Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why I'm Not a Liberal

Over the years at Viewpoint we've taken a position that leans conservative on most issues. Though liberals are often quicker to recognize problems that need to be addressed in our society, problems to which conservatives are sometimes tone deaf, the best solutions to those problems, once they're acknowledged, are usually those that follow from a conservative philosophy. Liberal solutions are not only often less efficacious they're quite often disastrous, as we're seeing with the Affordable Health Care Act which Democrat Senator Max Baucus, who helped push it through the Senate, is now calling a "train-wreck."

Liberals themselves are often well-meaning, compassionate people, but their policies have been corrosive and counterproductive both to the individuals they seek to help and to our larger society. Here are a couple of ways I think that's true:

Start with work. Work ennobles us, matures us, nourishes our soul.

Liberalism, however, encourages people to shun work. It promotes a mentality - in unions, for example - that discourages initiative and hustle and seeks to maximize pay while minimizing effort. The worker who does more than his fellows, who's willing to do more than is required by his contract, often finds himself reprimanded or punished by his union.

Liberalism promotes a mentality among the poor that's even worse. Liberalism tells the poor that the state will meet all their needs and many of their wants. It rewards sloth and subsidizes dependency. As Adam Smith put it, "Nothing tends so much to corrupt and enervate and debase the mind as dependency," but liberal policies almost invariably increase dependency.

Dependency also breeds resentments. The taxpayers who pull the wagon, so to speak, tend to resent the free riders who often feel entitled to the taxpayers' beneficence, and the free riders, in turn, resent the "pullers" for resenting them. The free riders also resent those who are doing all the work because they implicitly recognize their superior virtue. The very fact that others are carrying them on their backs is an indictment of their own lack of the qualities necessary to raise themselves to a higher estate, and they resent it. Moreover, their gratitude, such as it is, is directed not to those whose labor makes their ride possible but to the political party that yokes the pullers to the wagon so that their ride may be both free and comfortable.

When the state inserts itself between the giver of benefits and the recipient it blocks the virtue of gratitude and divorces the giver from the lives of those who receive his gift. The Tsarnaev family received, for some inexplicable reason, $100,000 in welfare over the last couple of years. They demonstrated their gratitude to the taxpayers of America by killing four people and maiming over a hundred others.

Nor does the state demand accountability from the recipient, as private donors might, and, because the exchange between state and recipient is impersonal, it lowers whatever inhibitions there might otherwise be among recipients to manipulating and abusing the givers' generosity.

Liberalism, in a nutshell, teaches the poor that they're entitled to ride in the wagon and instructs the chumps pulling it to pull harder and complain less. This is a message guaranteed to corrode virtue and breed resentment.

Furthermore, liberalism erodes the very foundation of society by destroying families. It tends to amplify the centrifugal forces acting on parents that separate children from their parents and parents from each other. All one need do is look at those sectors in society where liberal social policies have had their most profound effect and one invariably sees a tangle of pathologies and dysfunctionalities afflicting the family.

By usurping the role of fathers and subsidizing children government makes husbands and fathers superfluous. When men are not necessary to provide for women and their children women will not demand commitment from men and men will not commit themselves to the children they spawn nor to their mothers. Thus generations of children grow up without having a positive, loving, male figure in their lives which is why the most reliable commonality among men in prison - and among women who are sexually promiscuous at an early age - is fatherlessness.

By taking away from parents the right, for instance, to supervise their child's purchase of birth control or to decide whether a child will have an abortion, by making divorce easier to attain, liberalism weakens the bonds that tie families together. It reduces society to a collection of disparate individuals rather than a community of strong families.

And the family isn't the only institution that liberalism weakens. Liberal educational policies and assumptions have wrought havoc with what was once a fine system of public education in this country and liberal attitudes toward matters of faith and religion have weakened and undermined the church which has historically been perhaps the chief support and focal point of American communal life.

Liberalism, moreover, encourages people to indulge their passions. Whatever one has a mind to do, as long as no one else is hurt by it, is just fine and the rest of us, we're told, should accept it. It's not merely that people should tolerate behavior they find offensive, but that it's at best socially gauche and at worst hate speech to pass any kind of judgment on those behaviors. Thus, not only should we tolerate, for example, the sexual predilections of others, we must either approve of them or keep our mouths shut.

Such are the fruits of liberalism. It fosters fatherlessness, destroys communities, reduces people to social atoms, stifles virtue, suppresses free expression of moral opinion, and discourages initiative and hard work while promoting dependency. It shrivels the souls of individuals and fractures communities.

Those are a few reasons why I'm not a liberal.