Liberals promote their polices based “entirely on the belief…that [they] will promote certain practical benefits”? Jonathan Chait is woefully mistaken, just as Jonah asserts.
Consider, to name one liberal policy, affirmative action. In Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study, Thomas Sowell examines affirmative action policies in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and the United States. In each country, he finds, the unintended consequences of affirmative action have overwhelmed the intended consequences, which is to say that the groups the policies were supposed to help have benefitted very little, if indeed at all. In the United States, Sowell shows, “benefits to black millionaires…are far more demonstrable than benefits to blacks in poverty.”
But has the failure of affirmative action everywhere it has been attempted caused liberals to reconsider the policy? Hardly. Liberals favor the policy because it seems—well, right. On principle, in other words, and not at all because they have examined the practical benefits. As Sowell asserts, “The factual question of what actually happens as a result of affirmative action policies receives remarkably little attention.”