May 8, 2008

Conservatives are (supposedly) happier than liberals and (supposedly) scientists have discovered why.

Here's the article (and tell me if the reason the scientists have discovered isn't the same thing that left-wing ideology tells us):
Individuals with conservative ideologies are happier than liberal-leaners, and new research pinpoints the reason: Conservatives rationalize social and economic inequalities.
Are conservatives the kind of heartless/head-in-the-sand people who rationalize away troublesome truths? Or do people become conservative to gain the benefits of the rationalizing escape from troublesome truths?
Regardless of marital status, income or church attendance, right-wing individuals reported greater life satisfaction and well-being than left-wingers, the new study found. Conservatives also scored highest on measures of rationalization, which gauge a person's tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities.

The rationalization measure included statements such as: "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are."
Face it. Conservatives are assholes. Science says! And don't start rationalizing away what science says, you asshole.
To justify economic inequalities, a person could support the idea of meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance. In that way, one's social class attainment, whether upper, middle or lower, would be perceived as totally fair and justified.

If your beliefs don't justify gaps in status, you could be left frustrated and disheartened, according to the researchers, Jaime Napier and John Jost of New York University. They conducted a U.S.-centric survey and a more internationally focused one to arrive at the findings.

"Our research suggests that inequality takes a greater psychological toll on liberals than on conservatives," the researchers write in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, "apparently because liberals lack ideological rationalizations that would help them frame inequality in a positive (or at least neutral) light."
They especially lack the rationalization powers that would allow them to frame conservatives as anything but assholes. These liberals must starkly confront the brutal reality that conservatives are too heartless, stupid, greedy, or cowardly to perceive. At least that's the way the liberals like to frame it.

ADDED: Don Surber says factor in age: If older people are happier and older people are more conservative, the pattern is explained. But maybe older people are happier and more conservative because they're prone to rationalize. Those bastards!

129 comments:

Roger J. said...

I didn't see a link to the actual study. If anyone can find it, please let me know. I LOVE reading science fiction.

Balfegor said...

The excerpts you've pulled out, particularly

In that way, one's social class attainment, whether upper, middle or lower, would be perceived as totally fair and justified.

suggest that the sticking point for liberals is their own status, and frustration that it isn't as high as they may think they deserve.

Also, I'm not sure whether it's true of American conservatives the way you'd expect it to be true of conservatives in other countries, but I suspect a lot of that "rationalisation" is really just fatalism in another guise. Conservatives typically reject the perfectibility of man and man's creations, including society, and accordingly have to be more willing to take things as they are -- otherwise they wouldn't be conservative; they'd want to bring revolution or far-reaching reform. Create the New Soviet Man, etc.

Telle said...

What a crock.

First, I'd like to see the breakdown along lines of belief in God, an afterlife, and a final judgment.

Then I'd like to see the breakdown along lines of amount of charity giving.

Then I'd like to see a breakdown along lines of belief that there are or aren't absolute and universal truths.

Then let's chat about "conservative" and "liberal"

madawaskan said...

Well...I had this global economics prof-that would whip into class and write on the chalkboard-

Life is Not Fair

Every time. It got really tedious and it took me years to get it.

Once you get it though-it's quite liberating.

Roger J. said...

Found a link to the article: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/ps/19_6.cfm

only 29 pages, should be interesting!

madawaskan said...

Roger J.

You left off some of the code-here is a link to the pdf-

Napier

Original Mike said...

"Our research suggests that inequality takes a greater psychological toll on liberals than on conservatives, apparently because liberals lack ideological rationalizations that would help them frame inequality in a positive (or at least neutral) light."

What liberals lack is the insight to realize that their government-based policies will make matters worse. And I've seen no deficit in their ability to rationalize away evidence in this regard.

George said...

Click on the link to the story and next to it you find two news videos of the Chilean volcano.

If you see the videos, and they make you worry about the environment, you're a neurotic liberal. If they make you aware that bad things happen to good people, you're a heartless conservative.

If you see the video about he Chilean army rescuing pets from the danger zone and breath a sigh of relief, you're a pet-loving liberal. If you worry that the priorities of the Chilean military are misplaced, you're a dog-hating conservative.

If you see the videos and imagine the entire mountain suddenly vaporizing with the force of 15 H-Bombs, you're glad to be in the northern hemisphere.

Maguro said...

If your beliefs don't justify gaps in status, you could be left frustrated and disheartened

Every human civilisation in history has had "gaps in status" and none more so than the supposed egalitarian socialist utopias. Status-seeking is hard-wired into human DNA and it isn't rationalization to recognize that.

suggest that the sticking point for liberals is their own status, and frustration that it isn't as high as they may think they deserve.

Exactly.

vet66 said...

Isn't that the difference between the Socratic method of discourse and Sophistry?

Original Mike said...

Balfegor said: I suspect a lot of that "rationalisation" is really just fatalism in another guise. Conservatives typically reject the perfectibility of man and man's creations, including society, and accordingly have to be more willing to take things as they are

What Balfegor said.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Conservatives are (supposedly) happier than liberals

Clearly a side effect of not being perpetually aggrieved.

Trooper York said...

It's all about knowing about original sin. Once you grasp that little fact, it's a little easier to cut other people some slack.

dbp said...

"To justify economic inequalities, a person could support the idea of meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance."

I love the "supposedly" in the quote. It really tells us all we need to know.

rhhardin said...

I'm surprised they didn't figure in a sense of humor.

Roger J. said...

A quick read of the study suggessts to me that the main author Jost has used some survey data to prove his own theory of social justification. His research is featured prominately in the lit review portion of the piece.

I also got a bit concerned at the first phase of the study when the authors used the means of two ordinal scales to use in a regression. (a very big no-no in statistics as the differences between a points on a seven point likert scale are not precisely measureable) They also reported an r of .46 as "highly intercorrelated". I know that psychologists like any kind of r, but the variance explained by that particular r is about 22%--not much of an explanation.

At no time do the authors use their own survey instruments, relying instead on more general polling. The ability to translate that polling into their "social justification" theory seems a bit of a problem to me--they would have done better to create their own instrument.

It will take a longer read, but at this point, I am not sure the authors have pushed back the frontiers of knowledge very much.

Roger J. said...

Oh--and the overall argument, I think, is tautological and based solely on economic inequality rather than on any other measures of conservatism or liberalism.

dbp said...

I think most people who support idea of meritocracy do so because they think it is fair. I don't think it occurs to conservatives that they would have to "justify" their success. Sucess flows from your efforts.

If I build a coffee table with my own hands, I certainly don't feel guilty about using it or owning it. That would be crazy.

Tom Tucker said...

I also think it's worth mentioning that as a conservative I am happy because I have come to grips with what I can and can not control and spend exactly zero time worrying or getting myself worked up about it. Whereas liberals are continually stuck believing that if everyone just clapped a little longer and a little louder that Tinkerbell will come back to life.

Henry said...

I would note that the people who go to work every day, support local voluntary associations, deal honestly with their neighbors, and take care of their own are doing a lot to support the social fabric.

Whether or not they mope about social justice (or the moral collapse of western society) is their own problem.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

My new theme song.

[The Duke's gonna' be pretty pissed.]

William said...

Humans are primates. As such we form hierarchal societies. The people on top become proud. The people towards the bottom become resentful. The people in the middle either make themselves useful to the proud in order to gain access to the levers of power or mobilize the resentments of the marginal in order to gain power. The metric of a conservative's success is money. The metric of a liberal's success is power or status. Rockefeller was the wealthiest man alive but there were Chicago aldermen with more power than he. Lenin was the most powerful man alive but his standard of living was nothing special. Greed for money is much easier to achieve and subsequently enjoy than greed for power, status, social justice, fairness (substitue favorite ideal here).

Paul Zrimsek said...

What are you, one of those conservatives-are-assholes denialists? I bet you're a creationist too. The science is settled!

Pogo said...

I read the study. It's bullshit, all the way through. Each and every definition is loaded, but this possibility was unexamined (because the "reviewers" and "editors" are idiots) and therefore the entire "study" is worthless. The statistical analysis of crap is still crap, even if that crap has a great p value.

Trooper has the best explanation. My take?


Liberals: It's not fair! Why do bad things happen? Why do things cost money? Why do I have to work? I want the whole world to be different than it is or ever has been. And I want what I want now!

Conservatives: Life isn't fair. Life is suffering, then you die. People are often selfish bastards, but play fair and be nice anyway. Work hard, but don't expect much and quit whining. That government is best which governs least. Anything else just makes it worse. You can't change the world, but you can make the little place you call home better.

Triangle Man said...

This is the Dr. Strange theory of conservatism?

Roger J. said...

Geez Pogo--I was trying to be tactful so as not to invite down on me the wrath of Cyrus--Your characterization is much more succinct than mine and more accurate.

P. Rich said...

meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance

dpd...

Yes. Methinks also therein lies a clue to the leftist political leanings, and underlying objective, of the writers. "We don't need no stinking individual achievements 'round here!" Those are, after all, antithetical to the popular deluded vision of a socialist utopia - not to mention the requisite, perpetually "helpless" victim groups requiring State succor.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Pogo: Would your theory boil down to Veruca Salt vs. Charlie Bucket?

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

Yes, or Mike Doonesbury versus Batman.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

All "societies" from humans to the chickens scratching in the yard are not equal. This is life and part of how evolution works. Biologically: the unequal don't reproduce and the more equal do. Societally: there are always going to be those who earn more, create more, contribute more. Such is life.

The "liberals" are unhappy because they can't make the universe work according to their idea of perfection. Utopia doesn't exist except in their fevered brains.

Conservatives are able to grasp the fact that LIFE ISN'T FAIR. We can and should try to improve people's lot in life but we can never make things equal. NEVER.

Maybe the libs need to take a page from AA.
God, Grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.

And for the peace of mind of the rest of us the ability to shut up

Jeremy said...

The secondary finding here would then be that liberals are:
1. Bitter - because reality doesn't conform to their wishes
2. Detached from reality - see above
3. Arrogant - as they believe that they have the ability to conform the rest of the world to their demands
4. Simpleminded - unable to accept the tension of complex and disparate facts

Social science is fun!

Sloanasaurus said...

Balfegor has it right:

Conservatives typically reject the perfectibility of man and man's creations, including society, and accordingly have to be more willing to take things as they are -- otherwise they wouldn't be conservative;

The red herring in the study is the word "rationalization," which implies an untruthful way to reach an explanation.

Conservatives do value equalty, they value equality of freedom. Liberals do not value freedom as high as equality of social status or economic status. Because America was founded on freedom and is still the freeist nation on earth, it is obvious that conservatives would be more happy in America. Go to a place like Cuba were freedom, and you will find that the liberals are happier than conservatives.

Liberals take away freedom when they attempt to control peoples lives through the state. They can do it by by giving them services or taking away their wealth.

SteveR said...

Just because you accept that there are inequalities, doesn't mean that you are uncaring about the consequences of those inequalities. Caring is more broadly defined that taking money from people and creating huge bureacracies to redistribute a smal fraction of it to the unequals among us.

Having a realistic outlook on things is a good start to happiness although "Imagine" makes for a nice song.

Henry said...

And for this tripe, college tuition keeps going up?

* * *

My question for the researchers is this: What about differences in happiness between, say, New Brunswick and the rest of Canada?

New Brunswick and the rest of the Atlantic provinces — excluding Nova Scotia — scored highest in terms of personal contentment. New Brunswick scored with 78.6 out of 100 as the happiest in the country.

Those assholes.

* * *

Or, more categorically, the happiness stats between nations. See this New York Times article and accompanying map.

Yup, the worst SOBs in the world live in Denmark.

MadisonMan said...

Vito Fossella is conservative. I wonder how happy he is these days.

Sloanasaurus said...

Liberals also tend to view things from a relative point of view while conservatives view things from an absolute point of view. Thus a liberal may view a yanamomo, who roams the jungles of Brazil and lives off the land, as less "free" than a factory worker in Cuba, because they have less access to free medical care.

Roger J. said...

Seems to me the argument runs along these lines:

1) (Unstated assumption): people should care about inequality and be made unhappy by it.

2) (Unstated) Since they are not made sad, but should be, (stated) the explanation is social justification

3)social justification is therefore inherent in conservative ideology

That looks like a tautology to me.
And also meets Pogo's more succinct description.

AJ Lynch said...

It is not said much here but you guys are really really good.

Especially the conservatives who truly try to enlighten and inform others with substantive facts and reasoned arguments.

Thanks also Ruth Ann - I enjoyed the Leary Rock Video.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Social science is fun!

One thing's for sure: social science isn't science, despite the name.

Jake said...

My research with a sample size of 5000 people proved that Republicans are clean, kind, considerate, optimistic, interesting and fun to be with. But most important, I learned that Republicans have jobs.

Democrats were proven to be dirty, hostile, unkempt, snotty, intolerant, angry and do not want a job.

Bruce Hayden said...

My vote is with Sloanasaurus and Balfegor. Man is imperfect, and thus society is such. Utopias are just that, Utopian and wishful thinking.

Some of those on the left claim to be from the reality-based community. But that is wishful thinking. There is nothing reality-based about being a Utopian and living in a wishful thinking fantasy world.

Government programs to solve all the world's problems almost invariably fail because man is imperfect. Wishing that these government programs will succeed, or believing that if just the right, smartest, people were to design them they would work is just wishful thinking, and doomed to perpetual disappointment.

So, maybe it is the constant discordance between how those on the left wish the world would work, and how it actually does work, that is the reason that they tend to be more depressed.

Richard Dolan said...

What a strange world the liberals caricatured by the paper's authors must live in.

Anyone is free, of course, to judge the world against whatever system of values appeals to him. But it is a form of madness to confuse one's image of paradise with the world we all inhabit. Yet that is what this study suggests a liberal's use of the categories "equal/unequal" amounts to. For the study to make any sense, liberals must be using "equal/unequal" both descriptively and normatively, but without the ability to notice the difficulties any such usage would create.

If the point is to describe the world, no one could seriously claim that people are "equal" in any sense relevant to the "social and economic inequalities" that this study is concerned with. People obviously differ greatly in terms of abilities, aptitudes, interests, willingness to work, and in every other way. If the notion of "equality" is be applied here, it can only be used normatively, making it essentially a moral category: the many difference among individuals don't justify unequal social results. That's a point of view, but not one likely to find many adherents (even among "liberals") without lots of caveats, provisos and all-around hedging.

The authors conclude that "liberals lack ideological rationalizations that would help them frame inequality in a positive (or at least neutral) light." Translated from its native double-speak, that only means that liberals cannot see that the world around them is completely different from some fantasy that they don't really believe in (remember those caveats, provisos and all-around hedging).

While I think Ann is exactly right in suggesting that the study's authors are of the view that conservative=bad, liberal=good, the study (despite itself) suggests instead that conservative=realistic, liberal=airhead. If I were a self-described "liberal," I would regard this study as a ridiculous caricature, bordering on slander.

Martin Gale said...

As the Iron Lady famously said,
"The facts of life are conservative."

Or as the physicists like to say,
"Gravity: It's not just a good idea, it's the law."

Roger J. said...

Seems to me one of the fundamental assumptions of today's liberals is that humans are perfectable; Conservatives reject that assumption.

Roger J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
losergrrl said...

Pogo -- People are indeed selfish bastards, and, yes, you do have an obligation to play fair and be nice.  That's been demonstrated to death by Jesus, the Buddha, Spinoza, et al.

But you make it sound as if we should content ourselves with some sort of state of nature, where we huddle round the fire in our caves, only to emerge to knock sabre-toothed cats on the head and chuck spears at our neighbours from the next cave down the valley.  Nasty, brutish and short, eh?

We all know Hobbes used that as part of his argument for the Leviathan:  People need each other to form a 'commonwealth' (charming antique sound to that word) for their mutual benefit and protection.  The problem has always been how fat you want your Leviathan and how big you want his teeth.  If, like Hobbes, you are a materialist who rejects anything transcendent, well, the Leviathan can't get big enough, because the God-shaped hole in society needs be filled with blubber.

If your Leviathan would answer to a higher power, or at least recognise that he is mortal, that should tend to put him on a bit of a diet, and make him think twice about swallowing you whole.  Won't stop him, but at least he may look over his shoulder (if Leviathans had shoulders) now and again.

I often have the impression that both libertarians and terrorists are like so many Captains Ahab.  The Leviathan will live whatever you should do, and will only grow stronger for your attempts to kill it.  Witness all the paranoia and 'security' in the Western world in response to terror.  The terrorists seldom suceed, and the right-wingers only get a bigger beast.  And the bigger beast is simply a bigger beast, not necessarily one that would do what you want it to.

Unless we would return to those nasty, brutish days, a wiser course is to try to ensnare and tame the beast to use its power, and to to try to stop it from smashing us in the bargain.

Roger J.-- You needn't worry about that twat you mentioned.  She sails under a false flag and is not interested in debates about social philosophy, only her sex, the alpha and omega of her view of the universe.

Trooper York said...

Liberals are the Red Sox. Conservatives are the Yankees.

Liberals are Boston Patriots.
Conservatives are the NY Giants.

Liberals are the Lakers.
Conservatives are the Boston Celtics.

Liberals are the Miami Hurricanes.
Conservatives are Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Liberals are Duke.
Conservatives are Indiana.

Liberals are Alec Baldwin.
Conservatives are Tom Selleck.

Liberals are Susan Saradon.
Conservatives are Bo Derek.

Liberals are Stephen King.
Conservatives are Tom Clancy.

Liberals are angel hair pasta.
Conservatives are gnocchi.

Liberals are tofu.
Conservatives are sausage heros.

Liberals are appletinis.
Conservatives are boiler makers.

reader_iam said...

So, what would this imply about people of mixed views? On second thought, nevermind.

Trooper York said...

Reader you are tofu with a boilermaker chaser.

dannyboy said...

I didn’t think it was fair that all the other guys in the locker room were more well endowed than me. I was clearly at an unfair disadvantage with scoring with the ladies but rather than be unhappy like a liberal, I chose the conservative route and embraced my other talents like being able to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop in 4 licks. Now the ladies are upset because of the six month waiting list. There is such a thing as being too good.

bearbee said...

...fundamental assumptions of today's liberals is that humans are perfectable;...

Does that mean more government engineering ala Joseph and Fidel?

reader_iam said...

Hmm. Red Sox, neither, Lakers, neither, Indiana, Tom Selleck, Susan Sarandon, Tom Clancy, angel hair pasta, sausage heroes, neither.

Well, I'll be damned.

reader_iam said...

Trooper, you should do a study and compile the results, is all I can say.

Trooper York said...

It's my all purpose test of where
people are on the political scale. Never fails.

Roger J. said...

Trooper--I think you got it! Very well done.

Chip Ahoy said...

Results of official Chip Ahoy Liberal Scientists Survey.

Pogo said...

From the same study:
"Research suggests that highly egalitarian women are less happy in their marriages compared with their more traditional counterparts (Wilcox & Nock, 2006), apparently because they are more troubled by disparities in domestic labor (Coltrane, 2000)."

My response to liberals:
Get used to disappointment.

Thomas Sowell's books, 'A Conflict of Visions' and 'The Vision Of The Anointed' have already countered the sweeping assumptions made by these authors:

The policy arguments between leftists and conservatives arise from different conceptions of the very nature of man.

The Left holds an "unconstrained" or "anointed" vision: Given the "correct" political and economic arrangements, human beings can be improved, even perfected. The Right holds a "constrained" or "tragic" vision: People come to society with immutable characteristics that must be accommodated. Success in political and economic policy must be defined relative to those innate factors, without blaming or ignoring them.

"Implicit in the equating of statistical disparity with discrimination is the assumption that gross disparities would not exist in the absence of unequal treatment. However, international studies have repeatedly shown gross intergroup disparities to be commonplace all over the world, whether in alcohol consumption, fertility rates, educational performance, or innumerable other variables. A reasonably comprehensive listing of such disparities would be at least as large as a dictionary."

"One of the most important questions about any proposed course of actions is whether we know how to do it. Policy A may be better than policy B, but that does not matter if we simply do not know how to do Policy A. Perhaps it would be better to rehabilitate criminals, rather than punish them, if we knew how to do it. Rewarding merit might be better than rewarding results if we knew how to do it. But one of the crucial differences between those with the tragic vision and those with the vision of the anointed is in what they respectively assume that we know how to do. Those with the vision of the anointed are seldom deterred by any question as to whether anyone has the knowledge required to do what they are attempting."

"Out of every hundred new ideas ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. No one man, however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for those are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history."


Or how about Winston Churchill?
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."

AJ Lynch said...

Good one Trooper- but I bet it is a double boilermaker for Reader.

And Madison Man proves that liberals are concerned with inequity by voicing a concern that Vito may be in danger of an untimely death at the hands of the first mother of his children.

reader_iam said...

A week or two ago on Top chef, Richard Blais marinated tofu in beef fat--to reflect the theme "perplexed," as supplied by SCTV audience members--and won for it, too. Brilliance!

So easy to leave out the beef step for the veg members of the family, too.

Roger J. said...

(the inappropriately named) losergrrl: If you are familiar with the political philosophy of the English Civil War, reread James Harrington who sees the problem with the Leviathan: "it relys on an army, and an army is a beast that hath a great belly....

vbspurs said...

As a Red Sox-loving ex-University of Miami Hurricane, I'm sad.

But it does explain why I hate angel hair pasta, and love gnocchi.

That's me sorted out.

Cheers,
Victoria

reader_iam said...

In point of fact, I consider boilermakers and appletinis to be equally nasty, though in different ways.

Chip Ahoy said...

It took me all of 10 minutes to write that bullshit. I mean, to conduct that official survey ↑ of 18 liberal wanker scientists.

MadisonMan said...

Of course Boilermakers are nasty. So are Gophers and Wolverines.

Chip Ahoy said...

The grief all all this poorly distributed unhappiness has caused me to Photoshop a flying puppy and to pave over a small child at play.

AJ Lynch said...

Trooper:

"Boston Patriots"? ...

Did you post type your list on that old typewriter Dan Rather could never find?

MadisonMan said...

aj -- will Vito be killed before or after he says he's going to rehab to help with his drinking problem?

madawaskan said...

Great-

I'm reading dannyboy which is like titus minus the anal fixation and my eyes crossed and now for some damn reason Trooper's name is coming up

Tootsie York...

James said...

I think many of the commentators here are grossly misinterpreting aspects of the study, especially with regards to the portion that says, "To justify economic inequalities, a person could support the idea of meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance. In that way, one's social class attainment, whether upper, middle or lower, would be perceived as totally fair and justified."

Many here seem to take this as saying liberals somehow do not believe that this is how things should work. Obviously, there are definitely those lefties who do hold this irrational belief. However, unless I am completely misreading this, the point of the study is that conservatives are more likely than liberals to see all inequalities in this framework, i.e. that rich guy is better off than the poor guy for the sole reason that he worked harder, is better skilled, etc., while the liberal in the study is more likely to also see additional reasons beyond that, rightly or wrongly.

I have to think the people on here know that, so I don't understand the ridiculous generalizations, i.e. "liberals don't believe that someone who works harder should ever be better off."

vbspurs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

Guys, how many of these "Conservatives are happier than liberals" research articles have you ever read?

Because I've come across maybe dozens.

Oh, they sometimes vary the question, you know -- "married people are happier than singles", "religious people are happier than atheists", etc.

But it's all the same idea. Those who have conservative characteristics lead more serene lives.

How can anyone disagree with this, based on overwhelming anecdotal evidence, especially, I -- a conservative?

Well, you know, I don't disagree entirely, but I still think these studies are utterly simplistic, condenscending, stupid.

I can also easily frame the premise in such a light, as to skew the findings.

So conservatives says this study are happier?

How about people with traditionalist values, say...from Muslim countries?

In this study (cited by the Guardian, but I've actually seen a link which I can't find now to the raw data), racism is explained as the reason why Bangladeshi and Pakistani men are unemployed, and are therefore much more dissatisfied with life in the UK, than other Asians.

(Please note that "Asian" for us in the UK usually means Indians, Pakistanis etc. not in the North American sense of Chinese, Japanese, etc.)

Look at this:

"20% of Bangladeshi women work or want to work in paid jobs compared with 80% of black women"

Right, their culture has a more conservative attitude towards women, and they are not encouraged to work (consequently, they may not want to).

But no where in the study is that mentioned.

There is no explanation for happiness. But it does help to have a good sense of oneself, an unclouded intellect, and healthy habits.

It's not rocket science.

Cheers,
Victoria

Daryl said...

I'm "heartless" because I choose not to see the world in terms of envy.

I choose not to see the good things in life as "injustices" just because they aren't distributed according to some socialist Master Plan.

Yup, I'm just a bad person. That's the explanation.

reader_iam said...

So, up in the bathroom just now, I came across the most wonderful title on a magazine* article: "Avoiding stick-slip chatter in low-speed bearings.

Some of you may enjoy even more the subhed: Flexible rotors and thin lubricant films lead to noise and vibration.

(*Machine Design, in case anyone's curious.)

reader_iam said...

First two paragraphs, then I swear I'll stop:

"Stick-slip chatter commonly shows up on initial start of a machine when static friction in the bearings temporarily restrains shaft rotation. As the shaft then winds up, torsional force rises until it exceeds the restraining static friction. At this point, friction drops to its kinetic value as rotation initiates and the rotor 'jumps ahead' as it dissipates its stored elastic energy.

"Repetition of this sequence during slow-speed rotation often produces a stop-start jerking pattern, as illustrated in the accompanying figure. A system with a long, limber shaft is particularly susceptible to this behavior."


Giggle.

Revenant said...

The excerpts you've pulled out [...] suggest that the sticking point for liberals is their own status, and frustration that it isn't as high as they may think they deserve.

As usual, I find myself pretty much agreeing with Balfegor. I look at the fact that some people are filthy rich and it does not bother me. It drives a lot of the liberals I know to fits.

MadisonMan said...

reader, you left out the first lines that said I always used to believe the articles in Machine Design were just made up until that hot sultry day in July when my neighbor's mother was having problems with Stick-slip and static friction.

Pogo said...

James, perhaps the reason people think the study makes bullshit assumptions is the loaded terms in phrases like these:

"Conservatives rationalize social and economic inequalities.

Conservatives also rationaliz[e] ...tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities.

Conservatives ...justify economic inequalities ...perceived as totally fair and justified."


Any reviewer or editor who lets BS like this pass as scholarship is a deluded true believer, not a scientist.

vbspurs said...

Balfegor noted:

Conservatives typically reject the perfectibility of man and man's creations, including society, and accordingly have to be more willing to take things as they are -- otherwise they wouldn't be conservative

That's a great paragraph.

For me, conservatism is the natural state of man. It explains why change both in nature and politics is slow, and requires foment.

I wrote a (long) blogpost a while ago called Why People Are Conservative.

I'll spare those who don't wish to read it, a pertinent quote:

"One of the most important lessons from evolution, a theory held in much respect by certain people (including myself), is that nature will tend towards survival over death, and go about ways of preserving themselves. When change comes it is most often gradual, unless a cataclysmic event intervenes.

Upheaval, revolt, anarchy, all these states of change are considerably more risky than the certainty of stasis.

And yet, this response does a severe injustice to Conservatism, because it infers that all progress is by default, Liberal in nature.

The old, "Conservatism is stuck, whilst Liberalism marches forward" theory.

This is the idea that allows political progressives to debase any proposal that doesn't emanate from the well-spring of their philosophy.

It becomes a challenge, even an affront that positive change is happening without they leading the charge.

In short, for such people, progress is inconceivable without progressives.

And this is wrong.

Ameliorating conditions, finding solutions to problems, having ideals are not the preserve of Liberals.

But it has long seemed that way, because the arguments posed since the Enlightenment were phrased in such a way that Conservatism seemed reactionary by default, and lacking the intellectual breadth of Liberalism, let alone its brawny idealism."


Liberalism is not possible without change. For change to happen, you must constantly be unhappy with the status quo.

If you want to reduce it to this already mentioned simplistic conclusion, it then stands to reason that those who are politically Conservative will lead happier lives than Liberals.

We don't kvetch as much about life, consequently, we have less acid reflux.

Or something...

Cheers,
Victoria

George said...

Older people, perhaps like nations, are more content with the status quo because the status quo is part of the reason why they got to be older. Sudden, substantial change could alter the environment which helped them thrive.

Theo Boehm said...

Hey, reader, that's right up my alley! Not only do I have to worry about doing pretty solder work and undercutting toneholes, but I also spec machinery and design jigs and fixtures, not to mention programming the damn machines that use said jigs and fixtures.

I'm afraid that magazine and similar ones form part of my bathroom library too.

How, if I may ask, did it come to be in yours?

You know, being immersed in it as I am, I just don't think that way when I read that sort of thing.

(Sorry. This appears to be serious thread hijack/whiplash, but sometimes I can't resist responding to our dear reader, as Althouse has called her, and at least some of us can't help thinking about her.)

vbspurs said...

Reader_Iam quoted:

Avoiding stick-slip chatter in low-speed bearings.

On LGF, that would've made revolving title for SURE.

Cheers,
Victoria

reader_iam said...

madisonman: Well, I was thinking of it in terms of commentary on politico-partisan-philosophical systems and plain old human nature, but your take is a gem, too! LOL.

At least prose-wise, porn's got nothing on machine and gun magazines, I'm telling you.

reader_iam said...

Theo: We're subscribers.

James said...

Pogo-

I definitely understand your point there. My only problem was the jump many people here made from the biased language of the study/article to the conclusion that "liberals do not believe in the idea of a meritocracy."

Paul Zrimsek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Zrimsek said...

No problem as far as I'm concerned, Theo-- the completely on-topic point I take away from all this is that mechanical enginerring is a better, less stressful hobby than social engineering.

reader_iam said...

You'd be right at home in my bathroom, Theo.

(Married to a third-generation engineer who formerly worked in process control and machine design for heavy industry and while now involved in IT technology, keeps his hand in. I a) have always loved machines and b) am pretty much an info-slut.)

vbspurs said...

DBQ wrote:

The "liberals" are unhappy because they can't make the universe work according to their idea of perfection. Utopia doesn't exist except in their fevered brains.

Conservatives are able to grasp the fact that LIFE ISN'T FAIR. We can and should try to improve people's lot in life but we can never make things equal. NEVER.


Wow! Clap clap.

Not too sure I agree with never making things equal, because it sounds un-American in the Founding Fathers type of way, but I know what you mean. Hopefully, others do too.

I also agree with Daryl about envy. Communism, so far the most politically progressive ideology to hit the universe, is predicated on envy. It doesn't work without it, as anyone who has ever lived in a Communist country can tell you.

But I'll add "guilt" to the mix as well.

This is a huge factor in Liberalism, which arguably in the US is a Puritan cultural trait, as much as a religious component.

Not for nothing are some of the most politically leftist places in the US, the ones tied to ex-religious redoubts like New England.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

My only problem was the jump many people here made from the biased language of the study/article to the conclusion that "liberals do not believe in the idea of a meritocracy.

Well, some might. I guess.

But the left focuses most of its efforts on condemning inequality of results -- not inequality of opportunity. Most social engineering programs supported by the left (e.g. affirmative action) involve stacking the deck so as to achieve equality of results through INequality of opportunity. That sort of thing is diametrically opposed to the concept of meritocracy.

Now, some on the left might say that they're all for meritocracy, but first everybody has to start off equal, because otherwise some people have unfair advantages. But since it is literally impossible to ever achieve (or even approach) such a state, that amounts to saying "I believe we should be a meritocracy... AFTER the impossible happens".

vbspurs said...

"I believe we should be a meritocracy... AFTER the impossible happens".

This feels like pile-on, and I apologise to Althouse's more centrist or leftist readers, but I find this view puzzling.

Meritocracies are the most naturally liberal societies there are.

They come about from the natural talents, intellect and drive of the individual.

What would you rather have? An inherited system like feudalism or monarchy?

In fact, if you argue for protections of the individual based on the idea that there is no "level playing field" you are making a kind of feudal argument.

Only you are substituting the State as the lord or knight charged with your safety, which he then benignly doles out in equal shares to all who serve him.

We broke this social contract in the USA in 1776 by stating that all men are created equal or to put it another way, "I can take care of myself because I'm as good as you".

Why would you want to go back to that old way of thinking?

Cheers,
Victoria

James said...

Rev-

Certainly true. My point was that the authors of the study seem to only be suggesting that conservatives are more likely to see all inequalities of results as the result of merit - i.e. the successful are essentially always the smarter, harder workers - while the liberals are more likely to think about the inequalities of opportunities and whatever else it is they were thinking about.

As for your affirmative action point, although my views on that incredibly flawed system are mixed, I can see that the counter would be that the inequalities of opportunity that result from AA are there to offset the inequalities of opportunity put in place by centuries of discrimination, oppression, yada-yada. Not saying I agree, but at least it's arguable.

blake said...

Victoria,

Whilst watching John Adams on HBO I was reminded of exactly how radical the Founding Fathers were--and how they'd still be considered such today.

"Liberals" today are arguing for the return of the ruling class! How illiberal!

As for the perfectability of Man, I believe it's approachable. But I also believe that as we approach it (presuming we were), it will matter less and less what government we have.

Concentrated power tends to reveal human frailty.

Roger J. said...

It strikes me that the statements in Locke and Jefferson about equality are statements about man's moral equality before the laws of nature and nature's god.

These people were not blind. There are clearly differences as to physical size, gender, strength, disabilities, social station and a whole other host of differences so obvious as to be equally self-evident. I fear that modern progressives have forgotten that moral equality does not require equality of othe natural ability.

madawaskan said...

vspurs-

Guilt. Well ya that's why Democrats peel off a lot of Catholics.

losergrrrl-

Leviathan?

Know the enemy-what does the terrorist not fear?

dbp said...

James said...
"I think many of the commentators here are grossly misinterpreting aspects of the study, especially with regards to the portion that says, "To justify economic inequalities, a person could support the idea of meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance. In that way, one's social class attainment, whether upper, middle or lower, would be perceived as totally fair and justified."

Many here seem to take this as saying liberals somehow do not believe that this is how things should work."

James, I don't think liberals are against meritocracy, per se. I think they believe that too many other things like gender, race, economic background etc. play much more of a role than merit.

If this is true, then I think liberals make a logical error at this point: If meritocracy doesn't work (due to the system being rigged) then society needs to intervene to achieve more "fair" results. The mistake they make is that people need motivation. If we believe that hard work will pay-off, we will be incented to work hard. Any meddling, ostensibly to make things fairer (in terms of outcome) will undermine the faith that we live in a meritocracy.

ricpic said...

Conservatives don't want the moon. For themselves. Or for anybody else. Because they know that they can't have the moon. And no one else can, either. This makes them relatively reconciled to life's terms and therefore at least within range of a possible happiness.

Liberals want the moon, must have the moon, won't settle for anything less than the moon, and, of course, can't have the moon anymore than conservatives can. Which makes them screamingly frustrated and dangerous people, and terribly chronically unhappy people, to boot.

Revenant said...

I can see that the counter would be that the inequalities of opportunity that result from AA are there to offset the inequalities of opportunity put in place by centuries of discrimination, oppression, yada-yada. Not saying I agree, but at least it's arguable.

That is indeed the argument, but like I pointed out in my previous post it isn't a problem that can be corrected. If the whole world was split into exactly two groups, "people whose ancestors were oppressed" and "people whose ancestors had it good", with a bright line between them, then it MIGHT, maybe, be possible to correct the problem. But in reality the two groups are completely intermingled, and our individual degrees of ancestral oppression cannot be measured objectively.

But all of that is moot, really. Meritocracy says that people are rewarded in relation to their ability. If Fred's really smart and hard-working and Joe's not that bright and likes to smoke a lot of weed, Fred gets the high-paying engineering job and Joe ends up frying fries at McDonalds. It doesn't matter if the reason Joe's flaky and not that bright is that he has bad genes, or his mom beat him, or his ancestors were slaves; it doesn't matter if the reason that Fred is smart and hard-working is good genes, good upbringing, or blue-blood ancestors. What matters, in a meritocracy, is that right here, right now, Joe's a half-wit pothead and Fred's a hard-working genius. If you say "yes, but that's not fair, Joe's mom didn't raise him right" you have hopped off the Meritocracy Express and bought a ticket to Social Engineering Utopia.

Pundit Joe said...

I think this study is a great example of one of the differences between the left and right.

The study suggests that folks on the left are tormented by the thought that someone, anyone, has more then someone else (usually themselves). The left puts greater value on equality of outcome and the right puts greater value on freedom.

If people are free to choose how they live then they will eventually come to different ends. Some will seek more money, some will seek a career simply because they like doing a particular thing - regardless of the money involved. The only way to ensure that people have “equal” outcomes it to limit their choices, to take away the freedom to live their life the way they choose. Personally, I would choose freedom over equality.

Oh snap! Does this mean I’m rationalizing? Heh heh.

vbspurs said...

Blake, good man! I haven't watched John Adams yet (highly uncharacteristically, considering everyone I know is talking about it).

History says the American Revolution was not as "revolutionary" as e.g. the French or Russian Revolutions.

People from those countries believe almost without exception, that the French Revolution was the most important event in the human rights of the common man, yet.

What a bunch of baloney. Just because you don't go hogwild and slaughter the higher-ups, doesn't make the American Revolution any the less astounding.

Americans fought and won against overwhelming odds versus not only their own people, but a vast empire -- based on a mere idea of a more perfect union, not the certainty of one.

When you go in for absolutes, you get mud pies.

Revenant wrote:

Meritocracy says that people are rewarded in relation to their ability.

Yes, but the liberal mindset was built on the back of Humanism, which affirms the worth and dignity of a human being.

They'll say it's all very well for those with talent, but let's not forget those without. Should they "suffer" because they didn't do well at school, or don't have natural talents?

Why should they be SOL?

Cheers,
Victoria

ricpic said...

Those without talent are worthless and deserve nothing.

AJ Lynch said...

Yeah Revenant:

You make a good point :

The contrast in inequality of result vs. inequality of opportunity.

I'd like to see most social programs changed to a flat cash benefit for everyone- that would level the playing field in a true liberal's mind but unfortunately most American libs are socialists.

Pogo said...

History says the American Revolution was not as "revolutionary" as e.g. the French or Russian Revolutions.

For Edmund Burke, although these two events were both labelled “revolutions,” they were not at all alike. For Burke, the American Revolution was a "conservative" one - to conserve the rights of Englishmen in America. The "colonists did not seek the total transformation of society" as had occurred to a murderous degree in the French Revolution of 1789, nor again in the deadly Soviet revolution of 1917.

blake said...

because you don't go hogwild and slaughter the higher-ups, doesn't make the American Revolution any the less astounding.

I would say it's all the more astounding, really, if not completely unduplicated.

Pogo points out the revolutions of the French and Russians (and how intimate those two groups were!) but really, I can't think of another revolution of the same scope that was so relatively bloodless and so fleeting in its antagonism.

Not that there weren't moments, but somehow we split off without switching "sides".

James said...

dbp said:

James, I don't think liberals are against meritocracy, per se. I think they believe that too many other things like gender, race, economic background etc. play much more of a role than merit.

Well, I don't know if I can speak for all liberals, since I would consider myself more of a moderate that leans slightly towards the liberal side.

But I wouldn't say that the issue, in the context of this study, is that they think those things "play much more of a role than merit," but rather that they just think those things play a larger role than the conservatives of this study would allow.

I personally don't know anyone who thinks that those factors have a greater impact on results than one's own skills/work ethic, (although there are obviously some who do), just that they can have a much larger impact than some conservatives would want to believe.

Revenant said...

James, I think conservatives would easily concede that some people face more obstacles than others. The point is, they aren't insurmountable.

I don't know of any conservative who would look at, for example, a former Vietnamese boat person who now owns a convenience store, and sneer that if the person was a REAL achiever he'd be an investment banker or lawyer instead. Obviously starting circumstances play into where you end up. What conservatives ARE indifferent to is the "suffering" of people who fail to better themselves. You can be born poor in America, but with rare exceptions you can only STAY poor by repeatedly making bad decisions.

Now, it is certainly true that a person's background can have a huge influence. If all your peers are getting pregnant out of wedlock in their teens, odds of you doing so -- and thereby consigning yourself to poverty -- are much higher. But at the end of the day YOU are still the person making the decision to bang some pimply teenager. If you believe humans are moral agents and not just fleshy robots (and conservatives do), you have to believe that the people who make such foolish decisions are, themselves, fully responsible for their plight.

vbspurs said...

If you believe humans are moral agents and not just fleshy robots (and conservatives do), you have to believe that the people who make such foolish decisions are, themselves, fully responsible for their plight.

And this comes to the very nub of being a Conservative.

Conservatives believe in individualism, almost as a mantra. The will can overcome anything, and we are responsible for our actions.

Whereas Liberals believe there are agents which act on the human condition, which explain systemic failings.

Individualism, practicality, and rule of law I would say define most modern Conservatives almost wholesale.

(I'd add respect for traditionalism, but even that can be tied into the other stuff above)

Cheers,
Victoria

Trooper York said...

AJ, I am still living in 1966 and I am expecting Babe Parilli to throw an interception to Johnny Sample any minute now.

John K. said...

The labels "conservative" and "liberal" are just about meaningless these days. For instance, I think the absolute number one most important thing government should do (economically at least, since ceasing warmongering and ceasing imprisoning people for victimless crimes are pretty damn important too) is to get their jackboots off the necks of poor and lower middle-class people -- e.g., by raising the standard income tax exemption to at least the mean U.S. income. That is, the government should just stop actively contributing to and causing poverty, and then let people fend for themselves (or let local governments set up "welfare" programs as they see fit -- the local level is where people can clearly see how much need there is to pay how much money to keep the poor and disadvantaged from starving in the streets).

Is that liberal or conservative?

blake said...

Sounds good, John K. "Conservatives" are quite the agitating radicals these days, while "Liberals" seemm to want to embrace social policies of yesteryear.

But, income tax wise, that's pretty much the way it works. The top 50% pay 97% of the income tax. The top 1% pay close to 40% of the tax.

Personally, I think that's unfair. But I can't get anyone interested in a poll tax.

John K. said...

Blake said: "But, income tax wise, that's pretty much the way it works. The top 50% pay 97% of the income tax. The top 1% pay close to 40% of the tax."

Believe me, as a struggling small businessman who has alas spent many years below the mean income level (though things are finally looking up) I have written big checks to the IRS that I couldn't afford, in lieu of paying for things like health insurance. Twenty percent of your income represents a hellacious-big chunk of slavery when you're only making like $30k. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- if it's really true that the top 50% already pay 97% of the income tax, that suggests we can "afford" (of course we can afford it if we cut govt down to its proper size) to relieve everyone below the mean income of all income taxes, and to stop yanking -- almost literally -- the food out of people's mouths that they've earned by their own honest labor in order to pay those whores in Washington, D.C.. When the income tax was first instituted, it applied to only the top 1 or 2 percent, and the 16th Amendment was foisted on the public based on the assumption that only those highest incomes would ever have to pay it.

Revenant said...

get their jackboots off the necks of poor and lower middle-class people e.g., by raising the standard income tax exemption to at least the mean U.S. income.

As of 2004, the effective income tax rate of the bottom income quintile was -6.2%; for the next to last quintile, -0.8%. In other words, the poor and lower middle class don't pay income tax. Raising the exemption won't get the "jackboot" off their neck because the jackboot isn't ON their neck, at least so far as income tax is concerned.

Furthermore, raising the exemption to the mean would completely exempt 60% of the population from paying any taxes -- meaning that everyone but the upper middle class and rich ends up freeloading off the upper middle class and rich. That's not a recipe for a stable democracy OR a stable economy.

A more sensible approach would be to raise the standard deduction to some approximation of the minimal cost of living -- which would be significantly more than is currently granted, but still far below the $60,000 mean household income. It would also eliminate the need for a lot of the "helpful" government programs.

Revenant said...

Twenty percent of your income represents a hellacious-big chunk of slavery when you're only making like $30k.

How the heck do you end up paying $6000 in income taxes on $30,000 of income? The income tax burden for a single person with $30k of income is $3306, and that's assuming you have no deductions beyond the standard one. Are you lumping social security and Medicare in with income tax?

blake said...

Are you lumping social security and Medicare in with income tax?

Though it's not income tax, it hurts just as bad (if not worse)!

One tax, folks. One tax for everything. As long as the gov't can hide stuff, they're going to hurt us.

John K. said...

I'm confounding the income tax with the self-employment tax, but regardless, the percentage of below-mean income that is currently coercively sucked out of people's pockets is absurd and destructive and a major cause of poverty and economic instability and the desperation that allows businesses to pay lower-than-fair wages.

John K. said...

I wrote that last qualifier before I saw your comment, figured the question was coming.

Revenant said...

I agree that the Social Security tax sucks. But Social Security benefits are tied to the payments you make -- if you don't pay in, you don't get benefits.

Rather than moving the majority of America's population onto the Welfare rolls by giving them freebie Medicare and Social Security, why not just let anyone who wishes to do so opt out of the Social Security and Medicare systems in exchange for not having to make payments into them?

Hell, I'd do that in a heartbeat. Social Security is a ripoff.

blake said...

It's especially painful the first time, isn't it, John? If you came from an employment situation, you may have hated the SSI (etc) withdrawls, but you didn't see the payroll taxes.

I assume this means that the government hates the self-employed.

John K. said...

Agreed, Revenant. Glad we've managed to have a civil discussion for a change :)

John K. said...

"It's especially painful the first time, isn't it, John?"

Roger that, Blake. Though the second and third and fourth time are none too pleasant either.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"I agree that the Social Security tax sucks. But Social Security benefits are tied to the payments you make -- if you don't pay in, you don't get benefits"

Big freaking whoop. Many people who pay into SSI see barely a fraction of it returned. Blacks especially since the life span is normally less than the rest of the populaion.

The return on the so called investment into SS is pitiful. You can get a better return in a bank savings account. True, most people will not save on their own volition, BUT the Ponzi scheme that we have now is "literally" a crime, except it is our own government that is perpetrating it upon us.

When I think of all the money that has been robbed from me over the years and the uses that I could have put it to for myself and my family, it makes me want to weep ....or find a clock tower or something.

reader_iam said...

Many people who pay into SSI see barely a fraction of it returned. Blacks especially since the life span is normally less than the rest of the populaion.

Bravo, DBQ. That's (just) one of the dirty little secrets about that system which almost never gets reported. I used to routinely try and point that out during conversations IRL on the topic but finally simply gave up altogether, on account of it being close to the ultimate in banging-head-against-wall exercises. (This was well before I ever posted comment #1 on any blog, anywhere, btw.) I'm not saying this speaks well of me: it doesn't; but there it is.

vbspurs said...

Is that liberal or conservative?

Positions, especially in American politics, are not liberal or conservative. There's too much overlap.

They way you implement them, or not, are.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

I suspect we'll have to wait for the Boomers to pass before we can reform (or eliminate) it, and the post-Boomers will be the ones to take it in the shorts.

I know there's a lot of noise about fixing it now, but I don't see it: With that huge ol' demographic poised to collect and spend all their spare time votin'?

It's gonna be a rough 20 years for taxpayers, I think.

Revenant said...

Big freaking whoop. Many people who pay into SSI see barely a fraction of it returned. Blacks especially since the life span is normally less than the rest of the populaion.

I'm not denying it, DBQ. But giving a large chunk of the population an entitlement program they never have to pay for is even worse than making people pay for entitlements they never receive -- the moral hazard is much, much greater. Once you convince people that they not only have a right to a safe retirement, but a right to make other people fund it, you're on a slippery slope straight to hell.

reader_iam said...

But giving a large chunk of the population an entitlement program they never have to pay for is even worse than making people pay for entitlements they never receive -- the moral hazard is much, much greater.

Care to unbundle that (first) and then explicate more than you did in the sentence which followed that statement?

Revenant said...

If you're making people pay for entitlements they don't live to receive an unjust situation then they have a strong motivation to remedy that unjust situation by either voting to end the payments or voting to have them cover you.

If you're making OTHER people pay for entitlements that YOU receive, you not only have no incentive incentive to end the payments -- you have every incentive to keep increasing. If the people receiving the benefits constitute a majority of the population and the people actually paying for them are a tiny minority -- as would be the case if Social Security were funded via the income tax -- then the moral hazard is truly enormous, because then we're in a situation where the majority is openly confiscating the minority's wealth for their own benefit.

They tried that in Venezuela, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, et al. It doesn't work. You can't just screw the people with money and give it to the less productive; it ruins the economy and increases poverty ten times out of ten.

Revenant said...

"an unjust situation" is supposed to be a parenthetical remark, but for some reason they didn't come through. Weird.