If you live long enough . . .

.  .  .  you’ll see ideological combatants change sides.  The position that was once the liberal policy (i.e. color-blind hiring) will become the conservative position.  Matt Yglesias recently dug up another great example.  Here’s the conservative Manhattan Institute, publishing Joel Kotkin’s critique of deregulation:

Victor’s Restaurant, a nondescript coffee shop on a Hollywood side street, seems an odd place to meet for a movement challenging many of Los Angeles’s most powerful, well-heeled forces. Yet amid the uniformed service workers, budding actors, and retirees enjoying coffee and French toast, unlikely revolutionaries plot the next major battle over the city’s future. Driving their rebellion is a proposal from the L.A. planning department that would allow greater density in the heart of Hollywood, a scruffy district that includes swaths of classic California bungalows and charming 1930s-era garden apartments. The proposal””which calls for residential towers of 50 stories or more along Hollywood Boulevard, where no building currently tops 20 stories””has been approved unanimously by the city council and will now probably be challenged in court.

.   .   .

Instead of revolving around one mega-center, L.A. boasts commercial centers in each of its major neighborhoods, many of which are close to single-family homes and low-rise apartments.

This dispersion creates an aesthetic rarely appreciated by density boosters, enabling residents to enjoy fully L.A.’s unique ambience””its superb Mediterranean climate, lush foliage, tall trees, and, most of all, magnificent light. Even when you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, what’s most striking is not the skyline but the steep hills, framed by palms, rising toward a clear blue sky. For a glimpse of the Hollywood imagined by Villaraigosa and his confederates, take a look at the much-reviled Hollywood and Highland Center, home of the Dolby Theatre, which hosts the Academy Awards. Instead of brilliant light and blue sky, visitors confront a boxy hulk that obscures the hillside views.

Clear blue sky?  In LA?  When I was young newspapers like the WSJ used to mock that sort of dreamy, starry-eyed liberalism.

And here’s progressive Matt Yglesias advocating that the market, not government regulators, decide what sort of housing gets built:

The way this works is that Hollywood, which is currently a bit run-down but is also adjacent to some more expensive areas and features multiple stations of LA’s growing Metro system, will soon become a place where landowners and developers are allowed to build taller and denser structures. This is not a devious plot to force people to engage in high density urban living. It’s a plot to reduce the extent to which people are currently forced to engage in low density suburban-style living. But it’s one form of deregulation that conservatives all-too-frequently can’t countenance, often for reasons they have trouble explaining.

That’s the sort of argument I used to read in the WSJ, back in the 1980s.

Someday we’ll all wake up and find liberals are pro-life, and conservatives are pro-choice.

Liberals will want to cut Medicare and conservatives will want to protect it . . . oh wait, that’s already happened!



20 Responses to “If you live long enough . . .”

  1. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    6. September 2012 at 04:16

    >>Liberals will want to cut Medicare and conservatives will want to protect it . . . oh wait, that’s already happened!>>

    If liberals talk about protecting Medicare benefits, conservatives yell about out of control spending. Deficits will kill us all!

    If liberals talk about Medicare spending, conservatives yell about death panels. Cuts will kill us all!

    We can cut healthcare spending, but try to preserve benefits (the liberal plan), or we can cut Medicare reimbursements and hope the magic of the market somehow makes everything wonderful (the Ryan plan), or we can say no change in spending on benefits or providers will lower costs (the Romney plan).

  2. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    6. September 2012 at 04:21

    Everyone is for some favored outcome and will clothe their position in broader rhetoric because it sounds better. Arguments are made in support of outcomes, rather than outcomes gaining support by being derived from first principles.

    Business people tend to want a free market, other than in their own businesses, where they want to restrict competition. Since it sounds bad to say you want government to restrict competition, they invent reasons that sound like more than naked rent seeking.

  3. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    6. September 2012 at 04:42

    I wouldn’t be surprised about that last barb. Remember that the Relublican nominee once went out of his way in the gubernatorial debates to stake a pro-choice position. He claims having a pro-choice position but I think it would be easy for Republicans to dump that idea as being big government dictating people’s private lives.

  4. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    6. September 2012 at 06:03

    Someday we’ll all wake up and find liberals are pro-life, and conservatives are pro-choice.

    So true. Pro-life seems like it would be a natural for the party that sees itself as the protector of the weak.

    In fact I would say that Democrats are not real pro-choice but pro abortion.

    My evidence for this:
    1. They want to fund abortions with tax dollars.
    2. They are generally very concerned and fearful about population growth.
    3. They seldom have large families themselves.

    Should the birth rate plummet to where depopulation looks like a problem I could see them switch back to there more natural position of pro life.

  5. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    6. September 2012 at 06:12

    @foosion IMHO the thing missing from the debate about medical care (and about healthcare is general) is discussion of ideas to reduce costs. Rather the debate is only about who should pay. The libertarian idea of making it easier to become a provider (MD, PA, NP,RN, LPN, specialist) may not work but with healthcare spending rising rapidly and medicare a real threat to the budget, it seems like it ought to be worth at least some serious debate and consideration and/or a try.

  6. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    6. September 2012 at 08:13

    Benny Lava, if social liberals through the public employee unions under the bus, and relied aggressively on market oriented reforms (consumption taxes, reducing city building regs) fiscal conservatives would be far more likely to throw the social conservatives and neo-cons under the bus too.

  7. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    6. September 2012 at 08:33

    Scott great post …’cept for that last line…

    “Liberals will want to cut Medicare and conservatives will want to protect it . . . oh wait, that’s already happened!”

    How Orwellian of you.

  8. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    6. September 2012 at 08:40

    Your very _worst_ stuff is when you apply your ideosyncratic — and historically illiterate — stereotypes of “liberal” and “conservative”.

    Joel Kotkin is a Truman Democrat. That’s what he calls himself.

    The uses of the words “liberal” and “conservative” are in constant flux, and have changed radically over the last 150 years — these words don’t even have the same uses on different sides of the Atlantic.

    And the sky is often blue in LA.

    The pollution problem of the 1950s-1970s era is gone.

    When the wind blows East in the Winter, the sky is very clear.

  9. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    6. September 2012 at 08:43

    The more useful modern labels are “statist” vs “constitutional”.

    This roughly captures rule of law “classical liberal” vs unprincipled & lawless “progressives”.

  10. Gravatar of John Thacker John Thacker
    6. September 2012 at 08:50

    It is true that people have always been on both sides. The parties are not monolithic. Going back decades and still today, you will see plenty of Republicans vote for farm subsidies or the Ex-Im Bank or protectionism, even when the party as a whole is generally against. I am on a phone, so I have a harder time linking to the relevant books on party differences.

    There has been recent research that indicates in California, it is still the case that, all things being equal, when a city becomes more liberal, it restricts housing more. The paper was published by a liberal environmental economist who favors more density.

  11. Gravatar of Eric G Eric G
    6. September 2012 at 09:19

    Republicans want to cut Medicare as well they just claim they don’t. Shame on you.

  12. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    6. September 2012 at 09:53

    Greg Ransom,

    What’s a “constitutional” ?
    The founders did not agree on how to interpret the Constitution they wrote. They all knew it was an “agree to disagree document” passed in order to maintain unity.
    We have been fighting about it ever since. The Civil War was fought over it. We are still fighting over it.

    Folks who act like they know the one “true” interpretation of the Constitution are fooling themselves at best, or being disingenuous at worst.

    “Originalist” is code for Confederate constructionist. That is what a “constitutional” is too.

    “The Incoherence of Antonin Scalia”
    by Richard A. Posner

  13. Gravatar of John John
    6. September 2012 at 12:03

    As Hayek pointed out in “Why I’m Not a Conservative,” the only political distinction that matters is those who want less government and those who want more. To be a conservative just means that you want to protect the status quo; you have no vision for what direction you want to move. Libertarians (classical liberals in the old days) want to move to a society where the government only protects private property rights while the other side (socialists, progressives) want to move in a direction where most or all individual decisions are subordinated to the government.

  14. Gravatar of Bababooey Bababooey
    6. September 2012 at 12:37

    This example doesn’t work for your theory: Those new buildings won’t go up without a mix of tax breaks, zoning, planning and code variances, subsidies, and city accommodations that are not available to the existing residents. “Deregulation” is not the same as “special crony regulation”, it’s an add on not a reduction.

    I never reason from a Matty Ysglesias post. Here is a better example of your theory.

    (Light rail is hemorrhaging money and lacking riders around here, and I suspect the City wants to double-down on the failed Hollywood & Highland theory: development density around train stations will reconfigure Angelenos into mass transit users.)

  15. Gravatar of casssander casssander
    6. September 2012 at 15:07

    Read Robert Caro’s Lyndon Johnson biography about the Kennedy tax cuts. In 63, it was liberals arguing that cutting taxes would stimulate the economy and that that stimulus would generate enough increased tax revenue for them to pay for themselves, and conservatives arguing that that was utter nonsense.

  16. Gravatar of Ben J Ben J
    6. September 2012 at 16:39

    “while the other side (socialists, progressives) want to move in a direction where most or all individual decisions are subordinated to the government.”

    I can’t take Libertarians seriously when they start acting like anyone towards the left of the spectrum is a scary monster under the bed.

    It’s like you guys have no sense of perspective.

  17. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    6. September 2012 at 19:49

    Suggestion: Never write ‘it’s’; always write ‘its’. Then, *if you have time*, stop and think: am I here abbreviating ‘it is’? If the answer is ‘yes’, insert the apostrophe. But if you’re in a hurry, forget about it: go apostrophe-less.

  18. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    9. September 2012 at 04:48

    Bababooey, Maybe, but I don’t see any evidence that his objection would go away if LA wasn’t subsidizing transit. I wouldn’t have done the post if he had made your argument.

    Philo, The problem is that I never stop and think when I write. I go too fast. Some of my errors become hard-wired. There are some words that I mistype 100% of the time (government, inflation, etc) and have to clean up afterwards. I sometimes fail to clean up “its.”

  19. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    16. September 2012 at 10:00

    My point was that situations where ‘its’ is correct outnumber situations where ‘it’s’ is correct, so if you always started with ‘its’ there would be less to clean up, and fewer mistakes if you didn’t bother with clean-up.

    But the suggestion was minor. You’re the best, even with excess apostrophes!

  20. Gravatar of click here click here
    27. September 2012 at 15:14

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