Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A must read piece...

In the days following the election I wondered how we could lose. I mean, after all, we were right! We had the facts and the evidence on our side. Jonathan Chait explains in an excellent piece in The New Republic that being right doesn't really matter to conservatives- what matters is ideology.

Conservatives believe that big government impinges upon freedom. They may also believe that big government imposes large costs on the economy. But, for a true conservative, whatever ends they think smaller government may bring about--greater prosperity, economic mobility for the non-rich--are almost beside the point. As Milton Friedman wrote, "[F]reedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself...."

We're accustomed to thinking of liberalism and conservatism as parallel ideologies, with conservatives preferring less government and liberals preferring more. The equivalency breaks down, though, when you consider that liberals never claim that increasing the size of government is an end in itself. Liberals only support larger government if they have some reason to believe that it will lead to material improvement in people's lives. Conservatives also want material improvement in people's lives, of course, but proving that their policies can produce such an outcome is a luxury, not a necessity.

In other words- just because privatizing Social Security will not actually save the system or make anymore richer doesn't mean that they won't do it; because it was never about those things in the first place. It was always about attacking the size of government.

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