Sunday, December 04, 2005

The "L" Word

Not "lesbian"; it's "liberal", which is these days equally maligned. Douglas Massey, who is a professor at Princeton, wrote a book called "Return of the 'L' Word: A Liberal Vision for the New Century." I read it last summer, and it was really good, particularly in terms of economic liberalism, an area in which I think we lefties aren't very good at expressing ourselves.

Anyway, Massey sets for some central core beliefs of liberalism, which I'd like to set forth here, as follows:

  • Government should invest in people by seeing to their health and education, for people are the ultimate resource in society.
  • Markets are not states of nature, but human inventions with imperfections and fallibilities, and government must work to ensure they function for the good of the many instead of the benefit of the few.
  • Government is obligated to see that needed markets exist, that competition within them is fair, that transactions are transparent, and that competition is accessible to everyone.
  • Because markets are fallible, and that they can and do break down from time to time, government must create public institutions to protect people from periodic market failures.
  • Government must ensure equal civil, legal, and political rights for all citizens regardless of background.
Now, I know some might say, "But Tracker, why should we rely on government to do all this. Shouldn't we do this ourselves?" Answer: Because only government can. No labor union, church fund or citizen advocacy group can make sure that Microsoft doesn't drive out all other competition, or that kids in North Philadelphia get the same education dollars as those in Lower Merion. Only government, with the power of law and regulation, can truly ensure that everyone benefits from the machinery of society.

Personally, I think most people believe this stuff, even if they don't admit it to others or even to themselves. For proof you need look no further than the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana and Mississippi may talk (and vote) and bunch of nonsense about keeping the government out of their lives, but when Uncle Sam wheeled out the government disaster relief trough, they jammed their snouts right in just like the most leftist Blue-stater. Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, city or urban, rich or poor...ain't nobody turning down free money.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite being unemployed for, at one point, almost ten months, I adamantly refused to accept welfare or UI.

I did, in fact, turn down free money as a matter of principle.

I don't just talk the talk.

- Mike V.

1:43 PM  
Blogger TrackerNeil said...

Actually, I was going to mention you in this post as the one person I know who actually turned down government money. In that you are rare, if not singular. Even the most rock-ribbed Republicans I know would apply for UI if given the chance.

1:53 PM  

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