Hard Work

It is a cliche that conservatives believe in equality of opportunity and liberals believe in equality of results.  But, what this really means is that conservatives work toward a society in which all who work hard, play by the rules, and contribute to society earn the benefit of their labor.  Liberals reject hard work, arguing that just by being born, one is entitled to the benefit of other people’s labor, even if one does not work at all, does not play by the rules and contributes nothing to society.

America is far from perfect, but it does a better job than any society ever created at ensuring that everyone who works hard has a chance to succeed.  Granted, some people start with advantages over others.  But everyone who works hard and contributes value to our society is rewarded.  Even illegal immigrants who start with every possible disadvantage (aside from physical handicaps) succeed far beyond what they could do back home, simply by working hard.   If they didn’t, they wouldn’t come to America in the first place. 

The goal of the conservative is to ensure that even those who do not start out with many advantages can succeed if they work hard.  For example, free public schools are a conservative invention.   They are a statement that every child, no matter how poor, will have access to the basic tools of success.  Granted, some schools are better than others, but the biggest difference between school isn’t funding, or materials, or the quality of teachers.  The biggest difference is the students.  Students in successful schools work harder than students in unsuccessful schools.  They arrive at school every day, ready to work hard and learn.  Compare absenteeism and drop-out rates in successful schools and unsuccessful schools and you’ll see what I mean.  Even in our worst public schools, the student who works hard and tries to learn will learn and will obtain the tools necessary to succeed in life.

Liberals, on the other hand, reject hard work.  Take their view of hard work in the schools.  One commenter to an earlier post pointed out that in any class there will always be a bottom 10%.  Perhaps, but the conservatives and liberals have very different views on how to deal with this fact.  Conservatives believe that every student who works hard and earns an A should receive one.  In a conservative classroom, if every student earns an A, every student receives an A and there is no bottom 10%.  Liberals believe that every student should receive an A just for signing up for class.  You don’t have to earn the A, or work at all.  You don’t even have to attend class.  Liberals eliminate the bottom 10% by fiat.  Heck, liberals would eliminate the grading entirely. 

Conservatives teach to the test.  Liberals teach, uh, unearned self-esteem.  Conservatives reward accomplishment.  Liberals reward, uh, breathing.  Conservatives reward hard work.  Liberals denigrate hard work.  Conservatives believe you earn the right to move on to the next grade by passing the test.  Liberals beliieve in social promotion and would rather eliminate the test.  Conservatives don’t give a hoot about things like skin color, religion, and gender that have nothing to do with accomplishment.  Liberals are obcessed with skin color, religion, gender, etc.  Conservatives abhor discrimination.  Liberals eagerly discriminate against white males (God help the person who by unhappy circumstance is born a poor white male in American — he has all of the handicaps that accompany poverty but lives in a society that assumes he is rich and punishes him for being white and male).

The conservatives’ love of hard work should not be confused with a love of competition.   The cliche here is that conservatives love competition and liberals love cooperation.  The truth is that conservatives value both competition and cooperation.  There is no area in which cooperation is more important and valued than the military, a profession conservatives revere and liberals disrespect.  Conservatives love sports, which are the purest form of competition around today, but they love teams sports more than individual sports; they love the cooperative, teamwork aspect of the team sports as much as the individual accomplishments.  Liberals, on the other hand, make cooperation the be-all and end-all and actively discourage competition.  The conservative view is much better balanced and much healthier.

Conservativism is more practical than liberalism, too.  Societies that reward hard work have always been more successful than societies that do not.  Why?  Because most people simply will not work all that hard if they see the rewards for their labor taken from them and given to someone who did not work at all.  They recognize the unfairness of this at a gut level, and ultimately, rebel by not working so hard.  But more on that in another post at another time.

Conservatives believe in capitalism.  Liberals believe in socialism.  Capitalism works because it recognizes human nature and takes advantage of it.  Liberalism ultimately fails because it attempts to change human nature and deny it.  More on that later, too.

I’m afraid this post is more a rant than a question, but I’d appreciate all of your comments and thoughts on the basic differences between conservatives and liberals. 

P.S. I realize that I’m overgeneralizing here and that the labels are somewhat inapt.  What I define as “conservative” today would have been considered “liberal” 50 years ago.  What I define as liberal would have been consider Marxist, communist or even fascist 50 years ago.  My, how times have changed.  Still, use whatever labels you like (left-right, capitalist-socialist, red-blue, realist-idealist, whatever) I think the above captures the two major attitudes in America today.  Your comments?

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  • Marguerite

    Liberals and conservatives also clash in their understanding of compassion. Read any of the books about our founders – they viewed compassion as the individual reaching out to assist someone in need. Today’s liberals view compassion as governmet largesse, and the more the better, to fix any perceived problem – the latest stimulus package is case in point, or Lady Bountiful Clinton passing out Christmas packages containing health care, education, etc. The sticky part is that it isn’t a gov’t’s job to be compassionate. A govt’s job is to to be just. And there is nothing just about the gov’t’s redistribution of wealth earned by someone else to someone who has not earned it.

  • jj

    Little that is new. The succinct summation of the difference – that goes back to the turn of the century at least (the last one, the bug-free one, not this recent one) was always: when presented with a starving person a liberal will give him a fish; a conservative will teach him how to catch fish. Which has done the man the greater service?

    A lot of the accompanying attitude that liberals sport is tiresome, too. Somewhat to the side of the point, but I about fell off my chair earlier today when I spotted Michelle Obama on the box saying that for the first time in her, she’s proud of her country. Well, gratified as I am that at long last we managed to live up to her expectations, that kind of crap from a nitwit like her is just annoying as hell – but typical.

    She’s a child: she knows NOTHING. Bull Connor never turned a fire hose on her: she wasn’t born. George Wallace never prevented her from walking through the university door: she wasn’t born. No one ever set police dogs on her. Nobody ever told her to ride in the back of the bus, and the only “colored only” water fountain or rest room this idiot ever saw was in a museum. She wasn’t there for the fifties and sixties: she wasn’t born. Her only experience of the whole societal evolution has been to reap the benefits.

    Her life has gone smoothly down a road that was paved for her by the efforts of other people – among them a Republican senate that had to fight with and end filibusters by people like Al Gore’s worthless father to get that road paved. But here’s the liberal attitude: for the first time in her life she feels proud of her country. For the first time! Nothing that’s gone before has done it for her – not even Oprah Winfrey.

    That’s the liberal attitude – America’s “soul is broken,” and only Obama can heal it.

  • http://helenl.wordpress.com/ Helen Losse

    “America’s “soul is broken,” perhaps Hillary can heal it, too. :-)

  • Danny Lemieux

    Hillary first needs to find her soul, HelenL.

    Good thoughts, DQ. To what extent do you think that Liberals have bought into Rousseau’s idea that people are all born innocent but corrupted by society, therefore it is society that has failed when individuals fail?

  • Ymarsakar

    That’s not nice, Danny. Why can’t you be more nice… like me.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Too much, YM, to much! LOL.

  • Ymarsakar

    This is a good example of the hard work motiff.


  • Allen

    I’ll use those two labels (conservative/liberal) for clarity. I suppose the biggest difference for me is in how government programs are viewed. On the liberal side a failing government program is always “underfunded” not ever an unworkable idea. For the conservative the ability of a given program to reach it’s goal is almost always skeptically viewed as probably unworkable.

    This goes to the metrics used. The liberal often looks at the amount of money spent on the program, rather then the need or efficacy of the program. I have noted this bit of thinking does not extend to the military. Most conservatives look at whether the program is working or not. Also most conservatives believe that the military is a government program that works very well indeed.

    Just a few random thoughts.

  • http://helenl.wordpress.com/ Helen Losse

    I’d like to expand a bit on what Allen (#8) has said. Liberals do wonder if programs are “underfunded.” Conservatives do wonder if programs are “unworkable.” Is it not logical to you who determine logic that some programs might fail because they are underfunded and others because they are unworkable?

    I think it is ridiculous to think all programs will work, if we just throw enough money at them, which is not what’s implied that I might think. (Liberals, not me personally.) Can we keep the personal out of it?

    Money will not solve all problems nor make faulty ideas sound. But conservative “skepticism” can prejudge a good program and “skeptical” legislators might fail to vote needed funds for a good program and , thus, cause it to fail. This is not all black and white. We need sound ideas and the money to implement them.

    And conservatives, if the military can “work very well indeed,” is there not the possibility that other sound programs can work? Or is the military “work[ing] very well indeed,” because we now have a volunteer program (as opposed to the draft)? The fact that it is volunteer ought to be considered.

  • Ymarsakar

    In the realm of the fake liberal and the conservative, I see only two types of liberals. Fake liberals are like Ted Kennedy and Al Gore and anybody else that proposes to change the face of humanity in order to make us better: meaning in their image of what is better. True liberals are like Bookworm and Neo Neocon and Lieberman. Classical liberals that believe in liberty and Aristotelian logic/virtue.

    On the side of the conservatives, it depends upon what is being conserved. If the regime is like a socialist utopia that is being preserved, then the conservatives would be socialists. In this case, what the conservatives of America are attempting to preserve is American civilization, military prowess, national security, and social harmony through preserving the Bill of Rights and the balance of powers between the three branches of government.

    A great example is how reactionary the dinosaur media is. They are attempting to preserve and conserve their power, status, and ability to manipulate and lie to a great number of people on this planet. When helen talks about conservatives being reactionary, the only folks I can think of are Robert KKK Byrd, a Democrat oldster in the US Senate, and the mainstream sewer media.

  • Ymarsakar

    legislators might fail to vote needed funds for a good program and , thus, cause it to fail.

    Helen must be talking about Vietnam. In that case, I would agree. But only because it was a military program that tried, during Abrams, in exterminating the enemies of humanity, or in this case the enemies of South Vietnam. I wouldn’t agree if it was a civilian program that needed more funds to lock up smokers or people warming the globe with their body temperature, though.

    And conservatives, if the military can “work very well indeed,” is there not the possibility that other sound programs can work?

    Sure it does. When the military provides food, aid, tsunami relief, and all other kinds of civilian construction programs to the civilian population, it works great.

    Bring in the NGOs, the UN, and the bureacrats, then bad things start happening.

  • Oldflyer

    First, as someone who has fairly extensive experience with them I am not sure that I would concede that military programs work very well, indeed. I do acknowledge without reservation that military programs are necessary. Further, I concede that the government is the appropriate entity to implement military programs.

    Expanding on those thoughts I sumbit the following for consideration:

    The question of necessity seems to be the first test to be applied to any program. It should be applied when the program is first contemplated; and on a recurring schedule during the life of the program. The test should consist of such questions as: are the goals of the program necessary to society; and, is the government the best vehicle to achieve those goals?

    The second test is, of course, viability. Any program that does not meet the test of viablility; i.e. does it accomplish its intent, and does it do so in an economically acceptable manner–should be terminated or revised.

    Simplistic as it appears, I would suggest that the willingness to apply and adhere to those two tests goes a long way to define the differences between Conservatives and Liberals–at least in the current usage of those labels.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Helen, Interesting point about the all-volunteer army. How about an all-volunteer tax system? Those who want to give their money to the government to fund social programs can give all they want. They just can’t steal (forcibly use the power of government to take) other people’s money. I know, it would never work. But why not? And, if not, how can a system that steals moeny from its citizens work in the long run?

  • http://helenl.wordpress.com/ Helen Losse

    DQ, you just don’t want to pay taxes. LOL

  • rockdalian

    As much as I dislike liberals/fascists for trying to destroy my country, I’m afraid the current party called Republicans are in for their fair share of blame.
    Let us not forget the recent past when the “conservatives” had control of all three branches of government.
    Not only did they fail to end programs such as farm subsidies, which forced companies such as Chicago’s Brachs candies to move to Mexico because we have one of the highest cost of sugar in the world, to the subsidies of ethanol and the tariffs imposed on foreign imports of ethanol that increases the the imports so that it costs more to import and thus are not competitive.
    The Republicans squandered the opportunity to highlight the differences between the parties.
    The increase in earmarks are another example of wasted opportunity.
    I agree with the overall description of the differences of the parties, but it is sad that the Republicans strayed off course.

  • Ymarsakar

    As you can see, Don. Passion trumps logic.

  • Don Quixote

    I know you are kidding, Helen, but there is a grain of truth in your accusation. I don’t mind paying taxes for legitimate government services (national defense, police, firemen, schools, roads, etc.) but I bitterly resent the part of my taxes that the government forcibly takes from me just to hand it to somebody else. That part is theft, pure and simple.

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  • Friend of USA

    Just a thought,

    I have always seen liberalism as a lenient over protective mother
    who forgives everything her kids do and likes to keep safe under her apron those kids who have some “difficulty” going into the world,
    one example from the top of my head; many liberals say “lets distribute clean needles to drug addicts so they do not get sick and provide them with a safe place to do drugs – all for free – and lets not demand anything from them in return”

    and I have always seen conservativism as a firm but fair father who believes one should learn that there are consequences to one’s actions even if this means punishment.
    Sometimes it may seem harsh or cold ( some would call it “tough love ” ) but in the end the kid learns a good lesson and becomes a better adult.
    and I have always seen it as the father who is trying to push the kids to leave the safety of their mother’s nest so they can try to do more and better things, yes the kid may fall at time and hurt himslef but it is part of the learning experience.
    If you fall off a horse you do not go to the safety of your mother’s apron, you climb back on the horse.

    Yes to some of people – especially feminists – this is a bit of an “antiquated” view of mother/father’s roles but I think despite decades of feminism, humans are humans, and women tend to be the lenient over protective ones, if I am wrong then how do you explain that women tend to vote Liberal and men tend to vote conservative?…

    Liberals like the nanny state and nannies are a mother substitute!…

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  • Zhombre

    Glad to hear you say taxes aren’t theft per se, DQ. I’ve talked to self described libertarians who said just that, as sort of an intellectual ice-breaker. Taxes are onerous, sure. But when the Founders enumerated the powers of Congress in the Constitution, to lay and collect taxes is first. A government that can’t fund its operations or enforce its laws isn’t a government at all. It’s a pantomime horse from a Monty Python sketch.

  • Zhombre

    Or something akin to the Berkeley city council.

  • Don Quixote

    Hi Friend of USA, you could make the same comments gender neutral, but I know exactly what you mean and agree completely. Another way of putting it is that liberals treat adults like children; conservatives treat them like adults. Liberals keep people dependent on the government; conservatives teach them how to depend on themselves. Thanks for the comment.