Adamant: Hardest metal
Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Deadly Hypocrisy of Progressivism

By Scott Jordan
A central tenet of Marxism and all its variants is that the rich—if you must have 'em—must pay more taxes than the proletariat. It's only fair, goes the thinking, that those who have more should pay more… not just proportionally more according to their larger income, but exponentially more through application of a larger multiple: a higher tax rate.

In a linguistic twist that must have given Orwell grim satisfaction, this is known as "progressive" taxation. Now, chew on that term: "progressive." Doesn't it sound nice? Per, its leading definitions are all gauzily forward-thinking and steeped in a heart-swelling sense of advancing modernity towards a brightening future for all humankind:

Main Entry: pro·gres·sive
Pronunciation: pr&-'gre-siv
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1612

1 a : of, relating to, or characterized by progress b : making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities c : of, relating to, or constituting an educational theory marked by emphasis on the individual child, informality of classroom procedure, and encouragement of self-expression

2 : of, relating to, or characterized by progression

3 : moving forward or onward : ADVANCING

Clearly, to be "progressive" is a desirable trait. Who wouldn't want their core tenets labeled in a way that connotes "progress" or "new ideas" or "opportunities" or even "encouragement of self-expression"? But consider the next definition:

4 a : increasing in extent or severity b : increasing in rate as the base increases

Now we're cooking. How apt that the definition that touches on taxation also touches on the relentless advancement of disease!

But imagine a tax that literally did advance disease. And imagine that it was the exact opposite of Marx's prescribed method of taxation: imagine it took its heaviest toll against the meager wealth and even the wretched lives of the poorest people in the world. Can you comprehend the ululations of despair, the keening howls of protest that would emanate from the Left? And what about the children? Won't somebody please think of the children?

Unfortunately, such a tax exists. It has subjected billions to unending, grinding poverty, stolen their best hope for better lives, and sentenced countless millions to death and starvation. It is the most regressive tax of all, yet it is the pet of the Progressives. It is doctrinaire, unquestioning, radical environmentalism.

There is no better example than the ban on DDT, 31 years ago this month. After its discovery, DDT was quickly proven to be a wonder chemical which virtually eliminated disease-bearing and crop-destroying insects. For example, it dropped the incidence of malaria in Venezuela from over eight million annual cases to fewer than a thousand, and in India from more than ten million to about a quarter million.[1]

It stopped an epidemic of typhus in war-devastated Naples. Malaria was even wiped out in the United States' poor rural South thanks to this miracle pesticide. All told, the World Health Organization credited DDT with saving fifty to one hundred million lives in just its first couple decades of use. Yet in a monument to junk science, this eminently safe, lifesaving chemical was banned due to unsupported, irreproducible, practically anecdotal contentions that it caused cancer in humans and disrupted reproduction in birds. (That the ban was issued in the U.S. just two years after the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency by a Republican president is cause for enduring shame for that Party and a reminder for unwavering vigilance against pseudoscience and go-along-to-get-along "moderation" for those of us on the Right.)

To put this in perspective, it has been estimated that perhaps half of all humans who have ever lived died of malaria. Their desperate heirs are today's poor around the world.

For rich societies like the United States and "Old Europe", it is merely a nuisance to address mosquitoes and farm-pests with alternative chemicals and costly abatement programs. But no alternative chemical has been developed which is as effective as DDT, and none is so affordable. Simply, the poorest societies of the world are hit hardest by this shibboleth of those who would call themselves Progressives.

[1] Reason Online: "Silent Spring at 40",

You are not logged in