The Philosophy of Politics (and faults)

The Philosophy of Politics.

I thought it would be interesting to produce a simplistic overview of what the political parties actually believe. At least it is the basis of a debate and I’m sure many people will put me right in my thinking. Although the parties in the States are not really compatible with the ones in the UK I have taken the liberty of lumping together the Republicans with the Tories and the Democrats with the Labour Party (I know…).

Both philosophies are flawed. In an election one has a choice between one or the other as there are only ever two real options.

Tory/Republican Philosophy

The basic philosophy is to give wealth to the wealth generators (who happen to be the wealthy) so that they can invest and create more wealth. In this way the country’s wealth becomes greater and that wealth trickles down to the rest of the population (via jobs created, increased salaries etc.).

They give tax cuts to the wealthy and the corporations. This increases investment and growth.

They restrict public service spending. They regard public services as unnecessary as they do not produce wealth. They see spending on schools, health, police, social services as detrimental to growth. They regard these services as parasitical and would prefer that they were privatised and run for profit.

They believe in the free market and privatisation. They believe in the power of the market in setting salary levels and prices. They believe competition is the best way to streamline production, make things cost efficient and keep prices down.

It is a system that largely favours the wealthy.

Faults with the Tory/Republican model
a. The money given away in tax cuts to the rich and corporations is not all invested in the country and does not all produce growth. Much of it goes towards investment abroad (in 3rd World countries with higher returns due to cheap labour and poorer working conditions), or is stashed abroad in tax evasion offshore funds.

b. The result of giving to the rich is that the rich become grossly wealthy and the level of inequality rises.

c. Greater inequality creates an unhappy society, more social unrest, crime and demotivation.

d. Trickle down does not always work. Instead of increasing salaries and benefits many employers merely increase their own profits and incomes.

e. Public services, while not directly producing wealth, do produce wealth indirectly. A well-educated population is more productive, a healthier population is more productive, if there is less crime there are more profits, a good social service system will provide a safety net but enable people to get back on their feet and productive again etc.

f. Competition does not always work. Either companies become huge monopolies or collude together to increase prices and create ever greater profits for themselves resulting in huge executive pay structures and bonuses.

The Labour Party/Democrat Philosophy

The basic philosophy is to create greater fairness and equality in society. They believe that the wealthy and corporations should be progressively taxed in order to pay for superior public services. They want to see ordinary people receiving better pay, working conditions and services. They want a society with greater equality. They want to see services such as power, water and transport nationalised, run by the people for the people without profit making. They do not believe in privatisation which they regard as running services to provide profit for a wealthy elite. They do not believe in the free market or trickle down. They believe in things such as a minimum wage, caps on pay and bonuses and stemming tax evasion.

It is a system that largely favours working people.

The Faults with the Labour/Democrat philosophy

a. If the wealthy and corporations are taxed too much they simply take their money elsewhere and move abroad.

b. If investment is reduced then growth is curtailed and there is less wealth to distribute.
c. If the cost of public services becomes too much it is a drain on investment and growth and the size of the cake diminishes.

d. If public services and nationalised industries are not subject to competition they can become bloated, lazy and less efficient and so provide poorer service. There is also a tendency for government to underfund them so that they perform less well.

e. If the minimum wage is too high or the caps on salaries too low it can cripple industrial performance and investment resulting in poor productivity, poor management and less growth.

In practice both parties have to moderate their philosophy in order to create a functioning economy. The art of government is to create a balance. If they get that wrong then there are major problems.

Presently, under the Republicans and Tories, we are seeing a crisis in all public services, increased privatisation and growing inequality.

If Labour or the Democrats get in there will be increased taxation and more funding for public services. There will be nationalisation and increased minimum wage. Inequality would become less pronounced. The danger is that could result in less investment and less growth.

The tendency is to yoyo between one and the other.

When it comes down to a choice I favour the Labour/Democrat model which I consider to be a fairer model and one that creates more social justice and a happier society.

I can’t help thinking that it shouldn’t be too difficult to create a political philosophy that works for everyone.

17 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Politics (and faults)

  1. I’m with you. The trick is to get off the idea that Economics is a science. It’s basis is a Malthusian mindset and an archaic belief in Social Darwinism. Science has degenerated into a wrongheaded religion, in the employ of money changers. I wish my Democrats here in the USA would all read a good book (Grapes of Wrath anyone?) and try to be useful.

    1. The Grapes of Wrath would be ideal wouldn’t it? Or The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. I think all our politicians are in thrall to the wealthy corporations who run the show. The question is how do we get them off that and back on to the people?

  2. Here in Canada, I’m a Liberal – closer to the Democrats than the Labour Party – but all three are similar. For me, the root issue is the breakdown of the democratic ethic. Concern for the Common Good got lost. The culprit is the dependence on corporate funding for election campaigns that leaves elected members in the pockets of the wealthy. A good start would be electoral reform – drastically shorten campaigns, ban TV advertising (Yay – no more attack ads) and allow lawn signs and paper pamphlets delivered door to door. There would be state organized candidate debates instead of costly party rallies. Ban large corporate fundraising – donors have to be private citizens and cap the $ amount they can donate. Once elected, members are beholding to no one except the people they were elected to represent. THEN… MAYBE… the common good might be discussed and addressed in a serious way.

    The way things are now, political platforms mean nothing if democracy is dead or dying. Great post, Opher!

    1. Thank you John – that all makes sense to me. If we take the megabucks out of the system we might just get politicians representing the people and not the corporations.

  3. As a person who made his living writing about political engineering, I must admit to a long and hearty laugh at the from the outset pairing of Tory/Republican vs Labour/Democrat.
    I fear the originator may have the intellectual capacity of a nine year old – at least with this subject matter. Those who replied were obviously good sports too kind to criticise or silently sympathetic well-wishers.

      1. But what principle? Since when were principles conceived as imaginary entities?
        How could you ever begin to think of even the slightest of correlated relationships here? I read that you are 69 years of age. How did you make it thus far?

  4. While I understand you were making generalizations, I have to disagree on many of the points you made here:
    1. Republicans do not believe it is detrimental to spend on schools, health, police and social services because it is detrimental to growth. As far as schools, many Republicans do not want to continue spending money on public schools only and believe there should be more options like charter schools. For health, that is a very complicated issue and the health system as a whole needs to be overhauled. The more that government subsidizes healthcare, the more expensive it seems to become and because of that fact, Republicans are leery when it comes to spending even more money on healthcare than the record levels we have already reached. I’m not sure where you got the police spending from since Republicans are known for their great support of all law enforcement officials who protect our citizens. Social services I can agree with, but not because it is detrimental to growth, but because they do not like handouts, not permanent ones at least. They believe in helping the needy on a temporary basis (or permanent if disabled, elderly etc.), but not continuing to support those who lack the motivation to support themselves.
    2. I’m not following your point on corporations making investments in 3rd world countries because of lower tax rates. Lower tax rates encourage companies to make investments at home. There is evidence of that by the recent Tax Cuts that were passed. Companies are opening more plants in the U.S., which is creating more jobs and they are also giving away bonuses, pay raises or better retirement incentives.
    3. I do agree with your point that some companies are allowed to become too large. However, it is hard to stop this from happening with laws against monopolies, since many of the large companies do not fit the definition of a monopoly. For example, Amazon is a huge company, but people are still able to buy goods online from other companies like Walmart, Target or other specialty stores. The thing I do not like about large companies is their ability to promote their political viewpoints from such a large platform. You can tell from Facebook and Google’s algorithms that the news stories they promote are obviously left-leaning.
    4. I have to admit that your point that democrats dislike privatization in favor of “superior” public services made me laugh a bit. Any public services that come to mind (public transportation in particular) are heavily regulated and do not allow for efficiency.
    5. I also had a bit of a laugh when you stated one of the primary focuses democrats have is stemming tax evasion. Take a look at this article on John Kerry, and you’ll see my point.

    I greatly appreciate you sharing your viewpoints on political matters and opening up the dialogue for conversation.

    1. Hi Erin – thanks for that.
      It is always difficult to generalise and apply politics to different countries. British and US politics do not really marry up.
      It is good to hear your views.

  5. I will throw a philosophy at ya for a modern system of Government ….Three words …OPEN SOURCE GOVERNMENT… In this age of communication the window has just opened for an opportunity like publicly powered decision making …by the people for the people like it was always intended ….the law of large numbers negates instances where crack-pots toss in their two-bits … Govt. staff and leaders would serve strictly administrative roles unless thay were employees at government ran business …. This is the answer …it can be done …This concept needs to gain momentum in terms of a popular concept … The seed must be planted …I bet it just hasn’t crossed the minds of many people, honestly as far as I know I was the first one to think of it and the more I chew on it …the more I see that it is the obvious answer … we need to get involved … grab destiny and evolve as a species …… Am I wrong?

    1. The only trouble is that it is so open to abuse – mass digital manipulations. Then you have the ignorance of much of the electorate to deal with. I don’t know. We certainly need to evolve as a species.

      1. True there would be challenges, as nature requires there to be, for when challenges cease to exist, growth ceases as well. If that day comes and we are less than gods, the species will weaken to extinction I fear. Reflect on the abuse currently though my friend. Our System has not been brought back to the drawing board so to speak in what … 2,400 years since first employed. I mean back to design phase with no constraints of bureaucratic labyrinths and irresistible faceless power forces. Politicians get in, if they are liked by bankers. Campaign promises? lol who keeps those. The role is spoiled by the power currently accompanying the title. Humans get drunk on that kind of power, it is not reasonable that a man have that much power over his fellow brothers and sisters born on this planet. I swear 3% of the people have 97% of the money, and if everything goes bad, the ones responsible for the billions of corpses laying around will be snug as bugs in rugs somewhere waiting it out! Now that gives me another idea … people should at least push for little little laws like “It is a capitol offense for any government official past or present to ever step foot in a bomb shelter or, survival bunker” … LOL. Then watch them start playing nice with others. Sorry I rattle on.

  6. Serious – well prattled – it is so true that the system is corrupt. Money rules. Politicians are bought and sold. The elite run the world for their own benefit. It an immoral world.
    Yes ban them from bolt-holes!
    But with a largely uneducated, not too intelligent and uninterested population where’s the change coming from?

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