Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's the environment stupid!

One thing striking to me, is that as society progresses we become more and more liberal. Attitudes which would have once been thought unthinkable are now accepted without batting an eye. Tea Party protests aside (and those are in reality very minor), no one is seriously arguing for the dismantling of the welfare state. From its far left perch, the press paints the continuation of the status quo as a vast right wing conspiracy, likening the pausing of the liberal agenda to the reinstatement of Jim Crow. Regardless, the evidence is clear, we are and have been moving leftward and my question is why?

The reason is not reason, logic, or argumentation. Liberalism, it is widely acknowledged, ran out of ideas long ago and what can only be described as twisted irony, the only place it wants to progress is to the 1930's. Liberalism is triumphing because our environment gives rise to liberalism. The free market has succeeded in reducing the cost of liberalism, making it plausible for health care to be a "right", and giving credence to the ridiculous idea that not all work is "dignified".

Each and every one of us came to our beliefs not by rational choice nor deliberation, but because of our nature and the environment which surrounds us. Reason and deliberation came after we already thought the way we do and when we found others whose logic and reason was compelling, we embraced them because they confirmed our existing beliefs. We never needed convincing.

The danger of the welfare state is not that it takes unfairly from some to give to undeserving others. The danger is that the welfare state creates an environment which degrades everyone through perverse incentives. Incentives which degrade work and self reliance as "undignified", implying that living parasitically off your fellow man is dignified.

Altering the current situation requires convincing your fellow man to change, and I argue this cannot be done through logic and reason because you were not convinced through logic and reason. The only successful strategy is to change his environment, to change his incentives, thereby causing him to convince himself.


Unknown said...

Yes change is what we need, but a complete change in ones environment is not possible. trying to change someone who has lived in the same environment their whole life is alot harder if not impossible to do all together, so good luck with that.

F. said...

Thanks for the comment! One clarifying point, the change I am talking about is not necessarily about changing someone who has lived their whole life in one environment, but those that are not set in their ways yet.

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