Purely as a silly question, what exactly do conservatives “conserve?” We can rule out jobs.

Abysmally negotiated free trade has cost America millions of jobs, vanishing with a “giant sucking sound” (Ross Perot). Who did the negotiating? Conservatives. Labor unions were shut out. America’s billionaires realized that they had more in common with China’s billionaires than with America’s workers. The resulting cheap imports made conservatives very rich. Workers got thrown under the bus.

Low prices come at a high cost. Millions of unemployed workers are now addicted to opioids. Millions are homeless. Low prices benefit consumers, certainly, but have left a trail of destruction in the Rust Belt. Donald Trump promised to fix these problems. Unemployed steelworkers believed him.

China has a glut of steel. It has been dumping it worldwide. This is a case, therefore, for the World Trade Organization, not America alone. Moreover, semifinished steel imports from China are only 2.5 percent of total U.S. consumption. American steel producers became more efficient. The U.S. now produces as much steel with 86,000 workers as it did 30 years ago with 188,000 workers. So those 100,000 lost steel jobs will not magically “come back” any time soon.

Regardless, our “stable genius” in the Oval Office put tariffs on semifinished steel and aluminum. The Wall Street Journal called that “the biggest policy blunder of his presidency.” Simply put, there are more steel-using jobs than steel-producing jobs. The last time the U.S. tried a steel tariff, in 2002, it saved 20,000 steel jobs but killed 200,000 other jobs. Today, tariffs need to be targeted.

Regardless, our stable genius tweeted that trade wars are “easy to win.” His economics adviser Gary Cohn resigned in horror. Nobody wins a trade war. Conservatives promoted the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, greatly increasing tariffs. But other countries retaliated. This resulted in a full-scale trade war that exacerbated the Great Depression and mass economic destruction.

FDR’s New Deal programs put over 11 million Americans to work building roads, dams, power stations, courthouses, campsites and other public works. These restarted the economy and in fact almost doubled its size. It got unemployment down from 25 percent in 1933 to well under 10 percent in 1941. Please note, conservatives produced the mass destruction and LIBERALS did the “conserving.”

And it was LIBERAL policies that produced the greatest economic expansion in history, from 1945 to 1975. Productivity rose. With strong unions, wages rose; workers spent more; demand rose; output rose; employment rose, etc., etc. Everyone paid higher taxes, which funded infrastructure such as the Interstate Highways, whose workers spent money, etc. Money went around merrily … until conservatives redesigned America’s economy with Reaganomics.

We now have a low-wage, low-tax, low-growth economy, unlike Germany. Its car workers are paid $67/hour, double the rate here. Our infrastructure is miserable. Theirs is superb. The Germans are obviously good at keeping their conservatives under control.

America’s conservatives run wild. Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, rammed through the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act with a parliamentary trick. Alan Greenspan was running the Federal Reserve. He was America’s top financial regulator. Sadly, he did not believe in regulating finance. He was a conservative.

He let Wall Street go berserk with the obscure financial derivatives authorized by Sen. Gramm. Warren Buffett called them “instruments of mass financial destruction.” When they blew up, banks fell like dominoes. The collapse of investment bankers Lehman Brothers in 2008 set off mass panic, caused the Great Crash, and threatened the entire economic system. Greenspan then declared himself to be in “a state of shocked disbelief,” reminding everyone of Capt. Renault’s classic line in Casablanca: “I’m shocked, shocked, to find there’s gambling going on here!”

Greenspan later published memoirs attempting to whitewash his legacy. The Economist magazine was not impressed. Rather drily, it called his legacy “casino capitalism.”  

To fix Gramm’s mess, the Fed (without Greenspan) created $3.5 trillion of new money to buy Wall Street’s “toxic assets” produced by those “instruments of mass financial destruction.” Democrats rushed a stimulus package to President Barack Obama in February 2009 to borrow $790 billion for another FDR-style stimulus. It worked, pulling the economy out of its terminal nosedive. Of course, conservatives opposed this stimulus furiously (but gratefully took its money in private). Please note, conservatives produced the mass financial destruction and LIBERALS did the “conserving.”

The Great Crash created by our brainless “conservatives” cost America about $15 trillion in lost wealth, threw millions out of work, and made Americans look like fools. And swindlers; the Swiss, Germans and British were bilked out of billions.

In short, conservatives removed the brakes, added a supercharger, got drunk, drove the economy into a ditch, injured the passengers, fired on the tow truck, and robbed our friends. If you can find anything that “conservatives” actually conserve, please let me know.