“poverty does not create our social problems; our social problems create our poverty.” – Marco Rubio, US Senator-FloridaIn a post last week, I observed that the British looters were acting in their rational self-interest, and Bastiatarian took me to task, albeit in a polite and friendly way…
Bastiatarian:So true. I could not agree more, and I appreciate Bastiatarian's professorial mien.
I don't really think the looters are acting in their rational self-interest, though. I believe that they think they are, but it's a very short-sighted self-interest. At the very least, they don't take into consideration the deep and lasting damage done to their characters by such behavior.
What I meant was that those lost souls (on both sides of the Atlantic) live in their own narrow world of the id-driven here and now. Cash, a flat screen and new sneakers are everything, and a little smashy-smashy to get them is just payback to the store owner for being rich. That is the incentive system the social engineers have put in place. Get it all while you can, and getting it at someone else's expense makes it all the better, be it free electronics, housing, money or sex.
We've imprisoned them...
... with shoddy schools and no expectations. They cannot see over the horizon; there is no future. We could preach morality, but we have that embarrassing little issue of the DC-NY bandits in suits looting trillions with impunity.
So here we are in the creeping jungle, staring helplessly as it reclaims the space that Western Civilization had cleared
Anyone who has ever raised children or trained animals (remarkably similar activities!), knows that morals are the foundation of individual and societal success. It doesn't have to be a religious thing. Simply teaching people age-old virtues that predate Christianity and holding them up as the ideal would get us most of the way there.
The truth is society needs a combination of the morality championed by social conservatives and the individual liberty championed by libertarians. Freedom does not work without morality, and morality can not exist without freedom.
Bastiatarian:What about liberty?
Exactly right. Without agency (freedom), there is no ability to choose between right, wrong, or anything else. Regardless of the specific system, morality implies that there is also immorality, and vice versa. One requires the opposing other. Otherwise, it would merely be one big clump that is neither morality nor immorality […]
If I have no choice, my actions are neither good nor evil, neither moral nor immoral. They may be beneficial or damaging for somebody, but those actions do not make me moral or immoral.
Bastiatarian:If the Marco Rubio quote is too high minded for you, here's one from British writer James Delingpole. He applies it to his home country, but it fits here almost as well:
Authority without accountability is tyranny.
Accountability without authority is slavery.
Only when authority and accountability are combined can liberty exist.
For those of us who never got to experience the Second World War, this is the beginning of the most dramatic, turbulent and terrifying era of our lifetime. The rules have changed; the old keep-whistling-cheerfully-and-pretend-it’s-all-going-to-go-away political bullshit is no longer valid currency. (Delingpole - What are the Police Good For?)For an even more provocative take, see conservative David French's short article, The Sources of Poverty. Be sure to read the comments as well. Lots of liberal dissenters showed up and made some valid points to the contrary.
For a concise and entertaining treatise on rational self-interest, see: UNC - Economicae: Rational Self-Interest