Jonathanís epistle on altruism reflects some of the most basic constructs of classical political liberalism. Certainly, sprinkled amongst his words are truisms which are accepted across the political spectrum, but much of his verbiage reflects a pathology which is easily diagnosed as follows:
Some of us are caring, compassionate, and believe that doing good for others is, (in itself, the essence of being a superior being).
Some of you, arenít.
In his piece, there is a lot of masturbatory verbiage reflecting upon whether this quality of compassion and innate "goodness" is genetically based. Then the conclusion is, doing good for others is a good thing.
What makes the above a representation of classical liberalism is not the idea that doing for others is good. That fact is self evident. His agenda, which is html linked to other articles suggests the proposition that only liberals are capable of possessing this genetically superior and higher evolutionary quality--altruism. By staking out that precept, political liberals then assume that they alone should define what actions are in fact, good for others, and whoís money can be used to carry out this "goodness." (i.e. YOURS!) Anyone opposing the use of their taxes for such endeavors are, by definition, evil (or, at the least, incapable of compassion, etc.)
In our "welfare debate" Jonathan and I represented the classic juxtaposition between liberal and conservative ideas on the subject. My position is that the welfare system, far from being "government altruism," is more detrimental to many of those on its roles than beneficial. Rather than cure poverty, it "creates dependency" and as such, is little more than a political tool which liberal politicians exploit to shore up their power bases. In reality for an unfortunate majority of welfare recipients, their fates as poor people are sealed the moment they decide that they are incapable of doing better than existing on the handouts. With the obvious exceptions, those who struggle to create their own survival exclusive of "welfare" do better. Logic and experience show that the destruction of the individualís survival spirit which leads to self sufficiency can only lead to disaster. This (logic dictates) is NOT an act of compassion. What athlete succeeds if he or she concedes that they CANíT compete?
How then, can one argue that in the name of "altruism" it is good to inculcate a welfare mentality in people? You can only do that if you stake out the emotional "moral territory" in advance that make the logical arguments that completely refute the position "politically incorrect." That is the liberal tactical position. It is pure demagoguery!
The following excerpt from Jonathanís piece is an example of this tactic:
"Those who have no compassionate feelings of their own express themselves by attacking compassionate acts as misguided (just as those who oppose equality do so by arguing that particular programs, such as affirmative action, are wrong-headed.)"
Here, the liberal has staked out the "moral ground" which defines out anyone who has a logical argument which empirically demonstrates the fallacy of the liberal. This is a cheap, and intellectually dishonest ploy.
Jonathan recognizes that emotions are powerful. They are also easy. It is much more difficult to accept that disciplined logic and truth are sometimes at odds with sentiment. A "tear jerker" movie is much easier to produce than a factual documentary. A cartoon showing a bloated Newt Gingrich stuffing money in his pocket, though it may be totally fraudulent in fact, is way more powerful than trying to define exactly what "ethics" he may have compromised. These are the ways liberals appeal to people too dumb or too lazy to learn the facts. People who would be fleeced by the political liberal power grab.