Utopian liberals

Utopian liberals

The problem with much of political liberalism is that it doesn’t take into account human nature. I was reading another book review in National Review, this one called The Two Percent Solution: Fixing America’s Problems in Ways Liberals and Conservatives Can Love. One of the proposals by the author, Matthew Miller, is a living wage where the government would pay the difference between what private companies pay their workers and the ideal of $9. Now, Miller, a liberal, thinks conservatives will love this because it’s not a minimum wage that forces companies to pay a set figure, but is a safety net for the vulnerable.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t account for human nature or economic realities. What incentive would any country then have to pay a penny more than the current minimum wage? On top of that, how many workers would have their pay reduced so that the companies could have their salaries paid by the government? So, you say, we set new requirements for a minimum pay under the system and ... uh, oh, how is this is different than just raising the minimum wage?

It reminds me of a proposal by a Democrat senator about 10 years ago. He asked the Congressional Budget Office to do a study on how much income tax revenue would increase if there was a 100% tax on income over $1 million. In other words, if you make $1,000,001, the government taxes the $1 mil normally (about $400,000 say), and then takes the $1. And if you make $10 mil, the government takes $400,000 (the 40%) and then $9 mil (100% over $1 mil). And by how much would the tax revenues increase? Exactly Zero.

If I’m a corporate executive and I’m negotiating a contract, why should I ask for anything more than $1 mil if I’m not going to see it anyway? They may as well give it all away. Human nature asks what is the purpose if you’re going to take it all away?

But liberals don’t live in the real world like we do. They think that a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars does anything more than drive people to socialize elsewhere (or socialize outside where they can smoke.) People eat and drink less, establishments close, people lose jobs, and all those workers we were so worried about breathing secondhand smoke are now unemployed. I could give example after example from health care to foreign policy to life issues and so on.

What it boils down to is that liberals are out of touch. And they say conservatives live in an ivory tower.

1 comment
  • Yeah, Lisa, but your remark is off the point of my post. I’m not saying that government shouldn’t intervene in the markets or ban certain substances harmful to people.

    My point is that liberalism fails to take into account that people will use the freedom remaining to them in ways that liberals don’t expect. They pass confiscatory tax laws and expect people to continue to work for nothing when they have a choice to do otherwise. They pass bans on smoking restaurants thinking people will continue to patronize those establishments at the same level with no economic impact, and instead they stay home, go outside the jurisdiction, or something else that undermines the intent.

    I don’t know why you think I’m talking about marketplace economics. I’m talking about liberal expectations that human behavior remains unchanged despite rising opportunity costs.

    At some level all societies must force people to be altruistic to society as a whole rather than to themselves.

    To apply this to my example, are you suggesting that it would okay for the government to force people to work more to earn a higher wage so they can be taxed more?