Archive for Conservatism

BTL’s Immutable Truth No. 47 [UPDATED]

There are so many, it’s hard to keep track of them all, but I’ll share them with you as they occur to me.

No. 47: Fix a problem before it becomes a bigger problem.

Seems pretty obvious, but consider: if concerns about, say, equal rights for gay couples and health insurance for all who want it had been addressed more directly by conservatives, we might not have Constitutionally-affirmed gay marriage or ObamaCare today. Regardless of how we feel about same-sex marriage, we want to be fair. Had conservatives pushed civil unions for gay people—complete equality under the law, without affixing the word marriage to the deal—marriage itself might have remained a pipe dream. Besides, don’t conservatives believe in equality under the law? I do.

Similarly, people without health insurance, or with pre-existing conditions, had legitimate concerns that government could have addressed—without the nationalization that ObamaCare essentially and miserably accomplished. Republicans now say they have alternate plans for when ObamaCare is repealed (not if, when); they are a decade too late.

I am still an advocate for limited government: “That government is best which governs least.” But the least bit of governing, at the very least, puts off over-governing. Conservatism is not doing nothing; it is doing only enough.

And conservatives would not only avoid appearing indifferent to the concerns of people—but would reap the benefit of creating solutions that might actually work. As opposed to ObamaCare (which I do not personally support), and redefining marriage out of whole cloth (which I do).

UPDATE:
Of course, there are innumerable ways conservatism can and should intervene to shrink government, not just grow it more slowly. Anyone looking at the disaster that is Greece (or Illinois) can see that a sterner hand would have avoided the death-spiral both are facing. Once you create a new “entitlement”, people start feeling awfully entitled. And we’re learning the limits of “austerity”. In economic terms, the opposite of fat is not lean; it’s never getting fat in the first place.

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Remedial Economics

“Listen up, everyone. You’re in this class because you won’t listen—and I’m talking to you, Barack Hussein Obama. You sit up here in the front row. If you sit in back with Betty Warren, you’ll never learn anything.”

Four years ago North Carolina’s unemployment rate was above 10% and the state still bore the effects of its battering in the recession. Many rural towns faced jobless rates of more than 20%. But in 2013 a combination of the biggest tax-rate reductions in the state’s history and a gutsy but controversial unemployment-insurance reform supercharged the state’s economy and has even helped finance budget surpluses.

As Wells Fargo’s Economics Group recently put it: “North Carolina’s economy has shifted into high gear. Hiring has picked up across nearly every industry.”

The tax cut slashed the state’s top personal income-tax rate to 5.75%, near the regional average, from 7.75%, which had been the highest in the South. The corporate tax rate was cut to 5% from 6.9%. The estate tax was eliminated.

Wait, what? You can cut tax rates and raise money??? It’s a miracle!

Who in his right mind would oppose such a thing?

I said: who in his right mind. But there’s more:

Next came the novel tough-love unemployment-insurance reforms. The state became the first in the nation to reject “free” federal payments for extended unemployment benefits and reduce the weeks of benefits to 20 from 26. The maximum weekly dollar amount of payments, $535, which had been among the highest in the nation, was trimmed to a maximum of $350 a week. As a result, tens of thousands of Carolinians left the unemployment rolls.

Margaret Thatcher said “The facts of life are conservative.” Rush Limbaugh said “Let me tell you who we conservatives are: We love people.”

When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don’t see groups. We don’t see victims. We don’t see people we want to exploit. What we see — what we see is potential.

What shows more love giving a person the means to look after himself? The means and the faith that he/she can? And what is more factual and conservative than cutting taxes and reaping benefits?

As Wisconsin goes, so goes North Carolina.

But not so Connecticut.

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Right and Left, Good and Evil [UPDATE]

Dennis Prager goes big picture:

The fruit of that quest will appear in a series of columns explaining the differences between left and right.

I hope it will benefit conservatives in better understanding why they are conservative, and enable liberals to understand why someone who deeply cares about the “little guy” holds conservative — or what today are labeled as conservative — views.

Difference No. 1: Is Man Basically Good?

Left-of-center doctrines hold that people are basically good. On the other side, conservative doctrines hold that man is born morally flawed — not necessarily born evil, but surely not born good. Yes, we are born innocent — babies don’t commit crimes, after all — but we are not born good. Whether it is the Christian belief in Original Sin or the Jewish belief that we are all born with a yetzer tov (good inclination) and a yetzer ra (bad inclination) that are in constant conflict, the root value systems of the West never held that we are naturally good.

I admire Dennis Prager as much as I admire anyone. Clear, precise, moral, he has been a revelation to this “transitioning” conservative. (Like me, and a lot of you, he was raised as a liberal, and voted as one, until life and reality burst the bubble of belief.)

But I have one small quibble. I still believe that “people are basically good”, even as a conservative, but that they are lured to evil by something not of themselves. Sometimes it is religion, sometimes it is drugs or greed, sometimes it is government. The best thing any of these factors, be they temptations or institutions, can do for people is to encourage them to find their own way. The worst is to take over their lives.

I’m not saying I’m right—determining man’s innate goodness, or lack thereof, is above my pay grade—but at least my position lends a moral element to conservatism. Robbing people of their selves surely must be the highest of crimes—and what robs people of their selves more than thoughtless obedience to an ideology, be it spiritual or political? Who can look upon decades of inner-city decline and generations of government assistance and not see degradation of the human spirit?

I hesitate to say that the likes of Prager and Aggie and I are superior because we have thought one way, and now think another. But we ought to be taken seriously as people who have put thought into our conversions.

Prager:

Obviously, I underwent an intellectual change. And it wasn’t easy. Becoming a Republican was emotionally and psychologically like converting to another religion.

In fact, when I first voted Republican I felt as if I had abandoned the Jewish people. To be a Jew meant being a Democrat. It was that simple. It was — and remains — that fundamental to many American Jews’ identity.

Therefore, it took a lot of thought to undergo this conversion. I had to understand both liberalism and conservatism. Indeed, I have spent a lifetime in a quest to do so.

Naturally, I encourage you to read the entire piece. I will share his follow-ups with you as I come across them.

UPDATE:
Upon further review, what is Prager talking about?

“Left-of-center doctrines hold that people are basically good.”

Liberals hate people! They want to pass no end of laws mandating how people behave. They want to punish the majority of people who meet even one of the following criteria: work, believe in the word of God, have wealth, die, are white, aren’t yet born, disagree with them. Among others.

If liberals believed in the basic goodness of people, why do they try to change them so?

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Don’t Accept the Narrative

Rand Paul is not my top choice for Republican nominee, but that’s not relevant. What is relevant is that Republicans cannot let the media set the terms of the race.

If Rand Paul is “prickly”, Savannah Guthrie is “pushy”:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: You have had views in the past on foreign policy that are somewhat unorthodox, but you seem to have changed over the years. You once said Iran was not a threat, now you say it is. You once proposed ending foreign aid to Israel; you now support it, at least for the time being. And you once offered to drastically cut…

SEN. RAND PAUL: No, before we go —

GUTHRIE: Well wait, wait, wait.

[CROSSTALK]

GUTHRIE: So I just wonder if you’ve mellowed out.

Has she asked President Obama if he’s “mellowed out” on gay marriage? Has his views “changed over the years” on whether you can keep your doctor? How mellow is Obama on closing Gitmo? Or the IRS scandal that he condemned one day and dismissed the next? Or on his authority to summarily change immigration law? Or on his Harry Reid-like lie that there were shovel-ready jobs when he knew there weren’t? Or on his flip-flop over lobbyists in the White House? Or his promise to take only public financing in the 2008 campaign?

And I for one would love to hear Ms. Guthrie ask the president if he’s mellowed out on ISIS, which he once described as the JV of terrorists.

And then I’d like her to ask of herself how she is in any position to query any Republican when she’s married to a veteran Democrat political operative.

Were I Rand Paul, my internal voice has me answering my critics thusly: “Ms. Guthrie is an experienced political reporter and certainly doesn’t need her male colleagues to rise to her defense, however chivalrous their motives. She asked tough questions, questions I wanted to answer, questions that demanded an answer. That said, if she feels I treated her disrespectfully, I apologize unreservedly. That was not, and never would be, my intention. But I will answer questions I am asked so as to be understood. Out of respect to the questioner, to the viewer, and to the American people.”

Choke on that, liberal media dogs.

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Griswold Family Values

A lovely tribute to director John Hughes from P.J. O’Rourke on the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club. Not my favorite John Hughes film—how could it be with Ferris Bueller and Uncle Buck in consideration?—but a good stepping-off point for O’Rourke:

John said, “You remember the line in The Graduate where the party guest tells the Dustin Hoffman character, ‘I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics.’ That was 1967. If the Dustin Hoffman character had gotten into plastics he’d be a millionaire by now, instead of riding on a city bus with a crazy girl in a wedding dress.”

We were becoming conservatives—in the most conservational sense. There were things that others before us had achieved and these were worth conserving.

“I couldn’t go looking for a job wearing what people were wearing in 1970,” he said. “But I didn’t really know where to buy clothes that people weren’t wearing in 1970. I remembered that before I became hip my mother used to take me to Brooks Brothers in the Loop. So I went there. Behind the shirt counter was the same sales lady who’d been behind the shirt counter when I was a kid. She looked at me for a moment and said, ‘I knew you’d be back.’”

In 1976 John and Nancy had a son, John Hughes III, and in 1979 they’d have another, James. Family was the most conservative thing about John. Walking across the family room in your stocking feet and stepping on a Lego (ouch!) was the fundamental building block of society.

Before you object, I will stipulate that liberals can have family values too. But when I think about Hughes’ films, beneath the debauchery, there is a conservative core. Check that: the debauchery is the conservative core.

Like all of John’s movies, The Breakfast Club is conservative. Note that the first thing the disgruntled kids in detention do is not organize a protest, not express “class (of 1985) solidarity,” not chant “Students of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your locker combinations” and not claim it takes a Shermer to raise them.

They present themselves, like good conservatives do, as individuals and place the highest value, like this conservative does, on goofing off. Otherwise known as individual liberty.

That’s even more true of Ferris Bueller! What authority does Ferris respect? What authority is deserving of respect? None and none. Teenage impulsivity is the hero of the movie. Our founders called it the “pursuit of happiness”. In other movies, goofing off is only the starting point. Uncle Buck and Mr. Mom shows John Candy and Michael Keaton learning to put family responsibilities above mindless hedonism. Not fully in place of it, heavens no, just slightly above.

And who is more self-reliant than Macauley Culkin’s character in Home Alone? But even then, his happiness is complete only with the restoration of the family. Family (home) is also the driving force behind Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Family was even ripe for parody in National Lampoon’s Vacation.

O’Rourke’s tribute reminds me how good many of Hughes’ films were and still are. Ferris Bueller is my son’s favorite comedy not titled Groundhog Day. Some of the more angst-ridden pictures don’t age as well with me, though that may have more to do with the hair styles. O’Rourke also prompted me to consider how grounded these comic masterpieces are in old-fashioned midwestern values.

John and I never bothered to talk much about our politics. What we did talk about was the 20th century’s dominant scrambled egghead bien pensant buttinski parlor pinko righty-tighty lefty-loosey nutfudge notion that middle-class American culture was junk, that middle-class Americans were passive dimbulbs, that America itself was a flop and that America’s suburbs were a living hell almost beyond the power of John Cheever’s words to describe.

That’s the way it appeared to the Left. To Hughes, suburban Chicago was his Forest of Arden, a land of make-believe, magic, and imagination. No wonder his movies have become classics.

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More Government Than I Need, Less Freedom Than I Want

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a liberal, no one represented the forces of evil to me more than Senator Phil Gramm, Republican of Texas.

What was my problem?

On March 4 the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, with a decision expected in late June. If the court strikes down the payment of government subsidies to those who bought health insurance on the federal exchange, Republicans will at last have a real opportunity to amend ObamaCare. Doing so, however, will be politically perilous.

Republicans need a strategy that is easy to understand, broadly popular and difficult to oppose. It must unite Republicans and divide congressional Democrats, while empowering Republican governors and legislators to resist administration pressure. I believe that strategy is what I would call “the freedom option.” Every American should have the right to decide not to participate in ObamaCare: If you like ObamaCare and its subsidies, you can keep it. If you don’t, you are free to buy the health insurance that fits your needs.

The freedom option would fulfill the commitment the president made over and over again about ObamaCare: If you like your health insurance you can keep it. If Republicans crafted a simple bill that guarantees the right of individuals and businesses to opt out of ObamaCare, buy the health insurance they choose from any willing seller (with risk pools completely separate from ObamaCare), millions of Americans would rejoice and exercise this freedom. Such a proposal would be easy for Republicans to articulate and defend. And it would be very difficult for Democrats to attack.

Taking a cue from our racist, sexist friends in Hollywood, the simplest pitches are the best ones. Hot Tub Time Machine (I or II) takes no effort to decipher. Snakes on a Plane will have snakes on a plane, and Samuel L. Jackson mf-ing his way from cockpit to rear lavatory to kill them. The ninety-four minutes between opening and closing credits practically film themselves.

Even the Affordable Care Act is a model of packaging. Call it what it isn’t, and you can make it as impenetrable and obscure as Last Year at Marianbad, with Alain Resnais as the forbear of Jonathan Gruber in making people endure the unendurable.

But Gramm conquers all: “the freedom option”. Obama eliminated plans people liked and relied on for years. (He called them “bad apples”—the plans, not the people) Gramm restores them. You pick the plan you want, not the government. It’s not only tidy packaging, it’s Republican thinking.

The opposition would come solely from those who understand that ObamaCare is built on coercion—and that unless young, healthy Americans are forced into the program to be exploited with above-market insurance rates, the subsidies will prove unaffordable. That will be an exceedingly difficult case to make to the public.

By extinguishing coercion, the freedom option would put ObamaCare on the path to extinction. Without the ability to exploit the young and healthy, the Affordable Care Act will collapse under its own funding weight, all but guaranteeing a 2017 revision of the entire law.

[V]ictory will require a determination to govern. The alternative will almost certainly be a long or a short path to capitulation.

Government by choice, or government by coercion. I’m thinking, I’m thinking!

PS: My favorite Gramm line of all time was this: “I have more guns than I need, but less guns than I want.” Even as a tsk-tsking liberal, I admired the pith and confrontational attitude of the line—also its genuine Texan questionable grammar, corrected for the bumper sticker:

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Islamic Terrorism Explained

Before I taunt all you haters with YET ANOTHER PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL WIN, here’s something even more fun!

London’s mayor had some choice words Friday for Muslims who turn to radicalism, calling them sexually frustrated losers who turn to terrorism out of a deep-seated lack of self-confidence.

“If you look at all the psychological profiling about bombers, they typically will look at porn. They are literally wankers (masturbators). Severe onanists,” Boris Johnson told UK tabloid The Sun, citing an MI5 report.

Sometimes we need the voice of innocence to tell is what we already know. Btw, “Severe Onanists” is a great punk band name for any young readers out there.

“They are tortured. They will be very badly adjusted in their relations with women, and that is a symptom of their feeling of being failures and that the world is against them,” said the Conservative Party member, adding that they sought others forms of spiritual comfort because they were not “making it with girls.”

Johnson further contended that turning to radical Islam was a form of compensation for men with deflated egos and a lack of purpose: “They are just young men in desperate need of self-esteem who do not have a particular mission in life, who feel that they are losers and this thing makes them feel strong — like winners.”

To all you British, French, other Euro-weenie, and even American lovers of the “Palestinian” cause, ask yourselves: how tightly do you want to hug your “freedom fighters” now? Where have those hands been? To what use has that keffiyeh been put?

No wonder Yasser Arafat was a homosexual (reportedly). He couldn’t “make it with girls”.

PS: As for the Patriots:

We are the champions, my friends,
And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.
We are the champions.
We are the champions.
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions of the world.

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Hey Libs! Put a Tarp Over Your Computer Screens

Warned you:

Top officials in the Koch brothers’ political organization Monday released a staggering $889 million budget to fund the activities of the billionaires’ sprawling network ahead of the 2016 presidential contest.

The budget, which pays for everything from advertising and data-gathering technology to grass-roots activism, was released to donors attending the annual winter meeting of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, according to an attendee.

During remarks Saturday, Charles Koch said the organization would not back down from its ambitions.

“Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” Koch said, according to excerpts released over the weekend. “But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it.”

Koch said the group’s efforts have been “largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive.”

During last year’s midterm elections, Koch-affiliated groups spent millions in advertising to successfully toss out Democrats from the Senate and put the chamber in Republican control. In all, the Koch network is believed to have spent $290 million to help shape 2014 election results.

“We have never seen this before,” Sheila Krumholz, who runs the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, said of the Kochs’ planned spending, “There is no network akin to this one in terms of its complexity, scope and resources.”

Mwahahahaha!!!! The evil Koch Brothers, like the Borg, are relentless and cannot be stopped. Resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated.

With a few exceptions:

Steyer, Thomas & F. & Kathryn Ann Fahr: $74,009,434
Bloomberg, Michael R. $10,377,600
Eychaner, Fred, Newsweb Corp $8,267,000
Simons, James H. & Marilyn H., Renaissance Technologies/Simons Fdtn $7,624,700
Soros, George, Soros Fund Management $3,755,400

You effing cheapskate, Soros. Tom Steyer is bankrupting himself to save the planet from the peril of global warming; even Republican Michael Bloomberg spent over $10,000,000 on Democrat and liberal candidates; and you… you miser couldn’t cough up what amounts to nickels under your sofa cushion. You’re probably a Koch mole.

Mwahahahaha!!!!

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A Mole at the SOTU

Did you hear about the Republican operative who crashed the SOTU?

It’s true:

Seven years ago, Rebekah and Ben Erler of Minneapolis were newlyweds. (Laughter.) She waited tables. He worked construction. Their first child, Jack, was on the way. They were young and in love in America. And it doesn’t get much better than that. “If only we had known,” Rebekah wrote to me last spring, “what was about to happen to the housing and construction market.”

As the crisis worsened, Ben’s business dried up, so he took what jobs he could find, even if they kept him on the road for long stretches of time. Rebekah took out student loans and enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job and then a raise. Ben is back in construction — and home for dinner every night.

“It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.

A mom (female) and a dad (male), both working and successful, without benefit of government handouts. Who wrote that, Dan Quayle? It sure as hell wasn’t Obama’s composite perfect woman, Julia. I don’t know if Rebekah Erler is rock-ribbed or not, but she’s a Republican.

Except she’s not:

The woman whose story of economic recovery was showcased by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address is a former Democratic campaign staffer and has been used by Obama for political events in the past.

Unmentioned in the White House bio of Erler is that she is a former Democratic campaign operative, working as a field organizer for Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

This also wasn’t the first time the White House used the former Democratic campaign staffer as a political prop. Obama spent a “day in the life” of Erler in June so that he could have “an opportunity to communicate directly with the people he’s working for every day.”

Reuters revealed Erler’s Democratic affiliations following that June event, and the Minnesota Republican Party attacked Obama for being “so out of touch with reality that he thinks a former Democrat campaign staffer speaks for every Minnesotan.”

Shame on Patty Murray paying slave wages to her female employees. I hope little Jack and Henry never went to bed hungry because Murray (D., WA) chintzed out on paying Rebekah a decent wage. If that experience wasn’t enough to turn her into a Republican, nothing will.

Even Michelle seemed pretty annoyed at the whole charade:

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Liz Warren and the Tea Party Smoke-um Peace Pipe?

I was just thinking this myself. I bet a lot of us have:

[Politico:] The tea party’s opposition to the rider puts it in rare agreement with progressives, who also are criticizing the provision but for different reasons. Democratic Party committees would also benefit from the measure, but they do not have the same level of intra-party strife as the Republicans.

“So help me God, I have no way to refute the basic point that the Democrats are making about the CRomnibus fight right now,” RedState’s Leon Wolf wrote. “In fact, I might even go so far as to say they are right.”

“Here we have a bill that will kick the funding question almost a full year down the road, increases government spending, funds a wildly unpopular and probably unconstitutional executive amnesty, and continues the very practices voters sent Republicans to Washington to oppose,” he added. “In this context, what possible good faith reason can the Republicans have for threatening to gum up the whole works over doing a favor to Wall Street?”

That compelling argument caught the eye of no less a figure than Warren herself who approvingly cited this passage on the floor of the Senate on Thursday.

“These conservative activists are right,” the Bay State Senator said after quoting Wolf at length. “If you believe in smaller government, how can you support a provision that would expand a government insurance program and put taxpayers on the hook for the riskiest private activities?”

On Friday, Warren will join with conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in an effort to get another 39 of their fellow senators to kill the “Cromnibus.” The fact that the two populist wings of both parties are beginning to look more and more alike is not lost on their opponents. “Elizabeth Warren clearly now a Democratic Ted Cruz,” an unnamed GOP House member said according to CNBC’s John Harwood.

Let me be clear: I have no use for that fake Indian, none whatsoever. And much of what she’s doing is grandstanding for 2016.

I’ve read one account praising her stand, another critical of it. Both agree that the hill she vows to die on is a rather small mound. Which fits the grandstanding theory.

I’ve let this post stew for about an hour to think it over. Ultimately, I still can’t agree with Betty Buckskin. We’re not “bailing out” big banks, but letting them resume derivatives and other hedging instruments they’ve long employed—as much to lessen risk as to take on more. If it’s a repeat of 2008 we fear, it was more government’s social engineering (government-backed, government-mandated mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them) that melted down the system than capitalist avarice (so-called predatory lending).

There’s way too much spending and way too little spine in the “Cromnibus” for my liking, so I’ll stand in opposition next to Miss 0/32nds Cherokee. But I’ll be checking my back for her tomahawk.

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We Can Quantify The Loss Of Personal Freedom Under Obama

Do you remember all those people who claimed that George W. Bush was taking away our personal freedoms? All those fiery dinner parties? Where are those folks now?

Americans’ assessments of their personal freedom have significantly declined under President Obama, according to a new study from the Legatum Institute in London, and the United States now ranks below 20 other countries on this measure.

The research shows that citizens of countries including France, Uruguay, and Costa Rica now feel that they enjoy more personal freedom than Americans.

As the Washington Examiner reported this morning, representatives of the Legatum Institute are in the U.S. this week to promote the sixth edition of their Prosperity Index. The index aims to measure aspects of prosperity that typical gross domestic product measurements don’t include, such as entrepreneurship and opportunity, education, and social capital.

The freedom scores are based on polling data from 2013 indicating citizens’ satisfaction with their nation’s handling of civil liberties, freedom of choice, tolerance of ethnic minorities, and tolerance of immigrants. Polling data were provided by Gallup World Poll Service. The index is notable for the way it measures how free people feel, unlike other freedom indices that measure freedom by comparing government policies.

“This is not a good report for Obama,” Legatum Institute spokeswoman Cristina Odone told the Washington Examiner.

In the 2010 report (which relied on data gathered in 2009), the U.S. was ranked ninth in personal freedom, but that ranking has since fallen to 21st, with several countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom passing the U.S.

The nation’s overall personal freedom score has declined by 17 percent since 2009, with a 22 percent drop in combined civil liberty and free choice contributing to that decline.

Of the eight categories in the index, personal freedom was America’s second lowest performance relative to other countries. The U.S. had its lowest ranking when it came to safety and security (a broad measure of how threatened citizens feel in instances such as walking late at night, or expressing their opinions) — ranking 31st out of 142 countries.

More at the link.

– Aggie

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Are Social Scientists Biased Against Conservatives?

Duh.

We haven’t given out one of our coveted ‘Ya Think?™ awards in quite some time, so congratulations Professor Jonathan Haidt, you deserve it!!

On January 27, 2011, from a stage in the middle of the San Antonio Convention Center, Jonathan Haidt addressed the participants of the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The topic was an ambitious one: a vision for social psychology in the year 2020. Haidt began by reviewing the field that he is best known for, moral psychology. Then he threw a curveball. He would, he told the gathering of about a thousand social-psychology professors, students, and post-docs, like some audience participation. By a show of hands, how would those present describe their political orientation? First came the liberals: a “sea of hands,” comprising about eighty per cent of the room, Haidt later recalled. Next, the centrists or moderates. Twenty hands. Next, the libertarians. Twelve hands. And last, the conservatives. Three hands.

Social psychology, Haidt went on, had an obvious problem: a lack of political diversity that was every bit as dangerous as a lack of, say, racial or religious or gender diversity. It discouraged conservative students from joining the field, and it discouraged conservative members from pursuing certain lines of argument. It also introduced bias into research questions, methodology, and, ultimately, publications. The topics that social psychologists chose to study and how they chose to study them, he argued, suffered from homogeneity. The effect was limited, Haidt was quick to point out, to areas that concerned political ideology and politicized notions, like race, gender, stereotyping, and power and inequality. “It’s not like the whole field is undercut, but when it comes to research on controversial topics, the effect is most pronounced,” he later told me. (Haidt has now put his remarks in more formal terms, complete with data, in a paper forthcoming this winter in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.)

The entire article is depressingly familiar, but go to the link to hear about how liberal academics punish conservative thought. Want tenure? Heh, heh, heh. I consider this trend to be an absolute disaster for our country, and we have been way too slow in recognizing it or attempting to correct it. Oh, well. I’m a big believer in You Reap What You Sow. And we have sown incompetence and willful ignorance.

– Aggie

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