Is the Left Slowing Human Progress? Opportunity costs, opportunities lost.
At first blush, the question posed in my title sounds overwrought, and will no doubt seem tendentious to some. Perhaps it is a little. But let’s think about it. Are there areas of human endeavor that would be more advanced without the resource-sucking, brain-draining, attention-diverting impacts of leftism? I think so.
First, consider the sheer monetary costs associated with leftism: big government, high taxes, redistribution from more to less productive and efficient endeavors, and so on. I have read estimates that human society would be 40 percent wealthier without this ongoing drain.* What could be done if all those extra resources remained in private hands?
Second, we have the regulatory costs. How much further along would human progress be without regulatory burdens and compliance costs? How many things weren’t invented because the barriers to entry were too high? How many startups ran afoul of Hillary Clinton’s “I can’t worry about every under-capitalized business” attitude?
Third, there is the brain-drain. The left killed between 100 and 240 million people in the 20th century alone (no one knows for sure how many). What brilliant minds were lost? What might they have done? What discoveries might their children have made, and their children’s children? We’ll never know.
Similarly, there are about 40 million abortions worldwide every year, and while that’s not the exclusive province of the left…it mostly is. Setting aside how you feel on the political issue of abortion, that is 40 million more minds and contributions that will never be. Every year.
Then there is the diversion of brilliant minds to pointless agenda items of the left, like trying to convince humanity that the next eco-pocalypse is right around the corner. Billions of dollars and thousands of minds are now being dumped into just one thing: the watermelon scheme of climate change. That money and those minds could be working to push a thousand different boundaries…any one of which might produce the next big advance. But scientists are human—they go where the money is, and the money is in climate change. Apologies to our ancestors who thought we’d be living in cities on the moon by now.
And it’s not just the geniuses—those diversions impact all of us. Think of all the energy we are putting into political fights: chasing nonexistent bugbears conjured up by the media, arguing online, defending ourselves from the predations of government, and otherwise wasting energy on politics and manufactured “causes.” How much more productive could each of us be with that precious time? The right shares responsibility for some of this diversion too…just not as much.
Diseases never cured. Boundaries never broken. How much further along would our space exploration be? How about longevity research?
We’ll never know.
Obviously I am engaged in counterfactual speculation here. I am sure people on the left will object, or even come up with counter-scenarios. I think they’d be wrong. We know their ideology has sky-high costs in treasure. We know it has cost us in blood, with its bottomless predilection for democide. We know how much time they spend trying to convince us of things that are not true. We’ll never know just how much all this has retarded human progress. I suspect it may be more than we realize.