the progressive conundrum

There are a set of widely held beliefs in the U.S. that most would term “progressive ideology”. This popular conglomeration of views is espoused by journalists, such as Rachel Maddow, John Stewart, and Keith Olbermann, and politicians like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren. Many people who participated in the recent “Occupy Wall Street” protests hold these views.

But when examined with unbiased intelligence, many of the economic ideas of progressive ideology fall apart due to intrinsic self-contradictions.

As someone who considered myself a strong proponent of progressive beliefs for the first several decades of my life, let me elucidate the beliefs and contradictions of which I’m speaking.

Contradictory progressive belief #1:

Progressives believe that a capitalism “system” works to concentrate ever more money and power into the hands of the few, to the detriment of the many. A progressive does not want a world in which a tiny circle of powerful, wealthy elite control a majority of the nation’s wealth.

So what is the progressive’s solution to this perceived problem?

Higher taxes on the rich, higher taxes on corporations and more government programs.

However, it is obvious that higher taxes and more government programs concentrate ever more money and power in the hands of a small circle of powerful, wealthy politicians to spend essentially as they wish.

And every student of world history is well aware of the abject failures of every centrally-controlled economy in history, from the former Soviet Union and “pre-capitalist” China to post-independence India and many South American, Middle Eastern and African countries, where centrally controlled economies result in a tiny handful of powerful, ultra wealthy political rulers controlling those countries’ wealth, with poverty-level income for everyone else.

So the educated progressive does not want centralized economic control. Yet the politicians and policies they vote for concentrate more and more money and power in the hands of less than 1,000 wealthy politicians in Washington DC. Herein lies a fundamental contradiction in the progressive’s belief system.

When confronted with this contradiction, the progressive usually either:

  1. resorts to the logical fallacy of criticizing the free market in a comparison with an imaginary utopian ideal
  2. confuses free market economics with other issues such as government corruption (“crony capitalism”)
  3. argues semantics

or some other evasive maneuver.

But a progressive can never propose a clear, viable superior alternative to the free market.

Anyone who thoroughly thinks through economics from an unbiased objective, inevitably arrives at the familiar axiom that “Capitalism is the worst form of economic organization… except for every other economic system ever invented.”

Tragically, progressives have not yet learned that “income equality” and “the greatest good for the greatest number” are antithetical, and they must choose between them.

Contradictory progressive belief #2:

The progressive is highly critical of the other established tribe in the U.S., often called “right-wingers” or “Republican Christian conservatives”.

What the progressive most detests about the religious right wing is the right winger’s belief that it is completely justified to force their value system upon others, for example, through laws prohibiting same-sex marriage or abortion, laws requiring prayer or teaching creationism in schools and so on, even if they genuinely believe that those laws are for others’ own good and the betterment of society.

When a progressive hears a right-winger proclaim that their views are self-evident, and obvious to anyone who is aware of the truth, the progressive initially responds with the morally superior view that, though they respect the rights of Christians to conduct their own lives however each sees fit, a line is crossed when a Christian tries to impose their views by the force of law on others who do not share their beliefs.

This attitude is summed up in the libertarian-sounding slogans, “If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one” or “If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of your same sex.”

The contradictory, hypocritical nature of this progressive view is revealed clearly when the progressive declares one of their own views does justify force. They feel perfectly justified in forcing their views upon others by law for exactly the same reasons they abhor the right wing for using, claiming their beliefs are self-evident and obvious to anyone who is aware of the truth.

The progressive attempts to claim moral high ground in precisely the same fashion that the religious right does, completely missing the irony of their identical claim to justified force.

When confronted with this obvious hypocrisy, the progressive generally resorts to the primal, warlike stance: “we’ll just get everyone to vote and crush the enemy by pure numbers and force them to our way”… revealing their tactics to be exactly the ones they say they abhor.

Contradictory progressive belief #3:

The progressive is highly mistrustful of the corporate executive, feeling they are unscrupulous and uncaring of others, with self-serving greed their only value, the quest for profit as their only motive, the veritable scum of the earth.

However, they revere Democratic politicians, who they trust completely and regard as selfless public servants, only thinking of what is best for their constituents.

The curious contradiction is that most Democratic politicians held corporate executive positions before running for office.

Apparently, progressives believe that running for office is a magical transformative process that completely transforms greedy, rotten-to-the-core corporative executives to instant saints?

Contradictory progressive belief #4:

Progressives generally believe government can create jobs. However, none of them can answer the question “If government can create jobs, why don’t they create a good job for everyone and wipe out unemployment and poverty tomorrow?”

Contradictory progressive belief #5:

Progressives generally believe in a higher minimum wage. However, none of them can answer the question “If a higher minimum wage is better, why not just raise minimum wage to $50 per hour and wipe out unemployment and poverty tomorrow?”

Contradictory progressive belief #6:

Some progressives are aware of a poll conducted several years ago that asked people, “would you still go to work at your job if your basic needs (food, shelter, medical care, clothing) were guaranteed by the government? The overwhelming majority said they would not, that they would rather pursue hobbies, read, or engage in other leisure activities rather than continue to work.

However, progressives continue to push for a laws increasing a safety net that would provide for these basic needs. When asked what they would do if the majority of people did quit their jobs, the contradiction becomes apparent that they feel that despite the poll, people would continue to work, despite all historical and current evidence that in a system like this, people need to be forced to work, essentially becoming slaves to the State.

Ah, there are so many more. Will add more later.

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One thought on “the progressive conundrum

  1. #1: You don’t define “progressive” correctly and say they believe in the “forced redistribution of wealth” – not true. Progressive believe in progressive taxation with the goal of building a just society for all, rich and poor. And progressives believe in free-market capitalism with minimal regulation to prevent abuses and cheating.

    #2: Progressive are not anti-Christian. Just ask the progressive social justice Catholics. I’m also curious: which progressive views do progressives think justifies force?

    #3: Question authority. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Interdependent. Question the Pope. Check thinkprogress.org’s facts. Question Mansanto’s motives. Ask whether BP should be doing business with the US government. Wonder whether corporations concerned with profit above all else will be concerned about anything else. Question whether the CEO who inherited the company from his dad is really worth 4,000% more than the average worker, even if he completely fails and runs the company into the ground.

    #4: No one has ever quit their job because government safety nets are so wonderfully generous. Most food stamp recipients are children. And most of their parents work full-time jobs. A lazy, no good slacker bum can expect to get $200/month in food stamps and $300/month from TANF. Hope their hobby is flying kites, because that’s all they’ll be able to afford!

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