Pixel Tracker

Monday, March 18 , 2019, 9:43 am | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Trent Benedetti: Where’s the Progress with Progressives?

Who among us does not desire “progress”? We all do. And we know it when we see it.

It is progress when no one is hungry. When everyone capable of working has a job earning a fair wage. When there is affordable housing for all. When every park, road and public building is properly maintained.

When every neighborhood is safe. When children are universally loved and nurtured. When elders are universally respected and valued for the lessons their lives provide. It is progress when everyone believes the future will be better than the past.

We agree what progress is. But how is it best pursued?

We each have our own ideas. As is always the case, some ideas work, some don’t. Franklin Roosevelt said, “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Roosevelt’s idea for addressing the maladies of his day was bigger government with the higher taxes and greater regulation that comes with it. FDR’s ideas should come as no surprise because they are progressive ideas and he was a progressive.

The progressive movement started in the United States in the late 1800s and became national in scope under the Republican President Roosevelt, Theodore.

Progressivism can be broadly defined as seeking improvement of the human condition with government cast as benevolent protector of the public interest.

The movement emerged from the belief that late 19th-century industrialization impeded human progress because the rich were getting richer and the poor poorer.

That sounds remarkably similar to what we hear progressives saying today.

Progressives then and now focus upon income inequality, inadequate regulation, and excessive profits. The problems that existed when the movement started exist today. They have not changed. Neither have the means by which progressives propose to address them.

Progressives have always thought more regulation was better than less. The same is true today.

This, in turn, leads to something else progressives enthusiastically embrace more often than not: higher taxes.

As more regulation is imposed, government bureaucracy must expand to oversee the additional regulation. As the government grows larger, taxes must be raised. It is a vicious cycle.

A notable progressive in California was Upton Sinclair, a card-carrying socialist for much of his adult life. Sinclair was known nationally for his writing, including The Jungle, an exposé on the American meat-packing industry first published serially in a socialist newspaper.

In 1934, Sinclair ran for governor of California on the EPIC platform, an acronym for End Poverty In California.

EPIC called for bigger government, higher taxes and more regulation. At the time, The New York Times said EPIC was “the first serious movement against the profit system in the United States.”

Even though Sinclair was not elected, vestiges of his campaign took control of the Democratic Party machinery, and four years later, California elected its first Democrat governor since 1894.

Progressivism has been firmly rooted in California ever since.

However, progressive ideas have not ended poverty in California. In fact, quite the opposite. California suffers the highest poverty rate in the nation.

The more progressives decry income equality, the more inequality we have. The more regulation we have, the more regulation progressives want. The higher taxes are, the more taxes progressives say we need. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Perhaps it is time for progressives to consider what FDR said about admitting failure and trying something new? After all, insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

— Trent Benedetti is a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Improve North County and a longtime local business owner. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.