“You’re the most conservative person I know.” I’ve been told that. How did it happen?
I think it was a combination of experiences, things I read and observed, and people I encountered. One experience in particular stands out because I was still mostly undecided on my politics at the time.
It was my junior year of high school. My presumably socialist teacher announced shortly before Christmas break that our class would be collecting canned food for the poor. Extra credit would be given to those who participate.
The first question that crossed my mind was why someone should be able to buy a higher grade in class with pork and beans. But, I kept that to myself. There were more important questions.
I wanted to know if the recipients would be screened. Is it possible that, for some of them, receiving free food would merely loosen up whatever money they already had for things like cigarettes and liquor? If so, how would we know? Were they presently receiving food stamps? How could we be confident that the people who would receive the food actually needed it? What were the criteria for eligibility? Is it reasonable to ask students to participate in the program without answers to these questions?
No one had coached me. I hadn’t yet read Milton Friedman or Thomas Sowell. To me, those weren’t “conservative” questions. Just natural questions. Common sense questions it seemed everyone should be asking.
The teacher became visibly irate and announced to the class in a tone of sweet vengeance that Meyer would being staying for detention. I protested, “On what grounds?”
He declared, “No one makes fun of the poor in my class. You don’t make fun of the poor!”
Never will I forget that experience. It was the day I began to understand that leftism isn’t about compassion, much less solving problems. It is merely about a feeling of moral self-satisfaction. There will be no debate. There won’t even be a conversation. Those who disagree will be demonized. There will be punishment for even potential dissent.
I was so mad I could have thrown a can of pork and beans at him. If I bumped into him today, I would shake his socialist hand and thank him for the lesson.
Image:(CC BY 2.0); https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/5222530246/