Friday, February 12, 2010

On The Condescension Of Liberals

I missed writing on Gerard Alexander's Washington Post piece, all about the condescending liberals, because I was too busy being condescending elsewhere. But it's a fun piece to read and to think about it, even now.

Alexander's thesis is simple: Liberals have always been arrogant a**holes and simply assumed that they are right and the conservatives wrong. This doesn't work in reverse, however, because conservatives are never condescending.

Here is Dick Armey, a conservative politician:

"I have been on record since I was an undergraduate as recognizing that liberals are generally not very bright and conservatives are deep thinkers. Liberals are, in my estimation, just not bright people. They don't think deeply, they don't comprehend, they don't understand a partial derivative, they have a narrow educational base as opposed to the hard scientists.. If you were a Southern, Anglo, Baptist liberal, I promise you I would say you were not well-educated and probably not a very deep thinker. Because that's what liberals are." Dick Armey

You can read Alexander on the four ways that liberals condescend. There is much I could have said about his arguments but it seems a little late to join that particular debate.

Still, this bit is worth addressing:

Perhaps the most important conservative insight being depreciated is the durable warning from free-marketeers that government programs often fail to yield what their architects intend. Democrats have been busy expanding, enacting or proposing major state interventions in financial markets, energy and health care. Supporters of such efforts want to ensure that key decisions will be made in the public interest and be informed, for example, by sound science, the best new medical research or prudent standards of private-sector competition. But public-choice economists have long warned that when decisions are made in large, centralized government programs, political priorities almost always trump other goals.

I might argue that the most important liberal/progressive insight being depreciated is the durable warning that free markets sometimes implode and pull down the whole world. The architects of such unregulated markets might not have intended those side effects that we see today: a major recession.