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Posts Tagged ‘Progressivism’

New Video Available! What is Progressivism?

Posted by M. C. on May 21, 2021

“Non-Producers In Control”

Go to the link for great 4 minute primer on progressivism.


Often, however, when we discuss economics, we do so within the context of politics—such as during an election period, or how a tax increase may impact the local economy.

Some call themselves “progressives”—implying that their political and economic views are “modern” or “forward looking.” Throughout American history, “progressives” have claimed to promote an economic system that is a “third way” between capitalism and socialism. They advocate an economy “regulated by experts,” rather than by politicians or free markets.

There is, however, nothing “progressive” about this.

This system of government has the same problem as “cronyism,” the mistaken belief that government can do better than the market system.

Markets work by coordinating the supply and demand of resources and products all around the world. Because of prices, entrepreneurs, businessmen, and consumers are able to calculate the best way to achieve their desired ends.

Progressives do not trust individuals to make these decisions on their own. Instead, they want markets and prices regulated by so-called experts, whose influence comes from universities or politics, not from producers creating goods or services that people want and can use.

A basic mistake the progressives make is the belief that enough specialized education can empower individuals with better knowledge than the market can give. In this way they justify increasing political and legislative power to grab more control over our society. This is dangerous.

Economically, whether or not this government intervention is the product of simple political corruption, or sold as “regulation by experts” is irrelevant. The result is the same—the market system is manipulated by the coercive power of government for political ends, not for the benefit of actual consumers. This doesn’t provide a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, it undermines capitalism in order to justify more state power. As with cronyism, the people who benefit from this third way are not the entrepreneurs and producers who make useful contributions, but the political “experts,” the non-producers, who end up in control.

Third-way government intervention benefits big corporations through tax breaks, product legislation, enforcement of industry standardization, lobbying, etc., making it much harder for small firms to compete. Thus, big national and multinational firms win both in the marketplace and in the legislative halls because of the unfair advantages bestowed on them by the government.

The progressives’ “expert class” creates new problems through the rise of a managerial class of bureaucrat that can impose great influence over the economy, without being held accountable by either the market or the ballot box. In America today, after a century of the progressive government agenda, we now have a revolving door between regulatory agencies and powerful companies—no matter what the results of an election are.

Without any accountability, the result has been major policy disasters that have brought financial crises, exploding costs in healthcare and student loans, or economic lockdowns in the name of “public health.” 

These are not the products of a free market, but the direct consequence of years of failed interventionist policies. 

There is no “third way” in economics, either consumers are allowed to direct their economy—or the government is in charge.

Economics is not a science that empowers certain experts to better manage society. Instead, it teaches us the limits of what government can do to bring about prosperity in the world.

Progressivism is not the answer. The more we learn to “think like an economist,” the more we understand the value of a truly free society.


  • Do you believe economics explains why most promises made in politics never happen?
  • Do you think the government would operate better if more politicians understood economics?
  • Which style of government do you think is more likely to grow, a government that is motivated by greed—like cronyism—or a government motivated by social justice—like progressivism?  

Additional readings:

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Progressivism’s Failures: From Minimum Wages to the Welfare State | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 3, 2021

In fact, a separate study found that Seattle’s policy reduced low-wage employment by 6–7 percent, and due to the reduction in employment, workers in this category actually saw a net decline in pay.

Eben Macdonald

As I write, the Democratic Congress is contemplating various measures designed to alleviate poverty levels in the United States. They include: the doubling of the minimum wage; the expansion of child credits. Let’s review both.

The Minimum Wage Hike

Congress intends to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15. This makes various assumptions: first, that minimum wage workers themselves are indeed poor. This is wrong: they come from families with a median household income of $66,000; for, their median age is twenty-four years old, and 60 percent are still attending school. Secondly, this policy makes the assumption that it will have no statistically significant impact on unemployment. This is also misguided. The City of Seattle enacted a $13 minimum wage in 2016, resulting in a fall of 9 percent in hours worked among these jobsThe job turnover rate declined by 8 percent, and the city’s less experienced minimum wage workers saw no net increase in payment.

In fact, a separate study found that Seattle’s policy reduced low-wage employment by 6–7 percent, and due to the reduction in employment, workers in this category actually saw a net decline in pay. The third assumption made by this minimum wage hike is that workers will indeed see an increase in inflation-adjusted income. A crucial lesson of economics is that living standards are not determined just by nominal wages, but also the amount which such a wage can consume. Literature suggests that raising the minimum will correspond with an increase in cost of living, due to businesses offsetting higher labor costs, and therefore harm precisely those whom the policy intends to help—low-wage workers. For instance, the average childcare worker in the United States earns $11 an hour—below the threshold Congress intends to set. Therefore, higher labor costs will simply mean an increase in the cost of childcare.

One estimate found that this policy would cause, on average, childcare costs to rise by 21 percent in the United States—that’s an increase of $3,700. Some areas would inevitably be hit harder than others: for instance, the state of Mississippi would see a whopping 43 percent increase in costs. Another essential component of the cost of living is food costs. Many grocery workers work below $15 in the United States: and higher labor costs will simply mean higher inflation in the price of food, which will clearly affect low-wage workers more than high-wage ones. In fact, one study conducted by the University of Zurich found that all the income gains made by workers who had enjoyed a minimum wage increase were simply offset by higher grocery prices. There is more general evidence that raising the minimum wage raises the rate of inflation, therefore negatively impacting those very workers. A study from Canada found that minimum wage hikes can boost the CPI by at least 0.1 percent. Whilst this might not seem statistically significant, the study specified that this small increase caused interest rates to rise, thereby having negative effects on employment. Moreover, an American study (pp.19) estimated that a one third decline in the minimum wage between 1979 and 1995 lowered the CPI by 1 percent (which is of statistical significance).

Raising the minimum wage will harm precisely those it intends to help through higher unemployment and cost of living.

Expanding the Welfare State

Some economists have rosy predictions about Congress’s plan to expand child credits on poverty levels. That being said, in the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson hoped to end poverty and racial injustice as he initiated the War on Poverty programs. $20 trillion dollars later, the American poverty rate has bounced between 12 percent and 15 percent since those programs began.

A law of the Welfare state can be said to be this: increases in public income transfers will simply be offset by reductions in private earningsThe famous Seattle-Denver Income Maintenance Experiment (SIME/DIME) found that a $1,000 increase in welfare payments is offset by a $660 reduction in private earnings. Thus, low-income families experience only a meagre increase in their standard of living, and are subject to dependency on state welfare spending.

On top of that, welfare spending increases levels of single parenthood. This was a concern early on when Johnson’s welfare programs were initiated, and it was confirmed by a 1993 study that the welfare state was indeed responsible for the rise in single parenthood. The study postulated that a 50 percent increase in welfare spending yields a 43 percent increase in the levels of single parenthood.

I’ve argued in the past that single parenthood and a lack of full-time work are fundamental contributing factors to poverty in the United States, both of which the welfare state reinforces (in fact, the economists Isabelle Sawhill and Ron Haskin famously predicted that if single parenthood were eradicated and full-time work were universal, among other factors, poverty in the United States could be reduced by 70 percent).

Furthermore, the welfare state may negatively impact social mobility. According to research conducted by the economist Raj Chetty, there is a powerful negative correlation between the prevalence of single parenthood across the OECD and the actual levels of upward child mobility in each of those countries. In fact, there even seems to be a connection between the prevalence of single parenthood amongst the US states and poverty levels/social mobility.

Evidence strongly suggests that the welfare state does not alleviate poverty in the United States, and therefore that these poverty projections to support Congress’s proposals are overblown. A groundbreaking study postulated a Laffer curve–like relationship between poverty and welfare spending (where spending will alleviate poverty to an extent, but beyond a certain point will in fact increase poverty). The study argued that public overreach was responsible for the poverty rate being 50 percent higher than without that extra assistance (due to the impoverishing effect of dependency, single parenthood and work disincentives). This statistic ought to worry Congress, and make them think twice about these welfare proposals.


The two policies which are on Congress’s books will not, and never have, succeeded in truly benefitting low-income Americans. To accomplish this aim, they should in fact focus on welfare reform, lowering cost of living through deregulating commodities like housing, energy and childcare, removing labor regulations which exclude poor, inexperienced workers from employment, and thinking twice about inflating the money supply during recessions, which erodes the paychecks of low-income earners. Author:

Eben Macdonald

Eben Macdonald is a 15-year-old student, a keen free-marketeer, and he wants a society which is predicated on liberty.

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The Great Nonsense of ‘The Great Reset’ – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 27, 2021

It is basically a plea to turn the entire world economy into a version of Chinese fascism. In the past several decades the Chinese communist government allowed more and more private enterprises to exist, but they are all still very heavily regulated, regimented, and controlled by the state. Of course, the same can be said of the U.S. economy; it’s all a matter of degree. As Robert Higgs has said, the American economic system is a system of “participatory fascism,” by which he meant a combination of economic fascism and democracy instead of dictatorship.

By Thomas DiLorenzo

“The Great Reset” is the latest deceptive euphemism for totalitarian socialism that is being promoted by yet another group of wealthy corporate elitists who think they can centrally plan the entire world economy.  They are essentially the ideological heirs of Frederick Engels and his intellectual puppet Karl Marx.  “The Great Reset” follows in the rhetorical footsteps of such euphemisms for socialism as “economic democracy,” “social justice,” “liberation theology,” “progressivism,” “market socialism” (an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” or “military intelligence”), “environmentalism,” “fighting climate change,” “sustainable development,” and “green new deal,” to mention just a few.

The main figure of this movement is wealthy German engineer Klaus Schwab, founder of the “World Economic Forum,” who champions what he calls “transhumanism,” the integration of nanotechnology into the human body so that humans can be controlled remotely by the state.[1] As Ron Paul has noted, “Included in Schwab’s proposal for surveillance [of every citizen] is his idea to use brain scans and nanotechnology to predict, and if necessary, prevent, individuals’ future behavior .  This means that anyone whose brain is ‘scanned’ could have his . . . [constitutional] rights violated because a government bureaucrat determines the individual is going to commit a crime.”[2]

Placed in the hands of politicians, this would create a level of totalitarianism the Soviets could only have dreamed of.  In other words, Schwab is reminiscent of that famous twentieth-century German who also fantasized about creating a master race and ruling the world.

This is nothing new, Antony Mueller points out, as eugenics, which was all the rage among so many ruling class elitists of the early twentieth century “is now called transhumanism.”[3]  Among the most prominent late nineteenth-and twentieth-century eugenicists were H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Darwin’s son Leonard, John Maynard Keynes, Irving Fisher, Winston Churchill, and Bill Gates, Sr.  Bill Gates, Jr. is an enthusiastic funding source for “transhumanism” research and, like his father, is fond of eugenics.

During a recent “Ted” talk Gates, Jr. complained that “The world today has 6.8 billion people . .. that’s headed up to about 9 billion.”  Have no fear, he said, because if “we” do “a really great job on vaccines [with anti-fertility drugs? Poisons?] health care, reproductive health services [including abortion?], we could lower that by perhaps 10 to 15 percent.”[4]  That in turn will lower carbon dioxide levels on the planet and address “climate change” as well, said Gates.

Keynes was treasurer of the Cambridge University Eugenics Society and director of the Eugenics Society of London.  He called eugenics “the most important and significant branch of sociology” [Eugenics Archive].  Irving Fisher, icon of the Chicago School of Economics, literally wrote the book on the subject, entitled Eugenics.

When he was the British Home Secretary (1910-1911) Winston Churchill advocated “the confinement, segregation, and sterilization of a class of persons contemporarily described as the ‘feeble minded’” [International Churchill Society].  His stated goal was “the improvement of the British breed”.  Accordingly, he supported “compulsory detention of the mentally inadequate”; the “sterilization of the unfit”; and “proper labor colonies” for “tramps and wastrels.”

World Government, Anyone?

How the West Grew Rich… Birdzell Jr., LE Best Price: $1.58 Buy New $11.21 (as of 04:39 EDT – Details) Antony Mueller also wrote of how the first attempt to create some kind of global governing institution to centrally plan the world was the League of Nations (1920), followed by the United Nations in 1945 under the leadership of Stalin, FDR, and Churchill.[5]  Although Churchill was fond of citing F.A. Hayek, especially The Road to Serfdom, FDR was essentially a fascist whose domestic policies differed very little from fascist Italy and Germany, and of course Stalin was a mass-murdering communist.

See the rest here

Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo [send him mail] is a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. His latest book is The Problem with Lincoln.

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The New Right Is All about the Left | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 9, 2021

The clear religious nature of progressivism that emerges is clear. Replacing God with “the saving grace of progressivism,” the Left has found that racism is the default setting of man, and a person “is able to escape that fallen state” only through their leftish repentance. Another key element of progressive beliefs is to feel good rather than do good: Book

Joakim Book

The ironic thing about Michael Malice’s book The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics is that it mostly deals with the Left. What unites the Right, argues Malice, is that they all hate the Left. His definition of the New Right reads:

a loosely connected group of individuals united by their opposition to progressivism, which they perceive to be a thinly veiled fundamentalist religion dedicated to egalitarian principles and intent on totalitarian world domination via globalist hegemony.

Everyone from radical conservatives to Murray Rothbard–following anarchists to those whom the press sloppily calls “alt-right,” all get lumped into the same category—hence the label. While almost everyone in those groups would strongly object to the affiliation, Malice has found the common denominator among them: they all hate the evangelical left. The New Right, as he sees it, is formed and fueled by this opposition, and so Malice spends page after page describing the progressive power that rules the social, intellectual, and political world.

It works remarkably well, partly, I suspect, because Malice is extraordinarily well versed in the hidden world of internet trolls and the intellectual dark web, as well as more conventional conservative and libertarian ideas. He tells of secret meetings, of invites-only events for trolls and white nationalists, of conversations he’s had, online and offline, with prominent figures of the movement he describes. Skillfully, too, he manages to dissect what it means to be a progressive in America today—a necessary step to even begin to understand this right-wing contramovement.

Malice captures the progressives’ extreme attachment to equity: the dissecting of and the overturning of hierarchies, power, privilege, and, above all, fairness. Elitism and natural hierarchies are inevitable, but the Left won’t have it. Even in the mundane, say, jokes in the locker room or jokes on a stand-up scene, “for the evangelical left, with humor as with everything else, if it’s not for everyone then it’s not for anyone.” This idea, institutionalized and universalized, is the core of what it means to be left-wing in America today.

The distinguishing feature of a left-leaning ideologue, as shown in the Jonathan Haidt research that Malice discusses, is a strong focus on fairness and harm to the exclusion of everything else. Malice eloquently shows that fairness isn’t well defined, and that it is mostly devoid of meaning; it “simply means “what I approve of.'” A discussion over fairness is therefore useless.

A person on the left in the late 2010s, and increasingly so in the 2020s, tries to “impose meaning rather than to understand.” Picking illustrative examples from Hillary Clinton and those more extreme than her, Malice shows that progressives usually ascribe ideas and values to their opponents, dismiss their words as “hate speech,” and then “end the conversation before it has even begun.”

The clear religious nature of progressivism that emerges is clear. Replacing God with “the saving grace of progressivism,” the Left has found that racism is the default setting of man, and a person “is able to escape that fallen state” only through their leftish repentance. Another key element of progressive beliefs is to feel good rather than do good:

Since the progressive religion is based on salvation through faith and not via works, there are often no positive achievements to demonstrate one’s salvation—either to others or even to oneself. Progressives are thereby forced to “do something” without actually doing anything.

Think pins on your jacket, various in-group messages on bags, or the piercing red X taped across the Apple logo of your computer—since, as a good person, you obviously don’t support Apple but still happily use their products. Jeff Deist’s review of Malice’s book is spot-on:

The Left’s religiosity, complete with canonical texts and an ever-narrowing range of faith based opinions, is a key point of Malice’s argument: debate is passé on the Left, if not verboten. The science is settled, and to hell with those outside the faith. Convert or be cast out.

Echoing Orwell’s classic Politics and the English Language, progressive language use is tremendously important. Not only regarding the sensitivity of those who hear it, but as a measure of signaling that the speaker is on board with the Party program. Malice argues that replacing “black” with “African American” or “people of color” isn’t so much a sign of respect or a more accurate description of the group one is discussing, but an in-group signal that the speaker “is on the correct team.”

While clever, it’s easy for outsiders to just say the words: “it costs nothing,” writes Malice, “for someone to adopt the correct term in their speech.” Instead, it becomes an arms race between those who invent new politically correct terms to signal their progressive goodness and those who merely want to get by without vitriol and accusations of being a “white supremacist” (or want to avoid detection).

The ingenuity of the system is that while it costs an outsider almost nothing to co-opt the latest correct word, to avoid tripping any of the many progressive wires, one must internalize a full language. In time, one supposes, a full ideology.

The Members of the New Right

What sits most odd for someone not involved in the world Malice depicts is how normal it is; filled with internal quibbles and breaks along sectarian lines, with regular people doing regular things up until they reveal some of their controversial opinions. What most stood out to me were Malice’s personal stories, and how utterly polite many New Righters are: at an event with big-time pundit Ann Coulter attending, everyone was mesmerized by her but too shy to approach.

That’s not the kind of aura that New Right events conjure up in your mind. Another time Malice describes how attendees to an “NRx gathering” were tentatively “eyeing one another to see what was safe to say. As thought-criminals, we were used to biting our tongues.” This is familiar territory for all of us who hold opinions that diverge even a tiny bit from otherwise allowable opinion.

What emerges is a display of and some in-depth interviews with commonly held crazies—Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulos, Jim Goad, Alex Jones—that make them seem surprisingly humane. Indeed, that’s the point of Malice’s book: “to present logical, rational explanations for the New Right’s foundational beliefs. They’re not crazy. They’re not suicidal. They’re as American as apple pie.”

Most progressives mistakenly think that with the end of Trump, it’ll be the end of the nefarious factions he spawned and justified. With the evil leaders goes the evil tribe and now America is finally back on its divine, progressive track. That couldn’t be further from the truth. To the New Right, politics is downstream from culture, and whoever rules Washington at any given time is unimportant; all that matters is the larger battle, the long-term fight, the wars over culture. Cutting the head of the snake does nothing, as the New Right is more akin to a scattered hydra, growing new heads in new places whenever an old one is severed.

While a delight to read, some chapters of the book are thoroughly odd. You wouldn’t think that Milo, the effective media provocateur and now forgotten New Right troll, has much to do with the founding of the American Economic Association in 1885, or the moral supremacy (“degeneration”) of the universities. The connection, Malice asserts briskly before ending the chapter, is Christian social gospel.

No explanation; full confusion. And Malice is often all over the place: Pat Buchanan’s and Murray Rothbard’s political campaigns in the 1990s, the pickup artists of Neil Strauss’s The Game, and human nature as explored by Thomas Sowell’s great A Conflict of Visions. On the same page he then briefly mentions the Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht and calls bitcoin “magic internet money.”

Still, captivating and hard to put down.

Drawing to a close, the book ends with a somber reflection that “nation after nation in Europe is finding it impossible to form consensus on virtually anything.” The unstated implication is that if we can’t agree with one another, perhaps we shouldn’t have to…?

The Hoppe-inspired meme to “physically remove” socialists and democrats from a free society might be upside down: perhaps we must not remove deviants, but merely disassociate and self-segregate away from those we cannot stand. After the mad political and cultural fights of 2020, does anyone think that’s such a bad idea? Author:

Joakim Book

Joakim Book is an economics graduate of the University of Glasgow, and is currently a graduate student at the University of Oxford. He writes regularly at Life of an Econ Student

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The Essence Of Progressivism Is Refusal To Deal With Reality — Manhattan Contrarian

Posted by M. C. on December 11, 2020

To be a woke progressive the first requirement is that you must refuse to acknowledge the real world as it exists. You must pretend that the world is something else, something immediately transformable into a fantasy of perfection through coercive collective action. You also must firmly close your eyes to any facts or evidence that might contradict such progressive fantasy, and indeed you must demand that any such facts or evidence be suppressed and never mentioned.

Francis Menton

Reality is harsh. Let’s face it, our world is imperfect, often even deadly. Not only that, it’s always going to be imperfect. So let’s get to work on enjoying our brief lives as best we can amidst the imperfection, while striving for such incremental improvements to the world as are within our modest capabilities.

If you think that way, you definitely are not “woke.” To be a woke progressive the first requirement is that you must refuse to acknowledge the real world as it exists. You must pretend that the world is something else, something immediately transformable into a fantasy of perfection through coercive collective action. You also must firmly close your eyes to any facts or evidence that might contradict such progressive fantasy, and indeed you must demand that any such facts or evidence be suppressed and never mentioned.

Among numerous illustrations of this point, perhaps the most striking is the current hysteria sometimes going by the name “anti-racism.” Here, the official progressive fantasy is that any under-representation of blacks (or other minority group of your choice) at designated heights of society can only be the result of “systemic racism.” Therefore all must commit to the coerced program of “anti-racism,” whereupon, I presume, perfection will promptly be achieved.

Over the past several months, you cannot have missed the parade of major societal institutions — large corporations, banks, law firms, universities, and so on — caught with insufficient numbers of minorities in their ranks and pledging to rectify the situation immediately if not sooner. As a handful of examples, here is a list from from July of the “awesome” “diversity” commitments of 25 major companies; or here, from from August, a list of diversity commitments from another 12 major companies; or here, from the American Bar Association, a list of hundreds of signatories, including dozens of major law firms, to the ABA’s “Pledge for Change” to increase diversity. You can easily find many, many more examples with simple internet searches.

In a post back in August, I predicted that the latest round of affirmative action commitments would be no more successful than prior rounds that have been going on for the past fifty years or more. The main basis for my prediction was my personal experience of involvement in affirmative action efforts of a major law firm over several decades, and awareness from that experience of the difficulty of moving metrics in any significant way. In simple terms, there is a very limited pool of qualified candidates. You can make job offers to all of them, but all of your dozens of competitors will also make offers to all of them, and in the end you will actually employ very few. You can also try making job offers to obviously unqualified candidates. Many of these will accept your offer, but in nearly every case they will fail quickly in a rather cruel process.

In the past I have put some effort into trying to find publicly-available data illustrating the difficulty of finding minority candidates for top jobs in sufficient numbers to meet “diversity” demands; but I have had limited success. In the current City Journal, Heather Mac Donald weighs in with a piece titled “The Bias Fallacy,” making the case that bias against minorities explains little if any of their under-representation in certain positions and professions. To her credit, Ms. Mac Donald has managed to find considerable data illustrative of the limitations of the minority talent pool relative to some of the top positions at major corporations and law firms. I give a good deal of credit to Ms. Mac Donald for finding these data, which exist only for certain categories and certain years. Here are some examples:

  • From a Survey of Earned Doctorates, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, for 2017: The percentage of doctorates awarded to blacks was 2.0% in chemistry, 1.7% in “engineering disciplines,” 1.2% in physics, 1.0% in computer science, and 0.9% in mathematics and statistics. So then, how exactly are companies looking to hire, say, computer science PhDs, all supposed to find 13% blacks to fill the ranks?
  • From my own legal profession, here are some statistics on scores earned by blacks on LSAT and bar examinations: “In 2004, only 29 blacks, representing 0.3 percent of all black LSAT takers, scored 170 or above on the LSAT, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The average entrance score was 170 for the top-ranked law schools. There were 1,900 whites who scored at least a 170, representing 3.1 percent of all white test takers. Of black test takers, 1 percent—or 108 blacks nationwide—scored at least 165 in 2004, 165 being the average for the top ten law schools. Over 10 percent of white test takers—or 6,689 whites nationwide—scored at least 165. That gap has only grown, and it affects law school outcomes. Of black law school graduates, 22 percent never pass the bar exam after five tries, compared with 3 percent of white test takers, according to a study by the Law School Admissions Council.”

Ms. Mac Donald goes through similar data taken from results of admissions tests for business schools (GMAT) and medical schools (MCAT), both of which show equally dramatic divisions. She concludes:

There simply are not enough competitively qualified black candidates to go around. Moreover, one-third of all black males have a felony conviction.

Of course the information that Ms. Mac Donald presents here constitutes a piece of the real world that is inconvenient to the current narrative. So what is the response? Increasing numbers of schools are going in a direction of no longer requiring the entrance exams as part of the admission process. If you had noticed that trend, and were wondering the reason for it, here is Ms. Mac Donald’s take:

As long as data on the skills and behavior gap remain available, it is possible to challenge the myth of bias, at least in theory. So those facts must themselves be canceled, as well as anyone who publicizes them. That is the ultimate motivation for the movement to end the use of standardized tests in admissions. . . . The reason to eliminate standardized assessments is rather to put the College Board and the Educational Testing Service out of business entirely—and with them, any possibility of an objective measure of intellectual skills.

The idea is that if you just refuse to deal with reality, it will go away, and perfection will then dawn. But unfortunately, you can only ignore reality for just so long. In the law firm business, at some point within the first year or two, a young associate will be tasked with writing a fully-researched legal brief on a complex subject with a very short deadline (say, 24 hours), where the brief needs to be right on the first try. If an associate can’t do it, that will be immediately apparent. If you have been denied the ability to screen for ability by criteria like LSAT scores or law school grades, you are just setting large numbers of young people up for failure. In the real world, this is not a nice thing to do.

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How Decades of Media and Faculty Bias Have Pushed America to the Left | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 24, 2020

A third example comes from the editors at Merriam-Webster(continually updated online). After US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett used the phrase “sexual preference,” she was denounced for using “offensive” language by US senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. This was confusing to many observers, since the term has long been used as a nonpejorative term and has even been used in recent years by both Joe Biden and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ryan McMaken

It’s been clear for decades that national news organizations such as CNN and the New York Times tend to be biased in favor of social democracy (i.e., “progressivism”) and what we would generally call a “left-wing” ideology. Journalists, for instance, identify as Democrats in far higher numbers than any other partisan group. And political donations by members of the media overwhelmingly go to Democratic candidates.

This is why even as far back as the 1940s, libertarian and conservative groups felt the need to found their own news sources, publishing houses, and other outlets for the distribution of information.

Similarly, in recent decades, higher education faculty have been shown to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Democratic Party, both in affiliation and in donations. In addition to providing instruction at colleges and universities, these people are the ones who write textbooks, history books, and the scholarly publications that influence other faculty members, secondary school teachers, and current students.

It would be shocking if the net effect of this clear bias were not to push the public—at least those members of the public who view news media broadcasts, read textbooks, and attend college classes—in the direction of the ideology favored by the journalists and professors.

But the means for manufacturing an ideological bias don’t end there. In recent years we have increasingly been seeing other institutions—outside newsrooms and universities—that are taking an active role in shaping the public’s ideology. These include social media firms, and even online sources of information once considered relatively outside the reach of political controversies.

This is what is to be expected when a single ideological group controls educational institutions and major media outlets over a period of several decades. Under these conditions—and unless other institutions provide an effective alternative—the ideology that is dominant within schools and newsrooms will spread to become the ideology of the larger general public. Thus, we should expect to see more and more doctrinaire ideological activism in the larger society, in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Controlling the Message outside the Media and Academia

We’ve seen a few examples of this over the past week. The first example is Twitter’s concerted and admitted effort to hide the NY Post’s exposé on potentially damaging emails from Joe Biden’s son. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, first claimed that the company’s efforts to prevent Twitter users from sharing the story were a “mistake” and offered some rather implausible explanations. After the Post and a variety of right-leaning groups expressed outrage over the affair, the company backed down. This is just the latest of many cases of media companies making efforts to edit, curate, and control the information being communicated on their websites.

Another example comes from Wikipedia, where—in spite of the apparent veracity of the Post’s story on Hunter Biden—the claims against Hunter Biden are casually dismissed as “debunked.” No evidence has been presented to support this claim, and the Biden campaign has not denied the claims made in the Post’s story.

A third example comes from the editors at Merriam-Webster(continually updated online). After US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett used the phrase “sexual preference,” she was denounced for using “offensive” language by US senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. This was confusing to many observers, since the term has long been used as a nonpejorative term and has even been used in recent years by both Joe Biden and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

However, by a startling “coincidence,” editors at Merriam-Webster apparently modified the definition of the phrase “sexual preference,” adding the word “offensive” in reference to use of the term following the spat between Barrett and Hirono. Use of the Wayback Machine shows that two weeks earlier the word “offensive” had not been included in the definition.

These examples likely illustrate a growing role for left-wing ideologues outside official news media in shaping and manipulating public opinion for purposes of promoting one political faction over another.

These examples are certainly not the only evidence that companies that deal in internet-delivered data have very clear political preferences. Studies have shown that political donations coming out of Silicon Valley overwhelmingly favor Democrats. At Twitter, from the company’s founding to 2012, 100 percent of political donations made by company employees were to Democrats. In 2016, 90 percent of political donations coming out of Google went to Democrats.

The Natural Outcome of Years of Educational Bias

None of this should surprise us. For decades, the public’s predominant source of information about the nation’s history and political institutions has been the establishment “mainstream” media, public schools, and America’s higher education system.

This has a sizable effect on the public’s views and ideology. Staffers at tech companies, dictionary editors, and managers at Google are all part of this public.

Moreover, the sorts of people who work at Silicon Valley companies, and who work as editors and website designers, tend to have degrees obtained from colleges and universities. These are the same colleges and universities that today’s journalists and pundits attended. They’re the same colleges and universities that public school teachers attended, and which today’s attorneys, corporate CEOs, and high-level managers attended.

Moreover, over time, the share of the public attending these colleges and universities has grown. Fifty years ago, only around 10 percent of Americans completed college. Today, the total is around one-third.

Also not surprising: more schooling apparently tends to translate into more left-wing political views. Data from a wide variety of sources has shown that Americans with more schooling tend to self-identify as “liberal” more often. According to the Pew Research Center, from 1994 to 2015, the percentage of college graduates who were “mostly liberal” or “consistently liberal” increased from 25 percent to 44 percent. At the same time, those who were “mostly conservative” or “consistently conservative” remained almost unmoved, from 30 percent to 29 percent. In other words, the number of college graduates with ”mixed” views has shifted overwhelmingly to the left. This trend is even stronger among Americans who have attended graduate school.

This would seem to be only natural. After all, the faculty has shifted to the left in recent decades. In 1990, according to survey data by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, 42 percent of professors identified as ”liberal” or ”far-left.” By 2014, that number had jumped to 60 percent. Journalists have moved in the same direction.

So if it seems to you that corporate employees, college grads, and the media-consuming public is moving to the left, you’re probably not imagining things.

Why It’s So Important to Build Institutions That Offer an Alternative

More astute observers of the current scene have long recognized that ”politics is downstream from culture.” In other words, if we want to change politics, we have to change the worldviews of political actors first. For example, if we want a world which reflects a Christian worldview, we need a large portion of the population to actually believe in that worldview. If we want a world where voters and legislators support private property rights, we need a world where a sizable portion of the population was raised and educated to believe private property is a good thing. There are no shortcuts around this.

Unfortunately, the activists who often get the most traction are those who take exactly the opposite position. They offer a ”solution” that involves nothing more than closing the barn door long after the horse has escaped. Yet this position is nonetheless often popular because it offers a quick fix. This position takes this basic form: ”If we can get the right people into political office for the next couple of elections, then everything will be fixed.” Never mind the fact that the ”wrong” people got into office precisely because the voting public had been educated in such a way that they find those politicians’ ideas and positions attractive.

Perhaps the most recent purveyor of this futile and shortsighted view is one-time Trump advisor Steve Bannon. Bannon embraced the idea that ”culture is downstream from politics,” insisting he could deliver a ”permanent majority” in political institutions in opposition to the Left-controlled zeitgeist. All that was necessary, we were told, was to vote for Bannon’s favorite politicians for a few years. Then the public would magically start adopting Bannon’s preferred conservative views. Bannon, however, never offered a strategy any more sophisticated than buying off voters with even bigger welfare programs and crushing government debt. Bannon apparently missed the fact that the votes he needed for this vision had to come from millions of Americans who have already imbibed decades’ worth of major media content and left-wing faculty lectures.

It’s easy to see how Bannon might have thought the message could resonate. After all, we live in a country where millions of self-described ”conservatives” willingly send their children to sixteen years of public schooling and then are mystified when little Johnny comes home and announces he’s a Marxist. Apparently these people are very slow learners.

But Bannon’s more insightful colleague Andrew Breitbart knew better. As noted in a profile of Breitbart for TIME magazine in 2010:

As [Breitbart] sees it, the left exercises its power not via mastery of the issues but through control of the entertainment industry, print and television journalism and government agencies that set social policy. “Politics,” he often says, “is downstream from culture. I want to change the cultural narrative.” Thus the Big sites devote their energy less to trying to influence the legislative process in Washington than to attacking the institutions and people Breitbart believes dictate the American conversation.

Although I often disagreed with Breitbart’s editorial and ideological positions, he was certainly right about how political institutions are changed.

But to accomplish this goal, it is necessary to create organizations and institutions that can offer an alternative to the ”entertainment industry, print and television journalism and government agencies that set social policy.” This requires research, writing, podcasts, and videos. It requires educational institutions (like the Mises Institute’s graduate school) that offer views that go against what is usually taught in universities. It requires revisionist historians and scholars who can write books that counter the views pushed in the endless stream of books and articles churned out by professional academics at state-supported institutions. It requires cultural institutions like churches that provide a compelling intellectual vision that can compete with what’s taught in the colleges.

Until that happens, expect institutions like social media, Wikipedia, the mainstream media, and even corporate America to keep moving left and doing it at an increasingly fast pace. And expect the people who control those institutions to be increasingly hostile to those who disagree with them. Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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The Progressivism of the Future Is Really Just the Socialism of the Past | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 20, 2020

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

Antony P. Mueller

The world is currently in the midst of a newly aggressive drive to bring about a new socialist order through a powerful and “efficient” technocratic state. This new order has been labeled as “progressive,” but it is merely the latest version of the socialist impulse which we have seen before in the form of socialism and communism. 

A War on Private Property

Summed up in a single sentence, the plans of the communists aim at the abolition of private property. From there, the other major demands follow, such as abolishing the family, nation, and countries, and finally, as Marx noted, “communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality.” In as much as the program of liberalism “if condensed into a single word….is private ownership of the means of production” (as described by Ludwig von Mises), the program of the communists is the abolition of private property.

A Promise of Efficiency and Expertise

Yet Marxian socialism—i.e., communism—has not found many followers in the United States. The communist appeal to justice and equality found more resonance in the old world. To have an appeal to the Americans, socialism had to be packaged differently. In the United States, the gospel of socialism appeared under the name of “progressivism” and was preached as bringing society to the highest degree of efficiency.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, progressivism attained its first peak as the dominant philosophy of the state. Society was to these socialists a single organization. The bureaucrats as public administrators found a vivid expression in the political novel Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow by Edward Mandell House, who was a very close friend of Wilson and who served as the president’s most important political and diplomatic advisor.

This vision of progressivism requires:

  • Government and labor representation on the board of every corporation
  • Sharing the profits of public service companies
  • Government ownership of the means of communication
  • Government ownership of the means of transportation
  • A comprehensive system of old age pension
  • Government ownership of all healthcare
  • Full labor protection and governmental arbitration of industrial disputes

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

These echo of the planks of the Communist Manifesto, which included demands to

  • Centralize the means of communications and to put the means of transport in the hand of the state
  • Extend the control of the state across the factories and over all land
  • Implement a heavy progressive income tax and abolish the rights of inheritance
  • Centralize credit in the hands of the state and establish a central bank of an exclusive monetary monopoly

Unlike the Communist Manifesto, the progressives did not preach a proletarian revolution but spoke out in the name of efficiency and demanded the bureaucratic rule of expert public administrators. In a specific way, the progressive movement presents an even worse program than Marxism. As Murray Rothbard summarized it, the progressive movement brought about a profound transformation of the American society:

from a roughly free and laissez-faire society of the 19th century, when the economy was free, taxes were low, persons were free in their daily lives, and the government was noninterventionist at home and abroad, the new coalition managed in a short time to transform America into a welfare-warfare imperial State, where people’s daily lives were controlled and regulated to a massive degree.

Socialism in Disguise

Guiding mankind to heaven on earth by transforming society is the quintessential message of socialism, beginning with the “utopian socialism” of the nineteenth century and leading up to our time with the demand for a “concrete utopia.” Yet different from the Marxist mythology that socialism would be the unstoppable successor of capitalism, history shows that the “socialist phenomenon” has appeared time and again throughout history. Instead of being the model of the future, socialism is, de facto, a failed idea of the past.

Socialism is the attempt to create a new social order at will. Yet one cannot construct “order” to one’s wishes. The volitional realization of a socioeconomic system results in establishing society as a single state-dominated organization and as such, it is necessarily hierarchical and must be based on command and obedience instead of the free association of the people as it happens in a spontaneous order.

President Wilson failed in his plan to bring the United States into the League of Nations and establish an organization to promote a new world order in tune with the visions of the progressives. For some time, the Americans resumed the tradition of individualism and isolationism. Yet with the Great Depression and World War II the chance of transforming the society and putting bureaucratic experts at the top came back with a vengeance under the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the end of the world war returned the chance to establish a network of international organizations with the mission of organizing society and the economy under the auspices of bureaucratic experts. This happened with the founding of the United Nations and its several subgroups and sister organizations to become active in finance, education, development, and health.

The International Push

With the launch of the United Nations, progressivism as a program of what James Ostrowski calls “destroying America” has attained a global platform. The main seat of this philosophy has moved into the headquarters of the United Nations Organizations. From its start, the United Nations has been the light bearer of global progressivism.

The protection of the environment and “global health” proved to be the ideal pretexts to move forward the agenda of progressivism. In June 1994, the UN Agenda 2021 was initiated by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and called for the imposition of “sustainable development” on a global scale. While Agenda 2021 was still relatively modest in its demands and nonbinding as to its full execution, the later Agenda 2030 let the cat out of the bag. The new agenda was adopted when the heads of state and government and high representatives met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2015. At this meeting, they approved the adoption of “Global Sustainable Development Goals” about comprehensive and far-reaching universal and transformative goals and targets.

The new agenda describes a program of comprehensive government takeover of almost all aspects of personal life. With no nods to human freedom and market coordination, the document lists seventeen goals that should be met through a bureaucratic takeover of society on a worldwide scale. Behind popular promises such as the end of poverty and hunger, healthy lives, equitable education, and gender equality lurks the agenda to impose global socialism. Demands such as the reduction of income inequality within and among countries, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and building inclusive societies for sustainable development, are parts of an overriding plan to do away with the market economy and to impose comprehensive state planning.

Claiming the “perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill-health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being” (chapter 1, preamble), the conference calls of a “global partnership for sustainable development.”

Under the heading of “program areas” the agenda stresses “the links between demographic trends and factors and sustainable development.” The growth of the world population combined with “unsustainable consumption patterns” endangers the planet, as they “affect the use of land, water, air, energy and other resources.” Under point 5.17 of its objective, the conference demands: “Full integration of population concerns into national planning, policy and decision-making processes.” Protecting the environment requires the comprehensive regulation of the world population which in turn makes it necessary to control personal behavior.

In short, the adoption of this “new world order” would mean the abolition of private property, or what Mises regarded as the liberal program—a world based on private property. If enacted, this project will fail in the end, but it will bring immense suffering in the meantime. Author:

Antony P. Mueller

Dr. Antony P. Mueller is a German professor of economics who currently teaches in Brazil. Write an email. See his website and blog.

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#23 – “The Balance of Trade Deficit Requires Government Action” – Foundation for Economic Education

Posted by M. C. on October 7, 2020

Neither the mercantilists of yesteryear nor those who fuss about the trade deficit today have ever satisfactorily answered this fundamental question: Since each and every trade is “favorable” to the individual traders, how is it possible that these transactions can be totaled up to produce something “unfavorable”?

Lawrence W. Reed
Lawrence W. Reed

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government.

Our society is inundated with half-truths and misconceptions about the economy in general and free enterprise in particular. The “Clichés of Progressivism” series is meant to equip students with the arguments necessary to inform debate and correct the record where bias and errors abound.

The antecedents to this collection are two classic FEE publications that YAF helped distribute in the past: Clichés of Politics, published in 1994, and the more influential Clichés of Socialism, which made its first appearance in 1962. Indeed, this new collection will contain a number of essays from those two earlier works, updated for the present day where necessary. Other entries first appeared in some version in FEE’s journal, The Freeman. Still others are brand new, never having appeared in print anywhere. They will be published weekly on the websites of both YAF and FEE: and until the series runs its course. A book will then be released in 2015 featuring the best of the essays, and will be widely distributed in schools and on college campuses.

See the index of the published chapters here.

#23 – “The Balance of Trade Deficit Requires Government Action”

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this essay was published in The Freeman in December 1998.)

I have a dirty little secret. It’s about a nagging problem I have had for a long time. It just never seems to go away. Heretofore, I have not wanted to admit to this problem in public because the newspaper headlines remind me monthly that this sort of thing is bad and embarrassing.  But I’m going to come clean, hoping that maybe someone out there can help me.

My problem is this: I have a trade deficit with J.C. Penney. That’s right. Year after year, I buy more from J.C. Penney than J.C. Penney buys from me.

In fact, J.C. Penney has never yet bought anything at all from me. It’s been a one-way street right from the day I got my credit card in the mail. And I don’t expect that this is going to change any time soon because the retail chain shows no interest in buying my chief export, which is columns like this one. It just doesn’t seem fair.

I’ve actually considered several options. Each one would probably reduce or eliminate my trade deficit with J.C. Penney, but some wise guy always points out new problems that each of these scenarios might create:

1. I could get Congress to force the company to buy enough of my articles to offset what I spend in its stores. But the more J.C. Penney buys from me, the less it will be able to buy from others, which will only increase their trade deficits.

2. I could get Congress to force J.C. Penney to cut its prices so that I won’t have to spend as much to get what I want. I thought that might at least reduce my deficit, but at lower prices I might actually be tempted to buy more. Or J.C. Penney might come under fire from the antitrust people for dumping its goods below cost.

3. I could simply quit buying from J.C. Penney. That would really teach them a lesson. But then, doggone it, I like what I’ve been buying from them. If I boycott them, wouldn’t that be like cutting off my nose to spite my face?


Join us in preserving the principles of economic freedom and individual liberty for the rising generation

Of course, I don’t really mean any of this. As an economist, I know that there’s a fourth option here and it’s the only one that makes any sense: I should ignore this “problem” and never pay any attention again to whatever the trade situation is between J.C. Penney and me, except to pay my bills on time. America as a whole should do essentially the same thing. If we fired the people in Washington, D.C., who compile the balance of trade numbers, the so-called problem will go away.

Every month, the U.S. Commerce Department releases the official “balance of trade” figures showing the difference between the value of merchandise that enters the country and the value of merchandise that leaves the country. If imports exceed exports, America has a trade deficit, which sets off alarm bells in Washington. If exports are greater than imports, we’re all supposed to celebrate because that’s a trade surplus.

By this logic, draining the country of all goods and accepting none from abroad would be the best possible trade news. We wouldn’t be able to celebrate, however, because we’d all starve. But at least the government’s books would register one heck of a trade surplus.

The balance of trade numbers, by the way, represent a very incomplete picture of trade. They attempt to measure merchandise only, but traders exchange many other things, too. If a Canadian businessman sells Americans lumber, he earns dollars but he doesn’t have to buy merchandise with them. He might instead invest in real estate, purchase securities (government or private), or contract for certain services. Those things don’t get counted in the “balance of trade.”

Progressives aren’t the only ones who get hung up on this trade-deficit thing and then favor pseudo-solutions to a non-problem. It’s a throwback to the less enlightened times of sixteenth-century mercantilists. They argued that a nation must never buy more from foreigners than it sells to them because that would produce an “unfavorable balance of trade” that would have to be settled by an outflow of gold or silver. The mercantilists wrongly assumed that gold and silver were the real wealth of a nation, not goods and services. They were also wrong to render value judgments about other people’s trading activities. The fact is that there can be nothing “unfavorable” about voluntary trade from the point of view of the individuals actually doing the trading, otherwise they would not have engaged in it in the first place.

The principle that both sides benefit from trade is readily visible when it involves two parties within a country; it somehow becomes confused when an invisible political barrier separates the parties. Neither the mercantilists of yesteryear nor those who fuss about the trade deficit today have ever satisfactorily answered this fundamental question: Since each and every trade is “favorable” to the individual traders, how is it possible that these transactions can be totaled up to produce something “unfavorable”?

Scottish economist Adam Smith was among the first to at­tack the notion that exports are good and imports are bad. He pos­tulated a “harmony of interests” in trade, by which both parties to an exchange benefit. With the excep­tion of obvious fraudulent prac­tices, which are minimal in number and a responsibility of the courts, there can be nothing “unfavorable” about voluntary trade from the point of view of the individuals do­ing the trading, otherwise those in­dividuals would not have engaged in it.

To return to my initial example, I benefit when I buy from J.C. Penney or I wouldn’t keep doing it. The folks at J.C. Penney benefit as well because they would rather have my money than the stuff they sell me. We’re both better off because we have a trade relationship, which is why neither party ever complains about it. This would be no less true if J.C. Penney happened to be a company from Japan or Uganda.

Ultimately, the dollars that go abroad to pay for imports will come back to buy American exports. But even if they didn’t—in other words, even if goods come here and dollars go there to simply stuff foreign mattresses—Americans with their supposedly harmful trade deficit would have the better end of the deal. We would get goods like electronics and automobiles, and foreigners would be stuck with slips of paper decorated by pictures of dead American politicians.

Forget the trade deficit. We should occupy ourselves with more important things, like the next sale at J.C. Penney.Lawrence W. ReedPresidentFoundation for Economic Education


  • Each of us as individuals has a “balance of trade” with other individuals, but none of us cares about the numbers; we care about the goods and services we’re trading for.
  • Balance of trade figures count only merchandise. They leave out a huge chunk of world trade involving other things, from real estate to securities to services.
  • No trades are deemed as anything but “favorable” by those engaged in the trading, so how can anyone add all those trades up and arrive at something “unfavorable”?
  • For further information, see:

“The Balance-of-Payments Deficit: Not to Worry” by David R. Henderson:

“The Trade Deficit Is Debt? It Just Ain’t So!” by Donald J. Boudreaux:

“A Deficit of Understanding” by Donald J. Boudreaux:

“Tax Cuts Cause Trade Deficits and Currency Depreciation?” by Joseph Salerno:

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Is Kamala Harris a 21st-Century Woodrow Wilson? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 6, 2020

To pander to the socialists, Harris supports the profligate Green New Deal and a universal basic income, funded by new taxes that will “only” be levied on the wealthy. Harris exerts enormous influence over the extremely malleable (and increasingly senile) Biden, jubilantly telling Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that “as soon as we get him in the White House, and even before with these task forces that we had, we were able to significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn’t signed on to before.”

Clearly, Harris plans to run the show.

Although the draconian lockdowns punished the economy, a partial recovery occurred after governments allowed businesses to reopen. However, continued economic growth depends on the outcome of the presidential election. The crisis opened the door for a surge in regulations, subsidies, and other special interest privileges under the guise of promoting the “public health.”

This progressivism—a code word for cronyism—presents a serious threat to America.

As Murray Rothbard explains, the original Progressive Era witnessed corporate and safety regulations, environmental laws, welfare and labor compensation, and new taxes that benefited favored corporations, bureaucrats, academics, and labor activists at the expense of the taxpayer. If trends continue, modern politicians will pass similar policies to benefit themselves and favored supporters, crippling economic activity. To properly understand this progressivist threat, one must recognize the motives, background, and ideological orientation of the original progressives. They were mostly Yankees, the descendants of the Puritans who stayed in New England or emigrated to New York and the Midwest. They grew up in evangelical households that urged a remaking of society by coercively stamping out sin, particularly alcohol consumption. After earning PhDs in Germany, progressives preached their interventionism under the secularized guise of science and the public welfare. Furthermore, these social engineers supported eugenics, the science of controlling the labor supply to improve its overall quality. Lastly, progressives strove to revolutionize the world through foreign policy adventures.

In their struggle for economic privileges, progressives split into two groups. The corporatists championed protecting trusts and cartels from the vicissitudes of the free market. These big business advocates wanted to create trade commissions and other regulatory agencies to cripple competition and impose onerous compliance costs on small businesses. On the other hand, the socialists desired an overhaul of the capitalist system, blaring the trumpets for stringent antitrust regulation, radical labor laws, and redistributive taxes. President Woodrow Wilson embodied both strands, working with the two groups to enact the income tax, the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Trade Commission.

In many ways, modern progressives are carbon copies. They congregate in New England and live in coastal New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. While eschewing traditional religion, modern progressives are zealots for egalitarianism and social justice. They attended the Ivy League and other elite American universities, empowering them with government-funded research. Although modern progressives disregard eugenics, they still advocate social engineering, championing egalitarianism for everybody except themselves while dictating what is morally acceptable. Finally, they are thoroughgoing foreign interventionists. Neoconservatism is actually a variant of progressivism, for as Angelo Codevilla explains, George W. Bush’s wars were “but an extrapolation of the sentiments of America’s progressive class, first articulated by people such as Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson.”

The progressive movement still splits along corporatist and socialist lines. The former support a cozy relationship with Wall Street and “Big Tech,” welcoming various internet and safety regulations that would hurt smaller businesses without the appropriate ecommerce infrastructure. The latter advocate radically anticapitalist measures, particularly the dismantling of Big Tech, the Green New Deal, a universal basic income, and wealth taxes. With the exception of hostile antitrust lawsuits, big business corporatists are not against these measures per se, provided they can acquire environmental subsidies and offload the cost of new entitlements and taxes onto the less wealthy (accomplished with the progressivist income tax and Social Security).

If Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden embody the corporatist mindset and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren the socialist mentality, then surely Kamala Harris is the modern Wilsonian.

Big Tech has funded Harris in various California elections in exchange for favorable regulatory oversight. Many former personnel now work for the large companies: a senior counsel left in 2018 to lobby on behalf of Amazon, Harris’s first campaign manager works for Google, and her brother-in-law is the chief legal officer for Uber.

To pander to the socialists, Harris supports the profligate Green New Deal and a universal basic income, funded by new taxes that will “only” be levied on the wealthy. Harris exerts enormous influence over the extremely malleable (and increasingly senile) Biden, jubilantly telling Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that “as soon as we get him in the White House, and even before with these task forces that we had, we were able to significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn’t signed on to before.”

Clearly, Harris plans to run the show.

Similar to the legislation of one hundred years ago, the new progressive juggernaut presents an incredible threat to the United States. Its policies will impoverish the public to enrich elite businesses, politicians, intellectuals, and unions. This future looks bleak, and it must be stopped.

[Adapted from “America 2021: The Threat of Progressivism,” a talk delivered on August 29 in Orlando, FL.]


Contact Patrick Newman

Patrick is Assistant Professor of Economics at Florida Southern College. He completed his PhD in the Department of Economics at George Mason University. He is a 2018 Mises Institute Research Fellow.

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The Foreign Policy We Need | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on August 7, 2020

Trump has shown that conservatives aren’t necessarily eager to go to war, even if they remain entirely too trusting of Republican presidents who want to take them there—including the current occupant of the Oval Office under the wrong set of circumstances. That is a good first step, but it is far from sufficient. Conservative restrainers must stop being passive observers in a foreign policy debate Trump and their libertarian allies have already joined. It’s well past time for a conservative foreign policy of peace.

Restrainers on the right must stop being passive observers in a debate Trump and their libertarian allies have already joined.

Sen. Rand Paul (Gage Skidmore), President Trump (U.S. Coast Guard) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (Gage Skidmore)

Four years after the once unthinkable election of a Republican president who called the Iraq war a “mistake,” America still needs a genuinely conservative foreign policy of realism and restraint.

Hegemonists and hyper-interventionists are being challenged for the first time in two decades, perhaps as never before in the post-Cold War era. The folly of their never-ending, no-win wars is evident to voters, prime-time cable news hosts, diplomats, academics, even the veterans and active-duty soldiers who have fought in them. A new generation of conservative thought leaders is coming of age that turns the thinking that prevailed under George W. Bush on its head, yet the Right is still underrepresented in the fight against the hawkish dead consensus and the GOP’s governing class lags well behind.

There is a progressive critique of U.S. foreign policy that is gaining adherents, even if the Democratic Party nominated a conventional liberal hawk to challenge Donald Trump for president of the United States. Joe Biden represents the death rattle of the fading New Democrat politics of the 1990s, with its ever-present fear of being seen as less ready to go to war than the Republicans, a cry of electoral desperation and a reluctance to go into a competitive general election with an overtly socialist standard-bearer. Biden is himself responsive to trends within his party, including on matters of war and peace, even if he is too likely to appoint to critical national security positions the same set of officials who ruined Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Bernie Sanders’s team of relative realists is more likely to be the party’s future.

But there are millions of Americans for whom the progressivism of 2020 does not even claim to speak. Tulsi Gabbard’s fate—she won some delegates in American Samoa, and was kept off the debate stage as voting drew closer—shows that the modern Democratic Party prioritizes wokeness over war. Left-Right “transpartisan” coalitions can accomplish important things together, as the congressional resolution demanding an end to the war in Yemen shows. They have also become inherently unstable under Trump, who is an asset to making antiwar arguments to conservatives but anathema to liberals.

There has also been considerable resistance to the neoconservative hegemony that dominates Republican foreign policy thinking, making it possible once again to vote in good conscience for a GOP presidential candidate without the reservation that the installation of a center-right commander-in-chief will inevitably lead to a repeat of the Iraq war or worse. But much of this pushback, welcome as it is, comes from libertarians. The American political coalition that is more skeptical of statism, and has been since at least Ronald Reagan if not Barry Goldwater, needs to be reminded that war is as likely to end in failure or produce unintended consequences as any other government program. Too often, Republicans treat the Pentagon as an honorary member of the private sector and exempt its endeavors from the scrutiny they would apply to bureaucrats of any other stripe. But federal employees actually do a better job of delivering the mail than delivering democracy to the Middle East.

Libertarians have done yeoman’s work in turning the neocon foreign policy monologue of the 2000s into a real dialogue. Especially invaluable has been the contributions of two families, the Pauls and the Koch brothers. When the history of early 21st century conservatism is written, their names will be at least as important as the Kristols and Podhoretzs. But at the present time, libertarianism does not appear to be a governing philosophy that can win a national election and therefore seriously contest for control of U.S. foreign policy. The younger generation of conservatives who reject interventionism run amok should not be forced to choose between prudence in immigraton policy or foreign affairs, an endless repetition of a Reagan economic program better suited to the 1980s than 2021, or going abroad in search of monsters to destroy in pursuit of imaginary WMD and equally fictitious democratist fantasies, based on ideas that were terrible then and now, this time covered in a veneer of focus-grouped populism.

Yet the new national conservatism has produced exactly one reliable populist Republican politician who has shown a willingness to vote according to Trump’s foreign policy campaign promises when the going gets tough: Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. The foreign policy of Sen. Josh Hawley remains a work in progress, though a potentially promising one; Sens. Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio remain as hawkish as ever, however Trumpian they have become on other issues. Rep. Walter Jones, who arrived at antiwar conservatism from a non-libertarian starting point, is dead. Rep. Jimmy Duncan is retired. This is a smaller group than the handful of libertarian Republicans standing athwart the neocon war machine yelling stop.


Trump himself bears a great deal of responsibility for this unmet challenge. He has largely delivered the foreign policy of second-term George W. Bush, an improvement only over the first-term variety, though he seems a great deal less pleased about it. He has cycled through defense secretaries and national security advisors, but the endless wars have not yet come to an end. The most important former Trump official and ally who has moved in the right direction on foreign policy is Jeff Sessions; the president is actively campaigning against his return to the Senate. He has not started any new wars, but he has risked escalating some old ones—and, most dangerously, fanned the flames of tension with Iran.

That doesn’t mean Trump’s better instincts on foreign policy have been meaningless. Without them, the Qasem Soleimani killing earlier this year could have easily metastasized into a full-fledged Iraq-style war with Iran. He would not have sacked John Bolton, whom he should never have hired in the first place. He has kept the debate over the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Syria from fading into the background as falling bombs become ambient noise. He has eroded ISIS’s gains without massive new deployments to the Middle East and has stopped short of fighting every side of the Syrian civil war. Trump has also laid bare many of the leftist assumptions that undergird contemporary neoconservatism and sent prominent neocons, whose muggings by reality had apparently worn off, back to their ancestral homes in the Democratic Party.

What Trump hasn’t done is implement a new foreign policy that differs sufficiently from that which gave us the tragedies of Iraq and Libya or create a new talent pool of qualified federal officials who could help a future Republican president do so. With the possible exception of Gaetz, he has not even put the Republicans most aligned with his preferred foreign policy in the best position to succeed him. What does it profit us to move some troops around in northern Syria only to wind up at war in Iran, or to lose Jennifer Rubin as an intermittently conservative blogger at the Washington Post only to gain a President Nikki Haley?

Trump’s biggest positive contribution, like that of TAC founding editor Pat Buchanan before him, is to demonstrate that there is a real constituency for a different policy within the Republican electorate. To be sure, some of it had to do with their credibility with grassroots conservatives and GOP-aligned demographics. It was difficult to caricature Trump or Buchanan, like Jim Webb across the aisle, as uninterested in American national security or interests. They were not, hysteria about Russia or Iraq notwithstanding, “unpatriotic conservatives” in the eyes of rank-and-file Republicans. They were seen as unimpeachably pro-American.

As antiwar conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson explained it in another context, the American people do care if the president keeps them safe. “You can regularly say embarrassing things on television,” he said. “You can hire Omarosa to work at the White House. All of that will be forgiven if you protect your people. But if you don’t protect them—or, worse, if you seem like you can’t be bothered to protect them—then you’re done. It’s over. People will not forgive weakness.” Trump in 2016, like Buchanan in 1996, passed that test in Republicans’ eyes in a way that a liberal George McGovern and most libertarians never could. Ergo Trump sits in the Oval Office while McGovern lost 49 states and the Libertarian Party has never won more than 3.3 percent of the national popular vote.

But it wasn’t just the messenger. The message was a fundamentally conservative one, even if not the stereotypical saber-rattling Republican argumentation. The United States is a great country, but not an embryonic United Nations.

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