Liberalism today is destined to be an unstable political isotope because it has accumulated too many disparate “causes,” and acquiesces to every grievance and pressure group. Pretty soon the difference causes start to turn on one another, not merely because resources are scarce but because their causes will come in conflict. What’s a liberal president to do when labor unions favor the Keystone pipeline while environmentalists oppose it? Actually, this one is easy: you go with who raises more money for you, which right now is the environmentalists.
But I see this morning that Robert Reich is angry with the White House for arranging for President Obama to visit a WalMart in order to praise WalMart’s commitment to “sustainability.” But WalMart is evil:
Reich, who served under President Bill Clinton, called Walmart one of the country’s “worst employers,” with “low wages, unreliable hours, few benefits, discrimination against women and anti-union” offenses. “What numbskull in the White House arranged this?”
Even more fun is the liberal fratricide occurring at the UN this week, where all the top do-gooders—headed naturally by the self-important Jeffery Sachs—are gathered to hammer out the next round of “Sustainable Development Goals.” It seems they are having trouble agreeing on what’s most important, because for this kind of liberal mentality, everything is important. As the New York Times reported in Wednesday (“A Free-For-All on Setting Global Goals”):
But for all the good intentions, the breathtakingly ambitious enterprise might have a hard time overcoming not just the narrower priorities of the world’s nation-states but also natural skepticism about the value of such development goals. . .
The other problem is that unlike 15 years ago—when the United Nations secretary general then, Kofi Annan, simply put together a list—this time around, everybody has a say. “The tent is very large, and everyone is in it,” a diplomat from a rich developed country told me, speaking in a condition of anonymity to discuss a touchy diplomatic issue.
Why would setting these goals be a “touchy issue”? Isn’t it all good?
There’s lots of comedy gold in this story, but one quote from the sensible development economist William Easterly gets to the heart of the matter:
The initial development goals, he says, were just “a brilliant campaign by the U.N. to get a bigger seat at the table,” muscling into turf that until then had been the domain of the International Monetary Fund.