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Questions for fiscal conservatives (and Teaparty and libertarians)

Fiscal conservatives have influence far outstripping their numbers [1]. That isn't because their ideas are good for the U.S., but because their ideas are rarely examined in depth. You'd be hard-pressed to find fiscal conservatives being walked through all the impacts of their policies [2].

Let's change that.

Here are 27 questions for fiscal cons, and you're urged to go to appearances by those who adhere to that ideology and ask them.

See the Question Authority page for an action plan. Video of a fiscal conservative really being pressed on one or more of these questions - after it's uploaded to sites like Youtube - could help show hundreds of thousands or millions of people the flaws in their ideology.

You can also ask these questions via Twitter, on blogs, and through other means: just record and publicize whatever response you receive. If anyone asks these questions, leave a link below. Also feel free to post your own variants or entirely new questions below.

Here are the questions, more might be added later. These questions also apply to libertarians and those in the Tea Parties:

1. Design your perfect economy for us. Let's pretend you're president and you control both Congress and the courts, but that you can't change the Constitution. Tell us the details of your dream tax plan, including any brackets, what if any deductions you'd allow, and so on. If you support a specific existing tax plan, tell us which flavor of that plan or any changes you'd make to it. Tell us what budget the U.S. would have, and how much would be spent on various things (defense, entitlements, etc.). Tell us exactly which programs and/or agencies you'd change or eliminate.

2. List 10 issues that are more fundamental and more important to the U.S. as a whole than spending, debt, budget, and other purely fiscal issues. If you don't think there are 10 such issues, please say so.

3. George W Bush was very kind to "Job Creators". How many jobs were created in his 8 year term compared with the numbers for other recent presidents? (answer: this or this)

4. List as many costs that you know of that were and will be incurred by how the entire U.S. establishment handled the Katrina recovery. (See the link for the details; note that some Louisiana and New Orleans politicians complained about that at the time, but were quickly silenced).

5. Would a make-work program have been better than how the Katrina recovery was handled? Assume that such a program would have been limited in time and scope in an iron-clad manner. Please note that I'm not asking you how you think the Katrina recovery would have been handled. I'm asking you to choose between what actually happened, and such a make-work program.

6. A "Job Creator" can make $1 by making something in US, but $1.25 by offshoring. Which does he choose? Please note that I'm not asking about any supposed comparative advantage gains, I'm simply asking which one that "Job Creator" will choose.

7. Would there be costs and who'd bear them if we reduced pollution regulations?

8. Would it be patriotic of "Job Creators" to take a small hit on their income and hire people for jobs that aren't critical for their business, even if those jobs might be a little bit like make-work jobs? For instance, a little not-exactly-necessary floor cleaning, filing, etc.

9. Approximately how much are all U.S. churches worth, compared to how much the federal government spends on social welfare programs?

10. "Job Creators" are already sitting on billions. If they have lower taxes, why wouldn't they just sit on that too?

11. Most fiscal conservatives think reducing taxes and cutting regulations would decrease unemployment. Leaving aside whether that would work or if it's just self-serving, can you direct us to any other major initiatives or movements by fiscal conservatives, the Tea Parties, or libertarians designed primarily and specifically to reduce unemployment?

12. List 10 costs of massive immigration (legal and illegal). If you can't list 10, list as many as you can.

13. Per the Fraser Institute's freetheworld.com, "Individuals have economic freedom when property they acquire without the use of force, fraud, or theft is protected from physical invasions by others and they are free to use, exchange, or give their property as long as their actions do not violate the identical rights of others." Would, say, reducing regulations on fracking be an example of economic freedom?

14. Let's say we reduce regulations on fracking, but decades from now it turns out that fracking opponents were right and fracking has caused great environmental damage. Who will pay for the necessary remediation and who will recompense those negatively affected? I'm not asking for your opinion of fracking, I just want to know who'll pay if fracking turns out to cause great damage.

15. Let's say we mostly or completely ignore global warming as most fiscal conservatives want. Is that 100% guaranteed to be the right choice, or is there the possibility those fiscal conservatives could be wrong? I'm not asking for your opinion of global warming, I'm just asking if there's the possibility that those fiscal cons could be wrong. I would just like a simple "yes" or "no" answer. (Note: even with that, this will probably generate a very long "yes, but" answer by those who bother to answer it at all rather than just launching into a stock speech).

16. Let's say we mostly or completely ignore global warming as most fiscal conservatives want. Let's assume decades from now it turns out that "warmists" were right and global warming/climate change did happen, was man-made, was somewhat preventable, and has caused great damage in many areas. Who will pay for all the steps necessary to reduce those damages? I'm not asking for your opinion of global warming, I'm just asking who will pay if the "warmists" turn out to be right.

17. Is it patriotic to turn their backs on California, as some fiscal conservatives do? I'm not asking about what you do, I'm just asking you to comment on what some fiscal cons do.

18. List and rank the top factors in your mind that have contributed to the problems California currently has.

19. A business makes radios in California to be sold in New York state. Can you list some of the ways the owner of the business didn't build his business alone?

20. Would those who consider themselves part of Grover Norquist's "Leave Us Alone Coalition" (which is just a concept, not an organized group) generally have less concern for the welfare of their fellow citizens? If you say members of that "coalition" donate to charity, how likely is it that those in Texas would donate to charities that focus on Vermont?

21. According to their CEO, Papa Johns pizza will have to raise per-pie prices by $0.11 to $0.14 because of Obamacare. That will cost consumers more, but are there any potential offsetting benefits you can think of?

22. If you could, would you eliminate the Department of Energy?

23. Should the government have extremely strict regulations on nuclear power? Or, should those be rolled back and should the nuclear power industry take a greater role in self-regulation? If possible, please list specific ways (if any) you'd let the nuclear industry self-regulate.

24. What about the peanut packing industry, would you let them self-regulate and if so how much? Please explain how that would work from the perspective of someone who owns a peanut packing company.

25. Up until March 10, 2011, didn't the decisions made about the Fukushima #1 nuclear power plant [3] make perfectly good business sense?

26. If Japan had had a libertarian government all the time from the 1960s to today, do you think the Fukushima disaster would have been prevented? If so, exactly how would that have happened? Please note: I'm not asking for a critique of Japan's actual system of government, please just answer those questions.

27. Without changing anything about the U.S. population, let's say we reduced Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) by 50% over the next year. Can you see any problems that would arise from that? Please note that I'm not saying you would support that, I'm just asking if you see any problems if that happened.

28. Imagine two "Job Creators" Both own their own independent company that makes widgets. Both sell 1000 widgets each year for $10 million total, and all their sales are in the U.S. But, they differ in these ways:

* "Job Creator" A makes a profit of $1 million. He employs 20 people, all inside the U.S. He spends and invests most of his profits inside the U.S.: U.S. vacations, U.S.-made products, etc.

* "Job Creator" B makes a profit of $1.5 million. He employs 30 people, all outside the U.S. He spends and invests most of his profits outside the U.S.

Which of them is the better capitalist? Which of them is better for the world? Which of them is better for the U.S.? Can you direct us to any fiscal conservatives favoring those like "Job Creator" A over those like "Job Creator" B?

29. Benjamin Franklin said, "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. " One concern some fiscal conservatives have is that poor people will be able to vote to give themselves a "raise": in other words, they'll vote for those who'll let them live high on the hog without really working for it. A solution some fiscal conservatives have is to limit voting to those whose salary is above a certain amount, say $25,000 or higher. Do you think there's some validity in such plans? Without committing yourself to such a plan, should we look into that? Another solution would be to not let government workers vote: otherwise, they'll vote for candidates who'll keep funding the agencies that keep them employed. Without committing yourself, should we look into that?

30. Which of these would you prefer:
* NASA spends around $2.5 billion of government money to look for life on Mars, or
* NASA doesn't do that, instead a consortium of private companies sends a private mission to look for and commercialize natural resources on Mars.
If you choose the second, can you see any downsides to it?

UPDATE: I replaced AFDC, which doesn't exist anymore, with TANF in #27, added answers to some possible objections to that and other questions, and added #28.

8/12/12 UPDATE: I added #29 & #30.

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[1] There aren't too many people who consciously believe in fiscal conservatism or who are paid to believe in it. Plenty of teapartiers and even most Americans will say they're fiscally conservative, but just try taking away their social welfare programs and see how they respond.

[2] Instead, Democratic Party leaders and helpers concentrates on gaffes, hiding in shrubbery, or playing the race card.

[3] "Fukushima No. 1 plant designed on 'trial-and-error' basis", April 6, 2011, link:

While changes improved safety at the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, overconfidence, complacency and high costs stymied such action at the now-crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, according to people familiar with the situation.

The difference in the safety designs was the main reason why the crisis continues to unfold at the Fukushima No. 1 plant--one of the oldest in Japan--while the No. 2 plant a few kilometers south remains relatively unscathed by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Officials at another Tokyo Electric Power Co. nuclear plant in Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, Niigata Prefecture, analyzed the differences in safety designs at the two Fukushima plants.

According to their analysis and TEPCO sources, there are clear differences in safety levels between the two plants concerning power source equipment, such as emergency diesel generators and transformers at the reactor cores, and pumps used to bring in seawater to remove residual heat from the cores...

...Referring to the possibility of installing the seawater pumps inside buildings, the former TEPCO engineer said, "It would have been a major project because various pipes are laid out under the pumps, and so all of that would also have had to be moved."

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 13:12 · Importance: 5