American politics aren’t so hard to understand.
The most significant ideological difference between today’s Progressives and their more extreme cousins, socialists, versus Conservatives can be simplified as just one of economic philosophy. Progressives and socialists believe in responding to the effects of economic stress by lowering the bar so that all have some kind of assured result through a share of common outcome. In other words, a government guarantee of some portion of a diminished product of society as a whole. Conservatives believe in enhancing society as a whole by addressing the root causes of economic stress and in creating a climate in which all have an equal opportunity to use their talents and their efforts to rise up, dragging the rest along with them. To Conservatives the rising tide lifts all boats.
There may be no better case study of the results of Progressive policies than the City of New Orleans. Without reservations I suspect that the overwhelming majority of people would agree that at least for now New Orleans is a city whose best days are far in the past. The extant political case is that Progressives who run the city avoid addressing the core issues that hold the city back, by using politically popular rationalizations to justify redistributive programs for their base. Conservatives see the bad outcomes of city governance but do so from the perspective of what must be done to fix the underlying reasons that the city isn’t performing as it should.
In effect those who run New Orleans are content to surrender to self-imposed inevitability by applying a pseudo bandage to the festering sore that covers the causes of the downward spiral of a once great city. Those of conservative persuasion are confounded by why city leaders refuse to address the underlying causes that the infection of decline is there in the first place.
Let’s be more specific, in order to identify the underlying policies that have led to the decline of the city, let’s start by understanding the fundamental reasons people and businesses are attracted to any city in the first place. Throughout time those fundamental reasons are expectations of safety, prosperity, and happiness.
We know that to address the failures of the Nagin administration, long before it was popular on the Left Mitch Landrieu defunded the police by cutting as many as 400 officers. We know that the city has gone on a “woke” justice reform binge by not restaffing the police department, by forcing the police to disband previously successful tactical units, by blocking the construction of jail facilities, and by virtually eliminating bail. The voters magnified the situation by electing a DA that employs his own far-left definition of fairness, in contravention to the safety of citizens. Simply put, by deeds, though not necessarily by rhetoric, city leaders have effectively undermined the first expectation of what makes a city attractive, the expectation of safety.
Prosperity in any city comes from the ability to attract and or grow businesses that create family wealth through good jobs. The attitude of NOLA’s city leaders has been that no matter what, business simply must be here, and that business owes them for the privilege to be allowed to operate here. The result has been ever expanding city policies that have been centered on thinly veiled racial patronage, generally defined as “equity”, on crony capitalism, and on the virtual corruption in spirit if not in fact of political demands on business. The truth is that business and prosperity producing jobs go where business can earn and keep as much as possible for its shareholders. NOLA fails that test, and the result is that business votes with its feet by moving away. As business has moved away so too have many people seeking their own bit of prosperity. Simple freshman economics defeats this second expectation that prosperity would make NOLA an attractive city.
The final expectation for attractiveness is happiness. Happiness takes many forms, a city full of life with events such as Mardi Gras speaks to happiness. NOLA certainly fits that bill, but happiness can also be a city where children stay because they have good job prospects. Happiness can be a good public education; it can include a high quality of life such as good streets and reliable utilities and drainage. NOLA is a fun place to visit, but for so many they just visit and then return home to another city or suburb that fulfills all their essential requirements to be happy. In this respect NOLA has failed the third expectation of what makes a city attractive, NOLA is a city of shallow happiness.
The city’s decline can be directly traced to Progressive policies that do not make a priority of safety, prosperity, and happiness. In the alternative Progressive city leaders use the once shiny, though now tarnished, objects of racism and undefined inequity in an effort to divert the public’s attention away from inconvenient solutions. In order to provide for a reemergent city, leadership either doesn’t know how to reform the city or worse, they do know but because it conflicts with Progressive ideology, they refuse to act on it. While building an offensive of blaming everyone except themselves, Progressives have applied a big bandage covering up the root causes of decline.
Hence, as I began, the differences between Progressives/socialists and Conservatives are really simple to understand. The use of blame to create a bandage to cover up fundamental faults in the economic engine of state – Progressivism in New Orleans has failed the people. Align government policies with the laws of economics and with historically tested principles of governance based on freedom– Conservatism could rip the bandage from the open sore of malaise.
See, this isn’t so hard to understand.