A government, like a family or a corporation, can support some number of economically unviable undertakings. But at some point, no matter how pleasurable or good intentioned they are, piling on too many economically unviable endeavors threatens those that are viable. The problem with Progressivism is that it cannot, even in theory, limit itself to a non-damaging number of unviable undertakings.
One of Progressivism’s foundational beliefs is that “experts” should manage the economy and people’s lives by regulating, restricting, encouraging and subsidizing some things but not others, based on what the “experts” deem to be in the best interests of the nation. This means, of course, that decisions will be made for political and ideological reasons rather than economic ones (even granting the benefit of good intentions and the absence of corruption other than the intellectual variety).
Assume for the moment that this management of people and the economy is initially inefficient but sustainable, by being of limited scope. What happens? The corporations and individuals involved in activities favored by the “experts” gain an advantage and thus begin to accumulate wealth and power in a proportion greater than they would have otherwise.
This has two effects. First, it attracts more companies and individuals to the favored activities in search of money and power. Second, is that it encourages the already powerful and connected, in addition to those seeking to gain wealth and power, to demand that the scope of things being managed by the “experts” be expanded so they can capture the advantages for themselves.
And so the death spiral begins.
Over time, decisions are increasingly made by “experts” without regard to their economic viability. The expansion of the scope of the “experts’” control quickens. Money and power flow to the well connected. Soon enough the “experts” in one part of government are encouraging things that “experts” in another part of government are discouraging. The taxes needed to support the system suck money from the independent private sector and flow to the “experts”, the bureaucrats and their cronies in the parasitic private sector (those favored by the “experts”).
As the economically unviable activities expand, they begin to crowd out the viable ones, producing calls for more action, which further accelerates the death spiral. At some point, the economically viable activities in the independent private sector are simply unable to keep pace with the demands of the unviable endeavors required by the “experts” and collapse becomes inevitable.
By collapse, I don’t mean society falls apart and it’s every man for himself. What I mean is: Greece and the rest of Europe (which will be us before long). The bill comes due, the debt has to be paid, government austerity becomes a requirement, the cronyism and unviable projects have to be unwound. In short, Progressivism has to be undone. To the previously favored, the cronies of Progressivism, it is shocking and painful.
Because Progressivism has no internal ideological check, there is no line within it that says “here and no further” in its drive to regulate and manage. In other words, once Progressivism takes root it will inevitably destroy itself.