Friday, February 17, 2012

Zone of Reality: Progressive Realities

By Rich Kozlovich

For those who have been reading Paradigms and Demographics for some time you know that I make every attempt to lay an historical foundation for my views. As you read Dr. Sowell's commentaries please try to remember when you heard this kind of reasoning lately. This stuff isn't new now, and it wasn't new during the "New Deal". This mentality nonetheless remains equally destructive though the years.   I would also like to point out that Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt made monumental economic decisions that impact the world to this day, and yet both lost most of their inheritances from their fathers on bad investments. 

The 'Progressive' Legacy
Thomas Sowell
Feb 14, 2012

Although Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States, he is by no means unique, except for his complexion. He follows in the footsteps of other presidents with a similar vision, the vision at the heart of the Progressive movement that flourished a hundred years ago. Many of the trends, problems and disasters of our time are a legacy of that era. We can only imagine how many future generations will be paying the price -- and not just in money -- for the bright ideas and clever rhetoric of our current administration.....What Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson [wanted] a reduced role for the Constitution of the United States.....[TR] denounced "the mighty industrial overlords" and "the tyranny of mere wealth." Just what specifically this "tyranny" consisted of was not spelled out. This was indeed an era of the rise of businesses to unprecedented size in industry after industry -- and of prices falling rapidly, as a result of economies of scale that cut production costs and allowed larger profits to be made from lower prices that attracted more customers..........The problems they created so discredited Progressives that they started calling themselves "liberals" -- and after they discredited themselves again, they went back to calling themselves "Progressives," now that people no longer remembered how Progressives had discredited themselves before.

Barack Obama's rhetoric of "change" is in fact a restoration of discredited ideas that originated a hundred years ago.

The Progressive Legacy: Part II
Thomas Sowell
Feb 15, 2012

"Often wrong but never in doubt" is a phrase that summarizes much of what was done by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the two giants of the Progressive era, a century ago. Their legacy is very much alive today, both in their mindset -- including government picking winners and losers in the economy and interventionism in foreign countries -- as well as specific institutions created during the Progressive era, such as the income tax and the Federal Reserve System.
Like so many Progressives today, Theodore Roosevelt felt no need to study economics before intervening in the economy. He said of "economic issues" that "I am not deeply interested in them, my problems are moral problems." For example, he found it "unfair" that railroads charged different rates to different shippers, reaching the moral conclusion that these rates were discriminatory and should be forbidden "in every shape and form."……..Theodore Roosevelt was also morally offended by the fact that Standard Oil created "enormous fortunes" for its owners "at the expense of business rivals." How a business can offer consumers lower prices without taking customers away from businesses that charge higher prices is a mystery still unsolved to the present day, when the very same arguments are used against Wal-Mart……But, then as now, those with noble-sounding rhetoric are seldom judged by what consequences actually follow.

The Progressive Legacy: Part III
Thomas Sowell
Feb 16, 2012

The same presumptions of superior wisdom and virtue behind the interventionism of Progressive Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the domestic economy also led them to be interventionists in other countries. Theodore Roosevelt was so determined that the United States should intervene against Spain's suppression of an uprising in Cuba that he quit his post as at home. The Wilson administration introduced racial segregation in Washington government agencies where it did not exist when Wilson took office……Woodrow Wilson was also a precursor of later Progressives in assuming that the overthrow of an autocratic and despotic government means an advance toward democracy. In 1917, President Wilson spoke of "heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia."

What was "heartening" to Wilson was the overthrow of the czars. What it led to in fact was the rise of a totalitarian tyranny that killed more political prisoners in a year than the czars had killed in more than 90 years……..When you consider what a mystery the East Side of New York is to the West Side, the business of arranging the world to the satisfaction of the people in it may be seen in something like its true proportions."

But Progressives, especially intellectuals, are the least likely to suspect that they are in fact ignorant of the things they are intervening in, whether back in the Progressive era or today.

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