My mother and aunt Herta called me last night. I forget how we got to it, but I was explaining to Herta how low taxes are here in Switzerland, and how much more the Swiss government provides with that money than the American government manages to provide despite a much higher tax rate. How big is the discrepancy? I have roughly %13 in withholdings, including all taxes and unemployment insurance. Switzerland has a private, but highly regulated medical insurance system (a lot like what Obama is trying to push through), so I do have additional health care costs, compared with other countries. That money pays for an incredibly stable and responsible government, which takes great pains to protect the air and water quality, provide an excellent education system with top class university educational available, virtually for free, for anyone willing to work for it. They have the best mass transit system I have ever seen anywhere. They do a commendable job protecting the environment. Crime is virtually non-existent and emergency systems and infrastructure are second to none.
So we got to talking about how this works so well, and I said I thought it was partly thanks to the excellent system, and partly thanks to the culture (which has its defects, but certainly contributes to the well functioning democracy). Herta made the comment that yes, the Swiss are very conservative, responsible voters. So I took a breath and said, well, yeah, that’s right, the Swiss are conservative in the sense of the english adjective, but not in the sense typically used in American politics.
The problem is, there is no real conservative political group in the United States, if we consider conservative to mean cautious, thinking far into the future, and making sober careful political decisions. American so-called conservatives, i.e. the Republican party, are dangerous radicals. Whenever the Republicans are in power they institute dangerous and radical social, political, environmental and economical changes, whose consequences often take many years to manifest. A real conservative would carefully weigh the merits and demerits of opening new territories for exploitation. A real conservative would have looked at the trends with oil production and the consequences of oil dependence and global climate change back in the seventies, and begun making plans. American so-called conservatives just say “deregulate!”, “drill baby drill”. The Republicans, who call themselves conservatives, essentially follow the greedy-algorithm, which basically consists of the “take the step which gives me the largest immediate gain”. This algorithm leads to dangerously unstable outcomes, both in computational science, and in real life.