Why compassionate social policies produce such misery

From William Voegeli, Senior Editor, Claremont Review of Books at Imprimis,

But my assessment of how the liberal project has been justified in words, and rendered in deeds, leads me to a different explanation for why, under the auspices of liberal government, things have a way of turning out so badly. I conclude that the machinery created by the politics of kindness doesn’t work very well—in the sense of being economical, adaptable, and above all effective—because the liberals who build, operate, defend, and seek to expand this machine don’t really care whether it works very well and are, on balance, happier when it fails than when it succeeds.

We can see the problem. The whole point of compassion is for empathizers to feel better when awareness of another’s suffering provokes unease. But this ultimate purpose does not guarantee that empathizees will fare better. Barbara Oakley, co-editor of the volume Pathological Altruism, defines its subject as “altruism in which attempts to promote the welfare of others instead result in unanticipated harm.” Surprises and accidents happen, of course. The pathology of pathological altruism is not the failure to salve every wound. It is, rather, the indifference—blithe, heedless, smug, or solipsistic—to the fact and consequences of those failures, just as long as the empathizer is accruing compassion points that he and others will admire. As philosophy professor David Schmidtz has said, “If you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, it isn’t.” More.

Reality check: It is self-evident that entire compassion industries today thrive on misery and must perpetuate it. At one time, more people were needed to do real work like milking cows and washing clothes. Industry and automation has left us with hordes of compassioneers who need victims to “help”

For historical reasons, most of the people who have escaped the parasitic compassion industries are white and middle class. Hence, the attack on “white” and “middle class” values. The real issue is, those values don’t promote the misfortune and helplessness compassioneers need.

It’ll get worse as automation grows.

See also: Intellectual termite watch: Numbers are “social constructs”

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