The problem with liberals, as Thomas Sowell points out, is they believe that human behavior can be modified by adjusting the underlying social conditions so that people will begin to do the right things and not continue to engage in self-destructive behavior. It is not that easy to change behavior. We simply do not know all the answers. Still the “anointed,” as Sowell describes them, believe they do know all the answers, that ordinary people are irrational or immoral, and they need to be led to the good life. Shubert Spero reminds his fellow Jews that the “severest vice was pride, haughtiness or arrogance.” It is the arrogance of liberals that they think they know what is best for all, that should alert Jews to the falseness of that philosophy.
The disgraceful actions of the liberals, and their leader President Clinton, in reluctantly supporting the needed reform of our welfare laws, illustrates where the American Jewish majority has been so wrong these past two generations, in their unyielding support of these spirit stifling, ineffective, government programs. Still the liberals refuse to abandon their positions. One of the few times that the liberal Democrats criticized President Clinton was when he knuckled under to conservative pressures and signed the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.
Yet the liberals fight on, still maintaining that the Reform Act was a mistake, in spite of the fact that the welfare rolls were cut in half by the year 2000. Liberals are great proponents of improving the self-esteem of our children. They seem to ignore the fact that the greatest boost to one’s self-esteem is to know how to read and write, to have the ability to think and solve problems, to have a job and become self-supporting. By discouraging the attempts of honest citizens to get off of welfare these past thirty-five years, and by limiting their opportunities to learn a craft or trade, liberals have once again demonstrated the law of unintended consequences. The results have been contrary to what was hoped for and in the process many lives have been destroyed.
Now we see Sternberg getting into (some of) the moral/philosophical differences between how liberals in general view the world — humanity in particular — and how conservatives generally view it. The liberal/progressive mind believes that mankind is basically good, and anything one does that is considered “bad” (by what standard?) can be blamed on “the underlying social conditions.” Conservatism, on the other hand, holds that humans are intrinsically capable of great good & great evil, and while there may be many influencing factors, each individual is ultimately responsible for their own attitudes & behaviors. This idea of individual responsibility is quite in line with the teaching of traditional/orthodox Judaism and Christianity. In fact, it is one of the “Judeo-Christian principles” that was incorporated by the Framers/Fathers into the foundations of American law & society.