I have enjoyed the Remnant Podcast series from Jonah Goldberg at National Review. Goldberg combines a sharp sense of humor (Bigfoot Erotica) with great depth on history and political policy. He has great guests including Ben Sasse, Yuval Levin, and most recently in Episode 14 Arthur Books from AEI.
In this podcast Brooks described a policy quandrant of hard and soft headedness and hard and soft heartedness.
He accuses the left of being soft hearted, but also soft headed. They genuinely desire to help the disenfranchised and disadvantaged and unfortunate, but they do so with ideas and policy that is valued more because of good intentions than the reality of effective outcomes. The result is often a counterproductive policy.
The opposite- hard headed and hard hearted- may get the reality and ideology correct, but have so sympathy for those who fall though the cracks in a growing and dynamic economy. You could say they get the ideology correct, but they get the politics wrong.
The worst is to be heard hearted and soft headed. They resign the poor and the unfortunate to their fate and are willing to support them through policies without any concern about lifting them up from their fate. They are willing to pay the social extortion fee to live in relative peace.
The ideal quadrant for Brooks is to be heard headed and soft hearted. Seek policies to help the unfortunate, but be realistic that work is important, long term dependency is soul stifling, and perverse incentives make the problem worse. Articulate limits, stop demagoguery, and be realistic about human nature.
As Paul Ryan said, “Don’t let the safety net become a hammock.”