Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Late Night Thoughts On Economics

The strangest thing about being liberal in the South is that people who disagree with you in terms of taxes and government spending do not actually gain anything fiscally from their disagreement.

So why do people who, say, work for the state or are lower middle-class to working poor, but religious in a usually evangelical way dislike liberal economic policies?

There have been numerous books and studies and I guess it'd be more effective to just say read "What's the Matter with Kansas," or my personal favorite "Deer Hunting with Jesus," but I know most people who disagree with my position wouldn't do that.  Which to be fair, I'm probably not going to read a 70 page monologue by Ayn Rand.  (Though I did read Anthem and a bunch of pages from one of her Objectivist books)

Okay so here goes: what sustains us as a people - not just us, any people - is narrative.  And the conservative narrative is much more pleasant.  That narrative suggests that freeloaders get in the way, unskilled, lazy people are the problem with wages, and if you can't get a job, it's because either 1) you don't want a job or 2) you've fucked up so bad in the past that you can't be surprised that nobody wants to hire you.

The beauty of that narrative is that it eliminates any systemic criticism.  That is to say, if you're screwed, it's because you screwed yourself.  We will call this the "Masterbation theory."

Okay and why do these people hate liberal ideas of, say, systemic racism?  Well to their mindset not only does it excuse personal failure (and let's be honest, sometimes it's used that way) it suggests that the very concept of "America" as they understand it is flawed.

And but so... What exactly is the liberal argument?

This is the problem.  It really hasn't been well articulated. The Left needs a better narrative.  Usually it's reactionary - "Well I mean he would have gotten a promotion but the system is racist, or she should have gotten promoted by the system is sexist." And so forth.  And while I personally agree that both of these happen very, very often, it's a negative critique, i.e., it suggests what's wrong with the system in place; it doesn't suggest an alternative.  (I'm being unfair to liberals here, but it's for a larger point)

So.... Liberals, and by liberal I personally mean people who believe that Capitalism should attempt to grant opportunities across the board in hopes of producing a better citizenry; people who believe that we have to have certain regulations in place to make sure that people are given similar opportunities to access the "American Dream" as dreamy as it probably is; people who believe that Corporations are not excluded from the same ethical framework we would apply to people; people who believe that difference is not simply a "Political Correct" notion, but a notion that allows a democracy to be fucking awesome and so forth, must give a positive idea of why their values are valuable.  We have to embrace statements like "Of course I'm liberal, why wouldn't anybody be?" As opposed to "Well I mean I'm liberal, but I'm not like a crazy person or anything."

Essentially, what I see is that poles are suggesting the population is moving left of both parties while the parties are moving right because of an obvious income imbalance between the rich and the poor, i.e., people have no money these days compared to the wealthy who run the planet.  And politicians and policy makers obviously want their jobs to continue. So, the wealthy control legislation.  This, of course, is the pickle.

I would personally be for using the word "sycophant" more often.  Often I see people who just want to be rich - it's a sort of wet-dream-republicanism.  Let's call them out on that.  I'd also suggest pointing out that the exact dichotomy I'm painting is too simple.  I always claim the term "Left" but never "Democrat."  As far as I can tell Democrats are basically just Republican Light who talk nicer in terms of Social Issues but rarely do much to better social standings. 

And but so, I don't know how to end this.  I'm frustrated and often left feeling helpless.  But I think most people I know, as evidenced by strong support for Gay Marriage, which I know via Facebook, are far more open than the television suggests.  I just hope the Left can make a narrative that's both honest and non-reactionary.  More to come.