Haidt’s stuff is excellent.
Paul Frantizek

Thanks, I found your article useful and so I’m now following you. (BTW my grandfather’s given names were Pavel Franticek, so I’m pre-disposed to view your opinions with warmth … thus moving us into a dimension that is not particularly principled but is quintessentially human.)

I just got to a part in Haidt’s “Righteous Mind” book that lists exactly what one of my interlocutors is concerned about. Here it is in Haidt’s words (pg 168):

Laziness/You want something for nothing/You need someone to blame…/afraid of personal responsibility …/despise people who work hard … and don’t rely on the government for help …/5 kids from 3 different men …

I was wondering where that came from, since nothing in my life is particularly like that, nor did I mean to convey that in my posts. But that’s what was read into my communication. Anyway, Haidt used this kind of thinking to remark on the concern for proportionality of reward which conservatives call “fairness,” as opposed to the concern for equality which liberals also call “fairness.”

Anyone who’s had dogs or children knows how concerned they are with fairness, meaning that everyone must get a precisely equal portion or tantrum ensues. As a mother and teacher I spent some effort explaining that people who put in more time get paid more or graded higher; people who are bleeding get to monopolize the band-aids. These seemed like two sides of the same coin to me, but as Haidt points out, it is possible to use them as a dividing metric of conservative (for the first) versus liberal (for the second). What seems regrettable to me is that these related principles seem to divide us so much.

For one thing, I thought name-calling gets stamped out in kindergarten. I’ve ended up in a corner of the country where it’s rare, so it’s always a bit of a shocker when I encounter it from an adult or, stranger, from a public figure. I do see that name-calling does have its purpose, it divides people into groups which we then have an instinct to feel comfortable in, and to support and help. Hopefully we can find a way to expand our boundaries (there’s the liberal talking!) to include all the people who naturally fall into our interest group. I’d say, for American conservatives, let’s start with all Americans. For liberals, let’s start with all humans. For progressives, let’s start with all living creatures. For starters.

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