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The 'Progressive' Legacy (Thomas Sowell)
Creators Syndicate ^ | February 14, 2012 | Thomas Sowell

Posted on 02/13/2012 9:20:06 AM PST by jazusamo

Although Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States, he is by no means unique, except for his complexion. He follows in the footsteps of other presidents with a similar vision, the vision at the heart of the Progressive movement that flourished a hundred years ago.

Many of the trends, problems and disasters of our time are a legacy of that era. We can only imagine how many future generations will be paying the price — and not just in money — for the bright ideas and clever rhetoric of our current administration.

The two giants of the Progressive era — Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson — clashed a century ago, in the three-way election of 1912. With the Republican vote split between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt's newly created Progressive Party, Woodrow Wilson was elected president, so that the Democrats' version of Progressivism became dominant for eight years.

What Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had in common, and what attracts some of today's Republicans and Democrats, respectively, who claim to be following in their footsteps, was a vision of an expanded role of the federal government in the economy and a reduced role for the Constitution of the United States.

Like other Progressives, Theodore Roosevelt was a critic and foe of big business. In this he was not inhibited by any knowledge of economics, and his own business ventures lost money.

Rhetoric was TR's strong suit. He denounced "the mighty industrial overlords" and "the tyranny of mere wealth."

Just what specifically this "tyranny" consisted of was not spelled out. This was indeed an era of the rise of businesses to unprecedented size in industry after industry — and of prices falling rapidly, as a result of economies of scale that cut production costs and allowed larger profits to be made from lower prices that attracted more customers.

It was easy to stir up hysteria over a rapidly changing economic landscape and the rise of new businessmen like John D. Rockefeller to wealth and prominence. They were called "robber barons," but those who put this label on them failed to specify just who they robbed.

Like other Progressives, TR wanted an income tax to siphon off some of the earnings of the rich. Since the Constitution of the United States forbad such a tax, to the Progressives that simply meant that the Constitution should be changed.

After the 16th Amendment was passed, a very low income-tax rate was levied, as an entering wedge for rates that rapidly escalated up to 73 percent on the highest incomes during the Woodrow Wilson administration.

One of the criticisms of the Constitution by the Progressives, and one still heard today, is that the Constitution is so hard to amend that judges have to loosen its restrictions on the power of the federal government by judicial reinterpretations. Judicial activism is one of the enduring legacies of the Progressive era.

In reality, the Constitution was amended four times in eight years during the Progressive era. But facts carried no more weight with crusading Progressives then than they do today.

Theodore Roosevelt interpreted the Constitution to mean that the President of the United States could exercise any powers not explicitly forbidden to him. This stood the 10th Amendment on its head, for that Amendment explicitly gave the federal government only the powers specifically spelled out, and reserved all other powers to the states or to the people.

Woodrow Wilson attacked the Constitution in his writings as an academic before he became president. Once in power, his administration so restricted freedom of speech that this led to landmark Supreme Court decisions restoring that fundamental right.

Whatever the vision or rhetoric of the Progressive era, its practice was a never-ending expansion of the arbitrary powers of the federal government. The problems they created so discredited Progressives that they started calling themselves "liberals" — and after they discredited themselves again, they went back to calling themselves "Progressives," now that people no longer remembered how Progressives had discredited themselves before.

Barack Obama's rhetoric of "change" is in fact a restoration of discredited ideas that originated a hundred years ago.



TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: bhofascism; bhosocialism; democrats; elections; liberalfascism; liberalism; liberalprogressivism; liberals; obama; obamatruthfile; progressives; roosevelt; socialism; socialistdemocrats; sowell; thomassowell; wilson

1 posted on 02/13/2012 9:20:13 AM PST by jazusamo
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To: abigail2; Amalie; American Quilter; arthurus; awelliott; Bahbah; bamahead; Battle Axe; ...
*PING*
Thomas Sowell

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Recent columns
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Please FReepmail me if you would like to be added to or removed from the Thomas Sowell ping list…

2 posted on 02/13/2012 9:24:24 AM PST by jazusamo (Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo

God bless this special, brilliant man. He’s one of hero patriots.


3 posted on 02/13/2012 9:29:45 AM PST by onyx (SUPPORT FREE REPUBLIC, DONATE MONTHLY. If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, let me know.)
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To: onyx

Amen! He made simply in a few words progressivism and Obama what would take many writers pages to make clear.


4 posted on 02/13/2012 9:34:18 AM PST by jazusamo (Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo

With one added note, the brilliance of those in and out of the DNC who marketed him to the public knowing that he could never be impeached for what ever reason because of the color of his skin. This burning tire around the neck of anyone who chooses to be labeled a racist and a bigot against the first black president of the United States is enourmously debilitating allowing him to run buckshot over the law of the land with no consequence. Many employers suffer this on a smaller scale. We all have come in contact at our job where there is a worker who the employer cannot remove because of his affirmative action affiliation.


5 posted on 02/13/2012 9:36:59 AM PST by ronnie raygun (V)
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To: jazusamo

OK.... I say, let’s not mince words anymore. Let’s just call them what they in fact ARE..’Anti-American”


6 posted on 02/13/2012 9:39:20 AM PST by SMARTY ("The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings. "Henri Frederic Amiel)
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To: jazusamo

Exactly so, and whereas Glenn Beck is a loon and sounds like one, Dr Sowell “teaches” and informs concisely.


7 posted on 02/13/2012 9:39:42 AM PST by onyx (SUPPORT FREE REPUBLIC, DONATE MONTHLY. If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, let me know.)
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To: jazusamo

Were he or Walter Williams to run, I’d vote for them in a heartbeat. They are smart and self accomplished...and did it despite the prejudices that ruled during their childhood.

I hate Obama because he is a vapid dork quota baby undeserving of even receiving welfare.


8 posted on 02/13/2012 9:41:01 AM PST by Da Coyote
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To: ronnie raygun

Well said and true! I believe this latest caper of his on religion will be his downfall, hopefully so anyway.


9 posted on 02/13/2012 9:45:11 AM PST by jazusamo (Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud: Thomas Sowell)
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Please bump the Freepathon or click above and donate or become a monthly donor!

10 posted on 02/13/2012 9:46:12 AM PST by jazusamo (Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo

A bump for the brilliant Dr. Sowell; the king of succinctness.


11 posted on 02/13/2012 9:47:20 AM PST by Sans-Culotte ( Pray for Obama- Psalm 109:8)
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To: jazusamo

Good one. Thanks for the ping jaz.


12 posted on 02/13/2012 9:55:08 AM PST by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, call 'em what you will, they ALL have fairies livin' in their trees.)
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To: jazusamo

“He made simply in a few words progressivism and Obama what would take many writers pages to make clear.”

The progressives use big words, and lots of them, to obscure their agenda.


13 posted on 02/13/2012 9:57:58 AM PST by ZirconEncrustedTweezers (You cannot fix stupid. Not even with JB Weld.)
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To: jazusamo
It was easy to stir up hysteria over a rapidly changing economic landscape and the rise of new businessmen like John D. Rockefeller to wealth and prominence. They were called "robber barons," but those who put this label on them failed to specify just who they robbed.

They robbed the old-money rich of their status and power.

Socialism can best be understood as a way for the old-money rich, whose biggest assets are their connections to the political class, to use government to prevent the rise of any competition.

14 posted on 02/13/2012 10:00:32 AM PST by PapaBear3625 (In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. - George Orwell)
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To: Da Coyote
I hate Obama because he is a vapid dork quota baby undeserving of even receiving welfare.

And yet this is exactly why his supporters love him. He represents their attitudes perfectly. His supporters for the most part (other than his campaign contributors who get massive payoffs with taxpayer funds - Soylandra) are losers and parasites who are envious of the achievers, but too lazy and/or too stupid to achieve anything by themselves. They are literally too lazy to steal, but they have the government to do it for them. These people love 0 and want him for a second term. What has to be defeated in the fall isn't 0 as much as it is his hordes of worthless moochers who vote for him and vote for his hand in our pockets.

15 posted on 02/13/2012 10:15:46 AM PST by from occupied ga (It'S a plot device like his self awre computer)
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To: jazusamo

Every word of this essay is dripping with brilliance.


16 posted on 02/13/2012 10:22:24 AM PST by Albion Wilde ("The facts of life are Tory." -- Margaret Thatcher)
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To: PapaBear3625
+1.

Absolutely.

Our progressive income tax is designed to prevent the working and innovative people from accumulating the wealth at the levels that the old-money rich have.

Lobbyist and the mechanics of crony capitalism via government regulations and sweetheart deals are designed so that innovative small businesses cannot compete fairly against the entrenched business interests.

Farming regulations (recently keeping kids off tractors) are designed to cripple the small family farms in favor of the large factory farming operations that give billions to politicians.

Government power has a vested interest in pursuing the interests of those who ‘vested’ into the system.

17 posted on 02/13/2012 10:40:28 AM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send the GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism.)
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To: ZirconEncrustedTweezers
The progressives use big words, and lots of them, to obscure their agenda

EXACTLY RIGHT!!!

The Left often accuses the Right of being 'simplistic'. That's because the truth is often simple, and pretty linear to boot.

Liberal thought is always convoluted and dense, and frankly makes no sense most of the time because they want to obscure and bury the half-truths, the leaps in logic, and the outright lies of their thought processes

They want to do this not just to confuse you, but to enable themselves to believe the BS that they spout. And THAT'S the truth.

18 posted on 02/13/2012 10:43:43 AM PST by chesley (Eat what you want, and die like a man. Never trust anyone who hasn't been punched in the face)
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To: allmendream

What you state is true; except that there is no conspiracy to achieve a totalitarian end.

The state cannot help itself; it always acts so as to dissolve natural human society, the better to extend its powers.


19 posted on 02/13/2012 10:45:15 AM PST by headsonpikes (Mass murder and cannibalism are the twin sacraments of socialism - "Who-whom?"-Lenin)
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To: jazusamo; All
If the Republic and liberty survive this assault, then future generations will recognize Dr. Thomas Sowell as one of the 21st Century's Founding Fathers!

Divine Providence has endowed him with the gift of reason and the unique ability to articulate his understanding with clarity for our day.

There have been others in our day, including Dr. Leonard Read of the Foundation for Economic Education. As a matter of fact, rereading his classic, "Anything That's Peaceful," should be on the agenda of all of us who recognize the threats to liberty today.

On the topic of the President's so-called "compromise" last week, we must keep the focus on the fact that this is not about the Trojan Horses of "women's health" or "contraception."

It's not even limited to the principle of religious liberty or freedom of speech.

It is about an unconstitutional assumption of power over rights which "the People" withheld from the purview of the government they structured through their Constitution. If this arrogation of power to the Executive is allowed to stand in this case, then all of "the People's" rights are at risk.

Inasmuch as their Constitution allowed no power to infringe on any specified right in the First Amendment, then the person who assumes such a power also does not possess a power to "compromise," or "accomodate."

May I suggest that readers of this thread read Read's "Anything That's Peaceful" and share this wonderful and easy-to-read book with as many people as you can.

Not only does Read provide insight into the ideas of liberty versus those of tyranny (as in socialism), but his Chapter 5, entitled, "How Socialism Harms the Individual" is especially enlightening for any who may not see what is happening in America in its proper context, as pertains to the individuals involved.

In Chapter 5, under the heading "The Authoritarian," he begins by stating, "Of the threee classifications of persons involved in social leveling by compulsion, the authoritarian--the one who administers the taking and the giving--has been too little diagnosed." When you read it, you will see the nature of the man before us today. This section of Chapter 5 paints a portrait most Americans will recognize.

20 posted on 02/13/2012 11:08:13 AM PST by loveliberty2
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To: loveliberty2; All

Thank you for your most excellent post and the link to Dr. Read’s book.

Bookmarked for future referral and I will definitely read it.


21 posted on 02/13/2012 11:20:33 AM PST by jazusamo (Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo

Thanks, and an extra bonus of reading online or purchasing at FEE is that this is Read’s book which included the famous essay entitled, “I, Pencil.” Young people can understand simple ideas of freedom of individual enterprise by reading this work also.


22 posted on 02/13/2012 11:32:08 AM PST by loveliberty2
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To: jazusamo
Today, brothers and sisters, we are blessed by having two excellent and educational threads. This one, and this other one :

Obama Unveils $3.8 trillion budget

From this thread, we have the following:

Like other Progressives, Theodore Roosevelt was a critic and foe of big business. In this he was not inhibited by any knowledge of economics, and his own business ventures lost money.
Rhetoric was TR's strong suit. He denounced "the mighty industrial overlords" and "the tyranny of mere wealth."

Which immediately allows us to mine the wealth within the line between rhetoric and demagoguery.

"The tyranny of mere ignorance."
"The tyranny of mere doublespeak."
"The tyranny of mere pandering."
"The tyranny of mere class warfare."

And finally,
The tyranny of mere Bullshit" *

Moving right along to the mere First Incompetent's budget, we get this gem : "We built this budget around the idea that our country has always done best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules,"

To normal human beings, in a society, except for the very young, the insane, the handicapped, the terminally ill and the extremely aged, NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO A "FAIR SHARE" OF ZERO!
It's impossible to accept that 50% of our entire population falls within the exempt list at the beginning of this paragraph.

That ubiquitous phrase is thrown out endlessly, and meaninglessly, and the parasites of society capitalize on it, as do the pandering bureaucrats and politicians. The mere parasites are entitled to a "fair share" of zero. What do they all have in common?
Everyone on that list except for minors can vote themselves permanent parasite status, as can 50% of the adult population.

*BULLSHIT
London Times Online, 25 Feb 2005

23 posted on 02/13/2012 11:35:22 AM PST by Publius6961 (My world was lovely, until it was taken over by parasites.)
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To: jazusamo
Another home run by Dr. Sowell.

And a free valuable education lesson in history and sociology for anyone who has the ability to get his brain out of neutral, and aatually think beyond next Tuesday.

A keeper!

24 posted on 02/13/2012 11:47:53 AM PST by Publius6961 (My world was lovely, until it was taken over by parasites.)
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To: Publius6961

Great post, thanks.

I’d never seen the “Bullshit” thread, extremely well thought out.

Politicians - sincerity - spin = Bullshit. Right on! :)


25 posted on 02/13/2012 12:01:03 PM PST by jazusamo (Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo

It has occurred to me lately that we need to rename the terms “Progressive” and “Liberal” because they have lost their meaning.

PROGRESSIVES: Contemporary so-called “Progressives” are not progressive at all. They are REGRESSIVE. They want to go retreat from liberty.

LIBERALS: Contemporary so-called “Liberals” are not liberal at all. They don’t want to “liberate” — rather, they want to ENSLAVE others. Contemporary Liberals should therefore be referred to as “Fascists” because they want extreme social regimentation via government.

The JFK Democrats (strong on defense) wouldn’t even recognize the greedy agglomeration of selfish special interest groups that comprises today’s Democrap party.

If we get the nomenclature to correctly portray the Fascist/Regressives for what they really are in the minds of the unwashed masses, that’s half the battle!


26 posted on 02/13/2012 12:09:59 PM PST by AlanGreenSpam (Obama: The First 'American IDOL' President - sponsored by Chicago NeoCom Thugs)
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To: jazusamo
It was easy to stir up hysteria over a rapidly changing economic landscape and the rise of new businessmen like John D. Rockefeller to wealth and prominence. They were called "robber barons," but those who put this label on them failed to specify just who they robbed.

We see this on the Left AND the Right.



Where there's a shell, there's a way.

25 years ago, we had Ronald Reagan, Johnny Cash, and Bob Hope.
Today we have Obama, no cash, and no hope!

If you can't appreciate the pure beauty of the violin after hearing this, something's wrong with your ears.

Or you can get raw with these strings.

How about this gamechanger from America's Got Talent (which they SHOULD have won).

And finally, this, dedicated to the one and only rdb2, whose eyes are growing dim.

Either way, the violin is sweet yet LETHAL.

Do it!

27 posted on 02/13/2012 1:46:34 PM PST by rdb3 (><>The mouth is the exhaust pipe of the heart. (BEWARE OF THE LAMB!))
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To: Sans-Culotte
A bump for the brilliant Dr. Sowell; the king of succinctness.

Long live the king.

And may I add that clear writing reflects clear thinking.

28 posted on 02/13/2012 1:48:37 PM PST by SupplySider
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To: jazusamo


“Judicial activism is one of the enduring legacies of the Progressive era.....Progressives [believe] that the Constitution is so hard to amend that judges have to loosen its restrictions on the power of the federal government by judicial reinterpretations.”

I agree with one part of this.

I believe the primary CAUSE of judicial activism is the great difficulty in amending the Constitution.

Advocates for change are ALWAYS tempted toward an easier solution.

Namely...finding a judge who agrees with their political agenda.

I believe a better route to amendments would be direct National Referendums.

An amendment could be initiated by a majority vote in Congress OR a majority vote in 25 state legislatures, at least one year before a presidential election.

To become law, the amendment would need to obtain a direct, popular majority vote in TWO consecutive presidential election years.

If the amendment fails to receive a majority vote in either election, it automatically expires.

This would force all presidential candidates to take a specific position on the amendment.

And, requiring two presidential election cycles means the potential amendment would be vigorously and nationally debated for at least 5 years.

This amendment process would put a new razor sharp political weapon in the arsenal AGAINST judicial activism.


29 posted on 02/13/2012 1:51:49 PM PST by zeestephen
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To: rdb3

Bump!


30 posted on 02/13/2012 1:56:03 PM PST by jazusamo (Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud: Thomas Sowell)
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To: AlanGreenSpam
It has occurred to me lately that we need to rename the terms “Progressive” and “Liberal” because they have lost their meaning.

PROGRESSIVES: Contemporary so-called “Progressives” are not progressive at all. They are REGRESSIVE. They want to go retreat from liberty.

LIBERALS: Contemporary so-called “Liberals” are not liberal at all. They don’t want to “liberate” — rather, they want to ENSLAVE others. Contemporary Liberals should therefore be referred to as “Fascists” because they want extreme social regimentation via government.

"Objective journalists" and "liberals"/"progressives" (who are so-called merely because they pander to journalists, and therefore are accorded whatever positive labels they want) inverted the meaning of "liberal" in the 1920s. William Safire gives that time frame in Safire's New Political Dictionary, tho he does not say who did it. But, after all, who else but journalism would have the propaganda power to pull that off?

To the objection that "journalism" is a cacophony of competing voices, the answer is simple and complete: journalism was a cacophony of competing voices until the Associated Press homogenized journalism in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. Since then, although editorial pages vary, the main body of the paper has been driven by the wire services. And to the objection that there are other wire services besides the AP, that doesn't matter - all wire services inherently have the same homogenizing influence because they all affect the business model of the newspaper the same way. But the AP is the granddaddy of them all, and still the largest - and an aggressive monopolist to boot.

You have a good idea, but only in the sense that Will Rodgers had the solution to the submarine menace - "Boil the Oceans." We don't have the propaganda power to rectify the fraudulent labeling systematically conducted by journalism. My preferred solution is to sue the AP and its membership for libel - noting that the apparent diversity of journalism is illusory, and that it is a single entity which cannot evade its responsibility for things like keeping Rush from buying the St. Louis Rams, for libeling the Duke Lacrosse team, promoting the "TANG memo" hoax, telling the voters in the FL panhandle in 2000 that Gore had won Florida's electoral votes before the polls were closed in the panhandle, and so on and so forth. The name of their swindles is legion. Ideally it would be a class action lawsuit, and a RICO suit for triple damages.

Incidentally, the fact that journalists claim that journalism is objective is proof that they are not even trying to be objective. To actually attempt to be objective, one must start by being open about any reasons why one might not be objective. Journalists do have motives which are not congruent with the public interest - they want influence and they want advertising revenue. The desire for influence with an audience is the obvious reason for rules like, "If it bleeds, it leads," and "'Man Bites Dog' not 'Dog Bites Man.'" Those rules have obvious value for attracting attention, but little to no value in assuring that the stories selected on that basis promote the public interest rather than merely interesting the public. When journalists claim objectivity they are doing the very opposite of what they would be doing if they were actually trying to be objective.


31 posted on 02/13/2012 5:50:49 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (DRAFT PALIN)
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