Progressive good intentions versus inner-city realities

The recent war of words between President Trump and Representative Elijah Cummings perfectly illustrates one of the great philosophical divides between the political left and the political right. Those on the left most often believe that their policies will produce beneficial results. The reality produced by those policies most often differs greatly from the desired results. Progressives intend to do good through their policies however the results produced by those policies are most often very negative.

The article Data Show California Is a Living Example of the Good Intentions Fallacy from the Foundation for Economic Education chronicles the disastrous consequences of progressive policies when implemented statewide.

“It recently occurred to me that California is a perfect example of this fallacy. Consider these three facts about the Golden State:
1. California spends about $98.5 billion annually on welfare—the most in the US—but has the highest poverty rate in America.
2. California has the highest income tax rate in the US, at 13.3 percent, but the fourth greatest income inequality of the 50 states.
3. California has one of the most regulated housing markets in America, yet it has the highest homeless population in American and ranks 49th (per capita) in housing supply.”

This quote by Milton Friedman from the same article, which was originally from Capitalism and Freedom, explains why progressive good intentions don’t produce positive results.

“[The threat comes] … from men of good intentions and good will who wish to reform us. Impatient with the slowness of persuasion and example to achieve the great social changes they envision, they’re anxious to use the power of the state to achieve their ends and confident in their ability to do so. Yet… Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.”

The Investor Daily article How Decades Of Democratic Rule Ruined Some Of Our Finest Cities documents the disastrous results produced by progressive policies implemented by Democrats when they control large cities.

“Detroit last elected a Republican mayor in 1957. It is now the model of urban failure — it’s recognized more for its poverty, crime, rot and bankruptcy than the great cars that it turned out into the early 1970s. It is the poorest big city in the nation, with almost 40% of the population living below the poverty line. The website Law Street actually ranks Detroit ahead of Flint as the country’s most dangerous city. Either way, it’s clear that both cities have institutionalized crime problems.”

“Chicago’s last GOP mayor was elected in 1927. The nation’s third-largest city is home to some of the worst inner-city violence imaginable. More than 2,300 people were shot there last year, and nearly 400 lost their lives to homicides.”

“When Democrats are in control, cities tend to go soft on crime, reward cronies with public funds, establish hostile business environments, heavily tax the most productive citizens and set up fat pensions for their union friends. Simply put, theirs is a Blue State blueprint for disaster.”

A lack of money is not responsible for the terrible conditions produced by progressive policies. This Breitbart article documents the fact that Baltimore received a large sum of money from the stimulus under President Obama.

“Baltimore received $1.8 billion from former President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), but the city has largely failed to see significant improvements from the massive investment.”

The Thomas Sowell article Is Reality Optional discusses in great detail why progressive policies produce disastrous results.

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. In area after area – crime, education, housing, race relations – the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them”.

Rent control is one of those progressive policies that produce disastrous results. Thomas Sowell explains why this policy is implemented in the chapter Price Control from his book Basic Economics

“Simple as basic economic principles may be, their ramifications can be quite complex, as we have seen with the various effects of rent control laws and agricultural price support laws. However, even this basic level of economics is seldom understood by the public, which often demands political “solutions” that turn out to make matters worse. Nor is this a new phenomenon of modern times in democratic countries.”

Progressives believe we must abandon free market capitalism and replace it with socialism, This belief is based on the fact that progressives do not properly understand free market economics. Milton Friedman discusses this in Chapter 5 “Created Equal” page 146 of his book Free to Choose

“In the past century a myth has grown up that free market capitalism—equality of opportunity as we have interpreted that term—increases such inequalities, that it is a system under which the rich exploit the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, wherever anything approaching equality of opportunity has existed, the ordinary man has been able to attain levels of living never dreamed of before. Nowhere is the gap between rich and poor wider, nowhere are the rich richer and the poor poorer, than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate.”

As stated by Friedman two pages later, free market capitalism produces much better results because:

“A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality.”