William F. Buckley’s old magazine is still fighting to discredit Robert La Follette and Progressivism.
On July 8, on National Review’s website, Tiffany Jones Miller writes a long story entitled “The Progressives’ Legacy of Bankruptcy.”
She starts off by decrying the national debt, without even mentioning the spending spree on war that George W. Bush took the country on.
Nor does she acknowledge the arguments of Nobel Prize-winners Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz, or those of economist James Galbraith, who all point out that the national debt is not the catastrophe that the Chicken Littles on the Right make it out to be.
No, this Chicken Little squawks like all the others about Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the very programs that provide some semblance of comfort to the vast majority of elderly or disabled Americans.
See, Miller opposes these programs. And fundamentally, she opposes the philosophy behind them: the idea that the government should help alleviate the crushing burdens placed on individuals.
“The Progressives’ zeal to promote their fellow Americans’ spiritual development, and thus to engineer social conditions more conducive to this goal, gave rise to an emphasis upon a host of objectives intermediate to this aim,” she writes. “The Progressives were keen to remove any social condition believed to frustrate the process of spiritual fulfillment, including, first and foremost, the problem of poverty.”
In fact, poverty, in her view, is like a kick in the pants. Check out this sentence, especially the phrase between the dashes: “Viewing the bite of necessity merely as ‘restriction’ on man’s intellectual and moral development—as opposed to a spur to better, more responsible behavior—the Progressives advocated a host of reforms designed to redress poverty and its consequences….”
And thank god they did.
Because poverty (which she euphemistically called “the bite of necessity”) confines the individual’s life choices and thereby limits a person’s freedom.
She holds a very narrow interpretation of “all men are created equal.” She says it means “all ordinary adult human beings have a right by nature to rule themselves without depending upon the permission of anyone else. Man’s natural freedom, in other words, is the necessary implication of equality.”
But how free is the person who is homeless, or starving, or uninsured, or unemployed?
As Anatole France once put it: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges.”
It is just this kind of “majestic equality” that Tiffany Jones Miller and the National Review exalt.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “Netanyahu Didn’t Deserve the Red Carpet Treatment.”
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