Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The ideological difference

Judge Richard A. Posner observes an interesting dichotomy between liberals and conservatives:
[L]iberals think that the average person is good but dumb, conservatives that he or she is "bad" (in the sense of self-interested) but smart. Liberals trust the intellectual elite (because they are good) to guide the masses (because they cannot guide themselves); conservatives distrust the elite (because the elite are bad and therefore dangerous) and think the masses can guide themselves. So in the social security debate, liberals oppose private accounts because they do not think the average person competent to manage money for retirement but think government can be trusted to manage it; conservatives support private accounts because they give the opposite of the liberals' answers to the goodness and competence questions.

I think that this last portion is a perfect way of framing the social security debate. There really is no justification for not supporting at least some degree of privatization unless you believe people are too incompetent to deal with their own money.


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