The Liberal War on the Weak?

kerstenKatherine Kersten, a right wing hack given a column in the Star Tribune, doles out a lot of nonsense.  For the most part she’s insignificant in political discourse.  Just another bitter voice among too many.

Yesterday she tried to argue that liberals are responsible for social and economic inequality in the United States.   She claims this is the case because liberals see inequality in economic terms.

Liberals, therefore, “call for more wealth redistribution and job training” to address this inequality.

She goes on to blame “America’s elite” who in the 1960s “jettisoned once-clear standards of conduct, substituting a fluid new moral code”.   Sex, marriage, legalized gambling, and drugs are no longer governed by “once-universal norms.”

Because there is no clear standard of right and wrong — at least as Kersten sees it — liberals have made it difficult for average people to make right choices.  As a result they struggle and fail to succeed and it is the liberals fault.  Get it?

objective-moralityNot only does it sound like she bemoans the decline of the nanny state which establishes “the straightforward rules that once guided life” she also argues that the “affluent, college-educated people — the top 20 percent — can generally handle the new smorgasbord of choices, thanks to their education, grasp of risk and the social capital that helped them achieve success in the first place.”

“But the poorly educated and vulnerable,” she argues, “who often lack these resources, cannot.”

First off, we have an awful lot of unsupported claims here, otherwise known as opinions, about which at least one well-known Minnesota Republican was fond of saying “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

How, exactly, does a more “liberal” social code account for “the bottom third of third of the population collapsing into social array”?

Implied here is a form of elitism that does not hold up.  Implied is a view that the more affluent — by virtue of their ability to make better choices — are immune from moral decay and thereby deserving of their success by virtue of being different.   This is an argument for a natural order in social and economic class., it it not?

Haven’t we gotten beyond this failed argument?  Were people, for example, better people — a better class of human overall — 30, 40, or 50 years ago?

And if it is the case that access to education and capital give the affluent an advantage over the poor, which it certainly does, would it make sense to argue against, as Kersten does, against supporting education and “wealth redistribution”?  It does not.  It seems like Kersten is arguing against what she claims is the solution!

That wealth distribution, by the the way, is a value-laden term for what most of us would call taxes.  Taxes to pay for schools, social programs, roads, libraries, clean water, and the like.  All of these assets build a strong social order that benefit both poor and wealthy alike.  It is not a handout.

In the end Kathrine Kersten spells out her real concern anyway.  She doesn’t give a rat’s ass about economic and social justice.  She says even if she could make incomes equal — which few serious progressives argue is a goal — the real problem would remain.  For Kersten that is what she calls “cultural and moral inequality.”  In other words, people who think differently than she does.  That’s Kersten’s real issue.

All I have to say in answer to that is thank god most people DO think differently than Katherine Kersten.

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