The Cancer of Progressivism


Those of you who view my blog know of my encounters with a certain MarxistMax, but given the fact that I’ve been dealing with Marxism so much on my blog, I’ve decided to take a step away from Marxism in order to deal with what has come to be known as “Progressivism” today.

Here are just a few of the positions progressives hold:

1) Healthcare should be run entirely by the government. “For Profit” medicine by necessity excludes the poor from getting the healthcare that they need to survive.

2) Businessmen are greedy assholes who don’t care about society as a whole, and who can only make money by exploiting workers by paying them Slave Wages. Therefore, the government needs to institute a Living Wage.

3) Banks need to be heavily regulated (if not outright nationalized). If it isn’t bad enough that they do nothing but speculate in the market, they’re constantly exploiting people through interest lending (or usury if you want to call it that). There’s no reason it should be considered moral or ideal that the Banksters should be allowed to make such excessive profits while people are losing their homes and starving on the street!

4) Too much money is going to Big Oil, and not enough is going to renewable, clean energy sources. We need to completely get away from fossil fuels so we can stop Global Warming and prevent humanity from going extinct due to Climate Change. There’s no reason Big Oil should be allowed to make such excessive profits by exploiting our environment!

5) Too much is being spent on War, and not enough is being spent on roads, bridges, and education. Our infrastructure is crumbling while Big Oil and the Military Industrial Complex is making a killing off of exploitation and… killing people.

6) The Public School System is a disaster, but it is because we’re not spending enough money on it; teachers are grossly underpaid, textbooks are out of date or non-existent, overcrowding is a serious problem in the classrooms, and all of this coupled with the fact that the two-parent household is breaking down, particularly in the inner-cities, has created this terrible system that we have now. So, the Federal Government must provide as much funding as possible to all states so that they can hire more teachers, provide better classrooms, and empower our youth, especially in the inner-cities, to strive for education, and to make Higher Education freely available to all those who can meet the University’s academic standards.

7) Immigration is an essential part of our country. We should do everything we can to encourage immigrants to our country to work, and to see to it that all of those immigrants have access to the same education and healthcare that we have access to, as well as affordable housing.

8) Housing needs to be more affordable. The government should be doing more to provide people with cheap, affordable housing, especially in the Inner-Cities. There is no excuse for letting people live under bridges or in their vehicles!

There is more to the Progressive Ideology, but I will only deal with these for the time being. You will notice no doubt that I have certain words/phrases underlined and in italics. It is because these words have become magic to the perception of the typical progressive. Here is my response to the listed positions:

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1) The phrase “For Profit” is being used in a tone that suggests that profit-making is exploitation. I find it strange that the Progressive can say that it’s ok for a company like Microsoft to make profits selling their goods and services, or that it’s ok for a small business to make profits, but it’s not ok for private healthcare providers to make a profit. Healthcare, quite contrary to being a right or some alien commodity that’s different from any other good or service, is nothing more than an economic good/service. They would likely respond, “Healthcare is absolutely essential for society! That’s the difference!”

Would they say the same about the companies that produce food, or how about the companies that produce bottled water? Food and water are both absolutely necessary for a person to survive, so are we being exploited because there are private companies producing food and water and making big profits? According to them therefore (if they were consistent), this exploitation is even worse than the exploitation occurring with healthcare because people need food and water far more often than they need healthcare. After all, For Profit food and water production by necessity excludes people who have no means to pay for food and water, right? Just as it is true that there is no money in “For Profit” medicine in people who’re not sick, so it is also true that there is no money in “For Profit” Food and Water production in people who’re not hungry or thirsty. Would you accuse “For Profit” food and water production of exploiting the hunger and thirst of the people in the same way that you accuse Private Healthcare of exploiting people’s sickness?

2) I agree with the idea that businessmen are greedy assholes who don’t care about society as a whole, but the problem with saying, “therefore, we need a Living Wage”, is that you lose your initial assumption. It is assumed that if you have a Living Wage law, then those same greedy businessmen will just bite the bullet, pay their workers more, and all will be well. We will come back to this assumption later. Right now, I wish to mention that I had it suggested to me (more like shouted at me) by a progressive that, “Apple depends entirely on the wages people paid out by other employers, which are roughly 5 times more than it pays its own workers! Apple can’t even sell its own product to its own employees! Now take your free-market attitude and force these other companies to pay their workers what Apple pays theirs, and do you know who’ll be screaming? Apple, because they they can’t sell their products anymore and their profits will drop!!”

Those who have been trained in economics will no doubt do a spit-take upon reading the above quotation, but this was indeed said to me by a staunch progressive. First of all, the quotation blindly assumes that the price of one good/service will remain constant even though the prices around it are changing. If for some reason the wages of all workers fell down to the level Apple pays its workers, then the prices around those wages would come down as well. Food, energy, appliances, all would come down in price. The progressive who made the case above in quotations has also made the mistake of looking at the size of the number rather than what the number can get. The progressive would say; “A can of coke has gone from $1 to $2! So therefore, we need to see to it that each consumer is getting at least that much more in purchasing power by forcing employers to increase his wage!”

Do you see the mistake the progressive is making? He’s making the mistake of thinking that purchasing power comes from how many dollars you have, instead of how much each dollar can buy. If a can of coke dropped in price from $1 to $0.75 or $0.50, then you could say that the dollar has more purchasing power. You can have quite literally as many dollars as you want, but it wouldn’t increase the purchasing power of each individual dollar unit one bit. Purchasing power, therefore, is how much each dollar can buy, not how many dollars a given person has.

Now we come to his notion of a Living Wage. I’ve been told by many progressives that a Living Wage is that wage by which is absolutely necessary for survival. In other words, if you were paid less than a Living Wage, you couldn’t survive; you couldn’t afford all of the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter.

The first big problem with this concept is that it seeks to set an objective number on numerous groups as “absolutely necessary”. A person who is having difficulty living on $13 per hour may be having difficulties for a number of reasons, but someone else will have a harder/easier time living on $13 per hour. The reason is simple; not everyone has the exact same set of responsibilities. Person A may have to make $13 per hour good enough to pay for a wife and two kids, a mortgage payment, a car payment, etc., while Person B might not have to pay for a wife and kids, or make a car payment. Due to this difference in personal responsibilities, Person B will have a much easier time living on $13 per hour than Person A. Thus, a “Living Wage” will differ from person to person, depending not only on the set of responsibility that each person has, but also on his ability to manage his money effectively (yet another variable that the Living Wage concept doesn’t take into consideration).

The second big problem regarding the Living Wage is the necessary policy prescription that stems from the concept of the Living Wage. “Therefore, we need the government to set a Minimum Wage which adjusts itself to the cost of living.” It is here that we must return to the progressive’s initial assumption; namely, that businessmen are greedy assholes who don’t care for society as a whole. I mentioned earlier that the problem with arguing for a Living Wage on the basis that big, greedy assholes are paying their workers low wages is that you lose the initial assumption. The reason this is so is simple; suppose you have Corporation X, a corporation named and ran with an iron fist by someone named Person X. He pays his workers far less than the neighboring businesses, so much so that the laborers in the surrounding businesses, on average, make 5 times more than the workers at Corporation X. Person X is absolutely ruthless; he doesn’t care about the plight of his workers, where or how they live, if they eat, etc.. All he cares about is they had better be at work on time, and they had better perform the services that he pays them for, or he will fire them without any other considerations.

Now, enact a Living Wage law, and what happens? The progressive seems to believe that Person X will say, “Yeah, it sucks that I’m not making as much in profit as I was before, but if I pay my workers more, it’ll make the economy better because they will have more purchasing power to buy other goods and services. This income will eventually come back to my business, and I’ll be better off in the long run.” It is here that the progressive loses his initial assumption of businessmen being greedy assholes. If you maintain that assumption, then you realize that instead of saying what is quoted above, he will say this; “Damn it! I’m not making as big a profit as I was before. All right, what we’re going to do is raise our prices, and we’re going to lay off some of those good for nothin’ asshats on the factory floor! At least my profits won’t hurt as bad!”

Some of those workers on the factory floor, who the progressive felt was being exploited, paid for the progressive’s intervention with the only source of income they had. The reason for this is simple; if the government steps in and sets the price of labor (wages) above the prevailing market rate, you doom a portion of the labor force to be unemployed. Of course, this probably won’t deter the progressive who feels that workers are being paid Slave-Wages from this kind of thinking, and to be honest, you probably never will. Progressivism is an ideology that is inherently reactionary, that shuns all reason for emotional gratification, and the very term Slave-Wages, a term that the progressives are very fond of, is indisputable proof of this. Had they not completely rejected reason for emotional gratification, they would’ve immediately seen that the term Slave-Wages is self contradictory; slaves are not paid wages, as wages are agreed upon by both the employer and employee, otherwise the potential employee doesn’t take the job.

This brings us to the progressive’s continuous use of the word exploitation. Whenever the progressives use the word exploitation, very rarely do they ever use it correctly. Many progressives won’t explicitly refer to profits as exploitation, but they will always refer to excessive/unreasonable profits as exploitation. Yet, you will never hear a progressive speak about unreasonable/excessive losses (unless he’s the one losing money of course). The phrase excessive profits is utterly meaningless if you’re not prepared to talk about excessive losses. Let me give you an example; suppose you have a lottery, and the person running it sells two million in tickets. At the end of the lottery, the person (or people if you prefer) running it hands out 1.8 million in prizes, and keeps $200,000. This means that, collectively, everyone who bought into the lottery lost $200,000, but no one ever thinks of this number, or he dismisses it the second it enters his mind. If you’re not prepared to argue that this $200,000 is an excessive loss, you cannot seriously argue that the $200,000 the person running the lottery kept for himself is excessive profit.

3) The term Banksters has become very popular these days. It is a play on the word gangster, and while I share the same disdain for certain big bankers the progressives have, I don’t make the mistake of lumping all big bankers in with those who extort money in backroom deals, or to steal a phrase from Ayn Rand, I don’t lump honest bankers and businessmen in with those who are apart of “The Aristocracy of Pull”.

The progressive’s true disdain for Big Business or Big Bankers comes not from the acts by which they consider to be exploitation, they come from the fact that those Big Businessmen that both myself and the progressives despise have managed to “corrupt” the public institutions, i.e., the senate, the congress, the white house, etc.. The politician is looked upon by the progressive, unless he gives them reason to think otherwise, as a saint; a patriarch/matriarch of the public good, working tireless for the welfare of all. The politician, when running for office, need but proclaim the merits of collectivism, denounce private interests as greedy/exploitative, and he will be embraced by the progressive without question. It is only later in his voting does he get any sort of serious criticism from the progressive. The progressive has completely forgotten that elected representatives are nothing more than average people; average people chosen by other average people to perform functions X, Y, and Z. It is foolish to assume, as the progressive assumes, that the mere election to statehood somehow changes the politician to a bastion of the public good.

Those who so wearily often use the term Banksters are also the same who rant and rave that the Banksters have their senators and their congressmen bought and paid for; that they have the government “in their pockets”. The following considerations will show this to be false:

It is indeed possible to pay off a politician to vote as you want him to vote, or to say what you want him to say, but he is no more “in your pocket” than the money you have given him. If he is approached by another interest who wants him to vote/speak differently than you, he will do so if the pay is better, and he will not hesitate to vilify you publically/legislatively if he sees it in his interest to do so; violently twisting the knife he placed in your back as he departs from you in the service of his new employer. The only possible way you could say that you have a politician in your pocket is if he truly agrees with you ideologically; that you have common ideals, and share the same ultimate vision, but even this has problems. It is true that he will willingly work with you, for X sum of cash (and even enjoy his work), but if you and the politician disagree as to the means by which to reach your common ideological end, and if you cannot reconcile your differences, the politician will not hesitate to go to the employment of someone else; violently twisting the knife he placed in your back as he departs from you in the service of his new employer. In other words, you cannot “buy” a politician; you can only “rent” one.

It of course never occurs to the progressive that government regulation enables the types of shenanigans that we see in such crises as the 2008 housing market crash; it never occurs to him that because elected representatives are average people, precisely because they are average people looking to compromise and profit, the legislation regulating banks and insurance are, far far more often than not, written by the people to be regulated. It never occurs to him that the government, far from being a partner or a protector of the public good, hampers and destroys the public good by coercively shifting resources to different people; distorting incentives and creating moral hazards that could only initially be conceived in a nightmare.

We now come to the last issue to be dealt with here; namely, the hatred of speculation. The progressive makes the big mistake of confusing a speculator with a gambler. The difference between them is so readily apparent that it is appalling to see it missed. The difference between a speculator and a common gambler is this; the gambler creates his own risk. He doesn’t have to lose money because spinning pictures on a slot machine don’t line up in a specific order, or because one horse can run faster than the others. He creates this risk himself, while the risks in the market are inherent. Since resources must be allocated, and since there will always be those who direct and those who follow, someone must bear this risk; the speculator performs this function. To the extent that he is successful, he is rewarded. To the extent that he fails, he not only loses money, he loses credibility; those who watched what he is doing will laugh at him and scorn him, and unless he improves his ability to perform this function, he is forced out of the profession for good.

Contrary to the beliefs of the progressives, speculators earn their money, and they do society a great service.

4) It is common practice among the progressives to personally vilify people who put forth alternative theories. If you say for instance that global warming is a myth, or that it’s a natural cycle the planet goes through, then you are nothing more than a shill for Big Oil and corporations. If you say for instance that universal healthcare doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter how much evidence you have in your favor, you are nothing more than a shill for Big Insurance companies or Big Pharma. If you say that unions only care about their own members, and that they can’t raise the wages of anyone else other than their own members, then you’re nothing more than a shill for Big Business, you’ve been brainwashed, etc.. Never mind the massive amount of evidence that unions are an inherently evil entity, that doesn’t matter; you’re a scab and that’s all there is to it.

I am not interested in getting into debates with people over whether or not global warming is real or man made, and I’ve already dealt with the criticism of excessive profits. So instead, I’ll simply show you how silly progressives are being when they take up the mantle of environmentalism:

The progressive says we need to invest in alternative energy sources, i.e., wind, solar, etc., while at the same time spending money on roads. The machines repairing the roads put out a ton of CO2, but this goes completely unnoticed by the progressive. More/better roads encourages more driving, which means more CO2 in the air, but never mind that, we have to put the unemployed to work. GM failed, should it be bailed out? Absolutely, because we need jobs, but what does GM produce? They produce cars, cars that emit CO2 into the air when driven. What about existing CO2 output? We need to tax it so as to discourage CO2 output.

So in other words, we have to spend money on alternative energy sources, while at the same time polluting our air even more in order to put unemployed people to work making more instruments (cars) which will themselves pollute the environment, while at the same time forcing people to pay for CO2 output. I think you can see how hopelessly self-defeating all of this is.

5) The reason our infrastructure is crumbling is precisely because it is government run, government managed. The government has no stake in actually repairing or managing infrastructure efficiently. Why should it when those average people, who you selected to be elected representatives, can get far more by pillaging other countries, by bartering with each other for favors/votes, or to put it more simply; why should they try to serve the public when they can get far more by playing baseball?

6) You can’t empower anyone (at least not in a good way) through bad means, and this is showing itself in the inner-cities. The motivation programs that are supposed to keep kids in school, keep kids from buying/selling drugs, joining gangs, etc., have been, on the whole, a massive failure. You can form your own reasons as to why they have failed so abysmally, but the fact remains still. As for the public school system itself, I have learned from personal experience that it is a system that is, ultimately, accountable to no one; the parents have no control, the good teachers have no control, the poor administration people who try to make a difference can’t because they have no control, etc., and when you try to point the finger to blame someone within the school system for the horrible mess it is, something is always there to deflect the blame. This goes all the way to the Federal Level and beyond.

Only one entity can be blamed for the horrible mess that the school system is, and that entity is the government. Why? Because it is precisely the government who’s running it. If you’re interested in researching more, I refer you to these reporting specials. Click here, here, and here.

7) The progressive makes a good point about immigration, but unfortunately, he poisons the well with the same poison that he has flooded the other wells with. If you indeed offer free services such as healthcare, education, etc., to immigrants, then you will have people pouring in by the tens of thousands looking to get on the public dole. The progressive had demonstrated here, as well as other places, that he does not understand the nature of incentives, nor does he understand the nature of moral hazards.

8) This is so patently absurd, I could easily get away with just writing “2008. ‘Nuff said” and leaving it at that.

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As you can plainly see, the progressive ideology is built about the sands of economic illiteracy, an inherently false understanding of incentives, emotional reactionary nonsense. It is a system that appeals only to those who’re too weak or too stupid to use logic and reason, and only a fool would be drawn into this patently absurd, inherently destructive ideology.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I felt it necessary to deal with this problem in detail.

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Posted on August 31, 2013, in Economics, Political Philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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