To Market, to Market

The Soviets successfully pulled off a number of dirty tricks which increased their power but impoverished their citizens. Among them was to stir up class warfare by politicizing envy. Thus, unsuccessful farmers were urged to demonize and even kill “kulaks” -- that is, any productive farmer in the area. Another trick was to fail to provide factories with sufficient raw materials to fulfill the overly optimistic state-set production quotas and then criminally prosecute factory managers who couldn’t meet these targets as "saboteurs.” It deflected from their own failures but unsurprisingly resulted in a shortage of qualified managers and engineers.

It’s disheartening to see the same tactics being used by unsuccessful politicians in North America, though you can easily see why they are desperate enough to try it.

In the first place, Democrats are losing public support. Taking the latest Reuters polling information, former President Trump is likely to be a clear winner in 2024, garnering 312 electoral votes to Biden’s 226. 

Among the factors weighing heavily on public disaffection with Democrat governance is the downturn occasioned by their policies, which hamper production, raise prices, and allow widespread retail theft.

Robert Barnes has done the math: “Under #Trump, real median family household incomes rose 15% in just 3 years, the highest rate since after World War 2. Under #Biden, real median family household incomes fell 5% in just 3 years, the fastest rate of decline since the Great Depression.”

To be sure, the bien pensant big thinkers don’t see this as a problem. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman offers up a defense – essentially, voters shouldn’t believe their lying eyes.

“The economic data have been just surreally good. Even optimists are just stunned,” says Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

So why do polls show most Americans don’t think the economy is doing well? “There’s a really profound and peculiar disconnect going on.”

These days, Republicans claim that the economy is -- you know, they're giving this economy a worse rating than the economy of 1980 when we had 7.5 percent unemployment and 14 percent inflation, right? It just doesn't make any sense.  

And it's clear, there's a strong element of just tribalism partisanship. This is what people think they should say about the economy rather than an actual perception.

Now, you know, you can make some -- oh, sorry. And it's also the case that people -- the polling says that people, especially Republicans, say that inflation is rising when, in fact, it's falling. And you say, well, you know, but prices are up. Isn't that what matters? But back in the Reagan years, when prices continued to rise, there was never a deflation then, people did recognize that inflation was falling. 

Maybe his own calculations explain what he deems “a disconnect”:

An inflation update: in the past I've focused on a measure that excludes lagging shelter and used cars as well as food and energy. Just to note that it adds to the evidence that inflation has been largely defeated.” So, as I understand him, if you don’t need a place to live, food, energy or transportation, Bidenomics is “surreally good.”

Retail theft also increases prices, and that is a perfectly predictable consequence of the Defund the Police movement. 

And it’s a big problem:  

Retail Theft (Shoplifting) Statistics

Last Updated: April 13, 2023

Highlights. Stores lost an estimated $86.6 billion to retail theft in 2022; projections indicate that in 2025, retail theft may cost stores over $115 billion.

  • Retailers lost as much as $94.5 billion in gross revenue to theft in 2021, up 4.07% year-over-year (YoY).
  • 58% of organized retail crime is cargo theft.
  • The average shoplifting incident costs retailers $461.86 in 2020.
  • Stores catch shoplifters roughly 2.0% of the time; the average shoplifter is arrested once out of every 100 incidents.
  • Retailers lost $84.9 billion in fraudulent sales returns in 2021.

That movement was drummed up by the corrupt Black Lives Matter exploitation of the death of a lifelong drug-addled, seriously ill criminal, and it is devasting business, particularly in Democrat-run cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Portland, which thought the Defund movement was a great idea. Businesses are leaving, tax rolls are down, and consumers are being seriously inconvenienced in their ability to buy what they want. Law enforcement officers are leaving these places in droves and recruiting new ones is so hard that Chicago is hiring even illegal immigrants for those positions.

The mayor of Portland, who ceded control of the city to left-wing criminals, has indicated he won’t run for reelection. It will be interesting to see if the new one is selected at gunpoint, because at this juncture it’s largely an unwelcome position for anybody, except maybe someone who likes directing moving vans to routes leaving the city. Adding to the reluctance to return of those who enjoyed working from home for the past couple of years, fear of urban violence is further reducing the ranks of city workers with devastating effects on commercial real estate and the restaurant, retail, and entertainment establishments which catered to them. In sum, Defund the Police has morphed into Destroy Our Urban Centers.

Of course, the very people who endorsed the economic and law-enforcement policies which have driven up prices will now be heard to whine about food and retail deserts.

The mayor of Chicago has offered up an idea even dumber than Defund the Police. Mayor Brandon Johnson wants to create city-owned grocery stores. The notion of one of the most corrupt, incompetent governments in the West running retail establishments, which even when well-run eke out slim profits of an estimated 1-3% of sales, is hilarious. Do it, mayor. Let us know how you handle shoplifters in them and what city management will cost those overburdened taxpayers unable to flee the city.

Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, has threatened a Soviet-style kulaks-and-saboteurs-type response.  It’s the greedy, mismanaged stores' fault that grocery prices are rising. He says that if the grocery stores don’t stabilize prices he will take further measures, including taxes. Blaming the productive people and operations for failures occasioned by government mismanagement worked so well for the now defunct USSR, Trudeau’s going to give it a try.

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