Sometimes I like to play a little game with my liberal friends. Let us suppose, I say to them, that you have one hundred dollars with which you plan to purchase food for your family at a local grocery. Now let us suppose that I come along and rob you while you are on your way to the store, taking half of your one hundred dollars.
At this point I ask my friend: Is the robbery good or bad for you economically? “Bad,” they invariable answer, for “I now have less money for groceries.” Then I ask them: Is my robbing you good or bad for the grocer? “Bad,” they again answer, for “now he, too, has less money for his family.” Next question: Was it morally right or wrong for me to rob you? “Wrong, of course,” they answer, for “the money did not belong to you.”
Then, the coup de grace: What if I planned to give your money to someone else, I ask, someone whom I felt was more worthy or deserving of your money?
At this point, many liberals begin to suspect they have been led into a rhetorical cul de sac, and cognitive dissonance sets in as they realize that an honest answer necessitated by their answer to the previous questions will conflict with their stated political principles and past voting habits. Some will nevertheless admit, “Well, it isn’t really for you to decide who gets my money….”
An alternate hypothetical: Ask any liberal friend whether it would be morally sound or economically advantageous for an individual to rack up mountains of debt, until the gap between what is taken in and what goes out can never be rebalanced, with the fiscal burden passed onto their children and their children’s children, who likewise have little hope of living debt free.
An honest answer is that such behavior, like the hypothetical robbery, is both morally wrong and economically deleterious. Yet the same liberals who can see the fault in such behaviors for individuals support exactly those behaviors on the part of governments; confiscatory taxation and unsustainable deficits and debt are, after all, the inevitable consequences of liberal governance.
It is not hard to understand why. Liberals rarely see individuals except in the abstract aggregate, and so often fail to see the trees for the forest. Some are cognizant of this blind spot in their liberal world view: Margaret Carlson recently admitted, by way of explaining the president’s inability to connect with individual voters going through tough economic times:
It’s a long time now since Obama was a community organizer. Even then, he might have been more comfortable dealing with communities than with individuals. Democrats are best with groups. If I break down on the side of the road, I hope a Republican stops — he’ll fix my flat and offer me a drink. A Democrat will get busy forming a Committee to Protect Women Who Own Vulnerable Cars.
Quite. And it is precisely this feature of liberalism that has led to the economic and spiritual wasteland it leaves whenever and wherever it is put at the controls of government. For the truth is there are no such thing as “groups” — there are only individuals. To say, for example, that this or that policy is good for blacks, or for women, is to overlook the vast differences that exist between individuals — differences in needs, wants, ambitions, life-experiences, temperament, etc., even if they may share skin color or gender in common.
To smooth out such differences, which are in fact the manifestations of the uniqueness of each soul, is to suffer from a tragic myopia that can only lead to destruction — of rights, of property. After all, these are things that “individuals” possess. To see only groups is to necessarily dehumanize; to dehumanize in theory is to oppress in practice.