Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Liberals’ Reality Problem

A basic problem for liberals is their rejection of and discomfort with reality. That attitude, unfortunately, creates a number of problems for them as well as for the rest of us.

There is, for example, much about human nature that bothers liberals. They do not like the fact that self-interest is the prime motivator in human decision making. This is at the root of why they speak so disdainfully of profits. The profit motive makes them cringe. For liberals “profits” is a four letter word. They would prefer people to be motivated strictly by charitable impulses and altruism. Rather than recognizing that being motivated by self-interest is a necessary survival tool, liberals conflate self-interest with greed and then blame greed for many of society’s ills.

Part of the genius of Adam Smith was his non-judgmental acceptance of human nature. He recognized that self-interest is the primary motivator in human behavior. Rather than wasting his time denying or lamenting that, he explained how a market economy does the best job of bridling that force and can actually lead to beneficial outcomes for society in general. He wrote, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

There are a number of features of a market economy liberals do not like, and they do everything they can to suppress or eliminate them. In their minds a market economy leads to an unacceptable level of inequality. In a market economy, some people get extremely wealthy. Liberals simply cannot abide that. It irritates them beyond belief. Because it results in an unequal distribution of wealth, liberals are willing to essentially scuttle the entire market economy. Their attitude is essentially, “Stop the economy! I want to get off.”

A critical component of the market is competition. Competition results in winners and losers, but liberals don’t want anyone to lose. Of course, competition isn’t unique to the market; it occurs almost everywhere and bestows profound benefits. Competition is quite literally a fact of life. As Darwin made clear, it’s a key component in the process of evolution. The late economist George Stigler called competition “the patron saint of consumers.” It’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to like reality if you don’t like competition.

Because intentions govern their policies, liberals show no interest in looking at evidence. Their denial and disregard of evidence is another reflection of their dislike of reality. Evidence is about reality; intentions are about fantasizing and self-indulgence.

Another clear example of the liberal rejection of reality is their absolute dislike of budgets. Budgets are one of the clearest instances where reality meets the road. Living within a budget is a form of living in reality. Liberal Democrats in Washington and various state capitals do everything they can to delay passing budgets or living within them once they’re passed. Deficits as far as the eye can see are the unfortunate result.

Humanity is another part of reality that liberals aren’t particularly happy about. They’re convinced that humans should be far less plentiful. In terms of global population, the smaller the better. Many of them feel that in most instances an abortion is preferable to a live birth. A variation of liberalism is environmentalism. Environmentalists consider humans to be much more a curse than a blessing.

The problem with the liberal dislike of reality is how it’s affecting the rest of us. If you don’t like reality one response is to deny that it exists. Denial is a frequent cause of individual and societal problems. From a practical standpoint, this means behaving as if consequences don’t exist or don’t matter. We will be dealing with the damage done by their ill-considered good intentions for many years to come.

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The Liberals’ Reality Problem August 23, 2011

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at rossecon@gmail.com.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why President Obama Is Painful to Watch

If someone looked at your face while watching President Obama make a speech or hold a press conference, I’ll bet it would reflect pain and discomfort. Your facial expression might be described as a grimace. There are a number of reasons for that kind of reaction. It might not even matter whether you are liberal or conservative. There is much about Mr. Obama’s style and content that repels rather than attracts.

For example, the man is tiresomely repetitive. How many times has he used the terms “millionaires and billionaires,” “shared sacrifice,” and “corporate jet owners”? He gives new meaning to the term ad nauseam. Most of what he repeats wasn’t worth saying the first time. You’re left wondering, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Saying the same thing over and over makes you totally predictable and uninteresting. Mr. Obama has become tedious and boring.

How many times has he told us that creating jobs is going to be his number one priority? Has it ever happened? His “credibility gap” is growing wider than LBJ’s.

A particularly annoying aspect of Mr. Obama’s personality is that he has virtually no sense of humor. There are very good reasons why humor is categorized as a “sense.” Humor is akin to a sense of taste or sense of balance. Individuals vary widely in regard to these characteristics. Successful comedians have inherent and highly developed senses of what’s funny and what’s not. They are “naturals.” Of course, there are people on the other end of the spectrum, such as Mr. Obama.

It’s painful when people with no sense of humor attempt to be funny. Mr. Obama frequently makes lame attempts at being funny, and people in the room usually laugh, particularly members of the press. If you listen, however, what you hear is an uncomfortable, polite, and brief kind of laugh.

Mr. Obama makes use of awkward and unusual figures of speech. One glaring example that I’ve never figured out is the title of his second book, The Audacity of Hope. I realize it is a phrase he took from his mentor and long-time pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Wherever it came from, what in the world does it mean? It is typical of most of what Mr. Obama says. I suppose that it was meant to sound profound, but if you think about it, it’s anything but.

In the midst of the health care debate Mr. Obama said, “There’s something about August going into September where everybody in Washington get’s all wee-weed up. I don’t know what it is, but that’s what happens.” So far as anyone could determine, no one had ever used the term “all wee-weed up” previously. Later the White House explained that it meant wetting the bed. That still doesn’t make any sense. Let’s just say, the man is not a great communicator. Articulate he is not.

Recently in the debt limit negotiations Mr. Obama warned the Republicans, “don’t call my bluff.” That’s just weird. Anyone with half a brain knows that a basic requirement of a bluff is that you don’t let it be known that you’re bluffing. Admitting that you’re bluffing cancels its effect. If you admit that you’re bluffing, you are sure to be called on it.

Mr. Obama is often cloyingly folksy. One obvious example is his insincere and frequent use of the word “folks.” A similar lame attempt at sounding like a down-home good-old-boy is the dropping of the g in words like going, doing, etc. It just makes him sound phony. Mr. Obama is attempting to act a part, but he’s not a very good actor. Watching bad acting is no fun.

The odds are looking better all the time that Mr. Obama will be a one-term president. There’s a good chance we will only be burdened with his tiresome style for another eighteen months.

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Why President Obama Is Painful to Watch August 12, 2011

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at rossecon@gmail.com.

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