Is “Progressive” as evil as Glenn Beck makes it to be?

Glenn Beck: “We’re declaring war on the progressive movement.”

Beck’s latest move has been to tap into the fear that radical conservatives have of change. He wants his audience to see anyone but those in the Tea Party Movement as dangerous because they want to change things, they want to “progress.” He has said on numerous occasions that he sees the “progressive movement” as a “cancer” that is eating away at both political parties. He says that his war is not just against Obama, but against what Obama epitomizes – the whole progressive movement. He contends that his viewers should fight for getting America back to the way the country was originally founded, when individual liberty meant a limited government that stayed out of people’s lives.

It all sounds so easy: Let’s go back to better times. Let’s reverse the trend of progressivism.

Beck wants to go back to the beginning of the country, when private liberty was based on limited government and a totally free market.

The United States was founded as an experiment in John Locke’s ideas concerning the State. Thomas Jefferson’s words in the first part of the Declaration of Independence are almost a paraphrase of Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government. The idea was a simple one: Individual liberty. Every individual has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A government needed to be established that did not curtail these rights. The United States Constitution was written for this purpose.

The right to private liberty was intimately connected to the right to private property. Here was a very progressive idea in its time: that every person has the right to private property. The American value of individual property rights was a major progressive development from previous feudal systems, and even a progression on the earlier Hobbesian view of the Commonwealth. Therefore, this new idea of individual liberty mandated that the government’s main task was to provide the security needed for individuals to own their own possessions. Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (written the same year as Jefferson penned the Declaration) laid out the economic implications of John Locke’s individual liberty: a capitalistic market of unrestricted free competition, a market in which the government must not interfere.

This was a major part of why there was an American Revolution: The colonists desired to be free from the British Mercantile System, in which England provided manufactured goods in return for taxes and raw materials from the colonies. With the American experiment in individual property rights, England’s monopolist East India Company could now be in competition with innovative privately owned companies.

The Free Market brought about the Industrial Revolution. The benefits of this progression of Capitalism included the advent of the factory system, mass production, and of mind-boggling inventions. Goods could be created much more efficiently and at lower costs.

But the ideals of Private Liberty were at risk as well. As a result of an unregulated Free Market, the economy was ruled by a few large companies with their urban factories filled with workers who were paid small wages and worked long hours. At this time, the evolutionary ideas of Darwin moved from biology into economics – that it is appropriate for the economically fittest to survive, and everyone else should rightfully perish. Because of the ruthlessness of the free market, members of the working class who had entrepreneurial dreams did not have a chance to get started while smaller, family owned businesses were at risk.

Ironically, the dream of the being freed from the evils of the Mercantile System (where monopolies were protected by the King) led into something very similar to it. The “Robber Barons” like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt had manipulated the economic system and in the process effectively curtailed the private liberty of the American citizenry.

This led the nation to begin regulating business for the common good.

  • Without "Progressive" ideas, would the United States even exist?
  • In what ways does the idea of "Individual Liberty" have shortcomings?
  • As I understand Beck, he wants the United States to revert back to this age of American history. What problems did we experience then, and why would we want to relive those days again?


PamBG said...

Random thoughts.

"Progressive": a jargon-word that can mean many things to many people.

The American experiment was begun before the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution arguably put power in the hands of those able to generate money. This was a social revolution in Britain where power and money had previously been necessarily connected to the ownership of scarce land which was connected to aristocracy.

The idea of "individual liberty" has short-comings because it is not about actual "equal liberty". Those who have more money have more liberty.

US society is constructed around the principle of "The person with the most money gets to call all the shots". As someone who probably has a goodly amount of money, it's not surprising the Beck takes this point of view. What never ceases to amaze me is the people who have no money and no power who fiercely defend this system.

Who says that historic events don't deeply effect a culture?

Byron Harvey said...

To Bob, I'm going to read this series of posts with interest. My chief concern--and I raise it because of some red flags I think I see in this initial post--is that you define terms clearly, that "progressive" as Beck means it is defined the same way by you. Defined as Beck defines it, I agree with his analysis of it, by and large, believing it to be something to be defeated; that doesn't mean, though, that I'm against "progress". I only say this because I hear people say, from time to time, that "Jesus was a liberal", to which I reply, "I suppose in some senses of the word", but certainly not as the word is defined in 2010 America. Fair enough, Roberto?

And to Pam, I guess I'm one of those folks you'd be amazed at...

PamBG said...

And to Pam, I guess I'm one of those folks you'd be amazed at...

Oh yes, I know that. It is a true culture gap for me. I am quite aware that I do not fit in to US society nor do I fit in to US Christianity.

Bob Robinson said...

As I was writing this series of posts, it occurred to me that it was getting too bloated for my tastes, so I will only post one more tomorrow.

Byron Harvey said...

Ha! Well, I'm of course utterly unqualified to judge on either account!

But a word or three of explanation on my part. First, I completely disagree with your assertion that "those who have more money have more liberty." I consider myself to be fully as free as Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, and if you factor in my freedom in Christ, I consider myself more free. I had/have every bit the freedom to make of myself anything that Misters Gates and Buffett did; I freely chose to give my life to gospel ministry. Bob Robinson has a superior intellect and many other abilities, but has chosen to live the life of a college minister--depending on the financial support of others. Is he not free? Were he not free to choose to "be the best he could be" at whatever profession he was willing to work hard at, then he would not be free, but I find very little, if any, correlation between freedom and money.

Further, as to the point at which you're amazed, all I can say is this: I believe that every person ought to have the freedom to build his life as he chooses to build it, and in America, we have that opportunity. Granted, not everybody starts out in the same place; there's nothing that can be done about that. But what we can do is to care to make laws that provide equal opportunity for everyone. Some take it one direction and some another; some work hard and others are bums. It is unjust to make laws that favor the rich; it is also unjust to make laws that take away from the resourceful and hard-working and give the fruits of their labor to the indolent and lazy (see, I believe in real social justice for all; take that, Beck!). But the bottom line is that I don't judge what is right for us to do as a nation on the basis of "what is best for me"; that, to my way of thinking, is selfish. Rather, I want a system that does the best it can to reward the right people--people who work hard, take risks, etc.--and to not reward those who don't. No system is perfect! But capitalism does tend to reward the right people to the greatest degree--and that's why I'm a capitalist through and through.

One final thought: I see Jesus calling His people to voluntarily care for those who are truly in need--and specifically, those who are in need "through no fault of their own" (as opposed to the lazy). I see in Jesus no support whatever for the government forcibly redistributing wealth: none. There is no virtue in attempting to do good with other people's money, in other words. I know you didn't go down that path, Pam, but I think it bears being said in this discussion.

Michael Kruse said...

“…a capitalistic market of unrestricted free competition, a market in which the government must not interfere.”

This is an incorrect characterization of Smith.

First, Smith’ primary contribution was in understanding the impacts of division of labor and trade. While industrial technology emerged in the late 18th Century it was not until after about 1820 that we began to see the significant impact industrial machinery had on technology, thus creating the move to amass considerable capital to invest in production. The word capitalism was coined by William Makepeace Thackeray in 1854. The idea of “capitalistic markets” emerged after Smith.

Second, Smith opposed the monopolistic hold of the guilds on local business and the granting of such monopolies to business. Smith wrote:

“This led him to conclude on the nefarious impulse of corporate manipulation, that when "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” (WN I.x.2.27: 145)

But Smith was not a proponent of Laissez-Faire markets in which there was no interference. Scottish scholar Gavin Kennedy runs a blog "Adam Smith’s Lost Legacy” in which he works tirelessly to correct these persistent misrepresentations. Recently he wrote (http://adamsmithslostlegacy.com/2010/03/smith-on-laissez-faire-markets-and.html):


“Adam Smith did not have a “theory of completely free markets” – he did not subscribe to the laissez-faire views of some of the French Physiocrats and did not use the phrase at all. All of the beliefs that he did have such a theory are attributions from the 19th century; at best they were careless exaggerations that missed the nuances of Smith’s political economy; at worst they were the self-interested preferences of merchants and manufacturers in the industrialization of Britain (see: The Economist, the parliamentary spokesmen for mill owners, The Anti-Corn Law League, the Manchester School, J. S. Mill, and non-readers of Wealth Of Nations).

The whole tenor of Wealth Of Nations was about how unfree markets were in 18th century Britain, characterised by the deliberate actions of ‘merchants and manufacturers’ and of mercantile policies favoured by legislators and those special interests that influenced them.

In proposing that these interventions in markets should be swept away, Smith carefully acknowledged that markets should be operated under the rule of law and under the moral guidance of participants.

To ensure compliance, Smith indicated that regulations may be necessary on a case-by-case basis (example: banking, assaying, indicating the quality of certain manufacturers; buildings posing fire risks; and public cleanliness and safety). It was also essential that government intervene in the procurement of certain public works to facilitate commerce and certain public institutions to facilitate education, healthy minds and treatment of obnoxious diseases.”


Third, while not mentioned here, it should be noted that the metaphor of the “invisible hand” was mentioned by Smith once in the Wealth of nations. It was in the context of merchants contemplating doing trade at home versus doing trade abroad. The majority were risk averse and thus kept there capital at home. In this context Smith not that as if guided by an invisible hand they ended up benefiting themselves even though they individually had sought their own interests. The mythology that Smith believed in the free market invisible hand that perfectly coordinates everything emerged only after World War II.

Finally, the neither the U.S. or Europe embraced free trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Significant degrees of protectionism (tariffs and subsidies) between these countries existed during most eras until well into the 20th Century. It was really only after about 1960 that freer markets flowered.

Bob Robinson said...

Thanks for the clarifications. My main point was this: The American Colonists revolted for economic reasons as much as anything. They were fed up with the Mercantile System. It is evident that Adam Smith was as well. The revolting colonists wanted to establish the right to private property as the driving force of their economy.

What, in your view, was the parallel economic theories between the Americans and Adam Smith?

Bob Robinson said...

You wrote, "I believe that every person ought to have the freedom to build his life as he chooses to build it, and in America, we have that opportunity. Granted, not everybody starts out in the same place; there's nothing that can be done about that." I refer you to my current post, where I talk about the desire of Progressives to do something about that, and how what drives their desire to do so is the sense of "fair play" so that every individual in American society would get the chance to "start at the same place."

I'm not advocating this, I'm simply pointing out that what you and Beck see as "socialism" is really just "individualism" subsidized by the government. It's the natural development of a political system that sees individual liberty as the core value.

Bob Robinson said...

Before you use me as an example, you should know that many of my decisions about my life and my work in the past year has been directly tied to my fear of losing my health care. As you know, I have some pretty mean "preexisting conditions!"

Because of my economic and health care circumstances, I have NOT been "free" to be what I would like to be.

PamBG said...

I think that I was the one who said that "those who have more money have more liberty".

I think that Bob has given a great example here of how his choices are limited.

I would say from a Christian perspective that those who take the view that "I can do anything I choose to do and I can make my life anything I want to make it" ought to take heed of the Rabbinic adage "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

Without going into details, although my life circumstances do not have the same particulars as Bob's, I can relate to what he says.

And, by the way, I am not looking for a handout from anyone. I would simply be happy if I didn't get told that my desire to help others wasn't a form of evil socialism. But being a realist, I'm not expecting that to happen any time soon.

Byron Harvey said...

Bob, to your first post, this is the exact problem with progressivism (or one of them, to put it better): it attempts the impossible, and it does so out of a utopian dream that begins with a fundamentally flawed understanding of human nature. A crack baby born to an unwed teenage mother cannot be made "equal" (with respect to "starting point") to a baby born to upper middle class suburban parents. Nothing can be done to change that, and nothing ought to be attempted to change that (because it's futile, among other reasons). What ought to be done is to give that crack baby every chance to move forward from that beginning point and make of himself something--and the wonderful story of America is replete with such success stories.

Second, you'll have to amplify what you mean when you say "socialism" is really just "individualism" subsidized by the government. It's the natural development of a political system that sees individual liberty as the core value. "Individualism subsidized by the government" strikes me as a self-negating statement, so I don't really get what you're saying there. Explain?

As to your second post, I do not concede your point at all. Before I explain why, though, I will as an aside reiterate the "inconvenient truth" that this president is leaving out of the half-truths he's employing to push "health care reform": I doubt there are many people who are against reforming the current system. I believe that massive changes need to be made--and I fault the do-nothing Republicans for putting us at the brink of this awful plan by virtue of their 8 years of inactivity while the situation got worse and worse. But I believe that the direction the Democrats are moving with reform is the wrong direction--and will make most of the problems worse in the long run.

But I digress...here's why I don't concede your point: my first thought was, "OK, let's move the conversation back ten years, to the time you made a free, willful decision to plant a church--prior to your health issues". But then I realized that, valid as that might be, it wasn't the issue: you are currently every bit as free as Bill Gates, even in your current situation. What's to prevent you from employing your considerable intellectual and entrepreneurial talents in working on a project "on the side" that would help your bottom line, perhaps even render your health care concerns obsolete in the long run? Are you not free, if you so chose, to attempt to develop some alternative money-making strategy? Of course you are. And that's why I concede neither your point nor Pam's: you make the free choice not to do anything like that (to my knowledge; maybe you are!), and there's nothing wrong with that, of course--but don't say it's a lack of freedom caused by financial circumstances. With all due respect and with all due appreciation for the hell you went through with your near-death experience, I still maintain you are as free as Bill Gates.

PamBG said...

Should Jesus not have healed all the people he healed? Not raised Lazarus from the tomb?

Was Jesus a co-dependent enabler when he healed people? That's basically what I generally tend to hear from conservatives. (Please note the words "What *I* tend to hear")

As far as I understand the politically conservative mindset it's "Help yourself, help others if you choose to do so but you're not obliged, and don't expect any help from anyone else, ever."

The Good Samaritan was a mug.

It makes sense from a laissez faire capitalistic mindset. It doesn't make sense to me from a Christian perspective.

Byron Harvey said...

Pam, apparently you and I were typing at the same time; let me take a stab at answering your thoughts (and by the way, thanks for a stimulating discussion):

I think you're conflating two concepts into something I don't mean to be saying, of course. Certainly, as a Christian, we ought to heed the warning of James and say, "if the Lord wills". I'm no fan of presumption, and I believe in the sovereignty of God that causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust; "the best laid plans of mice and men", etc. But acknowledging God's sovereignty doesn't in any way negate the idea that, if the Lord wills, I have the freedom to make of myself anything I choose to be. That's the point I'm making.

Who, though, is saying that your desire to help people is a form of evil socialism? There is nothing wrong--and everything right--with a desire to help people; you and I share that value, and I trust we both hold it deeply. But among the questions your statement raises are, "is it the government's place to do the job of helping people, confiscating people's money without the consent of the governed for that purpose?" "Is the government the most effective/efficient tool for carrying out this end?" "Are people really helped when they are continually rewarded for behavior that ought to be discouraged?" "Are Jesus' words, and those of the Bible, directed at governments, or at individual believers?"

Nobody faults the sentiment; it is to be applauded. What I fault is faulty means that serve to undermine the ends they purport to serve, and that end up introducing a whole set of other social problems that would not otherwise exist (dependence upon government instead of upon friends/church in times of need; an "entitlement" mentality that ensues from that; lessened bonds with friends/neighbors; a disregard for the legitimate difference between the "deserving poor" and bums who won't work; a lack of accountability that is, it seems to me, pretty much the definition of contemporary liberalism...I could go on).

Byron Harvey said...

Pam, we're getting good at posting on top of each other; I'm fearful as I type this that you're feverishly pecking away at the keys to respond to my last post even as I respond to yours!

I don't know what conservatives you're hearing from, but what I believe, as a conservative, is that it is us who are responsible for helping people--and so of course Jesus was right in doing all He did (He is God, after all; ergo, He can do no wrong). It is my responsibility to help people; it is my responsibility to encourage others to do the same on a personal level; it is not my responsibility to force other people to do so (that's what government does when it confiscates other people's money, hence my comment about there being no virtue in helping people with other folks' money).

As a member of society, then, I work for the good of all, and encourage others to do the same; the difference between you and me, it would seem, is that you seem to want to force everyone to "help" through the arena of government. I don't find that Christian at all; rather, it is Christian to voluntarily and volitionally help those who are truly in need (and not indiscriminately, as the government is wont to do; we must remember that there is a distinction between the deserving poor and bums who could but won't work--that's a Biblical distinction).

Bob Robinson said...

You said,
"Individualism subsidized by the government" strikes me as a self-negating statement, so I don't really get what you're saying there. Explain?

The explanation is in today's post.
Glenn Beck: American Progressivism = Socialism...No, it isn’t. It is actually American Individualism to the Max.

Byron Harvey said...

Thanks, Bob; I'll respond to it in due course.

PamBG said...

Byron, actually, I was not pecking away but went off to work and I probably won't have time to respond thoughtfully enough now for a couple of days.

Two thoughts:

1) I think that there is a great deal of difference between saying - for example - (a) I wish all people could have good health care but I don't think the current healthcare bill / government regulated healthcare / whatever is an effective way of providing this to our citizens or saying (b) It is wrong to want healthcare if you can't pay for it.

2) The kind of conservatives I'm hearing from who I most vehemently disagree with in the blogosphere are basically saying (b). I actually had a UMC minister tell me that because I couldn't afford healthcare at the moment but I thought I deserved it simply by virtue of being human, that I was committing the sin of covetousness.

Let's try a working example. I recently moved from the UK where government-sponsored healthcare is the status quo and it works. Assuming a fantasy world where you had the power to do so, would you destroy the NHS on the grounds that it was "socialist" and violating the freedom of individuals to choose whether or not they wanted to pay for the healthcare of others? It seems to me that those who have a philosophical objection to healthcare on the grounds of "socialism" would do that very thing - destroy a system that is working quite well because they think the principles on which it is based are immoral.

To me, there is an underlying philosophical divide between the two political poles in the US: whether or not we should be a society that looks out for one another or whether we should be a society that advocates "every man for himself". I'm sure that there are many people - and I might be one of them - who think "I'd like our society to be one where we look out for each other, but I'm not sure if this healthcare bill will work". That's not the "battle" I'm worried about or the "battle" I thought the original post was addressing.

The "battle" that I'm worried about is the one where people tell me that a society that works on the basis of mutual responsibility is somehow "evil" or "immoral" by virtue of being "socialist" or "communist". Maybe these are the only words that people know how to reach for when they simply want to say "I'm concerned this won't work", but - yeah - I'm hearing that it's A Very Bad Thing to construct a society around mutual accountability and concern.

Byron Harvey said...


I'm not sure what conservatives you're listening to; I've not heard one espouse b.), and I sure wouldn't myself. You've heard people suggest that folks with a legitimate medical need should be turned away by a hospital? I would be firmly in the a.) camp, of course--though this discussion is only tangentially about health care, it seems to me. I believe that human decency demands that we treat people with real medical needs, and if you have one, it isn't "covetousness" to want treatment...but of course, our current system does treat folks with needs. They may not have "Cadillac plans", of course--neither do I--but there are avenues for treatment, and I'd wish it always to be so.

That said, to your working example. I neither deny, nor accept at face value, your assertion that the British system works; I don't know much about it, candidly, but my reason for not accepting your given is that there are many folks in this country who would say that "Social Security works", when it certainly does not; "Socialist Security" is flawed both in principle and in practice. It represents government arrogance; it has morphed into something it was never intended to be; it's falling apart financially. That's the practical; here's the principle: I meet you walking down the street and pick your pocket, taking a hundred-dollar bill. You catch me, but I assure you that I will return it to me on my timetable and with the amount of interest I alone determine to be appropriate for you. Where I come from, that's called "theft"; when the government does it, we call it "Social Security". Now if it were voluntarily, I'd not have the first problem with it. But of course, if it were voluntary, it wouldn't "work"--oh, wait, it's not working now...thus, without knowing a full definition of "works", I won't comment one way or the other on the NHS.

I disagree with your characterization of the two poles as well. I fully want to be a society which "looks out for one another"--which is exactly why (among other reasons) I so vigorously oppose what you're suggesting! When the government confiscates my money, it

*Leaves me with less resources, and thus less able to look out for other people;

*Spends it wastefully and indiscriminately, whereas I can target my help to the deserving poor, etc.

*Encourages in a certain percentage of people an "entitlement mentality", which is the polar opposite of actually helping people. Surely you know that this is a rampant problem in our society today, this "what's the government going to give me/do for me" attitude that looks, not to one another, but to government to rescue. Which it never does, because it never can, at least not ultimately.

Finally, I would not call a society "evil", per se, but I do not hesitate to call both socialism and communism "evil". They are founded upon unBiblical and untrue, utopian assumptions about the nature of man, and while they sound good on the surface, that's as far as it gets: noble talk that doesn't really accomplish anything near what it sets out to. The irony is that your legitimate concern for "mutual accountability" is one of the very things that is so lacking in such societies.

Byron Harvey said...

(Had to cut comment into two)

Finally, if I may say this gently, what is so bothersome to me about folks such as yourself is that while I don't for one split second doubt your motives, your heart, your desire to help people, what I find you doing is consistently talking in abstracts rather than digging into the nitty-gritty of "does this actually work, does it actually accomplish what it sets out to do? I've given concrete examples of some of the very things we're seeing today as a result of government attempting to run things it can't run. In my 3/19, 10:35 AM post, I listed some of the many problems that government causes, or at the very least exacerbates. All the nice sentiments in the world don't answer those concerns. They are all very real, and pretty easily demonstrable. I think we're in substantive agreement about the kind of society that we want to have--one where people look out for one another. I am thoroughly convinced that socialism fails miserably in this endeavor, for the reasons I've stated and with the examples I've given as pretty good evidence. If you can address the concerns that I've raised with some concrete "no, you're mistaken, Byron", then I'm all ears, but I just don't think the facts would bear that out.

PamBG said...

If you can address the concerns that I've raised with some concrete "no, you're mistaken, Byron", then I'm all ears, but I just don't think the facts would bear that out.

I see very little facts in your post, Byron. You've even told someone who spent 20 years living in the UK that I'm wrong about the NHS.

I don't know what you think your posts sound like but, as "gently" as I can possibly put it, to me they sound pretty much like you've said you're not prepared to listen to my point of view because you know I'm wrong and you've done it without offering any facts yourself.

So I really can't waste any more energy here, sorry.

Byron Harvey said...

Astonishing response on a couple of fronts, Pam. First, I'm not quite sure how you read into my comments that I'm saying you're "wrong" about the NHS. I said, rather, that I neither accepted NOR denied what you were saying. Further, I admitted I didn't know much about it! Perhaps a better way to have said it would be thus: your definition of "works" and mine might well be very different. I thought I illustrated that well enough by suggesting that some folks--a lot of folks, I think--would say that Socialist Security "works". I think that judgment is flat wrong.

To illustrate, I wasn't even looking for it and came across this quote from Fred Barnes:

We only have to look at Great Britain to get a glimpse of the future. The National Health Service—socialized medicine—was created in 1946 and touted as the envy of the world. It's been a contentious issue ever since. Its cost and coverage are perennial subjects of debate. The press, especially England's most popular newspaper, The Daily Mail, feasts on reports of long waiting periods, dirty hospitals, botched care and denied access to treatments.

A Conservative member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, last year in an interview on Fox News denounced the NHS as a "60-year mistake," declaring he "wouldn't wish it on anybody."

Now...I haven't read the Daily Mail, but I assume Mr. Barnes isn't making this up out of whole cloth. Therefore, I'd have to ask, do "long waiting periods, dirty hospitals, botched care and denied access to treatments" fit within your definition of "works"? Perhaps...but they sure don't mine. They sound more like the VA hospitals we have in this country--perhaps the best harbinger of Obamacare that we have. But all I was saying, effectively, was that our definitions of "works" might well differ, not that you didn't know what you were talking about.

Further, I think I've been trying to listen to your point of view and respond to it. I'll grant you one point: the word "facts", in retrospect, might not have been the best word, if by it we mean "statistics and such"; again, I'll attempt to clarify: I've made concrete assertions, which I think can each be borne out by evidence, instead of just speaking in terms of wanting to "construct society on mutual accountability and concern" (I want the same) or "a society that looks out for one another" (once again, I wholeheartedly agree). The devil, though, is in the details. I've suggested that what we've seen in this country are numerous problems that come from government involvement. Do you doubt these to be the case? Is there anything I've suggested, assertions-wise, that you think is out to lunch? My point is that again, we agree on the generalities, but I don't see you moving beyond those (correct me if I'm wrong); I've tried to point out what I think are legitimate problems with state involvement to this degree.

Finally, if you've read hostility into my posts, I assure it's not intended in the slightest. I think it's been a reasonably good discussion; we do have sharp disagreements, apparently, on the implementation issues (while agreeing on the big ticket items!). Yes, I challenge what I think is poor or incomplete thinking--and I appreciate it when people do the same with me (Bob's good at that). That's what a good blog discussion, it seems to me, is all about.

PamBG said...

Byron: Perhaps we can try to regroup?

In my view, we were both speaking in a similar vein - on the basis of opinion and then suddenly you come along with a second post which I interpreted as saying that you were offering an objectively workable solution to the woes of our time and that I have my head in the clouds. Whereas I saw in your posts no proposition at all for a workable solution so your last challenge sounded rather rich to me.

Maybe it would be easier to address your issues if you could set them out one by one?

Let's start with this:

Now...I haven't read the Daily Mail,

Quoting "The Daily" mail is rather like quoting Fox News. It's not exactly "The National Enquirer" in it's factual reliability but it's not far off. To give you an idea of its intended audience, it features a young woman naked from the waist up every morning on page 3: the "Page Three Girls".

but I assume Mr. Barnes isn't making this up out of whole cloth.

The NHS is not perfect and I'm quite sure that you could go to the worst hospitals and find conditions that didn't make that sound like a total lie. I think that could also be said of some hospitals in the US.

Therefore, I'd have to ask, do "" fit within your definition of "works"?

They don't fit my definition of "what works" but nor does that description fit the experience that I had as a minister visiting hospitals about once a week. First of all, you can visit your GP (family practitioner) today if you are ill. I understand that is not the case here in this part of Northeast Ohio. Hip replacements, two months' wait, knee replacements, three to four weeks' wait.

"Denied access to treatment" - yes, I know of a young girl who was denied access to an expensive, experimental and not yet approved cancer treatment whose parents raised the money for her to go have the treatment abroad; can you convince me that private health insurance in the US grants everyone access to experimental and unapproved treatments?

Here is a post I wrote last summer, on the day the event in question happened: http://tinyurl.com/yfq7x5l

PamBG said...

For the sake of accuracy, I need to apologize. It's not "The Daily Mail" that has the "page three girls". It's actually a bit more upscale than that. I think "Fox News" is probably an accurate comparison in the US.

Byron Harvey said...

Pam, busy couple of days; not sure I can adequately respond here, even, but thanks for re-engaging. I respect your positions, even as I disagree with them, but I believe that candid, honest debate is good for everyone: it sharpens my thinking (hopefully yours as well), and allows any readers to consider different sides of an equation. So thanks, and I'll try to be doubly careful to speak graciously even as I hope you'll take my words at face value that I mean no disrespect whatever.

It may come as no surprise to you that I get my news from Fox News. I don't do so blindly; I know that there is a right-wing bias at that network, even as it's clear to me that there's a left-wing bias, to one degree or another, at all the others. I do think that there's a difference, at all networks of whatever stripe, between the basic reporting of facts---which is hard to color too much---and the types of things they choose to cover/emphasize, as well as editorial stances, which is where bias shows most. But I'd accept MSNBC's well-documented facts as true, even as I think Keith Olbermann is from some planet far removed from reality! That's a digression, but I readily own up to the fact that I watch Fox most often.

Getting to the points...I do wonder if the same truly could be said of some U.S. hospitals. Perhaps---but I've been in my share, and in some VA hospitals, and the VA hospitals are uniformly inferior to the private hospitals. Limited sample, though.

Next, I'm no defender of the status quo in American health care; none. But I do come from a position that distrusts the U.S. government to do anything well. Anything. I can't think of one thing that the government does better than private industry. I don't trust the "numbers"; I've seen estimates on health care that suggest that the books are being "cooked", and things that we've been told in the past will cost "this much" end up costing three times "this much".

What I'd rather see is true market forces come into play (they do not now; since I have insurance, it doesn't matter to me what my son's recent hospital stay cost; since it was well over my deductible anyway, why do I care how much? That's a problem that needs to be addressed.). There are a lot of other things that can be changed as well, and the Republicans have addressed many of them (way too late, I might add--I think I mentioned that I fault them for putting us in this position!).

But this has gotten more about health care than the original post. What it comes down to, basically, is that I can't honestly see anything that government does which is, in the long run, done better than the private sector can do it. Perhaps you do--but from where I sit, that's basically wishful thinking. Well-meaning wishful thinking, of course, but wishful thinking.

PamBG said...

I'm no defender of the status quo in American health care; none. But I do come from a position that distrusts the U.S. government to do anything well. Anything. I can't think of one thing that the government does better than private industry. I don't trust the "numbers"; I've seen estimates on health care that suggest that the books are being "cooked", and things that we've been told in the past will cost "this much" end up costing three times "this much"

That's a position that I can completely understand. What I can't understand is the fact that so many Americans don't seem to think that the existing system is fundamentally broken as well. Maybe in a dualistic world where we can only cope with the concept of "it's either this or that" we need to think that if we don't trust the government to run a national health system, we need to be able to trust free-market capitalism and a health system run according to the rules of "profits to the shareholders" instead.

Just as an aside on the NHS, a British friend wrote on my Facebook profile this morning: "Whatever the flaws are with the NHS you'd have to interview a lot of Brits before you found one who would prefer not to have it!" which I actually think is the mainstream British view of the NHS. And there *are* flaws, the problem with articulating them in the US is that most Americans seem determined to view the NHS as something that fundamentally doesn't work. I do think that there is a "boogy man" picture that Americans have of the NHS that is utterly untrue."

What it comes down to, basically, is that I can't honestly see anything that government does which is, in the long run, done better than the private sector can do it. Perhaps you do--but from where I sit, that's basically wishful thinking. Well-meaning wishful thinking, of course, but wishful thinking.

You could be right, but what *I* don't believe is that the only choice a society has is laissez-faire free market capitalism or total government control. In a way, healthcare is still a great working example because there are ways to run the system on a not-for-profit basis and these too seem anathema to many Americans.

I spent about 20 years as an equity manager and even capitalists know that these ways exist. Of course it's "more fun" for the investors with big money if their pharmaceutical investments are making 25% or 35% profit margins after research and development - a return that any other industry would envy. There are ways to regulate the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and ways to set up not-for-profit insurance. California has done the latter for people living in areas regularly decimated by forest fires who cannot get insurance from commercial companies and that system works for them.

There are plenty of workable ways to do this without government control if we as a nation didn't believe that helping our neighbor was "unethical" because we really do believe more in profits and "my right to be a consumer" than we believe in helping one another.

PamBG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Byron Harvey said...

I think that introducing TRUE market factors into the equation, AND the government providing for genuine competition (there IS a role for government to play; even libertarians acknowledge this) is the way to fix most things. Fair, genuine competition works; government monkeying in the system won't, I don't believe, and I think history is on my side here, at least in the U.S. I don't mind people making profit; in a true market system with strenuously-enforced safeguards that allow real competition, those who take excessive profits would be put out of business by those who provide services at a lower cost because they don't take such profits. Right now, we have this mish-mash that, understandably, doesn't work. The Social Democrats solution is more government control; the Republicans sat on their butts for 8 years and did nothing and NOW want us to trust them with their great solutions. A pox on 'em all.

Eric Pearson, for U.S. Congress said...

The “progressive movement” is the root of all evil in American politics, a “cancer” and a “virus” and a “parasite” that has “infected” both the Democratic and Republican parties.

When Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire”, the progressives went nuts. When George Bush called Iran, Iraq and North Korea “The Axis of Evil” they went nuts again. Progressivism, the Americanized version of European and Asian socialism, is made up mostly of hard-core socialists and secular humanists. Progressivism does not recognize the concept of evil. It believes in the perfectibility of human nature and the promise of utopia here on earth to be brought about by the enlightened, benevolent hand of government.

Progressives’ most potent weapon against capitalism is class envy and jealousy. Early on, they perfected the technique of demonizing “big business”. In the late eighteen hundreds progressives discovered that if they stereotyped “big businesses” as the enemy of the very people they served, the people, in return would grant progressives political power, not only over businesses but in other areas as well. Politicians found that by blaming the “robber barons of industry” for the ills of society— and there were many— they could win votes and support for their policies by posing as champions of the oppressed.

In the early stages of the progressive era, the targets were the railroads, oil companies, steel companies, tobacco companies, and others who were instrumental in raising the standard of living for the American People. Progressive demonization of “big business” reached a high point under President William McKinley in 1898 with the formation of the “U.S. Industrial Commission on Trusts”. Theodore Roosevelt won the Presidency in 1900 on the basis of his attacks on “big business”, and “trust busting” became the theme for his time in office. However, William Howard Taft who succeeded Roosevelt as President was even more successful, breaking up 90 large firms during his four years in office compared with Roosevelt’s 44 during his eight-year term.

Deception, corruption, envy, greed, jealously, coercion, thievery and wholesale murder mark the existence of socialism in the world. Socialism in America is represented by the progressives in and out of government, primarily in the Democratic Party but extant in the Republican Party as well, only to a lesser degree. The true “Axis of Evil” in America, that threatens to destroy the most successful system of government in world history are the progressive politicians, public sector unions, and federal bureaucracies.

In other words, for a Progressive it is better to live in safety as a slave than to live in danger with Liberty. Progressives feel they are entitled to all of the best that life has to offer whether or not they contribute to their own success. Progressives are the cancer, the plague that could eventually destroy mankind and any remote concept of Freedom. Not to mention, the world economy and America as we know it.

Source: Washington Political News
Site: http://www.washingtonpoliticalnews.com

Bob Robinson said...

With your being a Tea Party candidate for congress, I doubt I'll convince you of my point of view on this. But I addressed your misunderstandings of the American progressive movement in the follow-up post to this one:
Genn Beck: American Progressivism = Socialism... No, it isn’t. It is actually American Individualism to the Max

PamBG said...

So, Eric,

It's October 1st and since about the 25th of September, every day in the mail I have received a piece of campaign literature telling me what a "scum-bag" some particular candidate is.

According to this literature, Republicans, Democrats and independents are all "scum-bags". That's beginning to seem about right to me.

I'm absolutely none the wiser about what any politician would actually DO in power. All I know is that they hate their opponents.

So now I know that you can raise a straw-man, demonize people you don't like and call them names and play to the fears of the unintelligent voter. And I also suspect strongly that you haven't really got a clue about what you would actually do about anything.

So thank you for enlightening me a bit further.

Are there any intelligent candidates out there to vote for of any or no party? I'm beginning to think not. It's very discouraging.