A fundamental difference between the left and right concerns how each assesses public policies. The right asks, Does it do good? The left asks a different question.
One example is the minimum wage. In 1987, The New York Times editorialized against any minimum wage.
Theres a virtual consensus among economists, wrote the Times, that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market . . . More important, it would increase unemployment . . . The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable and fundamentally flawed.
Why did the Times take this stance? Because it asked the conservative question: Does it do good?
But 27 years later, the Times editorial page wrote the very opposite and called for a major increase in the minimum wage. The page had moved further left and was now preoccupied not with what does good but with income inequality, which feels bad.
It lamented the fact that a low hourly minimum wage had not softened the hearts of its opponents Republicans and their supporters.
A second example is affirmative action. Study after study has shown at least two deleterious effects that race-based affirmative action have had on black students.
One bad effect is that more black students fail to graduate college because they have too often been admitted to a college that demands more academic rigor than they were prepared for. Rather than attend a school that matches their skills, a school where they might thrive, they fail at a school where they are over-matched.