The Threat of Social Progressives

In the July 5, 2008 Wichita Eagle, a Mr. Chet Syres of Hutchinson contributes a letter promoting the virtues of liberalism, proponents of which he now wants us to call social progressives.

I remind Mr. Syres that leftists stole the terms “liberal” and “progressive” from the classical liberals. From For A New Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard:

One of the ways that the new statist intellectuals did their work was to change the meaning of old labels, and therefore to manipulate in the minds of the public the emotional connotations attached to such labels. For example, the laissez-faire libertarians had long been known as “liberals,” and the purest and most militant of them as “radicals”; they had also been known as “progressives” because they were the ones in tune with industrial progress, the spread of liberty, and the rise in living standards of consumers. The new breed of statist academics and intellectuals appropriated to themselves the words “liberal” and “progressive,” and successfully managed to tar their laissez-faire opponents with the charge of being old-fashioned, “Neanderthal,” and “reactionary.” Even the name “conservative” was pinned on the classical liberals. And, as we have seen, the new statists were able to appropriate the concept of “reason” as well.

In recent years, it is liberals themselves that have given their mis-appropriated term a bad name by advocating the policies that Mr. Syres now sells under a new name: social progressivism. Who could be against progress? Only Neanderthals, of course.

But look under the covers. Does raising the minimum wage help those who its proponents want to help? For those lucky enough to retain their jobs after an increase in the minimum wages, yes. For those who lose their jobs, no. For those who have made their way through the public schools (the grand achievement of social progressives) without graining much in the way of skills, and therefore can’t find a job at the new higher wages, no. See Problem of Low Wages Not Easily Solved.

Then there is Mr. Syres’ desire to tax the rich at higher rates, for they are not paying their “fair share.” Trickle-down economics does not work, he says. But the problem is that government can’t create wealth. All it can do is to transfer money from one person to another. Instead, it is people who create wealth and a higher standard of living, most often by accumulating and investing capital. The less capital there is to invest — and taxes reduce that — the less economic progress can be made. With less capital, workers have to dig ditches with shovels instead of power machines. Which would you rather work with? Who earns a higher wage, the man with a shovel, or the man operating a power backhoe? But without someone accumulating wealth and capital, there can be no backhoes, only shovels, and even they require the accumulation of some capital.

Mr. Syres says he wants to promote “social justice” through charity implemented through legislation. Is progress made when voluntary charity is replaced by government programs, fed by taxation? Is progress made when the voluntary cooperation of free people trading in free markets is replaced by the heavy hand of government coercion? Of course not, except for those who believe that they know better than everyone else how things should be, and seek to implement their ideas through expanded government. These are the social progressives, and they are a threat to liberty and prosperity.

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3 thoughts on “The Threat of Social Progressives”

  1. I enjoyed your blog post. You are right on with your analysis of social progressives. I agree with “The Great One,” Mark Levin, when he says that liberals and progressives are really Marxists. Marxism is looking for a home in America. Karl Marx’s doctrines find too warm of a reception in our country. We have much to do to restore liberty.

    My family is from Wichita. I have been there numerous times.

  2. Well here it is April 2010. Almost two years after this post. We’ve been through and still are in the greatest economical collapse of our time. The thing I find most disturbing from those of the ‘far’ right is the lack of ability to accept facts.
    While Mr.Weeks has several valid points:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    But the problem is that government can’t create wealth. All it can do is to transfer money from one person to another. Instead, it is people who create wealth and a higher standard of living, most often by accumulating and investing capital. The less capital there is to invest — and taxes reduce that — the less economic progress can be made. With less capital, workers have to dig ditches with shovels instead of power machines. Which would you rather work with? Who earns a higher wage, the man with a shovel, or the man operating a power backhoe? But without someone accumulating wealth and capital, there can be no backhoes, only shovels, and even they require the accumulation of some capital.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The second sentence is the most telling:
    All it can do is to transfer money from one person to another.
    Some would call this socialism. Conservatives are madly against this.
    Problem is, FACTS show that a form of socialism has been cultivated over the past 3+ decades in FAVOR of the Republican Conservative Business model.
    Goverment; Federal, State and Local has poured Billions of taxpayer money into business tax credits, loans and grants in lieu of the promise of a few new or retained jobs.
    Facts: Ceo pay and corporate profit has gone up hundreds of percent while worker pay has remained flat for the past 30 years.
    Congress raised their pay $28,000 over a ten year period while not touching the minimum wage.
    The rich got rich off my back. Enjoy your fruits. You have more than your descedants can use. Time to pay up. You won’t provide a living wage on your own. You must be made to.
    (You’d actually like to be able to hunt down workers, stun them and chain them to your machine while feeding a thin gruel and housing in an unheated structure, now wouldn’t ya?)
    Admit it, some of you just smiled.
    So to finish I have a simple question:
    Was the business model of 30 years ago where a man could go to work, unskilled, and make a living sheltering, feeding, supporting his family on a single salary a BAD business model?
    I remind you, companies were most profitable at this time too.

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