Right On: Behind enemy lines, Action St. George

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION — Wanting to see how the other half lives, or at least how it thinks, I ventured alone and unarmed into a room full of progressives last month.

Action St. George invited everyone to its second public town meeting last month. As advertised, participants were civil and peaceful, a welcome contrast to the raucous near-riots favored by the “Resistance” these days.

Action St. George claims to be nonpartisan but its meeting agenda was filled with progressive code words and topics, among them:

  • Access to health care.
  • Safeguarding Social Security and Medicare from corporate takeover.
  • Federal budget priorities including taxpayer cost and impact of the border wall and defense spending.

Progressive goals are frequently commendable, ones even many conservatives can embrace. But conservatives often have problems with the means proposed to accomplish progressive ends.

Conservatives see serious government encroachment on individual freedom and responsibility. Progressives see selfish, mean-spirited opposition to noble goals.

With this in mind, I heard a variety of worthy goals expressed at the meeting but was taken aback at the means proposed to achieve them.

The meeting was hosted by Russ Cashin and Dixie State University professor Dr. Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva, both members of the St. George Interfaith Council.

Our hosts as well as most who rose to speak were sincere, idealistic (the polite word) and out of touch with reality (not so polite).

First on our hosts’ hit list: Money in politics. We were asked by show of hands to indicate if we wanted to reduce the influence of money in politics. All hands shot up, mine included.

I agreed because I knew that Trump spent far less than both Clinton in 2016 and Obama in his 2012 reelection campaign. While I did not vote for Trump, as a conservative I hate to see Democrats outspending Republicans.

Progressives in the room were thinking instead about the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision that allows corporations and unions to contribute to political action committees. Progressives assume corporations are bankrolling conservative candidates and “buying” elections.

The facts tell a different story: Unions spent a staggering $1.7 billion in the 2016 election cycle, virtually all for Democrats. Corporations tend to spread their bets, supporting both Democrats and Republicans.

Nonetheless corporations, not unions, were next on the hit list. Cashin proposes requiring every corporation with annual revenues over $50 million to reapply for its charter every five years. Only if it passes muster on social and environmental responsibility would it be allowed to continue in business.

So who, pray tell, would make this judgement and on what basis? Corporations would be kowtowing to the likes of Valerie Jarrett or Steve Bannon depending on who won the last election. Could anyone realistically want this Soviet-style political control?

Few would argue with Cashin’s “New Bottom Line” calling on society to “maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, empathy and compassion.” How he proposes to achieve this would make Bernie Sanders proud.

He touts a proposed Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment, or ESRA. The amendment would foster a massive government takeover of society to replace “materialism and selfishness with a new global ethos of caring for each other,” a hoped-for political millennium.

He believes ESRA would “return power to ordinary citizens.” Surely he jests.

Ordinary citizens have ballot box control over elected officials, but even these officials have surprisingly little control over the regulators who would prescribe detailed rules defining how we would “care for one another.”

Are you ready to be told how many hours of community service you must render monthly or the maximum size and number of television sets you can own?

For those old enough to remember, all this idealism reminded me of hippie culture in the late 1960s with its “flower power” and “make love, not war” slogans.

Setting aside the meeting’s idealism, there was plenty of good old progressive political nonsense to chew on.

For example, the following claims were presented for government single-payer health care. If you believe any of them, you’ve been drinking Obamacare Kool-Aid:

  • Health care costs would be reduced by 24 percent, saving $829 billion in the first year.
  • Over 95 percent of taxpayers would save money; only the top 5 percent would pay more.
  • Most single-payer countries do not have long wait times for service.
  • Single-payer will replace high, unpredictable premiums with low, stable taxes.

As I described in “My Simple, Comprehensive Obamacare Replacement” column, I am in favor of a single payer plan. But my single payer is the individual using his/her Health Savings Account with government providing only catastrophic coverage.

I applaud these local progressives for their idealism, sincerity and big hearts but … their faith in big government solutions to the country’s problems is belied by government’s repeated failures, most recently Obamacare, VA health care, IRS targeting of political opponents and the Clinton Foundation influence-peddling follies.

Even successes like Social Security and Medicare have been expanded past their breaking points for near term political gain.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Overarching government power is far more to be feared than corporate monopolies or collusion. Both must be guarded against in a free society.

By the way, not even Bernie Sanders has endorsed ESRA.

Howard Sierer is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • desertgirl May 11, 2017 at 7:17 am

    The 60’s called and want the progressives back.

  • Not_So_Much May 11, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Thank you for an excellent perspective Mr Sierer.

  • DRT May 11, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Kind of funny, in sad sort of way, how history repeats itself. Free love, drugs, all problems of the country are caused by big corporations, and on and on.
    “Make Love, Not Babies!” 🙂

  • Rainbow Dash May 11, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Love how Sierer thinks of progressives as his “enemy” like he’s in some kind of war against those who disagree with his belief that programs non-functioning programs written in ’55 should be left untouched for all eternity just because. Unbelievable. I will give him this though, he is willing to at least LISTEN to other points of view and consider them. That’s a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT MORE than I can say for 99% of “conservatives”.

    • Henry May 11, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      I didn’t realize that the recent campus protesters (dressed in black masks & clothing, armed with bicycle U-locks & pepper spray) that intimidated and physically attacked people with contrary points of view, were “conservatives”.

  • DB May 11, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Any organization that feels the need to inform me that they are ‘nonpartisan’ is anything but. AARP is a good example.

  • commonsense May 12, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Interesting that most of the crooks in politics are Democrats. Hillary showed us how to become a millionaire without working or investing. Just today Janet Napaletano, Obama’s HLS advisor was charged with hiding $75 million in her role University of California president. Yesterday a former Democratic congress woman was convicted of stealing millions from her charitable trust. Al Sharpton will be next. Pay for no work is a common theme amongst liberal. Bernie has never had a job outside of politics and yet owns three homes.

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