All Politics is Self Interest

meBryan Caplan suggests that he is aware that normal human beings value group identities, yet he is still solidly in favor of open borders. Vox Day retorts that this is not so much a sign of logic as of other things. In his own words:

I don’t buy his answer. I have a much more logical one. Bryan Caplan grasps the massive political effects of group identity, but remains a cosmopolitan and open borders advocate because he sees it as being in the interest of the group with which he identifies.

I’m going to take the reply even a step further. I believe that more or less everybody ultimately subscribes to the politics of self interest. Some examples:

  • Some states in the US spend as much as $20,000 per student annually on public education. Every state spends at least $6,500 per student annually. New York spends enough to put each student through the best private school in my area. Utah, at the bottom, still spends nearly enough to send every child to the well regarded local Catholic school. Yet every single teacher I’ve ever met still supports higher spending on education.
  • I’ve never met a defense contractor who honestly supports lowering military spending.
  • Single women vote overwhelmingly for social programs that help unmarried mothers. Married women vote overwhelmingly against them.
  • Warren Buffet is a big proponent of raising taxes on the rich. He made the core of his fortune in insurance, predominantly by helping rich people structure their wealth to avoid taxes.
  • Bill Gates loves to push technology as the solution to everything.Almost all libertarians are successful people who can handle (and even thrive in) open, minimally regulated environments.

In every one of these cases you can make an argument in favor of the positions being adopted. Indeed, the people who fit the criteria laid out above almost universally consider themselves principled people. They always do make better arguments in support of their opinions. And yet their opinions always seem to match their own self interest.

I’ve even watched people completely change their (supposed) deepest political convictions as the group they identify with changes. Every time they’ll give you an argument about how they’ve evolved and grown as a person. Every time, their positions (both old and new) magically correlate to their life circumstances.

There are very few people out there who are truly principled in their beliefs. Very few. It is simply the way of the world.

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