Sunday, February 13, 2011

Progressivism And The Aristocracy Of Incompetence

I woke up from half-remembered dreams to the TV playing news and a realization that several things that annoy me are actually different aspects of the same thing.

(And I just published that first para. as a teaser.)

What I'm connecting is Progressivism, with its bureaucratization (administrative control bias), long-standing trait of meddling in people's lives to produce so-called "social justice" through progressive taxation and draconian regulation, and that insane kind of "aristocracy" in which people who have only a few skills pride themselves on how little else they are capable of.

It results in a system in which achievement is punished, in which the best return on effort comes from finding the bracket or niche providing the greatest return with the least "bite" from taxation and regulation. It favors narrow specialization and utter incompetence outside it; the "winners" are those with the highest-paid specialties with the best tax breaks and and the fewest skills outside them -- city managers, some attorneys, union officials, lobbyists and similar jobs. The most "progressive" cities have no shortage of meddling, publicly-funded "community activists," winners of the Progressive game.

And those people -- many of them quite innocent, creatures who have grown into the pre-existing niches they have found -- are the natural foe of any libertarian or small-government conservative. And way too many of them are the same blithe boobs who proclaim, "I don't know anything about changing a tire/basic plumbing/my computer," and remark at work that if they do poorly enough at a task they dislike, eventually they won't have to do it. They've found their spot in the ecosystem, their role in the hive; they've dug their rut and will only hate anyone who expects them step out of it.

There ya go: that's what Progressivism encourages.


Ancient Woodsman said...

How true.

I am not a plumber. My soldering skills suck. Yet I am oh, so proud of my few copper joints that don't leak. Ain't purty, but do work.

25 years ago built a deck using a chainsaw, sledgehammer & hammer. It still stands. Enough stain hides the roughest parts, and I still think it's a work of art. Never been a carpenter, neither.

Never the mechanic (except for small engines & pumps, both certified by OEMs)I've replaced drivetrains, front ends, fuel systems, all with working & lasting results.

Time was, being able to do many things o.k. was the hallmark; now it is 'how many things don't you know' that they marvel at; or 'how many irrelevant things do you know' tacked on to that. It is a matter of pride to these weenies that they HAVE to call a 'lower' class to bail them out -it is yet one more mark that they are superior. In their own eyes, anyway.

Tam said...

"Why would I want to know about that?" is a phrase I've never understood.

Joshkie said...

There are Strong and Weak people in this world.

One side believes that we should help the weaker among us become stronger.  This way they can compete and hold their own.

The other side believes we should place limits and weaken the strong, so that they can't take advantage of those weaker than them.

One side weakens the whole, and the other side strengthens the whole.


Tango Juliet said...

Once again you've nailed it Bobbi! I couldn't agree more.

Ed Rasimus said...

Fine in principle, but I've got to disagree with one example you offered; city managers. They are generally the opposite of what you decry. They are multi-skilled generalists trained in a wide range of administrative skills necessary to manage a huge enterprise. They are forced to operate in a political environment, but are not panderers to the welfare society since they don't stand for re-election. A libertarian city manager would be no stretch be an oxymoron. I'd much prefer a trained professional C/M to a populist, pandering politician strong mayor. No Dick Daley's for me, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Some decades ago, SF writer. Robert Shea wrote an amusing article titled "Empire of the Rising Scum". The intro & conclusions sucked but his description of the bureaucratic beast was succinct. The article is available on the Net. Well worth a read

Roberta X said...

Kind of hard to vote them out, though.

In general, Progressivism is a centralizing, bureaucratizing and, yes, professionalizing force in government -- and I have a problem with every aspect of that. This republic was never supposed to have a professional governing class. Inefficient? Probably. I'm okay with that. Frikkin' railroad company can make sure the trains run on time while the legislature snoozes in the sun.

I want a local government composed of the people from my neighborhood who ran for the office, working out of a building I can ride my bicycle to, on a barely-adequate budget and when I show up to a township meeting, I don't care to overawed by the grand gravitas of it all or impressed by the sleek way they handle things. I expect to be able to tell 'em I think they're wrong and/or foolish without hearing gasps from onlookers. And bedamned if I want some unimpeachable hireling tryin' to run the city, either.


Jim said...

Well put, Roberta.


wolfwalker said...

What you're seeing here is another result of the fact that Progressivism is derived partly from the 'gentleman academics' of the late 19th century. The intense class prejudices of 19th-century Europe meant that it was gauche in the extreme for an academic to do any kind of manual labor, or even admit that he knew how to do any kind of manual labor. An exception was made for doctors and military officers, because they generally came from the upper class and used their class advantages to achieve their success. But no blue-blood academic type would sully his hands with regular eight-to-five kind of work, whether farming or clarking or carpentry or clothmaking. That sort of labor was beneath them.

Stranger said...

True - but why use the evasion. "Progressivism" is a synonym for "State Control." Socialism, Fascisim, Communism, and 8,206 other terms are also evasions for the correct and descriptive term "state control."

It starts with state control of production and distribution of goods. It ends with the Mafia controlling you. Except this Mafia makes the Capone Gang look like flower sniffing children in a field of posies.

And that Mafia is the group pushing "progressiveism." The fellow travelers are largely convenient idiots, the sort of people called "natural slaves." And the real Mafiosos like Pol Pot know oh so well what to do with convenient idiots after the glorious revolution.


DirtCrashr said...

Bless you it's totally true. And what they can't "professionalize" (or credentialize) they unionize.

Old Grouch said...

There's a not-so-subtile link between "you can't (aren't allowed to) do that" and "I can't (am not competent/knowledgable enough to) do that." The progressives push "A" to encourage "B," and thus encourage dependency and Tam's "why would I want to know about that" mindset.

I've always looked at skill assimilation from a "what one man can know, another can know" viewpoint. (The true geniuses are the prepared minds who recognize that what's in front of their noses isn't matching the conventional wisdom.) My lack of knowledge in some particular field (to name four: gross anatomy, the taxonomy of insects, playing the tuba, and recognizing trees from quite a long way away) does not mean I couldn't become knowledgable, just that so far I've had no reason that would override my lack of interest. Certainly those gaps are nothing to be proud of. (Insert inevitable Heinlein quote.)

As for credentialism: And boy, are they protective of their prerogatives! (Hint: Credentials are no substitute for careful engineering practice.) Ain't it interesting that the most dynamic industry in the last 50 years - computers and software - is populated by an amazing number of uncredentialed autodidacts?

staghounds said...

"But no blue-blood academic type would sully his hands with regular eight-to-five kind of work, whether farming or clarking or carpentry or clothmaking. That sort of labor was beneath them."

I hate to say it, but it would be beneath the farmer, clark, or carpenter too if he didn't have to earn a living.

It's an odd, incomprehensible quirk of mammals that when presented with the chance of not having to dig and toil, they will choose not to dig and toil.

You can talk about the dignity of labor all you like, but few people will choose that dignity over ease.

staghounds said...

Also, it's not progressiveism. Unless you consider the Royal Navy between 1914 and 1954 a "progressive" institution.

It's just human.

Reg T said...

Some of us "dig and toil" for the sheer pleasure of producing useful work. Milking goats and then making cheese from that milk. Keeping draft horses and skidding your own logs for building and for firewood, as well as hitching them to a wagon to haul stuff from point A to point B. Working a half-acre vegetable garden. Doing your own welding repairs and fabricating a rack for your pickup truck. Flying search and rescue in a Robinson R-22 over the Marble Mountains of Northern California. Reloading your own ammunition. Being a police officer in San Diego and a comms operator for the California Highway Patrol in Northern Division. And a volunteer fireman for the town of Yreka, CA. Most recently retired from being a registered nurse for ten years.

I'd bet I'm not the only non-specialist out there, and that more people than you can imagine _like_ to "dig and toil". We aren't all couch potatoes, buddy. Unplug your TV and you might find you like it, too.