Reading: / Multiple Choice Type Question (MCQ) / Part 5

The law of Karma

Fifty years ago, if you knew whether someone was a liberal or a conservative politically, you didn’t necessarily know a lot about that person's moral values; party affiliation told you even less about someone's preferences in restaurants or movies. There was so much diversity within each party that stereotyping was harder and cross-party alliances were much easier.

Nowadays you can make predictions about people's values and votes from just a few seemingly unrelated things, such as whether they find exotic cuisines appealing or how messy their desks are. A research institute has surveyed more than five hundred thousand about their personality traits and moral values. They found very consistent differences between political beliefs in a few values.


 For example, how strongly do you agree or disagree with these two statements:

1) "Compassion is the most important virtue.”

2) “The world would be a better place if we let unsuccessful people fail and suffer the consequences."

The liberals in the sample strongly identify with the compassion statement and strongly reject the failure statement. In contrast, those with conservative political beliefs endorse both statements mildly and equally.

What's going on here? A useful way to think about these differences, especially when discussing view- point on economic policies, is that it’s a battle between the law of karma and the principle of compassion. Conservatives generally want to live in a world governed by karma, the ancient Hindu idea that people reap the fruits of their actions, both good and bad.

Karma was usually thought of as a law of the universe, like the law of gravity. Part of the reason conservatives have historically opposed the growth of the welfare state is the belief that it grants people sort of karmic exemption, allowing those who are lazy or irresponsible to draw resources from those who are more hardworking. Conservatives agree that the world would be a better place if we “let unsuccessful people fail” whether it be an individual, company or even a country.

Liberals, by contrast, would prefer to live in a world governed by compassion. They are more likely to give people second and third chances. For example, they are more likely to endorse this statement: “it is generally better to show mercy than to take revenge.” Karma and compassion are both necessary pillars of a well functioning society. Conservatives are right that a world in which the law of karma applies tends to work better than one in which it doesn‘t. Results from studies in experimental behavior illustrate that cooperation rates skyrocket when cheaters expect to be punished.

However, the law of karma is not real. in free-market societies, hard work does pay off much better than laziness, yet cancer, unemployment and other forms of bad luck can strike anyone. And cheaters, exploiters and law-breakers do often prosper. If we want to live in a truly just world, in which honest work is rewarded, cheaters are punished and people can bounce back from misfortune and mistakes, we’ll have to engineer it ourselves. Karma and compassion don’t balance themselves; that's a job we must do.

Questions 1-6

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

1.Surprisingly, you can predict someone’s Political viewpoints by                                                                                               

  1. Interviewing a person at length about                  
  2. Looking at how his or her parents voted along party lines.
  3. Drawing conclusions based on their Moral attitudes.
  4. Determining whether they are  Immigrants in their country.

    2.The number of people who participated in the research study was

    A.More than 500.
    B.Almost half a million.
    C.Give or take 5,000.
    D.In excess of 500,000.

    3.The study shows that those with Conservative political beliefs think
    A.People should receive success based on their efforts.
    B.People should be less forgiving towards those with a lot of money.
    C.That karma is insignificant in their attitude towards life.
    D.That giving to the poor is a great idea.

    4.Those with liberal political viewpoint have.
    A.Placed a premium on the role of karma.
    B.Valued empathy and forgiveness
    C.The belief that those who experience failure deserve it .
    D.Little use for kindness and karma in their political world view.

    5.According to the text, the law of karma.
    A.Fails to look at the power of larger economic or social forces.
    B.Gives to much credit to political parties in deciding elections.
    C.Determines id a country succeeds or fails financially.
    D.Plays a large role in who becomes the leader of a country

    6.Choose the most suitable title for text from the list below.
    A.Karma’s influence on political elections
    B.What determines a winner and a loser
    C.Why your values are important politically.
    D.The economics of karma.