January 22, 2010
Progressives and Their Fallacies
Ideology knows no cultural, political, or economic boundaries. Adherents to doctrinaire belief systems -- left, right, religious, anti-religious -- brush aside evidence that might tempt them to question their beliefs. Yet one critter inhabits a class unto itself: the "progressive," a creature who drags muddled thought to unexplored depths.
An Adam Smith Institute blog by Tim Worstall addresses the left's persistent denial of the Laffer Curve, which shows how government gains no revenues by implementing either zero- or one-hundred-percent tax rates, but maximizes revenues by keeping rates just below levels intolerable to taxpayers. Despite the Laffer Curve's reflection of reality, progressives reject the established fact that revenues dwindle when rates climb too high. One response to Worstall's blog is especially thought-provoking.
It's bad enough having to accept that the collectivists and assorted liberals and lefties are just plain stupid, but at least if this were true they might be open to enlightenment. That they are merely disingenuous, knowing full well the implications of their actions but pressing on regardless, suggests that any dialogue or debate with them is pointless.
Refusal to acknowledge fact tends to kill off productive dialogue.
If Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist zealotry were to jeopardize our way of life, then Americans would be justified in resisting with all the force we could muster. Islamism fails to make this list because there is no "if" to Islamism -- radical Muslims threaten our freedom, period. The totalitarian brand of progressivism practiced with religious zeal by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Representative Barney Frank also threatens our freedom and therefore must be defeated.
Heartland Institute's Paul Chesser finds a stunning case of progressive denial. Well after it came to light that "scientists" fabricated human-caused global warming and suppressed studies that expose the hoax, the Burlington Free Press still touts a scientific "consensus" on human causation. Chesser points out that on the same day that BFP whined about its imaginary consensus, it also acknowledged a frigid weekend deluge as "easily the largest snowstorm ever witnessed in Burlington in more than 120 years of record keeping."
Two-thirds of America gripped by arctic cold and vast swaths covered in snow following the coldest summer in a century for parts of the country -- these are reasonable bases for challenging the Burlington Free Press. But first we'd have to pry them away from using organic detergent to wash their Priuses, which run on freeze-dried, free-range rat droppings. Warmists will push the lie that humankind is baking the planet even as glaciers ring the warmists' doorbells.
In the social arena, progressives in government, media, and academia continue to feed Americans the myth that income inequality and "social injustice" cause crime. Manhattan Institute's Heather MacDonald observes:
As the economy started shedding jobs in 2008, criminologists and pundits predicted that crime would shoot up, since poverty, as the "root causes" theory holds, begets criminals. Instead, the opposite happened. Over seven million lost jobs later, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s. The consequences of this drop for how we think about social order are significant.
Lower crime might be related to Americans buying guns and ammunition at record levels since Obama's ascent to the throne. Back to MacDonald's argument:
The 1960s themselves offered a challenge to the poverty-causes-crime thesis. Homicides rose 43%, despite an expanding economy and a surge in government jobs for inner-city residents. The Great Depression also contradicted the idea that need breeds predation, since crime rates dropped during that prolonged crisis. ... In 2009, the city of L.A. saw a 17% drop in homicides, an 8% drop in property crimes, and a 10% drop in violent crimes. In New York, homicides fell 19%, to their lowest level since reliable records were first kept in 1963.
Despite such problematic reality, capitalism-haters will persist in spreading tall tales to bolster their belief that socioeconomic injustice causes crime. They will push confiscatory taxes to spread wealth to those who've produced none so that said non-producers won't feel victimized, and they hurt actual producers who did nothing to harm the non-producers because the former were too busy creating jobs -- jobs which the non-producers summarily ignore in order to free up time to hold out their hands and grab producers' redistributed wealth. Confusing? Smile. This makes sense to progressives.
A common thread in "progressive" approaches was stitched as long ago as 1899 by education theorist John Dewey.
All that society has accomplished for itself is put, through the agency of the school, at the disposal of its future members. All its better thoughts of itself it hopes to realize through the new possibilities thus opened to its future self. Here individualism and socialism are at one. Only by being true to the full growth of all the individuals who make it up, can society by any chance be true to itself .
Clear thinkers recognize the foolishness of Dewey's assertion that society owns the "full growth of all the individuals who make it up." His sermonizing did not marry individualism to socialism, but instead forged a contrived, contentious partnership that made "progressive" educators a century ago feel good about anti-individual tactics which were destined to create the morally relativistic swamp now stinking up our schools. Today's educators will not likely wake up and smell their students' rotting synapses. They will preach multiculturalism, moral relativism, and "diversity" until the price per gallon of biofuel in their Smart Cars exceeds students' test scores.
Let's condense. Progressives endlessly hype disproved fallacies, among them:
- Human-caused "climate change."
- More guns, more crime.
- Handouts improve the plight of the poor.
- Raising taxes in a down economy doesn't impede recovery.
- More government, better government
- Incarcerating criminals doesn't decrease crime; rehabilitation does.
- Playing nice-nice with violent scumbags pacifies them.
- Raising self-esteem begets achievement, not the other way around.
- Life should be fair.
Progressivism is about embracing silliness to make a person feel good -- reality be damned.
Classicist Victor Davis Hanson observes that because of Obama's naïve approach on terrorism, "Plenty of our chickens will be coming home to roost this year." Americans will pay for what the Democrats have done and undone to overexpose us to a resurgent al-Qaeda, because action and inaction have consequences. Tell this to a staunch progressive, and you'll stare into the glazed eyes of someone searching inside for feel-goodisms to counteract the disgusting notion that anyone should suffer consequences for anything.
If we listen to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and rename Muslim terrorism "man-caused disasters," then perhaps disaster-causers will go extinct. We must relabel high taxes as low taxes, traditional Americans as extremists, cold as hot, falling crime as proof that guns kill, logic as judgmentalism, and finally, right as wrong, wrong as right, and refusal to acknowledge either as "thoughtful."
Progressive politicians are not unintelligent, not as a rule. They are in denial, terminally zealous, and fundamentally dishonest with themselves.
A physicist and former high tech executive, Chuck Rogér was a columnist for a Phoenix newspaper and now blogs at chuckroger.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.