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Of Liberals, Conservatives, Rationalists, and Moral Foundations


The world is pretty good; all we have to do is not ruin it.

Finally, rationalists of both stripes give some credit to the other side. Rational liberals recognize all six moral foundations need some amount of respect, while rational conservatives recognize that two-and-a-half of the foundations lead to progress while the other three-and-a-half, while necessary for civilization, often impede progress. Even the liberals most besotted by progress, the ones who think we're on the cusp of a golden age or are a hair's breadth ahead of disaster, have to admit that there are times when liberal values are being pushed too hard and too fast. Even the conservative most suspicious of progress, the ones who think we've already spent nearly all our social capital and that most proposed advances are opportunistic scams, know that there are times when liberal values are ignored, to everyone's detriment. Someone who always or never supports liberal ideas is not a rationalist.

Personally, I think we're at a time when almost all rationalists should tend toward conservative opinions. The areas of the economy most controlled by the government -- health care, banking, and education -- are all in clear crisis; customers are abused and costs are spiraling to budget-busting levels, while in the relatively free parts of the economy, customer service has improved to unprecedented levels and costs are falling rapidly. The non-rational liberal answers -- more government regulation to fix the problems, finger pointing at storybook villains, and suppression of conservative moral foundations -- are the familiar paths to socialist disaster. That doesn't mean that we should deregulate everything tomorrow, but solutions should be to simplify, decentralize, and experiment rather than the reverse.

The use of force has risen to levels completely unjustified by rational threats. The number of non-violent offenders in prison and the Draconian penalties for newly-invented crimes like carrying four ounces of liquid onto an airplane are appalling. The number of domestic armed government employees, and the deadliness of those arms, are greater than ever before. We are fighting two wars and discussing a third.
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