Sunday :: Jul 30, 2006

A Conservative Dream

by pessimist

Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, and a major conservative influence on the modern Republican Party. He's in the process of trying to reclaim his creation from the neo-confidence men who are destroying any chance that he can realize his dreams of remaking America into his image of a world where conservatism is the only philosophy. He's doing this through a series of articles he's writing for The Conservative Voice, and if I believed in fairy tales coming true, these fables would sound wonderful.

But there is another aspect to these articles that deserve attention: they reveal the inner workings of one of the most influential conservative minds of all time. Note in this article the unsupported assertions 'that everyone knows'.

The Next Conservatism and Small Business
by Paul M. Weyrich
March 13, 2006

An old conservative characteristic the next conservatism should revive is a suspicion of bigness.

Small scale is critical to local life, to the ability of local people to control what happens where they live. In general, small, local schools teach better than big, regional schools; small towns work better than big cities; and small business provides communities a better economic base than does big business. Big businesses care little, if at all, what effects their actions have locally. Small businesses do care, because their owners and managers live in the local community. If they injure that community, they hurt themselves as well.

Let's look at some of these scarecrows and see what's what.

Weyrich is a businessman, and the rest of this article is all about how the government should aid the small businessman in meeting the regulatory needs of government through a paternalistic agency which will 'get the business up and going' by running [regulatory] interference for the business owner. I'm not so sure that the problem is as bad as Weyrich wants to think it is, but in general, it isn't such a bad idea that I'm going to dissect it. That isn't what I started out to accomplish, so you can read about that yourself.

Weyrich stated that conservatives should be suspicious of bigness, but if one looks about, bigness is what conservative businessmen are all about. Let's start with his assertion that small business provides communities with a better economic base.

I don't argue that a town full of Mom-and-Pop (M&P) shops are more stable, but the recent history of small towns is devastation when Wal-Mart comes to town. The Walton family are among the most conservative people in America, and they are hardly running M&P stores. In fact, they can't find the asymptote for bigness, making each new Wal-Mart bigger than the last.

Historically, bigness is conservatism. It is much cheaper for the businessman who manufactures, for example, to have one big facility to manage instead of a diversified and distributed grouping of smaller - and in Weyrich's opinion - 'better' shops. The logic of this can be confirmed by thinking of today's gasoline costs as trucks shuttle about smaller towns to visit these distributed shops.

The textile mills of the Northeast got into this 'bigger is better for business' game early in our history, and the company town evolved from that practice. Much cheaper to have the worker cover the distance on his own time and dime than to have to eat those costs! That is still the case today.

In addition, once the company town concept was 'proven' in the minds of businessmen, some - like George Pullman and Henry Ford - even built entire communities to house their workers. For them, bigger was certainly better.

By necessity, all the rest of Weyrich's small town ideals were affected. Company towns couldn't have a school system spread out all over the community - too much valuable land would be used up recreating the Little Schoolhouse On The Prairie. Thus, the big school evolved, rising many stories on as small a footprint as possible to save land for further business usage - or worker housing - in that order.

Thus small towns were doomed. They didn't (and stil don't) have the economic or political power to halt 'progress' in its industrial tracks. Even today, small towns all over America are losing their young to the big cities, because the small towns don't have the opportunities Weyrich thinks they have. America's young are voting with their feet, and they aren't accepting the 'values' that Weyrich believes small towns should have. They have become enamored of the Beverly Hills lifestyle that conservatives like Roger Ailes at FOX Network keep pumping out over the air, and they want their share of it. They can't get it in a small town.

I wish it were possible to have the sort of small town nation that Weyrich sees, as I think he is right about his assertions of small being better, but the business needs of his economic class are the reasons why all of the small towns are dying - and the big cities continue to swell like the corporate pestilence they are.

Mr. Weyrich, your vision of America died the day the first large textile mill opened in New England. It can't be revived.

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