Intelligent Conservatism for a Change

I recently ran across this piece in the conservative party news from Britain on a Blueprint for a green economy.

The Quality of Life Policy Group, chaired by John Gummer and vice-chaired by Zac Goldsmith, released their final report on Thursday morning. The Group have spent 18 months developing an agenda to make Britain a world leader on green growth by:

– Using markets to help create positive change
– Helping individuals change their behaviour
– Making industry use resources more efficiently

They have outlined a series of proposals to reduce pollution and improve the wider environment and quality of life.

Launching the report, John Gummer said, “If we are to create a way of living that can sustain, then water, waste, transport and energy, as well as farming, food, fishing and the built environment, have to be thought of as a whole.”

The political right in England has now issued a comprehensive policy statement that concedes that unrestricted capitalism is not an unmitigated positive for society.

The “law” of supply and demand is a quaint little rule of thumb. Unrestrained, yes, it would lead to the last fish being caught, the last drop of oil consumed, etc. But the situation is even worse than that. Much of the problem stems from the fact that it is commonly, if not mostly, cheaper to buy out competitors than it is to continue to compete with them. A major tendency of “free markets” is to create monopolies, so the maintenance of robust anti trust laws and enforcement is mandatory. The alternative is that fish, oil, etc. get used up even faster than would otherwise be the case.

Having anti trust laws in place means that, by definitions, markets cannot be totally “free”. What conservatives never like to admit is that markets that are not, and cannot be, free are not free markets. Instead, they just love to go around pretending that reality looks differently than it does. And we allow people like that to continue to play with the grownups.

It is a law of markets that they must be regulated. It is also a truism that there are many instances where limited regulation is better than a heavier hand of government would be. The nice thing about what’s happening is England is that the discussion about balancing these things intelligently can now occur, because there is a concession from the right that balancing is more appropriate than not.

If and when conservatives in our country ever grow up enough to agree that there is a legitimate role for government, and sometimes even a compelling interest in governmental involvement in life, then we can begin to have intelligent conservations on issues that they now insist be placed completely off limits.

Is it any wonder why there is often no real dialogue in this country?

Bookmark and Share

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.