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May 19, 2004

What Liberals Ignore

I get frustrated many times that most liberals equate progressive values with government spending, and ignore how politics effects the private sector - a frustration I share from the opposite end of the spectrum with many conservatives.

Kevin Drum thinks that for all the hype, the conservative movement has been a bit of a failure. Matt Y feels similarly.

  • The evidence?
  • Medicaid still exists
  • Gay rights have advanced
  • Education spending by the feds has increased

    All true, and I'm the first to argue that conservatives have been defeated on a number of fronts, especially on their goal of gutting the welfare state. (They've been distressed to discover how fundamentally popular it is).

    But still, this rosy picture ignores what the conservative agenda has accomplished in hurting working people in the private economy:

  • Rightwing appointments to the NLRB and the courts have helped destroy many unions, leading to a plummeting in union density.
  • Deregulation has devastated workers in a range of industries, from airlines to trucking to telecoms to the energy industry- just witness the ripoff of consumers in the California energy debacle.
  • The weakening of labor laws and their enforcement has opened the way for Wal-Mart and its ilk to drive down standards across the economy.
  • Antitrust laws have been gutted, leading to massive corporate consolidation in a range of industries, including the media.
  • Changes in banking laws have starved poor communities of credit, led to the rise of predatory lending institutions, and created a global casino in our financial markets.

    And the list goes on.

    There's a good argument that for the corporate wing of the GOP, all the fireworks over gay marriage and welfare is just a diversion, a way to collect votes, to pursue this pro-corporate agenda.

    So arguably, the mainstream conservatives may have been defeated in some of their goals, but the corporate wing-- which funded Ronald Reagan's rise to power -- has been quite successful.

    Posted by Nathan at May 19, 2004 09:09 AM