Public Policy As Fashion

Thomas Sowell notes, again, the failure of leftist policies to achieve their intended results:

If the left chooses to believe that government intervention is the answer to such tragedies, that is their right. But, if they expect the rest of us to share that belief, surely they could subject that belief to some empirical test. But we can, however.
The 1960s were the triumphant decade of those who wanted government intervention to “solve” what they called “social problems.” How did that work out? What were things like before this social vision triumphed? And what were things like afterwards?

The failures of the Left to correlate cause and effect, even to remember how things used to be, in relation to leftist govt policies are legion. Thus leftists advocate War on Poverty-type programs as antidotes to problems that became worse after the original War on Poverty. Similarly and classically, leftists have favored rent control laws as remedies for housing shortages in cities such as NYC where housing shortages did not exist before rent control. And they defend, or at least have a soft spot for, the Castro dictatorship even though pre-Castro Cuba was relatively much more free and prosperous. It’s difficult to hold leftist views if you see govt policies as subject to empirical validation. In that case you ask the right question: Did things get better or worse after X? But it’s easy to hold such views if you see politics as fashion or a means of engaging in virtue-signalling. Then the question becomes: What are the popular opinions among today’s in-crowd?

Being a follower of clothing fashions is harmless. Being a follower of opinion fashions is personally corrupting and harmful to others, especially as government becomes larger and more intrusive.

10 thoughts on “Public Policy As Fashion”

  1. And they defend, or at least have a soft spot for, the Castro dictatorship even though pre-Castro Cuba was relatively much more free and prosperous.
    Defenders of the Castro brothers will sometimes say, “Well, it’s a lot better off than Haiti.” Except that Cuba in the 1950s was also a lot better off than Haiti.

    Trap question for fans of the Castro brothers: Would you say that Cuba’s Life Expectancy being 4.8 years greater than Life Expectancy for Latin America is evidence that the Castro brothers have been good stewards for their country?

    Then inform them that in the 1950s, Cuba’s Life Expectancy was 8 years greater than Life Expectancy for Latin America. Are they going to claim that by the same criteria, Batista was a good steward for his country?

    For those who claim that the embargo has hurt Cuba, inform them that from 1961-2013, milk production in Cuba increased 70%, so 2013 production was 1.7 times that of 1961 production. For Latin America, milk production from 1961-2013 increased 370%, so that 2013 production was 4.7 times that of 1961 production. I very much doubt that the CIA was shooting down Cuban milk cows.

    Renaissance and Decay: A Comparison of Socioeconomic Indicators in Pre-Castro and Current-Day Cuba This is nearly 20 years old, so some of the information is dated, but the pre-1959 information is still valid.

  2. It has been noticed that, in a nation such as Afghanistan, the radical Islamists take control, and things get systemically worse and worse and worse as they “progress”.

    Their all too logical reaction to this is – “Well, we just haven’t been Islamic enough, gotta ratchet that up and all will be great.

    It is clearly been noted that the “progressive” left and radical Islam have been BFF’s for quite some time now.

    A coincidence, I am sure.

  3. Leftie opinions are expressions of personal issues and group affiliation. Reality has nothing to do with this.

  4. ‘“progressive” left and radical Islam have been BFF’s for quite some time now.’

    Are you sure you are not overdoing this?

  5. “It is clearly been noted that the ‘progressive’ left and radical Islam have been BFF’s for quite some time now.”
    Yes. David Horowitz explores this in his book “Unholy Alliance” and a number of anti-radical-islam bloggers have been looking at this for quite a few years.

  6. C’mon PG, please be serious.

    The “progressive” left despises to a soul any hint of Christian “theocracy”, of Christianity playing ANY hint of a sort of role in governance whatsoever. ANY. With loathing and aggressive opposition.

    Can you name ANYONE on the left, American or European, other that Chris Hitchens and Bill Maher (to their credit), who will consistently call out Islam for being about one-thousand times more theocratic that modern Christianity could ever dream of being? Who will call it out for it’s rampant misogyny, it’s condemnation and outright murder of gays, it’s utter and absolute intolerance for faiths not Muslim? For it’s fundamental acceptance of violent war in the name and only in the name of Islam against infidels? All over the world? Can you name anyone at all om the left who is willing to call it out for the very things they will fulminate about Christianity, when it is presented to them times ten by Muslims? Anyone?

    Can you name anyone who will react to mass-murder in the name of Islam EXACTLY as they reacted to that maniac in South Carolina who stormed into a black church shooting? Where they identified his white-supremecist ideology and went after it hammer and tong within the hour of the event? Has this ever happened anywhere any time with Islam, at least on the left? Ever??

    That was a dumb question, frankly.

  7. TH –

    For the record, I am not saying he isn’t. That does not negate one syllable of what I have said. A fundamental philosophical corruption of the left is that there are no baseline values whatsoever, only baseline groups whose behavior is to be defended or vilified entirely because of WHO they are, not WHAT they do.

    It is difficult to find a social value, as practiced by Islam, that is not bitterly opposed by the Western left when practiced by Christians and/or Europeans. (Economic socialistic values maybe, but not social ones regarding gender, sexuality, patriarchy, etc etc). Yet when faced with the conundrum of choosing between the social values they ostensibly stand for, and the social values as practiced by Islam, they will defer to the latter virtually every time. That is why I note above that you can literally count the prominent leftists who do not do that on two fingers.

    It is simply absurd to pretend that this is not so, and that it is not so in an extraordinarily notable way. How the left gets away with it philosophically I would call a mystery, if I were not aware of how pathetic our media, cultural and academic institutions are across the board in this realm.

  8. “Are they going to claim that by the same criteria, Batista was a good steward for his country?”

    Everybody forgets, if they ever knew, that Batista was part black just like our sainted president.

    Leftism is a form of mental illness. It assumes intentions trump reality. So do manic psychotics. I’ve met a few.

    Leftists see Muslims as “people of color” and believe they need protection from “Islamophobia,” also known as reality.

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