(City Journal) -- Modern “progressives” are not, as some economic conservatives would say, socialists. In fact, today’s so-called progressives are not even particularly progressive, at least in the usual sense of seeking to redistribute wealth from rich to poor. As Fred Siegel has noted, contemporary progressivism is an upper-middle-class movement that caters to the social libertarianism of coastal elites, while paying lip service to left-wing economic concerns. Even when modern progressives do support economic development, they often do so in ways that stand traditional progressivism on its head—redistributing wealth upward to favored industries.
It would be hard to find a better example of this than Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement last month that New York State will lavish $16 million in giveaways on CBS to keep The Late Show in Manhattan when urbane hipster Stephen Colbert succeeds David Letterman as host next year. The CBS handout follows an even sweeter deal for NBC, which received over $20 million in tax credits and other funding to bring The Tonight Show back to New York from Los Angeles when Jimmy Fallon took over from Jay Leno as host earlier this year. The Tonight Show didn’t actually qualify for the state’s $420 million-a-year film and television production tax-credit program, which excludes talk shows. But Cuomo asked the state legislature to carve out an exception for “a talk or variety program that filmed at least five seasons outside the state prior to its first relocated season in New York” and is “filmed before a studio audience of two hundred or more.” E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy branded the provision “Jimmy’s Law.”