Friday, July 23, 2010

THE ACCIDENTAL CONSERVATIVE

Dispatches from San Juan by the blogger known as Teddy Roosevelt

I have long suspected it but recent events confirm it. Governor Christie is not a conservative. He is a pragmatist who has embraced some conservative ideas because he sees that they will solve problems he has identified.

I say this because a true conservative would not come up with a grand plan to save the Atlantic City gambling industry by a virtual State takeover. No a true conservative would tell the Casinos to tough it out. Learn to compete or close. A true conservative would sell the assets of the Sports Authority and disband it. A true conservative would get the State out of the Xanadu fiasco even at a loss. This is because a true conservative understands that the proper role of government does not include involvement in these types of ventures. A true conservative has a very restricted view of the role of government. A pragmatist still believes that with the right idea the government can fix the problem.

That a politician that claims to be a conservative is really a pragmatist is not an unusual occurrence. Even the stoutest Conservative sometimes slips into pragmatism. I have yet to meet anyone or read of any historical person who is ideologically pure as new fallen snow. For instance Assemblywomen Casagrande, who I generally admire, has consistently fought for the State to prop up the horse racing industry in various ways because she thinks having a horse racing industry is a good idea. In reality the market place should make that determination. Although, in fairness, most of her proposals lean towards a deregulation of sorts. I would also point out that there is much I do admire about the Governor. I particularly like his honesty about where he stands and his self assured attitude. He is certainly a better Governor then a lot of the alternatives. I just wish his ideological tendencies where stronger

While I would rather have a pragmatist then a liberal ideologue the problem with pragmatists is they sometimes think that a liberal idea, such as subsidizing a failing industry, is a practical idea. The benefit of a strong ideological grounding (at least the right one) is that it makes you step back and say is this really a good idea instead of saying later on, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I think one day we will look back on the Governors plan and many who support it will say it seemed like a good idea at the time. A believe a better approach is to stop digging and climb out of the hole. Let the casinos either figure out how to fill it or get swallowed by it. Either way I think the tax paying residents of this state will be better off in the long run because as a conservative I believe government is rarely the best answer.

5 comments:

Art Gallagher said...

Would the real Teddy have agreed?

TR said...

Excellent question.
I don't know. Is it fair to ask him that question? Was that an issue in the US at that time? Teddy dealt with a different set of issues in his time. I don't see Teddy as the type to advocate take over of industry as a solution to a probem.

Yes he was progressive in his day but progressive meant something different in those times. He was for government regulation of commerce. But government has always regulated human interactions. It must or Anarchy results. So just like the law says I can't murder my neighbor Teddy pushed laws that stopped corporations from selling bad food. I didn't say government is never the answer I said it rarely is. Today being a conservative means looking at government as the last solution where a pragmatist is going to look at it much sooner and a liberal will go to it first. On the other hand a libertarian which many people confuse with Conservatives never things government is the answer. He was a crusader against both political and corporate corruption. I have never seen anything to suggest he was not a capitalist. His philosophy of rugged individualism makes me think that if alive today he would belong to the Tea Party Movement. On the other hand if I had been alive when Teddy was I think I would have joined the Bull Moose Party. I don't see what Teddy did in his life time as being at odds with my personal view of conservatism is the best answer I can give to your question.

Art Gallagher said...

I haven't read Christie's plans re AC closely, but I don't think he is taking over the industry. I think he is taking over the government functions of the casino district.

My initial reaction was the same as yours. Why do we want government to do that?

But gambling in AC was born out of a constitutional amendment. It is heavily regulated. If what Christie is proposing is taking over the functions of the city, the county and authorities, which is what I think he is doing, there's still a debate to be had...but a different debate.

TR said...

You are correct and perhaps when I said virtual takeover my hyperbole went to far (and maybe not,lets see what happens).
The analysis is the same however. The State is taking action to save an industry in trouble.

They shouldn't do it. They want to cut down on the regulations fine with me otherwise stay the hell out of it.

Joe said...

‎35 years ago, we were promised that casino gambling would clean-up A.C. for good and provide a huge revenue stream that would stabilize taxes.

Here we stand in 2010 with A.C. still holding the title of armpit of the east coast and taxes continually skyrocketing. Also, the casinos became so powerful with the dem party that they blocked the racetracks from getting slots 8 years ago, sealing the horseracing industry's demise.

Something HAD to be done. Mind you, I don't know enough about the whole deal (haven't read the plan yet) to say that Christie's decision is the best decision, but I can say that it cannot possibly be any worse than what we've seen in A.C. since gambling was legalized.