The Beacon: Randall Holcombe: ‘Progressivism: Rhetoric Versus Reality’

Progressivism Source:The Independent Institute– The Economist, which is a center-right, liberal publication in Britain, with a look at progressivism.

“Contemporary supporters of an expanded role for government are increasingly moving away from calling themselves liberals and toward referring to themselves Progressives, so it is worth considering what the ideology of Progressivism entails.

Progressivism began in the late 1800s as a political movement that advocated expanding the role of government. Before the Progressive era, Americans viewed the role of government as protecting individual rights. The Progressive ideology argued that the proper role of government should go beyond protecting individual rights to include looking out for people’s economic well-being.

Progressivism is explicitly designed to use the force of government to take from some to give to others. In its early days, Progressives envisioned the state reining in the economic power of people like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt to prevent them from exploiting those with less economic power. Even this vision makes clear that the goal of Progressivism is to impose costs on some for the benefit of others.

The Progressive ideology is now firmly ingrained in the political system, and everybody recognizes that the government routinely takes from some to give to others. Because this is how our government now works, Progressivism encourages people to engage in politics to increase their chances that they can be on the receiving end of those transfers.

Meanwhile, the idea that some might be using their economic power to exploit others has fallen by the wayside. It’s not that Progressives don’t think this can happen; it’s that the Progressive transfer state recognizes claims made by anybody, regardless of whether they were harmed or exploited by others.

Welfare programs transfer wealth from taxpayers to recipients without any thought that the recipients deserve the transfers because they are being exploited by taxpayer. Instead, coercive wealth transfers are the “compassionate” thing to do. But the rich as well as the poor see Progressive government as a source of economic support. Giant corporations receive subsidies, tax breaks, and regulatory protection even though when Progressivism was born, its core idea was to transfer from them rather than toward them. Progressivism leads to cronyism.

While the idea of Progressivism was to expand the role of government to both protecting people’s rights and looking out for their economic well-being, the actual result of Progressivism has been that because it provides economic benefits to some by imposing costs on others, it violates people’s rights rather than protecting them. Progressive regulations limit people’s freedom of choice, and Progressive tax and transfer policies take the property of some for the benefit of others.

Despite its compassionate-sounding agenda of looking out for people’s economic well-being, the political philosophy of Progressivism justifies a government that violates the rights of some to provide economic benefits to others.”

From The Beacon

Replace the words progressive and progressivism, with socialist and socialism and I probably agree with everything that Randall Holcombe said about progressive and progressivism here. But he’s just dead wrong, unless he’s talking about socialist and socialism, accidentally and just made those mistakes.

The actual definition of Progressive, is someone who not just believes in progress (where the word progressive actually comes from) but progress through government action. That government can be a force for good (to sound corny) to help people improve their own lives. That doesn’t mean taking from the rich to take care of everyone else, or essentially outlawing independent wealth and individual freedom. But using government to try to create a society where as many people as possible can succeed in it.

What people need to understand about progressivism, is that it isn’t socialism. Progressivism isn’t completely about government. And doesn’t think individualism and individual initiative is necessarily a bad thing. Or that freedom is necessarily a bad thing. Progressives, unlike Socialists in many cases, believe in all of those things.

A true Progressive, doesn’t believe that government can and should do practically everything if not everything for the people. Socialists, don’t seem to have a problem that a new tax increase and government program can’t solve and do something new for the people.

Progressivism, was basically born in the late 1890s and early 1900s, under people like Teddy Roosevelt and later Woodrow Wilson and many others, as part of the so-called Progressive Era. These people who might have seem radical then, but today they would be mainstream, Center-Left, Progressive Democrats.

Thanks to the Great Depression and with Franklin Roosevelt coming to power as President in 1933 with an overwhelming Democratic Congress in both the House and Senate, the New Deal was born. The American safety net and social insurance system to help people in need help themselves and get themselves back on their feet.

The originally Welfare system was badly designed. Because it didn’t require people on Welfare to finish their education and even look for work. Unlike Unemployment Insurance where people have to look for work and even get help from the program looking for work.

The basic idea of progressivism is that government can help people when they are down get on their feet. And protect the innocent from predators. Either in the economy with the regulatory state. And put criminals way when they hurt the innocent physically and otherwise with the law enforcement state. And protect the country from foreign invaders with the national security state.

If you look at the economic options of the 1930s, the progressive economic approach was actually the middle ground. Which might sound strange even for that period.

But think about it, you had Conservatives and Libertarians on the Right, saying that government shouldn’t do anything to help people who are down and stay out of the economy all together.

Democratic Socialists and Communists on the Far-Left, saying that private enterprise and capitalism is the problem. And that government should take over a lot of these sectors in the economy to serve the people.

Progressivism, is not socialism, but a very mainstream American ideology.

You can also see this post at The Daily Times, on Blogger.

About The Daily Review

This is a blog about life and classic Hollywood.
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1 Response to The Beacon: Randall Holcombe: ‘Progressivism: Rhetoric Versus Reality’

  1. kireschneider says:

    You can also see this post at The Daily Times:http://thedailytimesusa.blogspot.com/2015/05/independent-institute-beacon-randall.html on Blogger.

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