Recently, I got into a big fight with my cube-mate. After attacking him for his listening to Bill Maher during the workday, he shot back and mocked my Glenn Beck listening. As if there was some moral equivalence between the two.
“But Beck’s predictions have been right throughout the last two years. Why would you not at least give him a listen?” I questioned. My Georgetown-educated cube-mate shot back: “Because most of the people that listen to Glenn Beck are uneducated mid-westerners.” Infuriated, I protested “Do you have any idea how arrogant and elitist you sound right now?” Leave aside the irony that I was attacking his condescension while as a colleague of ours pointed out, showing beneath my loafers were our company holiday gift socks dotted with various currencies.
As my cube-mate went on to say, though he conceded that government should not be all-encompassing, “I want smart people to make decisions for people.” In other words, us silly hicks are incapable of governing ourselves. This is the fatal conceit of which F.A. Hayek wrote that reflects the attitude of the intellectual class today. Why is it fatal?
First, the “highly educated intellectual” today routinely receives a subpar education. Believe me, I went through it at Columbia, one of the few remaining schools with any semblance of a valuable curriculum. A real education is about teaching the pupil to think critically. Routinely, education today is more about spending time in science classes listening to professors talk about the merits of joining the Peace Corps (yes, this happened to me), iconoclastic gender, race and political studies courses and cultural Marxist programming of the heirs apparent of the political, economic and cultural hierarchy of the country.
Of those who graduate from these institutions and matriculate to the political realm, the progressive ethic pervades. And what is this ethic? The elite must decide for the sheep.
Progressivism argues that man should play G-d, organizing society as he sees fit, “nudging” people as Cass Sunstein advocates towards making the right decision of a governmentally-defined set of choices and socially engineering swaths of society.
Never mind that central planning fails given that the planners can never make the decisions that self-reliant and self-interested individuals acting freely would make, and that central planners lack the specialized information of the millions of actors that make up the economy. Never mind that even if you don’t buy this argument on theoretical grounds, every nation guided by central planning has ended in mass poverty, mass genocide or both.
The manifest defects of central planning are not nearly as bad as its dehumanizing nature. For the progressive central planner is a regressive tyrant. What he seeks to do by regulation is only different than what the master does by the whip in his coyness. The progressive enslaves as he believes that there is no value in the individual — there are only masses of malleable animals that must be shaped and coddled by paternalistic wise men in government. Egalitarianism must reign. Natural differences, desires and ambitions must be discarded for the greater good. Social welfare is but a small price to pay for the fat cat, selfish innovators, entrepreneurs, job creators and investors who subsidize it. Forget about the fact that practically every good and service around us was provided by the very system the progressives seek to destroy, to the disproportionate detriment of the lower classes.
Yet the question is never posed, is such a system moral? Should you by virtue of living in America be forced by law to live to support your fellow man through government? Should you be an indentured servant for months each year in effect working for the government middle man so that he can bribe and satisfy his constituents? Should the politician be able to compel you by law to plan your retirement by paying into an insolvent Ponzi scheme like social security; to at the point of the gun make you cut a check each year for failing public schools that teach the very principles to the nation’s youth that most disgust you? And is it moral that these progressives who would be the first to attack religious advocates impose their own leftist religion through the involuntary mechanism of brute government force?
The progressive philosophy, an economic failure, is also a massive blight on our souls. For it enchains man to his fellow man and impoverishes all of society by taking away man’s individualism, his sense of responsibility and his self-worth. The progressive state dehumanizes and demoralizes man, leaving him an apathetic and impotent slave. There is no compassion in such a system. There is no morality in such a system. All that there is is man ruling over his fellow man, throwing bread crumb benefits at various faceless voting blocs unable to see through such a scheme after so many years of socialist ideological subversion. Shame on the progressives for their disdain for their fellow man, their hubris in thinking that they are right to rule over him and their disgusting glee in molding society for their own political gain. And shame on us for sanctioning such a system.