In a comment to my previous post, in which I stated that "liberals are ruled by guilt," Jewish Atheist wrote:
Um, wow. That's pretty ignorant. Liberals care about people. It's true that the poor need more help than the middle class (by definition) but we certainly don't hate the middle class, nor even the upper class. We don't feel guilty about America being a great country, yet we'd like to use that greatness to help other people as well. For example, illegal immigrants and the victims in the Sudan.
Calling "caring" "guilt" is a pretty cynical way of dismissing the opposition.
This comment really attacks the core of my argument that guilt is what motivates leftist politics. See my previous post, Guilt, religion, and politics.
Caring and guilt have two different definitions:
(1) Caring is "feeling and exhibiting concern and empathy for others."
(2) Guilt is "self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing."
The fact that there are two different words with widely understood separate meanings indicates that there is a consensus that they describe two different feelings.
I don't discount the possibilty that they could be manifestations of the exact same underlying feeling. In fact, I'd call for research psychologists to research whether or not there is a difference. Or maybe this research has already been done?
But I would posit that guilt and caring are distinct. A person can be caring without feeling guilt, and a person can feel guilty without genuinely caring, although the guilty person's guilt alleviation behavior can appear to be caring behavior to outside observers.
The caring person's actions are altruistic, while the guilty person's actions are selfish. The guilty person's actions are aimed at making himself feel better by alleviating his own guilt.
The guilty person is incapable of caring through "tough love." The guilty left, looking for a quick fix alleviation of their guilt about the poor, have instituted public policies that make the poor even worse off in the long run. The perverse incentives of the U.S. welfare state discourage responsible behaviors such as marriage and career building, encouraging instead the easy route of getting pregnant and living off of public assistance. The welfare mothers then teach these irresponsible values to their children, creating a vicious circle of perpetual dependence on the welfare state.
The guilty left doesn't seem to have any desire to fix the problems of the welfare state and help poor peole in the long run. When it comes to welfare, conservatives seem more caring to me.