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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Fear vs Greed  

From The Anglosphere Challenge:
The institutions that most developed nations have inherited from the mid-twentieth century were created primarily from fear. Economic regulation is driven by fear of joblessness; medical insurance systems are driven by fear of disease and premature death; and state pension systems highlight the fear of impoverishment at the end of the working life. (The remaining fear is military security, with fear of terrorist attack replacing fear of massive nuclear exchange or invasion. This fear, however, is decoupled from the classic social fears of the twentieth century.) As these fears diminish, it is likely that people will question the high opportunity cost these systems carry, and be willing to forego the relatively minimal rewards they carry in return for a more open and flexible social system.
It's not that Democrats have become the party of fear, as that they started out that way when they established party dominance under FDR. Republicans have been called the party of greed for years, more fairly than unfairly.

The decoupling of military fear that Bennett describes began (in Europe and America) in the 70s, when the institutional left in both places decided that the best way to avoid nuclear holocaust was international co-operation and arms control. Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bipolar condominium, confrontation and unilateral action continue to be regarded as threats per se to peace and stability. The only legitimate use of military force, in this view, is in direct response to invasion (and then only to restore the status quo ante.)

The divergence widens, as bluer folk consider environmental catastrophe to be more fearsome than terrorist attack. Perhaps that relates to the preferred tools available to deal with the problem. When all you have is a screwdriver, everything begins to look like it needs expert adjusting.

These fears may diminish over time, but it won't be thanks to those with a vested interest in preserving them.

posted by Kelly | 3:19 PM link