Reader Geoff Wilson writes:
Ah, yes, good intentions. We all know where that road leads, don't we?
The Progressive mindset is a curious one. It only makes sense or becomes predictable once you realize that to them, Utopia is reached through faith in the inherent goodness of their goals. As such, it is really a religion. I say this not to disparage the concept of religion in general, but to recognize that religion is marked by a belief that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Thus, to a true believer, no amount of logic or objective evidence will sway their opinion, since in their eyes, the true test of faith is to adhere to your beliefs when all else tells that your course of action has no chance to bring about the result you wish it to.
Thus, Progressives cling to their backwards, illogical view of the workings of the economy not because they have ever been proved correct, but because they have faith that this is the way the world works, and because this is the only pseudoscientific framework that has ever been constructed that gives their desire to control other people for their own good some sort of supposed systematic logical basis. Thus, telling them that their logic makes no sense actually only serves to solidify their resolve, because Keynesian thought is actually based on the economy being controlled by "animal spirits" that are illogical. Thus, economic crashes are not brought about by predictable, understandable chains of logical cause and effect, but instead are brought about by the capricious whimsy of illogical humans, who stampede over the cliff of liquidity traps with wild abandon like lemmings.
They don't expect the economy to make sense. Rather, they expect to follow the wisdom of their high priests no matter what the economic dials and guages (sic) are showing, because the two things they have faith in are that good intentions will always triumph, and that the economy is a backwards, illogical machine that can only be steered by turning left if you want to go right.
How many times have we seen a government decide it knew best how to handle its national economy, only to see all its efforts make things progressively worse to the point where the economy collapses, and with it, the government that tried to 'save' it? The harshest example has to be the the old Soviet Union, where all their 5-year economic plans failed to produce anything in abundance except inefficiency, shortages of vital goods, and misery. Venezuela has been heading down that road to hell and Argentina is following close behind.
Britain narrowly escaped the same fate when Maggie Thatcher became prime minister and proceeded to undo all the damage done to the British economy by her wrong-headed, though good intentioned predecessors. She understood, as did Ronald Reagan, that no one person or group of people are smart enough to control an economy to the betterment of all.
All such control diminishes economies and acts as a disincentive for anyone trying to do anything to improve it. China and India came to understand the concept and abandoned tight government control over their economies and they boomed to a level never seen before in either country's history. It's too bad the Progressives in this country have failed to learn that lesson and are willing to make the same mistake. Of course I expect their refrain will be “But we'll get it right this time!”
One of the most easily documented examples has been economic central planning, which was tried in countries around the world at various times during the 20th century, among people of differing races and cultures, and under government ranging from democracies to dictatorships.
The people who ran central planning agencies usually had more advanced education than the population at large, and probably higher IQs as well.
The central planners also had far more statistics and other facts at their disposal than the average person had. Moreover, there were usually specialized experts such as economists and statisticians on the staffs of the central planners, and outside consultants were available when needed. Finally, the central planners had the power of government behind them, to enforce the plans they created.
What is remarkable is that, after a few decades of experience with central planning in some countries, or a few generations in others, even communists and socialists began to repudiate this approach.
The only explanation I can come up with for the Progressives' belief they can succeed where everyone else has failed is insanity. You know, the type of insanity defined so: “Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results this time.”