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Friday, February 18, 2005

Is Liberalism Unideological?

(from TNR)

THE ANTI-DOGMA DOGMA.
by Jonathan Chait

Post date 02.17.05 | Issue date 02.28.05


Imagine that God were to appear on Earth for the unlikely purpose of settling, once and for all, our disputes over economic policy. And suppose that, to my enormous surprise, he announced that every empirical claim advanced by conservatives was correct. Cutting taxes produces such great economic growth that even the poor benefit. Privatizing or eliminating social programs like Medicare and Social Security will cause the elderly to save more money and enjoy higher living standards. Slashing regulations, by eliminating unintended side effects, actually does a better job helping those whom the regulations were intended to help than the regulations themselves. Suppose that God presented these conclusions so convincingly--if his stature alone did not suffice--that everybody immediately accepted them as truth. 


How would liberals respond? No doubt by rethinking and abandoning nearly all their long-held positions. Liberalism, after all, claims to produce certain outcomes: more prosperity and security, especially for the poor and middle classes; a cleaner environment; safer foods and drugs; and so on. If it were proved beyond a doubt that liberal policies fail to produce those outcomes--or even, as conservatives often claim, that such policies hurt their intended beneficiaries--then their rationale would disappear. It may be hard to imagine liberals advocating capital gains tax cuts as a way to lift up the working stiff. But that's just because there's no evidence to show they do. If the evidence were to change, so would the liberal mindset. The point is that liberalism has no justification other than the belief that liberal policies produce beneficial outcomes. READ MORE:
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2 Comments:

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Mel said...

MIght it be that conservatives don't care about facts? That they are blind to the effects and aren't scientific? Could it be that ideas that conservative policies benefit the poor is just propaganda to get support?
Maybe not ideology but liberals ulitmately want certain goals and that's applaudable. Because economics DOES show that liberal policies are beneficial to everyone, but of course we wouldn't want everyone to do well would we?

 
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