Trump supporters weary of my hammering him will be glad to know that I am now turning my wrath to Hillary Clinton and the Progressive movement she represents.
Progressives believe in force as the proper method of social organization.
Capitalists believe voluntary cooperation is the proper method of social organization.
You Progressives will see this as a false premise or a vast oversimplification of the Progressivism or capitalism, but it is a fact that force underpins Progressivism. By using the coercive powers of government we are required to do what Progressives wish us to do. In capitalism no one forced you to buy an iPhone or a latte at Starbucks. Yet, if I wish to work for less than, say, $15 per hour, Progressives would use force to prevent me from making that choice.
Spare me the attacks on “capitalism” for the moment and focus on your own beliefs and tell me that you don’t believe in a strong central government that empowers a few individuals with the means to force me to bend to their will. Doesn’t it ultimately come down to the use of violence (guns) to compel recalcitrant citizens to obey your end-justifies-the-means policies?
Progressivism is a form of welfare/regulatory statism. Instead of taking over the means of production as in socialism (see Venezuela and Cuba), they use the apparatus of a strong central government to control our economic behavior by taxing it and regulating it with a myriad of laws enforced by a vast bureaucracy.
Progressives think they know what’s best for us and they are willing to deprive us of our rights to make choices about our own lives. Or, to put it another way, a few politicians and bureaucrats believe they are better able to make decisions about the lives of the other 320 million Americans. Doesn’t that assume a certain arrogance?
This is the flaw in Progressivism: how can they know what you or I should do, much less know what our 320 million fellow Americans should do? That they claim to speak for the “people” is a myth; they speak for themselves.
I argue that free market capitalism, that marketplace where you make a hundred economic decisions every day, is based on voluntary cooperation, good will, and trust. The market is one giant cooperative and voluntary machine to satisfy your needs without resorting to violence. When left alone, as history has proven over the millennia, it creates wealth in those societies who employ it and raises everyone’s standard of living.
So why do Progressives wish to interfere with this machinery of progress?
There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that there are certain types of human beings who like to lord it over the rest of us. There is an attraction to power that these types can’t seem to resist. I’m not sure of the psychology of this particular mental disorder, but you can probably find it in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). There are some fine people in politics, but the fact is that most of them relish power and the attention that comes with it. Most presidential candidates suffer from this flaw to a great degree, Hillary and Donald being the best examples. When you get to autocrats such as the Chavez/Maduros, the Castros, the Putins, and the Kims, it is pathological.
The unfortunate corollary to the above is that there are folks who like to be told what to do and will eagerly exchange their liberty for the state’s promise to take care of them.
The second reason, pointed out by economist Don Boudreaux, is that these imperious types oversimplify a complex phenomenon that is our economy. The multitude of products and services available to you are the result of a vast interconnected network of voluntary cooperation of millions of people on a worldwide scale. Boudreaux points out:
“No one ever sees the immense expanse of human cooperation across space and time—or the vision and gumption of entrepreneurs, or the highly specialized skills of workers—all of which are necessary if we are to enjoy even the most mundane of modern goods and services.”
Boudreaux says that politicians see only the tip of this economic iceberg and that “This appearance of relative simplicity creates the delusion that third-party interventions into the affairs of others are easily done and carry little risk of ill unintended consequences.”
In other words, they are tinkering with something they don’t understand and the unintended consequences of this meddling are bad for us.
Hillary is the self-professed torch bearer of Progressivism. She has proposed an ocean of new regulations to reward her friends and buy votes from special interests. I have discussed many of these issues in past columns and I won’t address them now, but in future columns I will challenge her most important policies and point out why they won’t work. I will show that they will often do the opposite of what is intended.
If there ever were a deceptively named movement it would be Progressivism. Far from bringing about progress, it does the opposite by deterring investment, innovation, business formation, competition, and jobs. As Syme tells Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984, “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
Originally published August 8, 2016.