A New Level of Populist Stupidity
It’s election season in the United States, and though it’s not a Presidential season, the media is rife with talk of who will run in 2016. And of course, on the Democratic side, much of the media is resigned to the idea of Hillary Clinton winning the nomination. I’m on the edge of my seat already.
This is to be expected at this point. Until she either dies or becomes senile, the entire point of Hillary’s existence will be to take the White House. After stomaching eight years under her viciously hated adversary, Barack Obama, the chance to run one last awful time will be impossible to resist. There were some bad aspects of the Clinton administration, but overall his economic legacy is pretty positive. This was of course a great stroke of luck, as the economic activity surging from the technology boom would have benefited all but the most centralizing of administrations.
So it’s upsetting to hear Hillary spout such populist stupidity like this:
Don’t let anybody tell you that its corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly. One of the things my husband says when people ask him what he brought to Washington, he says I brought arithmetic.
Ok. Let’s unpack that comment a little bit. Yes, I know speeches are mostly optics and nonsense. But still, this kind of rhetoric is often pandered about by American progressives, so it’s worth smashing at every possible moment. First of all, what is the economy? In real terms, there is no one thing called “the economy.” It’s not like the Chrysler building or a trash can or the Dissection record currently cued up on my iPod. When we say “the economy,” we mean the aggregate of individuals buying and selling things. These include consumer goods and capital goods (the means of production), and the relationships between individuals that facilitate these transactions (broadly speaking, the relations of production).
And who does this buying and selling? Individuals. Sometimes these individuals group together into a business. Sometimes these businesses set themselves up into the legal classification of corporations. They need people to produce and act as the storefront for consumer and capital goods, so they employ people to do this.
It’s true that Clinton brought “arithmetic” to the White House, after all he did leave the Presidency with a surplus. But it’s worth noting that much of what Hillary here decries as “trickle-down” economics (stemming from the Reagan-Bush years of 1981-1992) was continued by Bill Clinton, not terminated by him, aside from his 1993 increase in income taxes. He even deregulated much of the banking sector, which sometimes earns him flack for supposedly “helping spur the financial crisis,” which isn’t actually true. Much of it was due to government housing policy and a variety of actions taken by the Fed, but that’s a longer discussion for another time.
And if it’s not individuals, businesses and corporations who “create jobs,” then who does it? The state? Well, the three branches of government do require people to run them, branching out into federal, state and local civil servants. But this only makes up a part of what we refer to as “the economy.” This does mean that every industry in the entire country should be nationalized? This would be the only way the government would really become the engine of job creation. And it would be a disaster. But Hillary obviously does not advocate this. The only reason she talks like this now is to stave off a damaging primary fight to her left in 2016. But this is also kind of silly, as the only major contender would be Andrew Cuomo, who really isn’t that different from her (and was part of the Clinton administration in the 1990s).
I only wish that former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer had more clout to him, as he’s the only Democrat who seems to give a damn about civil liberties (and he even used a branding iron to veto Republican bills!), scaling back the war on drugs, and implementing legislation that will be both simple and beneficial to millions of Americans. Hopefully he’ll let the public forget about the gaffes he made this summer and comes back to destabilize everything on the Democratic side. He might not be able to win, but he can knock some much-needed sense back into the party.
And of course, though she might not admit to their job creating potential, Hillary is certainly happy to take donations from many of the country’s largest corporations. According to Open Secrets, these 2008 names include: JP Morgan & Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, GE, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers (hah!), Time Warner and many others.
For me, the prospect of yet another Clinton-dominated campaign season is akin to the man with a hangover who, having just finished vomiting, is offered that last glass of whiskey.
Don’t do it man!