The Price of Progressivism

Think about the word “Progress”. Undoubtedly, it brings different things to mind. On one hand, there’s the more literal definition of moving forwards, especially as it relates to improving something. The progress of technology is a fine example. The other meaning undoubtedly relates to the idea and ideals of “Progressivism ” centered around a different kind of progress: Progress. The latter kind, Progress, is starkly different than progress. Whereas one is about the advancement of existence, primarily through technology, the other is about masquerading restrictions and limitations as progress. Since technology is the finest example of progress, look at it this way.

Compare the last 60 years, back to 1955. The Cold War was still going on full force as the United States and the Soviet Union battled indirectly for supremacy. Socially, things are very different then and today (Way back when, things called morals existed, but that is an aside). Compare the technologies. They had cars, they had television (granted, it was black and white). They had microwaves and refrigerators. The one big thing that they did not have was computers and the internet. Consider this: the thing that has changed the most over the past 60 years, arguably the only thing that has really changed at that, are computers and the internet. Why would that be so?

The first idea that comes to mind is likely “Because that’s where the money is!”. Granted, that is completely true. Getting into computer engineering, whether it’s creating software or hardware, is often a golden ticket for innovative minds. All it takes is a single program that takes off and you’re set for life. However, look more closely at something. The internet and computer programming is one of the least regulated areas of industry in the civilized world. Automobiles have to satisfy EPA regulations, and one direct effect is making cars from plastic rather than metal to shave off weight to increase fuel efficiency. The energy industry is under a constant assault from federal governments that try to reduce or outright eliminate entire industries. In contrast, computers are booming, with new and innovative software being invented frequently. People are finding new ways to do tasks that never have been thought of before, or creating computers more powerful than imagined as recently as 10 years ago.

So what is the difference between the former two and the latter? In the first two cases, progress has been pushed to the side in the name of Progress. Increasingly often, scientists are breaking the mold and pointing out that it would be easier, not to mention much cheaper and vastly more effective, to devise a way to clean up the harmful emissions rather than reducing the amount of emissions themselves. These scientists are, however, a small minority. The ones that speak out are crucified by the media or, more likely, completely ignored even by other scientists. It is far easier to keep silent and collect the very generous government funds than to work towards innovation. Innovation and change are the two deadliest enemies of Progress, for they threaten the rhetoric it puts forth.

It seems that the price of Progress is progress, and that is a cost that is simply too heavy to bear for very much longer. Society cannot undertake Progress and progress at the same time, and increasingly often the latter is being superceded by the former.

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