It’s ironic that one of the most formative speeches in American history, that of Theodore Roosevelt on August 31, 1910, was not well received by many of the his former supporters while he’d been President. It was labeled “communistic”, “socialistic”, and “anarchistic”. It was also hailed as one of the greatest orations ever given on American soil.
“In every wise struggle for human betterment one of the main objects, and often the only object, has been to achieve in large measure equality of opportunity. In the struggle for this great end, nations rise from barbarism to civilization, and through it people press forward from one stage of enlightenment to the next. One of the chief factors in progress is the destruction of special privilege.”
Now with the benefit of hindsight and the availability of data, Roosevelt’s belief has been vindicated.
The speech influenced policies directed at providing equality of opportunity, primarily through education. That same thinking influenced the introduction of the G.I. Bill, which as an expression of gratitude to the soldiers that had survived the second world war, also gave back to the nation through the tremendous years of economic growth that followed.
Given the abundance of academic support, the dearth of any informed argument to the contrary, it is surprising that neither of the candidates for the upcoming presidential election has seized this obvious opportunity to reestablish America’s economic progress.
Perhaps it’s because the descendents of those earlier critics still have too much influence.
The New Nationalism
Inequality from generation to generation: the United States in Comparison Miles Corak
Community-Driven Development, Participation, and Inequality: What Does the Evidence Say?
Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?∗ Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Having your cake
A True Progressivism