Rallying the entrepreneurial spirit
The guardians of economic orthodoxy took issue with Donald Trump from the beginning, whether it was his tariff threat against foreign imports or his promise to penalize manufacturers who move industries out of country. Classical economists, from Smith to Ricardo to Mill and beyond, had demonstrated that Western civilization was built upon the foundations of division of labor and the law of comparative advantage. How did Trump imagine he could “make America great again” when he flouted the free trade principles responsible for said greatness?
Over the summer, Trump redeemed himself. He focused on currency manipulation as a key component of unfair foreign competition – hand in hand with incompetent American trade negotiators – while taking aim at high taxes, regulatory burdens, and Federal Reserve chicanery among the factors contributing to President Obama and the Democratic Party’s “false economy.”
“The contrast between the presidential contenders could not be starker,” writes Trump economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow. “Mr. Trump has an economic-recovery-and-prosperity plan. Mrs. Clinton has an austerity-recession plan.”
Trump sketched out his vision for America’s future by recourse to his own past. “Just look at my projects in New York, where I turned run down spaces into new centers of business, and we have hit such success, taking buildings that were failures and made them successful, made them incredible – buildings, jobs,” Trump said. “Where others only saw problems, I saw potential.”
Trump hit the nail on the head. “That’s what I want to do for our country.” Leave it to a real estate developer to reconstruct the entrepreneurial work ethic where innovation and creativity give rise to overall success for capitalist and worker alike. To speak patronizingly of “trickle-down economics” betrays the intellectuals’ paternalistic ignorance of those who have never crossed the business world transom.
Trump sketched out his economic prescription: “I want to go into the neglected neighborhoods, the failing schools, the forgotten stretches of this nation and unlock their potential for all of our people. I’ve made a living for years looking for unused spaces and imagining what could be.”
Trump heaped scorn upon professional politicians – they of “soak-the-rich” rhetoric unable to see farther than redistributive policy for assuaging America’s poor.
“Politicians look at blighted neighborhoods and offer only excuses. They look for one thing: they look for the votes of people living in the inner cities, and then they say, ‘Well, see you later in four years,’ after the election takes place. I look at the same neighborhoods, and I want to offer solutions, and I have offered solutions.”
Real free markets are the solution. Not the welfarist-constrained markets marred by government meddling, but markets where millions upon millions of buyers and sellers meet to trade voluntarily. Such is the core of supply-side economics, where “a rising tide lifts all boats,” as Kudlow (and JFK) would say.
There is never deficiency in aggregate demand, contrary to Keynesian bluster. Only the dead have no demands; among the living, there are always demands, whether for the necessities of life or the luxuries of conspicuous consumption. Give wealth-creating entrepreneurs free rein in this arena. As long as Americans are free to exchange goods and services, and at liberty to innovate at will, the country’s economic well-being is assured. Or as Trump would say, “winning.”
But the road to future prosperity from the current malaise is strewn with hazard. Regulatory obstacles must be swept from its path, with a sound dollar and monetary stability guiding the way.
“We spend so much time thinking about how things used to be, we’ve stop thinking about how great things could be,” Trump acknowledged. But restoring America’s entrepreneurial drive will revive the people’s hopes. “We’re a nation of strivers, dreamers, and believers, and that’s the spirit that we will carry. Right into November.”
Stephen MacLean maintains the weblog The Organic Tory.