It's the Season of Stupid
I guess I must be living in a dream world. I thought the science was pretty well settled on big government programs and the administrative state. The programs don’t work because they can’t compute prices, and the thousands of administrators can’t outperform the millions in the market. I thought that everyone with half a brain had figured out that there was a sweet spot for tax enthusiasts somewhere between really low rates and tippy-top rates in the stratosphere, the sweet spot where the tax revenue is maximized -- assuming, of course, that maximizing tax revenue is your goal.
But, as they say, there’s one born every minute. Or, if you want to go all Biblical, “there arose a Pharaoh that knew not Joseph.” So much the worse for the Egyptian first-borns!
So here we have Democratic presidential wannabes all enthusiastically boosting Medicare For All. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is proposing a wealth tax. And America’s sweetie-pie, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), is proposing a Green New Deal, to convert from fossil fuel to renewable energy by 2030.
But maybe all this is a Good Thing. Americans really hated ObamaCare, the Almost-Medicare-for-All. And they hated it for the corollary of the reason that Irving Kristol gave 50 years ago. If you want to help the poor, he wrote -- e.g., with Social Security, Medicare -- you have to deal in the middle class.
But. The middle class already has health care, so you can’t deal in the middle class if you want to help a few people marooned between Medicaid and workplace health insurance, and the middle class is not going to give up workplace health insurance for ObamaCare-Plus. The verdict on HillaryCare was the first Republican Congress in forty years. The verdict on ObamaCare was the second Republican Congress in sixty years.
As for the Green New Deal, I think that the yellow vests are giving us the word on that. Ordinary people, the kind of people that commute suburb to suburb, hate high taxes on fuel!
By the way, did you know that in Paris, the world’s foremost mass-transit city -- with Metros, RERs, and TGVs out the wahoo -- most workers drive to work, suburb to suburb? See, in Paris the rich live inside the Périphérique freeway; the Muslims live in the banlieues where the workers used to live back in the day; the middle-class gilets jaunes live in the outer suburbs. Hey, just like here in the good old USA! So now you know why the yellow vests are so upset.
The Zman thinks that the wealth tax is Warren’s attempt “to run as the weepy champion of the middle-class.” I wonder. I’d say that all the above programs and taxes are issues that appeal to the “woke” generation, the educated youngsters that have been carefully taught to hate and to fear the white male supremacists and their evil red caps. Same with Bernie’s programs to forgive college debt.
Looking back at Donald Trump’s winning campaign in 2016, you can see that it was designed to appeal to the broad middle of America (see also his 2018 SOTU). The broad middle wants a good job market, a chance to buy a home, and good schools. I don’t think that the broad middle is interested in another Big Push for government health care; I don’t think that the broad middle is that interested in wealth taxes and bailing woke girls out of their imprudent college debt; I certainly don’t believe that the broad middle is down for the Green New Deal.
Everything we’ve been hearing from the Democrats is clickbait for educated progressives, and I suppose that makes sense. The only people interested in 2020 at the moment are Democratic activists.
I don’t see that the current progressive agenda has anything to say to the broad middle. I don’t really think it has much to say to the underclass. Maybe free health care, a bit. But wealth taxes are catnip for policy professionals, and the Green New Deal is a globalist moonshine.
Maybe our Democratic friends will rile up the base with racist campaigns like Black Lives Matter. But there is a problem. The current liberal discourse on identity is so deep into the long grass with microaggresssions and toxic masculinity and intersectionality that my nickel says that 80 percent of Americans don’t have a clue what they are talking about.
Our progressive friends are deep into the mindless stupidity of counting angels on a pinhead. Their plans for heaven on earth have all come to nothing, but they are still chanting the magic spells of spending programs and critical theory and identity politics, because it keeps alive the sacred memory of their glorious war against racial injustice and bigotry, and because fighting the dragon of injustice and bigotry is all they know.
Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.