Progressivism dates back to the beginning of the 20th Century and perhaps a few years further back into the 19th Century. The basic concept of “progressivism” is that it is the proper duty of government to protect people from their own mistaken harmful activities. Thus, progressives believe in restrictive controls over access to drugs, restrictions on the consumption of alcoholic beverages. They are opposed to the use of tobacco, eating too much, not getting enough exercise, being overweight, doing anything that “might” cause you harm. They believe that businesses should be closely regulated by government as to what is produced and the amount paid to their workers. They also believe that any activity one might do has an effect for good or bad on society. Under their rule, even if you grow food for your own consumption, you are still conducting interstate trade in that by growing your own food, you are affecting interstate trade. Virtually no human activity is thus “private” in the eyes of the “progressives”. You could consider “progressives” to be benevolent totalitarians who act for the “betterment” of all citizens.
What can confuse people is that “progressives” come in different “flavors”. Not all of them are modern day liberals. You can find “conservatives” who also share the belief that government must act to prevent people from harming themselves. Nixon’s own “War on Drugs” is a good example of conservatives acting to reduce individual freedom on the basis of “protecting” people from harming themselves. Opposition to activities that do not harm others, but are harmful to the individual are good examples of the philosophy of “progressivism” regardless of whether or not those advocating such things are members of the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. Like today’s “liberals”, the “conservative” of today is also a supporter of statism, of “big government” and its rules.
Libertarianism on the other hand allows the individual complete freedom to live his or her life as he or she sees fit. Like Wiccans, Libertarians believe in “If it harms none, do as you will.” Libertarians however add in the rejection of force against others except in self defense. Thus if Libertarians were to support the creation of a park, they would much prefer that the park was created through donations instead of taxing everyone for the benefit of those using the park. This is similar to the way that the State of Michigan now finances its state parks. Those who wise to use the state parks have to buy a park sticker, either a one day pass or a year pass, the latter being paid when you renew your license plate. A similar system is in place for hunting and fishing where only those who wish to participate in the activity pay for the necessary upkeep of the fish and animals sought. This is a much better way to handle such issues than imposing taxes on everyone…
Obamacare is another example of “progressivism”. People are forced to purchase health insurance from an “authorized provider” (who must meet federal requirements) or pay a fine to the IRS. If the objective is to reduce the cost of health care, this is certainly not a good way to do it. The money to pay for the private health insurance companies has to come from the money that people earn. The supposed “subsidies” come from tax money. The system is a seriously flawed “one size fits all” system that is not very cost effective. As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, a far better system is to repeal those laws that have turned our health care system into a legal monopoly. Without prescription laws, people would be free to purchase whatever medicine they felt best suited their medical problem. Given today’s computer technology, there is little doubt that a computer program would tend to be more accurate than most doctors, especially as the doctors of today have little time to actually consider all the issues. Nor are the wishes of the patient paramount as they should be. Some may wish to do everything “possible”, while others may not wish to exhaust their monetary resources in a futile battle to extend their lives by a few months.
The problem here is created by the alliance of certain groups with the law enforcement powers of the government, usually for their own economic gain at the expense of others. The economic term for this is called “rent seeking”. It is similar to the establishment of any monopoly where the consumer ends up being forced to pay a higher price because there is no “competition” to encourage a lowering of prices. For example, governmental “protectionism” is a major reason why the prices of medical drugs are so high in the US. There are also examples of where US drug companies have actually “bribed” generic drug makers not to make lower cost counterparts of their more expensive brand name drugs. No doubt this sort of is “illegal”, but given the amount of money the companies have to spend on getting “friendly” politicians elected, they have little worry about “legalities”.
It is rather obvious from all this that the proper solution is two fold. First, the establishment of a Demarchy (selection of representatives by lottery) to put a stop to the level of “legal political corruption” we have today. The second is to simply reduce the size and scope of government to a level where it is no longer capable of carrying out the sort of “progressive ideas” that have now bought us to the state we find ourselves in today!