The Progressive Agenda Crashes into Complexity

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There’s some irony in the fact that ObamaCare is hitting the wall at the precise moment that the incandescent bulb is being yanked off the market by government fiat — but not as much as you might think.

Their origins were quite distinct in time — the bulb ban, buried within the “Energy Independence and Security Act,” was passed in 2007, ObamaCare three years later. Both were subject to phased implementation, so as to not alarm the peasants.  Bulbs have been phased out over a two-year period, 75 to 100 watt last year and the lesser wattages now. ObamaCare was delayed for three years to allow for… development, I guess they called it.

But it’s no real coincidence that these should be interwoven. There are so many such efforts in progress that it was inevitable that they would begin to cross each other’s tracks. Even as those two were ripening, the destruction of the American coal industry is moving right along, a product of Obama executive decrees and EPA regulations. And if we were to look deeper we’d find plenty of others.  The attempted transformation of the economy that we are witnessing is by no means limited to a handful of isolated and unrelated programs.

What does this transformation look like overall? It involves drastically cut energy sources, seriously limited forms of transportation, 19th-century (or even more primitive) health care, less food, expensive light sources,  seriously truncated job opportunities, and higher education too expensive for any but the elite. In other words, Americans are to become poor, cold, hungry, and stupid, while sitting in the dark. That’s the progressive plan for the wealthiest nation in the long human record.

(By “progressive”, we’re not talking about parties. The bulb ban was engineered largely by Rep. Fred Upton (R, Mich.). Upton was frightened enough by the early public response to promise that the ban would be rescinded — if he was reelected. Of course, nothing of the sort happened.)

Needless to say, none of this applies to the political class. Fred Upton and many others will never be without light, heat, or a meal.

The reasons behind this don’t matter; they are myriad, contradictory, and unconvincing — global warming, fairness, equality, sharing the wealth. They change from week to week at convenience. Because the only true reason is power. The elite does it because they can. Does Upton believe in global warming? I have no idea. Does he truly think that banning light bulbs can avert such a global change? Put that way, it appears unlikely, but that fact is, he does believe it. At least in the forefront of his mind, the political section where he makes decisions involving his career. If confronted logically, he would have to admit that such a thing is unlikely, but then would have turned around to promote the ban regardless. We know this because that’s exactly what he did involving his reelection promise. The same is true of Obama and his health care revolution. Accusations of Obama lying constantly while pressing for passage of the ACA are beside the point. He believed it when he said it. Now that things have changed, he believes something else.

This kind of quantum thinking — jumping erratically from one state to the next while not actually crossing the intervening space — is endemic to liberal thought. It couldn’t be any other way. A major flaw of the liberal mentality is that it views situations as static, frozen and unchangeable at a given point of time. This works from all angles and applies to everything. This is why we get Bismarckian late 19th-century social schemes such as ObamaCare to address the challenges of an early-21st century culture. Progressive understanding of social problems happened to freeze at the point that the Fabian Society peaked and has never advanced one inch after that. So we get the New Deal, the Great Society, and whatever this Obama thing is called, each a catastrophe without compare.

The same applies to practice as well as theory. When they put a solution in place, it remains in place forever, unchanging and monolithic, much the way the Soviet Union used to be viewed. Oh, there may be a little tweaking around the margins, a little expansion and contraction here and there, as we’re seeing with ObamaCare, but the basic elements remain intact and the overall scheme remains frozen. This is why Social Security is “untouchable,” and why we have jobs programs that failed completely in the late 60s that are still spending billions today. (The all-time winner in this class is farm subsidies, put in place in the 1930s to support prices during the Great Depression and still being paid out eighty years later.)

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