The Rube Goldberg Progressives

Progressives in America are wedded to the Rube Goldberg approach to the running of our economy. Rube Goldberg became famous through his cartoons depicting overly complex systems to accomplish simple tasks. Rube Goldberg's name has been adopted into the Merriam-Webster dictionary as an adjective used to describe accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply. From a scientific perspective, the Progressives who currently inhabit Washington, D.C. need a physics lesson to dispel the faulty notion behind their Rube Goldberg economic system and economic perpetual motion machine. 

As an organic, self-organizing natural system, our economy can be viewed in scientific terms in much the same way as the physics of energy. Potential energy is stored energy -- for example, a spring that is compressed. When the potential energy is released, it is transformed into kinetic energy, or the energy of motion. Kinetic energy is realized when the compressed spring is released. 

Kinetic energy allows for the ability to do work by means of the energy of motion. The force of the spring, when released, is available to exert energy that works to push an object in contact with the spring. There is typically a reason or cause for assembling this energy system to create work -- for example, to run a spring-driven machine or mechanism.

The potential energy of our economic system comprises available or stored materials or natural resources, labor, land or property, and technology. To put this into context, consider a small business where potato chips are manufactured. The materials and natural resources are the potato chips, oil, salt, and components of the packaging materials. The other components of the potato chip-manufacturing economic system include the workers, land, building, machinery, and other property owned to facilitate manufacturing. The manufacturing plant owner brings the technology of potato chip-manufacturing together with the potential economic energy components to produce the outcome of this economic activity: potato chips available for purchase by consumers.

For these independent components of economic energy to be assembled and released, there must be a reason or cause. The reason or cause of this economic energy system is the desire of the potato chip-manufacturing plant owner to create wealth. Wealth is the measure of the applied kinetic energy of our economic system.

The ingenuity of Americans to assemble the component pieces of potential economic energy and release that potential economic energy to form economic abundance and wealth has lead to the American success story. Wealth-generation is the outcome of Americans freely conducting their lives as they see fit in the pursuit of happiness. The perpetual motion machine of Americanism is driven by freedom: the freedom to obtain, assemble, and release economic energy and create wealth.

With abundant materials and resources, labor, land and property, and technology, the constraints on America's wealth come mostly from government. Government controls are the constraints on the forward-moving kinetic energy of our economic system. They serve to inhibit economic growth and wealth-creation.  

The labyrinth of government controls is extensive. As examples: government controls over the cost or availability of our energy resources (e.g., oil, gas, coal, nuclear, etc.); government controls on labor through labor laws, such as minimum wage laws and laws favoring unionization; government control of land and property through zoning and taxes; and government control of technology through environmental controls and limitations. While all of these government controls produce limitations on our economic system, nobody would argue that the judicious application of certain controls is necessary. It is the overzealousness and complexity of these controls that are an issue for economic abundance and the generation of wealth.

Most recently, the Progressives can't seem to comprehend why our economic system is stalled. In addition to the ever-increasing baseline of government controls, the chaos and uncertainty the Progressives have caused in their attempt to establish additional draconian controls related to carbon-regulation and health care, as examples, doesn't register as an impediment to the economy in their minds. The Progressives gravitate to the Rube Goldberg complex system of stacking on ever more complex government controls and manipulations of the system, when the simple direct system of free-market capitalism lies right before their eyes. Freedom to produce wealth requires the controls to be removed, relaxed, and/or limited, not increased. 

The Keynesian theory of pump-priming is an add-on piece to the complexity of the Progressive Rube Goldberg economic system. The stimulus packages recently inflicted on our country are the current pump-priming examples. The science behind Keynesian economic theory is that once the economic system is put in motion or stimulated, the stimulated motion of the economic machine provides the energy to continue the motion of the economic machine. In essence, once the economic system is stimulated, no additional energy is needed; the economic system then provides its own energy. 

As is painfully evident to all except the Progressives, these pump-priming stimuli will not overcome the controls currently installed or planned to impede the progress of our economy. As an analogy, imagine a Progressive teaching his toddler to ride a bike. The Progressive pushes while the toddler's foot is pressed on the brake, which controls or impedes the forward motion of the bike. The Progressive's stimulating push is sufficient for the bike to travel only about one arm's length. How vexing it must be to the Progressive to push and push without achieving the desired outcome of continued bike motion; how painful it is to watch the Progressives in our government wrestle with this self-inflicted problem while our economy flounders and so many are unemployed.

The economic laws of physics cannot be overcome by ever more application of the brakes of controls on the economic system. The current and planned Progressive additions to the government labyrinth of regulatory and legal controls and controlling agencies, and the Keynesian pump-priming stimuli, would likely amuse even Rube Goldberg.