Saturday, February 20, 2010

HINKLE—Politics: Proles Have Gotten Under the Egalitarians’ Skin
...Progressivism purports to protect the toiling and exploited masses from the amoral rapacity of big banks, big insurance, big tobacco, and whatnot. It must be exceedingly frustrating to have the toiling and exploited masses turn against the policies you have designed for their own good.

But there is something else going on here, something Thomas Sowell put his finger on a decade and a half ago in The Vision of the Anointed. The progressive elite, he wrote, "do not simply happen to have a disdain for the public. Such disdain is an integral part of their vision, for the central feature of that vision is preemption of the decisions of others."

As The New York Times' David Brooks wrote earlier this year in a column condescending to the "Tea-Party Teens," the Obama administration "is premised on the conviction that pragmatic federal leaders with professional expertise should have the power to implement programs to solve the country's problems." Those problems are presumed to be primarily economic: investment bankers making too much money, insurance companies charging too much for coverage, and uninsured Americans' inability to afford medical care. Offended by such disparities of wealth and want, progressives have expended vast amounts of energy to produce greater equality.

Yet as J.R. Lucas wrote more than three decades ago, equality has more than one dimension, and efforts to tame economic inequalities can produce bureaucratic empires that crystallize "an inequality of power . . . more dangerous than the inequality of wealth to which objection was originally made." Members of Tea Party Nation may simply prefer to tolerate monetary inequalities rather than to hand more power over their lives to progressives who, while purporting to care about the great unwashed, sometimes treat them with casual contempt.

It is bad enough to have the proles reject the specific policy proposals of the good and the wise. But what may infuriate those liberals who have been castigating the idiocy of the angry mob even more is as follows. Their program is premised on believing a select group of superior people should be empowered to organize everyone else's affairs. The Tea Party proles who reject the interference, reject also the premise that the Obama administration and its progressive supporters constitute a superior class: America's would-be overseers really are no better than anyone else. For those who profess to care about equality, this must be terribly hard to hear....