Monday, August 6, 2018

Trump's Fake Fix for a Bad Economic Policy

Last week, Walter Block, who has come to my classes to speak, published an excellent New York Times piece about Donald Trump's tariff-and-farm-subsidy policies.  I have heretofore been a Times skeptic, and this may just be a case of politics makes strange bedfellows.  The Times, however, has also taken an interest in Heterodox Academy.  Is there reason for hope?

Andrew Cuomo Pardons Violent Felons So They Can Vote for Him

The Albany Times Union  (paid access) reports that New York's Republican-controlled state Senate is investigating Governor Andrew Cuomo's pardons of paroled criminals. Pardons enable parolees to vote, and the Senate believes that, when pardoned, parolees will mostly register and vote as Democrats.

What is the link between criminality and Democratic affiliation?

Both criminals and Democrats believe in wealth redistribution, although most Democrats are not as direct as ordinary criminals. Most Democrats claim that wealth should be redistributed to others, not to themselves, but their claims often involve quid pro quo.  School teachers support welfare, but they expect that welfare recipients will support higher pay for school teachers. Welfare recipients support higher pay for school teachers, but they expect that school teachers will support higher welfare benefits. A supports redistribution to B while B supports redistribution to A.

Much of the support for the 2009 bailout was likely of this nature. Wall Street provides financing for much of what the federal government does, so all special interests indirectly benefit from it. As a result, favoring redistribution to the super rich of Wall Street is equivalent to favoring redistribution to all special interests. A 2012 Huffington Post piece says that by 2012 just 23% of the public supported the bailout.  That was better than three years after the massive media propaganda program in its favor.  A well-known principle in public choice theory is that concentrated special interests will outmaneuver public preference. 

Another difference may be that Democrats base their belief in redistribution on claims of morality. "It is only fair and moral that others should be forced to pay higher taxes to subsidize public-private partnership housing."  Nevertheless, many criminals, if pressed, also will claim that it is fair that they receive spoils because they have been mistreated in the past or because others have unjustly taken the money in the first place.  Left-wing Democrats even justify mass murder in communist countries on putative moral grounds.  That does not differ much from a murderer who justifies his killing of individuals on some fantasized interpretation of justice.

The Times Union piece says that parolees whom Governor Cuomo has pardoned have committed repeat crimes, including rape.

The Democrats are a coalition not of the needy or deserving but of the rapacious. Parolees fit right in.   They are just more direct, but in an era of crude Twitter posts and tasteless, empty-headed television news, politicians like Andrew Cuomo see little difference.