But not in the western European / Commonwealth sense of the word, nor in the Stalinist sense. But in the National Socialist German Workers Party sense. That is, conservatives believe in socializing the costs of business by using public dollars; in the form of tax loop holes, guaranteed loans, government rebates and abatements, offshore accounting gimmicks, and of course, the always necessary bailout.
Bailouts, what can you say? Big companies hire lobbyists to impose themselves on the citizens' elected officials, who even write legislation for said officials to sponsor. Such as deregulating home loans that allow unscrupulous lenders can make a killing with a variety of increased interest scams on the public - a public who is generally unable to make sense of overly complex mortgage agreements. But when this scam backfires those who got rich disappear and leave the bill behind for the citizens to deal with. Hence the public, once again, covers the costs of the failed conservative "small government" ideal (Fannie and Freddie, Bear Stearns, Savings & Loan, Lockheed, Chrysler, and on and on).
This is a central flaw in the conservative "small government" ideal. It requires total honesty - conservatives tend to reject the notion that bad actors might exist in the corporate world. And so, it is on this "high moral ground" that they stake their claim, they declare that THEY who are ones who are most moral. And it is they who "think" - while the rest of us only "feel". Conservatives claim that they think in terms of the individual "" and it is liberals who think in terms of groups, but when a bailout is on the horizon they exclaim with certitude, "WE have no choice but to bail them out", "OUR financial system demands it" etc.
Why do people buy into this nonsense? Because these guys also own the US propaganda machine that is otherwise known as the "mainstream media". Foreigners who come to our country are amazed that Americans actually believe the stuff coming out of our televisions and radios.
How did all of this come about? For 20 years following the end of the Civil War, the railroad companies argued, in order to avoid paying state taxes, that corporations were people and that they were being taxed unfairly, and that they should be protected under the 14th Amendment--the emancipation amendment. Even though the Supreme court included prior railroad attorneys they had no success until an 1886 case, Santa Clara County vs. The Union Pacific Railroad. As the case was proceeding, the Chief Justice remarked that all the Justices thought that corporations were persons. This comment was included in the case headnote by J. C. Bancroft Davis, who formerly operated a small railroad company, and ever since corporations have enjoyed personhood status.
This seemingly small detail is at the root of great suffering in the US and abroad. Once corporations were deemed people, then that means they have rights, and can demand access to politicians, etc.
But corporations are not people, because 1) they can be in thousands of places at the same time, 2) they have far greater resources than non-corporate people, 3) they have greater access to those in power, 4) they are governed under a different set of rules, 5) they are not punished the same--if three-strikes-your-out applied to defense contractors, then they'd all be out of business, and 6) they never die. In fact, a corporation will kill itself to serve its bottom line, psychopathologic behavior for sure.
Corporations are not people--the concept is simply illegitimate!
This is our biggest problem in the US. All others can be addressed easily once this obstacle is removed from our democracy. Would universal healthcare not be a reality without big pharma and insurance lobbyists blocking the way? And would higher minimum wages also be a reality? Better education? Stronger environmental laws? etc.
So how do we fix this? It won't happen overnight, but the first step is NOT to elect McCain!