Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is Our Liberals Learning?

Liberty At Stake writes in the comments:
The truly dangerous characteristic of Liberal ideologues is their inability to learn empirical lessons from the PAST. To wit; New Deal, Fair Deal, Great Society, CRA, Housing Bubble, Banking bailouts, Porkulus progression.

Massive top down government spending (hammer) and unfunded mandates (nail) are the only tools they have in their tool kit.

FLG doesn't think that's quite fair. If you look at somebody like Cass Sunstein (although some may question whether he's a liberal) and the Nudge idea, then there's at least a countersink or something besides the hammer and nail in the toolkit.

6 comments:

LibertyAtStake said...

If a generalization needed hold absolutely true, without exception, for every specific observation, to be classified "fair," then it would be impossible to construct a fair generalization. Every observation would therefore have to treated as purely unique, with no prior learning applied to its interpretation, and we would never know anything.

Kinda sounds like the average faculty lounge.


d(^_^)b
http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com
"Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

FLG said...

You know what's funny, now that you point it out, I've actually railed several times against the word fair. I hate it.

My point, however, is that I think liberals are getting more sophisticated, at least liberal policy wonks. In some ways, this nudge thing is actually more pernicious than straight up spending and mandates.

LibertyAtStake said...

Amen to liberals getting more sophisticated in their strategies. They are nothing if not relentless in the pursuit of their aims.

Love your blog, btw.

nadezhda said...

This may be the silliest thing I've read in a while (that's not out of the GOP/Fox spin machine). Srsly:
The truly dangerous characteristic of Liberal ideologues is their inability to learn empirical lessons from the PAST. To wit; New Deal, Fair Deal, Great Society, CRA, Housing Bubble, Banking bailouts, Porkulus progression. Massive top down government spending (hammer) and unfunded mandates (nail) are the only tools they have in their tool kit.

Uh, the empirical lessons are that large-scale programs that benefit large swaths of the populace are the only way politically to get sustainable, workable safety nets at an acceptable (albeit too high) cost. However, the New Deal and other social programs weren't unfunded mandates. The Great Society is the only loser in the bunch, and a lot of useful lessons were drawn that have improved subsequent program designs (including some of the behavioral lessons that feed into "nudges").

Social Security's problems are truly marginal (4 or 5 modest fixes together, and no one would feel the pinch), and the problems with health care aren't due to gov'tal mandates, they're that we've got an insane crazy-quilt that, in the absence of something akin to single-payer, requires a hodge-podge of subsidies at both state and federal levels to make the nightmare sorta work. It was just as true in 1956, 1972 and in 1994 as in 2010.

Continuing... the CRA did what it was intended to do -- change incentives for profitable lending into red-lined areas. There was business to be done in those areas, but for a variety of sociological reasons, it wasn't being done. It has diddly-squat to do with housing bubble, etc. I'll be happy to give you a lecture on Fannie and Freddie if you want, but the bottom line is that GSEs have been (ab)used by every part of the political spectrum, but the biggest problem was the unholy alliance between management and short-term shareholders playing with an implicit gov't guarantee of agency paper. No hammer or nail in sight.

The banking bailouts were necessary to keep modern global capitalism as we know it functioning and the bloody ATM machines able to dispense cash -- hence, they were initiated by Republicans and implemented (with substantial improvements over the God-awful mess Paulson first came up with) by Democrats. Quite the opposite of "unfunded mandates, the "left" wanted the bailout to hit mangement and bondholders, not just taxpayers. But that wouldn't have passed the "moderates" and GOP in Congress. Still, the TARP program itself hasn't "lost money" under its redesign (and it's holding up a hellalot better than the EU's banking program) and Sheila Bair is ferociously intent on FDIC not being left holding the bag. The "left" and knowlegable folks in the center (like that famous communist Mervin King) want to reduce the size and complexity of the financial behemoths which are going to bring us down again eventually -- though the demise of the Eurozone "compromise" may do the trick that our political systems are incapable of.

...and so on and so on. Sheer bloody ignorance in that comment. I expected better of you, FLG.

FLG said...

Nadezhda:

I did say it wasn't fair!

The Ancient said...

I don't really disagree with nadezhda about specific details, but there's also this:

Huge chunks of the public are now sick and tired of playing the anvil to liberalism's hammer. They're sick and tired of a permanent government class that gets up every morning determined to file more regulations, pass more laws, create new agencies and programs every damn day.

Universities aren't getting "better" -- they're just getting bigger and more expensive. So's the government, and for similar reasons.

If this permanent, liberal governing class had any capacity whatsoever for self-reflection or self-criticism, if it showed even ten percent as much interest in making existing programs (or rules, regulations, whatever) work "better" than in creating new ones, perhaps we wouldn't find ourselves today in this dystopian world where someone like Michele Bachmann can imagine herself President.

 
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