There is a small, hard core committed cohort on the Left who firmly believe in using the power of the state to control how people live their lives. Those who are admittedly socialist or communist are a very small number, however a much larger number believe in using the power of the state to control people out of "liberal" sentiments; I call these people "Liberals by temperament". Somehow, over the last 30-40 years Liberal has gone from meaning something akin to quasi-Libertarian to overtly Statist in its orientation. Perhaps the disappointment of failing to see their deepest desires, of equality of outcomes across social groups, come to fruition has led many to adopt a mood akin to revolutionary-lite. While the neo-Statists would not support sending counter-revolutionaries to the Gulag, they often rationalize an interest in taking from the well to do and giving to the needy regardless of quaint notions of property rights and freedom. Their confusion comes from the contradictions inherent in the political philosophy now holding sway on the Left-Liberal side of the political divide.
In general the Left believes in using government power to control people's economic behavior while the Right has traditionally believed in using government power to control people's personal behavior. The maxim has been that the Left wants government out of our bedrooms while the Right wants government out of our boardrooms. What we have been learning in the last decade or so is that there is a commonality of purpose to Statists on both the Left and the Right. In either case, government power and control ratchets up and never ratchets back down.
The Liberal by temperament is a person who is a liberal for all sorts of non-ideological reasons. They desire nothing more than that the unfortunates of the world have the same material success that they are heir to; they fervently wish for equality for all, without recognizing that their privilege comes only in part from their privileged background but even more so from their current behavior. Further, they denigrate those who are unsophisticated, dumb, and trashy, often without appreciating that some of those they so denigrate are smart enough not to desire to conform to the latest media mediated intellectual and social classism.
Many Conservatives have discovered that when the government is invited into our bedrooms to regulate our behavior, there is a terrible price to pay in the diminution of all our freedoms. Once the principle is established that government can control behavior "for our own good", when Social Conservatives fall out of power, the "do goodism" does not stop. Liberals do not yet appreciate that when government controls business, "for the good of all", our freedoms (and our pocketbooks) are at risk. Consider Glenn Reynold's rumination on Kelo:
We often hear politicians and pundits denounce property rights. Property rights, we're told, protect the fat cats against the needs of the public. They're a tool for keeping the little guy down.
Like a lot of what we hear from politicians and pundits, this is exactly the opposite of the truth. The fat cats don't need the protection of property rights, because they already control the political system. It's the little guy (or gal), the one without political juice, who needs strong property rights for protection from the fat cats and the politicians they control.
This was demonstrated again this week, as the last legal barrier (a possible US Supreme Court review) to Columbia University's efforts to condemn and seize two businesses -- Tuck-it-Away Self-Storage and a gas station owned by Gurnam Singh and Parminder Kaur in West Harlem -- vanished.
Read the whole thing and keep in mind that people like Singh and Kaur are the newly considered "wealthy", ie they are small businessmen making a living and hiring people to work for them. The truly wealthy and powerful see them as inconveniences or prey.
But wait, aren't the democrats the party of the working man? Don't they protect the little guy? Take a look at Coyote's post:
On Wednesday, President Obama met with a group of about 20 CEOs in a five-hour long summit, reportedly in an attempt to soothe the souring relationship between big business and big government. From almost all accounts, the “charm offensive” was successful.
By the end, Boeing CEO John McNerney is reported to have said, “We all wanted to move beyond the talk that made this confrontational environment. We made our apologies.” Honeywell International CEO David Cote said after the meeting, “Government is the enabler of business…Government and business need to work together.”
What Cote did not mention is that his company has already been working closely with the Obama Administration, and was a major beneficiary of the Recovery Act — as were many of the other companies represented. According to Recovery.gov, Honeywell received over $44 million in grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) for renewable energy initiatives. Honeywell also raked in more than $24 million in a variety of different government contracts from agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense.
Can the Aviation Equalization of Opportunity Act be far behind? The meeting of 19 CEO’s and a leading VC (who feeds noisily at the green energy trough) sounds like the corporate state round-table.
The idea that the Democrats are not in bed with Big Bushiness is a fiction that Liberals by temperament tell themselves to avoid understanding how power and reality operate. The renewable energy scheme leveraging "Global Warming" is one of the great scams of the 21st century. It allows such charlatans as Al Gore and companies like GE to extract money from the rubes (that is us, the taxpayers) while wearing the mantel of saviors of the planet. Elmer Gantry had nothing on these folks.
But wait, isn't business full of corrupt people just ripping people off?
Before Pittsburgh’s light-rail “Tunnel to Nowhere” under the Allegheny River came along, my favorite Port Authority boondoggle was the Wabash Tunnel under Mt. Washington.
Most Pittsburghers know all they need to know about the notorious "Tunnel to Nowhere."
Still under construction and still disrupting downtown Pittsburgh after three years, it's the 1.2-mile, $528 million extension of "The T" (Pittsburgh's light-rail line to the South Hills suburbs) from Gateway Center under the Allegheny River to the North Shore (where the Steelers' and Pirates' subsidized playpens are).
The "Tunnel to Nowhere's" humorless fathers and mothers at the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the local Big Transit franchise, prefer to call it "The North Shore Connector."
But whatever they call it, their baby is still probably going to cost upwards of $.7 billion by the time it's done in 2012. That's when it will begin providing desperately needed cheap public transportation to its key customer base -- Steeler and Pirates fans too lazy to walk across one of four bridges that already connect downtown and the ballparks.
I don't want to spoil the fun; go read the whole thing and you will learn how many cars actually use this tunnel everyday. It is mind-boggling.
Finally, there is health care. As I have pointed out health care is an extremely inexact science and we often do not know the efficacy and utility of a treatment until after it has been used by millions of people for long periods of time. Many treatments only help a fraction of the target population and differentiating the population who may benefit from those who may suffer serious side effects from those who will gain no benefit or injury can only be determined by trial and error. Someday this will change but we are still far from the necessary understanding of the human proteome in all its interactions and complexity to be able to shed much light on the issues involved at this time. That being said, the Liberal by temperament is always certain that government is more compassionate than the evil insurance companies who apparently live and thrive by denying care to people; not so fast:
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday moved to revoke the approval of the widely used drug Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer, saying that new studies did not confirm that the medicine was helping patients.
The decision is causing anguish for some women who worry they may no longer have access to a drug they believe is helping to keep them alive. But some patient advocacy groups welcomed the decision, saying Avastin had never been shown to prolong lives and that women with breast cancer need more than false hope.
“I understand that today’s recommendation from the F.D.A. is disappointing for patients with breast cancer,” Dr. Richard Pazdur, head of the agency’s cancer drug division, told reporters in a conference call. “Please note that these findings are also disappointing for the F.D.A. as well.”
The F.D.A. decision was issued on the same day that the European Medicines Agency, operating under different rules but with the same data, left Avastin available to breast cancer patients, but in a narrower way than it had before.
Avastin almost certainly is helping some women and harming some others. The results for many do not justify the expense. But how do we find that sub-set who may find a remarkable benefit from Avastin? Once identified, what would these women and their cancers tell us about the workings of the drug and its target? With the help of the FDA we may never find out and some women will die who do not have to. As you know, as far as I am concerned, the FDA is the original "death panel" (and no, that is not an exaggeration; many people die unnecessarily because of FDA delays and inactivity.)
These are just a few of the dots Liberals by temperament need to connect before appreciating that when government can control Wall Street traders (who are smart enough to figure out ways around such control anyway, even when they don't actually write the rules themselves; ever wonder why Goldman-Sachs didn't oppose the Financial Reform Bill?) they can control what you eat, where you can work, and how you will live or die. That is why the Tea Party movement, even if led by "white trash", like Sarah Palin, is here to stay.