In 2018, conservatives love deficits

Once upon a time, liberals (small l) supported social progress and conservatives (small c) supported fiscal responsibility. In 2018, it is the left that supports both of these things, while the right represents short term economic benefits for the few, at the expense of long term deficits for everyone.

This is most pronounced in the US where Republicans have been running up record deficits while Democrats have been reducing or eliminating them for the last several cycles. The recent GOP tax cut was financed almost entirely with debt. However, there is more than one kind of deficit. Financial debts are, in fact, the least of them. Because of the impact of inflation, financial debts are relatively easy to pay off over time. Other kinds of deficits actually become more expensive if they are allowed to grow. Failure to invest in education will result in a less competitive work force, less innovation and an inability to compete in the modern world. Failure to invest in health care will lead to an increase in sick days, an increase in disability, a less productive work force, lower education outcomes and, again, difficulty in competing with other countries that do a better job of investing at home. Both of these things will, in addition to making life more expensive down the road, reduce tax revenues and make the fixes more difficult to pay for.

Climate change and other environmental issues, are perhaps the most significant area of deficits. Pollution, whether it’s greenhouse gasses or other air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, the destruction of biodiversity or other has a price. The longer you wait to pay that price, the more expensive it will be. However, conservative parties and most especially US Republicans, who bill themselves as fiscally conservative champions of personal responsibility have treated pollution and environmental degradation as if they are free, and simply passed the continually ballooning costs and dangers on to future generations.

Even the present generation is spending billions on the cost of cleanups from massive storms, floods and failing infrastructure. We are facing increasing medical costs from polluted air and water. We are facing increasing food costs, and shortages due to the loss of crop lands around the world and dealing with the costs of massive human migrations, that are caused in part by climate change. In the face of all of this, conservatives are continuing to pretend that pollution is free and attacking the center and left for having the audacity to try to pay these costs and fix the problems causing them. They are neither taking steps to reduce greenhouse gasses, nor to prepare cities and infrastructure for the predictably catastrophic consequences of climate change.

So, while conservatives, in the US, Canada, Australia and elsewhere stick to the old tag lines of “fiscal accountability” and “personal responsibility” their policies are just the opposite. They are making us less healthy, degrading quality of life, making us less competitive and a less desirable place to invest in, and they are racking up deficits of all kinds, that future generations will have to pay for.