". . .those who are disabled from work by age and invalidity have a well-grounded claim to care from the state."
Otto von Bismarck 1881
I would assume that Bismarck’s conservative credentials are well intact, and one would hardly accuse him of being a running mate of Hillary Clinton let alone Bernie Sanders. Yet Bismarck’s ideas of the obligation of the state to support the people, or “Volk”, is undeniably left of both Hillary and Bernie. Unlike Hillary, Bismarck not only saw social security as a pragmatic political expediency, but he thought that social security and the state’s safety net for the “Volk” was critical for the state legitimacy. Bismarck was also wily and knew that social security and other social services would take the legs out from under the socialist by once eliminating concerns for baseline survival, the innate patriotism of the conservative platform would resonate with the people. It did and allowed the monarchy to stay in power until the tragedy of WW I – which Bismarck also warned against.
Taking Bismarck as the “gold standard” for a thoughtful conservative policy platform, perhaps some insights can be gained by the Republicans in this election year. What is more, until the Republicans honor the rights of every American to health, education, basic welfare and retirement – to honor the ability of the American people to honor the “pursuit of happiness – they are not conservative in any thoughtful sense but merely the henchmen to rentiers to maintain current value purchasing power and forestall inflation for the rentier wealth.
The GOP must return to true conservative ideals.
The key one is: “pursuit of happiness”.
Madison on 1786 wrote the following:
“There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation, than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong. Taking the word “interest” as synonymous with “ultimate happiness,” in which sense it is qualified with every necessary moral ingredient, the proposition is no doubt true. But taking it in its popular sense, as referring to the immediate augmentation of property and wealth, nothing can be more false.”
Madison clearly shows that “happiness” was not just ease in living or property, but the baseline ability for the state to allow everyone an equal footing to prosperity.
Madison was without a doubt a conservative, often locking horns with the arch leftist Jefferson. So it is worth the GOP while to think on what Madison meant by “happiness”. It is also to be noted that “happiness” was not provided for all, but the “pursuit” of happiness. That implies not only an ability to better oneself but also a level playing ground so as others do not take away your ability to pursue happiness.
Bismarck understood this which is why this very conservative, if not arch-conservative, created or invented “social security”.
Socialist and leftist have little interest in social security or other safety net apparatus as they realize what the conservative Monroe and Bismarck are about – they know if the state can legitimize their power via providing the ability to “pursue happiness” for all, the ability of the socialist and left to seize power is diminished if not eliminated. A Bernie Sanders has not a leg to stand on if all of his platform, but for wealth distribution, is put forward by the conservative wide of the field. Then a Bernie Sander has no recourse to effect wealth distribution but through revolution, which in history has been violent.
The GOP should therefore provide the following:
1) Universal health care;
2) Universal education at all levels, admission decided by merit;
3) Guaranteed income of at least the poverty level plus, say, ten percent;
4)Matching social security to the poverty level plus, say, ten percent and eliminating income tax past a certain age – 70 or older;
5)‘Ellis Island” immigration policy without limitations as to numbers and based upon merit and basic moral and physical rectitude, also requiring a loyalty oath which to break is a felony.
Most GOP would claim all the above would be prohibitively expensive and pragmatically beyond the means of the US purse. This is a recent tenet of the GOP and during the age Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Nixon, Coolidge, Hoover and even Reagan – basically all the successful GOP POTUS – did not feel the US was limited in its ability to invest in the future. And those GOP POTUS who had success but pursued balance budget and parsimonious policy either had the brutal Keynes spend from war help them join the list or they are slated for obscurity. George H Bush is such a man who was pulled by the nose from the Pete Peterson crew and therefore will be forgotten by history.
The USA concern with a balanced budget is a ruse applied by both Democratic and Republican alike so as to prevent inflation and protect the rentiers – who in the end want only to maintain the value of their capital they put out for rent, or rentiers, by avoiding the estate tax of inflation.
Rentiers are the true enemy of the GOP - whether the GOP realize that or not – and to continue on with the Pete Peterson types protection of the rentier class is not only anti-democratic but it denies America to provide for “pursuit of happiness and thereby will in the end not provide legitimacy for the GOP executive.
To provide for my 5 points above – healthcare, education, guaranteed income, enhanced social security, and free merit based immigration – would be almost paid for itself within a decade from the NGDP increase from the increased immigration alone. The education costs should be seen as not a consumption of capital but rather an investment and would undoubtedly result in a multiple greater than one with increased productivity and a larger more effective Labor Force.
The debate would come from guaranteed income, but a thoughtful person would see the immediate cost savings in health expenses and incarceration and in optimism that would motivate the work force to do better. And universal health care would simply redirect the current waste in billions and billions of those under covered and eliminate the cost of multiple selective private sector health insurers.
The only cost would be the enhanced social security payments and the elimination of taxes for those past 70. I think such cost would be more than covered with the pickup of the first 4 points.
The main attraction for these five points for the GOP is a political one. Just as perhaps it was what motivated Bismarck, adopting these five points would effectively destroy the Democratic Party. It would swing blacks and Hispanics to the GOP. The Democratic Party would be forced to, or be flushed out to show its true stripes which is now, after the KKK foundation Democrats lost their “state rights” platform in defense of racism, income distribution of the socialist type. That would be repugnant to the new GOP party membership and until the Democrats find “something new” they would be out of power at the federal level, for the most part, likely for our lifetime. The Democrats would likely assume near permanent control of the large cities as that is what they are good at – providing effective public sector nuts and bolts services, just as the communists run most of the cities in Italy now.
I will go further, until the GOP realize they have been taken over by rentiers and are no longer a conservative party but a recidivist reactionary party of the uber rich, they will not have a significant long term role going forward.
The “pursuit of happiness” is the core ideal of the GOP and is the way to power.