I’m Shrewd… On The Unintended Consequences of Progressivism

Here’s a good Jeopardy question: What two words describe outcomes of a purposeful action that are not foreseen? Answer: Unintended consequences.

Unintended consequences are the polar opposite of progress, and many progressive actions lead to unintended consequences. My previous two blogs focused on defining the methods of progress and progressivism by giving historical reference and some results for each method. Both methods ultimately have a humanitarian goal, however only one of them uses higher consciousness to obtain the most compassionate outcome. Progress is achieved by people who are directly impacted by trauma to find healing and practical outcomes (i.e. solutions) for themselves. Progressivism is a forced outcome by “experts” on a broad spectrum of people…Although the intention of a progressive action is perceived by some as good, the outcome is minimally effective and invariably produces a new trauma.

In the USA it is each individual and their liberty that define the nation. Only the individual can feel and know their happiness, and only the individual can feel and know their bondage whether it is self imposed by the mind or forced on them by another. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the responsibility of the individual.

What is an unintended consequence of smoking? You are free to smoke and you may take happiness in it, but if you are addicted to it and are susceptible to physical ailments the unintended consequence could mean chronic health issues or death.

What is an unintended consequence of spending above your means? You can take a loan for a car or home with all the bells and whistles because it is what you have always wanted, but the payments could be a strain on being able to save for the unexpected.

The USA should not be defined by its government or its corporations. Neither of these entities should be trusted to always act in a manner that can ensure a guaranteed positive outcome for people’s best interests. The government’s responsibility is to defend the nation and enact laws. Corporations and businesses help to create wealth for a nation to thrive.

What is an unintended consequence of a corporation employing unqualified or corrupt managers? The corporation has a great product or service and employs many staff who enjoy their jobs and incomes, but risky actions taken by senior management could mean harm to consumers or staff as well as layoffs or closing.

What is an unintended consequence of the government imposing a month long mandatory stay at home order on the vast majority of its population during a pandemic? Certain communities might gain time to prepare for increased hospitalizations of some people, but many more people run the risk of losing their incomes, depression and suicide, rising domestic abuse and the deterioration of individual liberties.

If you take the time to notice them, governments and corporations take progressive actions all the time with perceived moral goals, but the outcomes are not necessarily moral for everyone and inevitably lead to unintended consequences. Only individuals can use their mind and heart to judge what is right and wrong for themselves, form the basis for what is needed, and make progress in society. Governments and corporations are influenced by the individual constituent/consumer need and act in relationship to them, thereby ensuring their welfare (not giving welfare).

Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist

“…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty…” – From the Constitution Preamble and the direct responsibility of elected officers.

Shrew U: The Great Society Bust

My last blog post “Progress vs Progressivism” attempted to explain that progress is a condition of our U.S. Constitution and Progressivism is a construct that hinders such progress. I used examples from the Civil War and Reconstruction era to show the difference.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was also an important time of progress in our history. Not all activists of the 60’s can be considered hero’s for the changes they wished to achieve. I am currently reading Great Society by Amity Shlaes. I would like to relate to you why the details in this book have affirmed my conclusions about why our society’s current focus on Progressivism lead by a “Social Democrat Party” is bad for our culture…But first some historical context:

Since about 1880 Jim Crow Laws were enacted in the southern states by white Democrat-dominated state legislatures. The Supreme Court decision Plessey vs Ferguson (1892) upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. Jim Crow Laws were Progressive actions that resulted in commonplace separate public accommodations based on race (see my blog Progress vs Progressivism for definitions). Today we look back on such laws as absurd, but the governmental leadership at the time and throughout the seven or eight decades since were allowing powerful Democrat political forces to dictate cultural norms. Republican insistence on States’ Rights made this no better…Civil Rights as it pertained to individuals and races were just beginning to be understood.

Timeline of these decades:

1870 to 1914…2nd Industrial Revolution leap forward in technology and society (people lead actions)

1914 to 1918…World War 1 (government lead action)

1920…Congress passes the 19th Amendment – Women’s right to vote (people lead action)

1920 to 1929…The Roaring Twenties time of prosperity (people lead action)

1929 to1933…The Great Depression (spurred on by government greed in the twenties)

1933 to 1939…The New Deal (government intervention)

1939 to 1945…World War 2 (government lead action)

1945 to 1989…Post war economic expansion (people lead action)

1961 to 1975…Vietnam War draft era (government lead action)

What we notice in this timeline is that during the 2nd Industrial Revolution the formation of groups such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Suffragettes were instrumental in obtaining crucial reforms to working conditions and the women’s right to vote. These reforms needed to be lead by the critical mass of non-political people lead actions in order for hearts and minds to change and common sense to prevail in Congress. This was progress!

Wars and the Depression however were instigated by government lead actions. The timeline shows an interesting back and forth between non-political action (changes made by people) and political action (initiatives made by governments). By the time of the Post World War 2 economic expansion, the U.S. was ready for another critical mass of non-political people lead activity, namely the Civil Rights Movement. It was helpful that this movement aligned with the Vietnam anti-war people lead activism. Individuals would not be “used” by their government’s activities any longer!

It was Reverend Martin Luther King JR who lead the people toward necessary civil rights changes. Society needed the common place Jim Crow laws to be eliminated, and this could only happen with a ground-swell of people power. Under this pressure, President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights act that eliminated Jim Crow laws and the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. Ending our involvement in the Vietnam War would prove to be more difficult.

In Great Society we learn that during the late 50’s and early 60’s companies like General Electric and Ford Motor Company were employing, expanding, and creating with great speed. The AFL which had now become the AFL-CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) along with progressive leaders like Walter Reuther (United Auto Workers) and anti war political activists like Tom Hayden were working their powerful influence on government systems to help President Lyndon Bains Johnson (LBJ) form his anti-poverty programs…After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, LBJ as the new President, began to implement a plan with Reuther and Hayden to end poverty in America. His “Great Society” vision was the center of his 1965 election bid. What I found most interesting about LBJ during this bid for election was that in order to obtain the African American vote he promised them that they could caucus at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) so that they would have delegates appointed for the election process. This did not happen because the (racist) DNC would not allow it. LBJ was courting the African American voters with programs and promises aka “Progressivism”. LBJ managed to retain their votes anyway and won the 1965 Presidency in a landslide.

By this time it was apparent to the Democrat majority that more government programs were the way to maintain leadership power. With the help of Union Leaders and Progressive Activist Leaders the federal government worked to replace the authority of mayors and local leaders…Federal funds flowed to jobs program oriented organizations. Locally elected leaders were instructed to add community activists to these organizational boards. These activists liked to stir up tension on city streets. Eventually the mayors and local leaders caved to federal pressures and ever since then the federal government has procured more authority over social benefit programs at State and Municipal levels.

For example; Federal “experts” redefined eminent domain laws to remove entire neighborhoods where low income families lived and worked in comfort, condemning these areas as “blighted”. The new wisdom was that federally built high rise low income housing projects would be more beneficial. However, there were consequences to these actions, mainly that whites decided to move to the suburbs thus leaving the struggling black population to remain…Struggling because there were few jobs available for black men in these cities due to union bias. Federal welfare programs during this time discouraged fathers to remain in these government subsidized housing projects…Fathers needed to be out of state in order for mothers and children to qualify. We now know the consequences of these “Great Society” actions. This begs the question of why weren’t the Great Society jobs programs helping. Well, they weren’t helping because these funds were pocketed by greedy, prejudiced, progressive union lead program officials…Progress for African American workers and families was stunted by these government actions.

In short, I believe that progress happens best when affected people unite through first understanding how government inspired systems shrink their civil liberties, then changing hearts and minds in the process, and ultimately solving problems in fair and sensible ways. Progressivism lead by government “experts” and corporate or union cronies is infused with unintended consequences…Or are they unintended? My next blog post will focus on this question.