Progressive History 101 (Minus All that Uncomfortable Racism, Sexism, and Support for Eugenics)

Shortly after Barack Obama was elected president, I wrote an article criticizing many of his left-leaning supporters for labeling themselves as progressives, arguing that “what the current vogue for the term progressive fails to acknowledge is that the original progressives embraced the worst abuses of state power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”

In response, I received a number of angry emails stating that today’s progressives had nothing to do with the sins of the first progressives, and that to conflate the two was intellectually dishonest and just plain mean. Perhaps some of my correspondents will now direct their outrage to the left-wing Center for American Progress, which just released a new monograph entitled “The Progressive Intellectual Tradition in America.” This paper argues that today’s progressives are the direct inheritors of an unbroken progressive tradition, one that brought glorious benefits to all Americans by doing away with the evils of limited government. Here’s a sample paragraph:

Progressives sought above all to give real meaning to the promise of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution—“We the people” working together to build a more perfect union, promote the general welfare, and expand prosperity to all citizens. Drawing on the American nationalist tradition of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln, progressives posited that stronger government action was necessary to advance the common good, regulate business interests, promote national economic growth, protect workers and families displaced by modern capitalism, and promote true economic and social opportunity for all people.

As far as history lessons go, this is laughably biased and incomplete. For starters, the original progressives most certainly did not “promote true economic and social opportunity for all people.” In the Jim Crow South, as historian David Southern has documented, disfranchisement, segregation, race baiting, and lynching all "went hand-in-hand with the most advanced forms of southern progressivism." Economist John R. Commons, a leading progressive academic and close adviser to high-profile progressive politicians—including “Fighting” Bob Lafollette, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson—authored a 1907 book entitled Races and Immigrants in America, where he called African Americans “indolent and fickle” and endorsed protectionist labor laws since "competition has no respect for the superior races."

There’s also the matter of sexism. Exhibit A is future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ famous “Brandeis Brief,” submitted to the Supreme Court in the case of Muller v. Oregon (1908). At issue was a state law limiting the working hours of female laundry employees. In his brief, Brandeis collected a parade of statistics, arguments, and journalistic accounts, all “proving” that women required special protection from the state. In fact, Brandeis argued, since women were responsible for bearing future generations, their bodies were in some sense collective property. "The overwork of future mothers," he wrote, "directly attacks the welfare of the nation." The Supreme Court agreed, declaring that, "As healthy mothers are essential to vigorous offspring, the physical well-being of woman becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race." Feminist legal scholars have long criticized Brandeis for introducing that bit of sexist paternalism into the law, though you wouldn’t learn anything about it by reading this monograph.

Finally, “The Progressive Intellectual Tradition in America” is totally silent about the progressives’ widespread support for the theory and practice of eugenics. As Princeton University economist Tim Leonard has chronicled, "eugenic thought deeply influenced the Progressive Era transformation of the state's relationship to the American economy." Despite the fact that this monograph favorably cites progressive hero Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes for his famous dissent in the economic liberty case Lochner v. New York (1905), the authors make no mention of Holmes’ notorious majority decision in Buck v. Bell, where Holmes and his colleagues (including Louis Brandeis) upheld the forced sterilization of those who “sap the strength of the State.”

In sum, the Center for American Progress has produced a fairy tale version of history, one that highlights what the authors see as the accomplishments of progressivism while totally ignoring anything that might detract from their lopsided narrative. Anyone interested in actually learning about the origins and history of the progressive movement should look elsewhere.

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  • ||

    I think the idea behind being progressive is that you want to continuously improve. One would expect that the progressives of yesteryear would not seem progressive by today's standards.

    Now, an interesting article would explore why conservatives keep getting more progressive as well, just at a slower pace.

  • Ray Pew||

    I think the idea behind being progressive is that you want to continuously improve.

    Such a definition is so broad to be meaningless. The reality is that Progressives today hold to many of the original ideological principles of previous Progressives. They may equate "progressive" with "improvement", but it is perceived through their structured view of the world.

    Just because they have discarded the abomination of eugenics doesn't mean that they discarded the concept of social engineering through central planning. It's just packaged prettier.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Good post, O pun-named one.

  • ||

    I'm not sure that any progressives are into "central planning" but it is true that we are still dedicated to the idea that people can and should work together to improve society.

  • ||

    Whoof! Wish I had time to dissect this statement. Somebody else pick up my light work, please.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    It's impossible to dissect. What a platitude.

  • ||

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • ||

    Troll, feed not the.

    Thanked you are.

  • ed||

    In the wind, pissing you are.

  • Ray Pew||

    I'm not sure that any progressives are into "central planning" but it is true that we are still dedicated to the idea that people can and should work together to improve society.

    Wow...way to reduce your definitions down to the absurdly ridiculous. I mean by this description, what political ideology WOULDN'T fit such a description?

    It's when you accurately characterize ideologies that the real distinctions appear. Say like the means by which you propose "that people can and should work together to improve society".

  • ||

    But don't libertarians believe that people should not work towards an improved society but rather in their own individual interests with an improved society to be the result?

  • Ray Pew||

    But don't libertarians believe that people should not work towards an improved society but rather in their own individual interests with an improved society to be the result?

    I can't claim that ALL libertarians believe my view, but from my understanding libertarians don't prescribe any specific means of action, merely that it refrains from aggressing upon the rights of others. If you wish to organize voluntarily to work towards some goal, so be it.

    This system of organization, of those who are most self-interested, IMO, is more reasonable than the idea that ALL can be compelled to act in such a manner.

  • ||

    If you wish to organize voluntarily to work towards some goal, so be it.

    But doesn't that describe democratic government?

  • ||

    Nope. Democracy doesn't equal total freedom and equality of influence. Democracy is a utilitarian tool to give representation, not an end in and of itself that represents true consensus across a wide spectrum of society. Worshiping democracy itself means that you are missing the point.

  • ||

    No. it doesn't.

  • Ray Pew||

    But doesn't that describe democratic government?

    Only in the most absurdly reduced description that you seem to favor. It also describes the Mafia.

  • cynical||

    Yes, democracy is when people organize voluntarily to pursue a goal. That goal being doing something to another group of people or forcing them to do something against their will. Note that the same could be said of a lynch mob, bandit gang, or terrorist cell.

  • ||

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb trying to decide what to have for dinner.

  • André||

    I often define libertarianism as a desire to replace coercive government institutions with voluntary private ones. You can throw in stuff about non-aggression and self-ownership if you'd like, but those are more of a philosophical grounding.

  • ||

    Libertarians don't think government (or force generally) should be used to CONSCRIPT people or their property in the work of improving society.

    People can volunteer themselves and their resources to societal improvement all they like.

  • ||

    Society exists for the mutual benefit of its members, not the other way around. The progressives think that the individual exists for the benefit of the society and that the individual is subordinate to the society.

  • RM||

    No, they believe that people should not be forced to work together. However they still have that choice if they want to.

  • darjen||

    yes, I would say that society is best improved by allowing people to look after their own best interests. therefore we DO believe in working towards an improved society. they are one and the same.

    by the same token, central economic planning by technocrats inevitably leads to a worse off society for everyone.

  • ||

    Progressivism = technocracy

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Wait... I know I might be feeding a troll a bit here (many hours later of course) but I've heard a number of "progressives" claim they aren't for central planning lately.

    I can only figure that either the folks who have claimed this either have absolutely no clue what "central planning" refers to, or they're just remorseless liars.

    For the record Dan T. when the government is busy dictating interest rates, money supply, who can buy & sell what, in what parts of the country, from which companies, at what rates, etc. etc. etc. - that is central planning.

    This term doesn't necessarily require the state to own all resources. I think we're all aware that most "progressives" are not communists anymore. But government control over resources was the goal - ownership was just a means. In America, the government certainly has control of most capital in a number of different sectors.

  • Robert||

    My understanding of progressivism is that it always has been animated by a desire for rule by science. It was considered an alternative to another kind of supposed rule by science -- Marxism or "scientific socialism".

    Progressives happened to side with socialists a lot, but partly by coincidence. For instance, progressivism was, and still is, not pro-labor per se, but seeing organized labor as a tool by which they could knock down the power of employers and investors, who they saw as sometimes an obstruction to the progress of scientific rule. By similar coincidence they have been the allies of religionists in wanting to suppress liquor and other intoxicants. And they're pretty pragmatic politically, so they tend to pick up and stick to allies they've rolled logs with for a while, which is why it may be hard to discern progressives' underlying principles.

    Someone correct me if my take on progressivism is wrong.

  • Vajazzle||

    "Just because they have discarded the abomination of eugenics"

    Right, because that the majority of abortions are performed on black women is just a coincidence.

  • Zeb||

    ?

    There are other options besides coincidence and secret eugenics schemes based on false racial classifications.

  • RM||

    Yes, because obviously forced abortions wouldn't be reported by anyone, right?

  • ||

    In what way have "Progressives" discarded the abomination of eugenics?

    They all still screech for unhindered abortion, especially in the case of handicapped children. Dr. Emanuel, Obama's own Medical Advisor, calls for mass sterilization and rationing of health care for the "useful" alone.

    The evils of eugenics and "structured societies" go hand-in-hand, and they always will.

  • ||

    I think the idea behind being progressive is that you want to continuously improve. One would expect that the progressives of yesteryear would not seem progressive by today's standards.

    And eugenics was a integral part of that "wanting to continuously improve." It wasn't something "conservative" belonging to the past. Eugenics was the Future. It was Science. Only those benighted Catholics and some weird anti-government types rejected the Settled Science of Eugenics.

  • Vajazzle||

    SHUT THE FUCKING GOD DAMN HELL UP.

  • The Deuce||

    That's just dumb. *Everyone* wants things to "continuously improve", according to what they would consider an improvement.

    The defining aspect of Progressivism is that they wanted to use centralized state power to force their "improvements" on everyone in a collectivist manner.

  • Robert||

    No, that's doesn't define them; the same argument over this point is taking place at Volokh. What Deuce calls the defining aspect is necessary, but definitely not sufficient, to make a progressive. Otherwise it takes in far too much, making theocrats, for instance, progressives.

    And I wouldn't even say "in a collectivist manner" if by that is meant anything more than "in a collective manner", which is pretty redundant if you think about it in context.

  • cynical||

    "Progressive" and "liberal" are very different things -- while paying lip service to democracy (useful for promoting social stability moreso than empowering the lower classes), progressive thought embraces paternalism, technocracy, and control by elites; it's no shock that they would support eugenics until the actions of the Nazis poisoned the concept.

  • MJ||

    Progressive and classical liberal are not same thing. Modern liberal, on the other hand, is just progressivism rebranded.

  • MJ||

    Let's take a look at Obamacare. Make everyone purchase health insurance. I think that qualifies as paternalism. Going to have committees of experts determine what procedures should be covered as a cost savings. That qualifies for technocracy. Obama's big selling points was his being an inteelectual, and there's rule by elites.

    How are the modern liberals different from the bad old progressives again?

  • cynical||

    Modern "liberals" are typically not liberals, they murdered liberalism and wear it's skin to infiltrate society in search of new victims. Adopting the moniker of progress is, in a certain sense, a bad sign -- it means they no longer even feel the need to hide their true nature.

    That said, the sort of lefties that are very skeptical of government power, politicians, and infringements of civil rights still deserve the name, even if they get a bit bleeding heart at times. The part of the ACLU that was on the side of speech in Citizens United, Glen Greenwald, etc.

  • ||

    I think the idea behind being progressive is that you want to continuously improve.

    And that, ladies and gentleman, is what it sounds like when a point flies straight over Dan T.'s head at 150 mph.

  • ||

    BTW the sentence would have been made much more accurate with the inclusion of one more word:

    "I think the idea behind being progressive is that you want to continuously improve people."

    You know, by putting drugs in the air supply to help them calm down and become docile and cooperative, that kind of thing.

  • ||

    I think the idea behind being progressive is that you want to continuously improve.

    No, the idea behind "progressivism" is that you rationalize your lust for power by claiming that you're going to "improve" others, whether they like it or not.

    -jcr

  • matt||

    I don't know, Damon, what you did was sort of a dick move. I can't believe you focused on the past when reviewing a book called "The Progressive Intellectual Tradition in America."

    That's dirty pool.

  • matt||

    Wait, reading comprehension fail on me. The book came later. That's what I get for skimming.

  • ||

    can't tell you how many times i've done something like that. You're forgiven.

  • ||

    Wait..."progressives" are just fascists who call themselves sympathetic to the poor? I had no idea.

  • ||

    Actually, it appears a "progressive" is anybody who does something that a modern-day conservative doesn't approve of, even though he probably would have approved of it at the time...

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Way to show your ignorance, Dan T.

  • West Texas Boy||

    Actually, that's what you libs did to "Neocon" but thanks for playing. Feel free to try again.

  • ||

    SHUT UP DANNY DEVITO

  • Zeb||

    That's dumb. Lots of people self-identify as progressives.

  • ||

    ...including libertarians who believe in voluntary collectivism, oppose corporations as artificial legal creations of the state and support naturally progressive land taxation.

  • ||

    p1: two days ago I prescribed 15 of valium and 7.5 of morphine

    p1: Epi threw oxy- codone on top of that

    p2: He definitely overdosed

    p3: He died as a result

    p4: Ghosts do not exist

    p5: This is not the real Episiarch

    QED

  • Rabbit Scribe||

    "p1: two days ago..."

    I've heard Epi does, in fact, suffer chronic pain. I do hope this is some sort of (unfanthomable) joke?

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    I don't *quite* get it, either.

  • ||

    Most definitely a joke. Guess you had to be there.

  • ||

  • mr simple||

    I can't bring myself to read the thing, so tell me, does it mention their support and praise of Mussolini and Hitler (at least before the Final Solution became out of vogue)?

  • ||

    Don't leave out imperial Japan and Soviet Russia. The 1930's era progressives were also big fans of their wonderful state planning and collectivism. Nothing bad can come of this!

  • Thomas Friedman||

    China is the best!

  • West Texas Boy||

    What's funny is that they recently started calling themselves that because the term "liberal" became something of a perjorative term that they basically ruined with their nasty and cynical politics.

    So what did they do? They chose something (somewhat) worse that's quite a bit more accurate.

    Hey guys, it's not about what you call yourselves, it's about what you actually believe, and most normal people don't care for any of it.

  • ||

    “proving” that women required special protection from the state.

    What about me?

    I deserve to be protected from the State, too.

  • ||

    Alright. 8-hour work days, minimum wage, time-and-a-half overtime, and mandatory pension and disability insurance contributions for you, too.

  • ||

    The Enemy of Human Souls
    Sat grieving at the cost of coals;
    For Hell had been annexed of late,
    And was a sovereign Southern State.

    "It were no more than right," said he,
    "That I should get my fuel free.
    The duty, neither just nor wise,
    Compels me to economize --
    Whereby my broilers, every one,
    Are execrably underdone.
    [...]
    But since 'twere wicked to relax
    A tittle of the Sacred Tax,
    'Twas finally agreed to grant
    The bold Insurgent-protestant
    A bounty on each soul that fell
    Into his ineffectual Hell.

    --Ambrose Bierce, "Tariff", The Devil's Dictionary

  • Dimwit||

    Alright. 8-hour work days, minimum wage, time-and-a-half overtime, and mandatory pension and disability insurance contributions for you, too.

    ...

    I deserve to be protected from the State, too.

    Emphasis mine.

  • Ted S.||

    What about me?

    It isn't fair

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Of course the claim that the "progressives" socialist economic economic policies ever accomplished anything worth so much as one cent in value is also a big fairy tale.

  • ||

    Sure, Gilbert. Life was great before the New Deal and awful afterwards.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    It sure was shitty until some of the new deal regulatory policies were repealed, some time after world war two had already ended.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Absolutely 100% of the credit for every last cent of wealth and prosperity that has ever been created in this country goes entirely to the private sector and 0% is due to anything ever done by government.

    That is just as true after the "New Deal" as it was before it.

  • Anon||

    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    The New Deal didn't fix the problems caused by the Depression... WWII did that.

  • Jeffersonian||

    And it wasn't even WWII, but the roll-back of the regimention and regulation heaped on the economy before and during the war.

  • Jeff P||

    Nobody uses the words "indolent" or "fickle" anymore. Wonder how a modern black would react to it...

  • Jeff P||

    Nobody uses the words "indolent" or "fickle" anymore. Wonder how a modern black would react to it...

  • Vajazzling||

    "and that to conflate the two was intellectually dishonest"

    Like conflating the Dixicrats and the Republicans?

  • alan||

    Progressive History 101 (Minus All that Uncomfortable Racism, Sexism, and Support for Eugenics, and setting the field of economics back by two hundred years)

  • Craig||

    "Progressive" was always used by the Soviet Union. Now that they are gone, lefties thought it would be safe to bring it back.

  • ||

    I don't have any problem defining progressives as those who would make the individual subservient to the common good.

    It seems to fit the description given them by their opponents and it seems to represent what they consider their virtues.

    I get a little sick of hearing progressives complain about being compared to communists and Nazis. It isn't really hard to see why their opposition compares them to both--considering that the defining characteristic of Nazis and Communists was disposing of individual rights for what they saw as the common good, and neither was shy about using the state to achieve their ends.

    They thought using the state to those ends was something of a virtue, actually, something that Progressives today also have in common with the Communists and the Nazis.

    Yeah, when it comes to health care or global warming or any one of a dozen other issues, Obama really is like a Nazi and like a communist in a lot of ways, isn't he?

    They're not alike in every way, but their similar enough in the ways they're similar to be descriptive.

  • Handsome Dan||

    I'm not a progressive, but I'm a little sick of seeing them compared to Nazis and Commies. It's a goofy juxtaposition that obscures more than it reveals (unless you're interested in the ignorance of the person making the claim, in which case it reveals plenty). Damon ably demonstrates why the legacy of progressivism is, shall we say, a mixed bag, but to compare such things with the historic crime of the USSR or Third Reich makes you sound like a poor man's Jello Biafra. If you really do think that Obama (say) is a communist (or, for that matter, that GWB was a fascist), you need to read some books.

  • Green Jello||

    I am curious as to what a /rich man's/ Jello Biafra would look like...

  • T||

    Probably much like the current Jello Biafra, but fatter and even less inclined to share money with his bandmates.

  • ||

    "...but to compare such things with the historic crime of the USSR or Third Reich makes you sound like a poor man's Jello Biafra."

    I didn't compare the Progressives to anybody's genocide, but to ignore the ways their similar is to completely miss the point.

    The Nazis weren't awful just because of the genocide. The communists weren't awful just because of the Gulags and Killing Fields.

    They were also awful because they used the state to make individuals subservient to what they saw as the greater good of society.

    That's what Obama wants to do with my healthcare, he wants me to sacrifice my primo plan for the greater good of society. That's what he'd do with a global warming treaty if he thought he could get away with it--he wants me to sacrifice my standard of living for the greater good of society. That's what both Obama and Bush did with the banking industry--they sacrificed my future earnings for what they saw as the greater good of society...

    And if Obama and his supporters don't like being compared to Communists and Nazis that way? Then they should stop acting like Communists and Nazis--they should stop trying to use the government to force me to make personal sacrifices for the greater good of society.

    My vision doesn't use the government to force anyone to make sacrifices for the good of society--that makes me diametrically opposed to Progressives like Obama, ideologically, and both the Nazis and the Communists.

    So why shouldn't I make the comparison? It's apt in the way it's apt. It is very descriptive of our differences and my problem with the Progressives and him.

    Obama and the Progressives are like the communists. They are like the Nazis. They're not alike in every way, but in the ways Obama and the Progressives are like the communists and are like the Nazis, it represents the very substance of my differences with them.

    So why shouldn't I point them out?

  • ||

    My vision doesn't use the government to force anyone to make sacrifices for the good of society

    I think you mean "fantasy", not vision...

  • ||

    We are talking about competing visions here...

    But, at any rate, I'm not trying to seize the levers of power and shove libertarianism down everybody's throats, whether they want it or not, either.

    And that's a big difference between me and the Progressives in itself, isn't it.

  • West Texas Boy||

    I'm not trying to seize the levers of power and shove libertarianism down everybody's throats, whether they want it or not, either.

    This is a point I cannot seem to get across to many of my acquaintances who are, to say the least, sympathetic to the Democrats. They are so biased to relativism that it's almost like they can't comprehend that libertarianism is the absence of compulsion and not just compulsion in favor of another set of values.

    Of course, Marx the Soviets had a term for that... not that that would be ironic or anything.

  • Robert||

    I've have the same problem with conservative friends. Part of the problem is that Americans distrust isms, period.

  • Tony||

    Okay but in a democratic society that never, ever willingly chooses a libertarian system, how is your vision ever going to come to pass?

    And what exactly is the point of talking about something that will never exist unless you're a little girl with an imaginary friend?

    Any political debate that doesn't factor political reality into it is useless because it lacks a key element. Libertarians have to have it all or nothing because until we reach libertopia, every libertarian action government takes appears to cause disaster and misery.

  • ||

    Factoring in political reality to every debate just muddies the picture. Every political ideology is a "vision," and will never come to pass without being democratically chosen. You basically just described every vision, including your own, whatever that may be. And its Libertarian "INaction" a government would take.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, my utopia is Roddenberryism. That's how I describe the world I'd like to live in. But it depends on a lot of unjustifiable assumptions so it's not relevant to any debate about real-world politics.

    If your only answer to the world's problems is to blow the whole thing up and start over and implement your brilliant plan, then you're deliberately not contributing to any solution to those problems that will exist in the real world.

  • ||

    Tony, we aren't asking the democratic majority to give us anything. We are simply demanding that our and everyone's rights be fully respected. So it isn't a matter of whether or not we can make society do what we want, it's whether or not society will do what is right.

  • ||

    Ya. The whole point is not having a brilliant "plan" for everyone. Everyone gets to decide they're own plan. And help people too.

  • Robert||

    in a democratic society that never, ever willingly chooses a libertarian system, how is your vision ever going to come to pass?


    As a byproduct, a result of compromise -- the same way religious liberty came about.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    So, Dan... your vision DOES use the government to force people to make sacrifices for the good of society?

    And you're okay with that?

    If yes to both... tell us where you'd stop using force.

  • ||

    Ken, the problem is that we now have so many people whose self-interest is wrapped up in how much they can sponge off of the federal government that there is no way to have a libertarian solution short of violent revolution.

    I think the only way out of the current predicament is to ask people to "sacrifice for the common good" by giving up their spot on the gravy train. Then taxes can fall and we can get back to some kind of sanity. Until then self interest will drive more abuse of power.

  • ||

    I'm not proposing a solution to everything.

    I'm simply pointing to Obama and the Progressives and calling it like I see it.

    We have a Progressive in the White House now, and everybody who thinks the government has already overstepped its bounds, that it's already asked us to make too many sacrifices for the "common good"?

    They all need to start lining up against this joker.

    Sure, long term, I'd love to see more freedom, especially individual freedom, but in the meantime, I'm really more interested in pulling as much rug out from under this joker as possible.

    And I think there's hope of doing that. I think the Tea Party is emblematic of that hope--it's the one thing that unifies the disparate bunch of 'em in the Tea Party ... The idea that we're not willing to make personal sacrifices for this man's vision of a better society.

    I'm all for Libertopia, but first things first. This Obama guy is the very enemy of individual rights. And he needs to be exposed for that. Libertopia can wait.

  • Tony||

    I'm sure you can list all the personal sacrifices you've had to make thus far into the Obama administration.

  • AA||

    They will come. Its only been a year. And its not only Obama, but the whole Democratic congress(And Republican when they are in). Thats why we are 12.4 trillion dollars in debt. Obama is not the worst thing to happen, I don' think getting Pelosi or McCain or Biden or Romney or Hilldog would have been much better. Its all the same to me.

  • Tony||

    If it's all the same to you then it's probable you're guilty of lazy thinking. Each politician is different from the next. Some are genuine public servants. If those are few and far between it's only because there is a flaw in the system of checks. And that has mostly to do with the influence of extragovernmental powers you want to empower by weakening their only watchdog.

    There is a difference between parties, and I don't like it, I wish both parties were engaging in rational discourse to solve the country's problems. But that's not how it is. The corruption started in one party and is creeping into the other. But it's a corruption not just based on greed, but a philosophical scaffolding which you guys, yes you guys, provide.

  • ||

    What the fuck are you talking about? How do you come to blame the political disease on the only ones who want to actually cure it?

    The question is not HOW the politicians can solve out problems, it CAN they solve them. And so far they've consistently shown that they can't. In fact, as you seem to suggest, they're only getting worse. Any "solution" to a problem that just perpetuates the source of the problem is not a solution at all. Fighting aggression with aggression does not work!

  • ||

    They are only getting worse, and he is prescribing the same cure. That sounds like lazy thinking to me.

  • Robert||

    I don't have any problem defining progressives as those who would make the individual subservient to the common good.


    I do, because that would make the current rulers of Iran, for instance, progressives.

  • ||

    Well, Iran is run by socialists who want society run by an elite class (clerics).

  • ||

    Theocrats and technocrats are motivated by exactly the same basic impulses. They just serve different gods.

    Which helps explain why many self-proclaimed progressives are strangely reluctant to rock the boat in countries like Iran and China. They don't see those authoritarian governments as fundamentally evil and abusive, just as flawed implementations run by people who aren't as clever as they are. But they have all sorts of ideas and are always ready to help improve our lot in life. All they need from us is our obedience.

  • Robert||

    Those characteristics make theocrats and technocrats subsets of something, but not of each other.

  • ||

    Ya know that actually makes sense dude.

    Lou
    www.vpn-privacy.us.tc

  • Utilitarian Douche||

    The Supreme Court agreed, declaring that, "As healthy mothers are essential to vigorous offspring, the physical well-being of woman becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race."


    [...]

    Holmes and his colleagues (including Louis Brandeis) upheld the forced sterilization of those who “sap the strength of the State.”

    I see nothing wrong here.

  • Robert||

    The first statement was approximately restated in a Roe v. Wade opinion.

  • ||

    Here is a good progressive for you.

    , Mayor Lara Bradburn said she supports the creation of a tobacco-free workplace and any program that encourages employees to quit smoking. She also agrees with the practice of not hiring people who smoke.

    "There's no reason people should smoke," Bradburn said. "Nothing good ever came from smoking."

    Referring to smoking as the root of all evil — particularly following her mother's troubles with the habit — Bradburn said that eliminating tobacco use would help decrease city insurance rates — at cost savings to taxpayers — while helping employees be healthier.


    http://www2.hernandotoday.com/.....-use-butt/

  • Penn Jillette||

    "There's no reason people should smoke," Bradburn said. "Nothing good ever came from smoking."

    It's heartbreaking to me when people stop doing things that I can't see any reason for them to be doing in the first place.

  • ||

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  • ||

    In fact, Brandeis argued, since women were responsible for bearing future generations, their bodies were in some sense collective property

    I would love to see this trotted out in the interminable litigation over various abortion laws. The sputtering and cognitively dissonant outrage, it would be priceless.

  • TXLimey||

    You are expecting cognitive dissonance from the same people who still present an award named for Margaret Sanger? I don't think they're capable of it.

  • Anomalous||

    Six generations of Progressive imbecility are enough.

  • ||

    Let’s not forget progressive wars, like the Spanish-American World and World War One, where being a peacenik met you could be thrown in jail or deported.
    This then lead to a century of involvement in worldwide conflicts.
    American Progressives also began the new age of American Colonialism. They believed the peoples of the Philippines and Puerto Rico were to backwards (non-white) to govern themselves.
    Many progressive leaders like Teddy Roosevelt and LBJ thought wars were good for the national character.

  • The Gobbler||

    All your pussy are belong to us.

  • LOLCat||

    I has a money - what I do wif it?

  • The Gobbler||

    Did the original reason Gear Girl OD?

  • ||

    Words mean things. Change and progress are not synonymous. Progress is change in the right direction. "Progressive" is a misnomer if the change advocated does not improve the general welfare of the society, no matter how strongly the Progressive believes that it will.

    "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions!" (H.G. Bohn, Handbook of Proverbs, 1855)

  • Pip||

    "Progress is change in the right direction."

    General: "Tell me, Major Schulz, are you making any progress towards the final solution?"

  • ||

    War on drugs continues.

  • ||

    I think the Damon's right in his criticism of the idiots on the Left who think (or even wish) that the current vision of progressivism is a clear line from the progressivism of 100 years ago; however, that does not mean most modern "progressives" (most of whom are just young idealists with poor understandings of market economics) are Wilsonites and Jacksonians, at least not intentionally.

    I just don't think, history aside, we
    should concede the term "progressive" to the Left because most of the real world outcomes of their policies, from unstable currency to public school monopolies to minimum wage laws to gas taxes to licensing and overregulation are regressive in reality. Besides to be against "progressives" sounds like we are for "regressives" - which I most certainly am not. That is the exact dichotomy they want with that word even though it is contradictory to reality where their policies disproportionately hurt the poor (and thus racial minorities) and small businesses.

  • cynical||

    Let's cede it to them, while pointing out the inherent arrogance of the term, and suggesting that it is technocratic hubris which characterizes and undermines their ideology.

  • AA||

    I like cynical's idea. Let the babies have their word and then point out the flaws in it.

  • ||

    "The overwork of future mothers," he wrote, "directly attacks the welfare of the nation."

    Surely the rise of the woman's movement, the collapse of the West's birthrate, and the subsequent demographic transformation of large swaths of formerly prosperous territory to near third world status (economically, culturally, and demographically) shows that Brandeis was right!

  • skeptic||

    I think today's progressive is the same as liberals of the 80s and 90s. They abandoned the term liberal when it became too tarnished.

  • ||

    Maybe we can have it back now?

  • ||

    The bottom line about what it means to be progressive is that no matter who is calling themselves a progressive - they are trying to progress the idea/belief/whatever that they believe will be better for society as a whole.

    Basically all progressives just need to clarify better. Tea Party members = progressive, Obama-nuts (which I am one of and proud to be one) - progressive. KKK/Neo-nazis/Ignorant Individuals = progressive.

    All these groups can be considered progressive because they are trying to change the future from what the present is like.

    Get a grip - debate about something relevant and stop just slinging mud.

  • ||

    "All these groups can be considered progressive because they are trying to change the future from what the present is like."

    I believe that society exists for the benefit of individuals, so I am not a Progressive.

    I want to change the future to a society where people don't use the government to coerce change. So I am not a Progressive.

    And I never will be.

    Oh, and by the way? The idea that individuals are something to be sacrificed for the common good? That flies in the face of about 390 years of American culture.

    Really, when the American people see them for what they are, Progressives lose. The people you want to make all the sacrifices are starting to wake up.

    You got a Progressive in on a lark. The people wanted an end to the War on Terror--nobody wanted society remade in a Progressive image.

  • ||

    Wow. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, but even in these benighted swamps, your combination of simple-mindedness and self-regard is something to behold.

    Genocide, the progressive income tax, the Spanish Inquisition, municipal parking meters - to you the difference between these things is trivial. It's all "the individual... sacrificed for the common good." Yea, verily, life in North Korea and life in Sweden are essentially just different flavors of the same gruel, you proclaim. And all who support one must, objectively, support the other. Not big on nuance, are you?

    Then there's your apparent total ignorance of the fact that not all power comes in government form. Who weeps for those individuals sacrificed for Massey Coal's bottom line? Not libertarians, that's for sure.

    Fortunately, most human beings - yes, even Americans! - are a hell of a lot smarter about the real world than Ken Shultz. Whether or not Obama was elected to "remake society in a Progressive image", one thing is certain: no voting majority, anywhere on Earth, has ever wanted society remade in a libertarian image.

  • ||

    Then there's your apparent total ignorance of the fact that not all power comes in government form.

    The monopoly on initiating violence does. That's the form of power we are most concerned about.

    Genocide, the progressive income tax, the Spanish Inquisition, municipal parking meters - to you the difference between these things is trivial. It's all "the individual... sacrificed for the common good."

    When the justification for things you like, and for things you don't like, is one and the same, perhaps you should examine whether that justification is principled, or expedient, and if it is principled, whether you really like where it leads.

  • ||

    Or, better yet, we could do what people have been doing for thousands of years: looking for the ideal balance between individual rights and the common good. I'm no genius, but somehow I'm able to perform the awesome mental feat of reconciling why the Postal Service is good and Auschwitz is bad.

  • ||

    There's no question that people need to sacrifice something just to live in a society. People do so willingly all the time...

    The question is whether we're out of balance on that, and the fact is--we are!

    They've already asked me to sacrifice way too much for Wall Street investors. They've already asked me to sacrifice way too much for ObamaCare.

    ...and something tells me that the Progressives and Obama have a whole lot more where that came from!

    You've already asked for too much. The people you wanted to make those sacrifices have started to figure the Progresives out.

    And when they finally do? You're done.

  • Tony||

    Ken, could you state in approximate dollar amounts how much your level of sacrifice has increased under Obama?

  • ||

    Wait a cotton-pickin' minute! Postal Service is good?

  • Whitepaladin||

    seriously, you think the postal service is good?

  • ||

    I made it really clear what the differences were between the Progressives and the Nazis and others... Maybe you missed it?

    But at least you got the similarities down pat.

    "Fortunately, most human beings - yes, even Americans! - are a hell of a lot smarter about the real world than Ken Shultz."

    It's funny, 'cause I'm really not sure Progressives do live in the real world. At least when I hear them talk about the real world implications of what they're proposing, they often seem to think that there aren't any downsides!

    What's the downside to ObamaCare? Do you admit there is any?

    What was the downside to Kyoto? Do you admit that there were any?

    I have never once heard a Progressive give an honest account of the downsides to those issues, but I don't live in the real world?

    "Whether or not Obama was elected to "remake society in a Progressive image", one thing is certain: no voting majority, anywhere on Earth, has ever wanted society remade in a libertarian image."

    You're right about the political part, with maybe the exception of the American Revolution.

    And Estonia. And a whole bunch of other former provinces of the Soviet Empire. There's Chile...

    I don't think we can really count China. No one really voted to go Capitalist in China, but I think it'd be a stretch to say that was an unpopular decision.

    And even without political revolutions, isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Aren't elections and revolutions mostly what happens after people's hearts and minds have been made up?

    All God's creation cries out for freedom. People generally only crave the false security of the State when they're frightened.

    And surely there's something to learn from that. Ever noticed that most Progressive ideas are only popular in times of turmoil? Has there ever been a time in history when prosperous, free people have chosen State coercion rather than freedom?

  • ||

    Ah, yes, Chile. It speaks volumes that the purest implementation of libertarian economics in history was won not at the ballot box, but in the torture chamber. So what if a few thousand individuals had be sacrificed in the name of the Chicago School? It was for the common good!

    As for your other examples, please, explain to me how Estonia's public healthcare system is more "free" than ours.

    Downsides to "Obamacare" and Kyoto? Yes, they were both too compromised to actually get anything done. Unlike you, I don't regard the rights of insurance companies to make a profit as more sacred than the right of a human being to stay alive regardless of the economic circumstance he happened to be born into.

    As for choosing state coercion during times of peace and prosperity, the largest expansions of the welfare state in human history occurred during the long capitalist boom after World War II. I can't tell if that's what you mean by "state coercion", though - the jargon's flying pretty thick in here.

    Look, it's pretty clear that you're a Republican first and a libertarian a distant second. Your fixation on the imaginary oppression of the Obama administration while wholly disregarding the last administration (you know, the one that asserted the right to arrest you and hold you indefinitely without trial, and the one that had people arrested for wearing the wrong t-shirts at rallies, and the one that compiled lists of American citizens who weren't allowed on airplanes, etc., etc.) outs you as a pure partisan. The Democrats are "the enemy of individual rights"? Have you been asleep for the past 10 years?

  • Seventh Son||

    You cited the past administration's wrongs. I agree with you.

    How about Obama's authorization of the assassination of an American citizen?

  • Ray Pew||

    Then there's your apparent total ignorance of the fact that not all power comes in government form. Who weeps for those individuals sacrificed for Massey Coal's bottom line? Not libertarians, that's for sure.

    What "force" are you speaking of? The fact that miners, who voluntarily worked for Massey Coal, were killed in a mine accident is not evidence of "force".

  • ||

    I've read my quote over and over, and darned if I can't find the word "force" anywhere in there.

    My point is, there's more to power than just physical force. But for libertarians, economic coercion doesn't exist - they just call it "freedom".

  • Seventh Son||

    Since force is what libertarians take issue with, "force" is at issue whether you like it or not.

    Voluntary, private contracts by definition do not involve force.

  • AA||

    one thing is certain: no voting majority, anywhere on Earth, has ever wanted society remade in a libertarian image.

    Ya, and they have all done fantastic!

    By the way, Scandinavia is making what could be called Libertarian reforms, especially in their economy, so the comparison of them to North Korea is absurd. I love it when people try to make the point against Libertarians that few agree with us, or there is a reason we are not popular or no voting majority, anywhere on Earth has ever wanted society remade ina libertarian image. Ya, because following the croud has always ended up great. Funny, when any society propers throughout history, its because they do things like open up their markets, increase civil liberties and stop fighting stupid wars. But people like Jason Toon and Tony don't understand that.

  • ||

    I'm all for not fighting stupid wars. But anyway, let's face facts. Social-democratic societies have produced the highest levels of prosperity, education, health, and reported happiness ever recorded. And those countries still managed to produce dynamic, profitable capitalist enterprises like Shell and Volvo. Are they Utopias? No, just the best-functioning, most livable societies humans have ever created. But oh, are they not "free" enough for you? OK, you guys can have Somalia; I'll take the Netherlands.

  • ||

    "Then there's your apparent total ignorance of the fact that not all power comes in government form. Who weeps for those individuals sacrificed for Massey Coal's bottom line? Not libertarians, that's for sure."

    We haven't ignored it. We are all against illegal uses of power, criminal coercion. What needs to be actively fought right now is LEGAL coercion. The only legal coercer is the government. If Massey Coal committed some coercive crime, such as fraud, against their workers, they should be punished. But who punishes the government when they commit coercion?

    "Fortunately, most human beings - yes, even Americans! - are a hell of a lot smarter about the real world than Ken Shultz. Whether or not Obama was elected to "remake society in a Progressive image", one thing is certain: no voting majority, anywhere on Earth, has ever wanted society remade in a libertarian image."

    That great arbiter of truth and intelligence, the majority opinion. If the majority commands it, it must be done!

  • ||

    People act like because Libertarians don't always propose government solutions to problems we must not care. More lazy, shallow thinking.

  • ||

    Hey, Ken Shultz started talking the electoral smack. Take it up with him.

  • Whitepaladin||

    Fortunately, most human beings - yes, even Americans! - are a hell of a lot smarter about the real world than Ken Shultz

    Obviously you're not one of them.

  • ||

    I mean, seriously?

    The suggestion that the whole world is just like you? ...in that they want the government to force everyone to make sacrifices?

    That isn't a political issue, that's like an anxiety thing.

    Really, we're not all out to get you.

  • Pip||

    "individuals are something to be sacrificed for the common good?"

    Yes. Which is why I propose bringing back slavery. What's the misery of a few dozen fieldhands when compared to the people their free labor helps to feed and clothe.

  • ||

    I think you're right to bring up the Civil War as an example of this foundation cultural principle...

    Individuals are more important than society or the state--and if we have to destroy the economy and culture of the South in order to make it so that no individual can be kept as a slave?

    Then that's okay. 'cause individuals are more important than society or the state. That's why it's an American virtue that we'd rather let 1,000 guilty men go free than wrongfully convict one innocent man. It goes back to Jamestown and Plymouth. It's a huge part of what we fought about in the Civil War. Individual rights--both property and morally speaking--were the difference, the edge that let us triumph over Imperial Japan, the Nazis and Communists...who didn't have that ultimate respect for the individual.

    It's been a foundation principle throughout all our history.. My rights are more important than what some politician says is in the best interests of society. I think that idea is a big part of what makes us American.

  • Tony||

    Your premise that individuals are paramount to society is something most liberals would agree with. They'd just interpret the good of the individual differently. Like not being forced to live in a society where all the wealth is kept by 10 people.

  • ||

    But we're not talking about the elite here...

    We're talking about my future earnings going to Wall Street investors. We're talking about some waitress' future earning going to GM workers. We're talking about forcing twenty-somethings to pay for everybody else's health care.

    Obama and the Progressives have gone way beyond talking about the elite. He wants a consumer protection agency to make sure average people don't get the loans they want. ...for the good of society generally.

    The idea that Progressives will only hurt the elite is out the window.

  • AA||

    I don't know any Libertarian who wants all of the wealth is kept by 10% of the people. Funny though, the bigger our government has gotten, whether Republican or Democrat, the more wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few. Coincidence? I think not.

  • Tony||

    Is government really bigger? I recall 70-90% taxation on the rich in the 20th century. I recall a government that fought and won a world war and that built a national infrastructure and landed a man on the moon.

    We have a government neither too big nor too small. It's just the right size to please the vested financial interests. Which means that the rules that pertain to them are lax, while the rules that pertain to Iraqi families and the poor in America are pretty draconian.

    The problem isn't government per se, cuz there's always gonna be a government. The problem is who is controlling it, and whether that's the people or not.

  • ||

    Taxation aside, the government has far more control over personal lives. Plus, that taxation let off, then got "progressively" larger again over time, with no end in sight.

    "The problem isn't government per se, cuz there's always gonna be a government. The problem is who is controlling it, and whether that's the people or not."

    Government is far easier to control and make it work for "the people"(whatever that means. very subjective) the smaller and more local it is.

  • ||

    The Regressives are still supporters of eugenics. They tried to pay Bristol Palin to abort her innocent baby.

  • Anomalous||

    "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." – Alexander Tytler

  • AA||

    +1

  • ||

    Forget about progressives. As if that were bad enough, Dems also worship Stalin, Mao, and Che.

  • ||

    "Dems worship Stalin." This is what passes for incisive commentary on the American right today. Reason must be proud.

  • cynical||

    Well, you can understand their confusion. Jesus is one of Bush's favorite philosophers, Mao is one of Anita Dunn's. So if Jesus : Bush :: Mao : Dunn, and Bush is a Christian...

  • hmm||

    Once you have convinced yourself you are smarter than everyone else it's an easy step to ruling the world.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    seize the levers of power and shove libertarianism down everybody's throats, whether they want it or not, either

    This is just another version of Tony's latest meme: Libertarianism = authoritarianism.

    It's total bullshit, but some people actually believe it. Or are told to believe it, in some cases.

  • Tony||

    Actually, the lesson for today is that political arguments that don't take political reality into account are inherently flawed. Unless, of course, you want to impose your preferred version of society onto people who don't want it. Then you'd be an authoritarian and a complete hypocrite.

    It was right there on the syllabus...

  • Ray Pew||

    Unless, of course, you want to impose your preferred version of society onto people who don't want it. Then you'd be an authoritarian and a complete hypocrite.

    How can you be an authoritarian by proposing that others be barred from infringing upon the rights of others?

    "You're an authoritarian for not allowing me to use government to impose my wishes upon you and everyone else!!!!"

    Such contortions of logic and ideas destroy any credibility of one's arguments.

  • Tony||

    But I accept the premise that the people can act collectively to decide the rules for the society they share, including the distribution of wealth--wealth that couldn't exist without a government there to recognize it as such.

    Besides, there's a perfectly capitalistic way to explain wealth redistribution. You hoard it all for yourself and you're gonna find a knife at your throat by one of the starving masses. Protection against throat slitting. Payment for service.

  • ||

    "But I accept the premise that the people can act collectively to decide the rules for the society they share, including the distribution of wealth--wealth that couldn't exist without a government there to recognize it as such."

    And by collectively do you mean everyone agrees to these rules or just the majority? Authoritarianism by the majority over the minority is still authoritarianism. In a libertarian society, where no one could be coerced against their will, there could by definition be no authoritarianism.

    "Besides, there's a perfectly capitalistic way to explain wealth redistribution. You hoard it all for yourself and you're gonna find a knife at your throat by one of the starving masses. Protection against throat slitting. Payment for service."

    Ridiculous, shit-filled babble. Although, on second thought, this is completely predictable from the viewpoint of someone who supports the coercive state. In capitalism, you have the right to keep your life and property without any payment. It is completely opposite of capitalism to say "your money or your life." It just does not compute. Keep on fucking up Tony, it is entertaining.

  • ||

    "Whether or not Obama was elected to "remake society in a Progressive image", one thing is certain: no voting majority, anywhere on Earth, has ever wanted society remade in a libertarian image."

    And by the way, besides the weird read that the masses, historically, have never yearned to be free...

    Doesn't this statement remind you of...the Borg?

    I saw the old episodes the other day... Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated into the collective!

    Little, parasitic Borg. All sure they're going to inevitably assimilate their host, all sure that the host is just selfish if he doesn't want the blood sucked out of him! ...all for the good of society?

    On an aesthetic level--yuck!

  • Tony||

    Yeah you're still not getting this 'nuance' concept.

  • ||

    Ken,

    I think the big thing that you and many avowedly non-progressive libertarians miss is that massive economic inequality is (after national security) the easiest political route to the growth of government. Moreover, the current distribution of wealth descends from centuries of government-enforced inequality, slavery, cronyism, bad monetary policy and corporatism.

    Given that the elites are the ones that run government, it is perfectly natural that they would structure the system to benefit themselves and keep the poor out. The goal of libertarians should be to tear down the barriers to entry for small business, the cryptic legalese and tax code, the disenfranchisement of individuals from self-governance via centralization, the usurption of the property of the poor, the history of the government violating civil rights, the rampant racism of the modern justice system, the corporate welfare state, the military industrial complex, the cynical bribery of the poor to become dependent on welfare in exchange for votes, the degradation of private property rights resulting from corporate pollution, etc.

    The classical liberals like Adam Smith and Thomas Paine realized this and believe that a limited government and a free market combined with a naturally progressive land tax and a public education system would be the best way to correct centuries of mercantilism and bring about a higher level of economic equality as well as increased freedom.

    They also recognized that corporations were inefficient entities prone to corruption and monopolization and expanding the size of government only consolidates their power, socializes their risk, suppresses their small business competition and enables their wrongdoing, something that flies over the heads of the modern Left. They are right that corporations can and do violate individual rights (the same way other individuals can), and the individual actors in them usually get off scott free with the government's blessing and a golden parachute - in a free market with a legal system that holds individuals actually accountable for wrongdoing, these same crooks would be in jail.

    Since we have never had a free market (which would only exist without the corporate entity) and have had centuries of government-initiated inequality even to this very day, we have never been able to turn society into a true meritocracy. The fact that many libertarians shy away from the issue of inequality strikes me as very odd, given that we are the ones who are correct about the roots of inequality and, as a matter of political strategy, should passionately work to increase equality of opportunity (which would improve equality of outcomes) - in order to castrate the seductive class warfare arguments of the Left.

    I always call myself a "free progressive" as a modern update of "classical liberal." I think the phrase gets to the heart of the idea that social and economic progress for the lower classes need not come at the expense of freedoms for everyone else. In fact, almost always, government attempts to "create equality" end up either creating more inequality (usually the reality of socialism in a democratic society) or creating more misery (for instance, the Soviet Union, North Korea or Cuba) - as well as less freedom.

    Progressivism need not be about soaking the rich and redistributing property to the poor by government force - but corporations should pay for the legal protection their entity provides them via a corporate value tax. Land owners should likewise pay value taxes for the disproportionate legal protection their monopoly on limited natural resources historically distributed by government in a non-egalitarian fashion and naturally appreciate in value due to scarcity. Since the poor don't own significant land, and corporate value taxes (as opposed to income taxes) would be more difficult to pass down to consumers like a hidden sales tax (as smaller competitors could actually compete and undercut their prices), these would be truly progressive taxes that can fund the legal system, the interstate highway system and a limited military. The rest of the powers should be devolved back to state and local governments, who can decide to have as many or few social programs as they choose, and individuals can choose where to live based upon the environment they believe suits their political leanings best.

    One more point, I've always said this to my socialist friends, but you can have collectivist societies as a subsection of a libertarian society. If they want to live in a voluntary socialist commune with equal distribution of wealth and shared property, that is certainly their right and they would live unmolested as long as they did not violate the rights of those outside their commune. In fact, their rights would be defended if an outside force or corporation violated their property or individual rights. However, we can never have a libertarian subset within a socialist society.

  • Tony||

    Interesting post.

    expanding the size of government only consolidates their power, socializes their risk, suppresses their small business competition and enables their wrongdoing

    Talking about government as "small" or "big" is a bit too vague to me. What specific programs and policies are we cutting? If corporations are too free to take control of government, wouldn't that call for "bigger" government in the realm of mitigating that influence? A powerless government can't deal with the abuses of other powerful entities.

    The rest of the powers should be devolved back to state and local governments

    But why? In my experience local governments can be at least as corrupt as the federal government. Drawing the line at the states seems totally arbitrary. We're a powerful country in competition and cooperation with other countries, shouldn't we have a strong national government to deal with the problems that affect people nationally?

    I just don't equate size of government--which should be appropriate to the needs and wants of the people it governs--with its level of tyranny. Tyranny is what it's doing, not its size.

  • ||

    Like usual, Tony, you miss the point. How would making government bigger reduce the influence of corporations over the government? Regulations and taxes cause corporations to lobby government in order to protect themselves. Corporations aren't wasting valuable money trying to bribe bureaucrats and elected officials for nothing.

    Likewise conglomeration is encouraged by government interference with the economy - larger corporations are pushed towards merging infrastructure with other businesses while increasing market share. Smaller businesses realize they won't be able to compete as well in a highly regulated economy when the regulatory and accounting infrastructure is too expensive (and they already don't get economies of scale to compete with larger counterparts) - so they start looking for buyers. "Too big to fail" is really a function of an economy where risk is socialized and the regulatory and tax environment make it difficult for competition.

    Contrast that to a purely free market approach, where there are no corporations and the bigger the company is, the more liability insurance the owners would need to purchase in order to protect themselves and their personal property. If there is no socialization of risk and everyone is fully and legally accountable for fraud or violation of the rights and property of others, no rational owner would dare growing a company too big to be controlled. If you want decentralized, responsible businesses, the solution is less government bureaucracy and a more focused legal system on specific criminal actions instead of on decoding thousands of pages of legalese written by corporatist politicians and enforced by gargantuan bureaucracies.

    In a free market, labor would be more divided and specialized, and businesses would be smaller in scale (a "nation of shopkeepers" as the term goes), some perhaps working collectively to build bigger products.

    As for your other comment, do you seriously believe it is better when the people deciding the most intricate rules and regulations by which our lives are governed are thousands of miles away, bought by powerful special interests, instead of down at our local city hall? The anecdotal evidence of local corruption a.) pales in comparison to the massive amount of corruption at the federal level and b.) only affects the individuals living within that jurisdictuion. If you don't like it, you can move to another one. When the federal government makes a law, and the law is not protecting basic constitutional rights, it is a straightjacket that takes away local self-determination. Moreover, the country was originally designed for each state to operate as experimental labs for different programs and policies, with the idea that the best policies will survive and be adopted elsewhere and the worst will die off. When the federal government makes a bad policy, it hardly ever dies and affects everyone. A big reason most federal legislation is bad is because it is almost always a compromise where the special interests win, and thus nobody else is happy. Of course now we have federalized the risk of states making bad decisions as well, which is completely unconstitutional and ends up making the responsible states pay the pensions and excessive bureaucracies of the irresponsible ones. Were the federal government limited, states would be forced to be responsible and live within their means.

  • ||

    You, sir, are poetry in motion. Posting excellence, sir.

  • Tony||

    So, essentially, we end the influence of powerful interests on government by giving them everything they want.

  • ||

    You are so dumb it's not even funny, Tony. I should have gone with my instincts and ignored you.

  • ||

    Yes, you should have, because you're not at all equipped to answer him. Libertarians simply don't see, or refuse to see, that concentrated wealth can be just as coercive, and just as antithetical to freedom, as bullets.

  • ||

    WTF? Did you even read my posts? I specifically talked about how to create more economic equality and end the conglomeration of megacorporations that results from a regulatory environment where only the biggest can thrive. The concentration of wealth would be unnatural in a truly free market because everyone would bear the cost of full risk to protect their wealth, instead of hiding behind government created legal entities, loopholes, artificially decreased competition and bought politicians.

    Wealth is not necessarily antithetical to freedom, but inequality is an easy tool for statists to take away freedom. Therefore, libertarians should advocate for pushing society in a more meritocratic direction instead of defending corporate robber barons. But I guess taking nuanced positions is too difficult for trolls like Tony and you to comprehend.

  • juris imprudent||

    The Progressive Intellectual Tradition in America

    PITA? Really?

    The irony approaches the denseness of a black hole.

  • Tim Worstall||

    "Drawing on the American nationalist tradition of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln, progressives posited that stronger government action was necessary to advance the common good, regulate business interests, promote national economic growth, protect workers and families displaced by modern capitalism, and promote true economic and social opportunity for all people."

    On that basis both Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs are progressives.

  • ||

    Ah the Ministry of Information is alive and well at CAP.

  • ||

    Yikes! I've identified as a progressive since my 70's teen years and the (mis)characterizations here (at least as far as I could bear to read--about half the comments) say very, very little about me or any liberals/progressives I know.

    Nice army of straw men y'all have conjured up here.

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