We should not be legislating toward ideals

This is going to sound obvious but, I think for all their similarities, there are vast differences between liberals and conservatives when it comes to dealing with reality.  I am not suggesting one side is delusional.  However, I am suggesting they deal with reality in fundamentally different ways.  My experience is liberals do not deal with, and adjust to the way things are, they feel the need to regulate, not just aim, toward the ideal.

When operating under a politically left ideology, there is a desire to level the playing field rather than exert the effort necessary to overcome life’s hurdles.  The fact that not everyone possesses identical knowledge, skills, and abilities serves as a reason to try and regulate toward certain outcomes in life.  But it’s not a legislature’s job to determine what is fair or favorable.  It is not a government’s job to level the playing field nor is it to pick winners and losers in society.  It’s not anyone’s job for that matter, especially when the regulations designed to level the field rarely produce results.

Many on the political left,  in my experience, believe very passionately that it is the government’s role to attempt to regulate toward ideal conditions.  But part of life is coming to terms with the brute fact that not everyone is the same.  Some people are winners, some are losers, some are haves, some are have-nots.  The great thing about this country is, these lots are not fixed.  People are free to move in and out of these lots in life.  Not without effort though.  The journey might be easier or more difficult for some, and this is where liberals tend to want to step in and intervene.  They seem to want everyone to have the same ease of success as anyone else.  They routinely fail to take into account the human nature.  Not everyone has the same drive to succeed.  Some people become complacent and are only willing to wish their station were better.

Comments

  1. paynehollow says:

    John…

    Many on the political left, in my experience, believe very passionately that it is the government’s role to attempt to regulate toward ideal conditions. But part of life is coming to terms with the brute fact that not everyone is the same.

    Do you think that regulating toward an ideal is a bad thing? Ideally, we would have air clean enough that asthmatics don’t have to stay inside for fear of dying. I think this is a great and rational ideal to shoot for.

    As to the second part, I know of no one – liberal or otherwise – especially among those of us who work and live with the poor, who believes that everyone has the same abilities and options. I agree that it is a VERY bad idea to plan a society around the idea that everyone is the same in every sense, just that everyone has the same rights and responsibilities. But that is not contrary to liberal belief, I don’t believe.

    ~Dan

  2. paynehollow says:

    John…

    they feel the need to regulate, not just aim, toward the ideal.

    In re-reading this, I have to think that you and I would agree on the principle that it IS good to not just aim, but also regulate towards the ideal. Consider:

    Ideally, people would not kill or cheat or swindle each other. And, rationally speaking, we can regulate/legislate towards that ideal.

    Ideally, companies would not put out an unsafe product, or one that causes vast harm, or toxically pollute the environment in the production process. AND, rationally speaking, we can regulate/legislate towards that ideal.

    In principle, I have to imagine that we agree. I think you are trying to touch on one particular area of something related to how we deal systemically with poverty questions. It might help if you offer some specific regulation so we know what you’re dealing with.

    But, where you say…

    there is a desire to level the playing field rather than exert the effort necessary to overcome life’s hurdles.

    I would just note that in dealing with social workers, mental health workers, teachers and others in the “helping fields” on a regular basis, as well as dealing with the poor, homeless, mentally ill, students, etc… I can confidently say that those in my circle of “helper field” associates are well aware of limitations that some of the more marginalized have to deal with. And they/we work to help them optimize their options and abilities. So, where there is a homeless family in a shelter, they case workers help the family identify their own goals for change, and then help them coordinate a plan towards meeting those goals. And in each case, they are starting with the reality of where those people actually are – their skills and liabilities and strengths and disabilities. There is no “leveling of the playing field” involved on the on the ground efforts to help these folk, just a real world push to help them optimize and achieve, given the reality of where they are.

    Now, outside of the direct work with these folk, do some support the idea of increasing the minimum wage (which perhaps might be considered a “field leveler…”)? Sure, because if a single mother is working two part time minimum wage jobs and still unable to afford an apartment, then the thinking is that the “minimum wage” is not high enough is not an irrational one.

    So, I guess I’m wondering what specifically you had in mind…?

    ~Dan

  3. vincedeporter says:

    Being a liberal myself, I do not see this from the same vantage point.
    We are not equal for sure, but as a taxpayer, I do want my contribution to favor a fair chance for everyone.

    What do I mean by a fair chance?

    I mean a fair START.
    I mean giving those who are less fortunate a chance at building success.
    But this is not what the Right seems to want… which is very odd to me, since at least the Christian right claims to follow Jesus. A giver. A sharer. A healer.

    May I respectfully point out John, that your words sound more like Social Darwinism — something I personally abhor. I wish to believe that we have evolved a consciousness that counters the idea that only the fittest, strongest, win.

    You say ” But part of life is coming to terms with the brute fact that not everyone is the same. Some people are winners, some are losers, some are haves, some are have-nots.” Yes, it is a fact — but you are forgetting that a good government is there to protect the people it represents, and should use taxes to benefit the people, not the government (even less corporations).

    Your chances of winning are not good if you start off as a have-not.

    I am saddened to observe that in this country, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. And I don’t claim to be Christ-like! I believe my morality and empathy has evolved to privilege individuality while helping others less fortunate — all with the goal of a better society.

    Obviously, I do not fail to take into account human nature. What I wish is to correct humanity’s greed and oppression — precisely huge flaws of human nature.

    If Christ was here, would he give breaks to corporations — or people?
    Something to think about. From where I stand, the Left seems more Christlike than the Right… and I find this more disturbing than I find it ironic.

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