Arnold Kling  


Me on Obamacare... MIT Economists in the New Y...

Jonathan Haidt writes,

For the tea partiers, federal activism has become a moral insult. They believe that, over time, the government has made a concerted effort to subvert the law of karma.

Read the entire essay.

My comments could go in a number of different directions. But, for those of you have been following Robin Hanson's farmer-forager dichotomy, is karma a farmer value? It seems that way to me.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (9 to date)
ajb writes:

Why call it Karma? Why not call it traditional notions of responsibility? Of right and wrong? Of moral authority? The authors are signaling their left wing bonafides by trying to decouple this from anything resembling conventional (or Christian or Victorian if you like) notions of morality.

R Richard Schweitzer writes:

@ ajb

You are quite right that the concept of Deontics ("oughtness")from the Greek Experience might provide a more widely or easily understood perception of motivations.

However, the analogies to the sense of perversions and diversions of the "energies" of Karma are another way of trying to understand the effects of the actions of others (particularly through governmental mechanisms) in generating responsive motivations of large segments of the populace.

Robin Hanson writes:

Yes indeed, karma as Haidt describes it, is more a farmer than a forager value. So also the politeness and respect for authority he describes.

Lars P writes:

"You reap what you sow" is the ultimate karma proverb, right?

Lord writes:

I think so. The forager view would be if you are offended by the result, you need to prevent what led up to it. It isn't a matter of responsibility after the fact, but an equal matter of responsibility before it. Only no one cared back then, they didn't want to look the gift horse in the mouth.

Les Cargill writes:

American conceptions of karma are much more violent than any other, in my opinion. Boom and bust have driven a muscular form of Fundamentalism, where your bill at the outset of life is very high before you are even born. You'll hear the song "God Is Gonna Cut You Down" several times in the trailers for the remake of "True Grit" between now and Christmas; the Cash version of that is like a museum piece from the gospel Cash was born into. That is, again IMO, a skeleton of the natural American version of karma.

I am not sure where permanently left-behind industrial workers, the core of Tea Parties, fit into Hanson's model. Are they in essence farmers? I bet a lot of 'em own Cash's "American" recordings.

Hyena writes:

Given that we don't really know a broad cross section of dominant foragers--European, East Asian, North African and even North and Western South American foraging having disappeared as majority endeavors before being written about--the entire dichotomy seems kinda like a bad attempt at evolutionary psychology.

Joe Cushing writes:

It was in interesting article. I think it misses one important point though. A lot of liberals believe that success comes at the expense of others and it is karma to take money from the successful and give it to their victims.

Jeff writes:

Haidt says tea partiers are upset because abortion and contraception mean that premarital sex is no longer punished by the arrival of unwanted children. And somehow this feeling of a breakdown of morality is what's driving the tea party. It's not that people want policies that work. They want them damm perverts punished!

But of course! How could I have missed it? Obviously, anyone who opposes big government must be suffering from some deep seated sexual neurosis! Why else would they admire Sarah Palin, hmmmm??

Here I naively thought that tea partiers thought that wasting money is a bad idea, that bailouts create bad incentives, and that people are more careful spending their own money than other people's money. But now, thanks to Haidt, I understand that it's really all just penis envy and Oedipal complexes, or something like that. I never could keep all that Freudian stuff straight. Maybe I was abused as a child.

I sincerely hope liberals keep on deluding themselves this way. It's almost like they want to beat themselves. Hmmm, maybe they're all masochists? ... Now where'd I put that Three Essays?

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top