The best definition I have seen for describing U.S. conservatives and liberals came from a sociology book, which used analogy of a pie and who gets it.
The liberal philosophy is equal share, that everyone should get the same slice of the pie. By contrast, the conservative philosophy is equal access, that everyone should get equal chance at the pie but not necessarily equal piece.
A good Austrian friend had lots to say about that second view. “The rain falls equally on everybody”, he says. But who does what with the water or who gets the wettest isn’t equal. He sees no fairness in life, the way it is defined by the equal slice philosophy.
I see both philosophies as flawed. The equal share view is unrealistic. Equal access is the better way, providing that those who get more share with those that don’t. Liberals actually understand this, or they wouldn’t seek to tax the rich and give the benefits to the poor.
That said, American conservatives largely fail to live up to the responsibility that should be their philosophy: To share their bounty with those who have less. Liberals should set the example by giving from their bounty rather than tax the rich. Conservatives should follow the example. It is their moral imperative.
Photo Credit: Rachel Ellen