Up & Coming Weekly

August 03, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM AUGUST 4-10, 2021 UCW 5 OPINION ere are at least as many different ways to explain the origins of political disagreement as there are political commentators. I, for one, think such factors as cultural traditions, religious views, family background, educational experi- ences and interpersonal relationships all help to shape how we choose our preferred political candidates or "sides" — and how we choose to act on those preferences. Whatever the origins of political disagreement, one way to think about it is that it reflects differ- ent assumptions about the purpose of political action. For some, politics is about doing good. For others, politics is about doing better. I'm not playing a "Wicked the Musical" word game here. ose who define politics as "doing good" tend to evaluate political action by inten- tions. If you think of yourself as seeking to do good, then you tend to see those with whom you come to disagree as either seeking to do harm or not seeking much of anything at all, except perhaps political power for its own sake. Both alternatives look abhorrent to you. ose who define politics as "doing better," on the other hand, tend to evaluate political ac- tion by results. Unless you are an anarchist — in which case you spend your time theorizing about people and conditions that don't actually ex- ist — you recognize that political action has the potential to make you and your neighbors safer, wealthier and happier. But these outcomes are comparative and far from guaranteed. Some government programs might well increase the safety of your person and property. Others might well imperil your living standards, your liberty or your life. e intention of the program is, in this context, utterly irrelevant. History is full of examples of governments generating both benefits and costs for their citi- zens that no one intended — or even could have intended. Consider the basic architecture of the internet. Progressives are quite right in observing that federal spending was integral to its creation. But in funding the development of the internet's infrastructure and protocols, government's inten- tion was not to give shoppers the ability to buy "Star Wars" paraphernalia or tweeters the chance to debate the superiority of the "Justice League" to the "Avengers." e federal government was seeking to secure critical assets and information in the event of war. e commercial, intellectual and recreational applications of the internet were unintended byproducts of this work, much as previous gen- erations of tinkerers and innovators had adapted military advances in metallurgy, construc- tion, shipbuilding and ballistics to create other wonders of the modern world. (If you truly want to turn swords into plowshares, in other words, build a dynamic, competitive private economy and turn it loose.) Examples of the unintended costs of govern- ment action are just as prevalent. Welfare pro- grams aimed at alleviating immediate suffering can instead create greater suffering in the future by reducing the incentive to work, save or form families. Regulatory programs aimed at improv- ing the moral character of the population can instead push regulated behavior (such as alcohol consumption during Prohibition) off into the shadows, where it may fester outside our imme- diate gaze, increasing the level of risk, criminal- ity, corruption and disrespect for the law in areas where it deserves to be respected. No political movement is immune from in- tentionality bias. Over the past five years, far too many Republicans have come to believe their rivals aren't just misguided but actively evil, just as too many Democrats view Republicans as, inevitably, bigots and villains. Still, I would submit that the modern Left remains more likely to judge government action according to intentions, and to see those with whom they disagree not as mistaken but as mali- cious. And the modern Right remains more likely to subject government policies to evaluation by outcomes, measured against what one might expect from alternative policies. In other words, conservatives and libertarians are more likely to heed the warning of economist Milton Friedman that "concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it." JOHN HOOD, Chairman of the John Locke Foundation. Contributing Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200 To do good or do better by JOHN HOOD SPECIAL EDITION Published, Distributed and Online in the Fayetteville, Ft. Bragg and Cumberland County area ALL YEAR! 2021 Best of Fayetteville Special Edition • Coming September 29, 2021 ATTENTION LOCAL BUSINESSES...NEED CUSTOMERS? Advertise & promote your business all year long eectively and aordably! Advertise, market and promote your business in the most popular, most read edition of the year! For more information, rates and deadlines call (910) 484-6200 RESERVE YOUR SPACE TODAY! Cumberland County's Community Newspaper 2 2 N D ANNU A L SP E C I A L E D I T I O N Political disagreement reflects different assumptions about the purpose of political action — whether it is about doing good or doing better, about intentions or results.

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