Why do so many American Progressives, fearing that rich people abuse state power, aim to reduce the riches of rich people, instead of the state power that Progressives admit is subject to being abused?
Why do so many American Progressives wish to put even larger swathes of our lives under political control given their belief that politics is so very easily corrupted by oligarchs and big-money donors?
Why do so many American Progressives – fearful of corporate power and understandably dismayed by cronyism – support tariffs and export subsidies (such as those dispensed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank)? After all, each tariff and every cent of subsidy is an unearned privilege granted by government to corporations at the expense of consumers, workers, and households – a privilege that creates corporate power and fuels abuse by corporations that would otherwise not arise.
Why do so many American Progressives, with one breath, criticize free-market economists for allegedly failing to take account of the immense importance that we humans attach to community, cultural identity, and other non-monetary values and features of our existence, and yet with the next breath talk as if the only inequality that matters is inequality of monetary incomes or wealth? (That this “Progressives” criticism of free-market economists is baseless is a subject for another day.)
And why do so many American Progressives, given their correct understanding that monetary values are not all that matter, treat differences in monetary incomes and wealth as sure evidence of economic malfunction?
Why do so many American Progressives believe that ordinary Americans are far too incompetent to choose for themselves, each individually, the appropriate levels of safety for their automobiles, workplaces, and pharmaceutical products, but supremely competent to choose which political ‘leaders’ are best for the entire country?
Why do so many American Progressives revile business people who seek greater wealth by succeeding in commerce, yet revere politicians who seek greater power by succeeding in politics?
Why do so many Americans Progressives hurl accusations of “greed” at private citizens who wish only to keep for themselves more of the money that they’ve earned, yet celebrate as selfless and noble politicians who wish to take from private citizens money that these politicians did not earn?
Why do so many American Progressives tout the alleged virtues of locally “sourced” foods and of locally produced goods while incessantly pushing for more and more power over individuals and locales to be exercised in far-away state capitals and in even farther away Washington, DC.?
Why do large numbers of American conservatives believe that U.S. government tax hikes and other interventions into the American economy are ham-fisted and, hence, harmful to the American economy, yet believe that similar interventions by foreign governments into foreign economies are genius surgical operations that inevitably strengthen those foreign economies?
Why do these very same conservatives also believe that the U.S. government somehow becomes capable of intervening successfully into the American economy if such intervention is advertised as being a response to foreign-government interventions into foreign economies?
Why do large numbers of American conservatives oppose taxes but support tariffs? Are these conservatives unaware that the latter is simply one of many different species of taxes?
Why do so many American conservatives boast about the strength of America and the resilience and greatness of her people but insist also that to allow these same American people to freely purchase goods and services supplied by low-productivity (and, thus, low-wage) foreign workers paves a sure path to America’s impoverishment and demise?
Why do so many Americans across most of the ideological space think they are offering sound and operational advice when they tell someone who is unhappy with existing government policies to “change” these policies by going to the polls to vote?
Why do so many Americans across most of the ideological space equate freedom with democracy? Do these Americans not see that oppression by a majority of one’s fellow citizens is oppression no less than is oppression by a minority of one’s fellow citizens?
Why do so many Americans, across most of the ideological space, who have ever waited in a line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew a driver’s license or to register a vehicle, or who have suffered long delays in a cavernous passport-control room to reenter the country after traveling abroad, want to turn over to the same institution that is responsible for the inefficiencies regularly on display in those government offices more control over our lives?
Why does not every American who has ever listened to a speech by a successful 21st century politician, or who has ever attended or tuned in to a “debate” among these office-seekers, come away from such an experience filled with terrible fear at the thought of any of these office-seekers exercising even the tiniest bit of say in the lives of ordinary Americans?
Why do so few American conservatives who were rightly appalled by Barack Obama’s performance in the Oval Office – and who rightly fear how that office would be abused by a President Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden – wish to reduce the power of the presidency?
And why do so few American Progressives who are rightly appalled by Donald Trump’s performance in the Oval Office – and who rightly fear an additional four years of Trump’s abuse of that office – wish to reduce the power of the presidency?
Why does the goal of restraining the power of government in all areas of life have so little political clout given that confidence in government is at historic lows?
Donald J. Boudreaux is a senior fellow with American Institute for Economic Research and with the F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; a Mercatus Center Board Member; and a professor of economics and former economics-department chair at George Mason University. He is the author of the books The Essential Hayek, Globalization, Hypocrites and Half-Wits, and his articles appear in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, US News & World Report as well as numerous scholarly journals. He writes a blog called Cafe Hayek and a regular column on economics for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Boudreaux earned a PhD in economics from Auburn University and a law degree from the University of Virginia.
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