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Travis Rowley: Government Begets More Government

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill, a regular guest on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, appeared on the show Thursday night to debate urban welfare programs with its markedly conservative host – Bill O’Reilly.

Both enthusiasts expressed the common partisan positions. O’Reilly pointed to the deplorable conditions of inner-city neighborhoods and said, “You enable people to stay in poverty by these tremendous entitlements. You [have to] incentivize them to get out.” Hill responded, “And you can do both.”

O’Reilly then asserted, “It hasn’t worked.” To that remark, Hill conceded, but also argued, “Because we haven’t effectively tried both.” That is, redistributive policies that also encourage people to escape them.

Fifty years of poverty programs, and progressives have yet to perfect the federal welfare structure? Or even tried to? Is that what we’re to believe? Or is it more sensible to recognize the inherent limitations and inadequacies of a centralized government?

Professor Hill’s argument resembled the philosophical stubbornness of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who – in the wake of the Democrats’ failure to revive the national economy with their “stimulus package” – has actually called for more stimulus spending: “They did something inadequate and the results are disappointing.”

Progressives are simply incapable of losing faith in a government that they control. Their outlook is hardly reflective of the Founder’s wisdom – including Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, “The natural order of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Instead of utilizing this historical perspective, progressives ignorantly understand government as a modern tool of social improvement, rather than an eternal entity that is devoted to growth and oppression.

Even worse, they view themselves moral and intellectual elites, who are entitled to state power.

Progressive Insanity

Professor Hill argued that “ending poverty is a collective project, not an individual project…If somebody’s lying on the street without healthcare and without food, you end up paying for it anyway.”

Professor Hill failed to note that the problem of having people “lying on the street without healthcare and without food” is exacerbated – if not entirely caused by – government programs that erode a sense of personal responsibility, and that force others to “[pay] for it anyway.” Hill wouldn’t even have a point unless the government hadn’t already passed laws that press people into funding the nourishment of others. It is, in fact, the government’s prior deeds that have suddenly armed Hill with a seemingly logical argument for extra government involvement.

It is worth noting what black syndicated columnist Star Parker once wrote: "Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism created monstrous moral and spiritual problems. The kind of problems that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their lives over to others. The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families."

But Professor Hill is a progressive. He cannot escape his reverence for government solutions, and his contempt for individual liberty. While there are some obvious inefficiencies and failures that Hill does not deny, he can’t help himself from naively insisting that modern day progressives can complete a sharpened welfare state – a federal one, no less.

Hill’s solution will never cease to be this: Government. Government on top of government, on top of government, on top of government. Because, after all, “Without those resources people would die. There’d be more violence. There’d be more crime. There’d be more poverty.”

Adhere to socialism. Or things will get even worse.

Ocean State Progressives

This same delusion and disregard for diminishing returns can often be observed right here in Rhode Island – a state that can only be described as a progressive experiment.

This week progressive activists marched outside a Pawtucket unemployment office and joined the voices of Democratic legislators by “urging the General Assembly to back a bill to raise the income tax rate for those making $250,000 a year.” The protesters held signs that derided the conservative case for a low-tax environment. One sign read, “Thank You, Taxes, For Libraries.” Another read, “Thank You, Taxes, For Roads and Bridges.”

Championing the mockery of the philosophy that has long been locked out of state policy was Kate “We All Do Better, When We All Do Better” Brock, the Executive Director of Ocean State Action – a Marxist advocacy outfit that works tightly with organized labor. Brock herself once maintained, “Taxes pay for our schools, roads, public safety. We need to raise revenues to support our government.”

These are not people who have an appetite for the truth.

Not only did Brock and Company purposely fabricate a conservative position that calls for a tax-less society, but they consistently ignore the fact that Rhode Island has been ranked among the highest taxed states for a very long time, and its roads and bridges are continuously graded “among the nation’s worst.” As far as public schools are concerned, “Rhode Island spends more per student than most other states,” yet its schools are among the “lowest performing” in the country. And Central Falls, a city dominated by progressive Democrats for decades, had its Adams Memorial Library closed and defunded last year as a state-appointed receiver attempted to revive the collapsing municipality.

Rhode Island is proof-positive that progressive government is what, in fact, leads to the corrosion of state infrastructure and public services. It is the party of big government that ultimately ravages the public sector. This includes roads, schools, libraries – and pensions.

But don’t expect progressives to ever question themselves to any significant degree. Their aims and inclinations will always be to amass more power and control over your life.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the chairman of the RI Young Republicans and the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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