Jay Ambrose, National

Progressive equality rhetoric masks disdain for ‘ordinary’ Americans

Progressives have a new Armageddon, namely income inequality, and, yes, there are some things to be worried about, not least of all what the progressives themselves will do about it. In the end, you see, many are not really egalitarian at all. They are instead condescending, disdainful, neo-aristocrats who think the ordinary Joe and Jane cannot tie their own shoes without help from Washington.

Mighty mistakes from such stunted attitudes grow. And while you might say that you’ve never heard liberal politicians talk like that, large numbers of them definitely act like that even as they avoid the sneering, haughty outlandishness of celebrity liberals seeking attention instead of votes.

icon_op_edMichael Moore, the maker of doltish documentaries lucky to get a single fact straight, once said we were “the dumbest people on the planet,” that our “stupidity is embarrassing” and even wrote a book called “Stupid White Men … And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation.” Actually, the book did prove that some slow-witted folks are out there. It made the best-seller list.

Then you come to Bill Maher, the TV comedian who doesn’t rattle on just a little about American stupidity, but rattles on to the point of inanity about American stupidity. I happen to agree that a great many Americans are ill-informed, but I also think they are often the ones who vote for left-wing Democrats and that Maher himself is sometimes more than a little misinformed. He is one of those who totally missed the truth about Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed Medicare fix, confusing the amount the government would give seniors to acquire insurance policies down the road with how much care the policies would cover.

On his TV show, Maher does not indulge his bigotry single-handedly, sometimes calling on small-name celebrities to chip in. One was guest David Carr, a liberal New York Times columnist who used the phrase “low-sloping foreheads” to refer to Midwesterners. Any number of writers have that kind of fun. Consider a journalism professor named Stephen Bloom. In an Atlantic magazine article about folks in Iowa, he called them, among other things, “an assortment of waste-oids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth.”

Progressive politicians would never use such language, obviously, but many of them do endorse policies that assume vast incompetence among the inferior, unreliable, hopeless masses. If they did not think like that, they would not employ command-and-control measures that clearly aim to make not just a few decisions for a few of us, but endless decisions for just about everyone of us. Not infrequently, the liberty-shrinking measures are more hindrance than help.

To address income inequality – and forgetting about equal rights, equal human worth and equality in the way we regard each other – many progressives are gearing up to intervene hurtfully all over again, aiming, for instance, to tell businesses how much they can afford to pay employees when they cannot possibly know and thereby costing many of those employees working hours if not their jobs.

A real problem making us less equal in outcome is fatherless homes that contribute mightily to more school dropouts, more crime, more poverty. It’s in part a matter of welfare programs that put wrong incentives in place but is also a sociocultural issue that calls for moral leadership, and here I would like to say that, despite my criticisms, I do recognize some special liberals out there, including one with a well-known name: Oprah Winfrey

I caught her on a TV show with the pastor T.D. Jakes making powerful pleas for fathers to do the right thing by their children. We need more of that sort of thing.

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado and a senior fellow at the Independence Institute.  Email SpeaktoJay@aol.com.


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