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Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
22 Apr 2014
The High Cost of Liberalism: Part III

Income inequality has long been one of the liberals' favorite issues. So there is nothing surprising about … Read More.

22 Apr 2014
The High Cost of Liberalism: Part II

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22 Apr 2014
The High Cost of Liberalism

Liberals advocate many wonderful things. In fact, I suspect that most conservatives would prefer to live in … Read More.

The Vision of the Left

Comment

Conservatives, as well as liberals, would undoubtedly be happier living in the kind of world envisioned by the left.

Very few people have either a vested interest or an ideological preference for a world in which there are many inequalities.

Even fewer would prefer a world in which vast sums of money have to be devoted to military defense, when so much benefit could be produced if those resources were directed into medical research instead.

It is hardly surprising that young people prefer the political left. The only reason for rejecting the left's vision is that the real world in which we live is very different from the world that the left perceives today or envisions for tomorrow.

Most of us learn that from experience— but experience is precisely what the young are lacking.

"Experience" is often just a fancy word for the mistakes that we belatedly realized we were making, only after the realities of the world made us pay a painful price for being wrong.

Those who are insulated from that pain— whether by being born into affluence or wealth, or shielded by the welfare state, or insulated by tenure in academia or in the federal judiciary— can remain in a state of perpetual immaturity.

Individuals can refuse to grow up, especially when surrounded in their work and in their social life by similarly situated and like-minded people.

Even people born into normal lives, but who have been able through talent or luck to escape into a world of celebrity and wealth, can likewise find themselves in the enviable position of being able to choose whether to grow up or not.

Those of us who can recall what it was like to be an adolescent must know that growing up can be a painful transition from the sheltered world of childhood.

No matter how much we may have wanted adult freedom, there was seldom the same enthusiasm for taking on the burdens of adult responsibilities and having to weigh painful trade-offs in a world that hemmed us in on all sides, long after we were liberated from parental restrictions.

Should we be surprised that the strongest supporters of the political left are found among the young, academics, limousine liberals with trust funds, media celebrities and federal judges?

These are hardly Karl Marx's proletarians, who were supposed to bring on the revolution.

The working class are in fact today among those most skeptical about the visions of the left.

Ordinary working class people did not lead the stampede to Barack Obama, even before his disdain for them slipped out in unguarded moments.

The agenda of the left is fine for the world that they envision as existing today and the world they want to create tomorrow.

That is a world not hemmed in on all sides by inherent constraints and the painful trade-offs that these constraints imply. Theirs is a world where there are attractive, win-win "solutions" in place of those ugly trade-offs in the world that the rest of us live in.

Theirs is a world where we can just talk to opposing nations and work things out, instead of having to pour tons of money into military equipment to keep them at bay. The left calls this "change" but in fact it is a set of notions that were tried out by the Western democracies in the 1930s— and which led to the most catastrophic war in history.

For those who bother to study history, it was precisely the opposite policies in the 1980s— pouring tons of money into military equipment— which brought the Cold War and its threat of nuclear annihilation to an end.

The left fought bitterly against that "arms race" which in fact lifted the burden of the Soviet threat, instead of leading to war as the elites claimed.

Personally, I wish Ronald Reagan could have talked the Soviets into being nicer, instead of having to spend all that money. Only experience makes me skeptical about that "kinder and gentler" approach and the vision behind it.

To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

4 Comments | Post Comment
Excuse me, but it seems that President Bush the second went into office with this glorious vision for the world. We would make the middle east democratic so all the world could see how wonderful democracy is. How did this work out? We are spending millions of dollars a day that we do not have, sacrificing young people by the hundreds, and the Middle East is as it always was: a mass of tribes fighting among themselves over whose religion is THE one, and not willing to work together. President Bush II is as conservative as they get. Let's try the other direction for a change.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Katherine Collier
Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:08 AM
Unfortunately you are right. All that youthful optimism gets replaced with the sad cynical reality that life is. Don't get me wrong life can be great at times but even then you have to be aware of the bad parts in it to enjoy the good. What 'should be' is most of the time not what life is really like. The same with the leftists, its great to want to talk and be kind but that doesn't work with most people. The truth is that most people are dumb, ignorant and followers. When you realize the sad truth of this its pretty depressing then you get over it and see life for what it really is not 'should be's.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Pamela Prudencio
Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:08 AM
BTW I love your columns, its a pleasure to read them.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Pamela Prudencio
Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:10 AM
Hmm... let's see. I'm a liberal, I must be...
young? no
academic? nope
limousine? never
trust fund? definitely not
media celebrity or federal judge? not even close
Seriously? This guys thinks he's got liberals figured out? Last time I checked, trust fund kids grow up to be Republicans. Pretty weak article I'd say.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Jason F
Wed Oct 8, 2008 12:31 AM
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