Progressive Red Tape Around Our Destinies


In harmony with my post, this morning, about the deadly incentives of socialized medicine, Dr. Bastiat has used the experience of a trip to the hair stylist for a compelling explainer of how progressive policies can win the political day, even as they suffocate people’s economic opportunity.  The woman cutting his hair told of how she’d wanted to go into business for herself, but the red tape and the costs it imposed transformed the start-up costs into too great of a gamble; the same was true for her husband, a mechanic.  Nonetheless, their attitude is that they can’t complain; “everything is ok.”

My Uncle Fred (Frederic Bastiat) described this as the seen versus the unseen. Progressives win elections because the benefits they provide are immediate and obvious. They give people free money with taxpayer dollars, or build highways with taxpayer dollars, or start new general assistance programs with taxpayer dollars. They’re working for you, and anyone with eyes can see it. The benefits provided by progressives are seen.

But the damage they cause is mostly unseen. In 30 years, Kaitlyn and her husband could have retired to a very nice community on the Gulf Coast and played golf for the rest of their lives. But they won’t. She’ll still be cutting hair for $12 an hour plus tips, and he’ll still be fixing lawn mowers for the city. Just like they are now.

They didn’t lose a fortune, because they never had the opportunity to earn one. Nothing happened. There they sit. And there they’ll stay.

Progressives may think they’re utopians who dream of a better tomorrow. But, in reality, they are the robotic defenders of the status quo. Everything stays the same because nothing happens. And when things don’t happen, those things don’t make the evening news. They didn’t happen at all, so there’s nothing to complain about. Everything is basically ok. And that’s the way it will stay.

Until it doesn’t.

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One could also apply this principle across generations, as I did a bit with my late-Saturday post.  Maybe Kaitlyn and her husband would have been less interested in decades of golf and more interested in setting up their children for a better start than they’d had.  Either way, their children would have had the valuable experience of seeing their parents take control of their destinies, rather than depending on others to build their workplaces, as if “boss” were a separate class.

  • BasicCaruso

    “Progressives win elections because the benefits they provide are immediate and obvious.”

    Yes, if only the poor and working class could be convinced that the bottled pixie dust and moonbeams being sold by the corporate right were as valuable as food, shelter, healthcare, or schools. What a dilemma!

    • Mike678

      Once again you get it wrong Russ. It’s that darned projection. Moonbeams and pixie dust are what regressives sell–mostly with other peoples money.

      Tell us of the success of the war on poverty. Show us how welfare has helped the poor over time. Show us the successes of socialism and communism–and explain how capitalism/free markets and limited regulation have held the masses back. Ah, to be like Venezuela!

      It’s easy to be snarky–much harder to support your opinion with a cogent argument. Without the usual two-to three logical fallacies, please!

      • BasicCaruso

        Hey, you’re welcome to disagree with Justin if you like. It’s his quote about the “immediate and obvious” benefits of progressive policy. I’m just agreeing with him about that.

        As for some immediate and obvious benefits, how about public parks and libraries? Surely those are successes.

        But under the Socialists, Milwaukee gained a reputation as a well-managed municipality They believed that government had a responsibility to promote the common good, but particularly to serve the needs of the city’s working class. They built community parks, including beautiful green spaces and recreation areas along the lakefront that are still widely-used. They increased the citywide minimum wage (28 years before the federal government adopted the idea) and established an eight-hour day standard for municipal workers. They championed public education for the city’s children, built excellent libraries and sponsored vibrant recreation programs. The city municipalized street lighting, the stone quarry, garbage disposal and water purification.

        • Mike678

          Agreed. Parks and libraries are nice. Schools too. But don’t these exist in almost all states…even red states? And Milwauke…good point. The Sewer Socialist mayor’s did a pretty good job, but they weren’t fans of the regressives. One rep called them ” Socialists with their brains knocked out.”
          And if so successful, why do they not lead there today?

          Anything else?