This essay came out a couple of weeks ago, penned by The Grumpy Economist’s John Cochrane, but I just stumbled over it; it seems a good topic for this Friday before the election. Excerpts, with my comments:
A new wave of government expansion is cresting. It poses a threat not just to our economic well being, but to our freedom — social, political and economic.
1. A will to power
Consider the economic agenda proposed by the Democratic presidential candidates:
- A government takeover of health care.
- Taxpayer bailout of student loans. Necessarily, after that, government funded and administered college.
- An immense industrial-planning and regulation effort in the name of climate.
- Government jobs for all. “Basic income” transfers on top of social programs.
- Confiscatory wealth, income, estate and corporate taxation.
- Government and “stakeholder” control of corporate boards.
- Rent controls and subsidies. Expanded, politically-allocated “affordable” housing.
- Expanded regulation of wages, hiring and firing.
- Extensive speech and content regulation on the internet.
And this is the center of the movement, not its fringe that talks of banning air travel. Though the fringe becomes the center quickly here.
The phenomenon here described is the Overton Window, defined thusly:
The Overton window is the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream population at a given time. It is also known as the window of discourse.
The movement of discourse moves; shifting the Overton Window can make what is unthinkable today acceptable next month. Just look at Barack Obama’s “evolution” on same-sex marriage from 2008 to 2016 as an example.
Now note that the bulleted items above, all proposed by at least one or more of this cycle’s Democrat candidates. Few if any of those would have been on the table only a couple of election cycles ago; the Left has succeeded in shifting the Overton Window, so that now we are forced to address these ideas.
Free-market economists, the few of us who remain, respond in the usual way. “I share your empathy, but consider all the disincentives and unintended consequences will doom these projects now, just as they have a hundred times before, and end up hurting the people we want to help. Here is a set of free-market reforms that will actually achieve our common goals…”
But why say this for the 1001th time? Nobody’s listening. We’re making a big mistake: We are presuming a common goal to produce a free and prosperous society, and somehow this crowd missed the lessons of history and logic of how to achieve it. Let’s not be so patronizing.
Ask that, and only one question makes sense. Power. All these measures gives great power those who control the government.
And this, True Believers, is the crux of the matter. Consider this also:
Consider the associated political agenda
- Stacking the Supreme Court.
- Eliminating the electoral college.
- Eliminating the filibuster.
- Detailed federal control of elections.
- Even more government control of campaign finance.
Only grab and keep power, and shove it down their throats fast makes sense of that.
The Left means to get power and keep it. They’ve already done so in California. If they manage to seize control at the Imperial level (in which case I may have to stop using the term ‘Imperial’ sarcastically and start using it literally) they will make sure they never, ever, have to relinquish that power again. And what they do with that power won’t be pretty and it won’t be fun.
That sort of thing never is.
Get out and vote Tuesday, folks. It may be the last time for a while when your vote actually represents any real choice.