The Left contributed almost nothing to the productive superiority of the 20th century Western world. What they succeeded in doing was winning for themselves the right to distribute the fruits of this competitive advantage. They even went so far as to distribute that largesse to millions of undocumented immigrants and in lavish aid packages where they employed themselves, naturally.
Michelle Obama, in an interview, revealed the core of the problem when she described educational investments that did not produce a return in pure economic terms. Some activities are viable only when transfer payments are available to support them. When there is less income to transfer, there is unremitting pressure to cut back on activities like gender studies and campaigns for the preservation of endangered newts. Mark Steyn plays the funny man to Hugh Hewitt's straight man listening to Michelle's words.MO: Like many young people coming out of college, with their MA’s and BA’s and PhD’s and MPh’s coming out so mired in debt that they have to forego the careers of their dreams, see, because when you’re mired in debt, you can’t afford to be a teacher or a nurse or social worker, or a pastor of a Church, or to run a small non-profit organization, or to do research for a small community group, or to be a community organizer...
MO: ... because the salaries that you’ll earn in those jobs won’t cover the cost of the degree that it took to get the job.
HH: We’ve got to stop, because I heard you laughing, Mark Steyn.
MS: (laughing) I know. I have never heard anything…I mean, if the premise is that too many people in America go to college and saddle themselves with gazillions of dollars in debt for no good reason, I would agree with that. But the idea that oh, my God, you know, I wanted to run this small non-profit, but I made the mistake of going to Harvard and Princeton, and I got hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, so I had to become a big corporate CEO, I had to found a multi-national company when all I really wanted to do was just be a nice, little grade school teacher, this is ridiculous.
Now that the productivity advantage is eroding the pickings are getting slimmer. And since the only thing the Left knows how to do is squeeze harder and harder the really interesting question is whether future economic survival will require a diminution of the "progressive" forces for any real progress to actually take place; or whether it will prove true that the future isn't big enough to hold both the Left and a loaf of bread.
Of course, instead of recognizing the problem is themselves, the left will continue to insist that more regulation, more government, more telling people what to do and how to live their lives is the solution to all problems.
They are stuck in a single mode; a switch always turned to "full speed ahead". They regret nothing, they renounce nothing, they take no responsibility. If their policies don't work; if people suffer more because of them; it's not their fault because they "meant well".
Take, for example, the biofuels issue. Environmentalists and government officials trumpeted biofuel and biodiversity as key weapons in the war on global warming; but too bad they didn't think out the longer-term consequences of their policies before they essentially embraced world hunger as a environmentally sensitive way of dealing with the climate 'crisis'
Programs that originate with the "best of intentions" end up doing exactly the opposite of what was intended. Yet, many people are so ideologically committed to one way of thinking that they not only refuse to change, but keep pouring money into programs that can be shown to actively harm the people they are meant to help--encouraging dependence rather than autonomy; a sense of entitlement, rather than a sense of personal accomplishment; and reinforcing stereotypes they were meant to end.
What makes matters worse is that these "champions of the poor and oppressed" and "champions of Gaia"(as progressives of the left like to style themselves)--readily demonize anyone who dares to suggest an alternate strategy, even when that strategy has been proven to work. The emotional logic and the unifying thread that links all the failed strategies and policies they champion together is the excessive narcissistic gratification they bask in by supporting it. This is like an addiction to them.
In their minds, 'hope' is just shorthand for 'maybe next time our fantasies will work in the real world'; and 'change' means never having to say they're sorry for the mess they created and pressing on with more of the same.
Almost all of their programs are primarily for show , with nary a hint of substance to be found. They succeed only in making the people who propose and maintain them feel good about themselves, but do little to change the underlying problems and in many cases, simply reinforce the dynamics that create and perpetuate the problem to begin with. It is always important to emphasize that the underlying goal of such 'progressives' is not a solution to the problems of the world, but merely develop new and even more clever rationales that permit them to accumulate more power to themselves over the lives of others.
No, the future just isn't big enough to hold both their brand of selfless, sociopathic narcissism (or, utopian idealism)and even a slice of bread.
UPDATE: David Fredosso on the 'benefits' of ethanol:
I've served up a fairly complete history of ethanol subsidies today, together with precise calculations of what we get for the $8 billion we throw at ethanol annually (the answer is that we get two days of gasoline — that's all — with the unfortunate side-effect of starving the world's poor).