Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Regressive Party

One favorite label that progressives or liberals like to place on conservatives is that they call them the regressive party. Regressive is defined as tending to return or to revert. It is also defined as decreasing proportionately the amount of taxes – regressive tax. Regression is defined as a trend or shift toward a lower or less perfect state – for instance a disease, body function, mental state, or motion can all regress. And yes, the definition of progressive is the opposite – moving forward or advancing in incremental steps. At first glance the regressive label does not seem fair. Although I am conservative my philosophies of implementing a fair tax would yield more revenue for both individual citizens and the federal government. My personal story is that I grew up in poverty – but I have given my fair share of income in taxes and charities without ever accepting a penny in federal handouts. I have helped foster advancements in technology that have made our lives easier, less expensive, and safer. If that is regressive then so be it. To be perfectly honest, the regressive generalization angered me.

By the same token, what is progressive about liberal philosophies and ideas? Abortion as a means of birth control – is that a progressive idea? What about labor union concepts of rewarding and protecting bad employees - how exactly is this progressive? If anything, these ideas lead to mediocrity – look at the American automotive industry when compared to other global auto companies or how education has declined in our country with students being less proficient in math, science, and reading and more kids dropping out of school. How have entitlements and quota systems improved corporate competitiveness or individual advancement? Today, on average, more people live in poverty than 50 years ago. Minorities are segregated more than ever living miserable lives fighting crime and addiction in inner city slums. The family unit has disintegrated - most families living on welfare are of the single parent variety. Meanwhile corporate innovation, exports, and technological advancements have slowed. Yes, it is easy to surmise that the regressive party is the Democratic Party. To me, being regressive is being a burden on society – by having others pay for our existence – this is the Democratic way.

The more that I thought about the regressive accusation, the more I began to realize that there is some truth to it. In many respects I would like to go back to the earlier interpretations of the Constitution, a smaller government, and more state rights. Still, another definition of regression is to determine the relationship between two or more correlated variables – usually determined by empirical data – to predict future outcomes. Thus, in order to determine and solve the complex problems of tomorrow we need to first regress. In other words, we need to be able to break down the problem into a set of older individual data points or variables. These are the tool that scientists use to understand the relationship between temperature and carbon emissions; or the relationship between tax rates and tax revenues or consumer spending; or the relationship between increasing Medicaid patient payrolls on healthcare costs or the quality of healthcare. These are indeed complex problems that unfortunately very few people have the capacity or the mathematical skills to build an accurate linear regression model to solve these issues. For what it is worth, I have created models, using data from government sites, to solve the above problems. I am not saying my models are correct (they need to pass the test of time), but at least I have the ability to break down problems to find what set of variables correlate to find solutions. By definition a progressive does not have this ability – but I will not make that generalization. What I will say is that being classified as a regressive is not all bad – especially if you have the ability to break down and solve the complex problems that face the future of our nation (that is progressive).

I do not care that people have opinions, one way or the other, on these complex problems. What disturbs me is that everyone thinks their opinions are the 100% correct even though they not only fail to understand the math behind the problem, they have never seen the model or math solution. This is very sad and it is a testament to our narcissism and “know it all” mentality. But if you want to label me as a regressive – go ahead – I now see it as a compliment.

My Book: Is America Dying? (, Barnes and Noble)

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