A very important fact, indeed

I agree with Yuval Levin, from his EconTalk podcast, about a simple point and an important fact:

I think Conservatives today don’t often enough make the simple point: that, when it comes to economics the market system that we are advocating has been the best thing that has ever happened to the poor in human history. And has dramatically reduced extreme poverty around the world and is still doing it right now; has been the way in which the needy and the vulnerable have been lifted up. It’s worked far better than anything else we’ve every tried, far better than anything the Left has tried to do economically. And that should matter. That’s a very important fact.

I hear this point made on occasion in left/right debates by the right. I find it interesting at how quickly it gets swept under the rug by the left. It’s usually with a red herring like, “but capitalism has its problems, too.” What I find interesting is how uninterested the left is in examining this important fact.

It goes back to the Levin quote in the previous post, “…the left takes for granted a thriving economy that just comes in the background…

This very important fact, in fact, was key in dislodging my liberal thinking. Before it was pointed out to me, I too, took the thriving economy for granted.

But, when it was pointed out to me, it was eye opening. Rather than sweeping it under the rug, I went silent and thought, if that’s right, how could I be against it? Isn’t it achieving the very thing that I say I want?

Levin went on to say:

Beyond that, the kind of society we are arguing for is a society that for very solid reasons we believe is grounded in a way of life that helps advance the moral good. A way of life that helps people build the sort of lives they want. That makes government more effective at solving problems that people confront. That gives people the room to build the lives they want and protects them from the worst risks that they might confront in modern life, rather than a society that says: This is the way, and you have to do it. Which, again and again, this is how the Left approaches the life of our society: centralize, consolidate, exercise authority to push people into the right grooves.

I couldn’t help to think of this quote when I read this Wall Street Journal op-ed on the politics around the federal nutrition standards for school cafeterias.

The nutrition mandates from 2010 First Lady bill centralizes nutritional choices for school lunches to “push people into the right grooves.”

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2 thoughts on “A very important fact, indeed

  1. This is a great point. The foundations that our quality of life rest on can be damaged and distorted. The golden goose can be, if not killed, at least sickened to the point of reduced production.

    It’s funny that everyone recognizes the negative economic impact of mafia extortion on businesses which is effectively redistribution of wealth from producers to others. The mafia and Hamas and others all have “charitable” arms to help justify their theft, yet we still recognize that the overall economy is worse off. I think many on the left fall into a trap of believing that voting (a popularity contest at best) makes theft by government into a moral good because the election gave the politicians a mandate for theft.

    A method I’ve found effective is to ask if they’d want that power available to the worst politician they can think of from the other side. Would they want Nixon raising their taxes for his pet projects, determining the type of healthcare they can get, mandating the menu for their kids lunches, etc. If they’re honest, they quickly squirm when confronted with that kind of scenario.

  2. As per a previous thread, I think we agree that the problem is not that conservatives have bad ideas, but that conservative politicians do a bad job of articulating their good ideas. I think we all agree that it’s easier to say (and easier to accept), “You’re poor because some rich guys don’t pay their fair share”, than to explain why capitalism works for everyone. The former implies no effort on the part of the voter to get richer – all he has to do is vote for the intermediary thief. The latter implies that the voter must actually get of his butt and produce something.


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