You should want what I want
…or “The Basic Fallacy of all Leftist Economics”
The political left throughout the world loves to proclaim its eternal devotion to diversity. They like diverse schools, diverse workplaces, diverse TV shows, diverse music, and on and on. It turns out, though, that this love of diversity is only skin deep. That is, the skin of the faces of the people they see as diverse. When it comes to economic choices, the left invariably believes that choices can and should be made by the intelligent elite for the good of everyone.
How could a group so concerned with diversity believe that the intelligent elite should make economic decisions for millions of people with diverse wants and needs? It’s a good question. Let’s start with looking at the left’s claim to being a reality-based ideology. Here’s Ron Suskind revealing the term for the first time:
The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism.
“Enlightenment principles and empiricism,” did you hear that? The reality-based community believes that solutions can be arrived at through these principles alone. They ignore a key idea, though:
Logic can only produce a true conclusion when all the premises are known and true.
Most economic and social problems the government tries to solve are so complex they cannot be understood by a single person in their entirety. Therefore, a community of reality-based thinkers who propose solutions based “only on their judicious study of discernible reality” are not reality-based at all.
The problem is that the left, when making economic decisions in reality-based mode, never has complete information. Yet, from their perspective, they understand the problem completely. How? They fill in the missing information by assuming all people should want the same things.
This assumption manifests a couple of ways. The first is the simple, unthinking way in which a person reflexively assumes that other people wants what he wants. This bears a striking resemblance to the way we teach children to be sympathetic to others. We ask them, “How would you like that if someone did it to you?” Slipping into this mode of thought when trying to understand an economic problem is forgivable, as it simply a sign of immature thought.
The second manifestation, though, is unforgivable. It is the idea that all people should want a certain thing, even if their personal needs and desires are different. To someone in this mindset, wanting something different than what should be wanted is a sign of inferiority that can’t be tolerated. This idea is at the heart of leftist policy.
Look at the list of things banned because you shouldn’t want them (from reason.tv):
Now, the left tries to cover these bans with appeals to the public good or health and safety, but really they just don’t want you to have cigarettes, trans fats, internet poker, bacon dogs, incandescent light bulbs, aluminum baseball bats, etc. because they think you shouldn’t want them in the first place.
It works the other direction, too. The left thinks that everyone wants certain things from their health insurance, and so mandates them with the force of law. Thanks, but being a single guy, I really don’t want to pay for an OB/GYN benefit. Too bad, I should want it, therefore I get it no matter what.
It’s the same thing with prescription drugs. There’s only one valid risk-reward calculation in this country, the FDA’s. It doesn’t matter if a person is dying of cancer and is willing to take a chance most would find unreasonable. The left has determined that you should only take the chances they think are good for you, therefore all you can do is die.
The truth is we all have different wants and needs based on our situation in life and our personal preferences and that it is impossible for government decision makers to know these. An ideology that truly respects diversity would be in favor of free markets where diverse people can have their diverse needs met to their satisfaction. Instead, when confronted with this real diversity, all the leftist can say is, “you should want what I want.”