Reading the response to this post by Will Wilkinson, especially in the post’s comments section, made me chuckle a bit. Wilkinson argues that giving billions of dollars in taxpayer money to the Big 3 car companies would be a bad idea. This leads to a predictable outpouring of liberal commenters railing against Wilkinson for being a heartless monster who doesn’t care about auto workers, or a fanatical market fundamentalist who doesn’t understand that a more nuanced view would mean realizing that government intervention is invariably the solution, or whatever- the standard hysterical outbursts that are used as a substitute for actual thought.
The funny part is that liberals are endlessly claiming that their opponents- and especially libertarians- are just shills for big business. And yet here, we have a bevy of liberals attacking a libertarian for his opposition to corporate welfare! Once this would have confused me; it no longer does.
There were voices of reason. A commenter called Jordan summed things up by saying:
Hilarious. You can always count on the types who rail about the "eeevil corporations" to be first in line when said corporations come begging for handouts.
Quite right, and perhaps the best single-sentence summation of mainstream liberalism there is. American liberalism is not about expanding government power to combat exploitation by big business, it is about exploiting fear of big business to build up government power. Much as the actions of conservatives are often baffling if you take their claimed opposition to "big government" seriously, the behavior of liberals does not become fully comprehensible until this basic truth is understood.
I gave up on the Republican Party and stopped considering myself a “conservative” because I realized that they didn’t really mean it when they attacked big government, and were as bad as the Democrats. I hope more people who support the Democrats or consider themselves liberals out of a sincere opposition to exploitative plutocrats similarly start to figure out that the company they are keeping is no more a threat to plutocracy than the Republicans are.