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Progressivism: American Fascist Collectivism
Senator McCain's favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt. And he is quoted, with admiration, the history and consequences of this Republican President. But like his later cousin president, Teddy roosevelt is finally coming under the microscope more than before. And the dawning consensus is that he was riding in the lead, at the head of the American Progressive Movement.

Quote:Theodore Roosevelt, Big-Government Man
March 2010

by Jim Powell

[Image: Teddy-Roosevelt1-290x278.jpg]

Theodore Roosevelt has been known as "the Good Roosevelt," "he Republican Roosevelt," and "the conservative Roosevelt,"as distinguished from his fifth cousin Franklin, who's credited with ushering in modern American big government.

Yet promoters of big government have long recognized TR as one of their own.

Biographer Frank Freidel wrote that "While at Groton [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] first fell under the spell of his remote cousin Theodore Roosevelt. . . . Theodore Roosevelt believed in using to the utmost the constitutional power of the president. . . . This strong use of government was for the most part appealing to Franklin." During the Great Depression, FDR promoted "a program emphasizing national planning in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt." Freidel noted that "in words reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt, FDR declared 'the duty rests upon the Government to restrict incomes by very high taxes.'"

Historian Eric F. Goldman said that Lyndon Johnson, who simultaneously launched huge domestic entitlement spending programs and escalated the undeclared Vietnam War, admired "the hyperactive White House of Theodore Roosevelt." LBJ reportedly remarked, "Whenever I pictured Teddy Roosevelt, I saw him running or riding, always moving, his fists clenched, his eyes glaring, speaking out."

Richard M. Nixon, who dramatically expanded federal regulation of the economy, liked Theodore Roosevelt "because of his great dynamic drive and ability to mobilize a young country."

In recent years, influential Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and John McCain have gushed with admiration for TR.

For starters, TR reinterpreted the Constitution to permit a vast expansion of executive power. "Congress, he felt, must obey the president," noted biographer Henry Pringle. Roosevelt wanted the Supreme Court to obey him too. TR ushered in the practice of ruling by executive order, bypassing the congressional process. From Lincoln to TR's predecessor William McKinley, there were 158 executive orders. TR, during his seven years in office, issued 1,007. He ranks third, behind fellow "progressives" Woodrow Wilson (1,791) and Franklin Roosevelt (3,723) in that category.

Unintended Consequences of Foreign Wars

Theodore Roosevelt, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, believed that "we should regard with contempt and loathing the Americans . . . crying on behalf of peace, peace, when there ought not to be peace." He warned against "the Menace of Peace."

When, in 1892, there was a dispute with Chile, he urged an invasion. As a lieutenant-colonel with his Rough Riders, on a ship bound for Cuba, he wrote Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge: "You must get Manila and Hawaii; you must prevent any talk of peace until we get Puerto Rico and the Philippines as well as secure the independence of Cuba."

TR relished the prospect of war with Canada. In 1895, he wrote Lodge: "I don't care whether our sea coast cities are bombarded or not, we would take Canada." In a letter to his brother-in-law Will Cowles, Roosevelt said that the U.S. army would "have to employ a lot of men just as green as I am for the conquest of Canada."

As president, Roosevelt reversed the traditional U. S. foreign policy of refraining from intervention in the affairs of other nations. Intervention had been the exception, but he began to make it the rule.

TR promoted a big navy not to defend the country from a specific threat - since there wasn't any threat - but to be a tool for an expansionist foreign policy. "The primary concern of Roosevelt and his fellow-expansionists," observed historian Howard K. Beale, "was power and prestige and the naval strength that would bring power and prestige."

TR's most controversial intervention involved the seizure of the Isthmus of Panama, which had belonged to Colombia. He resolved to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans so the U.S. navy could be more easily mobilized in either ocean. Historian David McCullough observed that "Roosevelt's haste, his refusal - his inability - to see the Colombian position on the treaty as anything other than a 'holdup,' were tragically mistaken and inexcusable." Is it prudent to have a U.S. president who seizes foreign territory when convenient?

TR's other interventions - in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua - were small by later standards, aimed mainly at helping European investors collect debts from deadbeat Latin American dictators so that European governments wouldn't establish a military presence in the Western Hemisphere. But his aggressive advocacy of intervention undoubtedly made his successors feel more comfortable about entering foreign wars, which have killed Americans when the United States wasn't under attack, triggered nationalist reactions that supported dictators, and multiplied the number of foreign enemies, complicating efforts to maintain our national security.

TR's "Conservation" Subsidies

Roosevelt backed schemes that helped western-state politicians gain more clout. State-subsidized irrigation projects before TR aimed at attracting farmers who would try to grow crops in western deserts, but all these projects lost money. Roosevelt thought this experience didn't apply to him, and in the name of "reclamation" he decided that the federal government should promote desert farming.

Hence the Reclamation Act of 1902. Every western senator and congressman scrambled to get on board for a subsidized reclamation project. Nevada Senator Francis Newlands, for example, was particularly anxious about his state's declining population. To secure political backing, reclamation projects had to be spread around, and many locations didn't make any sense. They guaranteed losses.

TR's subsidized reclamation brought widespread financial ruin. Farmers who had no prior experience with irrigation overwatered their crops, their irrigation systems became clogged with silt, and they obligated themselves to pay for more acreage than they could handle. Many farmers quit, taxpayers were socked to cover the losses, and desert populations declined.

And despite TR's reputation as a foe of private monopolies, he approved unfair government practices that squeezed out private dam builders and helped the Bureau of Reclamation gain a dam-building monopoly. The Bureau of Reclamation became a vast federal bureaucracy with some 600 dams and reservoirs in 17 western states.

It led to waste on a colossal scale. More water has been lost due to evaporation from reservoirs in hot deserts than has been needed for human consumption in major western cities. It has been estimated that every year perhaps a million acre-feet of water enough to supply Los Angeles - are lost, seeping into Lake Powell's canyon walls and evaporating in the desert sun.

Big-Government Bungling

Theodore Roosevelt challenged the prevailing American view that land-use decisions are best made by private individuals who have a stake in improving the value of their property. He throttled the privatization of land that had been going on for more than a century. In 1905 TR transferred millions of acres of government land from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture and established the U. S. Forest Service to manage it.

It's because he substantially limited privatization that today national forests account for about 20 percent of the land in the 11 westernmost states of the lower 48. Altogether, the federal government controls about a third of the land in the United States.

The rationale for "national forests" was that America supposedly faced a "timber famine." Gifford Pinchot, first head of the Forest Service, warned that America would run out of timber within 20 years. TR claimed that selfish private individuals were squandering America's resources and only public-spirited federal bureaucrats could be counted on to manage them. Despite Pinchot's claims about "scientific" forestry, the "timber famine" never happened.

Nor did Pinchot actually conserve much. Cattlemen overgrazed their herds on national forest lands precisely because it was common property. In effect, nobody owned it. If one person's herds didn't eat all the grass, somebody else's herds would get it, so the incentive was to consume as much as possible. Similarly, nobody had an incentive to maintain the value of common property because the benefits might go to someone else.

TR enforced the "best" conservation policies throughout the country. Fire was considered bad for forests, so the Forest Service fought fires everywhere, and Smokey the Bear became famous. By suppressing fire for decades, deadwood built up and trees grew more densely. Moreover, Forest Service officials, in their alleged wisdom, ordered less logging, which accelerated the buildup of combustibles in national forests. Increasingly, instead of having many smaller fires to deal with, they faced huge conflagrations, which are harder to fight and more destructive.

Roosevelt used federal power to establish five national parks as well as 51 wildlife refuges and 150 national forests, yet they all seem to have suffered from inadequate maintenance at one time or another. For example, since TR thought parks were for big game, park rangers slaughtered wolves, cougars, and other predators. Soaring elk populations consumed so much vegetation that beavers disappeared. Park rangers closed garbage dumps where bears feasted, and as a result starving bears raided campgrounds. They were slaughtered, too. Parks have been polluted by poorly maintained sewage systems because their gate receipts went to Washington and they had difficulty competing with bigger government programs for funding. Hope Babcock, former general counsel of the National Audubon Society, lamented TR's legacy: "Few would assert that the historical institutional paradigm for managing the nation's public lands has protected the natural resource values of those lands."

"Trust-Busting" That Suppressed Competition

The rationale for antitrust laws and TR's "trust busting" was the idea that, left alone, a free market tends to develop monopolies and government intervention is required to maintain competition. There was more than a little hypocrisy in this since TR supported high tariffs, which helped politically connected business interests by suppressing competition and in the process ripped off American consumers far more than any monopoly. In fact, it had been said that the "tariff is the mother of the trusts."

Nevertheless, Roosevelt demonized businessmen as "malefactors of great wealth," a phrase later used by his cousin during his anti-business crusades. TR's attorney general, Philander Knox, filed lawsuits to break up private companies, starting in 1902 with Northern Securities (a railroad holding company). The most famous antitrust lawsuits resulted in the breakup of American Tobacco Company and the Standard Oil Company in 1911, after Roosevelt left office.

Yet for more than two decades output had been expanding and prices had been falling in the American economy - the opposite of what one would expect with a lot of monopolies. Despite Roosevelt's allegations about railroad monopolies (which were largely built with government subsidies), in the previous half-century railroad mileage in the United States had expanded more than 250-fold to 258,784 miles, and railroad rates were falling. Cheaper railroad rates undermined local monopolies by giving people the choice of buying economically priced goods from far away. Regardless, TR signed the Hepburn and Elkins acts, which strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission's power to control competition by regulating railroad rates.

Historian Gabriel Kolko observed, "The dominant tendency in the American economy at the beginning of this [twentieth] century was toward growing competition. Competition was unacceptable to many key business and financial interests, and the merger movement was to a large extent a reflection of voluntary, unsuccessful business efforts to bring irresistible competitive trends under control" (Kolko went on to establish that the progressive "reforms of the early twentieth century were backed by big business as a way to restrain competition and protect market share.")

Mounting evidence shows that monopolies are rare in free markets, as changing consumer tastes, changing business conditions, new technologies, and new competitors both foreign and domestic (when free) relentlessly challenge established companies. With very few exceptions, monopolies have persisted only when government has enforced barriers to entry that prevent new or old companies from competing in a market. Licenses, monopoly franchises, and trade restrictions are among the most common government-enforced barriers to entry.

Alarmed at the increasing size of major industrial corporations (which were often helped by tariffs and other kinds of privileges), many people didn't seem to realize that markets were expanding even faster - corporations were increasingly serving national and international markets. John D. Rockefeller earned his fortune refining kerosene from western Pennsylvania oil, but rivals discovered oil fields in Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and California as well as overseas. New products like Thomas Edison's electric lights attracted customers away from kerosene lamps, and Henry Ford's cheap Model T cars needed gasoline, a petroleum product that enabled new oil companies to establish themselves. Rockefeller's Standard Oil thrived because it was a low-cost competitor, investing in cost-cutting technology, yet so intense was the competition that its market share declined. There would have been more competition had TR focused on lowering tariffs and repealing corporate privileges, and refrained from attacking big discounters like Standard Oil.

It's past time to evaluate Theodore Roosevelt and other progressives not according to their personalities and speeches, but according to their actions and consequences.
Have a Gneiss Day!
Thomas Sowell also puts TR firmly in the "progressive" camp, as a precursor to modern progressives/liberals. (Book: Intellectuals and Society.) Evidently he had little regard for constitutional niceties. People get carried away with his swashbuckling style, trust busting and "decisive" nature, but don't look carefully at what the ramifications of his decisions were.

Genetically (or should I say inexorably) it seems, progressives hate very large companies with wealth and influence, regardless of the benefits they may confer to the rest of society. (E.g. Standard Oil reduced the price of oil to consumers enormously.)

It would be interesting if someone published a good honest history of the progressive/liberal political philosophy. The above book addresses this tangentially, as does Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals". My thesis is that it pretty much started with Rousseau. Godwin was a quick follow up, but not nearly so well known.

Class struggles have been going on since the Greeks, but I don't think these are precursors to the modern progressive/conservative debate.
Jefferson: I place economy among the first and important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.
I noticed this alot when I read the first two books of TR's biography by Arthur Morris. It didn't come out and say it, but really, when going into immense detail over each individual episode of his political career, it jumps out at you several times.

I admire and respect the man alot, but really, he wasn't exactly the politician I prefer.
Another issue I have with him is his confiscation of state land, in order to make national parks. That land belonged to the states, and if it was part of the territory, when it became a state, it should have also come under the state's jurisdiction. If you look at Nevada, it is what,.........80%, or more federal land. That's outrageous!
Have a Gneiss Day!
John L Wrote:Another issue I have with him is his confiscation of state land, in order to make national parks. That land belonged to the states, and if it was part of the territory, when it became a state, it should have also come under the state's jurisdiction. If you look at Nevada, it is what,.........80%, or more federal land. That's outrageous!

But it's for the people.....
Teddy was an activist if there has ever been one on earth.

I agree with John,TDR went way too far on taking state lands for national parks,IMO.

I disagree with John on the trustbusting. Genius move,there was no private property confiscated,everyone was well compensated,the law simply took 1 whole and made it 6 pieces with equal stature. What he achieved there was preventing an oligarchy. Had that not happened,we'd probably be ruled by 6-10 families right now making their deals.

The alternative would for us to look like Mexico today or the USSR in 1940. Screw that. Further,if that is termed progressive,then let;'s get real and face reality,progressive ain't always wrong,we've all benefitted from trust busting. Sometimes we conservatives need to be real,we are not 100% accurate.

Foreign policy,TDR accelerated on steroids the American desire to be ambitious and take our "rightful" place as a world power. That ambition ended up getting us involved in WWI,WWII,Korea,Vietnam,IraqI,IraqII,Afghanistan. It also got us into the Spanish-American war before TDR's ascension.
Here is more on Progressivism, and is out of the same monthly about Teddy R. It's about whether or not to save our failing Progressive newspapers.

Quote:Do We Need “Progressive” Newspapers? Or will entrepreneurs come to the rescue?

William L. Anderson

I recently read Alex S. Jones’s(not the conspiracy theory Jones) Losing the News, which says if that American newspapers go out of business, Americans will lose the “iron core of news” that permits us to be a “self-governing people.” If a few more of these outfits go under, he says, we’re doomed! Are we?

Let me start by I acknowledging that I worked with Jones 32 years ago, and I like him. But I believe he does not understand the U.S. economy and the power of entrepreneurship. Most important, newspapers as we know them are relics of the Progressive Era, and we can easily do without Progressivism.

Most Americans are taught that the Progressive Era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a time of great reforms. If we read the history books (and the newspapers), we are told that American businesses had turned the country into a cesspool of filth, long hours, low pay, high prices, and hopelessness, and then, like the White Knight on his steed, the government rode to the rescue. Jones certainly seems to believe it.

Yet the so-called Progressive Era was not a time of progress at all. In reality, it was an attempt by political elites, including Big Business, to destroy what was left of constitutional government and return to a time when government and privileged businessmen cartelized the economy.

For example, while typical history books paint the government’s successful endeavor to regulate the railroads and a “good” thing for Americans. However, the truth is much different from the history-book version. Government regulation of railroads led to decay of the rolling stock, not to mention decay of the tracks and railroad service, and the railroads ultimately did not recover until government controls were drastically changed in the 1980s.

Progressives did not just want to control transportation and business. The crown jewel of Progressivism (other than the America’s disastrous entry into World War I) was the creation of the Federal Reserve System (a banking cartel) and the implantation of the income tax. The combination of these two things guaranteed a State that was sure to grow well beyond its means and the means of the taxpayers that must support it.

Modern newspapers, with their veneer of “objectivity,” also had their roots in the Progressive Era. Before then, people understood that newspapers represented political parties and political points of view. However, during the Progressive Era people who ran newspapers said they would separate their editorial and news functions to “demonstrate” their commitment to “objectivity” in presenting the news.

For all of our belief in newspaper “objectivity,” asking a journalist, and especially a journalist who has a very strong set of views about the way the world works (and should work) simply to recite a set of “facts” is like asking fans to assess the “objectivity” of the referees after their team loses a close game. As the late Michael Kelly, the editor of Atlantic Monthly, once wrote, most journalists view events through a preconceived template and write their dispatches as such.

Those of us who have been advocates for freedom and free markets know full well the scorn that our points of view receive from mainstream journalists. As True Believing Progressives, mainstream journalists believe that only government can guide that entity known as an economy and that any viewpoint which holds that entrepreneurs acting freely can do any better is based on ignorance and outright stupidity and never should be taken seriously.

The real myopia is with Progressives and the journalists who hold such views. Just as newspapers were the creation of entrepreneurs, so entrepreneurs also can find other ways to deliver “news” to people who wish to hear and read it. Has Jones heard of the Internet? He may claim that if we lose modern newspapers, we will “lose the news,” but that is not so, at least not while entrepreneurs still are permitted to do what they do best: serve consumers.
Have a Gneiss Day!
Quote:Modern newspapers, with their veneer of “objectivity,” also had their roots in the Progressive Era. Before then, people understood that newspapers represented political parties and political points of view.
There is no argument for this statement in the article, and it does not jibe with my memory. Until the '60s there were often at least two papers in each moderately large town, one left and one right. The right leaning ones seem to have dissolved in the late 60's and early 70's. For one example, the right leaning paper in Columbus, Ohio in 1966 eventually forced the left leaning one to die. Then the right leaning one transmogrified into the usual local clone of the NYT somewhere in the '70's.

However, the author does not explain what he means by "the Progressive Era". Some statistics would make him more believable.
Jefferson: I place economy among the first and important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.
jt Wrote:
Quote:Modern newspapers, with their veneer of “objectivity,” also had their roots in the Progressive Era. Before then, people understood that newspapers represented political parties and political points of view.
There is no argument for this statement in the article, and it does not jibe with my memory. Until the '60s there were often at least two papers in each moderately large town, one left and one right. The right leaning ones seem to have dissolved in the late 60's and early 70's. For one example, the right leaning paper in Columbus, Ohio in 1966 eventually forced the left leaning one to die. Then the right leaning one transmogrified into the usual local clone of the NYT somewhere in the '70's.

However, the author does not explain what he means by "the Progressive Era". Some statistics would make him more believable.

Two things. One, he is correct in that prior to the 20th century, newspapers tended to be pro party papers. That is why the early years of the country were so contentious. And that is one of the reasons why Burr shot that rascal Hamilton, in a duel, over a slanderous article from a pro-Federalist paper.

Today, papers are more ideology oriented, rather than party driven, and it all changed during the Progressive era of the late 19th, early 20th century. And Second, he is writing an article, not a science piece. When he talks about the Progressive era, I know that he is talking about the period from 1890s to 1930s. But the progressive era has never really left us. They just attached the 'liberal' name to themselves, and have helped trash it, until they are finally reclaiming their proper one: progressives.
Have a Gneiss Day!
More and more Right intellectuals are now using the "P" word more than the "L" word, and that is really a good thing: It's true, and it's totally accurate. Thank you Glenn Beck: even Rush is being pulled kicking and screaming into using correct language, spite of himself.

George Will has this to say, about Obama, and the Wilsonian Progressive Tradition.

The last paragraph is nice.

Quote:Wilson was the first president to criticize the Founding Fathers. He faulted them for designing a government too susceptible to factions that impede disinterested experts from getting on with government undistracted. Like Princeton's former president, Obama's grievance is with the greatest Princetonian, the "father of the Constitution," James Madison, Class of 1771.
Have a Gneiss Day!
Here is another interesting article on Teddy Roosevelt, the first Progressive in the White House:Theodore Roosevelt and the Modern Presidency. Here is a small part, which will give you an idea as to the direction it goes.

Quote:Presidential scholar Edward Corwin has spoken of the "personalization of the presidency," by which he means that the accident of personality has played a considerable role in shaping the office. And indeed it is hard to think of a stronger personality than that of Theodore Roosevelt who ever served as president. One presidential scholar observed that Roosevelt gave the office "the absorbing drama of a Western movie." And no wonder. Mark Twain, who met with the president twice, declared him "clearly insane." In a way, Roosevelt set the tone for his public life to come at age 20, when, after an argument with his girlfriend, he went home and shot and killed his neighbor's dog. He told a friend in 1884 that when he donned his special cowboy suit, which featured revolver and rifle, "I feel able to face anything." When he killed his first buffalo, he "abandoned himself to complete hysteria," as historian Edmund Morris put it, "whooping and shrieking while his guide watched in stolid amazement." His reaction was similar in 1898 when he killed his first Spaniard.

And the rest of the presidency has pretty much been down hill ever since.

And remember, this is the same president with whom Senator McDoufus counts as his hero. Need I say any more?
Have a Gneiss Day!
Now that the true history and works of American Progressives are finally coming to light, there are many article about them: perhaps more than ever before. Dr. William Anderson, has several on going articles about Progressivism, at FEE(Foundation for Economic Education), which are quite enlightening, and highly educational. And the fact that he has entitled his blog "Krugman In Wonderland" say a good deal about him. He's is certainly no Keynesian either.

Quote:Reaping the Whirlwind of Progressivism, Part I
How much more can we take?

Posted June 30, 2010

by William Anderson

[Image: Teddy-Roosevelt.jpg]

When I recently criticized an editorial cartoonist for slamming libertarians — he said a libertarian “lifeguard” would let everyone drown — he wrote back claiming that libertarians would abolish numerous federal departments and agencies, like the Department of Education and even the Federal Reserve. In other words, the cartoonist repeated the litany of Progressivism that we have heard all our lives.

Like most Americans who took an American history course or two, I was told that the late nineteenth century was a time of rapacious monopolies and growing poverty. Businesses like Standard Oil were strangling the American economy and individual Americans, giving them unsafe products and higher prices.

However, like the knight on the white horse, the Progressives rode in to change the destructive course of this country. Men like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson exercised their powers and even exceeded their constitutional authority – all to the good of this country. Progressives in Congress passed laws regulating the economy and created commissions and agencies with the authority to regulate unsafe and “unfair” business practices. Taking the mantle of “can-do Americanism,” they directed the economy to “serve the people” rather the wealthy.

We have read of how the Food and Drug Administration made food safe and ensured we had safe and effective pharmaceuticals. The Fed “wisely” regulated the nation’s “money supply,” and the Federal Trade Commission, with its centerpiece Bureau of Competition, intervened to make the U.S. economy competitive once more. Armed with newly acquired “scientific” knowledge, the people who populated these departments and agencies would be able to detect immediately what needed to be done, as opposed to the slow and monopoly-dominated the free market.

Centralized Curricula

In more modern times, we are told the Department of Education, through its efforts to centralize school curricula and more, is going to make this country more “competitive.” As for the environmental realm, pollution was becoming worse and worse until the “people” declared they had suffered enough. So the government created the Environmental Protection Agency, which will save us from the ravages of “climate change” through its regulatory policies.

And so it goes. Thus anyone who even questions this litany about the growth of the “reformist” federal government is at best an ignoramus and “mossback,” and at worst is an “enemy of the people.” If we raise even a peep, it is obvious we want Americans to die of food poisoning, suffer birth defects (via Thalidomide), have rivers catching fire, and see child labor and low wages. To modern Progressives the only thing separating us from this hell on earth is the list of federal agencies, so anyone who wishes to abolish these agencies either is utterly ignorant of history or wants everyone but the “rich” to live in misery.

Unfortunately, because such beliefs have become institutionalized in our body politic — to the point where the mere mention of an agency is a declaration that it actually does what it is “supposed” to do — it is hard for people to understand that the opposite is true: Our current standard of living is considerably lower than it would have been had the Progressives not taken power.

Yes, such a statement runs counter to what “everyone knows,” especially people in education and the media, where Progressivism made its strongest inroads. But what “everyone knows” isn’t so. As the economy continues to falter in the aftermath of the housing and financial meltdown, the housing market is still laden with government incentives to promote home ownership, particularly in finance, the very portion of the economy that had the worst crisis.

Look at the legacy of Progressivism. From numerous wars (to promote “democracy” abroad) to the current depression, we see the imprint of government intervention. In future columns, I will explain why Progressive government has been a disaster not a savior.
Have a Gneiss Day!
And here is Part 2 of his series on Progressivism.

Quote:The “Smart” State: Progressivism, Part II
Not very smart, actually.

Posted July 07, 2010

by William Anderson

[Image: 200px-US-InterstateCommerceCommission-Seal.jpg]

Modern Progressives love the term “smart” to describe their approach to everything from zoning to energy. For them, attempts to expand the role of the State are smart, which means free markets must be “stupid.”

By the late nineteenth century, Progressives believed that scientific knowledge was so advanced that “experts” could govern American society better than corrupt politicians and business owners. Well-intentioned experts could direct economic activity in a “rational” way.

Although many Progressives did not openly embrace socialism, they believed that a market economy left to its own devices would lead to chaos and monopoly. To combat this problem they did not call for outright State ownership of most production, but rather regulation by federal commissions and bureaus.

Modern historians usually portray entities like the Interstate Commerce Commission, Federal Trade Commission, and Food and Drug Administration as historical “progress.” They especially praise the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1914, which was supposed to end financial “panics” and do away with booms and busts in the economy.

Progressivism permeated all levels of government from local city councils to the White House. The first openly Progressive president was Theodore Roosevelt, who publicly despised the U.S. Constitution with its checks and balances and hated the legacy of Thomas Jefferson. Roosevelt believed that the president should have the power to do whatever seems necessary and that experts in powerful federal agencies should be authorized to carry out mandates to solve the various social and economic problems.

What They Left Out

However, Progressives left out the most important elements in planning: human nature and economic calculation. The rule of experts has not resulted in Nirvana. For example, the current “top economists” of the federal government, from Lawrence Summers to Ben Bernanke, have doctorates from some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, yet they have created an utter mess.

Why? “Experts” might have advanced learning, but that knowledge cannot replace what people need to make complex economic decisions. Many government economic experts are Keynesians, or at least apply Keynesian-style policies, and no matter how many complex mathematical models they might use to “solve” economic problems, their models are worthless because Keynesian analysis simply treats an economy as a homogeneous mass that suffers downturns occurs because spending is inadequate.

Many government-oriented experts seem almost incapable of understanding an economic argument. For example, the government pays them to find ways to make alcohol-based fuel from switch grass, yet just because they can produce this fuel does not mean it is economically feasible. Government planners tout it as a “fuel of the future,” yet it is vastly inferior to petroleum-based fuels in performance and in resources required to create and distribute it.

“Smart” policies have unforeseen consequences. For example, “smart growth” has resulted in forcing up housing prices to astronomical levels, with “Progressives” then demanding that government subsidize housing to make it “affordable.”

Furthermore, as experts become entrenched in powerful bureaucracies, they act like, well, bureaucrats focused on preserving their own jobs. Although Progressives believed that an expert-led government would bypass political behavior, that never has been the case. Government is inherently political, and government agents can be expected to act in their own political best interests.

Moreover, F. A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises pointed out fatal flaws in any kind of government planning. In his classic “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” Hayek noted that general knowledge cannot replace the specific knowledge that government economic planners would need to “run” an economy, and the failure of the socialists states eloquently proves his point. Likewise, Mises noted that without prices, private ownership, and free markets, economic calculation was impossible, leading to “planned chaos.” Their wisdom contrasts with the destructive foolishness we see coming from Washington and elsewhere.
Have a Gneiss Day!
Here is Part 3. I assume there will be more, which I will post as they emerge.

Quote:The Good State and the Bad State, Progressivism, Part III :What Constitution?
Posted July 14, 2010

by William Anderson

[Image: 225px-Rexford_G_Tugwell_08e03507t.jpg]

Most Americans pay homage to the U.S. Constitution. Public officials swear to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic,” and the late Sen. Robert Byrd, who wrote the book on pork barrel spending, carried a copy of the document with him at all times.

Almost everyone in authority claims to revere the Constitution. However, few people of them believe they should be bound by the limitations that define the document.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws imposed at all governmental levels that attempted to regulate business hours and employee pay. Today, the U.S. secretary of labor dictates much labor policy.

More than a century ago most Americans would have been shocked to see federal agents visiting businesses and even private dwellings. Today, federal agents are a part of daily life, as the government regulates more and more of our private affairs.

How did Americans go in a hundred years from people who had little contact with the federal government to now having much of their lives controlled by federal policies? How did the State grow so large and so powerful? In a word, it was “Progressivism.”

Guy Rexford Tugwell, one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s most influential advisers, noted that Progressives had a very different view of the State than did the framers of the Constitution. He wrote:

Quote:The Constitution was a negative document, meant mostly to protect citizens from their government…. Above all, men were to be free to do as they liked, and since the government was likely to intervene and because prosperity was to be found in the free management of their affairs, a constitution was needed to prevent such intervention…. The laws would maintain order, but would not touch the individual who behaved reasonably. [Emphasis added.]

However, that state of affairs, according to Tugwell, was not acceptable. He continued:

Quote:To the extent that these new social virtues developed [in the New Deal], they were tortured interpretations of a document intended to prevent them. The government did accept responsibility for individuals’ well-being, and it did interfere to make [them] secure. But it really had to be admitted that it was done irregularly and according to doctrines the framers would have rejected…Much of the lagging and reluctance was owed to constantly reiterated intention that what was being done was in pursuit of the aims embodied in the Constitution of 1787, when obviously it was done in contravention of them. [Emphasis added.]

Nothing to Fear?

As Tugwell duly noted, the Constitution was written to protect individuals from the ravages of government because people understood that government power was something to be feared. However, after Progressives took control not only of government but also of other important social institutions, like education and the news media, they convinced people that they could have good government.

Progressive literature of the day, from Ida Tarbell’s “expose” on the Standard Oil Company to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, claimed that the real threat to individuals came from businesses, and that government needed to defend citizens from the ravages of private enterprise. Obviously, the kind of government needed to protect people by regulating and controlling businesses needed to be much larger than the government in place.

The catalyst for the expansion of the “good State” was World War I and then later the Great Depression. State intervention was justified in the name of “protecting America” and ultimately (and ironically) “protecting” the Constitution.

Progressives won the day because they gained control of the institutions that serve as “gatekeepers” in civil society, and they also won because intervention begets more intervention. For example, the Federal Reserve System, a favorite of Progressives, helped create the Great Depression and the New Deal, which, in effect, overthrew what was left of the constitutional order.

Today, the United States is what I call a “Progressive Democracy,” bearing little resemblance to the republic that existed 200 years ago. However, no matter how “advanced” government may claim to be, it still is government and needs to be controlled.
Have a Gneiss Day!
Here is part of an article that exemplifies "progressivism". I give only quotes from Berwick, newly appointed head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, by a "recess appointment" so as to avoid confirmation hearings.

I find it hard to imagine a more complete example of a "progressive" philosophy. The complete antithesis of individual liberty and individualism.
Quote:"I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do."

"You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach."

"Please don't put your faith in market forces. It's a popular idea: that Adam Smith's invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can."

"Indeed, the Holy Grail of universal coverage in the United States may remain out of reach unless, through rational collective action overriding some individual self-interest, we can reduce per capita costs."

"It may therefore be necessary to set a legislative target for the growth of spending at 1.5 percentage points below currently projected increases and to grant the federal government the authority to reduce updates in Medicare fees if the target is exceeded."

"About 8% of GDP is plenty for 'best known' care."

"A progressive policy regime will control and rationalize financing—control supply."

"The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence. Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property."

"Health care is a common good—single payer, speaking and buying for the common good."

"And it's important also to make health a human right because the main health determinants are not health care but sanitation, nutrition, housing, social justice, employment, and the like."

"Hence, those working in health care delivery may be faced with situations in which it seems that the best course is to manipulate the flawed system for the benefit of a specific patient or segment of the population, rather than to work to improve the delivery of care for all. Such manipulation produces more flaws, and the downward spiral continues."

"For-profit, entrepreneurial providers of medical imaging, renal dialysis, and outpatient surgery, for example, may find their business opportunities constrained."

"One over-demanded service is prevention: annual physicals, screening tests, and other measures that supposedly help catch diseases early."

"I would place a commitment to excellence—standardization to the best-known method—above clinician autonomy as a rule for care."

"Health care has taken a century to learn how badly we need the best of Frederick Taylor [the father of scientific management]. If we can't standardize appropriate parts of our processes to absolute reliability, we cannot approach perfection."

"Young doctors and nurses should emerge from training understanding the values of standardization and the risks of too great an emphasis on individual autonomy."

"Political leaders in the Labour Government have become more enamored of the use of market forces and choice as an engine for change, rather than planned, centrally coordinated technical support."

"The U.K has people in charge of its health care—people with the clear duty and much of the authority to take on the challenge of changing the system as a whole. The U.S. does not."

LINK to WSJ article
Jefferson: I place economy among the first and important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.
He's a good little Fascist, isn't he?

Is this what we have to look forward to in the future? Are you happy TQ? Do you have AIDS yet? And if so, what are you going to do when the State tells you that you are not worth the time, or resources, because you are beyond help?
Have a Gneiss Day!
Good articles. Tugwell was more or less the leader of the elitists who went to Russia to bow before Stalin. They came back as "fellow travelers" (derivation of the term) and worked to establish Stalinism in FDR's administration. Many of the advisers who FDR relied on were sold on recreating the "Stalin success story" and started the "we can do it better" idea. They claimed not to be Communists because they were Americans - but with unbridled admiration to everything Stalin.
Well,some of their stuff we all like. The problem is we can't just have the 40 hour work week and nice stuff like that,it seems it has to become a nanny state.

I appreciate his honesty though.
Here is an interesting take, by Thomas Lifson, on how Progressivism is taking the US back in the direction of Feudalism.

Quote:If progressivism has its way, more and more of our lives will be regulated by government bureaucrats setting rules and regulations and licensing people to engage in even the most mundane tasks. It is quite accurate to say that the reforms won by the rising bourgeois class from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, limiting and then ending feudalism, are in full retreat in progressive America.

It is time to rename progressives "regressives," a change I first proposed several years ago.
Have a Gneiss Day!
So what is the greatest triumph of American Fascism, commonly known as the American Progressive Movement? If you say the "Progressive Income Tax", YOU WIN!! And again, just like Junior opening the door for Obama, and Hoover opening the door for FDR, so too did Teddy open the door for Woodrow Wilson. All of them were/are Statists, dedicated to Big Government.

Quote:The Progressive Income Tax and the Joy of Spending Other People’s Money

by Burton W. Folsom Jr.

On August 31, 1910, Teddy Roosevelt traveled to Kansas to make a stirring speech in support of a federal income tax. "The really big fortune," Roosevelt said, "the swollen fortune by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes."

Those two sentences helped focus the Progressive worldview. First, the United States needed an income tax to capture large chunks of revenue. Second, someone who had a large fortune, -by the mere fact of its size,- had to be treated differently from other wealth holders. Property rights became variable. One group would be treated one way, other groups would be treated another way. Third, the nation needed a "graduated income tax" to redistribute wealth from the haves to the have-nots. The new tax slogan would be "ability to pay."

Author Delos Kinsman, writing while Roosevelt was president, said, "Individuals should contribute to the support of the government according to ability." And "income is the most just measure of that ability." Enlightened leaders like Teddy Roosevelt would redistribute wealth in the national interest.

Roosevelt's thinking was a profound change from the views of the Founders. To them, government existed to protect property, not redistribute it. Americans had a right to pursue life, liberty, and property, not an entitlement to it. Thus the Founders never considered raising revenue through an income tax, least of all a graduated one. They wanted consumption taxes-levies on imports or on luxury goods. Why? Because, as Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist 21, "The amount to be contributed by each citizen will in a degree be at his own option, and can be regulated by an attention to his resources."

Hamilton added, "If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product in the treasury is not so great. . . . This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them."

American law also reinforced the use of consumption taxes. "All duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States," the Constitution reads. What could be more uniform than Congress's first excise tax of seven cents a gallon on all whiskey produced in the United States?

Not Good Enough

Progressives, however, disliked consumption taxes as the major source for revenue. They were too small, too cumbersome to collect, and sometimes too regressive-wealth never properly redistributed itself through consumption taxes. Taxes on whiskey, tobacco, and imported olives from Spain shifted very little, if any, wealth from rich to poor. In 1913 the House Ways and Means Committee observed that federal revenue rested "solely on consumption. The amount each citizen contributes is governed, not by his ability to pay taxes, but by his consumption of the articles needed." Swollen fortunes, as Roosevelt might say, went untaxed and became more swollen while some immigrants lived in poverty.

The Sixteenth Amendment was ratified in 1913, giving Congress the "power to lay and collect taxes on incomes from whatever source derived." It did not rule out "ability to pay" as the basis for the levy. The amendment became law just as Woodrow Wilson was coming into the presidency. As a Progressive, Wilson wanted to start small, establish a precedent, and then increase rates over time. Under the new tax law, exemptions were so high that few Americans earned enough to pay any tax. Rates started at 1 percent and rose slowly to a high of 7 percent on all income over $500,000.

Progressives easily sold this tax plan to the voters. Fewer than one American family in 100 paid anything, but politicians could promise audiences that they might receive benefits from the revenue. And who would dare to suggest that billionaire John D. Rockefeller did not have the ability to pay 7 percent of his huge income to the government?

Ability to Pay

Yet that raises an interesting question. At what tax rate did Rockefeller, or other wealthy men, cease to have the ability to pay? If they could pay 7 percent, could they pay 15? Apparently so, because in 1916 Wilson and Congress raised the top rate to 15 percent. Unlike with a consumption tax, under the income tax politicians judge ability to pay and they choose the rates they think rich people can afford. If politicians choose rates too high they may lose the support of the rich, but they may gain support of those larger groups receiving subsidies from the tax revenue. If wealth really needs to be redistributed, should we trust people to do it with their own money or politicians with other people's money?

Rockefeller, for example, was the best and cheapest oil refiner in the world. His charitable giving included the Erie Street Baptist Church, a cure for meningitis, and funding for Tuskegee Institute. That was how he redistributed his own wealth. Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron, built libraries, and banker Andrew Mellon built the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In the political realm, President Franklin Roosevelt supported high taxes and gave subsidies to silver miners, farmers, and the Tennessee Valley Authority to make cheap electric power.

Charitable givers and politicians both pursue their self-interest, but the politician's self-interest includes winning votes. That means, if possible, channeling subsidies to voting groups to win reelection at the expense of taxpayers in general. Rockefeller's gifts to Tuskegee did not cost anyone but him any money. FDR's subsidy to silver miners, by contrast, cost millions of taxpayers small amounts of tax revenue. It helped FDR carry several western states each time he ran for president. His redistribution efforts were essential to his being reelected.

Thus U.S. politicians had incentives to steadily increase the income tax in the 1900s. The top rate went from 7 to 15 percent in Wilson's first term. World War I took it over 60, then over 70 percent. It didn't drop below 50 percent until 1924, and was about 25 percent the rest of the decade. The rate rose to 63 percent in 1932 under Herbert Hoover and then 79 percent in 1935. The World War II years pushed it over 80 percent, and in 1945, FDR's last year in office, the top was 94 percent on all income over $200,000. Wealthy people apparently had a very high ability to pay, and politicians had a very high desire to fight wars and win elections.
Have a Gneiss Day!

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