The Failings of Liberalism, Part II

By John Eberhard
06/02/04

In this second article in my new series on the failings of liberalism, I am going to take up one aspect of the overall liberal world-view, that is the common denominator of most of their views, and is the most destructive.

I’ll call this common denominator “validating those without merit.” 

The principle and practice of “validating those without merit” takes many forms, including:

  • Rewarding those who don’t work
  • Rewarding women who have children out of wedlock
  • Rewarding union members who work less or more poorly by protecting them from disciplinary actions
  • Rewarding criminals by excessive concern for their rights
  • Rewarding students or prospective employees with fewer credentials or skills, by giving them placement due to their race (not all minorities, but specifically blacks and Hispanics)
  • Rewarding people who make less money by taxing them at a lower percentage, or below a certain income level, not taxing them at all
  • Rewarding people who come into this country illegally, by giving them free services
  • Rewarding those who can’t pay for basic services like health care, by paying for them (this is common in Europe and liberals want to have it in the US too)

Those are some of the examples. 

I am calling this principle of “validating those without merit” a world-view, because this basic concept (and its evil twin, “penalizing those with merit”) colors practically every liberal issue and cause today.  And this world-view is disseminated in the mainstream, liberal mass media non-stop, 24/7/365.  We are told that rewarding or subsidizing these people is the “compassionate” thing to do.  Anyone who opposes these actions is called “greedy” or “cruel.”  So it may not even seem like a strange concept to you.  It may seem like the “way things ought to be.”  But stay with me here. 

Consider for a moment, what types of persons build up society and make it better?  Is it:

  • People who don’t work?
  • Unmarried women with lots of kids?
  • Less productive or unproductive workers?
  • Criminals?
  • Students or prospective employees with fewer skills?
  • People with low incomes?
  • Illegal immigrants?

Let’s say you had a crisis you had to handle, and you needed to choose a team of people to help you solve it.  Let’s say there had been some terrorist attack and you had to rebuild a section of the country, just to pick an arbitrary example.  Societal infrastructures were in a shambles, not functioning.  It was up to you to choose the team to get things going again, and let’s say people would die if you took too long.

Would you choose people who were unemployed, irresponsible, unproductive, criminal, low income, and with few skills?  What type of team would that make?  How much progress would you make, and how fast?  Could you depend on that team to get the work done?

Or would you choose industrious, productive, ethical, responsible, skilled, successful people? 

Which team would make more progress and solve the problems better and faster? 

Value to Society

My point is that people who are industrious, productive, ethical, responsible, skilled, and successful have more value to society.  They build it up and make it better. 

People who are unemployed, irresponsible, unproductive, criminal, low income, with few skills, do not help society.  They are, in the main, a drag on society. 

Let’s think of a person’s value to society as analogous to a financial ledger.  Is someone in the “plus column” (contributing to the building of society) or in the “minus column” (not contributing but consuming resources that others produce, or even harming others, as in criminality)? 

Those who contribute are worth more to society.  Yet, the point I’m making here is that liberals spend all their time worrying about people who are, essentially in the “minus column.”  Is that person getting along OK?  Does he have all the basic services he needs?  Can he pay for health care?  Has someone somewhere offended him?  Is someone going to fire him if he does shoddy work?  Is he being victimized or marginalized by someone?  Is he depressed?  Are all the criminal’s rights being respected? 

You see, the whole orientation is in the direction of this person who is unemployed, irresponsible, unproductive, criminal, low income, or with few skills. 

No attention is paid by the liberal to the person who is industrious, productive, ethical, responsible, skilled, and successful.  Or if any attention is paid to him, it is simply to figure out how we can tax him to a greater degree so we can give more free services to the guy who doesn’t work.  To penalize the producer.

Marx Showing His Bearded Face

As I pointed out in my last column (which a journalist wrote in to tell me was wrong), this whole concept of putting all your attention and reserving all your rewards for those without merit (unemployed, irresponsible, unproductive, criminal, low income, or people with few skills), comes originally from Karl Marx. 

Marx felt that every employer in the world was oppressing his employees.  Just the fact of employing someone meant that you were oppressing him or her.  He felt that anyone who had money had gotten it unfairly by oppressing others.  One of his primary solutions was progressive taxation, i.e. taxation of higher income levels at higher percentages, or what we have in the US today (and it’s much worse in some European countries, like Sweden).

Marx blamed the “bourgeoisie”, which he defined as “the class of modern Capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage-labour,” for nearly every evil of the industrial revolution. 

I read the “Communist Manifesto” recently, and had just read “The Third Wave” by Alvin Toffler just before that.  It was very interesting to see the various phenomena that Toffler names as inherent and unavoidable aspects of the societal shift that accompanied the industrial revolution, and to then see that Marx essentially blames all those things on the bourgeoisie. 

So the natural belief adopted by someone who embraces Marx’s principles, is that the major crime of our age (or any age apparently) is that the business owner has oppressed the employee, the “have” has oppressed the “have not.”  So his major over-riding concern will be for the “have not.”  His major solutions will be actions to redistribute income.  He will worry about whether the “have not” has a phone (a liberal politician in Michigan recently stated that phone service was a basic right and how terrible it was that some people in Michigan couldn’t afford it, so the state should have to pay for their phone service). 

Rewarding Those Who Deserve It

Some pundit recently said that if you want more of something, subsidize it.  And if you want to get rid of something, tax it.

Theoretically we as a society should want to reward positive, constructive behavior, behavior that helps to build up society.  If nothing else, rewarding people who help build society would seem to be a survival move – it would tend to ensure that we still have a society five, ten or twenty years from now.  Societies do not build themselves or even continue by themselves.  Creative, constructive individuals must make them go forward.

If we could simply strip off this false idea that all employers are oppressive to the employee, we could make some progress here.

I have worked for several very talented entrepreneurs in my lifetime, mostly doing marketing for small to medium sized companies.  The skill, talent, brains and value of successful entrepreneurs is a wonder to behold.  They figure out what the marketplace needs, how to sell it, how to make it and deliver it.  The idea that such skills are commonplace is disproved by the high percentage of new business failures each year.  I challenge anyone who hasn’t done it to go out and start a new business and see how easy it is.  It isn’t.

Entrepreneurs are the people that drive the economy and create new jobs. 

Yet this is the guy Marx wants to penalize.  This is the person that liberals such as California Lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante want to tax more (his losing bid for Governor against Arnold Schwarzennager was based on “taxing the rich”, or should I say, “taxing the rich even more” as a solution to the state’s financial woes). 

94% of all taxes in America today are already paid by the top 50% of wage earners.  That means that the bottom 50% of all wage earners pay only 4% of the overall tax revenues. 

My idea, and the conservative thought generally, is that we should reward those that deserve it.  People who study in school, learn job skills, work hard, take responsibility, help improve conditions around them.  Certain people help to build up society, and those are the ones that should be rewarded. 

Based on the idea that you get more of what you subsidize, we are subsidizing and thus increasing unemployment, irresponsibility, non-productivity, criminality, low income, and having inadequate skills.

Shouldn’t we be subsidizing industriousness, productivity, ethics, responsibility, having helpful and necessary skills, and success?  Or at least getting out of their way?  I would say yes.

Part III coming soon.

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