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GOP battles excesses of government, not the poor

Date published: 1/9/2014

I must rebut Harry Chipman's misguided letter of Dec. 17 ["Has GOP launched a war on the poor?"]. As Ronald Reagan said, "Facts are stubborn things, and the numbers don't lie." Conservatives give substantially more than liberals to charity every year. Republicans are attacked as not being compassionate for opposing government welfare programs, but that is a function of the GOP's belief in the proper role of government, not hostility to people in lower income brackets.

A quick look at income levels throughout the U.S. shows that the 20-some lowest-income states are red states, while most of the states above the median income level are reliably blue. These facts rebut the idea that conservatives as a people are anti-poor.

The definitive trait that distinguishes liberals from conservatives is itself a pro-poor stance. Conservatives believe the less government does, the less point there is to bribe government officials. Corrupt governments are the tools of the wealthy and powerful, while limited democratic government is responsive to voters. If a government doesn't impose onerous regulations or high taxes, or award contracts for various social programs, then there is less for the unscrupulous wealthy to buy, and their money will go elsewhere. So long as government has the power to be involved in people's lives and businesses, it will be a logical investment to try to buy favor. In that game, the poor always lose.

Bureaucratic corruptibility and ineptitude further underlie Republican opposition to government-controlled or -mandated universal health care. There is no such thing as "free" health care. You pay for it, yes, with taxes, but also with incremental decreases in personal liberty, and the government decides who will or will not get treatment, and how they should live in order to get that treatment, leaving those poor enough to depend on it screwed.

Ron Martineau