Excellent piece by Arnold Kling
January 30, 2006
Very, very well done: in "Stuck on 1968" Arnold Kling reminds us of the conventional wisdom of well-educated Liberals in 1968 and then reviews what's happened in the nearly 40 years since. Economics fans should find the part about Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman especially interesting.
I have just one quibble and one thing to add.
Kling asserts that liberals think that anyone who is not a liberal must be "incorrigibly stupid". Not quite. As we know from A Conflict of Visions, imperfect intelligence is what conservatives tend to attribute to liberals. Most conservatives would quickly note, however, that they, too, are imperfectly intelligent: social and economic institutions are not easy for any single person to understand.
Liberals, on the other hand, believe that institutions and their workings are usually quite easy to understand. So easy, that even non-liberals must understand them, too. Liberals thus tend to believe that non-liberals are not merely stupid, they are evil. Liberals do refer to conservatives as stupid, of course, but especially these days, angry allegations of bad faith--of evil character--dominate.
And I'd add this brief review of 60's lIberals. They were right--to their great and everlasting glory--on civil rights. They were right to oppose the draft. Some parts of their safety and environmental programs were reasonable. (Taking the lead out of gasoline and car seatbelts, for examples.)
But IMHO two generations of experience shows they were wrong about almost everything else. From education to crime, from welfare to tax rates, and on each and every aspect of our foreign policy. The Liberal worldview is perhaps well-intentioned, but everyone knows what the road to Hell is paved with.
(Yeah, yeah, this post is partisan. But also read this cry from the heart from a good Liberal: "Just when will it be ok to say that the liberals from the generation of the 1960s have no idea what they're doing and never did? . . . When can it be said that a NASCAR dad can be trusted as much as a college professor to know what's good for himself?" Via Vox Baby.)