Selling the Downside

How do they do it? How do liberals convince so many of us supposedly greedy, gluttonous, materialistic Americans to vote for them again and again and again by promising us less.... less energy, less comfort, less abundance, less healthcare for more money, and, in the end, less freedom and independence.

And why do they do it? Why have liberals chosen this apparently impossible course of action -- to sell less to a culture that is universally considered to be totally obsessed with more? And, how have they have made it work so well. I could say, at this point, that I've answered my own question. Liberals have chosen to sell less because it works so very, very well.

But they couldn't have known it was going to be such a resounding success when they made the initial decision. They were certainly aware of Americans' reputation for being obsessed with more. Choosing to sell less had to be a leap of faith, an immense leap. Why did they take what was so likely to be a suicidal leap?

The reason is simple. They had no choice. Liberals got in the business of selling less for the simple reason that they had nothing else to sell.

Liberals realized they were doomed to selling less because "more" was already taken. Nothing produces more better than free-enterprise capitalism. Capitalism, applied by individuals blessed with a high degree of individual freedom, has been the most productive economic system humans have ever devised. Here in the U.S. it has enabled us to achieve a greater and broader prosperity than any other society in human history.

Faced with serving as perpetual also-rans if they tried to compete directly with the unsurpassed producers of more, liberals had to find an alternative that they could tout as, in some way, better than more. They chose less. That may sound like a sure ticket to the graveyard of failed political movements. Instead it has served as a spectacular windfall. In fact, it ranks as one of the greatest political decisions of all time. Selling less, especially to Americans, is actually a whole lot easier than selling more.

All you have to do is make us feel guilty, greedy, gluttonous, racist, culturist, out of style, arrogant, so "yesterday," so American, and we will clamor for less. We will demand it.

Faced with this sort of constituency all you have to do is say, "We all have to use less," and you are automatically brilliant, a realist, a prophet, a humanitarian, a hero.

If someone engages you in a debate, the only argument you need in order to win is, "You mean to tell me you think we can keep consuming this much stuff and not wreck the planet?" Never mind that this is a recognized logical fallacy named the "Argument from Ignorance." If you use the above in any argument against any authority, you will be declared the winner, even by logicians. If your opponent persists, all you have to do is say he or she is probably a pawn of the capitalists and Rush Limbaugh, and your antagonist will be hooted down by everyone within earshot.

There's more! If you're selling less, you don't have to prove that what you're doing won't harm the planet, that it won't cause us to run out of something, that it won't cause too much pollution, or even that it won't make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Who's going to question you? Who's going to argue in favor of greed and consumerism? You, after all, are advocating that we all live simply that others may simply live....

This is not to say that selling less isn't hard work. Those who are best at it work very, very hard. Many are incredibly creative, inventive, and dedicated. Ironically, many of those who are best at selling less are the entrepreneurs, the venture capitalists, the pioneers who normally would be selling us more. In truth they are selling us more... More of less. Lots more of it.