Why I am not a lefty

I believe in equality, charity, progressive economics, personal sacrifices for the good of society, rich supporting the poor, environmentalism, liberty, and tolerance.

But I am not left-wing.


Because charity is not good economics.

Left-wingers believe in altruism above greed, and collective good over individual desires. The aim of socialism is to help the poor by harnessing the rich. But you cannot impose ideology onto reality. Economics is about understanding how the market works. In real life, people have a tendency to be greedy and lazy, whether rich or poor; and selfish people will take advantage of the system, whether rich or poor. Yes, I believe in welfare in order to take care of the poor, but if you provide welfare unconditionally, you remove the incentive to find paid work. (And even then they will carry on complaining, simply because they are not ‘rich’.)

Conversely, we should not introduce a disincentive to be rich, because the desire to be rich gives rise to innovation in business and technology, giving us everything from iPhones to agricultural tractors. That doesn’t mean richness should be celebrated unconditionally – I believe unethical means of achieving richness (such as fraud and swindling) should be actively discouraged and made illegal with severe penalties. But it does mean we should not seek to penalise higher earners simply because they have higher earnings.

Socialism calls for higher taxes, particularly on the rich. Of course, nobody wants to voluntarily pay higher taxes, even the socialists, so they have to impose this on everyone via the law. Look at the following example of the hypocrisy of a well-known left-winger:

Basically, he’s saying “I’ll do it if everyone else does it too.” This is the epitome of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). Or rather, it’s just plain selfish hypocrisy. This is why socialism is really charity necessarily by compulsion through force of law.

However, I also refuse to identify as a right-winger.

I do not believe in complete corporate freedom. I do believe there is a place for strong state control. I believe the government should step in and implement antitrust laws to deter monopolies and cartels and other instances of market abuse. I believe essential public services should be provided by the state, although I suppose what qualifies as ‘essential’ is up for debate! But to me essential public services are things such as societal infrastructure like public transport or the welfare system. But I also do not exclude competition from the private sector in provision of public services. I believe private sector can and must be allowed to compete against the public sector. It’s not either/or.

For example, I do not agree with the complete dominance the NHS has on the UK’s health industry. But neither do I believe in the complete privatisation of it. I believe the NHS must remain in place for the sake of those unable to afford to pay for health services, but I also believe that the private sector should be allowed to flourish in parallel, so that those who are willing and able to pay for a health service that goes over the essential treatments should be allowed to do so (for example if they wanted to stay in hospital longer than necessary, or if they want to have better catering services).

As another example, I do not believe train services should be in the hands of the private sector. Operating train services require a monopoly on the section of the rail network, so unless this monopoly can be broken up, it should not be operated on a for-profit basis, as there are no competing alternatives for consumers to turn to. However, competing bus services should be allowed to operate in parallel, since the infrastructure they operate on, namely roads, can be shared between different bus companies as well as private users. If we have multiple bus operators operating the same bus line, the companies which operates most efficiently and provides the better service will win out.

And I still believe in charity. But not unconditionally. This is not to say that people have to work for their charity. What I mean by this is that in order for charity to work, there has to be an active relationship between the giver and the receiver. The receiver has to know enough about the giver to know that they are not giving unconditionally, or appreciate that the charity is not necessarily out of an overflowing abundance of surplus income. The giver has to know the receiver well enough to know whether or not the receiver is squandering the gifts. Many of us give despite not being millionaires and despite struggling to balance our income. But how many of us know how well our giving is spent? How many of us would withdraw our giving if we find out that our charity is not being utilised wisely? Would you be more willing to give to a homeless person if you knew it was to help feed them for the day, and would you be less willing to give to a homeless person if you knew they would spend it immediately on alcohol? Contentious issues, I know. Giving unconditionally might make you feel good, but it does the other person no good.

I am also libertarian. I believe in individual freedoms. I use the word ‘libertarian’ because ‘liberal’ has lots of cultural baggage. Many people in this country think ‘liberal’ it means embracing a licentious lifestyle, or supporting the decriminalisation of drugs, and even higher taxes! No, I believe in ultimately letting people choose for themselves, but I also believe in placing disincentives against societal undesirables such as gambling, drugs and alcohol.

I also believe in tolerance. This is necessary because nobody is omniscient, everyone is right to some extent and wrong to some extent. So we need to tolerate our differences of opinion and do our best to understand and acknowledge where and why we disagree. But in modern lefty terminology, tolerance means refusing to accept anything that popular consensus deems ‘intolerant’. Our politicians love to spout this phrase: “intolerant of intolerance”. The clue’s in the wording, the statement is a hypocritical paradox, equivalent to saying “I am lying”

Ultimately, I desire a utopia where all humanity lives in peace, everything works together wonderfully, and everyone works for the betterment of everyone else. But all evidence leads me to realise that this is not how reality works. As a Christian, I understand that such a utopia will only be actualised in the New Creation. Right here in the present, there will always be greedy and selfish people, even amongst the socialists.

Author: Hoong-Wai

I am a sinner. I care about people, and truth, and justice. I have an interest in dancing, economics, engineering, philosophy, and science.

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