Arnold Kling  

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I have a test to see whether you are a conservative. It has six questions. For example,


Do you believe that the flaws and imperfections of human beings are reflected in government?

See how you do.


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy



COMMENTS (9 to date)
malcolm writes:

I believe in the public schools. The only private
option that we seriously considered was a parochial option. When we rejected that option,
the choice for our children was simple and clear.

Perhaps you don't have the right liberal friends?

MjrMjr writes:

Reaction #1:This is ridiculous!

Reaction #2:Whaddaya know, everyone's a conservative!

I'd identify myself as left-leaning/utilitarian and I answered 5.5 out of the 6 questions yes. I say 5.5 because my answer to question #6 was "it depends". Would the world be better if more countries carried out foreign policy disasters like we are in Iraq? No. Would the world be better if more countries emulated the U.S.'s culture of entrepreneurialism? Yes. "Like America" is too vauge.

These questions really are ridiculous. I'd surely prefer a guaranteed benefit pension, but one would have to be a fool to rely on one in this day and age. And while I'd love to see the U.S. implement single payer health care, even if we did I'm still going to eat right, excercise, avoid dangerous actitvities, etc. This quiz might be a neat "trick" to show your liberal friends that, actually, they're "closet conservatives" but I can't imagine that anyone would take it seriously as a tool to identify someone's political beliefs. I probably spend just as much time on Dailykos and other left blogs as I do on econ blogs, and I'd bet that the vast majority of the DKos crowd would answer at least 4 of the 6 questions as 'yes'.

Maybe now I'll go devise a cleverly worded quiz that proves everyone is a liberal....

Lord writes:

all institutions are flawed... Individuals, with all of their flaws, would do a better job

The imperfection of institutions is established by transitivity of individual imperfection, therefore individuals, as a whole, cannot be superior to their institutions. Some would do better, others worse, thus there is a place for both. I really don't consider America liberal or conservative. I consider it pragmatic.

Mark Horn writes:

MjrMjr, I think you're misreading some of the questions. To wit:

I'd surely prefer a guaranteed benefit pension, but one would have to be a fool to rely on one in this day and age.

The question isn't what you'd prefer. The question is which one is better. Which one do you believe will actually work best?

My answer to which I'd prefer is the magic one. I'd prefer the have sufficient money without having to work for it. I'd prefer that everyone get this deal, and that the money actually retains it's purchasing power. THAT is my preference, but I know better. My preferred solution will NOT work. So the answer to the actual question is that, while I'd prefer the magic solution, I think the better solution is the one that will work. Which IMHO is saving for your own retirement.

Another example of misinterpreting the question:

And while I'd love to see the U.S. implement single payer health care, even if we did I'm still going to eat right, excercise, avoid dangerous actitvities, etc.

Arnold is not arguing that liberals won't take care of themselves. In fact, he specifically states that all the liberals that he knows do this. Personally, I assume that they will continue to do this. The question is who is responsible if you don't?

But even more importantly is the distinction that Arnold makes at the end. Liberals believe that the government should solve everyone else's problems. Liberals have a huge amount of empathy for the plight of the needy and believe that the best solution is in the government. Conservatives have a huge amount of empathy for the plight of the needy and believe that the best solution is in the individual with the problem. That's the difference. What these questions are trying to point out is where you fall with respect to how to solve other people's problems.

BUT the ultimate point of the article is not aimed at you or liberals in general. It's aimed at the Bush administration. It's saying, "Mr Bush, you're NOT a conservative."

I would think, as a self-proclaimed left-leaning individual, you'd appreciate criticism of Bush.

Brad Hutchings writes:

1. yes.
2. The worst flaws are reflected in government. Even worse than are reflected in corporations.
3. accumulate. This applies to building a business too. Accumulate and build on success one step at a time. Build your toollbox of capabilities. Opportunities come along that are easy wins if you're prepared.
4. Absolutely, and I have also learned that sometimes you just have to accept that some unhealthiness can keep you sane and/or happy.
5. Absolutely. Public schools are a very prominent, if not important institution. I spent 20 years in California's and 1 in Louisiana's. In upper division and graduate classes, there was tremendous value in what the University of California prescribed for me to learn. But that's all they can do for anyone at any level.
6. Absolutely, especially on our side of the world. How we help Mexico become a vibrant, modern country over the next decade or so will define the strength of our moral authority in the world for the next 100 years.

But I'm not a conservative, sorry.

Lucy writes:

Here is a test to tell if you are a liberal.
Do you believe it is more important to reduce debt to insure a decent life for your children than to give tax beaks to folks who do not need them?
Do you believe you have a right to know who is listening to your private conversations?
If you were missing billions of dollars, would you want to know where it went?
If you were offered the choice to pay more or less for something, would you pay less, or pay more so the company will profit?
Do the people closest to you share your values and interests? If they turned out to be criminals, is there a chance you knew they might?

bartman writes:

Who is really "conservative"? Well, if you take the novel approach of taking the word at its literal meaning, then it is those who strive to maintin some entrenched elite in their position of power by the resistance of change. The Second Estate and the Ancien Regime, the Confederate government, the Catholic church and the Brezhnev Politburo are some of the most conservative organizations imaginable: people attempting to stand in the way of the inevitability of human-induced change.

What Kling describes are individualist or libertarian beliefs. Let's not forget that true conservatives are absolute enemies of individualism and meritocracy, instead demanding that the hoi polloi surrender themselves to the collective identity assigned to them by the pinnacle of the power structure, and maintain the station in life into which one was born.

If Kling honestly believes what he describes to be conservatism, then the forces of conservatism and right-wing collectivism have stolen the ideas of liberty and individualism, and declared them their own, in much the same way that the forces of socialism and left-collectivism have stolen the good name of liberalism.

BT writes:

The core of the conservative party strongly rejects evolution and has been fighting a fierce battle in the South and Midwest. It is impossible to teach modern biochemistry, biology, anthropology, psychology or sociology without a deep undestanding of evolutionary principles. Maybe the Liberals are moving to private schools to protect their childern from the crackpot theory of creationalism rather than being opposed to education. Conservatives want indoctrination of politics not a true education where one is able to question authority or other heretical concepts such as the scientific principle.

aaron writes:

For some reason TCS won't open on our network. Mind providing the questions here?

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