Intro. In a recent NY Times column, Paul Krugman takes a stab at explaining the chasm between the political left & right. His take: we suffer from fundamentally differing premise in terms of the moral basis for government policy. Krugman thinks that conservatives oppose any sort of welfare state government intervention, as a moral basis. I disagree, I believe conservatives only claim they oppose expansive or activist government, while they gladly embrace it in many forms.... in short, conservatives' actions & advocacy, in contrast to their stated values, are often at odds.
A Tale of Two Moralities
My Comment. While Krugman’s oversimplification about moral-based values is a fair generalization as far as it goes, it does not go very far. It omits the fact that in politics, the moral and the pragmatic are not so easily separated.
The left may well believe in the moral values of a welfare state and progressive taxation, but it believes also with equal commitment that the practical implication of such a system is wider, deeper, and more lasting prosperity for all. The moral dimension of supporting the poor is only a portion of the overall belief set. It is the corresponding belief that “red in claw” capitalist systems tend to devour themselves and lead to widespread suffering that forms the foundation for the moral framework.
Meanwhile on the right, one must wonder why so much of their alleged moral belief system in terms of economics must be sustained through the extensive use of myth, deception, magical thinking, and denial. Not to mention that so many purported followers of right-wing economic “morality” tend to be living contradictions of their own views in the extreme. Be it the hilarious specter of health care plan protesters who are recipients of Medicare, or any other of the “welfare state’s” largess to which they willingly consume, nay, demand.