Friday, June 15, 2012

Nullum prandium non es gratuitum

In a recent article for the lefty British paper the Guardian, Timothy Haidt wondered why the working class often vote conservative.    He muses "Why on Earth would a working-class person ever vote for a conservative candidate? This question has obsessed the American left since Ronald Reagan first captured the votes of so many union members, farmers, urban Catholics and other relatively powerless people – the so-called "Reagan Democrats". Isn't the Republican party the party of big business? Don't the Democrats stand up for the little guy, and try to redistribute the wealth downwards?"

He explains that most of the left believes in a duping theory.  (That the working class are duped into voting against their self interest.)  After all who would not accept all that free stuff?   But Haidt comes to some pretty sound conclusions.   He argues that people may well understand that all that "free" stuff comes at a cost (Nullum prandium non es gratuitum).   Language counts here.  Equality, which assumes that outcomes will always be equal, is a false promise.  Try as I might, when I was younger it was unlikely that because of my size I would be equal on the basketball court.

Haidt concludes that the working class vote readily for these ideas not because of a denial of their self interest but they are voting for their moral interest.   Evidently, another explanation is that conservative voters learned something about self-control when they were young.

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