From the Archives

Reprinted here are two short pieces from the October 2011 issue of Progressive Democracy. Despite their origin going on to nine years ago, they are remarkable relevant to today’s political discussions. One was about the newish Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren and something she wrote that then and now is right to the point of the successful person of business. Both although neither mentions a wealth tax by name, is a justification of just that.

The Shot Heard ‘Round the Internet (and Further) (MR)
Elizabeth Warren – mark that name; she is already being touted as a prime Democratic candidate for 2016 - vigorously set out a fundamental piece of progressive outlook and did so in a memorable fashion. What she had to say is a litmus test for being a progressive.

“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.’ No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.
“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.
“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

She clearly hit a nerve.  For speaking the truth she has been vilified by major conservative pundits:  Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Jonah Goldberg.  For an excellent critical analysis of Will’s attack on her and thus on the progressive outlook see E.J. Dionne’s Refuting Straw Liberals.

Wealth and Happiness (BG)
We Americans have often proclaimed that the purpose of government is to protect "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", as first stated in our Declaration of Independence.  Studies have shown that poverty decreases happiness, but that wealth beyond what's necessary to provide comfort does not increase happiness.  We may reasonably conclude that the pursuit of happiness requires using the powers of government to prevent poverty rather than to promote the accumulation of wealth.  In fact, the possession of wealth is an obstacle to the pursuit of happiness when it exists side-by-side with poverty and when a reduction of the imbalance would decrease poverty.