FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Money-Spinners and Mountebanks.
“Not proposing anything bold and not trying to do something to definitively deal with our problems would mean that we’re going to have another year and a half like the last year and a half — and then it’s awfully hard to get re-elected.”
Christine Romer (HT: NYT)
I’ll fess up. I was totally taken in by Dr. Romer’s resume. I could have sworn she worked as an economist. Judging from her performance as Chief Economic Advisor and by her quote above, she apparently had other things on her mind. The economic policies were just a means. The end, apparently, had far less to do with our nation’s success, than the success of the current ruling clique.
Such is the economic debate in The Obama White House. It involves one, canonical goal that overrides all else. How do we reelect the President? In other words, despite their dabbling in economics, these people are more political scientist than economist. Their goal has nothing to do with solving the fundamental economic problem and everything to do with solving the fundamental political one. This is why large government involvement in a market economy ultimately fails.
The fundamental economic problem involves the division of scarce resources to best meet infinite demand. Everyone has the sweet tooth, but you eventually run out of Hershey Bars. This truism plays to the strength of all hucksters. The only way to actually solve the problem, as opposed to merely assuage it, is to create something for nothing. The fact that this solution cannot physically exist never deters a good mountebank.
The problem is intensified in democracies. The ruling party doesn’t need universal approval, just a strong plurality, combined with a universal opprobrium for their competition. This is accomplished using two techniques; The Bread and Circus Caucus and Class Warfare.
The Bread and Circus Caucus involves a political alliance to take wealth from those who create it, and redistribute it as a reward for those who vote this political group into power. They don’t have to be given to all of society, just a large swath of it. Michelle Malkin bluntly described it: ““If you put enough government cheese in front of people, they are just going to keep eating it.”
The Class Warfare ingredient is necessary to quell any sense of moral repugnance over the redistribution of wealth. People have to walk around convinced that they aren’t truly stealing, but rather sticking it to “the banksters.” As long as the next door neighbor with a nicer car and a bigger house than I is a “bankster”; as opposed to a successful, hard-working human being, this larceny shamelessly continues apace. Brett Stevens describes Class Warfare below.
“Class warfare” is a code word for wealth redistribution which is in turn a euphemism for taking from the rich, and giving to the poor, even though the rich — who are generally more competent; although individual cases of incompetence may be found, in general they are more competent than the people who litter, vandalize, criminalize and eventually burn down their own ghettoes and blight their middle-class neighborhoods with alcoholism, incest, and dysfunction — are the source of most of our wealth.
This works well – for a while. Then the goodies begin to run out. People line up for the handouts, and then walk around wondering who just moved their cheese. What happened in Athens, in London and in Jerusalem, is that suddenly the sugar daddies don’t have anything left that’s sweet.
The riots and the burning are always how the policies of so-called “Progressive” economists end. No matter how “fair”, “just”, “decent” or “humane” these “Progressives” believe themselves to be, they are all just being played for chumps. They are all just being used as a source of unearned wealth. Loyalty and love for country are never built up. The only question any of these Incipient Visigoths have for their benefactors is “And, next?”
In America, we still have maybe a decade to avoid what befell the rest of the Over-Subsidized West. We can gradually reduce and disband our welfare state and reduce the size of our government to that of a small, administrative entity that allows our people to remain free to create the wealth that at least mollifies the fundamental economic problem. This overarching goal should drive our efforts going forward to drive Christine Romer, and all of the economic charlatans and carnival-barkers for Keynesian Fascism out of public service. This is accomplished with the resounding and utter defeat of Barack Obama and The Democratic Party in 2012.