoft provide a lot of jobs around the country, including mine. I think that’s great. I don’t want to punish those people. Given the choice, I will go to Daybreak (local coffee shop) over Starbucks, but that is a personal choice, and I would like to see local business have a fighting chance against big business.

      I think we are in agreement about what methods should be used. I’m mostly just trying to think about what policies can be put in place, or removed in some cases, to benefit local businesses. I shouldn’t use such strong language about my feelings about big business, because I don’t want to target them for destruction or anything. I certainly don’t want policies in place that give them preferential treatment over local businesses though, and I probably would also support some incentives for small business.

  2. I think that there are a few things that could be done by Conservatives to help small and local business. I was going to make the same point about regulation of the farming industry… Washington seems to treat business the same when it comes to regulating, eventhough it’s clear that many of the regulation needed for larger corporations are not necessary to small business and ultimately hurts the smaller.

    I don’t feel that big business is evil, but I don’t believe for a moment that it cares about people. Big Business will always do what is best for it’s own profit regardless of the affect to the consumer, community or environment. We’ve seen countless examples, when business is poor corportians begin layoffs or will raise prices to consumers before cutting into their profit margin.

    Of course that doesn’t mean all small business is run by a bunch of saints, but I do feel that they are more likely to be more concerned for people and community because they live there. They have relationships with people and are much more invested in the common good of the community.

    I prefer to support local business when possible and I would support laws that would help strengthen them. My biggest gripe with these huge companies, is the influence they have in our political system because of the mega bucks they have to throw around. Politians all accept money from these business and go to bat for them on Capital Hill, even if they realize it’s not what’s best for the people. They’ve gotta pay the favor back somehow.

  3. I am not sure what exactly these British guys are doing that you like so much, outside of deregulating newspapers and cutting taxes. I am for both deregulation in general and tax cuts in general. If you would expand on what they are really doing outside of that and ad campaigns that might help me understand.

    I think that in general the free market regulates itself nicely and if left alone will adjust itself properly. That being said, some regulation is needed to keep things balanced out.

    As to Ben’s point about wanting to have some laws to keep companies from getting to big, I believe there are already laws to protect us from that, they are Anti-Trust Laws. I have some doubt if these laws are being enforced properly, but we already have what we need to keep companies getting to big to fail.

    I heard Rick Santelli tell CNBC that: “We need regulation and the best regulation I’ve ever heard of is Failure. If you take failure out all the other regulations don’t do very well.” (Here’s the video: http://www.eyeblast.tv/public/checker.aspx?v=ydkUaGeuQu)

    I support business. Large, medium or small I think they all should be treated as a positive for our economy. Big business does all sorts of great things for people in communities that small business can’t and vice-versa. I can point out town after town that has been decimated by the loss of a big company and others that have been greatly helped by the arrival of large corporations. Often times this big companies are the “anchor” for the small business in the area. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

    As to Chad’s point about business’ who don’t care about people, THE point of running a business is to make money. Otherwise you are running a ministry or non-profit. Unfortunately, that sometimes requires companies to lay people off or to raise prices to keep up their profits. If a company doesn’t make money then it will fail(it should anyway) and then everyone at the company loses their job and the shareholders lose all the investment capital they put in. It seems like a heartless deal, but it’s way better to lay off a few or raise prices than for the entire company to fail. All business go through that small, medium or large, it happens. It’s part of the risk of business.

    As far as small/local business, if a local government wants local business to succeed they have ways, such as tax incentives, to help the local economy. There are prime examples of State and Local governments that are making huge errors in they policies that are causing business to leave and take their business out of town and out of state. See Michigan, California, and New York as some examples.

    As far as big business having too much “influence” over politics, it’s not on the big business’ to stop that, it’s on the politicians to have some back bone to do the right things.

    Overall I think that Conservatism isn’t in need a big change or “new” ideas, but it’s in need of someone to promote the REAL ideals of being a conservative. Part of those ideals, include allowing the free market to work, but at the same time having checks and balances to make sure that both large and small companies have a good shot to make it.

    Let me say in conclusion that I hope the Brit’s well. I also support and am glad you all support local business. Feel free to support my small business anytime, we take cash and checks. Now that I’ve spent my too much of my time thinking and writing this very long response I will get back to being capitalistic.

    • Stephen, you make some good points. It reminds me of G.K. Chesterton’s quote that, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” In general I think that this is what you are saying about conservatism, and I think that you are correct. The problem is that I think that modern conservatives have largely neglected a lot of what conservatism has traditionally meant.

      In regards to your point that the free market regulates itself, I think that this is generally true. I think part of the problem is that we have too much monkeying around with the market, and that the free market hasn’t really existed in quite a while. I was listening to a podcast that is from NPR called Planet Money, and they had a clip from a debate in which Nouriel Roubini talked about the “Greenspan Put“, something I’m not nearly qualified to explain but that certainly seems to represent a perceived removal of the failure risk based on Fed intervention. I think that your quote from Santelli speaks to this.

      You asked what I like that the British are doing. I think that they are approaching public policy from a far more community oriented standpoint than American conservatives. I view our nation as a spiral, starting with the individual and then radiating out to the family, the neighborhood, the community, the state, and so on. You can add however many steps you want to, but my point would be that I think that for each one of these elements to be healthy, the blocks beneath it have to be healthy. I would support policies that strengthen the center of the spiral, families and communities, because I think that this leads to stronger elements further out. In most cases I think that this just means that the federal government should get out of the people’s way, but I think that there are some federal issues that have a profound effect on communities. I think that “free trade” is an issue that has effected a lot of local communities. I think that agriculture policy is another area. Regulations and subsidies in a number of industries have really stacked the deck against local businesses, which I think harms the community. In short, British Conservatives seem to be focusing on strengthening communities, while American conservatives are mocking the idea of community.

      I do appreciate the viewpoints that have been submitted so far. I’m honestly not trying to launch an attack on the free market here. I am just trying to piece together a way that conservative and localist policies can be justified to each other practically speaking, and I saw some promise in current British Conservative ideas.

  4. Stephen, I agree with a lot of what you said, but there were a couple of statements you made that I’d like for you to clarify, because I think I’m misunderstanding what you’re trying to say.

    You say that the free market should basically be left alone to regulate itself in the private sector. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this line of thinking, but then you totally absolve big business from any responisbility when it comes to the role they play in politics because “it’s on the politicians to have some back bone to do the right things.” I realize the circumstances aren’t exactly the same, and I think a lot of Conservatives would probably agree with you, but I don’t understand why big business gets a free pass in this situation?

    Also, I disagree that “THE point of running a business is to make money. Otherwise you are running a ministry or non-profit”. There’s no debating that you need some type of profit to remain in business, but I don’t believe that every person that starts a business is out only to make money. Particulary smaller business such as Dance Studio’s, Bakery’s, Musical Instructors are just a few off the top of my head. Of course there are people in this line of work and similar fields that have indeed made a lot of money from the profession, but I don’t know that was the primary objective when they opened their business. I believe there are a lot of people that start those types of business because they’re passionate about what they’re doing and they get satisfaction from the work and service they provide to the community rather than making tons of cash. There are people like this all across the country that aren’t simply in business for profits as I feel that the majority of big business obviously are.

    When I said that these large corporations always do what’s best for their bottom line despite the effect on the community, employee’s etc…I meant they’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure that those at the top make just as much if not more than the year before. The top exectutives don’t take pay-cuts even when business is down, but they’ll gladly hike up prices and lay off people you desparetly need their jobs. Absolutely it is necessary sometimes (even in smaller business) but I think it’s a lot easier to make the decision to fire someone from your nicely furnished boardroom than to actually have to look someone in the eye and tell them yourself.

    I also wonder where exactly we draw the line with what is acceptable behavior from big business in the name of “making a profit”. I think that’s where big business gets preferential treatment…so much is accepted because expansion and profits are always viewed as good. Regardless of how people, politics, or environment (not global warming) can be negatively effected.

    What exactly is “Conservative” about big business?

    I know this really came off as anti-corporate rant, but I honestly would like to understand this thinking. I don’t despise all big business and I do acknowlege they do good things and provide benficial services to people across the country. Shoot, we shop a lot at Wal-Mart and you don’t get much bigger than that! 🙂

  5. Ben, I agree that Conservatives need to have the community in mind when making policy decisions. However, I’m not sure that helping the community and helping small/local business go hand in hand. The most obvious point of this is in retail. If a local retailer gets put out of business by a larger store because that larger store can bring quality goods at a lower price for the local consumer is that good or bad for the community? I would argue, while it’s hard on the local retailer, it’s beneficial for local consumers and local economy. Consumers are getting the same products for a lower cost and thus have more money to spread around the rest of the local economy. Needless to say, this doesn’t apply across the board. That being said, my point about local governments making it more advantageous for business to thrive in their town/city would help a community to have a strong economy. Of course a strong economy doesn’t necessarily lead to a strong community. I like the idea have having a strong community that benefits families and individuals.

    Chad, as to your question about hold big business accountable for their part in the political process, first off, free market will and has worked. I’m not sure if you were questioning that or not. As to me “absolving big business from any responsibility when it comes to the role they play in politics”, what do you think should happen?

    The thing with the government that we have is that people, weather it be in business or as a group or as individuals, have sway in government. There is no legitimate way to overcome this, nor would I want to. As I understand it you have a problem with business’ getting favors and things of that nature from a politician they’ve contributed to. I can see how this would be upsetting. However, if you take away a business’ ability to lobby and contribute to a politician, you take away their voice as Americans to a certain extent. If you were going to do that to a business, you’d then have to take away any special interest group being able to have any influence, such as the PETA or my parents organization THSC. You are then telling these people that they can not influence the political process other than voting. My dad can’t go to Austin and lobby that they keep homeschooling legal and a animal lover couldn’t give money to a candidate that supports not selling/making fur. At this point you would have one group of people left who had real sizable influence, individuals. Of course not all individuals have the same clout as others. So you’d end up having somebody like George Soros, Warren Buffet, or Rush Limbaugh commanding a lot more influence than they already have, due to their wealth and standing. Thus to make it fair you’d have to somehow make it impossible for them to get their personal agendas to politicians.

    Realistically, you can not make it impossible for business, special interest groups and individuals to have influence. It’s been this way for all of history. The nice thing about our system is that anybody can have influence. The thing is this, I have a right to support somebody that I believe in and agree with. Both personally and professionally. In the same way a business should be allowed to support whomever they like. Just so you know, most big business contributes to both Democrats and Republicans. Both liberals and conservatives are benefiting from this. It’s not a one way street.

    As far as “THE point of running a business is to make money”, perhaps I should have said the objective or goal is to make money. You’re right, lots of people get into business for other reasons than to make money. However, if they want to STAY in business they have to make money. Doing what you love for a living may be a part of the reason why you do it, but ultimately you have to bring in profit or else you go broke and starve…or at least get on welfare. If you run a business for profit (not a non-profit), by definition you are out to make a profit. Regardless of your “primary” objective, if you don’t make money you will no longer have any objectives.

    As far as big business doing whatever is best for their bottom line, that’s the point. A business there to make a profit for the owners/shareholders. This is a Biblical principal. Matthew 25:14, the master gives 3 servants different amounts, 2 of them get a 100% profit and they other just buries his and doesn’t make anything. He doesn’t lose it either, but that’s not good enough for the master. The 3rd servant not only loses he’s talent, he gets tossed out into the darkness. Clearly the master had invested in his servant and expected a return on this investment, just as share holders do with a business.

    You asked what is conservative about big business. It is free market and capitalism that are conservative principals. In these arenas you want to have the most efficient business. Sometimes this means a small company is more efficient, other times you need a large company in order to be the most efficient. The idea of letting the market dictate what is the most efficient rather than the government is what is conservative.

    Sorry this was so long winded. That’s what happens when you write something over 3 days. I appreciate y’all being willing to discuss this. Hopefully one of these days we can get together and have some good discussions.

    • Okay, this is where I get off the bus. 🙂 Stephen, you know I love you, but I think much of what you said here is in lock step with the problems I have with current mainstream conservatism. You have boiled down conservatism to be an essentially libertarian economic/fiscal proposition, without regard for the deeper aspects of what the word conservative means. That being said, I think that might be a topic for an entirely separate post, as I don’t think that I can present my thoughts on conservatism in a comment.

      I have several issues with your view on big business strengthening communities. The first is that, as you admitted; simple economics are not the measure of a strong community. In fact, I think that what you would be arguing for there is called materialism. Even in your comment, you have turned man into a simple consumer. The second issue that I have with this argument is that I don’t even think that it is necessarily true economically. You are basing your entire argument on cheap goods. You ignore the fact that you have replaced several business owners who make a good living, hire some local folks to work in their shop, spend a decent amount of their money in the community, with a single central corporation that likely brought in management from outside the community, pays their employees peanuts, and takes a good portion of the money outside the community to shareholders in other places. It’s possible that the town makes more money in taxes in this situation (and I’m not even sure about that), but I don’t know that there is really a net gain to the economic status of the community, and you have certainly replaced a few middle class jobs with a number of lower class ones. You have centralized the earning potential to one business where it used to be spread between 6 or 7. I have heard of cases where Wal-Mart moved into a small town, set up a store that put a bunch of local businesses out of business, and then Wal-Mart shuts down the store, leaving a virtual ghost town behind. And that’s just from the economic perspective. Culturally you have stripped the community of some of what made that community different from any other over developed suburb in America. I could go on, but I think that my point was just that it’s not clear that big retailers necessary improve a community overall.

      I don’t even know what to say about your defense of lobbyists. I don’t have a problem with organizations like THSC lobbying, given that this is the world that we live in. I don’t really think that our government would suffer greatly from the elimination of lobbyists in general though. Your argument seems to be that it’s ok for small farmers all over the country to be forced to close their farms because we have to preserve Monsanto’s right to hire lobbyists who dictate our agricultural policy. What you are talking about is a system that allows groups with deep pockets to have a louder voice than the average citizen. I recognize that you still have powerful individuals who can influence things, but there is no reason that our country should be run behind the scenes by large corporations. I’m not sure what steps should be taken to reduce the impact of lobbyists within our system, but I don’t see how you can claim that this is good for our society or for the people.

      I do think that you are correct that some businesses function better in scale. Matt made some similar points in a great email that I may share later if he doesn’t post on it. I’m not opposed to big business, and I think your previous comment about big businesses having the potential to be a very good thing for a community is true. 3M supplies something like 600 jobs to the people of Brownwood. That’s a good thing. I think these big businesses can even serve to help give a community identity. What do we think of when we think of Detroit or Pittsburgh? There has definitely been a cultural identification with industry in those places, in the same way that we think of agriculture when we think of Kansas or Nebraska.

      Again, I mean no animosity in these comments.  I would love to get together and discuss this over a good cigar sometime. Everything goes better with a cloud of smoke and a good beer.

  6. Ah ….Stephen…I’m not sure where to begin.

    First I’ve got to start with the whole “big business doing whatever is best for their bottom line” as a Biblical Principle, which, in my opinion, is misguided at best. I should clarify that when I say “whatever is best” I mostly refer to unethical or unmoral actions taken by these corporations all to increase their profit. This also includes putting money ahead of people in the sense that they would rather fire people (I feel like a broken record) or inflate prices, in effect cheating people to maintain their excessive profits. Not unlike the tax collectors in Jesus’ time. Zacchaeus made a comfortable life for himself, but he accomplished this through unethical behavior and upon his conversition repayed what he’d taken from people, plus interest. Yes, I realize not all big business makes money in this manner, (smaller and local business can be run by cheats as well) but it would be naive to think this doesn’t happen on a consistent basis. Also in the very parable you mention Stephen, verse 28-29 says “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” So if I took those two verses couldn’t a person make a case that God supports the redistribution of wealth, but from the poor to the wealthy? I don’t believe that parable actually is speaking of earthly wealth seeing as how Jesus was always trying to get people to focus on the eternal. In verse 31 Jesus speaks of His return and judgement of the nations…

    My point is; the Bible again and again discourages or condems the practice of only looking out for one’s own self-interest. We are constantly encouraged to think of others more than ourselves. A corporation, while not a person, has a primary purpose to see to its own well-being and fortune at any and all cost, which goes directly against Biblical principle. Not that God would have everyone to be poor and run charity-oriented business, but he wants us to rely on Him to provide, not to take confidence in our business models and how capitalistic we are. Look at the man that Jesus spoke of in Luke 12, a rich man who’d acquired a great deal of wealth retired and thought he would “take life easy” God called him a fool for “storing up things only for himself”. If the primary purpose of business, specifically big business (due to the removal of the human element) is only to do what’s best for its self, that is not and CANNOT be Biblical.

    As far as free market capitalism, I’m not debating it’s effectiveness. I support it and don’t want to see it drastically changed, but it is certainly not a perfect system, seeing as how nothing man-made can be.

    Second, my main point with big business and their role in political lobbying is they have a considerably louder voice than my own. Yes I do realize that both parties are on the receiving end of contributions from large corporations…that’s why I said ALL politicians accept money from them and subsequently make their agenda’s priority over the people’s. To your point of “Realistically, you can not make it impossible for business, special interest groups and individuals to have influence. It’s been this way for all of history” Are you saying the Founding fathers intended for large multi-national business to have a larger and more prominent voice than the common man? Taking away a mega business’ (I keep changing to keep it fresh 🙂 ability to make huge contributions and have special access and lobbying ability does not ”
    take away their voice as Americans” they all as individuls can make their voice heard like anyone else. Yes certain individulas would potentially have an advantage in this scenairo, but I find it preferable to our current system. In fact, I think that ALL campaign contributions should be capped and limited to minimise the ability of business or any individual to get special benefits. Perhaps then we could address the issues facing us and not merely have laws based upon who does a better job of wining and dining our elected officials. I don’t have a problem with individuals sharing their opinion, even if it’s in support of big business, but they should not have a advantage over anyone else…call me crazy.

    I know we’re on different sides of the issue here and it’s honestly not my intention to be argumentative. I’m trying to see it from your perspective, but I just can’t right now. I don’t want to remove big business, but I do think they have to much influence and I don’t see how reducing that is bad for America.

    Sorry Ben, I know that you didn’t really intend for this to turn into a fight about big business, but I couldn’t help myself.

  7. Shoot. I wanted to get my post in before Ben.

  8. I’ll tell y’all what, I don’t have time to type up another reply today. So in place of that I’d like to know what changes y’all would like to see to change this system that is so broken. Can you come up with a way to make stronger communities and to limit the influence of big business? Let me hear it.

    • Lol, I don’t know how much I’ll have in the way of practical solutions, since that’s sort of what started this whole conversation in the first place. I have come up with some ideas through this conversation though, so I’ll try to get those posted at some point. I’m pretty sure all of us have spent more time than we had planned on this conversation, and I do appreciate your thoughts. I will just state again here that I don’t think that the whole system is screwed, but I think that Chad’s point that it’s not perfect is the best way to put it.

  9. I’m not sure I’m doing a good job communicating my point through these posts. Maybe we should all just sit down sometime have a smoke and a drink and share our thoughts…

    I will say this; I’m not arguing that the system is totally broken and I know how to fix it and what laws need to be added or removed. I think a lot of what I’ve been pointing as wrong has more to do with the depravity of man over the laws of the land. If people would begin to look at each other — specifically in busines — as people again and not simply as a consumer, or employee or what have you, that would help a great deal in my estimation. Part of the appeal to me (I believe Ben agrees) is the personal relationships that result from doing business with other local’s of your community. Not to say that I have done a great job of this to date, but I’m trying to improve. If the country began to return to the value’s of treating each other as equals in place of numbers or sales in our business relationships, decisions would be made differently. That’s my point…local business is less likely to pollute the environment, or out-source jobs just to save money because they understand the effect on the people in their community. They are also much more likely to invest their profits back into the community in some way. There are no laws to enforce something like this, it’s just a priniciple. I also simply cannot subscribe to the idea that business expansion and profit is always a positive thing and is never to be questioned. I don’t think that makes me anti-capitalist, or maybe it does, I don’t really know.

    I’ve already stated part of what I feel would help to limit excessive influence over politicians. Admittedly, I haven’t given the matter a great deal of consideration and I’m sure you can poke holes in my position faily easily. I do believe that any way to limit the financial contributions would be welcomed, along with more transparency from the politians to make known who they receive funds from. Again, without having done the research, I think that elimination of lobbyist’s in general would be a good thing. Then try to find a forum where anyone who would like to participate would have an opportunity to be heard along with those who would lobby for a special interest group or business. I’m sure you’ll be able to point out how short-sighted this line of thought is.

    I would still like to hear you go back answer some of the questions posed to you in the last couple of posts and not just take apart my suggestions. 🙂 Seriously thanks for your opinions and for continuing to share them despite being “out-numbered” for a change. It’s nothing at all personal, I’m just trying to learn and figure out where I stand.


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