Another gem from Kevin Williamson at National Review, Ezra Klein Misapprehends California’s Problems
Klein and others of his ilk like to present themselves as dispassionate pragmatists, enlightened empiricists who only want to do “what works.” Conservatives have long understood that our choice is not between a bundle of prejudices and enlightened scientific management but between a bundle of prejudices and a different bundle of prejudices. Klein mocks San Francisco for renaming schools (Begone, Abraham Lincoln!) while it has no plan to reopen them, but he cannot quite see that these are two aspects of a single phenomenon.
Klein is a practitioner of what Michael Oakeshott called “rationalism in politics.” What is meant by “rationalism” there is not “reason,” but rather the cultic conviction that all social arrangements and sources of human unhappiness are subject to scientific improvement through (generally) inductive methods. It is a superstition. It is also a cover for ideology and camouflage for bias.
Unless Klein intends to argue for some kind of benign dictatorship, he must eventually understand that the troubles he identifies in California are baked into the progressive cake. Create a political power that limits property rights, and that power will be used in the interests of politically powerful people at the expense of less-powerful people as long as there are democratic processes that give them the opportunity. It doesn’t matter how well-intentioned the program is. It doesn’t matter what a regulation was meant to do — it matters what it does.
Conservatives do not resist many regulations of the sort seen in California because we want cities to be horrible or because we secretly are in the pockets of developers who for some reason want their cities to be horrible; rather, we are skeptical of such schemes because they tend to create artificial shortages, distort markets and investment decisions, and prevent solutions from emerging organically. “Markets work!” is cartoon libertarianism, but you know what? Markets work. And if you don’t let them work, you end up with artificial scarcity, high prices, and rationing.
Read the whole piece.
When progressive ideology is over a century old does it then become the conservative ideology? Reform is seductive; the problems of the status quo are always apparent and the flaws of reform are yet to be realized. After 100 years it is time to hold it accountable for actual results.