Existential Politics: Modern Liberalism

I call modern liberalism "existential politics." It relies entirely on the intent of the person: "I am against poverty," or "I am in favor of a clean environment" - therefore I am okay. There is virtually no concern for the consequences of the policies, only that their intent reflects well on the "wisher."

A modern example is the Clean Skies proposal. Existing fossil-fueled power plants only had to meet tougher air pollution numbers if they substantially modified their operations. In that case, they would have to meet the same numbers as new plants. Dozens have not modernized to avoid the tougher standards. Bush's EPA proposed to allow a more lenient standard for modernized existing plants, not new plants. This was decried as "allowing more pollution" – never mind that the existing plants would not be modernized and would still be emitting more since their modernization pulled the new source trigger.

Protectionism is another good example. The intent is to protect U.S. jobs: the consequences would be to force U.S. capital [and jobs] overseas and cut back on foreign investment [and jobs] in the U.S. [where we currently have the highest per capita FDI in the world]. The liberal can say he is "for American jobs" without regard to the irresponsible consequences of his policy.

This also means that liberals will attack a conservative’s motives and character initially without even considering the argument itself. They base their position on its emotive appeal, i.e. how it shows what a good person they are.

In many ways, Liberalism is the most selfish political philosophy in current circulation.


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