Category Archives

Archive of posts published in the category: Progressivism

A New Wave of Thinking

“The Depression and FDR transformed the Democratic Party. It adopted as an article of faith, held to this day by every Democratic presidential candidate, that any tear in the social fabric should be mended with permanent entitlements or subsidies. The competing idea is that subsidies are a poor substitute for finding and holding a job in a vibrant private economy.”

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Who Is Undermining Our Institutions?

I realize no one is a villain in their own eyes and that we can rationalize any means to fit the end if it is important enough.  Our failure to recognize the way we are seen by others and our own failures sacrifices any legitimacy.  Voters will tolerate mistakes, gaffes, and failures, but they will not tolerate contempt. 

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The Unmaking of Reality

The American founders used reason to unleash freedom.  The Europeans used reason to crush it.  Reason without freedom constructs a reality rather than recognizing it as it  is and adapting to it.  Constructing a reality is a despotic enterprise.

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Gulliver’s Progressivism

“Such quacks—Swift called them “speculators” and “virtuosi”—rely upon a mystical grimoire, a “book of shadows” filled with spells, incantations, and rituals that will remake the world as if by magic. It’s not science, it’s enchantment. “

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Ignorance and Certitude

“I do not believe that only those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. Plenty of people who study history are entirely capable of making the same mistakes as their ancestors, and worse ones, too. “

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Addressing Presidential Power

Both sides refuse to re-examine the proper role of the presidency, and focus on the president in power.  It may seem unrealistic to return to constitutional norms, but the alternative seems to be an escalation of the bitterness of our politics.

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Public Choice Theory

“From public choice theory, we also know that government actors have an incentive to pursue shortsighted policies that create highly visible benefits to voters now and impose uncertain costs at some point in the future.”

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Who Are the Real Materialists

“It’s an understandable temptation, in the sense that changing, say, tax credits is far less daunting than repairing a culture. But then, who are the real materialists, if the answer to a cultural meltdown isn’t to address the human soul but to say, “Don’t worry, we can engineer it all through regulation and the tax code”?

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Glorious Disagreement

“But politics in a republic is almost never about unity. Rather, politics is the art of negotiating differences. Democracy is about disagreement, not agreement. When politicians say: “The time for debate is over” or “Let’s put politics aside,” they’re really saying “shut up” to those who disagree.”

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A Want of Modesty

“To the contrary, it’s because they don’t believe politicians recalibrating the tax code in the name of the common good will bring about the moral economy. It’s because they don’t believe technicians redirecting capital investment will work, or that it can be had with no costs or unintended consequences. Above all, it’s because they believe that trusting Washington to give us a new and improved capitalism by repurposing private companies to serve the priorities of the government rather than those of their owners requires a faith far greater than any ever demanded by the Lord.”

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The Nirvana Fallacy

“Assuming some benevolent government will institute quick and perfect Keynesian business cycle corrections that maintain full employment, or that government provision or regulation will result in ideal outcomes in other markets, leads to unwise policy making—and to public displeasure with the outcomes of government.”

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Reason and Nature

“The conception of man deliberately building his civilization stems from an erroneous intellectualism that regards human reason as something standing outside nature and possessed of knowledge and reasoning capacity independent of experience. “

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Unfettered Government is the Greater Threat

Capitalism works best when knowledge and power meet.  Government is power without knowledge; regulation strips power from knowledge. It is suspicious when the answer to unfettered capitalism which does not exist is  unfettered government which is the greater problem.  It is hard to conceive of distant parties with no skin in the game making wiser decisions than people who have to face the consequences of their choices.  The problem is political actors who want to dispense benefits without paying for them.

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Republican Progressives

“In fact, one of the central economic insights of modern conservatism is that technocratic interventions—typically undertaken by the brightest of people with the best of intentions—often don’t work and are frequently counterproductive. ”

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Why Individual Rights are Important

“It is because we normally do not know who knows best that we leave the decision to a process which we do not control. But it is always from a minority acting in ways different from what the majority would prescribe that the majority in the end learns to do better.”

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Presumptuous Progressivism

“I hope our generation may have learned that it has been perfectionism of one kind or another that has often destroyed whatever degree of decency societies have achieved.”

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Bastardizing Capitalism

Like all ideologies capitalism evolves with experience and adjusts to failures and social evolution.  It never achieves perfection, but its endurance indicates a strength that competing ideologies lack.  We can learn much from the ones that failed, though it seems every generation is cursed to try them again.  The ones that succeed are subject to be taken for granted.  It is the job of the educational institutions to transfer the understanding of our critical institutions, and their failure is crippling.

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The Revolt of the Ruling Class

The elite have remained in outrage mode, blaming everything for this upset except their own complicity in marginalizing a very large segment of the nation, first with neglect and then compounded with contempt.

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Wealth Creation is Not a Transfer

“A relatively small number of high-growth firms has accounted for a very large share of economic growth in the United States in the past several decades. That represents wealth creation, not a wealth transfer.”

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The Danger of the Administrative State

“If anything has been demonstrated by modern experience in these matters, it is that, once wide coercive powers are given to governmental agencies for particular purposes, such powers cannot be effectively controlled by democratic assemblies. If the latter do not themselves determine the means to be employed, the decisions of their agents will be more or less arbitrary.”

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