Friday, 18 February 2011

Why so many left-wing policies prove disastrous: Thomas Sowell explains

Does this process sound at all familiar?

  1. 1.Assertions of a great danger to the whole of society, a danger to 
      which the masses of people are oblivious.

2.  An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe.

  1. 3. A need for government to drastically curtail the dangerous behaviour 
    of the many, in response to the prescient conclusions of the few.

  1. 4.A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary as either 
    uninformed, irresponsible, or motivated by unworthy purposes.

Well, obviously, it’s a description of what the Man-Made Global Warming lobby is up to today.  

Only, this comes from The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy, by the American right-wing economist, Thomas Sowell, which was published in 1995, before the whole AGW fantasy had really taken hold. 

Sowell (a great thinker, about whom I’ve previously written) cites these four elements as pretty much common to all crusading movements amongst the liberal intelligensia.

He goes on describe the stages involved in implementing mad, harmful policies: 

STAGE 1: The “Crisis” – Liberals decide there is a situation whose negative aspects have to be eliminated.

STAGE 2: The “Solution” – Liberals advocate solution to end the crisis. Critics say the policy will prove disastrous. The criticisms are dismissed as absurd or dishonest.

STAGE 3: The Results – The policy proves disastrous.

STAGE 4: The Response - Liberals attribute the disaster to “other, complex factors” and demand that the critics who prophesied disaster prove that the new policy actually caused the mess, while offering no proof that it didn’t. Liberals often claim that things would have been even worse if their policy hadn’t been implemented. They then usually conclude that if more money were to be spent on the policy, it would be successful.

I don’t how this will affect you, but I laughed when I read it – because it so perfectly describes so many of the ruinous policies we’ve been saddled with over the years by liberals, none of whom ever has to pay in any way whatsoever for the failure of the expensive and often socially catastrophic mess they’ve created (schools, university education, criminal justice, immigration, the health service – you name it). 

As Sowell points out, many of these “crises” are imaginary – sweeping changes are often introduced when the so-called problem is already disappearing. In the early 1960s, the Democrats decided they needed a War on Poverty – at a time when incomes amongst the poorest were rising: naturally, poverty subsequently increased. Sex education - which was designed to curb pregnancy and venereal disease rates amongst teenagers -  was introduced at a time when both were already falling: they promptly skyrocketed. The American murder rate in 1960 was exactly half what it had been in 1930, so liberal Supreme Court judges decided there was a crime crisis and handed down a series of judgments designed to treat defendants with respect and to shift the emphasis away from punishment to rehabilitation – as a result, the murder rate went into orbit and American criminals went on a terrifying crime spree for thirty years.

The most worrying thing about liberals is that they don’t actually seem to want to improve anything: I’ve often talked about their overwhelming desire to feel good about themselves (hence the sub-heading of Sowell’s book - “Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Socilal Policy”), and I believe this is what leads them to devise policies which they must know are going to produce the opposite results to the ones intended - because the only result they’re interested in is to change the way the rest of us feel about their favourite victim groups. Evidence doesn’t matter to them – as far as they’re concerned, results are irrelevant: it’s all about having the rightattitude.

What very strange people they are!

And what a wonderful opponent they have in Thomas Sowell, who’s still going strong in his eighties. As one commenter on YouTube wrote, it’s a pity this wonderful old man wasn’t America’s first black president rather than  the socialist wrecker who is.

My favourite Sowell clip is this one from 1980, where he mollucates a liberal official. And this one, where he talks about his book, Intellectuals and Society, is good value. And here he is back in 1995, discussing The Vision of the Anointed. Finally, his articles can be found here, on

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