Friday, August 21, 2009

Cynicism and immorality in politics

One of the left's leading intellectual lights, Matthew Yglesias, says that he is "increasingly baffled" by cynicism and immorality in politics:
At the same time, I’ve come to be increasingly baffled by the high degree cynicism and immorality displayed in big-time politics. For example, Senators who genuinely do believe that carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to a global climate crisis seem to think nothing of nevertheless taking actions that endanger the welfare of billions of people on the grounds that acting otherwise would be politically problematic in their state. In other words, they don’t want to do the right thing because their self-interest points them toward doing something bad.

But it’s impossible to imagine these same Senators stabbing a homeless person in a dark DC alley to steal his shoes. And what’s more, the entire political class would be (rightly!) shocked and appalled by the specter of a Senator murdering someone for personal gain. Yet it’s actually taken for granted that “my selfish desires dictate that I do x” constitutes a legitimate reason to do the wrong thing on important legislation.
My reaction:
  • It's rather stunning that someone who writes about politics for a living is just getting around to this realization.
HT: Marginal Revolution

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