Liberal Suffering and Confusion
The liberal world vision and reality are often at variance, for example, with equal pay for equal work. I’ve often watched “Lockup,” a show that features California supermax prisons, including Pelican Bay and Corcoran. Often, a recalcitrant prisoner must be extracted from his cell through brute force. I’ve never seen female guards remove a prisoner. If they are part of the process at all, it’s to videotape the extraction for legal purposes. It’s my bet that female guards receive the same salaries as male guards while not having to risk injury. Along the same lines, women on aircraft carriers earn as much as their male counterparts, but I have yet to see women hefting a hernia bar to attach a 500- or 1,000-pound bomb to a fighter jet wing. All of this suggests that liberals are for equal pay for unequal work. Or could it be sex discrimination whereby equally qualified women are denied the opportunity to extract beastly inmates from their cells and load heavy bombs on fighter planes?
Here’s another bit of liberal confusion. Liberals deny that raising labor cost through minimum wages reduces incentives to hire. But if you asked a liberal for advice on how to stop rich people from shirking their tax obligations, they’d say raise the penalty. Ask low-information Harvard University doctors what should be done to stem gun violence and they answer that government should institute “a new, substantial national tax on all firearms and ammunition.” Ask Illinois’ Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle how to reduce purchases of bullets and guns. She’d say levy a nickel tax on each bullet and a $25 tax on each gun. Liberals demonstrate they understand the law of demand — that raising the cost of something lessens the amount taken — but they deny that it applies to labor. That’s as ludicrous as suggesting that the law of gravity applies to everything in the universe except cute creatures, such as pandas and puppies.
Liberals love political correctness that conceals information. For example, how does one know whether the “chair” of a board of directors or the chair of a city council is a man or woman? This issue arose during my (1995-2001) chairmanship of George Mason University’s distinguished economics department. At a chairman’s meeting or gathering, I was referred to as department chair. I told the speaker that I am a chairman and that I have empirical evidence as proof. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well, but academics don’t like the terms chairwoman or chairperson, either, but puzzlingly, God forbid that people refer to their idol as Chair Mao instead of Chairman Mao.
How liberals identify black people must be confusing to whites. Having been around for 77 years, I have been through a number of names. Among the more polite ones are colored, Negro, Afro-American, black and, more recently, African-American. Among those names, African-American is probably the most unintelligent. Let’s look at it. To identify their races, suppose I told you that I had a European-American friend, a South America-American friend and a North America-American friend. You’d probably say, “Williams, that’s stupid. Europe, South America and North America are continents and home to different races, ethnicities and nationalities.” You might suggest that my friend is a German-American instead of European-American. My friend from Brazil is a Brazilian-American rather than a South America-American, and my friend from Canada is a Canadian-American instead of a North America-American. So wouldn’t the same apply to people whose heritage lies on the African continent? For example, instead of claiming that President Barack Obama is the first African-American president, he’s the first partially Kenyan-American president. Obama is lucky; he knows his national heritage. The closest thing to a national identity for most black Americans is some country along Africa’s Gold Coast. Adding to the confusion, what would you call a white American of Afrikaner or Egyptian descent? Is he an African-American?
Liberals suffer confusion and cognitive dissonance because the rest of us don’t help explain things to them.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.