Progressivism and the Art of Swimming Pool Maintenance


I want to do something some of you are going to think is just crazy. Maybe it’ll start making sense after a bit but then again maybe nobody but me will see the relevance.

You see, I had a revelation this morning. Regular listeners will know I sometimes come up with these weird analogies to try and explain the frankly unexplainable events that I observe about, well, things.

So I was exercising this morning …. okay, so I was just walking around the track. But I was at least walking moderately fast. As I usually do, I was listening to other talk show hosts and trying to determine what I wanted to speak about today. I mean, I try to avoid beating dead horses and provide new opinions or viewpoints if I at all can.

Well, I had an encounter with a pool.

Not a real pool. I didn’t like walk into the swimming pool or anything. No, it was a mental picture of a swimming pool. And like a flood I had visions of all the horrible ravages perpetrated against the U.S. Constitution and superimposed against the cutaway side-view of this swimming pool.

And I had to keep walking a few more laps just to interpret all I was seeing in my mind’s eye.

Now at this point most of you are wondering why you should continue listening to me rant about this pool analogy and most of the rest of you are waiting to hear who shows up in the skimpy bikini in my dream.

No bikinis. None that I can remember anyway.

But please indulge me in my fantasy of coming up with a REALLY good analogy.

Our pool under consideration was initially envisioned, I don’t know, in say the mid-1800s. Okay, maybe the idea of swimming pools wasn’t quite matured by then but the germ of the idea came along around that time. Don’t get bogged down in the details here, like concrete, diving boards, water slides, etc.

Just work with me. Stay open.

There have been people, since the early days of our Republic’s founding, who truly believe that a major role of our Federal Government is to pool its citizens’ resources and spend those resources for the common good of all those citizens. And yes, I know I said the word pool there but I didn’t even realize before that this introductory aspect of my pool analogy was so awesome.

Of course, back then the idea of stealing money from the upper echelons of society to subsidize the lower echelons as a means of achieving a “common good” was pretty crazy. Most Americans were poor. Not the relative poor of modern times, where poor Americans are still wealthier than 80% of the rest of the world’s population. We’re talking real poverty stuff for a lot of folks back then. But even the poorest of them couldn’t fathom how their needs were supposed to be seen as some sort of claim on their more well-off neighbors. If someone actually acted on that outlandish idea it would be theft, wouldn’t it?

So even the early advocates of Socialism, which is what that notion describes, were very laid back as compared to the great Socialist movements of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Back to our swimming pool analogy, though.

The content of this swimming pool, water, has several properties that appeal to the Socialist model.

No matter what the shape of the container, especially the bottom of the pool in this case, the surface of the water is level and fairly calm. People in the pool are aided by buoyancy in their quest to stay afloat at the surface. That buoyancy maintains all the people in the pool in relatively equal conditions at the surface of the water, even though the pool floor may be at different depths for them all.

Folks in a swimming pool, like citizens in a Socialist nirvana, are all relatively equal in their standards of well-being.

The floor of the swimming pool represents solid reality, a less appealing attribute to Socialist theory.

The floor starts out close to the top of the pool at one end and then gradually slopes down for the first half of the pool. The floor then slopes down very steeply before leveling out near a low bottom at the other end of the pool.

Likewise, human beings in the real world are not equal in the measure of most attributes. In the arena of looks, intelligence, perseverance, health, wealth, influence, etc people are just different. That is reality, and most of us used to live with that reality and do the best we could with what we had without demanding our neighbor standing at different points on that slope were to be forced to help us compensate.

Some folks did help. They were kind and it made them feel good. Why they felt good didn’t matter to the persons being helped. Maybe helping out made one feel important, spiritual, loved or kind. Maybe they just wanted to boast about how helpful and compassionate they were.

The persons being helped could care less why they were being helped. They were grateful.

This swimming pool paradigm sounded great to early Socialist visionaries. Everyone equal no matter what their individual abilities or positions in the pool. People who could for whatever reason better succeed would help the people who just for whatever reason couldn’t. Milk and honey flowing in the promised land.

And the pool, listen to this, would be PUBLIC. Certainly everyone would come if we built such a grand swimming pool.

Reality, as cruel luck would have it, shot that idea square in the butt!

The folks who “could” simply weren’t willing to help those that “couldn’t” enough to the extent that the poor “couldn’t” folk never had a chance to reach parity with the “coulds”. In fact, many of the “could” folks were willing to help somewhat but certainly not jump in the pool with the “couldn’t” folk.

Dang the luck. But the idea was too good to give up on.

If the pool were made bigger and filled with more refreshing water surely more people would come in. More people would surely work better.

Again, reality gets in the way.

By this time it is the late 1800s and those early Socialists were consolidating into a benevolent-sounding group known as Progressives. These Progressives, both Republicans and Democrats, knew that if they could just get Americans to contribute more money to the Federal Government they could build a grand and glorious huge enticing swimming pool to guide the U.S. in the logical progression to their Socialist nirvana.

Damn the luck. An old document called the United States Constitution barred the way. The writers of that old rag had for some reason placed strict limits on what Congress was empowered to do and the manner in which it appropriated taxes from its citizens. They felt for some reason that severe taxing limitations would keep the Federal Government small and out of the mischief and outright tyranny that has plagued humankind throughout history.

Knowing that these old guys who had been dead a long time knew next to nothing about modern things like metaphorical swimming pools, the Progressives tried various ways to get Congress the money flow it needed to be the compassionate socially-responsible political and social body it is today.

So the Pool Finance Braintrust was formed.

The biggest hurdle Thomas Jefferson and these old guys had placed in the way of expansionist water-park planning was an explicit prohibition on the practice of direct taxation; commonly known as theft.

Under this progressive paradigm, the Federal Government would just confiscate taxes from selected Americans as soon as they earned their money. And those selected to be the victims of this confiscation would, of course, be those Americans who in the opinion of the Federal Government should be helping contribute to such activities as huge PUBLIC swimming pools. In case the less-enlightened among us for some reason objected to contributing what was considered their fair share to this whole pool-building concept, well, that’s why governments’ have a legal monopoly on violence isn’t it?

Instead, the geezers who wrote The Constitution somehow thought that the new country could continue to get by on this ridiculous indirect taxation method of tariffs, duties and sales taxes whereby Americans actually only paid taxes on the goods and services they chose to consume.

Choice! This, the Braintrust argued, had no place in such a clearly worthwhile activity as contributing to Social nirvana. Why, citizens might choose not to even pursue that Social nirvana that was the birthright of every American.

The Braintrust argued that of course taking money by force from “better-off” citizens should be perfectly acceptable because, after all, how else were the “worse-off” citizens going to enjoy the relaxing benefits of water polo and just plain relaxing in the public swimming pool complex.

And, of course, the “better-off” folks would be encouraged to enjoy the pool also, so the money taken from them to build the pool was benefiting them as well as the folks who couldn’t contribute. What could be fairer than that?

So the chief hurdle the Braintrust had to figure out a way to overcome was how to change the pesky U.S. Constitution to even allow pool construction and maintenance on any scale that would have a chance to work.

Well ….. in the early 1900s some really bright Braintrust brain came up with the idea by examining why direct taxation was somehow feared by those old Founder dudes.

Throughout history most governments were monarchies, with power residing in a royal ruling class. In those cases, as much in taxes were levied against the lower classes to a) finance the plans of the rulers, b) keep the lower classes lower and c) keep the lower classes from revolting against the rulers. The rub there was if the lower classes just really didn’t agree with what the rulers were doing, which was pretty much the cause of the American Revolution.

The Founders had this new notion of a government whereby citizens chose their own rulers periodically, and the revolutionary concept that all citizens would have an equal voice in choosing those rulers.

But, thought the Braintrust brainiac, if all citizens had an equal say in choosing rulers and most citizens were poor then why in the world would those large numbers of poor citizens not support rulers who promised to steal money from rich citizens only in order to use that money to benefit all the poor citizens.

Say …  with fancy swimming pools.

So that was why those guys in funny clothes feared direct taxation …. hmmmm. They all had wealth in some form and quantity and they just didn’t want poor people to be able to vote to steal their money using the Government as the intermediary.

Greedy, selfish bastards!

By 1909 the Braintrust brainiacs had the problem solved. The old greedy Founder guys had made a mistake and left open a loophole.

Article I Section IX of The Constitution says that NO direct taxation is allowed unless every citizen pays the exact same amount. This statement explicitly prohibits direct taxation. It also allows for an exception, probably envisioned for emergencies, whereby direct taxation could be imposed but ONLY if such taxation was equally paid by everybody.

What if rather than trying to directly change a pretty major feature of The Constitution, reasoned the Braintrust, a Constitutional Amendment was proposed to just change the exception that was added. Once that was changed, the exception could always be treated as the rule.

Brilliant! Thus was born the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The 16th states with ONE simple sentence that Congress has the power to collect direct taxes based on income, however it defines income, without the pesky limitation of every citizen having to pay either an equal or proportional amount.

Ratified in 1913 under Republican President Taft, this amendment opened the floodgates. Champions of the amendment swore up and down that only the richest 1% of Americans would ever have to pay these taxes and enough of the other 99% of Americans bought that line to achieve ratification.

From that point forth Congress basically had been given blank checkbooks and the keys to the kingdom.

The Finance Braintrust had more than achieved its goal. Costs for building and maintaining the nationwide PUBLIC swimming pool system were no longer a concern. The sky was the limit.

Now that financing for pool expansion was no longer a problem, planning commenced on new ways to expand the pool system and get Americans to realize that everyone needed to jump in the pool. It was imperative that everyone be in the pool because if you remember the solid bottom of the pool represents reality and obviously those outside the pool would still be rooted firmly in reality.

How crazy would that be!

The pools were made bigger so folks could feel comfortable and want to be in the pool all the time.

The water in the pools were kept just clear enough that swimmers could see the bottom but couldn’t really judge too well how far from that bottom they were.

Lifeguards were always present to keep swimmers from drowning but yet keep swimmers in the pool and herding them as much as possible to the deep end.

Swimmers who were desperate to get in the pool were encouraged to dive right in, and diving boards were erected for this purpose along the deep end of the pools.

Swimmers who were more used to reality, the solid surface, were encouraged to enter the pool at its shallow end progress down the sloping bottom to the deep end as they felt comfortable. Or, as more often happened, they were crowded out of the shallow end further and further down the sloping bottom to the deep end.

Incentives and pressures abounded to get Americans into the pool. The folks outside the pool were taxed at higher rates than those inside the pool. Non-swimmers were inferred to have detrimental social views, either being racist or selfish or homophobic or obstructionist or anti-social.

Republicans and Democrats alike enjoyed the pool, even though Democrats generally migrated to the deeper end while Republicans tended to stay mainly in the more shallow side. The chief thing to point out there is that Republicans tended to periodically complain as they were forced further down the sloping bottom as the endless tide of new swimmers entered the pool from the shallow end. But the free pool drinks, did I forget to mention those, and the water polo kept most of the complaints to a minimum.

Pool management was always kept balanced between Democrats and Republicans, of course. As with their swimming constituents, the Republicans would raise a stink every so often about the rate of slope or about the percentage of pool volume designated as the deep-end versus shallow-end. There was squabbling about the makeup of the waiter staff or the lifeguard staff and whether martinis, beer or margaritas were supplied but mainly I think these were for show.

A cool little squabble was the periodic dispute over how small the bikinis could be. That was always a hoot.

The most awkward of those squabbles always seemed to revolve around the quick removal of poop. The Republicans usually claimed better removal tactics while Democrats were more laid-back.

The main job of the U.S. Congress and President accelerated through the years after the 1960s to seeing that as many Americans were gotten into the pool as possible, whether through force or enticement.

Enticement was the preferred method (this is America after all) with programs like Social Security and Medicare luring swimmers into the pool to allow Government to keep them safe.

Federal departments were created and massively expanded specifically to show Americans that Government was there to provide assistance their ancestors did without but somehow they couldn’t anymore. Such departments were created for Education, Energy, Health, Human Services, Labor, Housing, Urban Development and Transportation.

As more and more Americans entered the pool the swimmers demanded periodic markers to have some idea of the depth of the water. Pool management hated this idea as it went against the whole idea of swimmers being all equal and un-concerned about the differing under-water levels between surface and bottom. But rather than risk upsetting swimmers they identified periodic milestone markers labeling off the depths.

Some examples of these Federal markers over the years are listed below.

·        Public Education

·        Farm Subsidies

·        Small Business Loans

·        Social Security

·        Food Stamps

·        Public Housing

·        Medicare

·        Student Loans

·        Prescription Drug Coverage

·        Mortgage Guarantees

·        Corporate Bailouts

·        Public HealthCare

These markers posed a problem to some swimmers as they realized that they were drifting or being forced into deeper waters. They would resist going past the markers and even complain about the markers being there. They would sometime have the audaciousness to claim that they wanted to return to The Constitution of our Founders.

The problem, my friends, should I hope be evident to some of you.


Maybe they were near the shallow edge, maybe just testing the waters, maybe caught in the crowd a little way further out or maybe out in the middle clueless about where they were.


So-called Conservatives who are in the pool and decide they want to scream about the next depth marker they decide they don’t like should have little in the way of credibility. They got enticed in the pool, they’re enjoying aspects of the pool, they like to look at the hard-bodies surrounding them, but they want to pretend that they are somehow innocent of the clear, unambiguous Socialist intents of the pool.

They reason that since it was some of their money stolen to build the pool then they have a right to jump in and enjoy it. In fact they have more right to enjoy it than the many pool patrons who didn’t have anything stolen from them to help in pool construction, maintenance and administration.

It’s like they want to play in the pool but be somehow protected from somebody who pees in the water down at the other end.

If you don’t like the pool get the hell out!

The Progressives never tried to hide why they wanted the metaphorical swimming pools and all the real-world implementations of them. Many Americans may well have been too stupid and dumb and lazy to see what was going on or to do anything about it but whose fault is that anyway?

The Progressives figured out how to manipulate the system and then worked steadily for over 100 years to get the accomplishments they enjoy today. They could NEVER have come close to building and maintaining the programs supporting their goals if they hadn’t hoodwinked the rest of us into giving Congress unlimited funding powers in 1913 with the 16th Amendment. That same power to build and maintain these programs the so-called Conservatives decry could be stopped dead in their tracks if the 16th Amendment were repealed and replaced with taxation our Founders could live with.

Instead, I see the so-called Conservative movement being led like sheep by the same Republican Party that pushed that accursed Amendment through and along with Democrats helped push Progressive programs through for nearly a century so far. I see them waving flags and Constitutions around screaming about their loss of liberties when Democrats are in power but accepting in the name of a nebulous national security argument the curtailment of personal liberties and unConstitutional war-making when Republicans are in power.

You have to ask yourself which is more immoral and detrimental to our country, being a moocher or enabling the mooch-habit. Do the citizens in the deep-end, who happen to mostly support Democrats, deserve our scorn for accepting the handouts they’ve been told by their leaders that they have a right to as Americans? Or do the citizens in the shallow-end, who happen to mostly support Republicans, deserve our scorn for allowing the pool to be built at all and kept open for all this time?

Does slowing the push to the deep-end, by raising a stink about things like the National HealthCare marker, really accomplish anything worthwhile? There will be other pushes. The press of humanity as it keeps entering the shallow-side of the pool is just too overwhelming.

Isn’t the only answer to get out of the pool? Or at least stop the stampede into the pool, at least from the shallow-side?

Or better yet, close the damn pool. Maybe even demolish the monstrosity!

But at least the cries to stop the madness can be taken a little more seriously if they stop coming from hypocrites partaking of the pool party themselves.

I hate to say this, but The Progressives have won the war thus far and I am not sure we can ever reclaim The Republic our Founders gave us. Those same Progressives have transformed this Nation into a land of swimming pools, content to wrangle with any opponents who come along over a succession of pool details which they really don’t even care that much if they win or not. What difference does it make if details like Minimum Wage, Medicare, Social Security, HealthCare Reform or Cap-n-Trade actually get done as originally proposed? Hell, wouldn’t it be better to let the Conservatives primp around like peacocks thinking they were winning every once and awhile?

And all the time the real goal is being advanced; POOL building, POOL expansion and greater encouragement of POOL patronage.

I think it was Albert Einstein who once said that the definition of insanity was to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

We have an entire history of seeing what happens when collectivism (versus individualism) is tried with humans. We have our entire history to see that the attributes that describe Capitalism (individualism, free and voluntary trade, un-coerced pursuit of self-interests) always triumph over the attributes that describe Socialism (collectivism, economic slavery, forced servitude to “the masses”).

Socialism only lasts till the producers of wealth figure out they get to live no better off than the lechers of their wealth. Why work then? Just lay on the floatee and sip margaritas.

Real Capitalism rewards the individual for creating wealth but would never even conceive of such a swimming pool being built in the first place. So much for pool parties. What fun is that?

The bastardized Capitalism of the modern-era United States depends on the Government punishing producers of wealth just enough to keep them subsidizing the moochers while still being able to live better off than the moochers. Imagine second-hand water floats and inner tubes versus state-of-the-art flotation devices. Near-equality (everybody parties on the pool surface) but recognizable disparities in class of pool toys and drinks.

But mix Capitalism (legitimate or not) with Democracy and the system unfortunately does have an endgame if tight discipline is not maintained. The system fails miserably if the moochers get in the majority and figure out they can vote to have Government forcibly steal money from the minority. And then build more swimming pools with the stolen money! The moochers then keep doing what moochers do and the minority producers, as with Socialism, figure what is the reason to keep producing anymore and everything grinds to a halt.

We have the whole pool concept down in this country now. Its down to a science, whereby it is politically incorrect to even dislike swimming much less resist playing in the pool. The Progressives OWN the Democratic Party and the GOP. To think otherwise is to constantly alternate between stuffing your head in the sand and guzzling laced koolaid.

Dismantling the pool is doable. A one-sentence Constitutional Amendment made the pool possible. Without it funding the pool would not be possible. Make the people down at the deep-end have to pay for at least entering the pool and many of them will choose to get out.

Totally replace direct taxation. Repeal the 16th Amendment. Starve the pool system by returning to a Federal funding system where EVERY American pays taxes equally. No way do all those folks in the deep-end stay in the pools if they have to equally share in the cost of them.

The evil is the existence of the pool itself, not the people who gave in to the vast enticements to get into that pool. It takes a strong person to say no to other people’s money when the Government says it is yours by birthright somehow. It takes a stronger person to defy that Government and fight against forced distribution of your money to people who did nothing to earn it.

But all the yelling and screaming I hear nowadays is about stopping the inevitable migration towards the deep-end. There is no call to dismantle the forced wealth-transfer system that the pools signify, only to stop its distribution in selected ways. Oh, the folks doing the yelling will say they want to stop all the wealth-transfer all right. But that would mean elimination of all those Federal markers mentioned earlier plus literally dozens of others.

Some examples of these Federal markers over the years are listed below (again).

·        Public Education

·        Farm Subsidies

·        Small Business Loans

·        Social Security

·        Food Stamps

·        Public Housing

·        Medicare

·        Student Loans

·        Prescription Drug Coverage

·        Mortgage Guarantees

·        Corporate Bailouts

·        Public HealthCare

Eliminate the pool system we’ve setup and these programs plus dozens more all go away.

Nowhere did our Founders imply that education was a RIGHT that The Federal Government needed to provide. Same with farm subsidies, medical care, social security, housing or any of these other Socialist programs signified by the depth markers in our national swimming pool system. To claim that Socialism for poor folks is wrong but that Socialism for the non-poor is okay is the height of hypocrisy. WRONG is WRONG! NO exceptions!

Where are those so-called Conservatives who are still willing to dismantle the ENTIRE forced wealth-transfer system? I want to know the ones who I’d be proud to stand with, as opposed to the hypocrites who just like to sound tough while claiming their own pool goodies are not welfare but entitlements.

Where are the Freedom-Loving Liberals who love their country but can’t stand the afore-mentioned hypocrites who claim they have a monopoly on Patriotism while they sip pool-side fruity drinks? The ones who see what both parties are doing to our freedoms and self-determination.

We need to all join with the Libertarians and Constitutionalists who’ve been on the outside of those accursed swimming complexes.

Storm the gates.