"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, February 28, 2011

"Distilled Essence" -- That's One Way of Putting It

A fellow named Robert Tracinski has an article up on Real Clear Politics that makes a point about the protests in Wisconsin over public unions that I haven't heard before, and which I think is brilliant:
... there is something deeper here than just favor-selling and vote-buying. There is something that almost amounts to a twisted idealism in the Democrats' crusade. They are fighting, not just to preserve their special privileges, but to preserve a social ideal. Or rather, they are fighting to maintain the illusion that their ideal system is benevolent and sustainable.

Unionized public-sector employment is the distilled essence of the left's moral ideal. No one has to worry about making a profit. Generous health-care and retirement benefits are provided to everyone by the government. Comfortable pay is mandated by legislative fiat. The work rules are militantly egalitarian: pay, promotion, and job security are almost totally independent of actual job performance. And because everyone works for the government, they never have to worry that their employer will go out of business.

In short, public employment is an idealized socialist economy in miniature...
I think that Tracinski has it just right here.   Public employment distils the essence of socialism, because it allows supporters to revert to the simplest pseudo-moral posture:  the child's expression when anything goes against what they want -- "that's not fair!"  

"That's not fair"... to expect people to pay anything toward their own health care.
"That's not fair"... to expect people to pay anything toward their own retirement.
"That's not fair"... to expect people to produce tangible results in their employment.
"That's not fair"... for people to ever have a concern that they might lose their jobs, whether because of poor performance, or because their employers go out of business, or move their business overseas to compete.
"That's not fair"... for mean people to care about profits, or to care how much they have to pay in taxes.

I could go on, but you get the picture.  

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