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It’s not the diagnosis, it’s the prescription

Something liberals are great at is pointing out problems. Inequality, potholes, global warming, murder, pain, suffering, illiteracy, debt (when their guy isn’t the one causing it), etc. The world is never quite good enough, there’s always something that could be better. And this is fine, there’s nothing wrong with this, and if you’re a reader of the current evolutionary chic, you can see this is a necessary component of natural selection. (Liberalism and conservatism both provide evolutionary advantages and disadvantages, which is why both forms of survival persist.)

It’s not the liberal penchant for diagnosis that frustrates me, it is the predictable liberal prescription. “Let me guess, the problem you noticed needs to be answered with more taxation, a regulatory body and obedience. I’m so surprised.” There’s no creativity, just linear thinking using the two or three tools available to the leviathan state.

Take global warming. There’s scientific consensus that temperatures have gone up and that there’s some human component to this process. There are consequences to this process, both good and bad. The real concern is the process might continue indefinitely, and this might result in some catastrophic result. But there’s little consensus on if or whether or when any of this will happen. Therefore, the liberal mind suggests a worldwide carbon tax at a cost of ten trillion dollars (or more) to the world economy, effectively shutting down all economic growth across the world and spreading the ills of poverty into places where it hasn’t existed in many years. And we need CFL bulbs, that will save us too.

It’s downright stupid. (If you’re interested in some real solutions on global warming, read the final chapter of Superfreakonomics (discussed here) or the book Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg).

Conversely, what frustrates me most about conservative commentators is the absolute denial of the diagnosis. Over the last four years, I have seen conservative pundits consistently deny the ills of poverty or the problems with our healthcare system in this country. This lack of engagement is very unhealthy, since conservatives have, because of our skepticism of the state and our knowledge of the dangers of unintended consequences, the inventive solutions that can make the world a better place.

(If you don’t believe that statement,at the very least you can probably believe that a conservative is much more likely to say “has anyone done a cost-benefit analysis on this?”)

I believe, as a reader of the current evolutionary social-psychological chic, that conservatism and liberalism are complementary systems that need each other.  I’m just foolish that way. Liberals are at their best when they’re not treating their ideology as a religion, and conservatives are at their best when they engage in a meaningful way.

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