Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

You Call it Rationalization, We call it Nature

A friend sent me this story about why conservatives are more happy than liberals.

Individuals with conservative ideologies are happier than liberal-leaners, and new research pinpoints the reason: Conservatives rationalize social and economic inequalities.

Regardless of marital status, income or church attendance, right-wing individuals reported greater life satisfaction and well-being than left-wingers, the new study found. Conservatives also scored highest on measures of rationalization, which gauge a person’s tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities.

The rationalization measure included statements such as: "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are."

To justify economic inequalities, a person could support the idea of meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance. In that way, one’s social class attainment, whether upper, middle or lower, would be perceived as totally fair and justified.

A conservative perspective on this phenomenon might be that it is not healthy to hope that the world can be other than it is. The hope for change, understood as change in the strong sense--the desire to purge the world of tragedy--causes unhappiness. Oh the irony!

Discussions - 5 Comments

Come on, Richard Adams! Spell out your commentary; suggest an argument in all of this. Are you saying that "economic inequalities" (undefined) are "natural" (undefined)? And the "irony" is what?

Sounds ripe for a discussion of Hegel.

"This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are."

How is this statement a rationalization? Maybe the person saying it has a basic understanding of economics and, unlike the author of the article, recognizes that efforts at equalization shrink the economy in a way that actually harms the poor. Maybe the article should be about liberals who are angry because they let emotion trump logic. It surely wouldn't be hard to find case studies. Jeanna Bryner need only to look in the mirror.

Harvey Mansfield put it well when he said that the harsh name for equality of opportunity is inequalities.

Tell students that today, and they get upset and confused (yes, it is harsh).

Conservatives may be happier than liberals, but it's the liberals who do far more with their unhappiness than conservatives with their happiness, when it comes to politics. They govern our society, whether they're unhappy or not. If conservatives don't wake up and become very unhappy indeed about the prospect of an Obama presidency, they will be extremely unhappy, and deserve to be, in November.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field
 

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: http://nlt.ashbrook.org/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/12326