The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Many progressives are quick to assert that those who do not adopt their belief system are bumpkins at best and unreconstructed neanderthals at worst. And yet, after many years of observing progressives up close, one can only conclude that their belief system is based on good intentions (forget the results) at best and full-blown fantasy at worse.

Kate Batchelder (read the whole article, although it is behind a pay wall) deconstructs the 10 most widely believed progressive myths. She writes:
A hallmark of progressive politics is the ability to hold fervent beliefs, in defiance of evidence, that explain how the world works—and why liberal solutions must be adopted. Such political superstitions take on a new prominence during campaign seasons as Democratic candidates trot out applause lines to rally their progressive base and as the electorate considers their voting records.
The problem is that these myths are promulgated by a compliant media and are generally believed to be true by otherwise intelligent people who otherwise think critically. Let's take a look at Bachelder's list:
1. Spending more money improves education. The U.S. spent $12,608 per student in 2010—more than double the figure, in inflation-adjusted dollars, spent in 1970—and spending on public elementary and secondary schools has surpassed $600 billion. How’s that working out? Adjusted state SAT scores have declined on average 3% since the 1970s, as the Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson found in a March report.
There are many reasons why some students (note my use of the word "some" are struggling, but they have nothing to do with money. The list of reasons might include: an unstable family environment, a culture that doesn't honor education, top heavy administrative control, too much standardized testing—to name just a few.
2. Government spending stimulates the economy. Case in point is the $830 billion 2009 stimulus bill, touted by the Obama administration as necessary for keeping unemployment below 8%. Result: four years of average unemployment above 8%. Federal outlays soared in 2009 to $3.5 trillion—a big enough bump to do the Keynesian trick of boosting aggregate demand—but all we got was this lousy 2% growth and a new costume for Army Corps of Engineers mascot Bobber the Water Safety Dog.
The Keynsian model is deeply flawed in an era of global economy. Barack Obama wasted hundreds of billions dolling out political gifts as part of the stimulus and did little to improve our economic plight.
3. Republican candidates always have a big spending advantage over Democrats. Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor recently to deride the Koch brothers as “radical billionaires” who are “attempting to buy our democracy.” Yet the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has raked in $127 million this cycle, about $30 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Democrats have aired more TV ads than Republicans in several battleground states, according to analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.
It would be a very good idea to remove all money from politics, but those who are in touch with reality understand that there is no practical, enforceable way to do it.
4. Raising the minimum wage helps the poor. The president wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25, with the tagline “Let’s give America a raise.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the hike would cost 500,000 jobs, one blow to the low-wage earners it claims to help. Employment aside, only 18% of the earnings benefits of a $10.10 hike would flow to people living below the poverty line, ...
But numbers and statistics never win when progressives adopt a myth. It "feels" right to champion low wage earners, even if you hurt many other low wage earners in the process. Again, intentions trump results every time.

5. Global warming is causing increasingly violent weather. Tell that to Floridians, who are enjoying the ninth consecutive season without a hurricane landfall. The Atlantic hurricane season in 2013 was the least active in 30 years. Oh, and global temperatures have not increased for 15 years.
It's all about the science. Not!
6. Genetically modified food is dangerous. Farmers have been breeding crop seeds for 10,000 years, but the agricultural innovation known as genetic modification makes liberals shudder. Not a single documented illness has resulted from the trillions of meals containing “genetically modified organisms,” or GMOs, that humans have consumed since the mid-1990s. The technology has been declared safe by every regulatory agency from the Food and Drug Administration to the European Commission.
In some ways, belief in this myth is harmless. If an individual insists on spending between 10 and 200 percent more for "organic, local, sustainable" food, that's fine. Just don't force the rest of us to do so as well.
7. Voter ID laws suppress minority turnout. More than 30 states have voter-ID laws, which the left decries as an attempt to disenfranchise minorities who don’t have identification and can’t pay for it. Yet of the 17 states with the strictest requirements, 16 offer free IDs.
Just this week, there have been four documented cases of voter fraud on a wide scale. A recent study by George Mason university notes that an estimated 1.2 million illegal aliens (or otherwise ineligible non-citizens) voted in the 2008 elections. Guess who the vast majority voted for?
8. ObamaCare is gaining popularity.
President Obama said in a speech earlier this month that fewer Republicans were running against ObamaCare because “it’s working pretty well in the real world.”
Recall that he also said you can keep your doctor and your existing insurance plan. Heh.
9. The Keystone XL pipeline would increase oil spills. Let’s check out what President Obama’s State Department had to say: In 2013 pipelines with a diameter larger than 12 inches spilled 910,000 gallons. Railroad tankers spilled 1.5 million gallons. Yet pipelines carry 25 times the oil that tankers do, as environmental analyst Terry Anderson has noted in these pages. Blocking Keystone and forcing more oil to be shipped by rail guarantees more harm to the environment.
Our most powerful weapon against entities that want to do us harm is oil. Keystone would all but guarantee energy independence.
10. Women are paid 77 cents on the dollar compared with men. The mother of all liberal superstitions, this figure comes from shoddy math that divides the average earnings of all women working full-time by the average earnings of all full-time men, without considering career field, education or personal choices. When those factors are included, the wage gap disappears.
But the "war on women" has worked so well in the past, why not continue to promote the canard?

It is important to note that conservatives also fall into the trap of taking positions based on belief, rather than reality, particularly on social issues.  For example, their ridiculous contention that gay marriage somehow threatens conventional marriage is unsupported by facts or evidence. It's mean-spirited and wrong.

It's important to look at the world as it is, not as we'd wish it to be. It's important to consider not only intentions but results, potential unintended consequences, and costs. It important not to live in a fantasy where words matter more than actions, and beliefs matter more that hard evidence and facts.