Tue Jun 6th, 2006 at 01:16:51 PM EST
For all the discussions about the liberal agenda what has actually been accomplished over the past 50 years?
Liberals have been going after the same targets since the end of WWII with, in my opinion, limited success. The one important exception being the progress of blacks in public accommodation access and career options.
I'll leave it to commentators to take the positive position. I'm going to discuss the other side below. Here are some of the persistent failures:
Crosspossed at dKos:
Use of tobacco: It is over 50 years since all doubt of a link between smoking and health issues was established (and publicized). The rate of smoking has declined since then, but two whole generations were allowed to become addicts nevertheless.
Gun control: The US remains the most deadly country on the planet when guns are considered. There are still over 20,000+ gun deaths per year. Just looked at from a public health point of view nothing has been done to make guns "safer", or to keep them out of the hands of those who should not have access.
Healthy eating: The US is now in the midst of an obesity crisis. This has led to a public health problem including diabetes, heart disease and a general lack of physical fitness. Attempts to get the food industry to sell healthier products have had only token success. Offering a couple of salads at McDonald's is not really progress.
Illegal drugs: The "war on drugs" has been a total failure. We now have over one million people in prison, a good percentage because of drug-related crimes. The demand for coca- and poppy-based drugs has led to the development of failed states such as Columbia and Afghanistan which have soaked up huge amounts of military spending and distorted our foreign policies, all with no effect.
Rise of the super rich: For a society which prides itself on the ideals of equality, the society has been trending in exactly the opposite direction. While the average standard of living has increased for all during the period, the gains have been increasingly unequal. The result has been that the super rich are now able to influence economic policy to benefit themselves even as it makes the entire society less efficient and unable to compete in the world.
Consolidation of business: The "level playing field" has vanished. Anti-trust laws are no longer enforced. Most economic sectors are controlled by oligopolies, from autos to software there is hardly an industry that has more that ten significant firms. The claims of improved efficiency and the need for greater market share as justification for this trend have never been demonstrated. As proof, in most cases when firms announce a merger or buyout of a competitor, their share price drops. Investors don't see there being a benefit. The downside is the same as always: less innovation, price controls and extraction of wealth from the firm's capital and diversion to the deal makers.
Economic security: The shift away from employer funded benefits to personal responsibility is nearly complete. As a consequence the level of economic security is at a fifty year low. Pensions have vanished, health care has become unaffordable, jobs have been outsourced, downsized, or just continued with pay cuts. One small stumble and a family can find itself destitute. Welfare has been almost eliminated and the base wage has lagged behind inflation. Rather than a society based upon the common welfare we have a dog eat dog ethic.
Peace: Since the end of WWII the US has fought a continual series of discretionary wars. These have shifted economic resources away from the civilian sector and into the military one. The cumulative cost is now in the trillions. In addition tens of thousands of lives have been ruined or damaged both here and abroad. What have we to show for it? Most of our prior enemies are now are friends. The regimes that we wanted to topple have been replaced, in many cases, with ones just as bad. In point of fact we haven't actually "won" a single war in the past 60 years, at best we achieved a standoff.
With a record like this isn't it time that those who want to see these issues resolved design a new strategy? The existing one certainly isn't working.