Jason Salzman writes the following in today’s Rocky Mountain News:
By a real progressive, I mean someone who supports these kinds of things: raising the federal minimum wage to $11 per hour; a ban on construction of new coal-fired power plants; a government-run health-care system; the free distribution of condoms in public high schools; gay marriage; an increase in the capital gains tax; troop withdrawal from Iraq within six months; and the legalization and taxation of marijuana.
The first thing to note about this list is that it is not organized around any essential unifying idea. Some of the items involve more political force; others involve less. For example, I fully support the re-legalization of marijuana. I also favor domestic partnerships, though I care not whether these are called “marriages.” I support those things on the basis of individual rights.
Several of the other items involve more political control of the economy. But economic socialism is not “progressive;” it is regressive and reactionary. Imposing more severe wage controls would further violate the rights of employers and employees to interact voluntarily, and it would throw some inexperienced and low-skilled workers out of a job. Imposing socialized medicine would violate the rights of doctors, patients, and other parties to associate voluntarily, and it would lead to worse care, much higher taxes, and rationing.
What is stunning is that people who want to send in men with guns to prevent people from entering into voluntary agreements — and force them into involuntary arrangements — are sometimes called “progressives.” There’s nothing progressive about it.