From The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn, Making Capitalism Great Again?
Experience, moreover, also tells us that when competition is tethered the result isn’t cooperation. It’s collusion. Indeed, Sens. Warren and Rubio would both find no more steadfast allies than libertarians if their goal were simply to eliminate rules and subsidies that artificially rig the market to favor big business and the politically connected at the expense of the little guy.
Further, some of us do share Sen. Rubio’s concerns about today’s social dysfunctions—failing public schools, broken families, addiction—and how they threaten to leave many of our countrymen, especially those without college degrees, on the margins of the American dream. But is this really a crisis of the voluntary exchange between buyers and sellers, or of our culture? Here Sen. Rubio is pushing for politics to do the work of culture.
It’s an understandable temptation, in the sense that changing, say, tax credits is far less daunting than repairing a culture. But then, who are the real materialists, if the answer to a cultural meltdown isn’t to address the human soul but to say, “Don’t worry, we can engineer it all through regulation and the tax code”?
This excerpt raises the issue from Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative:
The root difference between the Conservatives and the Liberals of today is that Conservatives take account of the whole man, while the Liberals tend to look only at the material side of man’s nature. The Conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic, an animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs and spiritual desires. What is more, these needs and desires reflect the superior side of man’s nature, and thus take precedence over his economic wants. Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy. Liberals- on the other hand- in the name of a concern for “human beings”- regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society. They are, moreover, in a hurry. So … (that) their characteristic approach is to harness the society’s political and economic forces into a collective effort to compel “progress.” In this approach, I believe, they fight against nature.
The irony is that material values are of greater concern to the left. The pursuit if these and the neglect of others may have much to contribute to the failure of so many economic policies.