It is better to be silent and thought a fool than to buy a liberal bumper sticker and remove all doubt. I saw this bumper sticker on a car recently. It is an obvious reference to John Adam’s Wealth of Nations and the Invisible Hand. It is also typical of the simplistic thinking underlying the entire spectrum of liberalism. It should go without saying that it is also entirely wrong.
Liberalism is replete with the type of simplistic moral reasoning exemplified by Victor Hugo’s Inspector Javert. He sees the world in harsh shades of black and white. There are good people and bad people. Good people are always good. Bad people are always bad. When his life is saved by the convict he has been hunting for years, he cannot cope with the idea that a person who was once bad, could become good and he ends his life. I’m sure that some will see irony in the choice of “conservative” Javert as an example, but his rejection of the idea of change, redemption, and forgiveness, as well as the inherent value and dignity of the individual, is the antithesis of the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs that underly the modern Conservative movement.
Perhaps the best example of this is shown by the so-called peace movement–war is bad and peace is good, so we’re for peace and against war because we’re the good (i.e., better) people. Never mind that the peace movement in England in the 1930’s helped make it possible for Nazi Germany to militarize and start World War II by preventing England from taking any steps to counter German aggression in its nascent stages. The belief that English, or French, demilitarization would lead Hitler to be peaceful is eerily similar to the belief that reducing America’s nuclear arsenal will lead other countries to reduce their nuclear weaponry or abandon their nuclear weapons ambitions.
This simplistic world view also explains why liberals have so many of the double-standards that infuriate conservatives. Being a liberal makes you a good person so anyone who is not a liberal is not a good person. Or as Charles Krauthammer put it:
To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
When you’re fighting evil, the ends always justify the means. That attitude has proven the death and destruction of millions at the hands of socialist utopians like Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot as well as their lesser brethren (in death tolls, not evil) like Castro and Guevara. Anyone who stands in the way of ushering the perfect future must be sacrificed (e.g., executed) for the Greater Good.
The political religion of Environmentalism is another example. Plants and animals (except for humans) are good. Humans are bad. Beavers building a dam is good, even though it alters the environment, because it is natural. Humans building a dam is bad because it alters the environment (plus, it’s unnatural). The reality is that all animal activity affects the environment in some way. We can see how just in the past century how affecting wildlife populations (e.g., wiping out wolf populations) has affected other species of plants and animals (e.g., destroying predators leads to over-population of deer who strip plants of so much foliage that they fail to grow normally). The difference between us and animals is that we can see the effects of our activities and take steps to reduce or mitigate those we don’t like (e.g., water pollution) without sacrificing our productivity. Gaea worshippers, however, see all human impact on the environment as bad so any restrictions on human behavior are good no matter the consequences. Sorry, but reality isn’t that simple. There are always tradeoffs. Refusing to recognize those tradeoffs so that we can choose the best balance is not the solution.
Simplistic reasoning also underlies liberal economic beliefs, such as those espoused by Keynes. The Left asserts that tax cuts cause deficits even when they are followed by revenue growth because they assume that revenue would have grown even more without the tax cuts. They either cannot or will not take a closer look and see that tax policies affect economic growth. In other words, the Laffer curve is too complicated for them to really understand and see in practice. Democrats cried foul when a government report identified over a hundred billion in government waste due to redundant programs. They ranted that cutting this spending would harm the economy. Based on their FAITH in Keynesian economics, they argue that cutting any federal spending will shrink the economy because every dollar of federal spending supposedly “stimulates” 1.6 dollars of economic activity. Although I don’t believe the multiplier effect is that large, lets assume that it is correct that the circulation of those dollars in the economy has that effect. The problem with this simplistic reasoning is that it ignores the source of that dollar. Keynesian stimulus theory assumes that government has built up a reserve of unspent cash during good economic times, which can later be spent in a poor economy. However, we know that this doesn’t happen. We have been running deficits almost continually in good and bad economic conditions for decades. The money government is spending is being taken out of the economy through taxes or borrowing and pumped through a federal bureaucracy before being spent in ways that reflect politicians’ ambitions and priorities rather than maximizing productivity. It doesn’t increase demand, only shift it around. It’s like trying fill one end of your swimming pool by pumping water out of the other end, and using a leaky pump to do it. The overall effect is to reduce the water level in the pool, not increase it–the best you can hope for is no effect.
Free market capitalism is the recognition of the obvious fact that people almost always act in their own self-interest. Capitalism does not attempt to change human nature; it adapts to it and harnesses it. Capitalism recognizes that people work hardest and are most productive when they are rewarded for their work. It also recognizes that human selfishness can lead to unproductive behavior, so laws against fraud, for example, are enacted.
Conservatism accepts the Judeo-Christian belief that man is fallen and imperfect. Liberalism and Progressivism accept that human condition is imperfect, but that it will be perfected when human institutions are perfected. Conservatism is pragmatic and realistic, based on the human experience. Progressive secularism is utopian, based on. To paraphrase Keynes:
Progressivism is the belief in the existence of an extraordinary strain of humanity so intellectually superior that they will always know what is best for society and so morally superior that they can be trusted with absolute power to work solely for the benefit of us all and not for themselves. The Progressive Übermensch is known as a Progressive.
– the Mad City Conservative