A Little Conservative Theology with that Gas Tax Increase, Please

Now that the House has passed the infrastructure bill, everybody knows what happens next –  a few conservative Senators will try to kill it dead. As a political conservative myself who supported the bill though I was on approved leave at the time of the vote, I thought a short review of conservative doctrine might be in order. It’s not exactly the Apostles Creed (or even Apollo Creed who reminded Rocky Balboa, while punching him in the head during a training bout, that there is no tomorrow – sage advice to remember about the condition of our roads) but it draws a line between conservative and reckless thought.

So, stand up South Carolina conservative and say what you believe.

I believe –

  • In individual liberty, individual responsibility and limited government.
  • Individual liberty and individual responsibility derive authority from natural law before which humans stand free, independent and equal.
  • Divine Providence through natural law requires individuals to act responsibly as the first duty of those who are granted the gift of individual liberty.
  • Individuals enter into a social contract with each other to protect liberty, promote responsibility and provide for the basic common good.
  • The social contract forms the foundation for the rule of law.
  • Individual liberty and the rule of law are the first principles of the Magna Charta that formally established the basic rights of Englishmen.
  • The basic rights of the Magna Charta became an integral part of English Common Law.
  • English Common Law was inherent to the understanding of liberty by the first English colonists who settled Charles Towne Landing and forms the basis of South Carolina’s constitution and code of laws today.
  • The expansion of individual religious liberties written in John Locke’s Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina were further refined in the Declaration of Independence and made perfect in the United States Constitution as adopted by South Carolina as one of the thirteen original colonies.
  • The social contract operates best within a representative form of government.
  • Government with power to tax or deny individual liberty should be as strictly limited as practicable.
  • Individual liberty erodes with each penny taxed by the government.
  • The social contract requires limited taxes to provide for the basic common good that cannot be provided through acts of individual responsibility.
  • The General Assembly as the formal representation of the social contract for the citizens of South Carolina has a duty to provide a limited and efficient government.
  • The General Assembly created the SCDOT to provide a statewide road infrastructure for the common good of our citizens.

Many conservative Senators I know will agree with the above litany until they read the word “efficient” in the next to the last statement. Some will balk at that one though you may not see it. They would rather waste tax money through inefficiency than save tax money by properly funding a basic function of government.

Consider the Senators who oppose the roads bill. They would rather add $380 million per year to deferred maintenance than reform and properly fund the road system that was created for the common good. They support future waste that will cost almost as much as the current tax increase. Not only do they purposefully support the continued operation of an inefficient governmental agency – inefficient in that SCDOT does not have the resources to maintain our road system – they fail to act as fiduciaries representing their constituents interests or safety.

Don’t be fooled. These are not conservatives in the traditional mold. They are not of the conservative strand that weaves its way from Bill Buckley back to Edmund Burke and his belief, learned from watching the bloody guillotine of the French Revolution, that conservative reforms are best carried out systematically and gradually.

They are of the Guy Fawkes strand who aren’t conservatives at all but wannabe anarchists who would rather blow up something than fix it. I don’t know about you but I think we have enough holes already . . . holes in roads . . . holes in heads . . .

 

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Tommy Stringer