A progressive on another web site countered my negative treatment of progressivism by arguing that the government built Hoover Dam, created the TVA, electrified rural America and built communications satellites.
Their brief blog took it for granted that these projects were good and great things that, for unmentioned reasons like excessive costs and lack of demand, private businesses failed to invest in. It made no mention of their costs and who was made to pay for them. It didn’t mention subsidies funded by taxpayers made to pay. It didn’t mention the people who lost out because of these projects. It assumed that those who wanted various services and wouldn’t pay their costs should have been subsidized to get what they wanted. It didn’t mention the corporate welfare that the government created.
My suggestion to progressives who are open-minded enough to want to know the truth about government projects like this is to go to the Ideas in Liberty website. It has a search engine. I suggest they examine each of these projects. Type in “rural electrification”. Read those articles. Type in “TVA” and read those articles. Type in “satellites” and read those articles. Type in NASA and read those articles.
Educate yourselves. Under satellites, there is an article about who actually makes inventions. Even I have an article on the progress in steam engines. Another article points out that the antitrust laws thwarted the joint efforts of private companies to launch satellites. The articles on the REA point out a number of interesting factors about its subsidies, its projects and its history. They point out how its lobbying keeps it alive today.
Every one of these government projects is open to serious and severe criticism. The articles in “Ideas in Liberty” may not provide that, but it’s a starting point for questioning the automatic progressive assumption taught in schools, history books and speeches that these are triumphs of government over unworkable capitalism.
As for Boulder Dam, I suggest reading Doug French’s article as a start. He points out the obvious fact that this project could not create water. It could only divert it. It diverted it into Southern California. As intensive irrigation occurred and immigration, water shortages have multiplied. One may also get insight into the pros and cons of this project by revisiting the intense debates over passing the legislation that authorized it. Hoover Dam is discussed in Sarah Elkind’s book.
If one really is open-minded enough to expose one’s thinking to the anti-government case, this merely scratches the surface.6:15 pm on February 14, 2014 Email Michael S. Rozeff