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.
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.