Every election cycle as long as I can remember Republican candidates with conservative values have waged uphill battles against liberal candidates. The post election reviews have repeatedly concluded that the Republicans need to appeal to more minority voters. The most recent review I saw basically indicated the path to these voters is to adopt a lighter version of democratic positions. Even though the electorate gives signals that it is tired of the same old government answers, the proposed remedy offered to conservatives is to mimic the Democratic establishment and promise more of what many voters reject. Conservatives need not run as light Democrats! Conservatives need to employ effective voter education strategies.
“Hey Conservatives, it is Voter education that is the missing ingredient. Education is necessary before, during and after elections.
Democrats win elections by appealing to voters sense of compassion. Democratic sycophants sing the same song before during and after each election cycle. ( e.g. Doesn’t everyone deserve more stuff? Shouldn’t everyone make $15.00 per hour? Shouldn’t everyone, who desires it, get a college education?) These are no more than thinly veiled emotional appeals, which not only do not reflect what is possible, but also do not reflect, what the economy needs. It is emotional pandering! Everyone feels good, when passing out gifts.
Prices for goods and services in a market economy are set by supply and demand. Most of the populace didn’t study even basic economics and the role of markets in determining the price of goods and services. This presents conservative proponents with some educational challenges. Proponents of the free market economy can’t merely tug at the heartstrings of the single mother or father by spinning a modern day fable. Markets while they serve a vital purpose and allow for the many choices available to the individual consumer and employee are based upon mathematics. Mathematics revolving around the concepts of supply and demand and are difficult to reduce to a fifteen second sound bite. Resources, which includes human resources move within the economy to where they are most needed and best used in the economy. These concepts don’t lend themselves to emotional gimmickry and market fluctuations frequently cause temporary worker displacement
How might the concept of supply and demand be applied to the “college for all” discussion. Let’s suppose an individual would like to pursue his or her interest in Art History. If there are many individuals, who pursue this academic field of study and no one or few companies can find a use for individuals with this type of knowledge, then you would expect the wages for individuals with this degree to be low. However, unlike in a command economy, this doesn’t mean an individual can’t pursue this course of study, but it does indicate that the workforce may not need this type of worker at this time and the chances of a person with this field of study finding gainful employment and getting a return on his or her education in the field are limited or perhaps even nonexistent. When you say everyone should get student loans without regard for the market need or assert that college should be free for all, you distort the market and run the risk of producing individuals with skills, which aren’t needed in the economy. This is malinvestment. Government by offering something for nothing invests in skills, which the job market doesn’t need. The ordinary market price forces are disregarded and the result is a class of educated unemployed. Frequently this malinvestment is at the expense of other needed productive jobs which go unfilled.
What about the Minimum Wage increase arguments. Everyone wants more money. Not everyone requires or will demand $15.00 per hour for their services. Additionally some industries simply will not support that wage level because people are unwilling to pay for the product or service at that cost. (Witness the elimination of the service station gas pump attendant) Additionally some people are willing to work for less. Perhaps they wish to supplement their income. ( e.g. retirees or those in school or the young starting their working careers) Some workers may simply wish to gain a foothold in a new occupation or may be workers achieving their full potential and the lower wage acts as motivation to the individual to change or increase their skill set to become a better contributing worker. Raising the minimum wage eliminates opportunities for some workers to enter the workforce and increases the demands of those, who formerly made more than minimum wage workers to increase their wages. finally some workers may simply make a choice to live at this pay level. People have free will and the poor will always be with us. These truths are difficult, but most adults will understand them if the arguments are made.
Conservatives need to stress the concept of opportunity. We must teach others that society should always seek to maximize opportunity. This means we may have to educate the public about supply and demand. Remind the citizenry that competition is global and if we seek protectionism, we risk loss of market both now and in the future.
Remember protectionism takes many forms. Sometimes it may be disguised as a safety regulation, which limits innovation or prevents a new life saving drug from coming to market. (e.g. Regulations requiring that all autos must have steering wheels because consumers have always had them in cars. Steering levers, joy sticks or other control methods are prohibited or so severely disadvantaged that they are never pursued) Sometimes it protects groups by demanding a service be provided in a certain manner or referencing a certain pricing structure. (e.g. wages are preferred by government regulators to be priced per hour)
If we pursue protectionism, job loss will result as the competition elsewhere adjusts the price of their human resources and takes over markets. Unions are aghast at these market realities and refer to this as a race to the bottom. It is in fact a race to the top. The best prepared workers will produce the most goods and will be rewarded accordingly. (Wage increases occur even in the absence of unions) Innovative companies will gain market share at the expense of those, who lag behind. Don’t be a laggard, if you want to get ahead!
We must encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. This must occur in commerce as well as those sectors traditionally done in the public sector. We must encourage lifelong skill development. This by the way is not the continuing education requirements imposed on industries by government, but rather concrete targeted training, which is market driven and serves the purpose of increasing worker preparedness and productivity. Educational requirements imposed by governments are all too often simply protectionist measures intended to favor their donor constituents. More is not necessarily better.
Movement toward targeted lifelong education will make some educators and administrators uncomfortable and may mean some employment displacement, but will result in an updated workforce and should result in increased employment over the long term. Conservatives will have to explain this idea to their donors and educational professionals, who favor a more traditional and less focused educational model. There will be failures and unfortunately educational mills. Education is an industry and it will have institutions, which will innovate and fail or simply be fraudulent. It has failures now! The market will reward the best and jettison the rest and the individuals will vote with their dollars as to whether an educational service should be continued.
Conservatives must educate the populace in economics and the value of markets in economic growth. This is not a thirty second campaign. Conservatives thus far have done a poor job in conveying their message. Liberals have characterized market forces as ruinous or villainous. Many times it is legislation, which distorts the market and causes long term human misery and long term market problems. Markets are not good or bad. They are pricing tools for goods and services. The nation that harnesses education, so that needed skills can quickly be adapted and acquired as needed for growth will truly be the nation of opportunity. It all begins with a market savvy populace.
Conservatives, if you want to win, educate the populace on market theory and opportunity. Use concrete examples. Make the public aware of the damage done by government malinvestment. Not every public works project even if it be a bridge, road or building project in your hometown assists economic growth. Remember scarcity still exists as does global competition and those, who fail to produce what the world needs are destined to fail. Government does not create jobs, but malinvestment and over regulation by government certainly can retard growth and job development.
Conservative politicians should be at work targeting removal of protectionist regulations. A party, which doesn’t hold the office of the executive can still propose changes, which limit government and promote market access. This type of pre-election legislative targeting, if explained properly could be a catapult to winning future executive and legislative office. Currently, conservative politicians simply languish in the shadows and shout “Wait till next time!”. This type of wait and see attitude allows the forces of the left to capture more and more of an educationally deprived electorate. Education must occur before during and after the election cycle. It must be ongoing, continuous and contain a feedback loop, which measures success outside the election cycle.
Educational accreditation in private and public sector institutions should be scrutinized to assure that they serve a valid purpose of enhancing the educational experience and are not being employed simply to prop up existing institutions or limit field access. This scrutiny can be initiated in the private sector. If an institution produces candidates for positions that meet business needs, then candidates from that institution should receive employment offers. This will in the short term lead to unrest in human resource departments and even at the executive levels. There will be new searches required without the old yard markers and goal posts of the past. Merit and productivity should become the new king of industry. Companies must cease giving only lip service to “professional recruitment”. No longer should the junior human resource assistant be permitted to screen applications and no longer can the technocrat write job descriptions. This type of recruitment has produced the great fails of the latter part of the twentieth century and are not consistent with the new concept of continuous education.