In their zeal to increase their power to do good, progressives travel down the familiar road toward government expansion and decreasing liberty unleashing the forces of central planning to marshal resources to an arbitrary common goal.
Progressives are not a new political phenomenon created to frustrate conservatives for indeed they have been around over a century slowly infiltrating the institutions of Western Civilization with their insidious rot of government expansion under the auspices of performing good works for their fellow man. In any movement there are the true believers who sincerely believe in the cause for which they labor, and then there are those who latch on to the movement as a way to accumulate power for their personal aggrandizement. So it is with the progressive movement.
The progressive ideology begins with the grain of truth that it is possible for government to directly alleviate the suffering of its citizens and equalize their standard of living while ignoring the reality that it must use the coercion of the state to achieve such results. Instead of equalizing everyone’s standard of living and raising it to the highest level, the progressive ideology ends up equalizing everyone’s misery and forcing all citizens to the lowest common denominator.
Progressives ignore the reality that it is not possible for government to help its citizens and that government was never created for this purpose in the first place. Governments are created to protect their citizens from others through defense against foreign invasion and each other through laws proscribing penalties against unacceptable behavior. The best that government can hope for is to create the conditions that allow their citizens to thrive and prosper. These conditions include establishing the rule of law so that every citizen knows exactly what rules to follow and can plan accordingly. Another necessary condition is the establishment of property rights so that citizens can be confident that they will be able to benefit from improvements made to their property without fear of arbitrarily losing it. No man will invest sweat equity without the assurance that he will be the beneficiary of that sweat equity. And the third necessary condition is the establishment of sound currency so citizens can be confident that they have a stable medium of exchange with which to conduct transactions.
Having established the necessary conditions in which citizens can thrive and prosper governments are charged with the task of implementing these lofty ideas into regulations which protect citizens through a policed marketplace. The Founding Fathers sought to minimize the role of government in the lives of Americans through reliance on personal responsibility to counteract the necessity of numerous burdensome laws. The combination of personal responsibility and the power of the marketplace to police its participants through brutal competition insured the protection of Americans from most forms of avarice and greed over the long run.
For the progressives, it was not enough for the government to create the conditions for Americans to thrive economically. They saw the government as a force for social change and set about convincing voters that their agenda was good for America. They began infiltrating American institutions and working towards acceptance of their ideology by the masses. They went after low hanging fruit and improved the standard of living by attacking problems of sanitation and overcrowding in the cities. They improved food and medicine safety through the establishment of government inspectors to regulate their production. These were all good and necessary accomplishments, but once achieved, they left the progressives with no reason to exist, so they followed other movements by focusing on incremental gains with increasingly diminishing returns to justify their continuation.
We now find ourselves with a progressive movement that has infiltrated our institutions and pushes dubious regulations against manufactured crises such as the global warming scam through the nonsensical regulation of carbon dioxide as if such a thing were possible and despite the fact that it is a naturally occurring gas exhaled by every human being on the planet. To perpetuate their existence and in the epitome of inanity, the progressives propose to regulate our breath! The progressives have traveled down the all too familiar path of government expansion and overregulation of the daily affairs of Americans.
By expanding government regulation to such a constricting point, progressives have violated the rule of law condition leaving Americans unable to determine what activities will suddenly become illegal going forward. They have introduced massive uncertainty into the market and hampered its ability to effectively plan for the future. They have also infringed upon property rights by declaring some forms of energy as unacceptable, thus rendering their investment as void and removing the right of their owners to use these energy plants. And, they have debased our currency through massive currency printing that inflates away the value of our money for their benefit as they reward their constituencies with government largesse.
The road less traveled is the one that recognizes the need for reasonable market regulations while avoiding the temptation to chase incremental gains through overregulation that strangles market forces and hampers economic activity. The standard of living is improved when Americans are employed in productive pursuits that allow them to satisfy their needs while working to satisfy the needs of others. This is only possible when wealth can be invested in the hopes of a return. It can’t be forced by the government and must make its own decision on the merits of the economic opportunity.
America has been severely weakened by progressive policies which erode the value of our money, destroy our property rights, and abuse the rule of law to introduce massive uncertainty into the market. Uncertainty renders businesses unable to effectively plan for future events and causes wealth to retreat from the market until conditions improve and enough certainty returns to allow for effective planning for future conditions. Rule of law, sound currency, and property rights create the certainty that businesses require to plan for the future and thrive. Their establishment and maintenance by government is what allows an economy to grow and a people to prosper. Their destruction by progressives is what is hampering our recovery and keeping Americans in poverty. It is time we diverted to the road less traveled to restore the conditions that made America great so that she may recover that greatness.