Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?

By Jaime L. Napier and John T. Jost

I commented briefly on the study bearing the title above yesterday (See here) but I thought a few more comments showing what rubbish it is might be in order. It is of course an attempt to show that conservatives are happy for discreditable reasons.

They started out in their study 1 conflating ideology and party preference. They found that rating yourself as conservative and as a Republican were "highly correlated". But that is nonsense. Lots of conservatives think that the GOP is comprised mainly of weak-kneed compromisers etc. And the study data actually showed that. The correlation between the two variables was .46, which meant that the two variables had only a quarter overlap (shared variance). But Napier & Co simply added scores on the two variables up, to create an artificial conservatism score, when the two variables should clearly have been treated separately

And it gets worse. They found that the correlation between conservatism and happiness could be accounted for by "rationalization of inequality". So how do they measure rationalization of inequality? By the mean of responses to six antiegalitarianism items, e.g. "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are").

But equality is the great mantra of the Left. Conservatives think it is unattainable and undesirable nonsense. So it is no wonder that a measure of it correlated (negatively) with conservatism. It is itself a (negative) measure of conservatism. So what Napier & Co did was remove the influence of one measure of conservatism from the influence of another measure of conservatism! What sense does that make? None that I can see. Doing so certainly explains nothing. So much for their Study 1.

There are other criticisms that I could make but while I have the energy, let me go on to their study 2. The big finding there was that conservatives "endorsed meritocracy". But how was that measured?
Endorsement of meritocracy was measured with a single item; participants rated their beliefs on a scale ranging from 1 (hard work doesn’t generally bring success—it’s more a matter of luck) to 10 (in the long run, hard work usually brings a better life)

I would have thought that the question endorsed hard work rather than "meritocracy"! What a simpleton I must be. I would have thought that to support meritocracy, you would be saying things like: "Only highly educated people should have the vote". So once again Napier & Co draw extravagant inferences from their very limited data. Far from being meritocratic, conservatives simply believe in the virtue of hard work. Is that any surprise or any disgrace? Not as far as I can see.

I will leave my criticisms there, not because there are no more to make but instead because it is rather boring to flog a dead horse.


A Letter to Young Voters

Why are older people more conservative?

According to conventional wisdom, the older the person, the less young people are inclined to listen to him or her. This is probably true for some of you. But I do not believe that it is true for most of you.

Most young people have tremendous respect for older people's views. I saw this firsthand in my own life. I began lecturing publicly at the age of 21, and I give you my word that young people (and certainly older people) are far more respectful of my views today than when I was their age. All things being equal, it is very rare for a 25 or 35-year-old to command the respect that a 50 or 60-year-old commands.

So, I am not afraid that that you will dismiss what I have to say here as the irrelevant thoughts of an older person.

But just in case you need an argument to take an older person's thoughts seriously, ask any adults you respect whether they have more wisdom and insight into life now than they did ten years ago, let alone when they were your age. The answer will always be yes. (And any adult who has not gained wisdom over the course of a lifetime is not worth listening to.)

Which directly leads to my point: Did you ever wonder why people are far more likely to become conservative in their views and values as they get older?

When this rather devastating question is posed to liberals, leftists, progressives, Democrats -- you choose the label or group -- they answer that people get more selfish as they get older.

Progressives have to give this answer. There is no other response that enables them to avoid confronting the quite embarrassing fact that just about every adult, at every age of life, thinks he/she is wiser than when younger -- and as they accumulate wisdom they become more conservative.

So the liberal explanation -- that people get more selfish as they get older -- is not only insulting but also nonsense.

People get worse as they get older?

If you were walking in a dark alley at midnight, which would you fear more -- a group of teenagers or twenty-somethings or a group of senior citizens?

Do older people or younger people give more of their time to charitable institutions?

Are our prisons filled with young people or old people?

The fact is that not only do people get more wise and more conservative as they get older, they get more kind and more generous, too.

But what about "idealism?" We are told that young people are more "idealistic" than old people.

Let me respond by asking: What does "idealistic" mean?

Presumably it means having ideals -- a kinder, more peaceful world, etc. Well, who told you that as people get older they lose these ideals? This is so untrue as to constitute a lie. If anything, we older people yearn for a peaceful world even more than young people do. We are the ones who lost friends or relatives in some war. We are the ones who have lived a lifetime of seeing and reading about human suffering. And, we, not you, have children and grandchildren whom we ache to see alive and healthy.

So, let's put to rest the self-serving myth that young people have greater ideals than old people.

What the term "more idealistic" really means when applied to young people is that young people are more naive, not more idealistic, than older people.

Examples are legion. Here's one: Young people believe that when the government gives more money and benefits to more people, it helps them. This is naive. As you get older and wiser, you realize that when people are given anything without having to earn it (unless they are physically or mentally incapable of earning anything), they become ungrateful and lazy. They also become less happy. Every study shows that people who earn money are far happier than people who win many millions of dollars in a lottery. Happiness is earned, not given.

Here's another: Young people are far more likely to believe that world peace is achieved when nations lay down their arms and talk through their differences. But this has never been the case. Of course, good nations stay peaceful when they talk to other good nations. Bad nations -- that is, nations ruled by evil men -- are never dissuaded from making war by talk. They are dissuaded only by good nations having more arms than they do. That is why the Marine Corps has done so much more for world peace than the Peace Corps.

If you want to vote Democrat, don't do so because that is the party that cares more for the poor and the hungry. We older conservatives (and young ones, too) care just as much for the poor. But after living a life of seeing the naive only make things worse for the poor, we are no longer seduced by caring rhetoric. We are seduced by policies based on the awesome American value of individual initiative combined with liberty to create and retain wealth. It's now called conservatism.

And, finally, you should know this: the "idealists" that many of you find appealing are the ones leaving you with a national debt that will render it very difficult for you to attain the material quality of life that these people have had.

The next time President Obama goes to a college to get your vote by promising you more and more benefits, ask him where the money will come from. And when he says "higher taxes on the wealthy," know that this is exactly what they tried in Europe, a continent ruined by such "idealism."



Congratulations, Mr Obama: Canada now Richer Than U.S.

On July 1, Canada Day, Canadians awoke to a startling, if pleasant, piece of news: For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American.

According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.

A few days later, Canada and the U.S. both released the latest job figures. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, again, to 7.2 percent, and America’s was a stagnant 8.2 percent. Canada continues to thrive while the U.S. struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair.

The difference grows starker by the month: The Canadian system is working; the American system is not. And it’s not just Canadians who are noticing. As Iceland considers switching to a currency other than the krona, its leaders’ primary focus of interest is the loonie -- the Canadian dollar.

As a study recently published in the New York University Law Review pointed out, national constitutions based on the American model are quickly disappearing. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in an interview on Egyptian television, admitted, “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” The natural replacement? The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, achieving the status of legal superstar as it reaches its 30th birthday.

Canadian Luck

Good politics do not account entirely for recent economic triumphs. Luck has played a major part. The Alberta tar sands -- an environmental catastrophe in waiting -- are the third-largest oil reserves in the world, and if America is too squeamish to buy our filthy energy, there’s always China. We also have softwood lumber, potash and other natural resources in abundance.

Policy has played a significant part as well, though. Both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. have tried to use the Canadian example to promote their arguments: The left says Canada shows the rewards of financial regulation and socialism, while the right likes to vaunt the brutal cuts made to Canadian social programs in the 1990s, which set the stage for economic recovery.

The truth is that both sides are right. Since the 1990s, Canada has pursued a hardheaded (even ruthless), fiscally conservative form of socialism. Its originator was Paul Martin, who was finance minister for most of the ’90s, and served a stint as prime minister from 2003 to 2006. Alone among finance ministers in the Group of Eight nations, he “resisted the siren call of deregulation,” in his words, and insisted that the banks tighten their loan-loss and reserve requirements.

He also made a courageous decision not to allow Canadian banks to merge, even though their chief executives claimed they would never be globally competitive unless they did. The stability of Canadian banks and the concomitant stability in the housing market provide the clearest explanation for why Canadians are richer than Americans today.

Martin also slashed funding to social programs. He foresaw that crippling deficits imperiled Canada’s education and health- care systems, which even his Conservative predecessor, Brian Mulroney, described as a “sacred trust.” He cut corporate taxes, too. Growth is required to pay for social programs, and social programs that increase opportunity and social integration are the best way to ensure growth over the long term. Social programs and robust capitalism are not, as so many would have you believe, inherently opposed propositions. Both are required for meaningful national prosperity.

Orderly Fairness

Martin’s balanced policies emerged organically out of Canadian culture, which is fair-minded and rule-following to a fault. The Canadian obsession with order can make for strange politics, at least in an American context. For example, of all the world’s societies, Canada’s is one of the most open to immigrants, as anyone who has been to Toronto or Vancouver will have seen. Yet Canada also imposes a mandatory one-year prison sentence on illegal immigrants, and the majority of Canadians favor deportation. Canadians insist that their compassion be orderly, too.

This immigration policy is neither “liberal” nor “conservative” in the American political sense. It just works. You could say exactly the same thing about Canada’s economic policies.

Canada has been, and always will be, overshadowed by its neighbor, by America’s vastness and its incredible versatility and capacity for reinvention. But occasionally, at key moments, the northern wasteland can surprise. Two hundred years ago last month, the War of 1812 began. Thomas Jefferson declared, “The acquisition of Canada, this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching.” The U.S. was comparatively enormous -- with almost 8 million people, compared with Canada’s 300,000. The Canadians nonetheless turned back the assault.

Through good luck, excellent policy and even some heroism, Canada survived the war. But it has taken 200 years for Canada to become winners.



Remember When Being on the Government Dole Was a Bad Thing?

Doug Giles

When I was a young dork growing up in West Texas in the 70s and 80s, my folks raised me to believe that making good money via righteous and industrious means was actually a good thing—y’know, something to aspire to. Remember that notion?

My folks would point out people in the neighborhood and community who busted their butts and got rewarded for the goods and/or services they provided and would say, “See Johnny, Dougie? Johnny studied. Johnny worked hard and smart, and now Johnny’s rich, and you’re still a weed-smoking dipthong working at a frickin’ gas station high as a kite on Colombian gold.”

Yep, Johnny had a good life. And me, eh … not so much. The reason why? Well, it wasn’t because wealthy fat cats suppressed me. It wasn’t because I wasn’t afforded knowledge (because I was); I just chose to esteem it lightly. In addition, it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough after school government pimped-out programs at my disposal to help my wayward self.

No, my lack was based not on a deficiency of opportunity but primarily because I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High, thought Spicoli was cool, and ran with that. Yes, I blame Sean Penn. Damn you, Sean Penn.

As Providence would have it, at the ripe old age of 21, I extracted my head from my backside via Christ’s effectual grace, and all the advice my folks gave me regarding knowledge and hard work came rushing back to my bong resin clogged cranium. Call me a late bloomer.

Since I had an affectation for organic stuff, I got into landscaping—planting grass, trees, shrubs, and installing sprinkler systems and custom curbing. I bought a used CJ-7, a crappy trailer, a sod roller, some machetes, rakes, hoes and shovels, and within one year I was doing a solid six figures in sales. No government handouts. No pity money from Christians. No, “woe is me, I used to be a drug addict.” No, “I’m lost and need to get on the government tit.” Nope, I accomplished the aforementioned at a young age via hard work. Just hard work. Nothing but good ol’ hard work.

Yes, children, when I was a wee lad, my parents taught me that taking money from the government when one didn’t truly need it was scummy. Matter of fact, we viewed those who did milk the system as shameful thieves—a veritable affront to what it means to be a man.



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Robert said...

Re: When Being on the Government Dole was a Bad Thing, I remember a caller on Larry Elder's show last week (July 9-13, 2012) who said that while her family was receiving government checks, government agents had the right to inspect the homes of the recipients unannounced. The caller said that the inspectors came around Christmas time, when the family had something special and fancy for the holiday, and the inspectors saw it, and interrogated her mother about it. That episode prompted her mother to swear off taking another government check ever again.

Which would seem to inspire an idea - such vexatious conditions like unannounced searches of the homes of welfare recipients need to be a condition of receiving a government check, and act as a major disincentive to taking it unless one is truly desperate. With the loss of freedom that comes with welfare, people will naturally not want to be on it any longer than absolutely necessary.