Thursday, September 3, 2009

Liberals Not Getting It

I belong to a liberal group in Seattle that meets to discuss "integral theory." This integral theory grows out of developmental psychology: that people live in and grow through different developmental stages. The group experiences itself as transcending the liberal culture of sharing and caring and moving to a higher plane where you can understand the beliefs of peoples and cultures that don't think like you.

But now, after the Summer of the TeaPartiers and Townhallers, they are perplexed. Writes Gary:

I've been wrestling with myself, as well, trying to define just what is the highest response to this unholy alliance between right-wing political ideologies and right-wing Christian movement in the United States today that confuses soldier and warrior, prophet and soldier.

Another participant, Don, relates the culture war to the health care issue:

I have been trying to get my head around the unhinged response in some quarters to the health care proposals coming out of congress[...] So, the question I have is, is there a [way of communicating] that would resonate with those in this country who currently see health care reform as the implementation of death panels or whatever?

I think there's a rather simple answer to this. The problem is that the president's health care proposal isn't "integral." I.e., it doesn't treat people as naturally different, and with a right to be different. It assumes that health care is a public good and that everyone's needs are the same, and the government ought to provide for these needs.

But if we move to such a system a lot of people are going to have to change. Some people at present take no provision for health care and act on the assumption that, if they need care, society will provide it. Some people have a complete pre-paid plan. Some people have insurance to protect their assets. Some people like to pay for routine medical care out of pocket and only have insurance against major risks. Some people are rich enough that they can afford to pay all their health care out of pocket. If the president's program is passed, all this will change. Or more exactly, armed with new powers, the government will force people to change.

Very often in human history, you will find that people react to force with force.

The point is that in a free country, people have the right to make mistakes. So even if policy analysts come up with the best of all possible health policies, people should still have the right to say "no thanks." In fact, of course, the experts do not typically come up with the best of all policies. Their brilliant ideas get shredded by the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The interesting thing to me is that the liberals quoted up above have studied and believe that people at different developmental levels can and do have different ways of understanding the world and living in the world, and this is natural and normal. Yet the first one can still regard people that don't think like him as evil, and the second can be perplexed that people might react to a one-size-fits-all government program with rage.

Is this a great country or what!

1 comment:

  1. What a great example of reductionism, Chris! You forget that some element of the left and the right are whacko and pathological, unless, of course, you actually favor a government made up of Christian dominionism....I do, however, agree with you that the left's solutions are not integral, and therefore, are equal opportunity offenders. BTW, your readers can read the context of my full blog on the subject at

    Best to you as always,