The Conservatives’ Fatal Flaw — They Don’t Get It That There Is Always A Cost Of Doing Business

Feb 14, 2017 · 7 min read

By David Grace (

Everything In Life Comes With A Cost

There is no world in which the philosophy “Heads I Win, Tails You Lose” prevails.

In personal relationships, in business, and in society there is always a cost of doing business.

There’s A Cost For Everything In Your Personal Life

You may love your spouse, but to make your marriage work you’re going to have to put up with his/her relatives. It’s a cost of doing business.

You decide you want kids, so a year later junior is born, but by age nine or so you decide he’s a dud. He’s always getting sick and he cries a lot and he’s always breaking something. But guess what?

You can’t say, “Crap, Timmie’s costing me more time and money than I expected. Little Timmie’s a loser. I’m going to put him out on the curb to fend for himself while I knock up the little woman so we can try again.”

The possibility of getting a child other than the one you wanted is a known risk of having a family. Your dealing with that child is a cost of doing business.

There’s A Cost For Everything In Your Society

You live in a society that provides all kinds of benefits and advantages over sleeping in a sod hut in the middle of a wilderness. But there’s a cost to that as well.

The fatal blind spot in the conservatives’ philosophy is that they think they can take the upside of living in a society and skip the downside of paying the costs required to make that society work.

The Conservatives’ Think They Can Have A Heads-I-Win-Tails-You-Lose World

Every time some conservative says, “Repeal Obamacare. Cancel food stamps. Cut Medicare. Cut Social Security” what he’s really is saying is, “We can have a workable ‘Heads-I-win-tails-you-lose’ society. The winners can keep all their money and just ignore the losers.”

They think that they can have a workable, prosperous, free, low-crime, non-violent society when 15% of the population has no access to non-emergency-room medical care, when half the population has no savings at all, where 30% of the population cannot support itself, where 15% of the population cannot feed itself.

The conservatives think that without consequences they can treat all the average and below average people who are either not trained enough or smart enough to fill the living-wage jobs that are available and who can’t earn enough to support themselves in the poverty-wage jobs that might (or might not) be available with benign neglect and still have a workable country.

In their mind:

  • If there isn’t a job available that will pay the bottom twenty or thirty percent of the population enough to live on;
  • If fifteen percent of the population can’t earn enough to feed themselves;
  • If fifteen percent of the population can’t afford buy medical care

too bad. That’s their problem.

Ignoring Society’s Losers Doesn’t Work

Conservatives foolishly think, “Well, hell, we’ll just ignore the dumb people. Those starving people with starving kids and no medical care won’t cause the rest of us any trouble.”

That’s like parents who think they can just dump their loser ten-year-old on the street and be done with him.

You can’t do that. Not because it’s not nice to abandon all those “loser” kids, but because no society can function with armies of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of abandoned children roaming the streets.

Sorry, mom and dad, but taking care of your kids who don’t meet your expectations is one of the costs of being a parent. That’s a cost of having a family, a cost of doing business.

It’s the same with your society’s losers.

You can’t execute twenty or thirty percent of the population. You can’t ship them off to a desert island. There is no frontier for them to tame.

They’re not going anywhere. They’re all still right there with you and your family.

You may want to ignore them. You may think it’s possible to ignore them, but they won’t let you.

You will have to deal with them because in the long run they will do things that will cost you lots of money and they will make you very unhappy.

The Consequences Of Benign Neglect

When the conservatives think they can have a functioning, successful, low-crime, winners only, “Heads-I-win-tails-you-lose” society, when they think that they can just ignore the not very smart, not very skilled, not very industrious bottom twenty or thirty percent of the population, they’re living in a fantasy land.

People don’t join gangs because they think gangs are a wonderful career opportunity. They join gangs because they see gang membership as the best course actually open to them.

People don’t deal drugs because they think that’s a great way to live. They do it because it beats working a crappy job that won’t pay them enough to live on anyway assuming they could get and hold that crappy job in the first place.

People don’t become small-time crooks, burglars, shoplifters, mail and package thieves, car thieves and the like because of the great job benefits. They do it because, on balance, it’s better then the alternatives.

“But they shouldn’t!” the conservatives shout. “I wouldn’t do that. They’re bad people.”

  • It doesn’t matter what you think they shouldn’t do. They will do it no matter what you think.
  • In your safe little upper-middle-class-cocoon world you don’t know what you would do if you grew up not very smart, no special skills, with no family to support and educate you, no job worth a damn, a crappy education and knowing, knowing, that you and your kids have absolutely no future.
  • You can call people who aren’t smart, aren’t talented, were unlucky enough to be born into a poor family or with no family, all the names you like, but that won’t keep them from gangs, and drugs and crime.

In fact, the more your society fails to provide the people with low skills, training and intelligence with the opportunity to earn a decent living, with a reasonable chance for a productive role in society, the more hostile they will become to your society.

The more you tell someone, “You’re a loser. I don’t want you” the more they’re likely to say, “I don’t like you either” right back.

There Are Always Going To Be Lots Of Less Then Smart People

When you live in an urban society with hundreds of millions of people in close proximity you’re stuck with its associated costs of doing business.

Yes, your society is going to have stupid people. It’s going to have untrained people. It’s going to have foolish people. It’s going to have people who are going to look for the easy way out. Most people look for the easy way out.

The net wealth of half the U.S. population is zero. ZERO. Are they all just lazy? 15% of the country is on food stamps. Are they all just lazy? 15% of the country has no access to medical care. Are they all just lazy?

You’re ignoring reality if you think you can ignore them any more than you can ignore an infection in your appendix. Untreated it will fester and kill you.

That fifteen percent of the population that can’t find living-wage jobs, aren’t able to buy medical care, educate their children, or feed themselves are similarly an infection in the body politic, and that infection will fester and make the entire society sick.

It Has Nothing To Do With Being Nice

When you run a business you’re going to have to pay lawyers. Not because you like lawyers but because dealing with legal problems is one of the costs of running a business.

If you don’t do the paperwork, if you don’t pay your taxes, if you don’t maintain your equipment, if you don’t do all the other ancillary things that every business has to do, your business will fail.

You don’t want to spend time with your spouse’s relatives but you have to do it, not because you want to be a nice person, but because if you don’t you’ll have real problems in your marriage.

One way or another, making provisions for the people who are not as smart as you, not as trained as you, not as clever as you, not as industrious as you is a cost of your society’s doing business.

Not because it’s nice to make sure they have a job that will pay them a living wage. Not because it’s the moral or Christian thing to do.

You have to make sure they have access to a job that will allow them to earn a decent life because that’s one of the costs for your society to run effectively.

Conservatives are delusional when then believe that they can get what they want out of their society without paying the associated costs of doing business.

See What You Get

So, conservatives, enlarge the existing underclass of desperately poor people whom you want to throw away because you think they’re not diligent enough or smart enough or talented enough or lucky enough to be born into a successful family.

Treat them with benign neglect.

Tell them that if they can’t afford medical care they deserve to be sick.

Tell them that if they can’t feed their family with part-time poverty-wage work then they should just starve, or steal.

See how well that works for you. See how many more cops you have to hire, how many more prisons you have to build, how many more gangs and drugs and crime you get.

See what kind of a really terrible society you are going to get because you refuse to recognize that dealing with the people you think of as losers is a cost of doing business, that providing them with living wage jobs is one of the costs of having a society that works.

The husband who refuses to put up with his wife’s relatives will have a crappy marriage.

The contractor who refuses to do the paperwork required to run a company will have a failed business.

The conservatives who tell all the “losers” to sink or swim on their own will have an expensive, drug, gang, and crime-ridden society.

–David Grace (

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Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 17 novels and over 200 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.

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