Friday, November 12, 2004

The cluelessness is even worse than I thought ...

... and has spread well beyond just matters of faith, as seen in this article that appeared today.

While I encourage you to read the whole thing, a partial fisking is certainly in order here -- as a public service, to educate these and others who have drank too deeply of the Leftist Kool-Aid:

Consider this Part 1 of said fisking ...

(Thomas Frank, author): Republicans have taken that mantle despite not serving the interests of working-class Americans, Frank says, claiming that the president and his cohorts, like anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, are more interested in helping their friends in the wealthy class first.

Mr. Frank -- the vast majority of Republicans and other conservatives (like myself) are not interested in helping just the wealthy; our interest is in empowering EVERYONE to reach their full potential. That means putting policies in place that will realistically make that happen.

Unfortunately, the Democratic answer for "serving the interests of middle-class Americans" always seems to be the same -- direct and indirect aid to the working class that has historically been ... at best ... a perpetuated stopgap allowing recipients to "just get by", facilitated by increasing the burden upon the very enterprise and investment that produces that job for -- and the goods and services bought by -- the working-class American.

The Democrats appear to view working-class Americans as today's "noble savages" who (1) have no real responsibility to exercise the sound planning and smart thinking that is a prerequisite to controlling one's destiny in this life, and (2) therefore must be assisted out of their ignorance by the "help" of their alleged intellectual superiors. To the Left, responsibility is assigned solely on the basis of pocket depth -- only those who are deemed "fortunate" bear societal responsibility in their worldview.

These "fortunate", on the other hand, are viewed as a hybrid between Simon LeGree and a cash cow. The Leftist worldview (that permeates the Democratic Party) actually believes that burdening the fortunate is a good thing ... regardless of how they acquired that fortune, or how they will use it.

Does it ever cross their mind, that allowing individuals to more effectively pursue honest profit can bring a greater benefit to EVERYONE in our society, even though it does not carry the perceived "guarantee" of government edict?

Mr. Democrat, let me help you, instead ... let me relieve you of the burden of solving all my problems for me.

Instead of limiting the responsibility for solving our social and economic challenges to a relatively-small elite, conservatives seek to empower 250-million-plus problem-solvers, by returning responsibility to the proper levels of governance (individual/family/volunteer groups/local and state governments), and limiting the role of each unit of "government" in problem-solving to those areas where that unit is structurally capable of delivering sound solutions.

We conservatives also recognize the benefits that successful private enterprises bring to our entire society -- from job creation, to lower prices, to new and innovative "tools" to solve the problems we face (from wonder drugs to a freely-accessible Internet). Instead of punishing such achievement -- and cut off our noses to spite our faces, in effect -- we need to encourage the pursuit of (key word, here) honest profit, by entrepreneurs of ALL sizes!

What this is about, people, is how to allocate the resources (including human initiative and innovation) in our society, so that the positive effect of their application is maximized for each individual.

That -- and not just enriching the rich -- is our intent. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid that the rich are out to get you ... if they were that powerful, Sam Walton and Michael Dell wouldn't have been able to so effectively steal customers from the rich.

Hey rich,

i haven't got time to go right through your piece, so i'll focus on one part:

"Does it ever cross their mind, that allowing individuals to more effectively pursue honest profit can bring a greater benefit to EVERYONE in our society, even though it does not carry the perceived "guarantee" of government edict?"

i guess here you are referring to the "trickle down" effect widely touted in the eighties... have you seen any hard evidence that this theory is correct? I've read some stuff lately casting doubt on whether that theory holds any water... i am not sure.

Would you be more inclined to support a redistributive tax regime if it could be definitely proven to improve the lot of the poorest in society, or do you stand against such things on principal?
Wade -- I'm willing to listen to evidence of how a highly-redistributve tax system would serve our society better in the long term than a free-enterprise-oriented/minimal-taxation system, but I don't think I'll see it -- and my opinion goes beyond simple "trickle-down" theory.

I think that human society always requires feedback mechanisms in order to remain viable -- feedback that compels us to both correct our errors, and continue courses of action that improve our lot.

This feedback must be applied with both speed and accuracy, or it can in itself engender either instability, or suppression of progress.

With a free-enterprise/limited-government society, the vast majority of these feedback loops are located at the individual level -- feedback loops between liberty and consequence, in most cases. This level of feedback is both (in relative terms) fast, and "tight" -- actions by the individual have a very direct effect on what happens to him/her, very quickly.

This has two positive effects -- errors are corrected quickly, and the results of such feedback are highly customized to that individual's needs.

Insert a resdistributive tax system into such a society, and you diminish the feedback between liberty and consequence, by reducing the positive effects on the individual that result from the wise application of personal initiative. Not only do you reduce the incentive to work harder and pursue innovation (directly, or indirectly through investment) with steeply progressive and/or high taxation, you take resources away from people with proven productivity -- productivity that does "trickle down" in the form of more jobs/lower costs/innovations.

If the government could effectivey compensate for this diminished feedback, I might be singing a different tune -- but individual needs in a human society are so divergent and complex, I do not think that attempts to meet the vast majority of them through the relatively slow and disconnected feedback mechanisms that exist within our systems of governance are effective.

Replacing individual feedback -- and reward -- with feedback via a relative few (who are, in large part, both pursuing their own happiness and NOT living even similar lives to the individuals they govern) is almost like having no feedback at all.

This is reflected in the historical perpetuation of poverty by traditional Great Society welfare programs -- people have no incentive in these systems to change, for in the short term, they are penalized heavily for progress, while at the same time they are insulated from the consequences of bad decisions. They are stuck in a "metastable" state of "just getting by" -- and since we don't let our government delve into the personal economic/moral choices that impact individual decision making (rightly so, IMO), many can't find their way out.

I used welfare as an example, but this disruption of beneficial feedback can be seen in other areas -- such as energy policy (Carter's synfuel programs come to mind). I may get back to that, later.

Bottom line -- while there are areas where govenrment direction makes sense, we have -- in our recent past -- applied it in areas where it is structurally incapable of providing more efficient and/or effective problem resolution than the individual feeback loops it ends up replacing.

We are not better served by the results -- and should not encourage more of the same.
Wade -- as for "hard" evidence that trickle-down works, I'll have to look around for the scientific studies on that.

My support for it, while andecotal, goes beyond the (sketchily presented) philosophical arugments in my last comment -- it is based in part on the difference in our economy between the late 1970's and the mid 1980's, which I was particularly sensitive to (since I entered the work force after my 1983 graduation from college).

The substantial and progressive rise in government revenues during Reagan's tenure also validates the concept (progressive being the key word -- I don't think you can attribute it all to the tax "increases" derived from the simplification efforts in the later part of the Reagan Administration).
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