How Well Do Progressive Policies Work?

I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate.  I have not yet endorsed a presidential candidate and probably will not.  However, I have definite views about major political issues, and I discuss them on this blog.  For example, I like Trump’s nationalist and populist leanings.

Today I report on another hot political issue, the effectiveness of progressive policies.  Joel Kotkin, the Ex Dir of the Urban Reform Institute, has an interesting article, “Blue Today, Bluer Tomorrow” in the current issue of the National Review.

Mr. Kotkin points out that:

  • The worst places for minorities are generally those metro areas that are bluest, such as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and San Diego. They do best in southern metro areas such as Atlanta, Raleigh, El Paso, Nashville and Phoenix.
  • Blue strategies such as affirmative action, higher taxes, expanded social programs and more regulation have not slowed down poverty’s spread. Between 1980 and 2018, the number of high-poverty metropolitan census tracks have doubled while the wealth gap between these areas and affluent areas have grown.
  • Today our core cities suffer a level of inequality far worse than in the countryside or suburbs and more closely resemble social conditions in Mexico. Rather than supporting a robust middle class, core cities suffer an ever-wider gap between the two critical constituencies – the highly educated professional class and the urban poor.
  • The recent wave of riots, the most widespread in 50 years, is not likely to make cities any more attractive. Yet in the face of these threats to public order, many blue-city politicians have taken a remarkably hands-off approach to looting and other forms of violence.
  • Urban policy is just one example of blue policies that are hurting the poor and working classes. Once a major energy producer, California is now coping with gas and electricity prices that are among the highest in the nation.  For all this suffering, California’s junior Green New Deal has provided little benefit for the environment.  The state, not including the ruinous effects of fires, ranks a mediocre 40th in per-capita greenhouse-gas reduction over the past decade.
  • Blue-city K-12 school districts are notorious underachievers. Many core-city school districts such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Detroit, produce extraordinarily bad student test scores.  Some mostly red states such as Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas and Ohio are already shifting resources to skills education that is more practical for many minorities and working-class whites.
  • The woke agenda represents only 8% of the population. Conservative traditionalism represents only 25% of Americans.  Roughly 2/3 of Americans are thus in the “exhausted majority.”  Even nominally progressive millennials, once they begin to raise children, buy houses and start businesses are likely to reject the more intrusive policies pushed by New Left urbanists.
  • Forcing the two parties to go after suburban and small-town voters is the country’s best long term political hope. “Here lies an opportunity, born of massive blue failures, to forge a new politics that is fundamentally pragmatic and reflects the middle-class aspirations that have long defined and blessed this country.”

Conclusion.  Our country is in a big political mess right now.  Progressive left policies, so currently in vogue in many blue cities and states, are making things worse.  But there is hope in the political center if it can figure out how to assert itself.

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