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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Teach Tolerance To Conservatives, Or Economics To Liberals?

I sometimes quip that I find it easier to teach tolerance to conservatives than to teach economics to liberals. However, that’s not really true. What I mean by it is that it’s easier to find the tolerant minority among conservatives, than to find the economically educable minority among liberals. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of them out there.

Especially around here in Silicon Valley. The people I meet in high-tech skew just as liberal as the rest of the Bay Area, and Democrat bumper stickers outnumbered Republican by 10-1 even before the Obamessiah. However, at least among engineers in cafeteria conversations, there is a palpable streak of free-market-friendly socioeconomic Darwinism.

Liberals can think in terms of incentives if we guide them. On my town’s committee for drafting a water conservation ordinance, the liberal do-gooders naturally want to write detailed bureaucratic regulations. But when I remind them that our goal is just to bring our water use down to the town’s Hetch Hetchy allotment, and that we could do that just with pricing (instead of be policing mulch depth etc.), they nod their heads. It’s too early to say whether my pricing-based proposal will be chosen over a looming bureaucratic inter-agency model ordinance, but I’ve already learned that these tree-huggers are educable — quite to my surprise.

1 comment:

paulie said...

Brian, actually, I've found many different "liberals" (or whatever they want to be called) to be quite educable - especially ones who consider peace and civil liberties to be their most important issues, of which there are many, especially among young people.