That depends on how you define conservatism: the real, which is to say European, way or the American way.
Defined the real way, conservatism is out to preserve what’s left of Western civilisation. Hence the term is voluminous. It includes aspects of religion, philosophy, culture, law, politics, social structure – and, both last and least – economics.
To most Americans, conservatism means something else. This is understandable. For, as the novelist John Dos Passos once wrote, “Repudiation of Europe, is, after all, America’s main excuse for being.”
There the economic or fiscal aspect is neither last nor least, but topmost, with politics running a distant second.
The traditional Western religion has been disliked and marginalised in America from her founding. And most Americans who call themselves conservative have no truck with effete European culture. As an American conservative, a professor no less, once wrote to me, “You Europeans are welcome to your symphonies and cathedrals. We in America have something much more important.”
He didn’t specify what it was but, if pressed, I’m sure he would have mentioned America’s vibrant economy and commitment to democracy run riot. Having spoken to hundreds of American conservatives, I’d say most share the good professor’s views.
If we persevere with the real definition, then the answer to the question in the title is a resounding no. China has nothing to do with Western conservatism because she is neither Western nor conservative. The country is a disgusting communist tyranny committed to stamp out every shoot of Western civilisation.
However, if we stick strictly to the American concept, then, comparing Biden’s fiscal policies with Xi’s, there’s room for doubt.
The Democrats, led in their inimitable way by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, have come up with $3.5 trillion spending plans. A big chunk of all those zeros is to be spent on indulging woke fantasies, such as global warming.
Some of those zeroes are to come from large increases in both corporate and personal taxes. The former is to go up from 21 to 26.5 per cent, which, when local taxes are taken into account, means an average of 31 per cent. Had Biden got his way, the figure would be closer to 33 per cent, but the smarter political mechanics within the party managed to get him down.
If acted upon, the plans will bless American businesses with some of the highest corporate taxes in the world. It’s hard to overestimate the power of the blow this will deliver to the economy. For corporations tend to pass their tax burden on to consumers, with the whole economy suffering as an inevitable result.
In a sort of perverse double whammy, top earners will be hit with combined federal and state tax rates of 60 to 62 per cent. Since top earners also tend to be top providers of jobs, this one-two combination may well have a devastating impact. For in our globalised economy glued together by electronic communications, it’s not especially hard for companies and top earners to take their business elsewhere.
The likelihood of them acting in such an unpatriotic manner is high. And if they do, higher tax rates may not even produce higher tax revenues.
That, however, isn’t the point. For the real, underlying purpose of extortionate taxation isn’t economic but punitive. It’s a way for the state to increase its power by punishing economic independence and discouraging its pursuit.
Anyway, the title of this article promised a comparison. So here it is: the top corporate tax in China is 25 per cent, and the top rate of personal income tax is 45 per cent. Hence, if we stick to the American understanding of conservatism, the question is answered.
Compared to President Biden, Chairman Xi is an economic libertarian, a term Americans tend to use interchangeably with conservative. Do you still wonder who will rule the world in a couple of decades?