I used the title phrase here, and Dale asked me about it in comments. Rather than bury the answer, and since I'm too stupid to figure out how to put hyper links in my comments, I decided to make my answer a full fledged post. So here goes...:
I tried to explain the basic problem of conservatism in my first post. It's difficult to explain, because as I see it, true belief in conservatism requires the total suspension of reason. It is only through its failure that Conservatism proves itself correct. Even before Reagan, conservatives were for free, unregulated markets, which led to the Robber Barons, monopolies, crazed speculation on the stock and commodities markets, and then the Great Depression. Those same principles are fucking up our economy now. It doesn't really matter how far back you go, to try to find a particular brand of Conservatism. They're all at their roots, the same. Dubyaism is just Conservatism on steroids. OK, with some hubris, insanity and despotism thrown in.
A conservative once told me that the government's job was to "protect the borders." How? Militarily? OK. But what about from illegal immigrants? From the introduction of infectious disease? From lead painted toys? From tainted food stuffs? From cheap, shoddy goods made by slave labor? Those are just a few things I think Government should consider when protesting our borders, and we're not even getting to, "...promote the general welfare and ensure the prospects of liberty for ourselves and our posterity." (from the Preamble to the Constitution)
Small government, like the idea of trickle down economics, is a Conservative mantra. You were just a tot when Reagan ran for Pres, but he ran on an anti-government platform. I've quoted him here, and I know I've said it to you, but the one I really love: "I've often thought that the Nine most feared words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" Then he would go on to explain that government cannot solve problems; that government IS the problem. So Ron... as leader of the nation, what will you do? Nothing; Government CAN'T do anything. Reagan set the presidential vacation record that Dubya broke.
Conservatism seems to hold this as an inherent problem, that can only be solved through deregulation and privatization, and conservatives will often go to great lengths to prove this. Bush has over and over again appointed cronies and incompetents to head programs and agencies, with sad results. It's not by accident; it's by design. It's so that they'll get people to say things like, "Look at how the State department fucks up passports. Sure as hell don't want those assholes running health care." Things don't have to be that way. They are that way, because want them that way; because it makes them seem right.
So what about Conservative programs that work? I really can't think of any. Certainly not like Social Security, FHA and the rest of FDR's New Deal. What about the EPA? True that was started by Nixon, and Nixon was a Republican, but he wasn't necessarily a conservative. He also tried to institute a comprehensive health care plan, OSHA, Affirmative Action and tried to control inflation through a price and wage control board. Not exactly free market small gov stuff there. Eisenhower was also a Republican, but besides fucking up the White House floors with his golf shoes, I can't say what he did. I remember he was quoted that he ran as a Republican to "save the two-party system."
Reagan... good old Ronnie Raygun. The guy the Refuckyoucans worship, emulate, imitate and see on Mt Rushmore during their wet dreams. Gutted the civil rights act, affirmative action, the EPA... discontinued all the Carter initiatives into alternative fuels and conservation... tried to start drilling in ANWR... dumped shitloads of money into stuff like Star Wars... set the deficit records that Dubya broke... deregulated the airlines, so they could become the models of efficiency they are today... busted unions... So he appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court and she turned out to be a centrist/swing vote, but he also appointed Rehnquist, Scalia, and Kennedy when he couldn't get Bork -- who was truly bugfuck crazy -- appointed. "Amnesty" for illegal immigrants? A Liberal idea? NOPE.
Basically, if a conservative Refuckyoucan administration ever instituted a program that worked, they would prove Reagan wrong. They have NO incentive to succeed. They purposely break government programs and then replace them with shit from deregulated private industries. They make the army more efficient by taking away duties like cooking meals and trucking fuel, resulting in scamming and over charging by KBR and others. Not to mention soldiers getting sick from tainted water. They offer "improved service" from public utilities supposedly through competition by deregulating and privatizing, resulting in power grid failures, rolling blackouts, massive rate increases, and ENRON. Could you fucking imagine privatized Social Security, backed by securities packages backed by sub-prime mortgages?
These are a few of their favorite things... when the dog bites... when the bee stings... when they're feeling sad. They simply deregulate some other thing, and then they don't feeeeeel soooo baaaaaaad.
Fucked up government is good for Conservatives.