Thursday, December 2, 2010

Extending the Bush Tax Cuts

Conservatives never tire of telling you that modern liberalism is the expression of envy. Liberals, they say, like making better-off people worse-off even if it doesn’t make worse-off people any better off.

There's no denying that envy is an unwholesome passion, but I’ve always thought that this is a bum rap. Liberalism, as I understand it, is fundamentally about devising social structures that enable worse-off people to be as well-off as possible. If doing that enhances the prospects of people farther up the economic ladder, all the better. Clear-thinking liberals aren’t puritans when it comes to sex or economics. However eager they are to redistribute social benefits and burdens, they take no satisfaction in punishing the rich.

But take a look at this internet spot about extending the Bush tax cuts from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee: 



Exactly what solemn promise is Obama being urged not to betray? Notice that there’s not a word about bringing down the deficit, or doing anything else to make disadvantaged Americans better-off. You might get the idea that the betrayal in question is depriving liberals of the intrinsic satisfactions of sticking it to the rich.

3 comments:

Lone Wolf said...

I don't think envy is the predominant motive since a lot of the liberals are from better-off classes and you can't envy yourself. The idea is that well-off people should have the decency to feel unentitled to their advantages and it's the job of the government to remind them how lucky they are.

Anonymous said...

Liberals just seem silly to me. I try and try to understand but just can't get it through my head what they want and what they mean. Everyone and their brother knows that raising taxes will do more harm than good, even if the economy were sailing. Why don't "rich" liberals just write checks to the treasury if they are so hell bent on raising taxes and leave everyone else alone.

Ain't Ideology Fabulous? said...

Conservatives just seem silly to me. I try and try to understand, but I just cannot get it through my head what they want and what they mean. That they can (evidently) sincerely believe that leaving tax revenues at only 60% of spending is something widely desired leaves me scratching my head.

Why don't conservatives move to a magical place where math and science doesn't exist, and leave rational people alone?