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What Progressives Just Don’t See

Progressives (i.e., liberals or socialists) want government to help the poor. That means giving money, food, housing, clothing, or other items to the poor. In a larger sense, they want government to take what is sometimes called a “national pie” and distribute it in a way that is deemed to be equitable, especially by giving much of the pie to the poor.

There is one great big fatal flaw in the progressive mindset, however, one that, for some reason, they are unable to see. That flaw is the assumption that a pie exists to distribute. Leftists just assume a large amount of wealth in a nation and then come up with equitable ways to divide it up and distribute it.

What if there is no wealth in a society? What if everyone is poor? This is what progressives never contemplate. They always just look at the United States, which is a wealthy country, and come up with their grandiose plans on how to distribute that wealth,

Consider, for example, Cuba. It’s a country in which almost everyone is poor. A large part of the populace is even on the verge of starvation. What do progressives say about wealth distribution in Cuba? They say that the way to help the poor is for the Cuban government to distribute a large portion of the “national pie” to the poor. But what progressives don’t see is that there is no “national pie” in Cuba to distribute. It’s an impoverished nation. Since there is no national pie, there is nothing for the government to distribute to the poor.

In fact, what happened in Cuba is actually instructive insofar as leftists are concerned, Prior to the Cuban revolution, there was significant market activity and private ownership of property. Now, I’m not suggesting that Cuba had a free-market economy in the libertarian sense. Like with other Latin American countries, its economy was highly controlled and regulated by the government. Moreover, the political regime was run by a brutal and corrupt right-wing dictator.

The market activity and private private that did exist brought into existence a national pie of wealth. It wasn’t a large pie but it was a pie nonetheless.

The Cuban revolution brought socialists to power, headed by Fidel Castro. What Castro and his cohorts did is precisely what American progressives advocate for the United States. Castro’s regime nationalized everything, including big homes and large businesses and industries. The idea was that the government would take control over the national pie and distribute it in a equitable manner,

At the beginning, it was fun for the socialists. There were seizing large mansions and giving them to the poor. They were also taking control over large businesses and eliminating the need for a “profit,” which they considered rightly belonged to the poor.

What happened? After a period of time, the national pie began to shrink, and it continued to shrink until widespread poverty enveloped the country. The mansions began dilapidating and the government began running the business and industries into the ground.

What progressives just don’t see is that in order to have a pie to distribute, you’ve got to have a society based on private property and free markets. That is what causes wealth to come into existence. The more private property and the freer the markets, the greater the degree of wealth.

Once wealth comes into existence, the best thing is not to tamper with the system. Just let it continue growing. The greater the prosperity, the better off the poor are, especially with employment and voluntary donations.

But progressives (i.e., liberals or socialists) can’t help themselves. Driven by envy and covetousness, they see all that large amount of wealth and decide to have the government seize and redistribute it to the poor. What they don’t see is that they are destroying the system that brings the wealth into existence. They don’t see that they are now producing the very poverty that they lament.

The lesson here is that progressives (i.e., liberals or socialists) have been — and are — leading America in a very bad direction with their welfare-state philosophy and policies. If Americans want to restore ever-rising standards of living, especially for the poor, they need to implement an economic system that is totally based on private property and free markets — and then not permit the government to tamper with it.

The post What Progressives Just Don’t See appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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About The Author

Jacob G. Hornberger

The Future of Freedom Foundation was founded in 1989 by FFF president Jacob Hornberger with the aim of establishing an educational foundation that would advance an uncompromising case for libertarianism in the context of both foreign and domestic policy. The mission of The Future of Freedom Foundation is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government. Visit

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