Any quality strategy should include a performance matrix to analyze said strategy. The progressive strategy, jump started in 1913 (16th Amendment and Federal Reserve Act- later amended in 1977), put on steroids under Franklin D Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and Lyndon B. Johnson “Great Society,” has failed Americans. If the intention of the progressive movement was birthed by virtuous or evil hearts is a completely different debate. Performance metrics used to grade the impact on either the individual or society as a collective shows that the progressive movement has failed (continues to fail).
This analysis will in large part ignore the desecration of individual liberty and focus on the deterioration of the quality of life of the collective due to progressive policies.
• Politicians, government planners and bureaucrats (Federal Reserve, “Department of XYZ”, etc) are required in order to provide equality to society through the sacrifice of individual liberty.
• Politicians, government planners and bureaucrats are capable of managing, manipulating and forcing the economy in a manner that serves society; through law (controlling interest rates, regulations, tax code, fees, etc).
• Politicians, government planners and bureaucrats are required to protect citizens from themselves, bad luck and the acts of others (via regulation, educations, etc).
• Politicians, government planners and bureaucrats can be trusted with power.
• Assets (private property) are first and foremost the property of the government.
• Policies designed to provide ‘safety nets’ for ‘unlucky’ citizens (lost jobs, limbs, health, etc) are a fundamental right and providing for such will benefit society.
Providing equality, through force, is an immoral and futile exercise. Despite onerous employment laws, irrational powers granted to employee unions (public and private), a progressive tax system, countless regulations bought by special interests equality has not improved. Wealth equality (“Wealth Gap”) is unchanged from 1913 to 2008 (the top 1% of society still hold approx 18% of the total wealth). Progressives don’t dispute the wealth gap (or the highly comparative “Income Gap”), they simple choose to ignore the fact that the same gap existed before their ideology took root.
The mandate of the Federal Reserve is ‘price stability’ and ‘employment.’ The objective of every decision by the Federal Reserve is focused on either/both decreasing inflation or combating unemployment. How is the Fed doing? A dollar in 1912 would be worth fewer than 5 cents today. Fail. Today’s unemployment rate of 8.3% is over double what it was in 1912. The recent ‘great recession’ marked the highest unemployment rate since 1977 (when the ‘unemployment mandate’ was signed into law). The Federal Reserve has obviously failed its mandate.
The impact of regulations seems to be working against society. Habit derived ailments rise (pick your data point, one example, obesity has increased from 45% of population in 1965 to over 70% in 2005).
Despite more regulations the number of disabled Americans is at an all-time high (and rising). Shouldn’t increased regulations equate to decreased disabilities?
Despite all the safety nets (including but not limited to unemployment insurance, workers compensation, public education, government sponsored career enrichment programs, etc) and regulations dependence on government is at an all time high. Keeping inflation neutral in the calculations, more than 15 times the resources were committed to paying for people who depend on government in 2010 than in 1962. 70.5% of federal spending now goes to dependence-creating programs, up dramatically from 28.3% in 1962, and 48.5% in 1990. Today US government spending on dependency programs (entitlements, education, farm subsidies, housing, food stamps, disability) is more than the total discretionary income of all Americans combined. Soon the resources of the independent will not be enough to provide for the dependent. This reality is smacking much of Europe in the face. [Here we must ignore the notion that some progressives may see government dependence by society as an achievement]
The political process (and thus the rule of law) has been denigrated by the influences of corporatism (whereby corporations, labor unions, foreign nations, etc buy political influence). Limit the power of government and you will limit the ability of special interests to buy special treatment. Witness the collapse of sustainable/healthy farming (growth of agribusiness to an oligopoly with a nations food source in the hands of few), the media monopoly, skyrocketing healthcare expenses, rising education expenses, war on drugs and the never ending cycle of American led wars via the military industrial complex as some of the byproducts of corporatism. Corporatism is the result of government wielding too much power and not having the integrity (or checks and balances) to revere such power. Corporatism is made possible by the progressive’s belief that governments are worthy of near-absolute power.
Public education is another great example of progressive government bureaucracy gone wrong. The quality of education in the US continues to decline despite various reform programs and increased spending on education. Average Scholastic Aptitude Test scores fell 41 points between 1972 and 1991 and the number of kids scoring over 600 on the verbal part of the SAT has fallen by 37 percent since 1972. Pick your study; US rankings among other nations in math/science are abysmal.
Progressive policies require (growing) government spending. Unchecked spending has left the US (and Europe) drowning in debt. The interest expense that taxpayers pay on US debt is up over 212% since 1980; in 1912 there was no national debt (thus no interest expense). Today US debt is larger than the total 2012 US Gross Domestic Product. Today, the US Government debt is equal to over $139,000 per taxpayer. Progressive policies have required an unsustainable/unserviceable amount of debt. The slightest increase in interest rates (currently being manipulated lower via the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing Programs/monetization of debt) will have a dramatic impact on interest expense. It should go without saying that increased interest expense decreases the funds available for government services and forces higher taxation that hurts the economy. The growth in debt cannot continue.
In summary, the progressive strategy requiring the empowering of politicians, government planners and bureaucrats has failed both the American individual and American society as a collective. The progressive strategy has brought about higher unemployment, inflation and (unhealthy) dependence on government. The power bestowed upon central planners has been pimped to special interests to the detriment of society. Most importantly the progressive ‘holy grail’ of a more equitable sharing of wealth/income has not come to pass as progressive policies have had no material impact on equality as measured by the “Wealth Gap” or “Income Gap.”
[Mr McDaniel is a wealth management professional in Nevada County, California.]