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Five New Year's Resolutions for Cognitively-Deprived Conservatives

"Understand that capitalism has no incentive to work for poor people," Buchheit writes. (Photo: Jeremy hunsinger/flickr/cc)

Many conservatives shy away from the facts, but a willingness to consider them would be a good way to start 2016.

1. Accept that Poverty Causes Marital Problems, Not the Other Way Around

In his condescending way, libertarian Charles Murray wrote: "There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America...Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn't hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms." Senator Marco Rubio agrees, calling marriage the "greatest tool" for lifting families out of poverty.

Marriage, to such people, spreads magic anti-poverty dust over newly-wedded couples.

Here are the facts: Upper-class and lower-class divorce rates rose and fell in similar fashion until the late 1980s, around the time inequality began to rip apart the fabric of American society, and to break down low-income family life. Evidence keeps piling up. Studies show that children whose families receive housing vouchers end up with higher marriage rates. On the other hand, two-thirds of single mothers who heed conservative advice and get married end up divorced. And despite what Murray's followers might think, race isn't a factor. A Pennsylvania study concluded that "over time, it has become evident that poor economic circumstances would produce comparable effects on whites just as they did for blacks." Pew Research Center found little difference between white and black fathers, and the Center for Disease Control found that black fathers are in many ways more involved with their kids than fathers in other racial groups.

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2. Learn that Democratic Socialism Does Not Mean Government Control

Social democracy is 100 percent American. Our nation instituted a public education system, a long-successful retirement program, and a national park system. Gar Alperovitz describes the modern form of socialism, which is "about decentralizing power, changing the flow of power to localities rather than to the center." The Evergreen Cooperative in Cleveland, the public Bank of North Dakota, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Chattanooga Internet service are all examples of the distributed popular control of essential services. The approach works.


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The most socialist program in the U.S. is probably the Alaska Permanent Fund, which has received bipartisan support for 40 years, even from staunch Republicans such as Sarah Palin.

3. Understand that Capitalism Has No Incentive to Work for Poor People

One only need look at health care, for which it has been estimated that less than 10 percent of the budget for health research is spent on diseases that cause 90 percent of the world's illnesses. According to a study in The Lancet, of the 336 new drugs developed in the first decade of this century, only four of them were for diseases impacting third-world peoples. Vital antibiotic research is underfunded because of low profit margins. World Health Organization director Margaret
Chan lamented the long decades of disregard for the African-centered effects of the Ebola virus.

4. Admit that You're Scaring the Hell out of the Public to Support Your War-Happy Ways

A Fox News analyst called ISIS "the single biggest threat in [America’s] 200-year history." The national news media has driven Americans to a frenzy of fear, leaving more and more of them to express their concerns about terrorism, even though we're all more likely to get shot by a toddler than a terrorist.

The Air Force is dropping so many bombs on Muslim countries that companies like Boeing are gearing up for increased weaponry sales, as stock prices for weapons manufacturers keep surging. Our nation continues to build up the stock of arms around the world. In 2014 alone arms sales increased 35 percent, to $36.2 billion.

5. Stop Saying Corporations Have an "Insane Tax Burden"

The Wall Street Journal used that phrase in a story about Pfizer, which claims tax-deferred profits overseas and losses in the U.S., and which paid an effective tax rate of just 7.5 percent in 2014, and which is now merging with another company in order to move its corporate offices overseas to avoid even more taxes.

The Wall Street Journal itself admitted that "Pfizer's accounting methods raise its reported tax rate, without increasing the actual taxes the company pays." That's the point. The "tax burden" is an accounting fiction, not reality.

Paul Buchheit

Paul Buchheit

screen_shot_2017-01-23_at_8.39.57_am.pngPaul Buchheit is an advocate for social and economic justice, and the author of numerous papers on economic inequality and cognitive science. He was recently named one of 300 Living Peace and Justice Leaders and Models. He is the author of "Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income" (2017). Contact email: paul (at)

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