Matt Ridley believes the left awards itself far too much credit for mere intentions, regardless of results.
The curse of modern politics is an epidemic of good intentions and bad outcomes. Policy after policy is chosen and voted on according to whether it means well, not whether it works. And the most frustrated politicians are those who keep trying to sell policies based on their efficacy, rather than their motives. It used to be possible to approach politics as a conversation between adults, and argue for unfashionable but effective medicine. In the 140-character world this is tricky (I speak from experience).
The fact that it was Milton Friedman who said â€œone of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their resultsâ€ rather proves the point. He was one of the most successful of all economists in getting results in terms of raising living standards, yet is widely despised today by both the left and centre as evil because he did not bother to do much virtue signalling.
The commentator James Bartholomew popularised the term â€œvirtue signallingâ€ for those who posture empathetically but emptily. â€œJe suis Charlieâ€ (but I wonâ€™t show cartoons of the prophet), â€œRefugees welcomeâ€ (but not in my home) or â€œBan fossil fuelsâ€ (letâ€™s not talk about my private jet). You see it everywhere.
HT: Seattle Sam.