The difference between liberals and conservatives

By Paul T. O'Connor | Jun 26, 2014


RALEIGH – After a lifetime of observing politics I’ve discovered the basic difference between liberals and conservatives.

“Liberals think everything should be free; conservatives don’t want to pay for anything.”

While you mull that over, here’s a disclaimer: The following is a personal rant that might not make sense.

Liberals first.

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat in a committee hearing and heard lawmakers explain why this or that should be free to people who can’t afford it.

Free schools? Free school lunches? Free health care? For the poor in those cases, I’m liberal enough and was poor enough as a kid to say society should provide. The U.S. Constitution does have a “promote the General welfare” clause.

But free driver’s education?

This issue led to the development of my theory. Until recently, North Carolina provided free driver’s education for high school students. Now we charge a small fee. Next year, we might not provide driver’s education at all.

Here’s what I don’t get. If a youngster can’t afford to pay for driver’s ed, where is that child going to get the money to buy gas?

Yes, there’s a societal rationale for requiring driver’s education before one gets a license, but that can be mandated without providing the service for free. Not everything can be free.

For more examples of liberals wanting free stuff, see Fox News but bring along a grain of salt.

Now to conservatives. I’ve seen as many examples of conservatives not wanting to pay for stuff as liberals wanting things free. Many examples emanate from Washington, like excellent medical care for our veterans, which the liberal side of me says should be free and which conservatives want, too, except that they won’t pay for it.

Here in North Carolina, the best current example of the conservative side of this theory involves teacher pay.

Our state constitution requires a system of free public schools, and schools require teachers, and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids enslaving people as teachers in these constitutionally mandated free schools. So, we have to pay teachers.

This year, an election year, conservatives have been tripping over themselves trying to give teachers a big raise without having to pay for that raise.

Enter the hilariously botched-up House plan to provide teacher raises with a surge in lottery proceeds that will be spurred by a doubling of the lottery advertising budget at the same time that restrictions on lottery ads probably dissuade people from buying lottery tickets.

Let’s go over that again: House budget writers want to raise teacher pay without paying for it. They want lottery players to pay for it, but also want people to stop playing the lottery, in which case there won’t be any money for us to pay for the raise. I’m confused.

In conclusion, let me refer to something I learned in a New Yorker magazine cartoon as a child: There are no free lunches; somebody has to pay for them.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 27, 2014 08:31

So Mr. O’Connor is mistaken.  He describes liberals and conservatives; but he is really trying to explain the difference between left-wing and right-wing.  Liberals favor change.  Conservatives favor tradition.



Left-wing desire socialism where the objective is to use more government to make all prosper equally.  Right-wing desire capitalism there the objective is to use less government to provide minimal regulation that allows each to work for his/her own welfare.


His summary drives home the left-wing/right-wing difference: there are no free lunches; somebody has to pay for them.  As Margaret Thatcher said, “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”


Socialism sounds like a great thing when it’s explained.  But most humans by our nature are selfish and we are best motivated when our direct interests are at stake.  If you want to hear how Socialism was tried (and failed) in the United States, this 8-minute story is a good investment to make:


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 29, 2014 10:21

              I know of no tradition once found unnecessary worthwhile.

              I recognize that all things are constantly changing. It is OUR duty to support a government that adapts its policies to those changes.

               I recognize the difference in each person's abilities must be addressed by all paying in direct proportion to what is earned. This is a responsibility We all share.

               I recognize "trickle-down" to be a threat to capitalism and OUR entire economy as it causes the lesser and middle classes to pay support to the upper ones. Like paying to go to work.

               I recognize that the first duty of OUR govt. is to equally protect "All persons..."(15th Amendment) Naturally inherent or otherwise inalienable rights as expressed by OUR Founders. This requires the bill for all government services be paid in direct proportion to earnings/wealth. I recognize there are party-poopers/slackers who would not care to pay their fair share. They must be reigned in by hook or crook.

                As OUR Founders rejected moral based laws and adopted laws that address direct harm, regulations exist and are necessary. It would be nice if all OUR businesses were good citizens and did not mistreat their employees or pollute OUR environment, unfortunetly there are many who do.

               As Thomas Jefferson quite well explained/documented in State of Virginia, OUR forefathers had a tradition of those well-off taking in and/or supporting those unable to provide for themselves. That is a tradition worth supporting.

                Equal protection of Naturally inherent inalienable rights is not "Socialism".

                 The "Social Contract" whereby "All persons" agree to be represented by duly elected persons doing OUR work while retaining OUR civil rights, requires all to work together to create a "more perfect union". Those choosing not to engage in the "Social Contract" and just "work for his/her own welfare", should be excluded from the benefits of OUR republic and banished at large.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 29, 2014 14:58

All of Thomas Jefferson's contributions are within a framework when people must own property to vote.  Prior to the 1900's there were virtually no government welfare programs.  During Jefferson's time, states were still soverign and individualizm was the foundation on which America came to be great.  It wasn't until the Great Depression where government started to redistribute wealth to the poor.


The "Social Contract" as it's defined is that government exists to serve the will of the people.  In that context, the "will of the people" is the problem.  Now we have people voting for politicians who will give them the most stuff.  Seniors vote for politicians who promise not to touch their social security.  Students vote for politicians who promise to give them more favorable student loans.  Minorities vote for politicians who setup dual standards so that they compete with other minorities rather than everyone.  Hispanics vote for those that have favorable immigration laws.  Etc.


If it can be said that 47% of Americans are subsidized by the government in some way, then we're hitting a critical mass that says if government takes any more redicstribute, the "makers" will not vote to favor the "takers".  So is that natural balancing point good for the country?


I say not.  America had the greatest advancements and was most industrious when nearly all of our population was self-suffieient.  We've racked up one heck of a credit card bill: $17,000,000,000!  The best way to pay that back is to make all hands industrious.  For every man giving up a government assistance program, that will benefit society two fold.  (Once by not taking from public funds and once for contributing to public funds with taxes on his earnings.)


Some think with $17T in debt and inflation starting to skyrocket, America is on the verge of a major problem.  Let's hope we don't have to have an economic collapse to learn a valuable lesson on Socialism. 

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 29, 2014 15:37

             Before there was a USA those well-off voluntarily provided for those not able to provide for themselves.

            There has been no such thing as a "redistribution of wealth". This is  made-up b.s. by those not wanting to pay their fair share.

              You still know little of the "Social Contract". It is a two-way street whereby We the people enjoy the "blessings of Liberty", while paying into the agreed to Govt. OUR representatives chose to create the cost of which is a shared cost. Politicians are held in check by OUR Constitution. They cannot just give things away.

               The 47% number is b.s. too. Most of "All persons" receiving Govt. money are entitled to it.

             We are not "on the verge of a major collapse".  

The 17 trillion is also a b.s. number. It was racked up in response to the bushishito failures. It is a debt We the people thru OUR elected representatives chose to acqrue(sp). While large even for Republican standards of spend but don't tax, just shift the burden to the next administration, it is not that much of a burden.

                  Stop outsourcing. Stop "trickle-down". Stop corporate subsidies period. Hold those accountable for OUR job losses. Confiscate all off-shore accounts that exist to avoid US taxes. Confiscate all assets of all share-holders of such companies. Publicly execute outsourcers". 

           Increase income tax to a level in direct proportion to what is earned and increase inheritance more so. This will cause the alreddy well-off to pay a greater part of the fiscal pie and as such will put money unnecessarily spent back in the hands of those that spend it, the common man. Demand will occur. Jobs will follow.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jun 29, 2014 16:50

1) "Before there was a USA those well-off voluntarily provided for those not able to provide for themselves." -- Please site examples relevant to the point made that Jefferson's contributions were made in the context that voting was done by "qualified" people.


2) "There has been no such thing as a redistribution of wealth" -- "Government transfers and federal taxes both help to even out the income distribution. Transfers boost income the most for lower-income households, while taxes claim a larger share of income as people's income rises."



3) "paying into the agreed to Govt." -- My point exactly.  The "agreed to Govt" is the result of selfish voters who vote for as much as they can get from public funds until there is no more support to take any more funds for the public.


4) "The 47% number is..."



5) "The 17 trillion is also..."

Ref:  ($17,555,528,984,000 and counting)


6) "...large even for Republican standards of spend..." -- I'll give you that one.  Any Republican who spends like Bush did ought not to be called a Republican.  I'm pretty sure that's where the Tea Party comes in.



"Stop outsourcing" -- I'd prefer we build an environment where it's more advantageous not to outsource.

"Stop corporate subsidies" -- Agreed.

"cause the already well-off to pay a greater part of the fiscal pie" -- Taxing 100% of all the people who made over $1M would only take enough to pay 33% of our deficit.  We would STILL borrow more than a trillion on top of the normal spending.  And you'd send a start message to all those making $1M to move somewhere else and take your company and money-making attitude elsewhere.


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jun 30, 2014 15:57

    From Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia:


"The poor, unable to support themselves, are maintained by an assessment on the titheable persons in their parish. This assessment is levied and administered by twelve persons in each parish, called vestrymen, originally chosen by the housekeepers of the parish, but afterwards filling vacancies in their own body by their own choice. These are usually the most discreet farmers, so distributed through their parish, that every part of it may be under the immediate eye of some one of them. They are well acquainted with the details and ;oeconomy of private life, and they find sufficient inducements to execute their charge well, in their philanthropy, in the approbation of their neighbours, and the distinction which that gives them. The poor who have neither property, friends, nor strength to labour, are boarded in the houses of good farmers, to whom a stipulated sum is annually paid. To those who are able to help themselves a little, or have friends from whom they derive some succours, inadequate however to their full maintenance, supplementory aids are given, which enable them to live comfortably in their own houses, or in the houses of their friends. Vagabonds, without visible property or vocation, are placed in workhouses, where they are well cloathed, fed, lodged, and made to labour. Nearly the same method of providing for the poor prevails through all our states; and from Savannah to Portsmouth you will seldom meet a beggar. In the larger towns indeed they sometimes present themselves. These are usually foreigners, who have never obtained a settlement in any parish. I never yet saw a native American begging in the streets or highways. A subsistence is easily gained here: and if, by misfortunes, they are thrown on the charities of the world, those provided by their own country are so comfortable and so certain, that they never think of relinquishing them to become strolling beggars. Their situation too, when sick, in the family of a good farmer, where every member is emulous to do them kind offices, where they are visited by all the neighbours, who bring them the little rarities which their sickly appetites may crave, and who take by rotation the nightly watch over them, when their condition requires it, is without comparison better than in a general hospital, where the sick, the dying, and the dead are crammed together, in the same rooms, and often in the same beds."

Read more:


             "All persons" paying taxes in support of OUR agreed to governance in proportion to what is earned is not "income distribution". It may result in that but it is not of itself.

              The Forbes article fails to separate entitlements which are paid for from other Social programs. Makes a huge difference.


                The total gross assets of US is estimated at 110 trillion dollars. A one time 15% stipend would pay/negate OUR debt and leave 85% intact. Sounds reasonable to me.

                  Most people have debts far in excess of their ability to pay in one year. Mortgages for example. We the people are only in debt about equal to one years worth on income. We are not broke by any means.



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