The State of Progressive America

America is dying from an idea she only dimly understands, so-called “progressivism.”  Progressivism is an ideology with no basis in fact or logic.  Its original proponents believed it to be a scientific approach to politics.[1]  That is “nonsense on stilts,” to quote back at them a sneer about natural law by the proto-progressive Jeremy Bentham.  Progressivism was not subjected to any sort of scientific testing before it became the ruling ideology in America around 1900.  Nor have its many policy revolutions ever been tested scientifically.  Rather, a bad idea was propagated, spread and was installed as the dominant guide to policy and dramatically changed the nature of America for the worse.  America will continue its downward spiral until this false and destructive ideology is fully understood and rejected.

Progressivism may be initially defined as the strong presumption that democratic government intervention (force) will produce a better result than voluntary society. Hence the root of the word “progress”.  However, the “progress” element of progressivism is aspirational, not factual.  The term begs the question by assuming as true that which has not been proved: that progressive ideas will lead to progress.  In fact, while progressives portray themselves as scientific, pragmatic, result-oriented and fact-based, there is little evidence, scientific or otherwise, that progressive programs have improved society.  See, Chapter 4. Progressivism: A Prime... James Ostrowski Best Price: $6.79 Buy New $11.49 (as of 02:25 EDT - Details)

Progressivism has been the dominant political force since at least 1912 when all three major candidates for President were progressives.  Major elements of the progressive program were installed shortly thereafter.  The income tax amendment took effect in 1913.  The Federal Reserve was also created in 1913.  These two acts combined had the impact of allowing the federal government direct access to the nation’s income and wealth either by taxation or inflation of the money supply.  These complementary means of wealth acquisition would allow the federal government to pay for the numerous progressive programs rolled out in the ensuing 100 years and presently.

Progressive Era programs were built on the foundation laid by the Civil War which was the federal government’s first great leap forward in establishing dominance over the states and the people.  The New Deal added several new programs including Social Security, the minimum wage, agricultural subsidies and public housing and granted unions the power to force businesses to bargain with them.  The Great Society began to socialize medicine with Medicare and Medicaid and vastly expanded the welfare state. Throughout the entire period, coercive regulation of business and everyday life by federal, state and local government steadily increased.

“Regulation” in this context is one of those words whose mellifluent sound belies its ugly reality.  Regulations ban peaceful voluntary behavior that is neither criminal, tortious nor violative of any contract.  A regulation is a tax on non-monetary wealth: time, energy, and property.  The sum total of all regulations destroys untold amounts of wealth and does so in such a stealthy manner that only the most discerning economists and policy analysts even notice.

One way to better understand the impact of regulations is what I call the forced purchase theory of the state. Almost everything the progressive state does can be conceived as a forced purchase.  The State, through taxation and regulation, makes us poorer by forcing us directly or indirectly to buy crap we don’t want, don’t need and can’t afford. Perhaps it is anomalous to characterize as a purchase a transaction done at the point of the State’s gun, however, that is what the State and its proponents think they are doing.  They don’t think they are stealing from us.  They think they are making us do something that is good for us and they purport to take our money via taxes and provide some product or service they think we need.  Or, in the case of regulations, they think they are making us buy a better product or service than what we would buy if left to our own devices. Thus, I think it is wise to deal with these forced purchases in a straightforward manner and explain why they are actually bad for us and make us poorer.

I also believe there are rhetorical advantages to this approach.  In spite of the growth of the Liberty Movement in recent years, libertarians have been unsuccessful in explaining their philosophy and gaining new converts beyond about ten percent of the population.  We have certainly failed to roll back the State and in fact, as our movement grows, so does the State and even faster! For example, very few members of the American public, 80% of whom are in some sense broke or living week to week, blame the government for their plight.  They are more likely to blame the greed of large corporations. I believe by explaining why a massive amount of forced purchases makes us poorer, we can make the public better understand the truly catastrophic and deleterious economic impact of the State on their daily lives.  No other approach has worked so far in the 45-year life of the Liberty Movement.

Where do we stand with progressivism at this time?  Virtually every aspect of our lives is to some extent or entirely controlled or regulated by the state.  At birth, our children are forced into the Social Security system and subjected to a variety of mandatory tests and vaccines.  They start out life owing about $55,000, representing their per capita share of the federal debt imposed on them to pay for the campaign promises of dead politicians.[2]  Our children are kidnapped from their homes and placed into daytime juvenile detention and propaganda centers (government schools) at age six.

Our boys are forced to register for the draft and, thanks to the progressives, can be drafted at any time for any reason and sent overseas to die in a foreign war for ill-defined purposes. They are forced to engage in unpaid child labor in government schools, but they cannot do paid work of their own choosing, pushing many of them into black market activity or illegal forms of work many of which are extremely dangerous or sordid. Progressives claim to have abolished child labor, but juvenile prisons are crammed with kids who were working in the underground economy.

The health care industry is almost entirely under the control of government via licensing, regulation and subsidies.  Over half of all medical expenses are paid for by government, which leads to government control over how such funds are spent.[3]  For the first time ever, every American is now required to purchase or maintain health insurance.

On average, government takes as much as half of every dollar Americans earn.[4]

Government controls the money supply and can expand the money supply at will merely by typing numbers onto a computer screen―easier than growing money on trees.  Government can and does regulate or ban outright any market-based forms of money.

Virtually every aspect of business is controlled by the state.  One cannot enter a large number of professions without a license or a permit.  For several years, the author has wanted to start a company to sell information to consumers that is not available in any other form.  I have, however, been unable to do so as state and federal laws make it a crime to sell such information.  Even if a license or permit is not required, there are so many regulations and taxes imposed on any small company with employees that it is quite difficult for the average person without large sums of money to start a business.

Before the Progressive Era, one could travel around the world freely with few legal obstructions.  Today, that right is eroding.  One needs the permission of the state to travel.  Rumor has it that Americans may soon need permission just to leave the country.  The state may strip-search you and your family on re-entry to the “freest country on earth” and “sweet land of liberty.”  Government now claims the right to search you without probable cause at airports, bus stations and trains stations.

Formerly, if you followed the rules of the road, you could drive around the government roads unmolested.  No longer.  Now, you are watched and recorded everywhere.  Your behavior inside the car is now strictly regulated with, for example, Luddite bans on cell phone use while driving.  Thankfully, there is widespread resistance to this idiotic law, demonstrating that there remains a kernel of American gumption among the population.  However, as long as the silly cliché, “driving is a privilege, not a right,” is taken as Gospel truth by government judges, there will be no end to annoying new laws restricting our freedom to travel in peace, quiet and privacy.

If you travel abroad, it is a liability to be an American.  The Progressive State of America (PSA) has been intervening into the internal Democracy u2013 The Go... Hans-Hermann Hoppe Best Price: $31.81 Buy New $35.73 (as of 04:15 EDT - Details) affairs of other countries since the time of the first war progressives helped to instigate: the Spanish-American War in 1898.  Over time, resentment has developed against Americans in many countries.  There is also the real risk, albeit small, of being murdered by a terrorist retaliating against this or that intervention into his own country by Uncle Sam.  “[T]he majority of suicide terrorism around the world since 1980 has had a common cause: military occupation.”[5] The government itself admits this:

“The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.”[6]

The progressive approach of better living through the brandishing of government guns has drawn the Progressive State of America into an endless series of destructive and expensive foreign wars, large, medium and small, covert and all too well-known.  Bob Dole was right to call them “Democrat wars.”  He might as well have called them progressive wars.  As discussed in detail in Chapter 7, progressives love war.  The PSA has been involved in 46 wars since and including World War I.[7]  The PSA has “164,227 of its active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories and an additional 118,966 deployed in various contingency operations. PSA troops are spread across the globe: over 66,000 are stationed in Europe; over 51,000 in East Asia and the Pacific region; over 4,500 in North Africa, the Near East, and South Asia . . .”[8]

Thus, the progressive program has been executed to a very large extent.  Furthermore, as discussed in Chapter 1, progressivism has no limiting principle or stopping point.  The process by which the progressive mindset causes increases in the size, scope and power of government never ceases.  Robert Wenzel, a leading Liberty Movement blogger, posted a list of things that were legal in 1975 but are illegal now:

“In 1975: Government Schools Are... James Ostrowski Best Price: $3.56 Buy New $6.00 (as of 03:00 EDT - Details)

    1. You could buy an airline ticket and fly without ever showing an ID.
    2. You could buy cough syrup without showing an ID.
    3. You could buy and sell gold coins without showing an ID.
    4. You could buy a gun without showing an ID.
    5. You could pull as much cash out of your bank account without the bank filing a report with the government.
    6. You could get a job without having to prove you were an American.
    7. You could buy cigarettes without showing an ID.
    8. You could have a phone conversation without the government knowing who you called and who called you.
    9. You could open a stock brokerage account without having to explain where the money came from.
    10. You could open a Swiss bank account with ease. All Swiss banks were willing and happy to open accounts for Americans.

   There are thousands of other examples.”[9]

Government has been growing steadily and rapidly since the dawn of the Progressive Era; is growing now and will continue to grow unless that mindset is replaced or eliminated or until the state collapses under its own weight or is overthrown by revolution or civil war.  Short of one of those contingencies, under progressivism, the state will grow until it controls everything and absolutely. That is, it will grow into a totalitarian state.

Having already executed a substantial portion of its program, we must ask, how is progressive America doing in 2014?

THE ECONOMY

The American economy is a mess and average Americans struggle to pay their bills each week while working longer hours than they did in 1973 and usually having both spouses working outside the home.

A record number of adults 25-34 are living with their parents, 13%, up from 10 percent in the early 2000s.[10] Egalitarianism as a Re... Murray N. Rothbard Best Price: $12.00 Buy New $8.95 (as of 12:40 EDT - Details)

About 16 percent of Americans bounce checks each year, costing them about $32 billion dollars annually,[11] money they apparently cannot afford.  (At the same time, banks get loans of cheap money from the progressive’s Federal Reserve.) Obviously, the problem is not simply being disorganized but frequently having a low or zero balance in their accounts.

Almost 11 million Americans are now receiving disability benefits, a record.[12]  The number of Americans on disability has increased for 201 straight months.  This is in spite of the fact that rapid advances in technology should have resulted in fewer people unable to work.

Americans owe over one trillion dollars in student loans.[13]  Student loan debt has increased rapidly in recent years.

Americans owe $16 billion in child support payments and another $41 billion in hospital bills.[14]

About 35 percent of Americans are over 180 days late on paying bills.[15]

The Federal debt is over $17 trillion.[16]  Your share is about $55,000.  The current annual deficit is $680 billion and the annual interest on the debt is over $200 billion.  It’s not clear how this debt can be paid off without hyperinflation which could lead to a collapse of the economy.

According to a 2012 study by Credit Suisse Bank, the median wealth of Americans is just $38,786.  Much of that small sum is likely to be tied up in the home they live in, if they are lucky enough to own a home and have equity in it.  That means the only way they could spend any of their net worth is by selling or mortgaging their house!  These folks face a grim economic future as they grow older.

According to a survey by Bankrate: Against the State: An ... Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. Best Price: $5.00 Buy New $5.00 (as of 07:40 EDT - Details)

“More than three-fourths of Americans don’t have enough money saved to pay their bills for six months. . . Half of the survey respondents said they had less than three months’ worth of expenses saved up . . . and more than one-quarter . . . have no reserves to draw on in case of emergency.”[17]

The average American suffers from permanent inflation created by one of the twin pillars of progressivism, the Federal Reserve.  Inflation is bad for many reasons, most importantly, because it causes malinvestment and the boom and bust cycle which destroys the dreams and hopes of millions every few years or so.  However, inflation also redistributes wealth on a daily basis from the working class—private sector workers and business owners—to the political class, those who make their livings substantially or entirely through government.  Technically, those who receive newly-created money first—government employees, pensioners, welfare and “entitlement” recipients, government contractors and banks―get to spend the new money at currently existing prices.  This spending bids up prices and raises the cost of living for the rest of us.[18]  As Guido Hülsmann argues, inflation tends to redistribute wealth from the average person to the wealthy and thus hinders upward social mobility.[19]

When wages are measured in terms of hard assets such as gold or gasoline, we see in clear terms what most of us already feel: we are getting poorer!   “In terms of gold, wages have fallen by about 87 percent” since 1965.[20]

In recent years, there have been record numbers of people unemployed, collecting unemployment benefits and staying on unemployment longer.  Scamming unemployment is a tradition now firmly ensconced in American culture.  Seasonal and temporary workers routinely file for unemployment instead of working or seriously seeking employment.  There is an amazing coincidence in many cases wherein the individual manages to get a job the week his or her unemployment benefits run out.  All this is done openly with a complete absence of the shame that used to accompany idleness.

Unemployment insurance is one of the more blatantly irrational progressive programs.  The notion that it is in the interest of society to systematically pay people not to work is obviously stupid.  It also illustrates a point discussed throughout the book: progressives have no theory of costs.  Progressive programs make sense only if you assume they have zero cost, an obvious absurdity.  Among the several problems with unemployment insurance is the fact that the program raises the costs of hiring new workers, thus tending to increase unemployment particularly among younger and lesser-skilled workers who lack a track record of keeping jobs for long periods of time. Kindle Paperwhite, 6u2... Best Price: $58.29 (as of 06:15 EDT - Details)

Overall, unemployment insurance erodes the work ethic, increases dependency on government, costs the economy billions of dollars and makes it more difficult for firms to hire new workers.  Unemployment insurance amounts to a tax on ambition as those who refuse to remain idle end up subsidizing those who relish it.

According to the Heritage Foundation, “the number of people receiving benefits from the federal government in the United States has grown from under 94 million people in 2000 to more than 128 million people in 2011. That means that 41.3 percent of the U.S. population is now on a federal government program.”[21]

As the American Dream has become increasingly remote from the poor and working class, Americans have creatively sought out substitutes for attaining the brass ring.  Spending on lottery tickets is at an all-time high.  Americans spent over $65 billion on lottery tickets in 2012.[22] Shoplifting has become a major crime with as many as 550,000 incidents a day and costing $13 billion annually.[23]  Television ads and billboards constantly remind us that we could be rich if we were “injured” and want to sue.  In many neighborhoods, the odds of getting rich in court seem greater than the odds of getting rich by starting a business.

Many Americans in recent years have run up huge credit card debts in order to maintain their standard of living during a period of economic decline.  Total credit card debt is $854.2 billion with an average of $7,000 per capita.[24]  One study found that 64% of Americans could not come up with $1000 cash if an emergency arose.[25]

When the right to liberty was, by and large, respected in America, the culture promoted a strong work ethic and a willingness to take risks to start exciting new businesses and invent new products.  As the doors of liberty and economic opportunity have closed, the old-fashioned work ethic has increasingly been replaced by a scam ethic, various gimmicks, chicanery and manipulations, some legal, some illegal, some borderline, to maintain one’s standard of living in a declining economy. In an older America, families were somehow able to buy Christmas presents for their children without disrupting Thanksgiving with the insanity of Black Friday.

HEALTH Amazon.com Gift Card i... Check Amazon for Pricing.

Obesity plagues about one-third of adults and 20 percent of children over age five.[26] Bigger government makes you fatter, apparently.  Obesity has skyrocketed in recent years as progressive government has grown.  Is there a causal connection?  Yes.  Obesity is largely a function of low levels of human capital.  Human capital is the sum total of all the skills, knowledge and character traits that successful living requires.

If people lack knowledge of proper nutrition, they will tend to eat food that satisfies hunger immediately, but does not sufficiently nourish the body.  This leads to a feeling of hunger soon after eating.  Yet, the junk food aficionado doesn’t realize that the reason he is hungry is that he ate junk food before.  Thus, he eats junk food again, providing his body with another dose of empty calories and little nutrition.

Progressivism lowers human capital by having the state take over more and more responsibility over daily life.  Naturally, the individual’s sense of responsibility for such tasks diminishes over time.  The result is a lower level of human capital including intelligence, long-range thinking, and self-restraint.[27]  Also, as the state consumes more and more of our income and wealth and imposes more and more mandates and regulatory burdens on us, our leisure time shrinks and our stress levels skyrocket.  People who have been assured by progressives that the government will guarantee a safe food supply; who are too busy to make a home-cooked meal out of fresh ingredients, and who are stressed and depressed because they are tax and inflation slaves, will tend to fall prey to eating fast food and junk food, often high in sugar, that gives them a temporary rush of energy.

Diabetes is the predictable consequence of the lifestyle that progressivism has wrought.  The tremendous rise in obesity has helped trigger a startling epidemic of type 2 diabetes.  The American Diabetes Association defines this disease as follows:

“Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called

insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.”

Doctor Mercola is correct: type 2 diabetes “is directly caused by lifestyle.”[28]  Eating high-carbohydrate fast food and junk food and avoiding exercise contributes to diabetes and obesity.  Recently, obesity has been shown to be a leading cause of liver disease often necessitating liver transplants.[29] The larger issue is that progressive policies systematically lower the level of human capital, including the knowledge, skill and discipline needed to maintain healthful dietary and exercise routines.

Drug overdoses.  Deaths from drug overdoses have increased by three-fold since 1990 and have never been higher.[30]  There is no easy explanation for this.  One progressive publication said it’s time for an intervention.  This is puzzling as the Progressive State of America has been heavily involved in criminalizing and regulating drug use and allegedly educating the public in its government schools and elsewhere about the danger of drugs for over 100 years.  If progressivism was sensitive to evidence, they might have to admit that they have failed to solve this problem.  Moreover, they have contributed to the problem.  Most young people are exposed to drugs when they attend government schools where drugs are ubiquitous.  Drug abuse is closely tied to anxiety, depression and hopelessness, emotions that are plentiful in a country where large numbers of people struggle to survive on a daily basis.  The breakup of the family unit under progressivism surely contributes to drug abuse.  The typical family used to have two parents—with the mother usually at home―monitoring their children’s activities.  Now, there is often one parent working one or more jobs, seeing the children just a few hours each day.

FAMILY LIFE

Daycare.  In the 1960’s, the typical American child was cared for during the day by his or her mother in a home where the father worked and resided. No more. In today’s typical household, the mother is working outside the home and the father may not be in the picture at all or may live elsewhere.  Who is taking “care” of the kids?  Well, the kids are concentrated in camps called “daycare.”  For the first time in human history, many or most of our children are being raised by strangers paid to do so.

Today, there are 11 million children under the age of five in daycare for an average of 35 hours a week.[31]  Many begin their daycare career as early as six weeks old.  Nauseating!

Out of wedlock births.  Out of wedlock births have increased from 5.3 percent in 1960 to 40.7 percent in 2011.[32]  “Nonmarital births are at higher risk of having adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality than are children born to married women. Children born to single mothers typically have more limited social and financial resources.”[33]

EDUCATION

Progressives have controlled formal education in America for quite some time.  Naturally, the results have been horrendous.  The dumbing down of the country is now part of the popular culture as evidenced by Jay Leno’s brilliant series of interviews showing that many Americans are ignorant of the most elementary facts.  According to a recent study:

“More than 25 percent of U.S. students fail to graduate high school in four years; only 25% of U.S. students are proficient or better in civics, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. . . ‘only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met ‘college ready’ standards in all of their core subjects. . . Despite high U.S. unemployment, and far higher under-employment, major U.S. employers cannot find qualified American applicants to fill their job openings. . . . 75% of U.S. citizens ages 17-24 cannot pass military entrance exams. . .”[34]

PRIVACY AND TRAVEL

The government is violating our privacy in a manner that would rival any totalitarian regime of the last century.  Edward Snowden heroically blew the whistle on the Obama-approved NSA’s massive illegal surveillance program that takes the eraser to the venerable 4th Amendment’s ban on arbitrary searches.  Amazingly, not a single Congressman filed articles of impeachment against Obama for perpetrating the largest burglary in American history.  The progressive state “is everywhere; they see and hear everything . . . They observe and report your actions, your thoughts, your feelings and emotions.”[35]

Federally-funded spy cams are popping up on your local street corner.  We have in just the last few years lost the age-old peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are not being watched by Big Brother. Nor can we drive around without being threatened by random roadblocks that also violate the 4th Amendment.  When we enter public buildings or airports, we are poked and prodded and groped and forced to take off our belts and shoes and show ID and declare where we are going.

These blanket search policies have either zero or negative security value.  When you are watching everyone, you can’t be watching those who really need it.  These security measures could easily be defeated if any serious actor wanted to do so.  Their main function is to habituate Americans into following idiotic orders from uniformed state officers.  There was a time when Americans habitually picked up muskets when confronted by government troops barking arbitrary orders at them.

Justin Raimondo warns us: “All the elements of a police state are in place: universal surveillance, arbitrary restrictions on travel, and, most importantly, the increasingly radical and aggressive political pushback by the NSA and its supporters in Washington – up to and including the open acknowledgment that they’re fully aware of the online habits of whatever members of Congress are foolish enough to get in their way.”[36]

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Incarceration.  Progressive America leads the world in incarceration.  “The U.S. prison population is more than 2.4 million.  That number has more than quadrupled since 1980. That means more than one out of every 100 American adults is behind bars.”[37]

This is not an accident.  Progressivism is a mindset that favors the use of aggressive government force to solve social problems.  Prison is one of its main tools.  Prison is the threat behind every progressive edict.  If you don’t directly merit prison by violating a criminal statute, you can earn prison by interfering with a government agent enforcing progressive policies or by ignoring a court order to obey the law.  A large number of prisoners are incarcerated either because they violated a progressive drug law or because their illegal drug habit drew them into a criminal lifestyle.  Though statistics are hard to come by, virtually all state prison inmates were kidnapped by government schools from ages six through sixteen.  Evidently, while there, they failed to learn right from wrong and how to make it on your own without engaging in violence or theft.  I contend that government schools, being a massive exemplar of evil themselves, are incapable of teaching right and wrong.[38]

Also, the vast majority of inmates are either from poor or minority backgrounds, two groups progressives have been claiming to help for many decades through welfare policies among other ploys.  In fact, welfare helped create an epidemic of fatherless families.  Criminals tend to emerge from such backgrounds. After 100 years of progressivism, the inner city, once a place bustling with economic activity, has become an economic dead zone.  Many young people, devoid of marketable talents after being consigned to a government school warehouse for twelve years and residing in neighborhoods with few jobs, tend to drift into crime.  The massive prison population of America can most definitely be traced in large part to failed progressive policies.

RACE RELATIONS

Race relations are surprisingly shaky in a country that thought it had solved its civil rights problems in the 1960s.  When a black man, O. J. Simpson, accused of brutally murdering two white people, was acquitted of murder by a mostly black jury in the face of what might have been the greatest quantity of evidence of guilt ever seen in an American courtroom, many blacks cheered the verdict while many whites were flabbergasted.  The latest trend in crime is the knockout game, wherein young blacks try to knock out a white person with one punch.  The thugs film the event and brag about it on Facebook.  Recently, a prominent black director, Spike Lee, castigated whites who moved into black neighborhoods!

African-Americans have had a raw deal at the hands of government throughout American history from slavery through Jim Crow and continuing under failed progressive policies such as the war on drugs.  The remedy, never implemented, was to get the government off their backs and start respecting their natural right to liberty and property.  Progressives took a different route, their favored approach to every problem: activist government. They would help blacks through generous welfare programs, affirmative action, loans and subsidies.  This approach has failed and caused stagnation and decline in the black community.  Few, however, have identified the cause, progressivism.  The search for scapegoats ensued.  Black progress is thwarted not by failed government programs but by white racism.  The problems in the black community are the fault of insensitive racial remarks by TV cook Paula Dean and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.

The constant scapegoating of white people for problems caused by progressivism has heightened racial tensions that increase the risk of civil unrest in the near future in America.  Bottom line: progressivism, which explicitly promised better race relations if its prescriptions were followed, failed again.

SUMMARY

From 1607 through 1900, America became the greatest nation in history for average people to live and thrive.  During those years, the nation was guided, albeit imperfectly, by the theory and practice of classical liberalism, a belief in small government and large individual freedom. That model began to change from classical liberalism to progressivism around 1900 with major policy changes coming in the early teens and continuing to this very moment.  It takes time for policy changes to take full effect so the old America remained vibrant, optimistic and energetic for many decades.  I recall it vividly in the 1960s.

Alas, after multiple progressive shocks such as World War I, the New Deal, and the Great Society, the nation began to stagnate in the 1970s and started palpably declining around 2001.  History, Murray Rothbard argued, is a race between state power and social power.

“Just as the two basic and mutually exclusive interrelations between men are peaceful cooperation or coercive exploitation, production or predation, so the history of mankind . . . may be considered as a contest between these two principles. On the one hand, there is creative productivity, peaceful exchange and cooperation; on the other, coercive dictation and predation over those social relations. Albert Jay Nock happily termed these contesting forces: “social power” and “State power.” Social power is man’s power over nature, his cooperative transformation of nature’s resources and insight into nature’s laws, for the benefit of all participating individuals. Social power is the power over nature, the living standards achieved by men in mutual exchange. State power, as we have seen, is the coercive and parasitic seizure of this production―a draining of the fruits of society for the benefit of nonproductive (actually antiproductive) rulers. While social power is over nature, State power is power over man. Through history, man’s productive and creative forces have, time and again, carved out new ways of transforming nature for man’s benefit. These have been the times when social power has spurted ahead of State power, and when the degree of State encroachment over society has considerably lessened. But always, after a greater or smaller time lag, the State has moved into these new areas, to cripple and confiscate social power once more.”[39]

What has 100 years of progressivism wrought?  Each child is born with a federal debt noose around his neck. The average American child is no longer raised primarily by his parents.  One income is no longer sufficient to support the average American family.  The average American has little or no savings or cash to survive illness, unemployment, or to allow for a decent retirement.

Right around the time of 9/11, state power began to win its age-old race with social power.  The evidence described above demonstrates a nation in steady decline, unlikely to be reversed unless its causes, progressivism and its policies and consequences, are reversed.  To help accomplish that reversal is the purpose of this book.

Notes

[1] See, Andrew Feffer, The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism, Cornell University Press, 1993, pp. 5-6.; M. Rothbard, “Origin of the Welfare State in America,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, 12:2 (Fall 1996), 193, 222.

[2] Source: brillig.com/debt_clock

[3] C. Conover, “Takeover: Government On Track To Make Up 66% of Healthcare Spending,” Forbes.com, Aug. 7, 2012.

[4] P. Tyrrell, “Government Will Take Almost Half Your Paycheck in 2013,” blog.heritage.org, Aug. 13, 2012.

[5] L. Rozen, “Researcher: Suicide terrorism linked to military occupation,” Politico.com, Oct. 11, 2010.

[6] Worldwide Caution, September 25, 2013.

[7] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States.

[8] Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments

[9] “Liberty Slipping: 10 Things You Could Do in 1975 That You Can’t Do Now,” EconomicPolicyJournal.com, July 2, 2013.

[10] N. Shah, “More Young Adults Live With Parents,” WSJ.com, Aug. 27, 2013.

[11] E. Melendez, “U.S. Overdraft Fees Jump To $32 Billion As New Rules Prove Ineffective (HuffingonPost.com, March 29, 2013.).

[12] CNSNews.com (Dec. 31, 2013).

[13] S. Frizzell, “Student Loans Are Ruining Your Life. Now They’re Ruining the Economy, Too,” Time, Feb. 6, 2014.

[14] B. Japsen, “Unpaid Hospital Bills Rise To $41 Billion Annually,” Forbes.com, Jan. 7, 2013.

[15] H. Malcom, “A third of Americans delinquent on debt,” USA Today, July 29, 2014.

[16] En.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States

[17] J. Berman, “75 Percent Of Americans Don’t Have Enough Savings To Cover Their Bills For Six Months: Survey,” Huffington Post, June 24, 2013.

[18] Murray N. Rothbard, The Mystery of Banking, 2nd ed. 2008, pp. 53-54. Auburn: Ludwig von Mises Institute.

[19] “How Inflation Helps Keep the Rich Up and the Poor Down,” Mises Audio Daily, June 4, 2014.

[20] K. Weiner, “Measured In Gold, The Story Of American Wages Is An Ugly One,” Forbes.com, Oct. 9, 2013.

[21] P. Tyrrell and W. Beach, “U.S. Government Increases National Debt—and Keeps 128 Million People on Government Programs,” Jan. 8, 2013.

[22] money.cnn.com/2012/11/27/news/economy/powerball-lottery-sales/index.html

[23] Source: National Association of Shoplifting Prevention.

[24] Source: Nerdwallet.com.

[25] J. Dickler, “Most Americans can’t afford a $1,000 emergency expense,” money.cnn.com, Aug. 11, 2011.

[26] National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2012.

[27] I am heavily indebted to Hans-Hermann Hoppe, a pioneer of human capital analysis.  See, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism: Economics, Politics, and Ethics (Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989); Democracy: The God That Failed (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2001).

[28] “Global Diabetes Epidemic Rages On,” Mercola.com, Dec. 5, 2011.

[29] A. O’Connor, “Threat Grows From Liver Illness Tied to Obesity,” NYTimes.com, June 13, 2014.

[30] Centers for Disease Control (2013).

[31] naccrra.org/about-child-care

[32] Joyce A. Martin, Brady E. Hamilton, Stephanie J. Ventura, Michelle J. K. Osterman, and T. J. Mathews, “Births: Final Data for 2011,” National Vital Statistical Reports, Vol. 62, No. 1 (June 28, 2013), p. 71, Table 14.

[33] S. Ventura, “Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States,” NCHA Data Brief, May 2009, p. 1.

[34] J. Crotty, “7 Signs That U.S. Education Decline Is Jeopardizing Its National Security,” Forbes.com, Mar. 26, 2012 (Study by Council on Foreign Relations).

[35] J. Smith, “It’s not Just your Phone Calls – it’s YOU they are Listening to,” The Daily Sheeple, January 3, 2014.

[36] “The Fight of Our Lives: The battle to beat back the NSA – and restore our old republic,” Antiwar.com, January 6, 2013.

[37] E. Klein & E. Soltas, “Wonkbook: 11 facts about America’s prison population,” Washington Post, August 13, 2013.

[38] See, J. Ostrowski, Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids: What You Need to Know (2009).

[39] M. Rothbard, “Anatomy of the State,” in Egalitarianism As a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays. Washington, DC: Libertarian Review Press, 1974.