The 2020 campaign saw Biden label Trump voters as “chumps”, adding this trash talk to Clinton’s 2016 calling them “deplorables.” This article digs into how subversive and destructive is the progressive drive to have government policies deliver outcomes regardless of individual effort and talent. James B. Meigs explains in his article at City Journal The Chump Effect. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Progressive policies penalize those who play by the rules and shower benefits on those who don’t.
Last January, a small but telling exchange took place at an Elizabeth Warren campaign event in Grimes, Iowa. At the time, Warren was attracting support from the Democratic Party’s left flank, with her bulging portfolio of progressive proposals. “Warren Has a Plan for That” read her campaign T-shirts. The biggest buzz surrounded her $1.25 trillion plan to pay off student-loan debt for most Americans.
A man approached Warren with a question. “My daughter is getting out of school. I’ve saved all my money [so that] she doesn’t have any student loans. Am I going to get my money back?”
“Of course not,” Warren replied.
“So you’re going to pay for people who didn’t save any money, and those of us who did the right thing get screwed?”
A video of the exchange went viral. It summed up the frustration many feel over the way progressive policies so often benefit select groups, while subtly undermining others. Saving money to send your children to college used to be considered a hallmark of middle-class responsibility. By subsidizing people who run up large debts, Warren’s policy would penalize those who took that responsibility seriously. “You’re laughing at me,” the man said, when Warren seemed to wave off his concerns. “That’s exactly what you’re doing. We did the right thing and we get screwed.”
That father was expressing an emotion growing more common these days: he felt like a chump. Feeling like a chump doesn’t just mean being upset that your taxes are rising or annoyed that you’re missing out on some windfall. It’s more visceral than that. People feel like chumps when they believe that they’ve played a game by the rules, only to discover that the game is rigged. Not only are they losing, they realize, but their good sportsmanship is being exploited. The players flouting the rules are the ones who get the trophy.
Like that Iowa dad, the chumps of modern America feel that the life choices they’re most proud of—working hard, taking care of their families, being good citizens—aren’t just undervalued, but scorned.
Thousands of norms, rules, and traditions make civilized life possible. Some, like paying taxes or not littering, are enshrined in law. Others are informal. Most of us take pride in adhering to basic standards of etiquette and fairness, to say nothing of following the law. And we have a deep emotional investment in having the people around us follow these norms as well. There’s a reason that we call selfish, disruptive, or criminal behavior “antisocial.” We know that if everyone stopped paying their taxes, or started running red lights and shoplifting, our society would be on its way to collapse.
It’s bad enough when some random jerk makes you feel like a chump; it’s much worse when government policies create entire classes of chumps. Warren fizzled as a presidential candidate, but her activist positions remain very much in play, promoted by far-left Democrats and party leaders. Many of these plans would penalize people who follow traditional norms and shower benefits on those who don’t. Joe Biden’s platform includes many similar proposals, including a scaled-down college-debt plan. And, across the country, progressive governors, mayors, and district attorneys are pushing local policies—including ultra-lenient treatment of lawbreakers—that turn responsible citizens into chumps, too. The economic and ideological disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests have only intensified this ongoing bifurcation of America. Call it the Chump Effect.
Both types of Chump-Effect policies—those that unfairly distribute benefits and those that normalize transgressive behavior—are dismissive of what many call bourgeois norms. Policies that selectively favor the needs, or tolerate the misdeeds, of certain groups often have the perverse corollary of undermining the norm followers. When disruptive students remain in the classroom, it’s their attentive classmates who suffer. If a big business games federal programs for an unfair advantage, smaller businesses and consumers pay the price. What’s particularly galling about such policies isn’t just that they reward norm violators—it’s that they’re predicated on the assumption that everyone else will continue adhering to the norms. That’s wishful thinking, of course. Over time, policies that excuse lax behavior by the few will begin to influence the many, corroding the standards that keep a society healthy.
via Science Matters
November 16, 2020 at 12:14PM