If ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise

I was speaking to a liberal friend who thinks that, with the market in free-fall, now is a good time to invest, because there are bargains out there.  I think that’s probably true.  I don’t believe we’ve hit bottom yet, but there are certainly bargains out there, and anyone who has faith in the long-term abilities of the American economy should snatch them up.  Long-term, of course, is a relative concept.  Because the two candidates have markedly different tax plans for the investing class, long term could mean a few months, or it could mean years or decades.

It was in that regard that I suggested to my liberal friend that, because there’s a 50% chance Obama will win, he should bone up on Obama’s tax proposals so that he can invest around the consequences.  This dialogue ensued:

Liberal Friend (“LF”):  Obama’s taxes aren’t going to change anything.

Me:  Well, you don’t have to believe me, but I think if you check out his proposed economic policies, you’ll see that he’s going to increase the capital gains tax.

LF:  No, he’s not.

Me:  I don’t know.  And you shouldn’t believe me [he never does anyway], but I also suspect that the tax increases on businesses making over $250,000 are going to affect the market.

LF:  No, they’re not.

Me:  Well, you should check it out.

LF:  I don’t need to.  That’s just not true.

Me:  [Going futile:]  Well, you should check it out.

LF:  No.  The Democrats aren’t stupid.  They’re not going to hurt the economy.

Me:  What about the proposal they’ve been considering to take away people’s 401(k) plans.

LF:  That’s not true.

Me:  It’s true that it hasn’t happened, but it’s also true that they’re making the proposals.  And anyway, these taxes and plans from the Democrats aren’t new.  They’re the same kind of taxes that were in place under Carter, and that they have been asking for since Bush got into office.

LF:  That’s not true.

And so goes the infinite loop of talking to someone who reads only the New York Times, and who claims that all other media sources (other than NPR and the New Yorker) are radical conspiracy theorist right-wing garbage.

I had an interesting, and similar, dialogue with this same friend regarding Sarah Palin:

LF:  I was going to vote for McCain, but he made it impossible for me when he selected Sarah Palin.

Me:  What’s wrong with Sarah Palin?

LF:  There you go, arguing again.

Me:  No, seriously, give me a list of things that are wrong with Sarah Palin.

LF:  Her position on abortion.

[I let this pass, because this is binary.  Either you agree with her or you don’t, although I forgot to point out that she wouldn’t actually affect abortion policy.]

Me:  What else?

LF:  She’s a creationist.

Me:  That’s a myth.  She’s said that she believes in the Biblical creation story, but agrees that evolution should be taught in schools.

LF:  No, she doesn’t.

Me:  I can show you the direct quotes.

LF:  She’s got no experience.

Me:  Neither does Obama.

LF:  That’s just the kind of stupid thing right wing fanatics say.

Me:  Tell me how Obama has more experience than she does.

LF:  I’ll tell you what’s wrong with her.  She’s a flake.  And I’m not talking about this anymore.

What’s fascinating when talking to liberals is the bitter, bitter aversion to facts. I was talking today to a European liberal friend who said that Europeans embraced socialism because they have a bigger social conscience.

I responded that she’d latched onto something very important there, which is the fact that, because Europe lacks the social and economic fluidity that has characterized America since the 17th Century, it’s poor remain poor in perpetuity (a situation only exacerbated by the influx of Muslim immigrants). In America, groups may start at the bottom but, after a generation or two, they invariably float up, precisely because we don’t have the social and economic stratification that has always characterized Europe. This thought absolutely shocked her.

She regrouped a minute later and then said that my premise is false because “look at African Americans.” I explained to her that African-Americans differed because, unlike all other groups in America, the American system essentially imposed on them (in a brutal and horrible way) a European style stratification that prevented any upward movement. I pointed out that, beginning in the 1940s (with the WWII economy) and continuing into the 1950s (with the Civil Rights movement), blacks started the same upward movement as other American groups. That is, once we removed the artificial ceiling we’d imposed on them, they too made social and economic strides. The strides were slow, because prejudice is slow to die, but they were real, and they created a rising black working and middle class composed of nuclear families.

I then explained to her (as I’ve told you) that the death knell for this social and economic ascent was the Great Society, which told blacks to stop working, because the government would pay for them. Being rational actors, blacks gave up bad, low-paying, often demeaning jobs for free money. And being rational actors, they gave up nuclear families and parental responsibility for even more free money. And so began the terrible slide of the African-American community, a slide arrested only when Clinton, under duress from a real Republican Congress, ended “welfare as we know it.”

My European friend listened to all of this and then said, as if I hadn’t spoken at all — “But the blacks would never have succeeded if the government hadn’t given them handouts.” You’ll notice that she didn’t challenge my factual assertions. She just ignored them entirely. They didn’t exist in her mental universe.

The world of the liberal is one made up of blind faith. Anything that might impinge on those shibboleths cannot be allowed to exist within the liberal’s mental universe. There is no “If A, then B, and if B, then C.” Liberals don’t even pretend by creating false syllogisms, such as “If A, then false B, if false B, then false C.” Instead, they just go to “False C” and stick there. It’s very frustrating.