On the ballyhooed night, cameras crept through the tunnel to the vault. There, on live TV, workers pulled down the concrete wall. The dust settled, and the cameras peered inside. And what did spellbound viewers behold? A pile of dirt, a few empty gin bottles, and a discarded stop sign. Such were the treasures in Al Capone's vault.
A quarter century later, this serves as a wonderful metaphor for the grand project of Progressivism. Since the dawn of the 20th century, Progressives foretold the blessings they would deliver. Ordinary citizens lack the wits to govern themselves, they said, so let's put an elite cadre of Progressive managers on the case. Give them power, and they’d soon have things humming -- a chicken in every pot, a Chevy in every garage.
When Progressives gained power, they served us the New Deal and Social Security, followed with helpings of the Great Society and Medicare/Medicaid. Now they're jamming the Obama smorgasbord down our throats -- ObamaCare, bailouts, stimulus packages, Government Motors, and "quantitative easing," a.k.a. printing money.
That isn't all. Far from it. For decades, public-sector labor unions harnessed Progressivism's spread-the-wealth creed to extract lavish contracts from government. Workers won guarantees of lifetime health care and generous pensions, often without having to contribute a penny from their own above-market wages.
But instead of simmering in their Progressive pots, the chickens are now flocking home to roost. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are going broke and, if not reformed, will soon devour the entire federal budget, chickens and all.
The Obama spending spree is running up trillions in deficits and adding trillions to the national debt, while the economy stagnates in recession. Public-sector pension funds and health care plans are draining state treasuries. At least 44 states and the District of Columbia are in the red and facing bigger deficits down the road.
At all levels of government the dreary, dishonest philosophy of Progressivism is a crashing failure in practice. Its grandiose promises are as hollow as Al Capone's vault. The empty gin bottles discovered there serve as reminders of the spending binge Congress has been on for years. Only the discarded stop sign offers useful advice. It's high time, indeed, for policymakers to stop.
Stop the reckless borrowing and spending. Sober up, and start governing responsibly.