Respond to this Article December 2005

The New Progressivism

An introduction.

From The Washington Monthly

Conservatives say they want to use choice (school vouchers, private accounts in Social Security) to shift power from government to individuals. We think that conservativesí real aim is to shift more risk onto individuals in order to cut government, and that only liberals can deliver a choice revolution in government that people would actually want. But we also believe progressives should go a step further, with policies that shift power from corporations to individuals.

After all, protecting the little guy against corporate shenanigans (of which there are plenty today) is a traditional mission of progressivism. Yet for most of their history, progressives have sought to empower government agencies (think SEC and OSHA) to do the protecting. Thatís still a worthy and necessary impulse. But thereís another, more populist strain of that tradition, one that has sought to use government to empower individuals to protect themselves (think Ralph Naderís 1960s consumer movement). Weíve been wondering if it might be possible to update that sort of thinking. And so we asked the five writers whose work follows to come up with ways to strengthen the hand of the average American in the 21st-century marketplace.

Bush's Ownership Society: Why No One's Buying
By Paul Glastris

Taking Charge: Attention credit card companies--when we want you to charge us hidden fees, we'll let you know.
By Robert Gordon and Derek Douglas

Viewer Discretion: Parents should be able to pay for Nickelodeon without having to pony up for MTV.
By Zachary Roth

The Joy of Flex: Employees shouldn't need an excuse to get flexible work schedules. Employers should need a reason not to give them.
By Karen Kornbluh

You Own You: When identity thieves open an account in your name it should be the bank's problem--not yours.
By Kevin Drum


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