Progressive vs Expansive

> 2021-03-19

The term “progressive” has been conflated with the word “expansive” with regards to legislative initiatives. In some ways, this is similar to the theme in Peter Thiel’s [1] book Zero to One [2].

The latter is dominant while being billed as the former in legislation. Currently, this is particularly true in two areas: minimum wage and college education.

Minimum wage

Setting aside the typically cited issues that setting or increasing a minimum wage reduces available jobs, another perspective can be taken.

Most minimum wage jobs are low-skill and the labor element is highly interchangeable.

Essentially, anyone could pick up these roles. By setting a minimum wage, this position is basically stating that these jobs should be permanent by artificially making them increasingly financially viable.

However, a more progressive strategy would be to encourage better jobs and training to remove reliance on low-skill roles. The progressive approach should be to remove these jobs entirely as a permanent source of employment.

College education

This topic has been previously touched on in prior notes [3][4][5] and a summary note is worth including. Currently the progressive approach is to expand enrollment without questioning its modern value.

An actually progressive strategy would be to both identify whether college is appropriate for job training and whether alternative education means are more effective. Accounting for costs and benefits in a changing landscape is forward looking.

There is also a contradiction between holding these dual positions of college education and minimum wage - the former theoretically helps avoid minimum wage jobs while the latter encourages holding minimum wage jobs.

In these two examples, the theme is expanding a solution as opposed to progressing to a new one.

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