What leftists just don't get about economics
Where do I begin? I think I'll start with the "Green New Deal." Proponents emphasize the zillions of "green" jobs that will be created, putting everybody to work for a noble cause. What could be wrong with that? Historically there was the Works Progress Administration, WPA, that was part of FDR's original New Deal. People were put to work building stuff, including the first buildings of my high school. Jokes were made about the "special" shovel that had a padded headrest — so a worker could doze in comfort during his shift. Jobs may have been created, but what was not created, at least in sufficient quantity, was wealth.
Back to the GND. Making stuff such as electricity or transportation more expensive than it was before destroys wealth. Conversely, when Nikola Tesla pioneered the use of alternating current to lower the cost of delivering electricity to end-users — or when John D. Rockefeller invented the tank car to lower the cost of shipping petroleum — wealth was created.
Just to put things into perspective, there are two inexorable trends concerning the human population: the mechanization of agriculture and the growth of cities. As food production became more efficient, humans were freed up to become factory workers, accountants, pharmacists, surveyors, etc. When I interviewed the famed biologist Garret Hardin in 1972, he told me that the shift really got going around the year 1200 A.D. with the invention of the horse collar. After that, it became a lot easier to plow a field, without choking the noble steed that pulled the plow.
Another semantic deception concerns the left's sacred cow of the minimum wage. "If only we could increase the incomes of the lower echelon of working stiffs, people would live much better lives." Confused in all of this is the difference between price and value. Raising the price of a worker's time does nothing directly to increase his productivity or, rather, the value of his work. What it does do is decrease the value of entry-level workers, who often need a lot of training in their respective fields. End result: employers are seriously more reluctant to invite newcomers into the job pool.
It is my earnest suspicion that the continuing political push for raising the minimum wage is mostly intended to conceal the effects of the abject failure of government-run K–12 schools. Young adults who have little, if any, ability to deal with numbers, and who are seriously deficient in reading and writing (AKA using language to communicate), are mostly worthless as employees. Yeah, they can sweep floors and gather shopping carts — but there's only so much of that low-end stuff that needs to be done.
A particularly interesting word is infrastructure. Although it sounds really serious, nowadays it can mean anything you want it to. Also, it is mostly used only by hack politicians and other government officials when they're gearing up to rape a large bunch of taxpayers. This all harkens back to the WPA, the difference being that modern infrastructure proposals mostly involve private contractors rather than workers under the employ of a government agency. This now allows "crony" contractors to make significantly generous donations to their political benefactors. Can you say "money laundry"?
Then there's equity. Its use has been expropriated by the SJWs, but it still has serious meaning in the world of finance: the net value of an asset. Stocks of corporations are also known as "equities" — because they represent an ownership share. But the real deal is found in the value of your home — after you take out what you owe the bank. Reverse mortgages have been around for a while, but now, with the aging of the Baby Boomers, they are attracting a lot more attention. As you draw on your reverse mortgage, you have less and less equity. But what the hell — it still beats working for a living.
And, finally, we come to investment. In political patois, it means spending. In the real world, investment is supposed to refer to a reliable place to store wealth, preferably with it accruing further earnings. None other than Thomas Edison said that the most powerful force in the universe is compounded interest. In the political world, investment is a euphemism for wasting other people's wealth. Remember the Train to Nowhere? They're still working on the rail line — even though there's really no chance that some new-fangled, super-duper, ultra-fast locomotive will ever be on those tracks. But the "investment" continues. Eventually, tour buses will come by the abandoned construction site — as part of a journey to various mothballed utopian communities — and the visitors will be told that it is now known as "Stonehenge West."
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.