by James C. Sherlock

Progressives in America have perfected the art of winning by failing. 

They create demand for more government with devastatingly destructive government programs badly run.  

It is the idea of control and the money it brings policy makers from rent seekers rather than the management of programs that attracts them. Plenty of progressives make fortunes playing the strings of the government program violins they have created.

Ask Terry McAuliffe.

When those policies inevitably fail to produce the promised results and simultaneously restrict human achievement, the Left considers that a feature not a bug. That is the job, for example, of many prominent ed schools.

As insurance of failure, the Left has perfected incompetent government. It creates opportunities for yet more government control.  

Pure alchemy.

Progressive goals. Progressives work every day:

  • to make the government the arbiter of every person’s life all of the time in every detail — to control the actions if not the beliefs of adults and control of how the state, not the parents, raises the children;
  • to discourage marriage;
  • to trap the poor into lives of total government dependence;
  • to trap children into government schools that are builders of social warriors, reliable leftists, even if they cannot read or calculate.

The Great Society. Democrats totally controlled Congress with huge majorities when Lyndon Johnson was president. Johnson had two pet projects, the Vietnam war and the Great Society. Guns and butter.  

He and his Democratic Congress screwed up both.

In the best societies, poverty for most who are able in body, mind and spirit is a waypoint, not a destination. In those societies governments help the poor help themselves.  

The Left tries to lock them into their existing conditions by paying them to stay there. Great Society welfare and housing programs embodied the latter approach.  

The thing about poverty is that it is always defined by the Left as the economic condition of those at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. A relative measure, not an absolute one.  

By the progressive definition, then, poverty will never be ‘solved’.  

How about Black people, the constituency that the left expends every effort to prod to the polls on election day?

Black lives matter. Indeed they do. Yet the Great Society is widely viewed as the greatest disaster to befall America’s Black community since slavery.  

Thomas Sowell has written:

“The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life.”

From 1965 to 2017, the out-of-wedlock birthrate among Blacks in America jumped from 21% to 77%.

The Left is taking us back to the future, both in Virginia and in the national government.

Sowell as prophet:

“Where beliefs are not checked against facts, but instead facts must meet the test of consonance with the prevailing vision, we are in the process of sealing ourselves off from feedback from reality. Heedless of the past, we are flying blind into the future.” 

Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals

Let’s fly there. We’ll look integration of Virginia’s child care and pre-school programs under control of the government education bureaucracy ahead of the pending Build Back Better legislation.

Birds of a feather.

Virginia. The progressive dream of government control of children from birth has been implemented in Virginia by the transfer by Democrats of the oversight of day care from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Education.   

Child care centers are now schools. Pre-school, now for three- and four-year- olds, is a now a government program for poor kids. Richmond Public Schools runs the government pre-schools for kids in that city. What could go wrong? 

Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s election, Virginia will still have a Democratic Senate, so those new laws won’t be changed soon. The Board of Education (BOE) the governor appoints will tell child care centers and pre-schools what to teach and how to teach it.

Terry McAuliffe doesn’t “think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” I absolutely take him at his word.  

The Virginia Preschool Initiative pilot in a four-year trial failed to provide any measurable benefits after spring of first grade. 

Progressives at VDOE are pressing forward and contend it just needs more money. Even if in Richmond the program is run by the dreadful RPS.

Build Back Better. Virginia progressives and those in Congress and the White House are of one mind.

The Wall Street Journal points out this morning that the latest draft of Build Back Better:  

“would create a large new federal child-care program. For each year that a couple has children under 5, being unmarried could easily save them over $10,000 annually in child-care costs compared with being married.

That’s because of how the subsidies are structured. A single mother earning 75% of the median household income in her state would pay nothing for child care, regardless of how much the child’s father earned. 

But the father’s income counts if he is legally part of the family. A husband and wife who each earned about 75% of the median income would have to pay thousands for the same daycare. In 2022-24, the married couple would pay full price, which would likely exceed $15,000 a child a year — $30,000 for two children under 5.”

You will notice that the bill contains all of the progressive ‘features’ of government legislation with which I led this piece.

“Free” child care refers to a very narrow segment of the population. As the Journal points out:

“Most families, especially those that don’t qualify for a full subsidy or that have older children, will pay more for child care. One reason: Under the heading of “quality regulation,” the bill requires that child-care workers be paid a “living wage” and that their earnings be “equivalent to wages for elementary educators with similar credentials and experience.”

No word, as I wrote earlier in this space, on where these child care personnel will come from.  

But the enormous new government-created costs and reduction in supply (regulations) of child care and preschool will create popular demand for more help — perhaps a Child Care Corps and certainly more money for subsidies.

Progressive perfection in legislation personified.

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18 responses to “By Failing, Progressives ‘Win’”

  1. As someone ostensibly from the left, I chuckled at the headline and the progressive “goals” listed here. Let me share a counterpoint about how the left feels about the right:

    If we create a government program to do X and X requires $100 worth of funding to do correctly per year, then the GOP comes in and cuts X’s budget down to $75 and then bemoans the lack of results…well, the conservatives then win by failing government. There’s only one party trying to make government programs work well. The other’s trying to drown it in the bathtub.

    Now I don’t think the above is a totally fair take on the right, it is the equivalent of this post from the left’s perspective.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      GOP — “Smaller government is better and we will pass as many restrictive and intrusive laws as necessary to achieve it.”

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      So you defend these programs that I have described? I knew someone must.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        And your description is, of course, unbiased too, right?

      2. I’m not defending the programs, just simply challenging the paradigm that Dems win by having govt fail. I think the case can be made effectively that Republicans win by government failing. Drowning govt programs in a bathtub isn’t something the Dems came up with.

        1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
          James C. Sherlock

          Sure it is.

          First, name a program that was “drowned” by Republicans. I wish I could.

          Second, look at the vast expansion of programs and purposeful combination of underestimated costs and short sunset features of the new and expanded programs in Build Back Better.

          The new programs are designed to fail at a point at which the current systems they replace and make prohibitively expensive – such as child care – have been driven out of the market and cannot be recreated at affordable costs.

          That is the objective truth.

          1. There aren’t dead govt programs (maybe some old iterations of food stamps, etc.) to note because they just get starved to the point of being ineffective. The goal is to drown them in the bathtub…they haven’t accomplished that anymore than the liberal shave accomplished your stated goals. But see the IRS as the most obvious example that comes to mind for something that’s been starved to the point of being ineffective.

            Build Back Better is actually a great example of what we are talking about. In order to do X, Y and Z we probably did need over 3T to do it. These aren’t small problems the government is trying to tackle. However, because of conservatives (I include Manchin in this), the program is scaled back and financial gimmicks are put into place.

            I’m a believer in your point about government programs, just not where you choose to put the blame. The partisan narrative doesn’t fit.

    3. DJRippert Avatar

      Government spending, as a percentage of GDP, has been steadily rising at the national level and in Virginia for years. The idea that funding has been getting cut is purely a figment of your imagination.

    4. It’s amazing how federal programs are kept on a starvation diet… yet the size and scope of government continues to grow. I wonder how that works.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Or, Bezos and a handful of others can win. Your choice.

  3. DJRippert Avatar

    “It is the idea of control and the money it brings policy makers from rent seekers rather than the management of programs that attracts them. Plenty of progressives make fortunes playing the strings of the government program violins they have created.”

    Fidel Castro died with a net worth of $900m built up while Cuba (the socialist paradise) was mired in poverty.

    That’s the way the progressive / socialist elite work.

    The progressive / socialist system has three tiers of people:

    1. The elite – Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Hunter Biden, Terry McAuliffe, etc.

    2. Useful idiots

    3. Schlubs

    The elite are the rent seekers and crony capitalists who always get rich skimming off government. The bigger the government the more there is to skim. McAuliffe is a classic example.

    The useful idiots are the educated class that the elite persuades to carry the gospel of socialism. They are the elites’ force multiplier. They get their talking points from MSNBC and parrot the party line through any and every available channel (including Bacons’s Rebellion comments). The luckier among them may get crumbs from the elite but most will get trampled by socialism.

    The schlubs are the working class and middle class people who suffer through failed big government programs like America’s public education system, They continue to believe the liberal elite’s promises of “free stuff” (amplified by the useful idiots) until the elites have all the “stuff”.

    The key, in America as in Cuba, is to make government bigger and bigger so the elites have more and more to steal.

    Nancy Pelosi has a net worth of $120m. Recently, a furor erupted when Congressmen and their spouses were found to have traded stock after receiving private briefings on the severity of the COVID-19 virus. Subsequently, Virginia Democratic Representative Abagail Spanberger along with Texas Republican Chip Roy put forth an amendment to restrict the stock trading of Congresspeople and their spouses. Pelosi killed the amendment in the Rules Committee.

    Pelosi is an elite rent seeker.

    1. I missed the part where you applied that same logic to Republicans…

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        He is citing human foibles… Republicans are not subject to such as a result of their position in the animal kngdom.

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I have not seen any conservative politicians, on either the state or national level, putting forth serious plans to eliminate any of these awful programs that Mr. Sherlock is convinced are ruining this country. Republicans, i.e. conservatives, were in control of the national government for all but eight years of the first 20 years of this century. I am not going to ask what they actually eliminated, but propose an easier test: What serious efforts were put forth to eliminate any major program? All they did was cut taxes. They cut the revenue, but not the expenditures, then complain about the deficits going up.

    I will ask the same question concerning Virginia. Republicans, i.e. conservatives have been the majority party in the General Assembly for most of this century. What major programs did they even try to cut or pare back?

    1. Matt Adams Avatar
      Matt Adams

      That’s some lovely politician two step (dodge) you just did there, in reality it’s nothing more than Intellectual Dishonesty.

      “A very common dodge is to take the question and turn it around on your opponent or their allies instead of answering it.

      This can be accomplished by bringing up an apparent hypocrisy related to the topic, pointing out that an ally of whoever you’re debating did something bad one time, asking your debate opponent an aggressive question, or pointing out an alleged error (real or perceived, big or tiny) in something they said. The point is, you’re doing this instead of answering the question.

      This puts the other person on the defensive, and gets you off the hook. Even better: don’t let them finish asking the question before you jump in with your attack. Repeat the same attack again and again if necessary.”

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Proof by name, Dick. It’s a mathematical joke.
      Theorum: There is no such thing as the smallest positive real value.
      Proof: if such a value existed, it would have a name. Since none of the named values, e.g., e, pi, etc., have the property of being the smallest positive real value, it doesn’t exist.

      OTOH, it is certainly valid in this day of nonexistent things that seem important (CRT) drives politics to ask why things that do exist and seem important don’t.

  5. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Well, it’s official. Democrats run on feel good issues and Republicans run on feel bad issues.

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