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Sunday, November 13, 2011

How you earned your money matters

That eminently reasonable man, Tyler Cowen, has a NYTimes op-ed today that is worth reading on the values divide, and inconsistency, affecting both contemporary American “conservatives” and “liberals”.

Tyler skewers both sides, although naturally I’m going to quote two points on which I particularly agree:

“…higher status for the wealthy can easily lead to crony capitalism. In public discourse social status judgments are often crude. Critical differences are lost, like the distinction between earning money through production for consumers, as Apple has done, and earning money through the manipulation of government, which heavily subsidized agribusinesses have done. The relevant question, in my view, is not about how much you have earned but about how you have earned it. To further confuse matters, many right-wing Republican politicians supported corporate bailouts and corporate welfare far beyond what was necessary to stabilize the economy, in doing so further muddying the difference between productive and predatory capitalism.

“The second problem is that many conservatives have become so attached to their cultural vision that they have ceded sound, technocratic reasoning to the left and center. For instance there is a common willingness among conservatives to defend the Bush tax cuts, even though the evidence does not show much of an economic payoff.”