by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor | John Locke Foundation
This column by John Hood deserves a full read. He writes of an increasingly common theme of asserted moral superiority from those who send him hate mail. He writes of the negative effects on public debate from allowing “claims of moral superiority [to] displace actual, rational argumentation.”
He then writes:
To all my left-of-center readers: It may come as a shock to you, but conservatives and libertarians will never recognize your political philosophy as morally superior. You may persuade us to accept a particular claim of yours, or drop a particular claim of ours. But we will never see European-style social democracy as morally superior to American-style market democracy, because it most certainly is not.
By way of illustration, let us examine the claims of superiority toward issues affecting the poor that come from a local movement of leftists directly calling themselves “moral.”
I and my colleagues have written a great deal about issues affecting the poor. It would violate the spirit of a blog post to list them all. I invite those interested to read this newsletter entitled “Effectively fighting poverty in North Carolina,” especially the final section.
About the “moral” movement, however, their talk of “caring for the poor” seems to be just “euphemism for growing government, the movement’s true alpha and omega.”
As I wrote:
With respect to the poor, the movement, among other things:
- remains strongly opposed to free enterprise, the most potent poverty-fighter in history.
- treats government poverty programs as the only acceptable way to fight poverty, despite their results being scandalously to the contrary over the decades.
- takes advantage of undereducated, low-wage workers by convincing them to walk off their jobs and protest for wages that would put them out of work (that is, if walking off the job hadn’t already made that a fait accompli) — even though learning how to hold a job and appreciate the dignity of work are important in and of themselves to escaping poverty [— and despite the eugenicist history of the origin of the minimum wage as a tool to rid the labor pool of poor people, blacks, and immigrants].
- tries to force poor people to travel further and pay higher prices rather than do business at local, low-priced retailers, who it accuses of exploiting them by offering them groceries at affordable prices when other grocers can’t or won’t do it despite people in the community pleading for it.
- seeks to keep poor kids hostage to their only government-picked public-school option, even though they elsewhere criticize the morality of that option when the subject is something other than school choice.
- supports socking people with higher electricity rates — despite electricity being a basic household need that consumes up to one-third of the take-home pay of the poor — by calling particular sources of expensive, inefficient energy “moral” and demanding they continue to receive the expensive, job-destroying government support the sources’ own supporters say they can’t live without.
Hearkening back to this state’s motto, it’s simply not enough to be satisfied with supporting policies that seem beneficial to the poor but aren’t. Unless all one wishes is a moral semblance.