Liberal Fantasyland

If you listen to liberals, they are the "reality-based" people.  They contrast themselves to conservatives, who they claim are ideology-based or faith-based.

"The arguments of liberals are more often grounded in reason and fact."  Barack Obama
"Reality has a well-known liberal bias."  Stephen Colbert 
"The facts of life are conservative."  Margaret Thatcher 

I offer here several pieces of evidence, large and small.  You can be the judge of who is right, Stephen Colbert or Maggie Thatcher.


"A lot of environmental messages are simply not accurate. But that's the way we sell messages in this society. We use hype. And we use those pieces of information that sustain our position. I guess all large organizations do that."  Professor Jerry Franklin, an ecologist at the University of Washington 

The good ship Fleur set sail from Plymouth, England, on a 5,000 mile, "carbon emission-free" journey to Greenland.  "The expedition was followed by up to 40 schools across the UK to promote climate change awareness."  Then reality hit in the form of weather.  Wind ripped the wind generator and solar panels from the yacht, and capsized it three times.  The crew of the Fleur was rescued by an oil tanker loaded with 680,000 barrels of crude oil .

The Catlin Arctic Ice Survey is giving up on its journey to the North Pole to measure arctic ice thickness.  Championed by Prince Charles and funded by an insurance company that wants to sell insurance against climate change, the Catlin team travelled 434 km in 73 days, with 490 km remaining to the pole.  Unfortunately, severe cold (to minus 40 Celsius) took out "both a radar device meant to measure the ice thickness and a satellite communications unit to relay the data.".  Meanwhile, an airplane equipped with modern technology flew over them and discovered arctic ice was "thicker" than expected.

Electric cars were studied by a German branch of the World Wildlife Foundation .  "What surprised us was that the carbon dioxide savings were so small."  In the best-case scenario, the savings would be 0.1 percent.  In the worst-case scenario, electric cars would be 25% worse than gasoline-powered.

Hybrids cars get better gas mileage than regular cars, especially SUVs, I'm told.  However, fuel to make the car go is not the only use of energy in cars.  It takes energy to make a car in the first place, for example.  When the "dust to dust" energy use is calculated on a "total energy cost per mile driven" basis, the picture is the opposite of that promoted.  "While the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 per mile, the Hummer H3 was only $1.949 per mile.  That figure is also lower than all currently offered hybrids and Honda Civic at $2.42 per mile."

Plastic diapers, plastic bags and disposable coffee cups, turn out to be non-threats to the environment, according to the green Conscious Consumer and the Union of Concerned Scientists.  While the environmentally aware were quick to preach to the rest of us how our use of disposable diapers, for example, was ruining the planet, they seem slow to catch on to this news.

Acid Rain was once the environmental biggie, the Global Warming of the 70s and 80s.  So the government spent 10 years and $550 million to look into it.  The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Project (NAPAP) essentially concluded it is not a problem.  For example, "The NAPAP study found that among thousands of U.S. lakes, only 4 percent were somewhat acidic. One-quarter of those were acidic due to natural causes, leaving only 3 percent somewhat influenced by human activities."  The NAPAP report came out in 1990, suspiciously about the time Global Warming became the new big thing in environmental causes.

Carbon credits (a) are costing a lot of money, (b) may do nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and (c) incentivize the destruction of the environment and people's homes.  Or so the Associated Press reported.  The carbon credit system "is an excessive subsidy that represents a massive waste of developed world resources," said Stanford University's Michael Wara.


"And how do you know when you're doing something right? How do you know that? It feels so. What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you're supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know."  Oprah Winfrey 

Oprah's feelings were touched by "A Million Little Pieces," by James Frey.  She was so touched by this come-back-from-hard-times story that she chose it for her book club, where "more than two million copies were sold, making it the fastest-selling book in the club's 10-year history."  Trouble is, the supposedly non-fiction story was entirely made up; it was a hoax.

Oprah was also touched by "Angel at the Fence," a story of love during the Holocaust written by Herman Rosenblat.  Lo and behold, it too was a hoax.

Oprah was also touched by "The Education of Little Tree," a children's book she put on her list of recommendations.  That book, first published in 1976, was debunked years ago as "the literary hoax of a white supremacist."

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls was supposed to be the fulfillment of Oprah's dream.  Unfortunately, "reports of harsh discipline soon emerged, and today a dormitory matron at the facility, Tiny Makopo, appeared in court facing 13 charges including indecent assault and inducing underage girls to perform indecent acts."

(Actually, I kind of like Ms. Winfrey.  But maybe you should think twice about her recommendations for books or school staff.  Didn't she also recommend a president?)

Jack Henry Abbott was a convicted killer, but Norman Mailer considered himself a great judge of character when arguing for his release from prison.  Mailer "never thought Abbot was close to killing."  Six weeks after leaving prison, Abbott stabbed to death a 22-year-old waiter, Richard Adan, in a quarrel outside a Manhattan restaurant.  Perhaps the steak was too well done.  Abbot told the judge that Adan's life "was not worth a dime."

Many considered vaccinations the way to fight disease in Africa.  Unfortunately, the African health care system is not quite up to speed when it comes to needle use.  One study estimated "that more than half the cases of Aids in Africa before 1988 were caused by unsterilised needles." However, UN officials dispute that.  "The research estimates that about 60% of people with HIV in Africa become infected mainly through contaminated needles rather than through sexual contact, but the UNAids organisation puts the figure at nearer 5%."

I don't know who's right or wrong, but 5% to 60% of 25 million HIV/AIDS cases in sub-Saharan Africa is 1.25 to 15 million people.  First do no harm?

Timothy Treadwell, Grizzly Man, thought grizzly bears in Alaska needed saving.  He would save them by calling them pet names in a high-pitched voice and taking their pictures.  But the bears did not need saving.  Who needed saving was Timothy and his girlfriend, both killed by grizzlies while camping near them.

Chris McCandless went Into The Wild.  He was another young fellow who trekked to Alaska.  Although we cannot be sure of his motives, he "abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness.  Four months later, he turned up dead."  And all evidence points to a pretty miserable four months.

The "Peace Bride," artist Giuseppina Pasqualino, was hitchhiking to Israel in a wedding dress "as part of her ‘Brides on Tour' project aiming to plead for peace in conflict areas."  She was raped and murdered in Turkey while on that peace tour.

(The police are only providing the suspect's initials, MK.  Who wants to bet MK stands for Moshe Katz?  Who thinks Mohammed Khalid might be the better bet?  One can only guess at this point.)

Public Policy

"This is not Washington imposing its will and its programs on anyone.  It is a cooperative sharing of resources, talents and ideas with everyone who has something to contribute."  Sargent Shriver in 1967 

From 1959 to 1964, the poverty rate dropped every single year, from 22.4% to 19.0%After that, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared War on Poverty.  And indeed, the poverty rate continued to decline, reaching 12.8% by 1968.  But despite the War on Poverty continuing throughout, the poverty rate sort of stalled in the 12-15% range.  It would climb back above 12.8% by 1980, and stay there through 1997, when President Clinton ended Welfare.  In 2006 it was 12.3%, below where it was when Welfare ended and about where it was in 1968.

From 1900 to 1965, life expectancy for men in the US rose from 46 to 67 yearsIn 1965, health spending in the US was 5.9% of GDP.  That was the year LBJ gave us Medicare.  Life expectancy continued to go up after that, but more slowly.  Today it is about 75 years for men.  And by 2007, health spending took 16.2% of GDP.  Medicare is now about to go completely broke.  It paid out more than it took in for the first time in 2008.  The Medicare "fund" is expected to be depleted by 2017.

The temperance movement aimed to eliminate the evils of demon drink.  I'm sure it did discourage drinking, but it also incentivized organized crime and gangsterism.  In 1920, when Prohibition began, the murder rate was 6.8 per 100,000.  In 1933, when Prohibition ended, the murder rate peaked at 9.7 per 100,000, the highest ever up to then.

After Prohibition ended, the murder rate subsided.  By 1953 it fell below 5 per 100,000 and would stay below that level through 1963, reaching the lowest murder rates since 1906.  Then the criminal reform movement took over.  The Map v Ohio decision (exclusionary rule) came in 1961.  Miranda warnings were mandated in 1966.  The Gun Control Act was enacted in 1968.  The murder rate doubled between 1961 and 1972, and would hit its highest point ever, 10.7 per 100,000, in 1980, Jimmy Carter's last year as President.

By 1980, Concealed Carry was getting a toehold.  Liberals were dead set against it, saying men hiding guns would come into schools and churches and kill people.  In the decade 1989-1998, CC swept most of the nation, becoming law in more than 30 states.  The murder rate dropped from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1991 to 5.9 in 2004.  If you know of any CC permit-holder convicted of murder, or of any gun related felony, please let me know, because I think the number of such persons is zero.

I know what some of you are thinking: the statistical evidence that Concealed Carry reduced the homicide rate is too thin.  The Center for Disease Control would agree with you.  The CDC did a study and found that CC had no effect on violent outcomes, either way.  But if you insist on believing the CDC on that, then you should believe the CDC's conclusion on all gun control laws: "The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes."   Do you know how much it hurt the CDC to say that?


I will end the list there, not because I'm running out of examples, but because this article is already too long.  But before signing off, I would like to offer some sense of balance.

First, there were some "conservative" fantasies.  But I put the word "conservative" in quotes because, in these cases, conservatives acted like liberals.

  • President Reagan sent US Marines to Lebanon with rubber bullets for ammunition and the Rules of Engagement being "don't engage."  The result was 246 dead Marines.  I love Reagan and believe him to be the best President of the 20th century, but this was right out of Jimmy Carter's playbook.  US Marines kill people and break things.  If that's not the mission, don't send Marines.
  • The War On Drugs is the quintessential nanny-state policy.  Some conservatives such as William Buckley and Milton Friedman saw the serious flaws and anti-conservativeness in this Nixon initiative.  After almost 40 years, this is another un-won war, with costs including increased crime in the US and foreign policy conundrums from Latin America to Afghanistan.

Secondly, there is some trace evidence that not all liberals live in fantasyland.  There is a group called Beyond Good Intentions, for example, that recognizes that most international aid is not only ineffective, but also counterproductive.  The MIT Poverty Action Lab appears to be using evidence to guide global anti-poverty policy.

I have no idea if these groups are being effective, but it is nice to know there are at least a few liberals willing to go beyond good intentions, their own feelings, and showering problems with other people's money.

My plea to liberals is this.  Think of the movie, The Matrix.  Take the red pill.  Leave the matrix created by the entertainment/education echo chamber.

Randall Hoven can be contacted at or  via his web site,
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