A friend of mine recently noted to me that language is in itself problematic, since how we express things is chained to the terms which we know or use that limit what we are trying to say. Limitations of such sort can be good or bad, though there are occasions where the questions we ask of the world drastically blind us to alternate possibilities. One such arena, as I am sure you can see where I am going with this, is politics. Tom Woods often jokes about how the Establishment machine of media and political status quo does an excellent job allowing us to believe that anything outside of the range of Acceptable Opinion – a scale from Mitt Romney to Hilary Clinton, about three inches in scope – is crazy, easily dismissed without argument, and unworthy of Serious Thought. A few weeks ago, a list of questions about the economy to be asked of the candidates at a Republican debate popped up on WSJ, which is generally held to be a conservative source. Even so, I found the range of questions to be exactly the stuff of Establishment propaganda – in a way that Obama’s answer would hardly differ from any of the candidates on stage except in a bit of framing. I would like to take a moment to address each of the questions, how they are problematic, and ponder why none of the “Serious Candidates” would know even the first thing about how to answer them…
1. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1%. The U.S. isn’t adding enough jobs to keep up with the growth of the labor force. What’s done is done — the fiscal stimulus, the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing, etc. What specific policies would you adopt today to quicken the pace of economic growth and hiring?
There is a tendency in America to think that if the government doesn’t do something, it will not happen. So in this question, you can see how it is phrased to imply that the government’s job to fix things. But concerning wealth, the government cannot create. It can only destroy or redistribute. It cannot create productive jobs, as all jobs it creates must be taken from the pockets of taxpayers who could use the money to buy that which they want, which in turn would breed efficiency and workability in the private marketplace. The economy is in the state it is in today because of the malfeasance of the government – the Federal Reserve, Freddie and Fannie, various regulations, the FDIC, and several wars, to name a few reasons. It is not improving because of the government – regulations, taxes, bailouts and stimulus alter the structure of production such that recovery is unnatural and slowed. What does the government need to do? Commit suicide. End everything unnecessary except the most minimal of function (protection of the persons and property of persons from immanent danger). No candidate on that stage would or has done anything to cut government, except Ron Paul. Sure, some have slowed the growth of government. But that is not enough. Get out of the way!!!
2. If raising taxes would be bad for the economy, how would cutting spending and eliminating government jobs now be good for the economy?
3. Housing remains a major drag on the U.S. economy. About one in five Americans with a mortgage owes more than the value of his or her house. More than half Americans with equity in their home have a mortgage with an interest rate above 5%, but hasn’t refinanced. Home-building is at historic lows. Can government policy do more to rescue housing? If so, what?
There is this vision we have in the U.S. that everyone should own his or her own home, and that the government should do anything to ensure that interest rates are low enough such that everyone may. The government has been trying to do more to extend housing to people for years, and it is the reason we are in the mess. We need to give up the dream, and let the market determine who will get a house. Have we learned nothing about the law of supply and demand after the housing bubble burst?
4. Several of you have expressed displeasure with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Who would you prefer to see in that job?
Not a single person on that stage would change the Federal Reserve in a drastic way except perhaps Ron Paul – and it is only his influence that has placed the Chairman in danger in the first place. Everybody on the right LOVED Greenspan’s peddling of conservative Randian ideology. Greenspan was Bernanke’s master, and the two worked hand-in-hand with conservatives to destroy the economy – not on purpose, of course, but this is the only logical end of a central bank, and someone should have seen it before the debt crisis hit us. The problem, however, is not the man in the job of Chairman. The problem is that the job exists, and there is such thing as the most powerful man on the planet. There should be no Bernanke. There should be no Chairman. There should be no Federal Reserve. Even Milton Friedman, committed as he reluctantly was for so long that the Fed was a necessary evil, realized in his end that the Fed was a destructive and evil institution. But Establishment conservatives don’t, and not a single candidate could tell you what the business cycle is or why the Fed will end up destroying the country…
5. Will the middle class have to bear some of the burden — either in higher taxes or fewer government benefits — to bring the federal deficit under control?
Everyone will bear a burden. This question is a joke. Does anyone think we can still service our debt? And if not, what then? Then everyone will suffer. Everyone will pay. Taxes cannot do the job. The Middle Class is toast, but so is everyone else…
6. Are there any tax increases of any kind that you would accept over the next decade?
Okay this one is a softball. But Woods, as I said above, noted something funny the other day. Within the Spectrum of Acceptable Opinion that the media and political elite allow us, taxation itself, income or otherwise, is unquestioned. Hilary Clinton thinks the tax rate should be 41%. Mitt Romney thinks it should be 36%. Who is right? Who cares! We do not exist to work 5 months a year to pay taxes alone. Tax increases? Why don’t we talk about existing taxes you will eliminate? Oh, none? Marginal and exceptional ones only? What a joke.
7. What’s the best way to slow the growth of health care costs in the U.S. over the next quarter-century?
Eliminate interstate limitations on competition. Open up licensing to free market principles. Banish intellectual property laws that ensure that big pharmaceutical companies can’t screw over patients. Do more by doing less. Would any candidate up there have any plan but more of the same? A few might, as they believe, no different from totalitarians of different self-proclaimed slants, that a mandate to buy health insurance is the bandaid that will solve the broken femur of a healthcare industry that we have in this country. It won’t work, and it is wrong.
8. Mitt Romney backs the imposition of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports if China doesn’t allow its currency to float freely on international markets. The Senate is taking up similar legislation. Do you support the pending Senate bill?
Tariffs impoverish both our consumers and the producers of goods, as they add regulatory burdens to the goods being brought in. Our money is as manipulated as China’s. Both hypocrisies would be lost to the Establishment Republicans, who are political demagogues, not economists, historians, or any other useful professions. They will say what they need to to be elected office, nothing more, nothing less. Sociopathy.
9. The living standards of our children and our grandchildren’s generation depend on investments we make today that pay off in future productivity later. What, if anything, should the government spend money on today with that objective in mind?
Nothing. Hasn’t the government done enough spending of the future people’s money? We don’t have money to spend on things, anyway. This question endorses the insanity we have had for the last hundred years. Let us keep our money.
10. How specifically, if at all, should government policy respond to the persistent widening of the gap between winners and losers in the U.S. economy?
END THE FED!