Thursday, May 26, 2011

Conservatives are from Mars, liberals are from Venus

Venus (Chosovi/Wikimedia Commons)
A well known relationship book a few years posited the obvious truth that men and women thought and communicated differently.  The same seems to be true of conservatives and liberals. 

While there are exceptions to every rule, it seems that conservatives are more logical and rational while liberals tend to be more emotional and spontaneous.  This is evident from frequently heard charge that conservatives are heartless or lack compassion, while liberals are often referred to as “bleeding hearts.” 

The truth is that, for the most part, both conservatives and liberals share the common goal of improving America and making life better for its citizens.  The irony is that without thinking through the consequences of their policies, both sides often end up doing just the opposite.  This is particularly true of liberals.

In many cases, liberal social programs, while well intentioned, do more harm than good.  In some cases, the harmful effects are obvious and logical.  In others, they are masked by other factors and can only be ascertained through careful study. 

One example is the minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage has long been viewed as a way to increase the income of the working poor.  However, numerous studies show that raising the minimum wage actually hurts the very people that it is intended to help.  Most economists now accept as fact that raising the minimum wage leads to increased unemployment among unskilled workers.  University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan notes that minimum wage increases hit younger workers especially hard.  According to Mulligan, after the minimum wage rose from $6.55 to $7.25 in July 2009, the employment rate among teens fell by eight percent in three months, a fast decline even considering the recession.

A second example is gun control.  As more states enact concealed carry laws and federal law changed in 2010 to allow guns in national parks, many liberals predicted that violent crime would increase sharply.  The same claim was made in 2004 when the Clinton-era “assault weapons” ban expired and was not renewed by Congress.  These predictions have not come true.

In contrast, in the book More Guns, Less Crime John Lott shows that states with the largest numbers of gun owners show the largest drops in violent crime.  Recent FBI statistics show that all categories of violent crime decreased in 2010.  The crime rate has been falling since 2007 even though gun sales increased dramatically following President Obama’s election in 2008.  During this time, the number of people licensed to carry guns in public has also increased sharply.  It is also noteworthy that the crime rate has decreased during a deep recession, disproving the supposed link between crime and poverty.  If liberals were correct, more guns in public, more licenses to carry in public, and more poor people should have increased the crime rate, but that has not happened.   

The FBI statistics show that the south saw the largest drops in crime of any part of the country.  The northeast with its strict gun control laws actually had increases in some types of violent crime.  The report does not break down crime rates by state, but the actual number of reported offenses is available for four Georgia cities.  Although most decreased from 2009 to 2010, Atlanta reported a significant increase in murders.  Georgia allows open or concealed carry of pistols with a Georgia Weapons Carry License (formerly called a Georgia Firearms License).

An additional example is federal spending.  It is becoming apparent to most Americans that the orgy of government spending under President Obama has not helped the economy recover.  It has been over two years since Congress passed the stimulus bill that was supposed to revive the economy. 

As a percentage of GDP, both the federal debt and the deficit are higher now than at any point since WWII according to  At of the end of fiscal year 2011, the total national debt will stand at more than $18 trillion.  This represents an increase in the national debt of almost $8 trillion from 2008. 

For all that money, the results have been decidedly mixed.  The average length of a recession is eleven months.  The Great Recession officially lasted eighteen months from December 2007 to June 2009.   According to an analysis by Politifact, it is true that the recession is technically over, but unemployment remains high with many Americans out of work.  Many other economic indicators are lagging as well.  In Georgia, the unemployment rate has consistently been above the national average since the economic crisis began in 2008. 

Liberal emotionalism is exemplified by repeating calls for more of the same policies even when, in cases such as these, there is objective, empirical evidence that their effect is the opposite of what was intended.  Liberals and conservatives should both slow the rhetoric and take an objective look at the results of their policies.  Programs that don’t work or that are not cost-effective should be discarded.  States should be given the freedom to experiment with their own solutions rather than merely being forced to implement federal policy.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  The noticeable failure of liberal policies probably goes a long way in explaining why conservatives outnumber liberals by two-to-one according to Gallup.  In fact, conservatives outnumber liberals in every US state.  Perhaps the US is on the verge of stopping the insanity.

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