Read time: 3 minutes

If Glenn Beck Thinks Progressives Are Toxic, What Kind Of America Does He Want?

Glenn Beck was on Greta Van Susteren's show last night, plumping his new book, Common Sense -- which, like most right-wing titles, is actually a piece
Views:

Glenn Beck was on Greta Van Susteren's show last night, plumping his new book, Common Sense -- which, like most right-wing titles, is actually a piece of Newspeak that represents roughly the opposite of what it appears to mean -- and repeating his charge that "the progressive movement is the "disease" that is killing this country".

You see, he's been reading Jonah Goldberg, so he's reached this conclusion (with some help from libertarians). And there's no doubt that the basic argument is right: Beginning in the early 1900s, the progressive movement definitely shifted the direction of this nation and shaped it largely into what we see today.

Glenn Beck thinks that's a bad thing. I don't.

Now, I know that Beck reels in money by the barrelful these days. But he hails from a working-class family and often touts his working-class roots.

So I'd like him to meet some Americans before the progressive movement came along:

ChildLaborers_ed089.JPG

These are child laborers from the early part of the last century. They were common fixtures on the American landscape. Possibly some of Beck's ancestors were among them. (Here's a gallery of pictures of them.)

I've remarked on this previously, but it bears repeating:

The United States has always been an essentially capitalist economic system. However, we have experienced periods in our history where this system has seriously malfunctioned, and we've made adjustments accordingly that have largely worked well making things better.

One of those dysfunctional periods came at about the turn of the last century, when McKinley was president, corrupt robber barons ran Congress, and the latter-day version of "strict constructionists" ruled the courts. "Laissez faire" capitalism ruled, and America was functionally an oligarchy.

Squeezed out were the working people: the average workweek was 80 hours, there were no weekends, no vacation, only a few holidays, and the barest minimum of pay. Benefits and health care were unheard of. Child labor was the rule.

What happened between then and now? "Progressives" began agitating for better working conditions, and began organizing as labor unions. After a long period of violent repression, these reforms gradually became government policy -- especially in the 1930s under FDR. Americans began getting 40-hour work weeks with weekends off, paid vacations and benefits.

Probably the most significant and lasting legacy of this period of "progressive" innovation was the progressive tax code. It has been a feature of the income tax since its institution in 1913. Who was one of its original champions? Theodore Roosevelt.

The fact is that the United States -- like nearly every single Western capitalist democracy -- is a variable blend of socialism and capitalism, free-enterprise economies with regulatory restraints and modest income redistribution. The result of those "progressive" reforms from 1900-1940 was the birth of the great American middle class and the quality of life we have enjoyed so long we've forgotten what it was like not to have it. People like Glenn Beck seem never even to have learned.

Indeed, when right-wingers like Beck and Goldberg attack "evil progressivism," it sounds a lot like they want us to return to the bad old days under McKinley, when American workers were indentured servants to the wealthy.

Of course, maybe now that they're both wealthy men, there's a simple explanation for that.

Can you help us out?

For 16 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit. We work 7 days a week, 16 hours a day for our labor of love, but with rising hosting and associated costs, we need your help! Could you donate $20 for 2020? Please consider a one time or recurring donation of whatever amount you can spare, or consider subscribing for an ad-free experience. It will be greatly appreciated and help us continue our mission of exposing the real FAKE NEWS!

More C&L Coverage

Comments

NOTE: We will be changing to a new commenting platform in the next couple of weeks. We will supply more details as we get closer to the change. We understand some users are having problems with comments loading and this will hopefully remedy that problem

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.