18 November 2012

Do you remember when Progressives used to believe...

Actually you would have to understand past positions by candidates who were Progressives way back when the Progressive movement started.  So lets do a bit of a refresher course to take a look at where Progressives were on policy and where they are today.  This should be fun, no?  All that intellectual integrity and stuff, you know?

Do you remember when Progressives used to believe...

1) That large companies were the 'problem'?  You know back in the Good Old Days when there were guys like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, and JP Morgan the Progressives got all in a twist about corporate trusts, 'fat cat capitalists' and companies that used to put worker's life and safety at risk for increased private profit?  The guys that were the posterboys for anti-trust legislation, many of them had a major problem with control and money.  Yet in their waning years they also started to give the boatloads of cash away to fund libraries, universities, private foundations and even charities.  Most industrialists of the sole-owner variety do that because they had a long-term conscience even if their short-term ethics sucked.  The Sherman Anti-Trust act was put together to end such monopolies and legislation thereafter went after oligopolies and unfair collusion to rig the marketplace in their favor.

Today we have 'too big to fail' to describe such companies and through their lobbying of Congress corporate giants like GM and Chrysler got government cash and had their bond holders screwed over in favor of the Unions.  Government is not only propping up failing industries, it is propping up failing Labor Unions, as well.  And yet this flies in the face of the necessary reduction in sizes that companies must go through when fiscal priorities finally put them in bankruptcy court for re-structuring.  The necessary income and outgo all get renegotiated from the ground-up, so that failing parts of a company can be removed and the company restructured.  This means Big Labor takes a haircut, various smaller sub-organizations are determined on their fiscal viability and many get cut off, and creditors and bond holders come to legal terms with reduced expectations but still having a vital stake in the companies that go through such restructuring.  The government decided all that, and not well, so that companies had to undergo restructuring not based on fiscal reality but political crony gain.  Yet that is as unfair to the creditors and investors as crunching workers for added profit and the US taxpayer ends up footing the bill for such practices.  These are companies that would have done much better being restructured, selling off parts and trimming others to become lean and profitable against more competition.

And, BTW, that earliest era of Anti-Trust was specifically made to increase competition.  That was seen as forcing the marketplace to have to adopt more than pricing and income to become competitive and would continue the private movement by smaller industries to pay workers more under safer working conditions so that they could own their own homes that had amenities that you couldn't get by working with the Titans of Industry and Banking.  More on that in a bit.

Just so you can see the differences: original Progressivism has Big Business as bad, but their modern counterparts have such things as good and must be supported by the taxpayer!  Isn't that swell?  Sounds like collusion to me to shaft other industries in favor of cronies, which is an anti-competitive process.  They should be prosecuted, Big Business, Big Labor and Big Government.  Too bad Big Government writes the laws, huh?


2)  Remember when the banks were seen as the problem?  You know the Big Banks, those by JP Morgan that could lend money to the US government to cover its entire debt for a year?  That apparently wasn't going to last because it wasn't actually forcing the US federal government to offer its debt on the open market.  Yet the evil, fat cat bankers were making money off the debt of the American government and the American taxpayer was footing the bill!  Luckily those Big Banks colluded to create a new entity and proposed legislation that went to Congress with the election of Woodrow Wilson and the Federal Reserve was born!  An institution that is opaque as to who runs it, opaque on its transactions, has a license to print money, makes money off of selling the US debt and would never, ever be passed as legislation today to favor the largest banks with goodies and guarantees and shaft the smaller banks by excluding them from the federal debt market.

Oh, wait, that did happen again, and was called the Toxic Asset Relief Program, or TARP!  It was TARP that brought in the 'too big to fail' meme and what it was supposed to do was buy out real estate assets from banks so as to shore up the market.  Instead what it did was force money at banks both solvent and insolvent types to hide the one or two huge banks that were facing critical solvency issues.  Banks like BB&T were told that they would be audited with a fine-tooth comb and raked over the coals for any minor paperwork problems if they didn't take the cash.    From that we learn that the Federal Reserve and US Treasury put such pressure on small and mid-sized banks to make it look like the entire sector was failing.  It wasn't.  BB&T paid everything back early so they could get out of the hold the federal government had on them and told what little they knew about the larger banks that were being covered by this wasteful fraud.  What 'too big to fail' did was to create a class of 5 banks that could do anything, take any risk, hazard the funds held in them with any venture they wanted and the US federal government would guarantee their continued existence.  In other words they became banking cronies of Big Government and backed by you, the US taxpayer.

No matter what you say about President Jackson, he knew a corrupt, crony banking situation when he saw it and got rid of the 2nd National Bank and forced the system to scale down so that localized banking at the State level could rise to take its place.  During the recession that started overseas in Great Britain and a few of the Continental Nations, that spread to the US and gave cover to later generations to conflate an overseas problem that was going to hit the US (via foreign held investors) and the demise of the National Bank.  The head of the National Bank also threatened to break the Nation if the thing was dissolved.  Today they don't need threats, just the convenient presence of lobbyists and pointing out that the Federal Reserve now prints money to cover the National Debt, and now HOLDS 60% of it.  They, apparently, wish to own the US federal government and its assets.  Luckily the federal government has all that lovely land it controls in Western States, no?  A match colluded to in the halls of Congress.  But then Progressives never actually treated the Big Banks like they did Big Business, back in the day, and break up such entities. No if you had to have a Big Government you had to have a Big Bank sector to finance it at taxpayer expense. Too bad Big Government writes the laws that protects and creates such entities and programs under the guise of 'breaking the system in order to save it' because they are 'too big to fail'!


3)  The rise of Big Labor was something that Progressives wanted, and pushed for as a counter to Big Business.  You needed to have Big entities to go after each other led by a Big Government mentality that makes it possible, after all.  Apparently all the US federal government under the power of Progressives in both parties knew how to do was to establish punishing bureaucracies with regulations so that Big Labor could get a Big Government backing to rise up against Big Business.  Those were the Good Old Days of brass knuckles, armed confrontation and organized crime getting into the racket because it was, after all is said and done, a racket.  That other path of lauding corporations that actually did well by workers, like George Westinghouse and Henry Ford (at least in his early years) showed that if you had safe working conditions, good pay, allowed workers to buy their own housing, put medical facilities into the manufacturing footprint and then subsidized social groups to build a strong surrounding community with good housing, sanitation and roads, that this would be a better thing than extracting every cent from overworked workers in bad working conditions.  Westinghouse had to face down the Big Business and Big Banks of his day and found their manipulative ways were intent on breaking his business because it was actually successful, expanding, increased PUBLIC SAFETY, increased productivity and gave a half-day off on Saturday which was unheard-of amongst the Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Carnegie types.  He beat Edison at his own game, took 'inside' risk with interior profit to expand business and the few time he had to take on external capital he got punished for it.  A decade after his death his workers erected a monument to him in Pittsburgh, PA.  George Meany, the man responsible for the American Federation of Labor, said that if more capitalists had followed Westinghouse, there would be no organized labor movement in America.

No such men are never championed by Progressives because they freely offer such benefits to compete, make a profit and be responsible to their workers and communities.  You could find George Westinghouse at a lathe helping a lathe operator years after his companies became successful, which was not stereotypical behavior.  So instead of backing these men by offering tax discounts or some such (and that is a subsidy, don't get me wrong on that) to encourage good behavior and drive out bad, the Progressives wanted to 'reform' Big Business and not have it actually have to compete against those offering better labor standards by facing a profitability problem of subsidized good standards.  The power of government was used to force 'regulations' on industries to prevent child labor, unsafe working conditions and the such like, which are all laudable goals, just that the means are those of power, not persuasion.  Really, how many years were children going to be working in coal mines once heavy equipment could do their work at a fraction of the cost?  Vanderbilt's New York Central Railroad refused to put in Westinghouse's air brakes because the life of brakemen (who had to sit at the top of cars and manually turn brake wheels to slow each car, jumping from car to car) was cheap.  Publicity from the next major accident because of this, however, caused ridership to crash and the NY Central Railroad soon sported Westinghouse air brakes.  They are actually cheaper to run when lawsuits and liability are taken into consideration, and the Vanderbilt family proved that point by having to install safety features due to public outcry.  Similarly the large excavator was going to usher in a new era of mining that actually required brawnier men to move equipment around and children going through cramped shafts was going to be relegated to a bygone age.  You can still, to this day, however, find garment sweatshops with working conditions barely better than what was seen in the 1870's through 1910's as they are far easier to conceal than twisted and broken bodies of children from coal mines, and yet are also a heavily regulated industry.  And yet the Labor Movement got US federal backing and it is simply a means for workers to organize themselves... and then kick-back money into campaign coffers of their political backers.

Progressives are all against graft... when they aren't getting it, you see.  When they are getting it, they will dress up such graft with high sounding ideals and good intentions, but take the graft just the same.  Progressives are not about clean government, but dirty government that encourages cronies, kick-backs, hands out goodies to cover those two things, and ensures that by taking graft it gets a political constituency that will always back it, no matter how awful its candidates are.  Because, you see, those candidates are part of the 'enlightened party' of elites that is on both sides of the aisle in the halls of power.  While a man like Teddy Roosevelt wasn't all that easy to convince with money, a man like Woodrow Wilson, was, and he loved that elite establishment as one necessary to mold the US population into being much more amenable to being led, instead of just represented.


Today this means that there is an elite establishment that sees much good in 'spreading the wealth around' mostly to cronies so as to corrupt them further and make them compliant to the whims of political struggle.  This elite segment of the body politic uses hard earned taxpayer money to pay off an ever larger voting constituency by hooking them on such dollars, and by hooking banks, industry and labor into such lifelines of corruption, they seek to make the least competent actor in all of this (the US federal government) as the controlling factor of all life in America.

Give the Big Banks control of US federal debt so that they can use such debt to then call on the federal government to make good on it, and if it can't then to seize US federally backed assets.  There are large swaths of land out there to be taken and a whole bunch of residential land with Fannie and Freddie backed and held loans that can also be grabbed.  Hope yours isn't one of them.

Give Big Labor authoritarian stakes in Big Business companies by breaking contracts to do so, the most vital of which are the best understood: those of holding debt obligations from private actors.  By exchanging the 'bail out' money with GMAC TARP funds, GM is just as beholden to the federal government as when it had both such forms of cash, they just shuffled debt from one column to another.  The bondholders got screwed, franchise operators got screwed because government determined that cronies should retain dealerships even when they weren't making any money, and money making dealerships were cut even when those would help the company make sales.  Chrysler had its stake sold to the Italian automaker Fiat.  Has anyone taken a look at the state of affairs in Italy recently?  Would any sane person or company even venture such a deal?  And then take a haircut on it to boot?  Plus still have federal backing for the deal?

The Big Banks, those ones that convinced the Labor Dept. to sell the idea to Nixon of creating Ginnie Mae to give corporate banks an entry into the residential home market, does anyone doubt that the system started by them (that of federally backed security on loan packages) is one that is utilized by political whims?  It was aimed, directly, at killing the vital if conservative S&L system, and that then opened the excuse to political actors for a 'Community Reinvestment Act' to stop the 'redlining' of communities... that were not good investments and that went far beyond race.  By no longer having a locally savvy S&L system the Big Banks opened themselves up to creating an ill-run fraudulently created system that then put the smaller operators at extreme risk due to the cost of increasing regulations and the threat of federal audits.  Only the Big survive in that world of finance and that is one backed by the US federal government via legislation and US taxpayer funds.  What you wind up with is a brittle system of a few Big Banks that are 'too big to fail' and an economy resting on them so that when they do face problems the Nation crumbles under a debt load held by those very same banks which can seize assets in the form of land and companies that the federal government has bailed out.  Plus smaller competitors.  Isn't that sweet?

Always and ever the Progressives harp on Big Business, and yet it is also their benefactor and now has so many lobbyists and revolving door personnel writing regulations to protect them and shaft small business that it isn't funny.  Van Jones' Apollo Alliance writes vast swaths of a 'stimulus' bill that benefits: failing companies, puts money into the pockets of political activists and corporate political backers and then dares to say that these are 'investments' in the future.  But that is how Progressives work when they call themselves Communists: they just change the name and verbiage to make it sound palatable, but the muck they serve is still muck.

Do you remember when Progressives and their Leftist cohorts actually felt they meant what they said about 'protecting workers' and 'holding business and banks accountable'?

I do.

I didn't believe them as I grew up hearing that blather because what they did was opposite of what they were saying.  What they wanted was pure and unmitigated power over everything, which includes you and me.

You were born free.

And then government stepped in.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this long trail of abuses done for so long should lead to some change because governments, after all, are instituted amongst men... men are not created by government for its convenience, after all.  Although they will try to sell you that line now that they have IPABs.  Just wait until enforced number of births are required for 'the good and well being of society'.  If you think they are nasty with the power over death, just wait until you find out what happens when you give them the power over life.  And they will call such enslavement liberty and say that it is good.

If you don't remember when they used to say differently now, then your children will never have it taught to them because YOU didn't teach it to them now.  They can't restore America if we allow them to be corrupted by our government.  We are the ones given the honor, duty and hard work of making government accountable to us, as individuals and society, not as a collective.  Yeah, you will probably lose the goodies promised you.  You are going to lose them anyway, at this rate.  Once you are used to that idea, then one of less government is no longer frightening and even quite inviting.

If you only dare to remember what they said and how they have lied to you then, and now.

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