The Corner

Sigh

Okay folks, I know I should just this all go. But I can’t. So here you go. Note: It’s annoying, but you’ll have to scroll up from here to see my posts in the right order, but you knew that. 

Jonathan Chait writes that my position is “weird” and that “unsurprisingly” I still don’t get his point. What point is that? Here ya go:

My point is that wherever liberals support a government program, it is because they believe they were creating some measurable positive outcome, and their support was conditioned upon this belief. If liberals were convinced that, say, the Earned Income Tax Credit failed to raise incomes for the poor, they would withdraw their support for it. That’s because liberals do not support bigger government as an abstract moral good in the way conservatives support smaller government as an abstract moral good. I’m not saying that liberals will always change their mind when data casts doubt on their programs. I’m saying this is possible with liberals in a way it isn’t with movement conservatives. Conservatives in the Milton Freidman, National Review school think Social Security has all sorts of harmful effects. But even if they didn’t think that, they’d oppose Social Security as an impingement on freedom.

Actually, Jon’s making three points. One is that liberals are “fact-finders” who always go with the facts — as they understand them — regardless of any ideological pre-commitment to “big government.” Their commitment is to creating “positive” results for some or all of the citizenry. This doesn’t mean liberals can’t be wrong, but if they are can be proven wrong that big government is the problem, then they’ll change their minds. Right? Have I got that much straight?

His second point is that “true conservatives” (note the word “true” there for future reference) don’t think this way. They will oppose government intrusion — on philosophical grounds — into the private sphere even when the data show that such intrusion will “improve” the condition of those the intrusion is aimed at. I think I’ve got that right too.

And his third point is the easiest to understand. He claims that my post yesterday was proof that I have “flipped” and that I now substantially agree with him.

I will try to hit all three points in order.

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