How We Lose

…when we do lose, and we’ve been losing, on balance, for over 100 years so this matters.

Kevin posted this as an example of truth, which of course it is…as far as it goes.  Excellent as his points are, Epstein doesn’t wrap up the argument.  He gets the ball to the goal line and then punts.  Excellent drive, but we never score.  The enemy gets the ball at the 20 yard line.  As I told Kevin, Epstein ignores the elephant in the living room;

Watch Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have a Good Side? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Did you notice the omission?  That is a fairly classic example of an argument between what I call “tweakers” (I know– the term is already taken, but it fits here).  It’s like two dairy farmers arguing over how to get the most milk from their cows.  “Tweak the cows (people) this way, and you get x result, tweak the cows that way and you get y result, etc.”

The discussion went as far as it could without actually mentioning the fact that we aren’t cattle, what we achieve or own is none of the government’s business, and that the United States was created as a place where rights protection was the government’s main job– not tweaking people.  Id est, there is no moral or principled argument unless you count material result or statistical result as a principle, which it isn’t.

As Ayn Rand so eloquently stated some 50 or so years ago– the self appointed champions of conservatism are often the worst enemies of liberty.  By failing to make the moral argument, while the enemy has plenty of (false) moral arguments, we often appear hollow and even hypocritical to the less attentive.

They’re the ones motivated by compassion.  We only have only the cold steel nuts and bolts– economic theories that help the rich while ignoring the plight of the poor and desperate.

Epstein’s cross examiner knew he was scoring points with his audience when he repeatedly used the term “inequality” to falsely describe what Epstein was advocating.

Here’s the elephant in the room– human rights protection.  That one thing that’s so lacking everywhere else in the world.  The banishment of coercion.  The American founding principles.  The shining torch of Liberty that has brought so many people here from all over the world.  The unleashing of the human spirit.

Wrap it up.  Cross the goal line, or we’re doomed.

3 thoughts on “How We Lose

  1. The goal lines are different for different people. For some (like me and I’m guessing you), the moral argument is sufficient. Government theft is no more moral than non-government theft.

    But other people aren’t concerned with that paradigm. They only care about the numbers — that is, do people get richer or poorer? Epstein is arguing toward a point that would appeal to them, if he can be persuasive.

    This distinction became clear to me several years ago when I found myself arguing in favor of economic liberty with an actual economist. I argued on a moral basis, but he found these issues irrelevant. He wanted empirical evidence that economic freedom is more productive. Such evidence exists, but I was not prepared to present it.

    I think that Epstein found himself in a similar position and was trying to argue in a way that could persuade his audience.

  2. John has it right, and to expand upon that point, to advocate any sort of moral argument that starts with the idea that no man has any claim on another’s property is a ticket to obscurity in any academic forum. The idea that taxation or redistribution is no more moral than any other form of robbery is so transgressive to most people that they simply refuse to consider it. The most common response is to either repeat an aphorism (death and taxes, etc.) or to start setting up strawmen (who would pave the roads?, who would license doctors, etc.).

  3. The left has a lot of people convinced, somehow, that confiscation and redistribution is more moral than liberty. They often argue purely on “moral” grounds.

    That our morality of liberty is so foreign to so many is proof that we have not been doing our job. Notice that I did not advocate using only the moral arguments, but that both the material and moral should be included. Obviously we should use both. The point is we are not using both.

    Socialists use the emotional, feel-good arguments and do it successfully, whereas we tend to stick to the material arguments, thereby falling into the trap that makes us out as being obsessed with “materialism” in the minds of the left.

    Next time you try this, include the feel-good moral argument in favor of liberty along with the material. Make it short and sweet. Understand that we may be dealing with a deep-seated hypnotic state– All that tends to happen in these discussions is the leftist will repeat the mantras of the last 100 years as though we’re not familiar with them, or as though more repetition will eventually get the socialist dogma into your head.

    Maybe we’d best be studying how to deal with people who are under the influence of hypnosis.

    A big hurdle of course is the fact that so many are, or have been convinced that they are, on the receiving end of the redistribution.

    That and we’re so far down the wrong path that some people can’t even imagine a free society without becoming afraid and angry. It reminds me of the Japanese or Okinawans near the end of W.W. II who had been convinced that the Americans would eat their children. They’ll grab their own children and jump off a cliff, or get into a small huddle and set off a grenade, killing themselves, before surrendering to the Americans.

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