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Some Progress Against Progressivism Is Better Than None

Here’s a letter to The Atlantic:


Angie Schmitt deserves applause for realizing that her political tribe – Progressives – have throughout the pandemic been both unreasonable and untrue to their stated principles (“Why I Soured on the Democrats,” Jan. 7). Progressives’ exaggeration of the dangers of Covid – especially their refusal to recognize that Covid poses little risk to young people and to the healthy – and their dogmatic devotion to school closures and the masking of children have resulted in policies that are irrational and, hence, excessively costly, especially to those persons not fortunate enough to belong to the Zoomgeoisie.

Ms. Schmitt reached her realization because she’s a mother obliged by lockdowns to stay home with her school-age children. She thus personally witnessed and suffered government-interventions’ downsides that are typically invisible to those who endorse and implement such interventions.

This experience should prompt Ms. Schmitt to question more extensively the Progressive creed. Many long-popular Progressive policies, appearing lovely to those who are unaffected by them, inflict very real damage to flesh-and-blood persons who remain unseen, save as abstractions, to Progressives. An example is minimum-wage legislation. Well-educated professionals such as Ms. Schmitt are never thrown out of work by such legislation. Nor does such legislation ever deny entry-level jobs to these professionals’ children. But poorly educated, especially inner-city, minorities are adversely affected by minimumwages, which does indeed prevent many of them from being gainfully employed in the above-ground economy.

I doubt that Ms. Schmitt would continue to support the larger Progressive agenda if more of the people who suffer the ill-consequences of minimum wages and other such interventions could describe their experiences by writing essays for the Atlantic. And I’m certain that Ms. Schmitt would reject all of Progressivism, rather than just its Covid policies, if she were personally to experience the full range of the damage that it inflicts on the poor and the powerless – damage to which Progressives are blind.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030