Like many of you, I’ve been following the John Roberts confirmation hearing and I’ve found it fascinating to hear intelligent, eloquent people from both sides present their cases. Last night, one of the final witnesses against Roberts was Dr. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, and a former professor at Brandeis University.
Reich opened his statement with a reminder that an increasingly smaller segment of the population has been getting increasingly wealthier. “If that doesn’t bring up issues of economic morality, I don’t know what does,” he remarked.
Inherent in Reich’s beliefs, and the beliefs of most liberals, is the idea that inequality per se is immoral.
A great case in point, brought up by a previous witness [an economist-sounding female with a British accent whose name I didn't catch], is one where male sewer workers earn higher wages than female clerical workers. Prima facie, this appears to be case of gender discrimination and favoritism, another example of immoral inequality deserving of government intervention. However, this witness brought up several points. First, the market itself controls wages by valuing some services more highly than others, for its own reasons. Second, females are not prohibited from becoming sewer workers, but rather in the aggregate, they just don’t seem to want to become sewer workers. Third, in a study where people were asked to choose between clerical work and sewer work for the same wage, every person chose clerical work; the fact is that the market must pay people higher wages to do that type of work.
Where is the immorality here, and how much sense does it make for the government to interfere in this process? No more sense, I would argue, than it would make for a filmographer to intervene in the natural, amoral processes he is filming, thereby projecting his own morality on to those processes.
Reich, like all good leftists do, believes that the role of government is to engineer social uniformity, to eliminate all of society’s “immoral inequalities” which are believed to be caused entirely by socioeconomic factors. In other words, by equalizing socioeconomic status among the population (economic morality), you will eliminate many of society’s problems such as lack of education, illegitimacy and crime.
It just isn’t so, because we know that these social problems are not caused by low socioeconomic status, though they are correlated with it. But this proves that even an intelligent, highly educated person can be misguided; as is the well-meaning nature filmographer who, feeling sorry for the injured animal about to be eaten, ties a brick to the lioness’ hind leg to even the playing field.
The liberal politician wishes to change the world, to right what he sees as society’s wrongs. To do so, he must obtain power by winning the approval of the majority of people. The people play the sick role, aware of their symptoms but waiting for a diagnosis to explain their symptoms, wanting to feel better.
The politician readily provides such a diagnosis:
You suffer from a disease, an external process which is no fault of your own and entirely beyond your control. You are hapless victims and I have the cure.
To this end, both he and the liberal media will confuse causality with correlation in their assessment of society’s problems, thereby engineering a polarization. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps even despite their education and intellect they honestly cannot tell the difference between causality and correlation, in which case they are guilty only of ignorance. But surely many of them, deep down, do know the difference but are unable to abandon the positions in which they are so deeply invested.
The very sad irony is that the liberals are dooming the very people they’re out to save.