Progressives

Progress Through State Violence or Smaller Government?

Progressives can't imagine progress without government force

|

Obamacare! The War on Drugs! A War on Poverty! Prohibition! The idea that government will bring social progress isn't new. 

Europe's monarchs believed in big government long before there was a Soviet Union or a welfare state. Eighteenth-century philosopher Voltaire praised "enlightened" monarchs like Prussia's Frederick the Great. Since the nineteenth century, so-called "progressives" have wanted government to get ever larger. They got their wish. The results were not so good for people.

Today pundits and protesters moan about fiscal "austerity" in nations like Greece. But if austerity means cuts in government, there hasn't been much of it. 

Sure, Greece cut spending, but only by 3 percent. One in four Greek workers still works for government (vs. one in seven in the U.S.). Greek politicians run government "businesses" that employ politicians' cronies. In other words, Greece has barely begun what I would call austerity. 

Paul Krugman deceitfully trashes real cuts and writes that he wants to see "some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded." 

But there are plenty. The Cato Institute's Chris Edwards and Dan Mitchell discussed some at FreedomFest, a giant gathering of people who care about free markets held last week in Las Vegas. Mitchell points out that Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands cut government spending and were quicker to recover from economic problems. 

In the mid-90s, Canada was going broke, so the government cut its budget by about 10 percent. The growth that followed allowed Canada to cut its debt dramatically—from about 68 percent of GDP to 28 percent. During that same decade, unemployment shrank. Canada's economy grew faster than that of every other G7 nation. Good things happened not because government spent more, but because it spent less.

The U.S. contains its own version of the Greek debt crisis in the form of Puerto Rico. 

A recent island governor tried to cut Puerto Rico's bloated government. Luiz Fortuno fired thousands of workers and made it easier to open a business. The economy improved. But firing workers isn't popular. Fortuno lost the next election and his successor increased spending and raised taxes. Of course that didn't work. Now Puerto Rico can't pay its $70 billion debt. 

"Are there any success stories based on tax hikes or bigger government? The answer is no," warns Mitchell. 

Progressives pretend they have a technical fix for problems. On a national level, their fixes always involve giving more power to Washington, D.C. That soothes the left, since they love the idea of centralizing decision-making. 

For a while, around the start of the twentieth century, technology advanced while government grew. Intellectuals thought the two things must go hand in hand. Government electrified rural areas! It can do anything! 

Well, government can do some things, mostly expensive, obvious things, like building interstate highways, guarding borders and going to war—though government doesn't do those things efficiently. Almost all its projects end up way over budget and behind schedule. 

"Centralization of government spending in Washington over the past century has severely undermined good governance," argues Edwards on the site he edits, DownsizingGovernment.org. "Citizens get worse outcomes when funding and decision-making for education, infrastructure and other things are made by the central government rather than state and local governments and the private sector." 

Politicians rarely notice the millions of tiny opportunities for people to make progress via new inventions and smarter ways of doing things—the new app, the robotics start-up, the do-it-yourself metalworking printer. 

Instead, politicians' limited imaginations lean toward big government-run projects like building bigger airports (needed or not), more welfare and micromanaging every private workplace. 

"Politicians and lobby groups constantly complain that America does not spend enough," writes Edwards. "But they rarely discuss how to ensure efficiency in (government) spending, or cite any advantages of federal spending over state, local and private spending."

Government shovels more money into its big, dumb projects and pretends to build the future. But our future is more likely to be built by thousands of entrepreneurs who make the countless contributions that quietly improve our lives. 

COPYRIGHT 2015 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

NEXT: The FBI Wants the Key to Your Data

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And another fine piece by The Stash that won’t be read by the people who most need to.

  2. Calm down, progressives know what’s best for you. Their central committee is pro-choice. They will choose and mandate what’s best.

  3. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.online-jobs9.com

  4. Wait a minute, it’s not noon yet…

  5. John Stossel wrote: “Government shovels more money into its big, dumb projects and pretends to build the future.”

    Great! Then I look forward to conservatives and other non-progressive sorts cutting back the number of “big, dumb projects” the US is involved in.

    Like its multi-trillion-dollar wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, both of which were started by a conservative administration.

    Now I mention that because those who oppose the new proposed agreement with Iran tend to be of conservative bent. They also seem to think that a war with Iran would be better than that agreement. Meaning that if Congress rejects that agreement America might yet find itself embarking on yet another “big, dumb” (and expensive) project.

    John Stossel wrote: “The U.S. contains its own version of the Greek debt crisis in the form of Puerto Rico.”

    Why stop with Puerto Rico? The US has its own debt problem. The US federal debt is currently running at 101.5% of US GDP. Check out the second of the two graphs at:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:USDebt.png

    That graph graphically illustrates that the current problem the US has with its national debt began under the Reagan administration and was exacerbated under the George W. Bush administration, both of them of conservative bent.

    Conservatives who live in glass houses should NOT be throwing stones at progressives.

    1. If any conservatives stop by, we’ll be sure to tell them.

    2. Two wrongs make a right…therefore we need big gov and more spending!!!

      /prog

      Obama and bush are pretty similar. Arent you throwing stones here?

      As far as your iran comment….i havent seen any calls for war with iran so at best you are speculating…maybe even projecting your desires

    3. I will give you Iraq. But Afghanistan was the “good war”. Remember in Iraq we took our eyes off the ball, meaning fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan? And we DIDN’t start the war in Afghanistan shithead. The Taliban, which was the de facto govt in Afghanistan trained the men who attacked us and harbored the leader of that organization. Had they given up Bin Laden, we wouldn’t have invaded in the first place. Not that I support the nation building we have tried. Those stone age goat fuckers should be left to their own bullshit.
      The national debt problem under Reagan, while we were dealing with the SOVIET FUCKING UNION, and by the way, for a significant period of time a democrat controlled Congress. And those of us libertarians (small l) who still vote mostly with the stupid party, argued AGAINST much of Bush’s spending. We argued AGAINST Medicare prescription coverage, more spending in Africa etc.
      And NO ONE is remotely suggesting that we fight a war in Iran. Just leave the existing sanctions in place dipshit!

      1. Yea he created a strawman and used exaggeration…bush seems closer to being a dem

    4. Your quote didnt even mention progressives but rather government in general.

      The mention of progressives in the article is about central planning which shows how they are part of the big gov problem. It was never stated they were the only part.

    5. Progress is movement towards a destination.
      Progressive is when something in happening gradually.

      Maybe a good example of ‘progressive’ relative to politics might be when no therapy is reducing the growth of a cancer.
      Progress, on the other hand, is when the therapy is working.

      Of those I know who claim to be conservative, it only means living within their means, and not being wasteful or destructive, NOT returning to slavery or any other definition which has been promoted by the Left, Progressives, Communists, Socialists, Collectivists, or Democrats ALL of which I view as closely related to one another with similar political views and agenda.

  6. Science: The Antidote To The Toxin Of Fear

    “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” -John 8:32

    The fundamental appeal of Donald Trump is that he says that which many people think but are afraid to say, and he says that which the mealy-mouthed, feckless, hypocritical Republican candidates never would dream of saying with the possible exception of Ted Cruz.

    “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

    A majority of productive Americans fears its government or should. A majority of productive Americans understands that the federal government has become corrupt, self-serving, and tyrannical.

    It’s time for a new and different political party … an apolitical party based upon the science of human behavior. Can there be such a thing? Yes.

    Politicians will fight it. Lawyers will fight it. Ideologues will fight it. Members of the Big Media will fight it.

    Read. Learn. Think. Act.

    Science says, “Behavior has its consequences.”

    http:inescapableconsequences.com

    1. You know who else used “science” for their political goals?

      1. Galileo?

  7. J. Stossel said : ‘Government ……. pretends to build the future.”

    It pretends to do a lot of things. However, its core nature is 100% criminal.

    The pretense of doing [whatever] is a necessary cover to attempt to legitimize its actions, which all boil down to a combination of violence [or the threat thereof], theft, and slavery, nothing more, nothing less.

    Via public “education” it has been largely successful in brainwashing the booboisie into believing that it is a legitimate non criminal organization with only the individuals and society’s best interests at heart.

    Point in case: it appears that after all these years, even Mr Stossel has been successfully brainwashed into believing in its necessity to build interstate highways :-).

    “In your dream, Obama is not a scam”
    “In your dream, George Bush was not a scam”
    “In your dream, Clinton was not a scam”
    “In your dream, Reagan was not a scam”
    “In your dream, all the rest were not a scam”
    “In your dream, the constitution was not a scam”…….”

    But by all means, dream on John !!!! 🙂

    Quotes from original music and lyrics: “Dreams[ Anarchist Blues]”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0o-C1_LZzk

    Regards, onebornfree.

    Personal Freedom Consultant:
    http://www.freedominunfreeworld.blogspot.com

    1. In the grand compromise that creates a libertarian state, we plan on giving the proggies the roads. They are obsessed with them.

      1. LOLz

  8. Paul Krugman deceitfully trashes real cuts and writes that he wants to see “some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded.”

    But there are plenty.

    Hw wouldn’t be Kruggernuts if he wasn’t a lying, mendacious cunt.

    1. Hw wouldn’t be Kruggernuts if he wasn’t a lying, mendacious cunt.

      I think it’s widely understood that Krugman is paid to be a shill.

  9. What’s the deal with all the fucking blog whoreing and drive by dipshits in this thread?

  10. I think one of the best examples of how cut in government spending and regulations have worked is India.

    The only sector where India remains globally competitive is in IT outsourcing which government did not even know existed untill tax revenue started pouring in.

    Post 1992 wherever government conceded space, that industry grew rapidly. Aviation, Courier, Telecom, Hospitality and even Healthcare.

    On the other hand Agriculture and Education remains one of the worst and and inefficient systems in the world.

  11. Proof of the value of government spending on medical problems?

    Drug Prohibition.

  12. Part I
    As usual, Stossel makes excellent points grounded in facts. My only disagreement with was his wording of “Well, government can do some things, mostly expensive, obvious things, like building interstate highways, guarding borders and going to war?though government doesn’t do those things efficiently.” Even then, government doesn’t ‘DO’ anything more than acquire the revenue necessary to fund those things, which in the end are accomplished by people/private enterprises, but yes government and many voters accept government need not factor means in spending, resulting in inefficiency.

  13. Part II
    Article IV, Section 4, guarantees each State in the Union a Republican Form of Government, not a Centralized Collectivist Form of Government ruled by the agenda of a political party. Freedom begins with the people, each and every one of us, and it is the duty of our government at each level to protect our rights to exercise our own choices, even if they result in our failure, and only protect us from choices of others being imposed upon us in ways which are harmful to us. Societies are built and grown as a result of people seeing value in one another, which leads to them providing charitable assistance and/or protection to others they find in need by their own free choice. Beginning in the 20th century our Federal government has gradually shifted our government from being one beginning with the people empowering the government into one in which the government itself determines where, if any, limits of constraint exist on its power. This has been accomplished by the appointment of activist Supreme Court Justices who have and continue to interpret our Constitution based on the agenda of the political party where their biases reside.

  14. Austerity as practised by most governments means more taxes on their citizens, not less spending by governments. Yet by confounding the two, citizens who don’t recognize the distinction naturally object to austerity, although it’s not government-austerity, it’s citizen-austerity.

    After the election, Greece’s new Syriza politicians resumed profligate spending – they rehired a few thousand government employees who’d previously been let go and reopened the State Broadcasting company which had been closed.

    The problem is that when most governments, apart from the Germans, spend too much, their policitian’s reaction is to tax citizens more, rather than spend less. As Margaret Thatcher pointed out, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run ouf of other people’s money to spend…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.