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If Progressives Wanted to Win
This is a gag, right?


As we mark the 100th anniversary of Reagan's virgin birth, his most important legacy
has gone largely overlooked. Reagan helped to put a caricature of politics at the center
of the national debate, and it remains there to this day. In Reagan's caricature, the central
divide between progressives and conservatives is that progressives trust the government
to make key decisions on production and distribution, while conservatives trust the market.

This framing of the debate is advantageous for the right since people, especially in the
United States, tend to be suspicious of an overly powerful government. They also like
the idea of leaving important decisions to the seemingly natural workings of the market.

It is therefore understandable that the right likes to frame its agenda this way. However,
since the right has no greater commitment to the market than the left, it is incredible that
progressives are so foolish as to accept this framing.

In reality, the right uses government all the time to advance its interest by setting rules
that redistribute income upward. As long as progressives ignore the rules that are designed
to redistribute income upward, they will be left fighting over crumbs. There is no way that
government interventions will reverse a rigged market. For some reason, most of the people
in the national political debate who consider themselves progressive do not seem to
understand this fact.

To take the most obvious example, fighting inflation has come to be seen as the holy grail
of central banks; a policy that it is supposed to be outside of the realm of normal political
debate. On slightly more careful inspection, the inflation fighting by the Fed and other central
banks is actually a policy that is designed to ensure that the wages of ordinary workers do
not grow too rapidly.

When central banks jack up interest rates to tame inflation, the CEOs at Goldman Sachs
and J.P. Morgan won't be out on the street. The people who lose their jobs will be factory
workers, store clerks and other less privileged workers. Raising unemployment among the
group of less-educated workers keeps their wages down.



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