Alec Mouhibian, I have to object to your last column (“Wake Up, Progressives: History Refutes Anti-Globalization Pipe Dreams,” Daily Nexus, Jan. 24). I have come to accept that I will almost inevitably disagree with you and that this disagreement often stems from your neglect to get your facts straight. Your latest article, however, was so fundamentally flawed that you still managed to shock me.
The core of my complaint is your confusion of progressivism with Marxism. While it is true that both movements began as a response to the abuses of industrialization, they promote vastly different agendas. Progressives do not seek to overthrow governments, nor are they supportive of dictatorships (something which cannot be said for many conservatives). In fact, historians believe that progressive reforms helped prevent Marxist revolutions in democratic countries. Progressives are not in favor of command economies, and the death, devastation and poverty that you associate with progressives is completely unfounded. That would be the fault of Marxists. Or socialists (The line between those two can be more reasonably blurred.). Progressives, however, are not without blame. They are at fault for securing a woman’s right to vote, abolishing child labor, establishing a minimum wage, and creating the initiative and the referendum. Progressives are also to blame for the travesty that was Prohibition, but on the bright side, some of the best root beers are legacies of that legislation.
Progressives do not, as you claim, seek a “government that could run most things better than free individuals.” However, they do recognize that history has shown that a completely free market is just as bad an idea as communism. Even Milton Friedman, one of the most avid advocates of free markets, believes that the government’s role is to create a level playing field for businesses by laying down some basic rules. The progressive movement is just about creating and enforcing a fair set of rules. Progressives seek sustainability because making survival more difficult for future generations is not a nice thing to do. They seek to have individuals pay the full cost of their actions. Currently, corporations can get away with poisoning a neighborhood’s water or working their employees to illness at the cost of the taxpayers. I challenge you to find fault with this progressive agenda. I dare you to claim that it is right for Wal-Mart to teach their employees how to apply for food stamps because it doesn’t pay them enough to survive.
Since the progressive agenda is so sensible, it has been very successful domestically. The United States has excellent environmental and labor laws. Unfortunately, many other countries do not, and some American companies have moved abroad just to avoid these laws. This is the facet of globalization that progressives oppose. Progressives believe that companies should be able to move operations abroad as long as they adhere to the same health, environmental and workforce standards that we have here. They can even pay lower labor costs if they still provide a living wage. Your insinuation that progressives object to all international commerce and not just the abuses of it is inappropriate.
Alec, I understand that you are the co-chair of the Students for Academic Freedom, an organization that seeks to improve the diversity of ideas in schools. It is a noble goal, and you are currently undermining it. As one of the few conservative voices on campus, you have a large effect on how students perceive conservatives. Until you add some research to your witty one-liners, you aren’t going to increase demand for the intellectual diversity you crave.
Being a columnist for the Nexus is a great job. You have the opportunity to refine your political views, improve your writing ability and make strangers angry. Trust me, those strangers will be so much angrier and you’ll feel so much better when they are unable to refute your claims. I look forward to that day.
Loren Williams is a former Daily Nexus columnist.