Archive for the ‘progressivism’ Tag

What Pisses Me Off About Progressives   Leave a comment

I’m actually pretty pissed off about progressives and it’s getting worse during this political season, probably because both major parties have been taken over by progressives, so the news is, well — pretty much all about progressive policies.

From my perspective, progressives and socialists are pretty much highly-similar breeds of ravenous rodent. And I have a huge problem with both of them. Why?

Well, let’s start with their promotion of envy and theft, which breeds the offspring of class conflict (envy) and increasing taxation (theft). Progressives thrive on victimology, shunning personal responsibility while encouraging mob mentalities, sacrificing individuality to a communal blender that chews up anyone with initiative or creativity while the progressives insist it is being done for our own good. They promise peace and harmony, but deliver strife and conflict because they pit class against class while they cynically buy off favored factions at the expense of disfavored factions.

Progressives offer favors, subsidies and security that they can’t ultimately deliver and then blithely dismiss their own failures. They consider expressions of good intentions superior to actual outcomes and reality. They foist dependency and paternalism on anyone unfortunate enough to believe their lies, while concentrating wealth and power in the hands of people whose characters and naivete make them the most susceptible to corruption. They push people around allegedly “for their own good”. Their programs are always compulsory because they recognize that human nature will turn away from them if they’re left voluntary.

Progressives spurn the most basic lessons of history and economics because they believe that if they just try hard enough next time, they can somehow overcome reality and human nature.

 

 

Let’s just consider entitlement programs. I planned for the day I would be too old to work. I’ve been saving and investing and growing my nest-egg … just like the people in Italy and Cyprus who had their retirement accounts confiscated by their governments when entitlement programs began to go bankrupt. Social Security will be solidly in the red before I retire, therefore — well, there goes my nest-egg.

I used to be able to go to the doctor with my check book in hand and pay for whatever I needed. But health care regulations curtailed the numbers of hospitalis and clinics that could be opened and forced doctors to increase their prices to cover costs and third-party insurance made my fellow patients unconcerned with those rising costs, so my cash payment system became unaffordable. So I took a job with health insurance, but over the years, what I paid to cover my family increased until I was paying 42% of my pay to health insurance. Faced with a premium increase that would drive that cost up over 50%, I found another job with a larger pool to better control the premiums, but the ACA is driving those costs up now as well.The difference now is that I am forced to buy insurance, even if it becomes unaffordable.

No, you cannot blame this on private companies. Left to their own devises, priveate companies (insurance companies) and individuals (doctors) will lower their prices in competition for your business until they cover their expenses plus a reasonable profit. It is government meddling in the form of regulations that have caused the current situation in health care. The supply of doctors is limited by the number of medical schools, which is limited by the permitting processes of the government. The number of clinics and hospitalis is limited similarly by permitting requirements. This creates near-monopolies that drive up prices artificially.

Insurance companies operate in near-monopolies as well. There are hundreds of insurance companies in the United States, but most states allow only 2 or 3 insurers to sell policies within those states. This is encouraged by federal regulations. Instead of fixing this problem by allowing insurance comapnies from any state to offer policies in any other state (meeting state guidelines just as auto insurance does, of course), the ACA actuall concentrated the number of companies that could offer policies in any given market, thereby exerting monopolistic pressure on the market.

Good sense would allow companies to form pools with similar companies, but that is not permitted under federal law, so … for example, the mental health center I used to work for had to make-do with an insurance pool of 120 participants, instead of pooling with all non-profits in the state, which would have given us an insurance pool of several thousand. This increased premiums and resulted, eventually, in the bankruptcy of the agency because they weren’t permitted to drop insurance under the ACA.

My son obstensibly owes $56,000 in national debt. He’s only 17 and is not yet a legal person who can accrue personal debt, but he’s saddled with a huge debt he didn’t create. He will never have to pay an individual payment toward that debt, but he will pay for it in decreased opportunities within a moribund economy for the rest of his life.

Those are just some of the gifts that progressive socialists give us every day. And, yeah, I’m pissed off by that. But what pisses me off more is that the news media will not admit that the two main party candidates are both progressives who will grow government and who both promise to add about $10 trillion in debt to our burden.

We’re told we have a two-dimension choice. Pick progressive candidate A or progressive candidate B, there is nothing else available. That is not true and that knowledge gives me hope and helps me to be a little less angry.

Freedom is an antedote to dispair.

Posted August 11, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Progressivism’s Parade of Horrors | Bill Frezza   Leave a comment

From eugenics to climate change, there is grave danger in making law based on so-called settled science.

On the flight out to the recent FreedomFest conference in Las Vegas, I read a horrifying book, Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era by Thomas C. Leonard. It’s a bold attempt to restore our national memory, to explain how we strayed from our nation’s classical liberal founding heritage and embarked on building today’s welfare/warfare/regulatory state. Central to the story is the misuse of science. And it carries an important warning for us today.

Leonard meticulously researches and documents the march of the Eugenics movement, from its roots in the German Historical School of political economy during the Bismarck era to its near-universal embrace by American Progressive intellectuals at the end of the 19th century, to its re-importation into Germany, which culminated in the Nazi holocaust.

Found on FEE Source: Progressivism’s Parade of Horrors | Bill Frezza

Progressivism’s Parade of Horrors | Bill Frezza   Leave a comment

From eugenics to climate change, there is grave danger in making law based on so-called settled science

Source: Progressivism’s Parade of Horrors | Bill Frezza

Posted August 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Socialism Security   Leave a comment

A Primer on Socialism Security

Note: This is an excerpt from Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America(2014).

Like government schools, Social Security is a failed program that nevertheless remains popular with the American people.  Why?  Keep in mind that progressivism is not a rational system of thought but a means to make progressives feel better about themselves and provide a (false) sense of control over a big, complex and often hostile world.  As such, the mindset necessarily excludes any notion that progressive programs might fail or might cost too much which, in the case of Social Security, is a critical issue.  If progressivism was sensitive to its own failures, it would not be what it is and would not serve the purposes that make it so popular.  If a program needs more resources, then, since progressives have no theory of costs or awareness that all resources are scarce, the progressive will merely propose spending more money as has been done with Social Security, at least, twenty times.  At no time when higher Social Security taxes were proposed to save the program from insolvency, did progressives ask themselves, is this program worth the increased costs?  Should we liquidate the program instead of continually increasing costs?  Where are those additional resources coming from?  How were those resources being used before they were taxed away?  What harm will be done to persons and to their projects and to the overall economy by seizing those resources from where they are being used and applying them to save an insolvent program, the campaign promise of a dead and depraved politician, FDR?[1]

Source: Socialism Security

Stay Tuned for More Conversation   Leave a comment

More conversationThom Stark and I will continue our conversation.

 

Thom Stark is the author of May Day, Book 1 of the American Sulla trilogy.

Lela Markham is the author of The Willow Branch, Book 1 of the Daermad Cycle.

Thom Stark Responds to a Reader   1 comment

LELA: Thom and I have been going back and forth about private enterprise and the role of government in utilities like broadband. Nicholas asked Thom this question:

Nicholas:  How about the general welfare? I don’t see how my tax money is properly used with grants for Chattanooga for something the government should not even be involved in.

Thom StarkTHOM:  Nicolas, that Chattanooga’s MAN was partially funded by Federal tax money is really beside the point. Congress set aside money for stimulus grants. Because of the way government fund-based accounting works, that money could ONLY be used for stimulus grants. Alaska (which is to say Sarah Palin) chose not to apply for such grants. Chattannooga, however, did so, so they got that money.t

It’s clear that we disagree on whether it’s proper and appropriate for “the government” (in this case, Chattanooga’s government) to provide Internet service. That’s been the central point at issue in the last couple of these exchanges. Lela agrees with you. I do not.

Let’s be clear here. It’s just as valid to ask why Tennessee taxpayers should be asked to pay $320 million for the Gravina Island Bridge in Alaska (yes, the 2008 earmark was deleted from the highway bill – but only because conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation called it “a national disgrace). The short answer is Congress appropriated money to pay for maintenance and construction of highways. That money was parceled out to each state according to an arcane formula that Congress uses for that purpose. Don Young and Ted Stevens “earmarked” a portion of Alaska’s share for the bridge – and then the screaming started.

That’s the way the system works. You can complain that it shouldn’t be that way, but IT IS. There’s a pot of Federal money set aside for a particular set of purposes. A state can decline to accept its share of that pot – as Palin did with the stimulus funds – but the money in the post still HAS to be spent for those purposes, because THAT’S WHAT THE LAW REQUIRES.

I’m not about to explain the logic behind fund-based accounting here, but it has to do with (believe it or not) accountability.

 

Thom Stark is the author of the American Sulla trilogy and blogs at starkrealities.com.

Thom and I come from different political philsophies, but we both agree that listening to other perspectives is an important and currently neglected American tradition.

Thom Stark on Private Enterprise   5 comments

Thom Stark

Thom is back from his adventure, responding to my post from last week.

 

I think we’ve pretty well beaten the subject of who’s responsible for the American Civil War to a bloody, unrecognizable pulp. It seems clear that we fundamentally disagree on the issue: you see it as a product of Lincoln’s intransigence on secession, while I see it as the result of Southern bellicosity and the irrevocability of membership in the Union.

So be it. Let us agree that we will disagree, and move on.

The example you give of Federal heavy-handedness is an interesting one. I can’t and won’t defend the NTSB’s refusal to grant a waiver from its PTC requirement for the Fairbanks-Seward line, but I will note two things: first, that your complaint is really about bureaucratic inflexibility, rather than Federal power, and secondly, why aren’t your Senators and Representative using their influence to force the NTSB to be reasonable? That’s part of their job – and an important part, at that.

The thing that most struck me about your essay, however, was the way you dismissed the battle between Chattanooga and Comcast over gigabit Internet access. I think you have completely mischaracterized the conflict as Chattanooga “interfering” in Comcast and AT&T’s market. The fact is that neither Comcast nor AT&T had ANY plans to build out a fiber-based physical plant in the greater Chattanooga metropolitan area at the time when the city decided to build its own. Chattanooga practically begged both companies to build it for them, but they refused, citing high costs and lack of market demand (the same excuses cable companies and local incumbents have repeatedly used to justify not investing in local fiber networks across the country). The city fathers saw ubiquitous gigabit access to the Internet as a keystone in their effort to make Chattanooga a tech hub – and they were entirely correct about that – so they used Federal grant money to help them fund construction of a fiber-to-premises network of their own.

Now the network is in place, and (because the city has no obligation to funnel money into the pockets of shareholders) Chattanoogans have signed up for truly high-speed Internet access in throngs. As a result, Comcast is now fighting to keep from having to build out their own fiber network in the suburbs by getting the Tennessee legislature to forbid Chattanooga to offer to connect its MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) to fiber networks its suburbs want to build. It’s a case where private enterprise is purposefully ignoring market demand in order to avoid investing in fiber to the home, because short-term profits are, somehow, an Unquestioned Good, while supplying the market with the services its demanding is an Unnecessary Expense. And that’s ALL because of state-level protectionism and cronyism which have combined to prevent the entry of non-profit players into the broadband market.

And there, I think, is one major bone of contention between us on which, like the root cause of the American Civil War, we are unlikely ever to agree: you see private enterprise as automatically preferable to government-provided services, whereas I have no such philosophical romance with the ideal of free market capitalism. To me, capitalism is a tool that’s a lot like fire, in that it makes a useful and capable servant, but a poor and loathesome master. In this country, ever since the advent of Saint Reagan, deregulation of capitalism has acquired a talismanic status as an object of worship on the right. The problem I see is that the history of deregulation provides an uninterrupted series of examples of why it’s a Very Bad Idea. Inevitably, government deregulation has led not to a self-regulating marketplace, but to irresponsible gaming of the system for short-term profit, leading inevitably to market bubbles and general economic distress.

Lela Markham Davidson Ditch CorrectedNo less a deregulation cheerleader than Hank Greenspan has admitted that the Federal Reserve, in abdicating its responsibility for fiscal oversight, was ultimately responsible for the crash of 2008 – and that deregulated marketplaces do not, in fact, automagically self-regulate. Instead, they turn into a free-for-all environment where taking advantage of deregulation to generate short-term profits at the expense of individual corporate and marketplace stability is the rule, rather than the exception. Disaster, predictably, follows.

Thom Stark’s View on State Sovereignty   1 comment

Last week the conversation turned toward issues of sovereignty, Indian nations and states rights. Here is Thom’s reply.

Thom StarkFirst of all, I see no point regarding Indian sovereignity on which we disagree. However, ours is, in John Adams’ phrase, “a nation of laws, not men” (although, granted, he was talking about the Constitution of Massachussetts, not the USA), so Supreme Court decisions on the subject, however imbecilic, are binding – at least, until they’re overturned. Thus, recognized Indian nations have sovereignity. I suspect it’d be nigh impossible to change that situation today – mostly because of opposition from the left, rather than the right.

But we both agree that racial discrimination, regardless of how and where it takes place, is indefensible. I merely noted that, given the history of Indian nations such as the Cherokee in the USA, the desire for revenge on the white man is understandable. That does NOT mean I approve of it. Only that I understand it as a product of human nature. Black people, Asians, even those of Irish extraction have similar, legitimate historical grievances about their treatment at the hands of the USA and its laws, but even the staunchest leftist nitwit would hardly argue that the Irish, for instance, have any present cause for complaint about their status in America. I hope – and expect – that the same will eventually be true of every other minority in this country.

Of course, my mother’s side of the family is of Irish extraction all the way back to the Potato Famine, so …

You bringing up the Articles of Confederation is interesting, given that the full title of that document is the “Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union.” There was, in fact, no provision whatsoever for succession from the original Confederation, and the Constitutional Constitution of 1787 was called to amend that document, rather than to draft an entirely new one. Some constitutional scholars maintain that the Constitution should, indeed, properly be viewed as a wholesale amendment of the Articles of Confederation (and perpetual Union), rather than as an entirely new document. It’s also worth noting that the Declaration of Independence is a manifesto, but its various other sub-declarations are more in the nature of rationale than legal principle – or else “that all men are created equal” would have entirely precluded the original Constitution from enshrining slavery based on race.

And, yes, people have been arguing whether there is any legal basis for succession ever since the Constitution’s formal ratificaiton and adoption in 1789. The problem with those who maintain that succession is a right reserved to the states is that it – along with much of the concept of states rights – is a notion entirely outmoded by actual historical precedent. The South tried and failed to make succession stick. Their failure has made the inviolability of the Union a principle of American law ever since.

It’s also interesting that you cite James Buchanan’s inaction and general fecklessness as somehow laudable. Prior to George W. Bush, he was widely considered the absolute worst U.S. president of the lot (worse even than Andrew Jackson – and that’s really saying something). His unwillingness to lead, especially his failure to use the bully pulpit of his office to advocate for the preservation of the Union by, for instance, vetoing the Missouri Compromise, greatly emboldened the secessionists. (It also constituted the straw that finally broke the back of the Whig party camel, which led directly to the formation of the Republican party and the subsequent election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, btw.) The man was a vacillating weakling, not a hero.

Since Lincoln correctly saw the integrity of the Union as crucial to the survival of the United States as a viable entity, he quite rightly rejected the notion of the legality of secession. Fort Sumter was a Union military asset. Legally speaking, it did not belong to South Carolina. Today, as then, EVERY military base within the USA (and outside of it) is Federal property, immune from state and local law, taxation authority, and power of eminent domain. That Sumter lay within the territory claimed by South Carolina did not – and does not – alter that. The ONLY legal mechanism by which SC could have laid claim to it was via negotiation, and the Union had every right to resupply its garrison in the meantime.

By attacking a Federal reservation, South Carolina was and remains responsible for committing the act that precipitated the bloody conflict that Confederate apologists like to think of as “the War of Northern aggression.”

It was no such thing. Instead, it was as true a civil war as any in history (there have been lots and lots of those, going back at least as far as the Romans), which was the direct result of Southern aggression, not that of the North.

DSC01494The relationship between the states and the federal government is a constantly-evolving one. That evolution has steadily moved in the direction of reducing the states’ power in favor of increasing Federal authority. You can argue whether that’s a good thing or a bad one, but the trend is inevitable and unstoppable.

I personally believe it’s a Good Thing overall. Far too many states employ their power to sanction absurdly anti-consumer legislation, such as excluding Tesla from selling cars within their borders to protect existing automobile dealership franchises, and forbidding municipalities like Chattanooga from extending their gigabit fiber networks to suburbs outside of its city limits. That’s monopolist protectionism in its rawest, ugliest form – but it’s a states rights matter, so they’re allowed to continue such deeply corrupt practices. (And, if the Tea Party members of Congress get their way, the FCC will be forbidden from interfering in the cable industry’s campaign to keep that last one in place.)

Screw that idiocy. It’s the 21st century, not the 18th. It’s past time that we as a nation recognized that the notion of states rights is increasingly as outmoded as the professions of locomotive fireman or gaslighter.

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