I pinged Jordan yesterday for what I thought was a simplistic ascribing of selfishness to those who are not of the left. Jordan has done a clarification which I think reflects the situation better, even though I still disagree that the right want to constrain the poor.
If I was to attempt some generalisations it would be that the right focus too much on incentives and not enough on the short-term while the left do not focus enough on incentives and on the short-term over the long term.
To take one example – the widely disliked market rentals in the 1990s. If you look at the issue in terms of incentives and the long-term, having accommodation assistance delivered to low income families by way of supplement would be fairer than having your level of assistance decided by who your landlord is. It was never about making poor people pay more – in fact total assistance increased off memory.
But where National fell down is not looking at the short-term effects, in its desire to get the long-term incentives right. It was seen as callous for the plight of the family who suddenly had big rent increases on the property they had lived in for years.
I know of no-one in National who thinks the state does not have a role in helping low income families meet their living costs. But as I said what National may have been guilty of is being indifferent to the short-term pain imposed by its policies.
Likewise Labour often (in my opinion) looks at the band-aid solution rather than the core problem, which means they do stupid stuff such as interest-free student loans rather than more sensible ways to help students such as lower tertiary fees or increase allowances.
Another difference in world views tends to be the degree of faith or optimism in the ability of the state to fix problems. Views on the right tend to view the state as ranging from a necessary evil to competent in some areas, but not all. And views on the left probably range from competent in some areas but not all to favouring the state over the private sector at every opportunity.
This is why people on the left and right come up with different solutions (in my view) and different priorities. Not that one side are selfish and one side are not.