What Progressives don’t understand—won’t accept—is that, as Eric Falkenstein wrote
People get most of their pleasure, and meaning, being useful to others, which includes inspiring the admiration or happiness of others by one’s actions. Every time I make my daughter squeal with delight makes me thankful to be alive, because I know she really loves me, and I work to provide her with things and habits that will make her prosper, and hope that at some point after I’m gone she will remember me with sincere gratitude.
This made especially in the actual community interactions of individuals. Progressives are only willing to help their fellows by government diktat, not directly with their personal resources. I’ve written elsewhere about who donates to charity, for instance, but it bears repeating: Conservatives donate 3.5% to 4.5% of their incomes; Liberals just 1.25% to 1.5%. And further,
A healthy wage is a strong correlate with one’s usefulness to non-family members, especially if you work in field without a lot of regulation.
Adam Smith understood this. John Locke and our Founders understood this. The “invisible hand” and the existence of a social compact both are founded on the not-so-enlightened self-interest—the greed—of the individuals participating in the commerce and in the formation of the social compact. Free commerce, and the republican government over which the compact members are sovereign, are what lead to the greatest material and moral prosperity of the individuals involved. The first is self-evident. The second derives from that material prosperity: being useful to others, indeed, satisfying our duty to others (which involves such mundane things as honoring our commitments, here to provide our mutual support to defend and preserve our—and our fellows’—individual and several inalienable Rights, to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and so on) is enormously facilitated by personal prosperity (which, just incidentally, also creates community prosperity): we have more wherewithal with which to satisfy our individual obligations (which are, don’t forget, individual, not collective).
[Eric Hoffer considered that] intellectuals found free societies a threat because such societies didn’t need mandarins directing them, and if not flattered would help incite the masses to some sort of revolution. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding, and so those unhappy with their own meaningless affairs will focus on minding other people’s business. Hoffer noted one must not merely provide for those without meaning in their lives, but provide against them, because in a democracy and market economy their preferences will have power. Those who see their lives as inferior and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom, and this can cause a Republic to fall to a democracy, and ultimately a tyranny.
In other words, Hoffer describes the essence of the Liberal [I say Progressive—ed.] desire to micromanage society into perfect equality at the expense of liberty. A coalition of intellectuals and the underclass, both of whom feel unappreciated. We haven’t figured out a good outlet for these do-gooders, or a good way for those without a purpose to find life rewarding, so they continue to plague us with their plans and angst.