Ed Driscoll

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Stacy McCain spots Kathy Kattenburg of the Moderate Voice smugly writing, “No poor man ever closed a factory and shipped all the jobs to Southeast Asia,” and responds:

Why does Kathy hate Southeast Asians? Less facetiously, why does Kathy believe that, once a factory is opened in the United States, that it should never close? Like any other business — restaurants or shoe stores or whatever — factories start up and shut down all the time, everywhere all over the world.

He then notes the double-bind argument that the modern left have created:

Liberals now expect to be taken seriously when they harken back to the “good old days” of factory smokestacks belching carbon emissions into the sky and spewing, while all-white-male unionized workforces built big steel gas-guzzling cars with tail fins and no seat belts. The coal to run those factories was strip-mined, of course, and the gasoline contained lead. This was the industrial heyday of America — the early ’60s, when JFK was president, when women stayed home and raised babies, when minorities were effectively frozen out of high-wage union jobs, and when corporal punishment was routine in public schools where the dropout rate was much higher than it is today.

Somehow, the decline of Industrial America always gets blamed on Republicans (“Reaganomics,” sneers Kattenburg), but liberals absolutely hated the Industrial America whose destruction they now so loudly lament. That the shuttered factory in Michigan might have been rendered economically uncompetitive by liberal policies — regulations, taxes, unionization — is something they ignore, and instead blame on those evil greedy right-wing capitalists.

Kathy Kattenburg is a liberal, and being a liberal means feeling good about yourself because you are so much more sensitive to the plight of the downtrodden than everybody else. So she sneers at “Reaganomics” and Southeast Asians, and congratulates herself on her moral superiority.

It’s so much easier than actually learning anything about economics.

Part of this occurs because the left is basically a series of otherwise unconnected grievance committees  with only one thing in common: they really, really hate Republicans as their collective boogieman. But quite often, each group’s goal is remarkably fragmented and dissonant. Unions want jobs for their men — and yet radical environmentalist “green” policies are the perfect way to destroy them. (Recall Obama’s bankrupting the coal industry remarks to an entirely unperturbed San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in early 2008.) Or tie up a construction project in so much red tape it never happens, as Jonah Goldberg recently noted:

Liberalism has become a cargo cult to the New Deal, but many of the achievements of the New Deal would be impossible now. Just try to get a Hoover Dam built today.

(Note Obama’s recent surprise that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.”) Or take General Motors, which before being co-opted by the government had become so bloated by its union contracts that its entire economy of scale had tipped over. Business Week wrote in 2005 that “GM struggled for years with its legacy of costly worker and retiree benefits. Indeed, it’s easy to view the company as a huge medical and pension provider with a side business in manufacturing.”

Not surprisingly, Proposition #23 died this week in the same state that reelected Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer, and other failed statists. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the bill “would have suspended California’s greenhouse gas emissions targets until unemployment in the state–which has been around 12% since August 2009–dropped to 5.5% for at least a year.” But it at least highlighted the dilemma the left have put themselves in, which they’ll occasionally cop to from time to time — and which holds our economy captive.


Related: “Would Rachel Maddow Rather Walk to Work?”