Here is why Republicans will not be willing or able to seriously address the real problems in our country. The moral sentiments of the population determine what political leaders are willing to do. The moral sentiments of a country may be consistent with reality or may be based on Utopian fantasies, but, either way, they control public policy.
Some people say that America’s problems are solely the result of people abandoning morality. But some of our biggest problems are actually the result of widely accepted, but irrational, moral ideals that are destructive in the long run.
To illustrate, let’s examine the concepts “earn” and “deserve”. In reality, material products and human services are the product of human labor. Food and shelter, for example, do not exist in nature ready for your use. Medical care does not exist in nature. Humans must work to create these things. Poverty is the default position.
This is not a situation that was devised by mean people. This is not a situation that can be wished away. This is just reality.
Earning the material things you desire means producing them by your labor or trading what you do produce in a free exchange with others for the things they produce. I will give you my eggs for your potatoes. Money was invented to make this exchange easier. “Earning” is the name given to your required productive effort.
Personal responsibility is the name we give to the acceptance of reality’s demand that work is required to get the things we desire. In Americas past, this was a widely understood virtue.
In America today, a corrupted concept of “deserve” has replaced the concept of “earn”. In its original usage, deserve meant to do things or show qualities worthy of reward or punishment. So, if you did all the things necessary to grow a crop, you earned the resulting harvest. Today, “deserve” is completely divorced from that meaning.
Today, deserve is a utopian term pertaining to a world of wishes, detached from reality. You may have the moral sentiment that all people deserve (have a moral right to) free housing, free food, free medical care, etc.. You could also say that you think it would be wonderful if fairies delivered these goods to people. Reality does not allow for either free things or fairies. These two wishes are equally unrealistic.
But reality is not a relevant concern to Utopian dreamers who imagine that, with the right leaders in charge, everyone can have everything they really need for free….. somehow.
That is our current situation in America. The prevailing moral sentiment is that everyone deserves all the basic things they want whether they earn them or not. Only mean people would argue or think otherwise. All Democrats and most Republicans accept this utopian moral ideal. This determines what legislative initiatives are even possible to discuss.
Here is an example of how legislating utopian ideals works in practice. Progressives believe that everyone deserves to own a home. Community organizers (including Obama) organized protests demanding that banks drop their standards for making home loans. Increasingly, the government required banks to make irrational home loans to people who had little possibility of ever paying the loan. In the mortgage crash of 2008, reality reasserted itself, as it always does. The mortgage plan that had no possibility of working, stopped working.
The point here is that moral sentiments can require politicians to follow a path that is certain to fail. Do not confuse utopian actions with benevolence. Utopianism leads to chaos and destruction. Truly benevolent actions help people in the long run, in the real world.
Consider more examples of destructive policies that are supported by popular moral sentiment and are therefore unlikely to be successfully challenged.
A study, recently released by the Food and Nutrition Service, showed how the recipients of food stamps spent their money at one grocery chain, so this is just a small sample of what was spent nationally. For this chain, the amount spent in 2011 for soft drinks was nearly $358,000,000; for candy, $134,000.000; for cakes and cookies, $146,000,000, and so on.
The proper way to look at this policy is this – we are borrowing massive amounts of money from our grandchildren for the purpose of harming current welfare recipients. It is a lose-lose policy, bad for people at both ends of the transaction. I don’t believe there is much chance of replacing policies like this with better policies because current moral sentiments do not allow restriction on people who ‘deserve’ to eat whatever they want. Doing the right thing for our grandchildren would not be allowed.
One of the primary things that should bring people down from their utopian fantasies is thinking about the immorality of placing debt on the next generations. Except for emergencies, it is clearly immoral to consume for our pleasure now and give the bill to our grandchildren.
Short-sighted politicians simply avoid thinking about our unbelievably massive debt in any serious way. They buy votes by borrowing from the future and spending now. “Debt limits” are not limits at all.
Politicians of both parties, when confronted, admit that this wild spending is “not sustainable”, but then they cast that thought aside and spend more. Things that are “not sustainable” will end. Politicians who expand all of our big government programs pretend they are the good people who care. They are, in fact, the people who are guaranteeing great harm from the coming collapse of unsustainable utopian programs.
The politicians are following the moral sentiments of our society which demand that people get everything they “deserve”. When reality reasserts itself, the people will get what they deserve and they will get it good and hard. Reality always bats last.
Another big social problem that cannot be addressed honestly is the “quiet catastrophe” of millions of men who choose not to work. There is explosive growth in the number of men who want to live as children for their entire life, letting others work to provide the things they need. There are currently 2 ½ times as many infantilized ‘men’ in this ‘don’t care about work’ category as there are men who are reported by the government as unemployed. This is truly shameful behavior and should not be tolerated, but it will be tolerated and even defended by today’s moral arbiters.
How many people do you think can hop into the wagon before those pulling the wagon refuse to pull? There is a limit.
An even more important issue where politically correct morality does not allow honest policy discussions is race relations. No person who honestly assessed the problems in the black subculture would say that ‘racist white policemen shooting blacks for no reason’ is their most significant problem. It wouldn’t even make the list of the top 50 problems. Yet we grant the moral high ground to a well-funded racist hate group which makes this absurd claim in destructive protests across the nation.
In reality, a subculture that celebrates violence, denigrates women, does not value education, ignores the responsibility of caring for their children, and ignores personal responsibility in general, has no chance of success. Melanin offers no protection from this fact. It is true for all people.
People who really cared about black lives would concentrate on the changes that would help the most. But the things that would help the most cannot be honestly discussed. Even black people who talk about black cultural values are attacked and silenced by the PC thought police.
The enforced moral position regarding a significant subculture in the black community is that nothing at all is their responsibility and none of their problems are their fault. The problems are all the fault of white people and police. If you are paying attention, you see that white shaming is rapidly being institutionalized in education, government bureaucracies and popular culture. This is an extremely destructive trend. Following Alinsky’s advice to “rub raw the sores of resentment” may achieve his desired goal of revolutionary hatred, but it is not what decent Americans, black or white, want to see.
Decent Americans seek to follow the moral advice of Martin Luther King, who had “a dream that one day people will be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin”. I believe that the vast majority of white people accept this advice and fully respect and honor all people of good character. They cheer the success of black people.
Sadly, King’s dream was crushed by the so-called ‘black leaders’ who followed him. To them, any judgement of character is absolutely forbidden; skin color is everything.
White people, at some point, will rebel against the false charges of racism that are relentlessly hurled against them. When they have had enough and start to answer the charges rather than meekly ignore them, the left will say, “See, we told you they are racists”. The left will claim the moral high ground and they will continue to shape destructive social policy.
Mao sent moral crusaders into the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. Young, idealistic monsters purged China of “wrong thinking”. We have similar, self-righteous moral crusaders at our colleges and on our streets. They will not tolerate opposing viewpoints. Wise and thoughtful people like Charles Murray and Heather Mac Donald were recently silenced by organized mob violence at Middlebury and Claremont colleges. By the thousands, social justice warriors are Organizing for Action. We will see much, much more of them in coming months, with increasing disruption and violence. Their actions will have the moral support of the media, the universities and leftist politicians because these are the very groups who are creating this army. It remains to be seen whether the majority of Americans will tolerate the violent intolerance.
The recent Obamacare debate should have made clear the reasons why Republicans cannot do what needs to be done to create a long-term sustainable system. Our utopian moral ideals have already closed that possibility. Whatever legislation happens next will be an entitlement program involving massive government spending and promising much more than can be delivered. The people will demand it, the politicians will say they can deliver it, and time will prove that rationing and low quality care is the inevitable result.
Thinking that government bureaucracies are the key to managing anything efficiently and inexpensively means that you have not paid any attention at all to how the world works.
Government run health care is a black hole for debt that will consume resources beyond our wildest imagination. And we already have more in debt than any nation in history. By some estimates, our debt, including unfunded obligations, is two hundred trillion dollars, which is more the twice the yearly economic output of the entire world!
It simply cannot work, long term, to add a massive new entitlement to all of our other unfunded obligations. But current moral sentiment will require that we do it.
If disaster is the certain outcome of an action, how can it be considered ‘good’? Beware of ‘good’ people who cannot think.
There is an imaginary world where the laws of economics do not apply, where wishing is more powerful than facts, where debts never come due, where racist police are the biggest threat facing black communities, where politicians can control the world’s climate with a vote, where open borders and a welfare state are a desirable combination, where Islam has nothing at all to do with Islamic Jihad, where you can load ever increasing freeloaders into a wagon, whip the ever decreasing horses, and expect the horses to pull the load forever.
Progressives live in that world. They believe that reality can change its nature to fit our desires. But there is an objective reality that is indifferent to our wishes.
We are going to keep racing toward the cliff because it is the ‘right’ thing to do. And by ‘right’ I mean right in the Utopian dream world that shapes our moral sentiments. In the real world this can only be destructive. Just wait and see.
First published at American Thinker.