Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Progressivism is inimical to Freedom

The United States was founded on an ideology that viewed the role of government as the protection of individual rights. That view of government was pushed aside by the ideology of Progressivism toward the end of the 1800s. The Progressive ideology envisions a government that not only protects individual rights but also looks out for people’s economic well-being.

A natural tension exists between Progressivism and freedom. Partly, this is because looking out for the economic well-being of some often lowers the economic well-being of others. Increasingly, Progressives also argue that people would be better off if government made their choices for them rather than giving people the freedom to make their own choices.

One motivation for the Progressive ideology was the perception that people who held substantial economic power were using that power to exploit those with less power. Thus, the Interstate Commerce Commission was established in 1887 to regulate railroads to keep them from exploiting shippers, and the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed in 1890 to limit the ability of concentrated economic interests to exploit others.

Government interventions into the economy like this may help those with limited economic power (this is debatable), but they clearly limit the economic freedom of everybody to engage in mutually agreeable transactions. If rail rates are regulated, or companies like Standard Oil are broken up, the freedom of those subject to these actions is obviously compromised.

Programs like these restrict the freedoms of some, nominally for the economic benefit of others. Increasingly, Progressivism supports “nanny state” programs that restrict everyone’s freedom, under the justification that the government can make better choices for people than they would make themselves.

Essentially, nanny state programs say, “We’re going to take away your freedom for your own good.”

Social Security is a good example of a nanny state program that restricts everyone’s freedom. Using the argument that people will not save enough for their own retirements, the government taxes people when they work and promises to pay them stipends when they retire. The government forces people to save for their retirements.

Leaving aside the fact that people would accumulate more for their retirements if they invested the amount they pay in taxes in the stock market themselves, the program clearly compromises people’s freedom to allocate their incomes, and their savings, as they see fit.

Minimum wage laws prevent low-skilled workers from finding employment and gaining experience, compromising their freedom to work under mutually agreeable terms. The FDA prevents people from buying unapproved products, compromising people’s freedom to choose what they want to buy and sell.

Increasingly, Progressives are trying to take away freedom of choice, nominally for our own good. They dictate what safety equipment we have to have on our cars, limit our access to sugary drinks, and control what we can smoke. (They don’t want people smoking tobacco, but seem to be OK with marijuana consumption!)

From a utilitarian perspective, one can debate whether government really makes better choices for people than they would make on their own. From a libertarian perspective, there is no doubt that Progressivism compromises freedom.

Freedom is meaningless if we are only free to make choices that meet with government approval. The Progressive ideology compromises freedom and takes away the individual rights that at one time justified the existence of our American government.

Progressivism is a direct attack on freedom.



Hitler with Ginger hair

British Leftist leader Neil Kinnock's famous speech to the Labour Party Conference, Bournemouth, October 1985

Anybody who has watched Hitler's speeches will be struck by how much Kinnock learned from Hitler.  His rhetorical technique is near identical.  The content of the speech was similar too:  Vilifying his opponents and promoting extreme socialism.  Kinnock lost that election, thankfully.  He is still alive, in a comfortable job with the EU


The Truth Has Been (Omitted)

By Ben Shapiro

Barack Obama is a dramatic failure.

His economy has been a slow-motion train wreck. His domestic policy has driven racial antagonism to renewed heights and divided Americans from each other along lines of religion and sexual orientation. On foreign policy he has set the world aflame in the name of pretty, meaningless verbiage and a less hegemonic America.

But there's good news: At least he controls the information flow.

This week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Americans to believe her rather than their own lying eyes. First, she openly admitted that the FBI would censor the 911 phone call of the jihadi Omar Mateen who murdered 49 Americans at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The FBI, she said, would remove explicit references to ISIS, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Islam.

The resulting transcript was a masterpiece of hilarious redaction. Here's just a taste: "In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial (in Arabic) ... Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of (in Arabic). I let you know, I'm in Orlando and I did the shootings. ... My name is I pledge of allegiance to (omitted). ... I pledge allegiance to (omitted), may God protect him (in Arabic) on behalf (omitted)."

This memory holing would make George Orwell cry. In this iteration, Allah becomes God (See, Islam is just like Judaism and Christianity!), but we can't mention terrorist groups and their leaders. In fact, more than a week after the attack, Lynch told the press she didn't know the jihadi's motivation — a motivation clearly stated in the transcript she released.


But this is not unusual for the Obama administration. We know that in the run-up to the Iran deal the Obama administration simply altered reality to fit its narrative: It had fiction writer and deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes cook up an account where negotiations with the terror state began only after the accession of "moderate" President Hassan Rouhani. Never mind that Obama and company had been negotiating with the mullahs behind the scenes for years before that. The narrative had to be falsified and upheld. When the State Department was forced to admit those lies in a press conference, the White House conveniently chopped out that section of the taped conference for public release.

We also know that the Obama administration lied openly about Obamacare. It knew from the beginning that you couldn't keep your doctor or your plan. It simply hid that fact for years. We know that the Obama State Department sliced out a section of transcript mentioning radical Islam when French President Francois Hollande visited the United States.

He who controls the information flow controls reality.

And the Obama administration is already rewriting reality for the historians of decades hence. We won't find out where they hid most of the political bodies until too late — just as we won't find out what Clinton hid in her private server until far too late.

This is why a government must not be trusted with massive power. Politicians have every incentive not just to lie in the present but to lie with an eye toward the future. The more power they have over us, the more power they have over the reality we see — and the more they think they can get away with manipulating that reality.



Obamacare is turning America into a Fascist State

“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project, most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.” —Ronald Reagan

“We have to pass the [ObamaCare] bill so that you can find out what is in it.” —former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2009

Well, Democrats did indeed pass ObamaCare — on a party-line vote in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, after months of threats, arm-twisting and open bribery. Over the last half decade or so we have found out what was in it. We now know that the “in it” amounted to a giant, teeming, fetid cauldron of government-mandated, top-down, force fed, command-and-control socialized medicine where government bureaucrats, rather than doctors and patients, get to decide what kind of treatment you get. In other words, exactly what we warned before Democrats even introduced it.

By every objective measure, ObamaCare has been an unmitigated (and predicted) disaster. Contrary to Obama’s promises — “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” (a necessary lie according to ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber), or it would “bend the cost curve down,” or save the average family $2500 annually in health insurance premiums (ObamaCare costs have skyrocketed) — the reality is that his disastrous signature legislation has added trillions to the national debt, driven health care costs through the roof, made health care more unaffordable, and reduced access to doctors. More than half of the ObamaCare co-ops have gone bankrupt and failed, and the nation’s largest insurance providers are pulling out of ObamaCare.

On the bright side (if you are a fan of big government), ObamaCare has created jobs for thousands of government bureaucrats, empowered the IRS to intrude into the most intimate aspects of your life, and added tens of thousands of pages (more than 20,000 pages in just the first three years after passage) of new federal regulations, and placed the federal government in charge of your health care.

What could possibly go wrong?

Glad you asked! Because, as they say when hawking snake oil on the “As Seen On TV” commercials, “But wait; there’s MORE!” Now the government is once again trying to penalize every American who does not get on board with the Left’s idea of good health policy.

In 2012, liberals mocked Justice Antonin Scalia for bringing up broccoli during oral arguments in the lawsuit challenging the individual mandate (NFIB v. Sebelius). Justice Scalia noted that if the government’s argument regarding the legitimacy of the individual mandate could apply to health insurance, then surely the same argument could be applied to food, which is a more immediate need for every human than health insurance.

Said Scalia, “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli tried to dismiss the comparison as inaccurate, yet now we see Scalia was exactly right. For if the government controls health care, and therefore is responsible for health care costs, then it has an obligation to keep costs down, which it will accomplish by dictating the diet and exercise choices of every American, and do so in very unexpected, intrusive ways.

The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) finalized last month new regulations for employers in an effort to get America’s tens of millions of employees to comply with the federal government’s vision of health — discounts for people joining “wellness programs.” Not only that, but you must share weight, blood pressures, illnesses and medical records. If you refuse, no discount for you — and, worse, your premiums will probably go up.

With ObamaCare, the federal government can now force Americans to buy a product (health insurance) whether they like it or not. It can compel Americans, under threat of a financial penalty, to follow its declared regime for diet and exercise. It has already disrupted employment dynamics through the individual and employer mandates, which has led to higher unemployment and more Americans forced to work part-time. And government has tried to force Christian-owned businesses to fund abortion, and Catholic nuns to provide birth control.

These are not the things that occur in a free country. These are the things that happen in countries where the people are slaves to their government. Yet the political Left assures us it knows better than we do what is good for us, and that their compulsion is for our own good.

Or, as C.S. Lewis perfectly describe such situations, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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