Saturday, June 11, 2011

Yeah, FLG Is Still Sticking With His Time Horizons Theory

Elias Isquith writes:
I’m of the mind that the “rational” basis for much of our politics is arrived at ex-post facto and that the most influential parts of our decision to self-identify as left-wing, right-wing or moderate are subjective and social. By social, I mean to say that they’re determined by the values we’ve come to hold most dear, and that our ordering these values is a process largely comprised of experience and emotion. And, yes, it’s very tribal.

For example, I’m swayed by arguments that favor Keynesian policies for a struggling economy in which aggregate demand is low. But I didn’t come to that conclusion through some scientific estimation of the various schools of economic thought. I came to that point because people in my tribe — people who seem to privilege the values of fairness and equality as I do — have signaled that, in specific contexts and for our chosen ends, Keynes’s ideas work best.

Result: of course running a deficit when demand is low is the right thing for the government to do. Duh!

Maybe you’re somehow built from different stuff than I, and all of your political beliefs exist relatively divorced from your subjective, emotional identity. But unless you’ve got some lizard blood in there, I doubt it. We have our feelings, and find the facts later. And that’s where elites are useful, because they (or their interns) take the time and do the work to gather up all the intellectual window-dressing to bolster these deeply-felt beliefs.

FLG still says it's the individual's time horizons, or discount rate if you prefer, that drive this stuff. Now, of course, somebody on the liberal side the equation, who values the short-term much more than the future, is going to think it's the product of some sort of emotional and experiential process. That's the kind of reacting to the present, empirical type of thing they'd think.

That being said, FLG does agree that intellectuals do provide rational, logical arguments for each side's beliefs. FLG just doesn't think that these derive from some dark corner of the mind where values that have been formed by experience and emotion reside. It's from the person's time horizon. More concerned about the longer-term, more conservative.

It's interesting to FLG, however, that the word values comes up. Because when somebody from the left-wing first encounters FLG's theory, they usually respond with "No, it's differing fundamental values." (And of course the left-wing values are superior.) But then as you start progressing and engaging, what you get down to, as FLG has found time and time again, is these so-called values really boil down to valuing the short-term over the long-term, especially in the economic sphere.

1 comment:

Andrew Stevens said...

I apparently have lizard blood. Of course, I'm not sure I have a "subjective, emotional identity." If I do, I have no clear idea what it is.

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