What is social progress and how do we achieve it?

I recently posted this on Facebook, I got three likes, but no comments of any kind. It seems that when you go beyond the populist rhetoric, finding and discussing specifics is a challenge.  I’d like your comments. 

To all my left, liberal, progressive friends. 

Rather than relying on placards and buzzwords to capture our views, can we start from a place of fact? What exactly is progress? 

From my perspective making social progress is gradually reducing the need for all government assistance, not by merely cutting benefits,  but by making them less necessary. Wouldn’t it be great to see fewer Americans on SNAP, Medicaid, with subsidized health care, SSI, EITC, etc,? 

That to me would be real progress, but it appears that the liberal view of progress is expanding these programs so more Americans are receiving more benefits. If we keep adding more people to the rolls, aren’t we doing the opposite of making progress in lifting all of society? image

Is our goal to provide temporary assistance and encourage Americans to work their way out of poverty or to simply manage poverty, make people more comfortable and trap them in their situation?


  1. Sorry, CORRECTION: The correct title and first line from wikipedia entry:

    Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 is a 2012 book by political scientist and W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Charles Murray. Murray describes what he sees as the economic divide and moral decline of white Americans that has occurred since 1960.


  2. The macro economic problem is largely determined by the micro social unit: the family. The most most important predictor of childhood poverty is what type of family the child grows up in. A child stands a much better chance of succeeding in life despite poor schools and poor neighborhood if the child lives with both parents. Must read book: The History of White People, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our goal is to provide temporary assistance to enable the least amoung us to work their way out of poverty. However, as one of your own recent postings so clearly detailed, the system is rigged against their success. And, Elizabeth Warren is absolutely correct in that regard. Our government is for sale to the 1% who can afford it and Citizens United must be over turned. In addition congressional term limits must be enacted. That being said, there remain millions of disabled veterans and other citizens who probably can never “work their way out of poverty”. What is to become of them? They don’t fit your grand vision. Contrary to the rantings of the Teapublicans, a study of SNAP (which you recently posted) clearly shows that no one strives to remain on those programs for life because the benefits are too meager to actually sustain life for very long.


    1. So, please tell us exactly how the system is rigged. What prevents an individual from succeeding (other than the construct of the entitlement system itself)? If the system is working why aren’t the numbers going down and poverty at 10% rather than 15%? We surely agree on term limits for Congress and that points out that the problem is not the money, but those who accept it, including the Warrens of the world.


    2. “Econ­omist Fed­erico Cingano found last year, in a pa­per for the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, that in de­vel­oped economies (in­clud­ing the U.S.), ris­ing inequal­ity low­ers growth. But he un­cov­ered no ev­i­dence that the surg­ing in­come of those at the very top harms growth. What re­ally mat­ters is the gap be­tween the low­est 40% of house­holds and the rest of the pop­u­la­tion, which de­presses ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­nity and at­tain­ment for those at the bottom. Pub­licly funded schools that serve the poor are of lower qual­ity, and able stu­dents from fam­i­lies with­out re-sources are less likely to take ad­van­tage of higher ed­u­ca­tion.”

      On a macro basis, this seems valid. However, it would be a mistake to assume that this translates to success for each individual who is able to take advantage of higher education.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s