Don't Assume Liberals Always Put Principles Before Profits
by Jonah Goldberg
Leland Yee, a Democratic state senator and candidate for secretary of state in California, has been a longtime champion of gun control. This week he was arrested on numerous charges, including conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and conspiracy to illegally transport firearms. Yee, a prominent foe of assault weapons, allegedly took bribes to set up a meeting between an undercover agent and an international arms dealer to broker the sale of automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missiles. A lengthy FBI affidavit also describes Yee's ties to a Chinese triad and his desire to help out Islamist militants.
In short, the story makes for what journalists call "good copy."
And yet, so far no reporter has raised the possibility that Yee supported tighter restrictions on guns in order to keep gun prices high and Yee's services in demand. Economist Bruce Yandle popularized the idea of the "Bootleggers and Baptists" coalition. The apocryphal Baptists want to ban alcohol. Bootleggers don't make much money when liquor can be bought legally at a grocery store or bar. So the bootleggers bankroll the Baptists' effort to ban booze.
Now I sincerely doubt that Yee was that clever. The more likely explanation is that he believes in gun control and he's a greedy hypocrite (and maybe not too bright either). The fact that gun-control policies are to his advantage is just a happy coincidence.
What's interesting -- and vexing -- to me is that this sort of analysis is all the rage when it comes to conservatives and Republicans, and utterly incomprehensible to most journalists when it comes to liberals and Democrats.
Consider the Koch brothers, the billionaire businessmen and philanthropists.
Meanwhile, many media outlets are all too willing to take their cues from Democratic talking points. For instance, the
Here's the problem. The profit motives of the Koch brothers are by far the least interesting thing about them. Charles and David Koch are worth about
Profit maximization hardly explains why they've given hundreds of millions of dollars to cancer research, hospitals and the arts. And profit lust probably has little to do with why Charles Koch co-founded the nonprofit libertarian think tank the
I have no problem with journalistic skepticism or the search for ulterior motives. I just object to the idea that only Republicans might have them.
Al Gore reportedly left government with a net worth of less than
The irony is that it'd be in the media's business interest to report on the seedy underbelly of liberal politics, too. But they don't, because they actually do put their liberal principles before profits.
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"Don't Assume Liberals Always Put Principles Before Profits"