Regardless of marital status, income or church attendance, right-wing individuals reported greater life satisfaction and well-being than left-wingers, the new study found. Conservatives also scored highest on measures of rationalization, which gauge a person's tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities. The rationalization measure included statements such as: "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are."
"Our research suggests that inequality takes a greater psychological toll on liberals than on conservatives," the researchers write in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, "apparently because liberals lack ideological rationalizations that would help them frame inequality in a positive (or at least neutral) light."
The article's, or study's, ill-concealed antagonism toward conservatives (or as the reporter puts it, "individuals with conservative ideologies") might be summed up: conservatives are selfish, irrational people who pretend to believe in meritocracy ("in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance") to justify their good luck or privilege. Liberals, however, look around, see inequality and weep for the sheer unfairness of it all, which gashes their hearts and makes them unhappy.
That is how individuals with liberal ideologies view the world. Conservatives, if asked to explain their ideas rather than given prefabricated answers (e.g., "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others") might say something like the following.
Conservatives start from observing the world's realities, rather than demanding that the world live up to an impossible, Utopian vision. They recognize that all people are equal in God's sight, or should be under the law, but not in abilities or any number of other characteristics. A good society tries to maximize the possibilities for people to succeed in their chosen endeavors and to create equal opportunities for all — but that's as far as any society can and should go.
Once past that point, a pseudo-equality can only be enforced by artifice and favoritism. It requires devaluing accomplishment and justifying its lack. Every inequality of outcome must be attributed to prejudice or unfairness. Under this system, everyone has a "right" to whatever they they think is their due, and an endless round of grievance ensues.
Since by this definition all inequality is victimization, it follows that the full weight of the state must be brought to bear so the issue comes out "right." Its authority must level out achievement, overlook incompetence and lower standards. As Melanie Phillips titled one of her books, "everyone must have prizes."
In the real world, not that of egalitarian fantasies, this parody of equality is never the real item. There are always those who rise to the top through some combination of ability, determination, luck, and ruthlessness. They may be called "comrade" or "Director of the Office of Racial and Gender Equality," but they are still the ones who have power over others' lives.
It is a big deal if some people have more of a chance in life than others. But it is self-defeating, and opens the way to tyrannical control, to obsess over the fact of nature that not everyone will end up with equal wealth or power. Maybe that is not what we are on earth for and our souls have quite other purposes for being incarnated. Maybe conservatives tend to understand this to one degree or another. If they are happier, could that be a reason?