On economic matters, I tend towards the conservative side of the fence - though not for the reasons that most conservatives cite.
My reasons are that people with money and power are in the best position to manipulate government - the monopoly tool for the use of physical violence to achieve its ends - to their advantage. So, the best thing to do is to keep this force small so that we can better see what it is doing. Its actions are more transparent. The larger and more complex the system gets, the easier it is for wealthy well-connected but morally deficient individuals to manipulate the system - effectively using threats of violence to transfer wealth from people in the community into their pockets.
However, I have a major problem with the conservative movement in America.
We have here a group of people who have abandoned reason and evidence even on matters as solid as science - evolution and global warming.
They routinely rewrite history, replacing historic facts with ideologically pure historic fiction. We see this not only in their view that scripture is historically accurate, but in the fantasy stories they weave into the history of this nation's founding.
Even those who reject these fictions are willing to embrace a culture of irrationality and make-believe. They are unwilling to declare that there is any type of problem with people embracing fiction and trying to base real-world policies on fantasy-world beliefs. They make pandering to America's most ignorant a cornerstone of their political ambitions.
I would feel a lot more comfortable if those economic conservatives would embrace a culture of evidence and reason-based foundation for their economic conclusions, and demonstrate their respect for evidence and reason by rejecting arrogant, ignorant irrationality even when it comes to the defense of their conclusions.
Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of people who believe in the invisible hand of free enterprise feel that this is the invisible hand of God.
"They say the invisible hand of the free market is really God at work," says sociologist Paul Froese, co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey, released today by Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
(See Baylor Religion Survey reveals many see God steering economy.)
It's a miracle!
They have no understanding of economics, so they have no understanding of economic policy. When asked, "Why does this have that effect?" they answer here, as elsewhere, "God did it!" Meaning, "I am too stupid or too lazy to figure out what is really going on and base policy on a solid understanding of the subject matter."
Their "policy" is to view anything that political and business propagandists tell them is "not free market" as a form of blasphemy which - to the best of their understanding - offends God, so must be opposed. And because of their ignorance even of free-market principles, it is too easy to convince them that even anti-free-market activities (e.g., allowing companies to contaminate the air with chemicals that harm other people and destroy their property) can be made holy in their eyes.
"When Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann say 'God blesses us, God watches us, God helps us,' religious conservatives get the shorthand. They see 'government' as a profane object — a word that is used to signal working against God's plan for the United States. To argue against this is to argue with their religion."
Even here, where I am disposed to accept some of the conclusions of a conservative economics, I find myself surrounded by ignorant irrationalities. This, in itself, is enough to make me wonder whether my own acceptance of those conclusions can actually be put on a solid and rational footing.
Not everything an arrogant, irrational, uninformed person believes is wrong - it's just poorly founded. But arrogant, irrational, and uninformed policy making is still extremely dangerous even if, entirely by chance, every once in a while it is accidentally correct.