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June 14, 2006


I actually think many conservatives just don't want to spend the money (i.e. are neither guilty nor caring), but that's just me and hard to determine without a PET scan. The question is whether such policies are practicable, and unfortunately they seem to work in Sweden but not here. Oh well.

I doubt guilt is the same basic emotion as caring, people feel guilty about all sorts of things which have nothing to do with altruism--sex for example. But...we all knew that. (In fact, conservatives tend to be less guilty about caring and more guilty about sex. I suppose there's only so many things you can feel guilty about at once. I think it's the libertarians who just have no guilt.)

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.

You're still assuming the worst about the left's motivations. Do you really believe that people on the left knowingly "instituted public policies that make the poor even worse off in the long run?" If you're indeed right about the counterproductivity of those policies -- and I believe you aren't -- then wouldn't the more parsimonious explanation be that the left was ignorant, blinded by idealism, or simply wrong?

Speaking as someone on the left, I support helping people help themselves, not creating a system of dependence which leaves the poor helpless for another generation. I support better public education, more accessible higher education, a more level playing field, good health care for all, and a progressive tax structure. Of these policies, only the last could conceivably be considered a disincentive for people helping themselves. And as long as the tax rate isn't insane, any disincentive is strongly outweighed by the incentive of the after-tax money.

As for marriage, no Republican should be allowed to say with a straight face that theirs is the party which supports it in these days of anti-gay-marriage and anti-civil-union legislation.

I understand the inclination to assume the worst about the opposition's motives. Are supporters of the Diebold machines evil or ignorant? Are anti-gay activists misguided believers or hateful bigots? However, in the case of most policies advocated by the American left, whether you agree with them or not, it makes a lot more sense to see them as based in caring rather than guilt.

"more accessible higher education"

Higher education is too accessible, we need less higher education. See my post on too many people going to college.

This issue is probably another example of how liberals feel guilty that they went to college but other people didn't, so they support a policy that causes negative consequences for society but at least it alleviates their own guilt.

This issue is probably another example of how liberals feel guilty that they went to college but other people didn't, so they support a policy that causes negative consequences for society but at least it alleviates their own guilt.

But liberals simply don't agree with you that higher education is too accessible. Consequently, your assumption of guilt as the driving force is absurd. Accuse us of being wrong, but don't say we knowingly support policies with negative consequences to alleviate our guilt. It's insulting and wrong.

As for your argument that higher education is too accessible, you don't make one. You simply point out (correctly) that there are other variables involved in the higher salaries of college graduates. Moreover, even if too many people are getting college degrees (something with which I emphatically do not agree) accessibility means not just that a certain number get degrees, but that the right (i.e. most qualified) people get the degrees. Right now, rich people have a huge advantage getting into college, especially good colleges.

Naaah, college is pointless for most people in theory. There's no reason an office manager needs a college degree. The problem is that it was first just for the rich, but then they wanted to expand access, so they made more colleges (Oneonta State etc.), but only the original colleges conferred upper-middle-class status, so the middle class has to go to college just to maintain middle-class status.

So nothing was gained in the interests of mobility, but now the middle class has more debt.

Of course, if we got rid of it now we'd just screw all the people who couldn't go to college, because it would take years for all the college graduates to fade out of the market. So we're stuck.

Agreed - college is today's highschool; something almost everyone is expected to get through, and not worth much in the marketplace (because it's no longer a scarce resource). Economics, people! If you give everyone a Phd, it'll just make having a PhD meaningless. I'm not sure it's due to liberal guilt, or liberal economic ignorance.

"I'm not sure it's due to liberal guilt, or liberal economic ignorance."

Liberals (at least the ones with high SAT scores) are smart enough to understand economics if they wanted to.

They don't because of cognitive dissonance -- they don't want to know that their guilt alleviation is doing more harm than good.

They don't because of cognitive dissonance -- they don't want to know that their guilt alleviation is doing more harm than good.

Yeah, right. What about all the rich Republicans who believe in "trickle-down" economics and any other crap which tells them they can keep their (and our, and everyone else's) money? Have you ever noticed that almost every Republican policy just totally coincidentally helps the upper crust at the expense of everyone else?

I mean, just look at Bush. When he inherited a surplus, he said, "Oh, look! We should have tax cuts." Then, when the economy tanked (not just because of the tax cuts, of course,) he said, "What we need are some tax cuts!" Republican "economic" rhetoric is such B.S.

The whole college thing is actually quite interesting; I wonder if it only seemed to work because the postwar economic boom was going on at the same time...outside events have a funny way of making a policy seem good or bad regardless of its own merits, eh?

JewishAtheist, I agree with you about Republican economic policy. The thing is that a lot of conservatives actually believe in principles like small government and are annoyed when Bush puts pandering ahead of principle (as in the Medicare bill). I mean, a lot of liberals were pissed off when they passed NAFTA.

I'm also not sure economics has its kinks totally worked out: they haven't done a really good job on things like advertising, for example.

Oh, another example of liberal sellout: eminent domain. The Nation wrote an article saying how it was good because some city had negotiated job increases for the workers, and the NYT was all for it. Liberal elites tend to be afraid of the property rights lobby in the West, liberal schmoes go, "WTF they can take my house !?"

Immigration is another such issue, I think.

I suspect liberals care about the people, rather than actual people.

Liberals do care. The problem is, and I say this with a heavy heart, they (1) express their caring by calling for the devotion of other people's income and resources to the objects they care about, and (2) rarely understand the impact of their policy preferences. Now, while liberal and Democrat are virtually the same these days, Republicans are not necessarily conservatives or libertarians. Republicans just don't care. Conservatives sincerely believe that the poor are best off in a stratified society where their betters look out for them through charitable works.

College is used in hiring because it is a screen: on average, the college graduate is smarter than the 'mere' high school graduate. (Note that this relationship is correlational, not causal.) In this (http://www.nytimes.com/auth/login) NY Times article, some of the MBAs said that yes, it's a screen for intelligence. I don't know how much of college attendance is caused by this factor.

Employers do not simply test applicants because the law prohibits it, beginning with the court case Griggs v. Duke. By the way, intelligence is the best predictor of productivity, on average. To be sure, it varies with the intellectual intensity of the job, and there are other factors, such as conscientiousness. Intelligence is often estimated to account for, on average, 50% of productivity, with that varying across industries and positions. See a review of such research here (Schmidt 1998 in Psychological Bulletin): http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~psyc231/Readings/schmidt.htm It concludes that, on average, intelligence can predict 51% of productivity, and an integrity test, with which I'm not familiar, can contribute another 14%, or a structured interview with 12%, with other factors contributing lesser amounts.

There is also the liberal egalite in force, that everyone is able enough to graduate high school, complete college, become an astronomer, et cetera. Pressure to graduate high proportions inevitably leads to diluted standards. As time goes, the number of necessary credentials increases.

The NYT article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/business/yourmoney/11harvard.html?_r=1&oref=login. (Username: bugmenonono
Password: bugmenonono)

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