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Is it progressive if ….?

October 21, 2010

Fister and I have written a class we teach around strategy, one of the points we make is that there aren’t necessarily bad strategies. There are strategies that were intended to do one thing and do another, there are poorly timed strategies.

This article at Forbes reminded me of two misnomers around the 2008 campaign and subsequent policy setting – The Vanishing Middle Class–And The Lasting Remedies

For background: After World War II and well until the 1990s, the United States enjoyed an influx of skilled, ambitious people who were escaping a world largely ruled by dictatorial and unstable regimes. Hundreds of millions of others, those with skills, drive and intelligence equal to those lucky enough to be born in the West, were trapped behind iron and other curtains. As long as the U.S. enjoyed monopoly powers on the leveraging of talent and capital, it could impose high taxes

The issue with many of the ‘progressive’ policies is that they are fundamentally based upon late 19th century philosophical constructs that came from observing social and industry structures that for the most part no longer exist. Marx didn’t anticipate small business owners and start ups…he knew only large industrialists and their ‘peasant workers.’ Voltaire knew the aristocracy. Shifting forward – communism failed in terms of an executable model in the late 80’s. The number of countries where skilled and talented workers can freely earn a living have opened way up since that time. Unions were established in the economic reality from the industrialized era through the 1990s when there were fewer countries that were safe for large multinationals to invest in

While the U.S. still is the ultimate place to prosper economically, it risks falling behind if its taxes and regulations force its young “vital few” to seek greener pastures elsewhere, and large segments of its population continue to indulge in delusions that their entitlements can be sustained

Take the civil rights movement and feminism – both movements are struggling to find a relevant fight to excite their base instead of losing their relevance. The environmental situations the two movements faced from the early 1900’s to 1970s is radically different from the environment today.

The progressive political philosophy hasn’t progressed to adapt to the new economic and social realities around it. It’s stuck on a philosophical base that met its heyday in the 1950’s in elite universities – neither the philosophy OR policy has progressed

 It seems their strategy has the double whammy of observed negative consequences AND is ill timed to the environment.

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