Lately I’ve been thinking about the “liberal” agenda — the belief that ethics and morals can be legislated into existence via the means of a large and self-imposing government — and why people tend to cling to it regardless of its continually dismal results to achieve any of its intended goals. I believe subscribers of big government tend to fall into two camps: the vehemently malicious group, of which the likes of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Nancy Pelosi, and perhaps over half the general liberal populace are members; and the genuinely caring (albeit delusional) common-folk whose intents are well-placed but horribly misguided, of which many local politicians and a bit less than half of the general liberal populace could be labeled.
The handling of each of these groups requires clearly separate methods. With people like Barack Obama — whose inability to consider the merits of dissenting opinions continually results in childish, petulant public appearances — the approach must be like that of a horse wrangler attempting to break a spoiled foal. Or maybe a parent nearing the end of his or her patience with a child who repeatedly grabs for merchandise off the supermarket shelves.
The sociopathic inability to empathize with others is a cancer in America, its host of narrow-sighted leaders swinging wildly from left to right in unleashed attempts to restrain all those whose values and opinions they cannot or refuse to understand. Clearly, it’s not just a “liberal” problem but an “American” problem, or more likely just a “homo sapien” problem. However, it is possible to find reasonable people from both sides of the metaphorical aisle who will engage in thoughtful, rational discussion about societal problems and how to fix them (like Albert Einstein, whose commendation on socialism I found fascinating, intelligent, and almost convincing). When the subject finally reaches the ultimate argument of free market versus planned economies, I generally rely on three main points against the implementation of a socialist and/or communist economy:
1. Finite Resources
All the world’s problems can be traced back to the simple fact that we are living on a planet with finite resources. We have limited food to consume, limited square footage to produce the food, a finite number of forests, rock quarries, and oceans to utilize, and a finite number of people who are skilled enough to turn raw materials into finished goods. While many of these resources are replenishable — and even expandable — they are finite at any given “snapshot” in time. When these resources aren’t readily available, humans will go to whatever lengths necessary to ensure they acquire what they need to survive.
The modern liberal model, however, treats the efficient allocation of resources secondary to the allocation of social programs designed to make the individual feel happy and content. Although a noble goal, it is clear that ignoring efficient economic practices to induce a “feel-good” atmosphere only encourages the opposite effect and, as Winston Churchill so wisely stated, spreads misery rather than happiness.
While the opposite can be argued — that capitalism places social programs secondary to efficient economic practices and disrupts the individual’s life — it should also be noted that while socialism inherently spreads the misery, capitalism inherently spreads distrust among players in the economy. It is this distrust that allows no one player to rise above all others (unless, of course, we find ourselves in a crony capitalistic state in which the government chooses winners and losers) and spreads more fairness than the modern liberal could ever hope to achieve by following his whimsical, idealistic notions of perpetuating social models that fail again and again.
2. Our Inherently Flawed Existence
While capitalism embraces a healthy distrust of our fellow man, planned economies such as socialism or communism embrace an unhealthy trust of our fellow man. It seems to me that planned economies strive to reduce the human flaws into nonexistence — a particular endeavor that no doubt sends my more sensible readers into paroxysms of laughter — but fails to understand enough of human nature to reasonably do so. It is founded on an impractical belief that some people are more trustworthy than others simply because they were put into a position of power by a group of untrustworthy individuals, and then monitored and regulated by no one.
In a capitalistic structure, untrustworthy individuals are put into place by untrustworthy individuals and monitored by untrustworthy individuals. The common argument against this system is that it allows individuals to look out only for themselves, and while this is true, it ensures that they do not have enough power to trample upon the rights and needs of others. Imagine if these selfish individuals were to gain power in a planned economy, with no checks and balances to prevent them from overstepping their rightful duties (which we’ve seen over and over and over again); despite their noble goals, proponents of these systems eventually witness its collapse due to the misguided belief that some practitioners of law can be held in higher esteem than others.
3. Confirmation Bias
This is perhaps the point most likely to cause a conflict with friends and family. As flawed human beings, we have a tendency to seek out only those opinions and arguments that reinforce our values while tuning out those that don’t match our carefully constructed worldview. The proliferation of the Internet has only exacerbated the issue, allowing us to continually barrage ourselves with favorable ideas through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. When pointing this out to friends who have read Darwin’s On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties but not the Constitution of the United States of America, it’s important to remind them that they are not the only ones guilty of unfairly excluding opposing viewpoints and ideas simply because they find them distasteful. It is a human condition, not a “liberal” or a “conservative” condition, that is unmitigated in a planned economy but continually beaten into a bloody pulp by the individualistic nature of the free market economy.
Imagine that a planned economy came under the rule of somebody who willfully embraced confirmation bias. He would have free reign to ensure his own confirmation bias is applied to its citizens; alternatively, a free market economy would grant citizens the opportunity to reject top-down information and seek opposing data. Even if they, too, suffer from the consequences of their own confirmation bias, they are likely to interact with others of opposing viewpoints who are similarly enslaved by an unflinching worldview. Ideas collide, visions clash, and without such frequent challenges of our own beliefs we cannot grow (perhaps best demonstrated by our current president, whose strategy of doubling down on failed programs is indicative of unchallenged ideas).
Typically, after discussing these three points with friends and family who subscribe to the idea of a planned economy, their confirmation bias will kick in and the conversation will end on a note to “agree to disagree”. These are the people with whom we can eventually find common ground and whom we should continue to appeal to reason. Those who can’t find common ground? They’re an entirely different beast altogether, and must be handled like animals. It sounds harsh, but anybody who has dealt with the more irrational among us knows what I mean. And if you don’t, hang tight — I’ll be getting to that next time.