In short, our top pundits, our political elites, our very president all believe that they can blast the unfairness of high capitalism while doing everything in their power to enjoy its dividends — and demand an ethical standard from others that they habitually do not meet themselves. It is as if the more left-wing one sounds, the more anti-left-wing his tastes; the more the ethicist lectures on morality, the more he is likely to be unethical; the more green an advocate, the less likely the 800-square foot cottage replete with recycled water, a solar toilet, and 70-degree hot water. The only mystery here is whether there is some sort of logical connection. Does the profession of cosmic morality by design allow one to enjoy without guilt quite earthly sins? Why do super-rich liberals not like the Tea-Party upper-middle-class entrepreneurs? Are the latter in no need of liberal condescension? Do they not have quite enough money to show exquisite taste? Or are they grubby, too close to the struggle for a buck?
Two final notes on why all this matters. First, when the left-wing media ceases to scrutinize public figures, the latter are emboldened to fabricate, cheat, plagiarize, and flat out lie. It is not that there are not conservative hypocrites, just that the present system makes it far harder for them to get away with these failings. (Imagine the press reaction to a Romney autobiography full of untruths; a Paul Ryan with a yacht docked in a no-tax harbor; a Charles Krauthammer lifting entire paragraphs from the work of others).
Second, all of the above are part of an elite establishment that is supposed to set standards for emulation, but instead only coarsens civilization. Why tell the truth, hoi polloi, when everyone from Bill Clinton to Stephanie Cutter will not? Can we determine what is true and false, when we have no idea in Time magazine or in a presidential memoir whether the sentence is copied from someone else or simply made up? If the governor frequents prostitutes, how can there be a law against prostitution? After Elizabeth Warren, how can there exist such a thing as affirmative action? Cannot every white male in America assert that he has high cheek bones and so deserves a leg up on any other white male stupid enough not to claim his great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee?
Our civilization is under assault. Those who have taken upon themselves to direct it are instead doing their own part to destroy it.
A similar tale is the data on personal charitable giving. Jeff Jacoby writes in Townhall, Stingy Liberals, 8/22/12.
In parts of the country where conservative values dominate, charity tends to be high. Where liberalism holds sway, charity falls. “Red states are more generous than blue states,” the Chronicle concludes. The eight states that ranked the highest in charitable giving all voted for John McCain in 2008. The seven lowest-ranking states supported Barack Obama.
Marvin Olansky has written about this for decades. The tendency to transfer compassion to the public sector from private has polluted the effectiveness of charity. Just like money, bad charity drives good charity away.
Joe Biden should be humiliated by his insignificant personal charitable contributions. The idea that one considers themselves more compassionate because they want to spend someone else’s money on their idea of the needy, when they are significantly more stingy with their own money is morally reprehensible. It is a good exampl of how a private virtue can become a public vice.