Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Politics of Selfishness

This is why I'm out here reading blogs. Because somebody, somewhere can put in to words what I already think but can't quite find the right way to say -- and I will find it, and I will be able to express my thoughts better the next time some self-important progressive starts shouting me down on the rare occasions where I actually stand up for my opinions in public.

I don't do it very often because of the shouting down by the "tolerant" left. Yes, I am intimidated, I'm sorry to say. Which is also why I blog. Mostly it's not for other people to read, but rather for me to write and work things out in my head, remember things I thought of, and bookmark things I've read. Yeah, it's great if other people read it. But that's not the primary purpose. It's to help me overcome my timidity in the face of the intolerant Left.

Anyway, this is good. Very good.

Confusing Political Economy with Personal Virtue

Liberals accuse conservatives of being selfish because they want lower taxes... and then they can't understand why generally lower and lower middle class people in flyover country tend to vote conservative, they wonder why. Might it have something to do with principle?

It is common to hear Democrats/progressives complain that Republicans/conservatives/libertarians are selfish because they want to cut taxes instead of spending that money on national health insurance or expanded welfare benefits or some other social program.

But this makes absolutely no sense. Democrats are not advocating spending their own money on the poor; they're advocating spending the money of a very small group of voters who lean Republican. One might argue that this very small group of voters is selfish, but they are not the majority, or even a plurality, of Republicans staunchly opposed to taxes. Or other people opposed to taxes. Of all of the libertarian bloggers out there advocating lower taxes and social spending, I'm hard pressed to think of one who wouldn't personally benefit more from the increased social spending than from the lower taxes.

The majority of people opposed to purchasing the higher-taxes/lower-social-spending combo pack may be wrong on some utilitarian basis, but whatever their sins, they are not the sin of selfishness.

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