I'm always amused, however, when people describe themselves as socially liberal but "fiscally conservative". Most people, including atheists, are as actively misinformed about economics as most theists are about philosophy. Conservatism is a set of social values, money is a social construct, so to me "fiscal conservatism" means using the social constructions around money to bring about conservative social values, especially preserving and enhancing the status of the ruling class and maintaining the subordination of the working class.
One interesting point is that many conservative values are subtly encoded in our basic beliefs about economics in just the same way the author describes conservative values such as "judicial activism" as subtly embedded in basic Christian conservative beliefs.
I loved the subtext to the questions. Innocent sounding questions that carry a boatload of meaning if you know what they’re driving at. For example, “Our judicial system should allow judges, through their decisions and rulings, to guide and shape the foundational basis of law.” On the surface, the way the question is worded makes you want to write “disagree”–judges don’t make the law, they’re supposed to interpret the law. But they’re gearing you up to learn about judicial activism, which will eventually lead to claiming that judges who rule contrary to what a conservative family organization wants are part of an oligarchy, or even accusing them of tyranny, etc. So I kind of had to think for a moment on some of these type of questions: questions where I knew I might agree on the surface, but totally disagree on the application.For example, consider the question, "Some people deserve to have more money than others." Seems like a question any sensible person would assent to, n'est-ce pas? But there are a lot of assumptions buried in this question: What is it precisely about a person or class of people that makes them deserve more money? How much more? Do they intrinsically deserve the money, at a "moral" level, or are there some people we pragmatically want to give more money to for more basic, fundamental reasons?
If one blithely answers "yes" to this question, without really examining what it asks, then certain other beliefs seem to flow: It's not a criticism, for example, to simply note that Bill Gates has a lot more money than an African subsistence farmer or homeless American; perhaps Mr. Gates simply deserves to have more money.
More importantly, it suggests that anyone who opposes any of the "buried" assumptions must therefore have a different answer to the explicitly asked question. If all good capitalist
Now, most sensible, liberal people who describe themselves as "fiscally conservative" would offer a different explicit interpretation: they believe in a sound, reality-based approach to money: we should not, for example, do unrealistic things like consume more than we produce. But why should we ever associate the word "conservative" with reality? The subtle bias, of course, is that those social liberals mean well, but they just don't understand money, and people (such as myself) who are even farther away from capitalism must be as reality-challenged as Gene Ray and David Icke.
But of course this is the exact position of Christian conservatives: they believe — or at least they say they believe — in a sound, reality-based approach to social values. They are not imposing their personal, idiosyncratic values on the public, heaven forbid! They are just describing reality as it is; those who disagree are just as mistaken as people who disagree that the Earth orbits the Sun or that things fall when you drop them.