Many of us free-market types have watched Greece with a sort of morbid fascination. What can one say of a country whose people apparently believes that they can vote to suspend reality?
One thing you could say is that such people aren’t only in Greece. Inasmuch as progressives have an ideology built on denial of human nature and reality, wherever they dominate, one is likely to see, first, inadvisable fiscal risks followed by, second, a refusal to accept reality when things come to a head. There’s a lot that an increasingly controlling government can do to fudge numbers and put off the day of reckoning — including moving power up to higher levels of government that can redistribute from other areas that have been better managed — but with each postponement it gets worse, and the people become more incredulous that reality could actually exist. (Not for no reason have conservative gadflies called progressivism/liberalism a “mental disorder.”)
I’m thinking, at the moment, of the Mercatus Center’s new ranking of states by their fiscal condition, on which I’ll have an article on WatchDog.org sometime this week and about which Investor’s Business Daily observes:
There’s only one factor these fiscal winners and losers share in common. And that’s their political leanings. Of the top 10 states in the Mercatus ranking, just two — Florida and Ohio — voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in the past four elections, and just one — Montana — has a Democratic governor. Even if you look at the 25 best-performing states, only three could be considered reliably liberal.
At the other end of the list, just two of the 10 lowest-ranked states — Kentucky and West Virginia — have voted for the Republican in the past four presidential elections. And while four of them have Republican governors, they all are in solid blue states and all were elected to clean up messes left by their Democratic predecessors.
The editorial ends by crediting conservative policies, like low taxes and limited government, but I’d submit that there is a more basic distinction. Conservatives tend to look at the way in which people actually behave, balance their observations with the wisdom of the ages (call it “tradition”), and strive to give individuals maximum autonomy to move things forward while attempting to educate them about said wisdom through the culture. Progressives, in contrast, start from ideological and emotional premises, determine from them how the world must be, and then strive to use power in order to force people to fit the mold. (I’m being charitable; many would say that the lust for power comes first.)
Unfortunately for those who find themselves under progressive control, reality isn’t as malleable as it would need to be for the progressive remaking to work.