What a Tangled Web

As we grope toward election day we’re hearing more foggy thinking than most of us can process on the spot. We hear people say, like a broken record, that the sluggish, dwindling economy is Bush’s fault. Or it’s proof that capitalism doesn’t work. That makes as much sense as claiming the recipe for the failed cake was at fault when you know you added 4 ingredients the original instructions didn’t mention. You can’t stir salsa into a chocolate cake and get a successful dessert. And yet we do that all the time and no one seems to notice.

What passes for clear, cause-and-effect reasoning is appalling. Let’s say you bought an 8-year-old car from a used car dealer who failed to tell you it had been T-boned by a drunk running a red light. Then this car proves hard to handle at high speeds. Whose fault is it that you now own a lemon?  The dealer who lied, you, who didn’t do a good job shopping. But would you blame the person who owned the car before you? The wreck wasn’t even his fault. Would you blame the entire auto industry? People do; it’s Bush’s fault.

Now, I’m no Thomas Sowell, but I can read and I can think and one of the best ways to do that is to write. Writing requires sorting, and cataloguing, and organizing, so let’s group some ideas into appropriate piles --

Basic socialism:
Equality is the poster principle for socialism. Everyone has to pay his “fair share” (whatever that means). That’s the web the leftists weave to trap the unsuspecting.  The system works like this: tax the rich, but since there aren’t enough rich with enough money to make much difference, you also overtax the middle class. This has two effects –
1. The rich either go elsewhere or quit producing because the returns are too low, and/or
2. The middle class doesn’t have enough expendable income to buy the products the rich were producing, so the factories shut down and neither the working class nor the middle class even have jobs, and the rich no longer have any capital. The government is now responsible for providing for all three classes since no one is working, but the government can’t do it because it can no longer collect enough taxes (hence a burgeoning national debt and the mess Venezuela finds itself in today).

This economic model affects society negatively by rewarding damaging attitudes and behaviors – laziness, disrespect, boredom, hopelessness, anger. These character traits cannot support a vibrant and prosperous economy. They destroy trust, an essential in all business dealings. They do not support general moral integrity, therefore requiring more laws and government supervision.

If you add auxiliary socialist modalities like environmental activism, political correctness, government-run schools, and nationalized healthcare you have government controlling the means of production, control of personal property, personal health, and public speech. Almost everyone is poor – but there is still no equality because those at the top of this heap – the government people – get very, very rich, yet they produce nothing.  Government becomes the god of the society because everyone is reliant on it for everything.

Basic capitalism:
The capitalist view is that equality is not nearly as important as freedom, merit, and fairness. In a free market those with ideas, initiative, talent, and endurance end up with more money and power than those they hire, but they do hire a lot of people and they keep good workers by paying them and treating them well. Those responsible for production are inspired to do so because they are rewarded for it.

The free market monitors itself since those who build and sell inferior products lose customers and therefore revenue. Customer demand determines what and how much is produced. Businesses address environmental issues because they cannot afford to run out of natural resources or harm their customer base. Because all this happens naturally there are always ups and downs.  These occasional retractions in the market serve to weed out non-functional businesses and they keep the market lean and efficient.

Such an economic system requires and produces people of determination, decency, high work ethic and social responsibility. The society values and rewards those traits. For those few who resist living responsibly, there is government.
The free market produces enough revenue to support a reasonably sized government designed to keep folks safe from the unproductive and dangerous people mentioned above, foreign and domestic. It doesn’t need to do much more.

The demarcation between these two economic models is simple and clear: one features government controlling everything, the other, the free market, calls the shots – i.e. the individual, but the two have become so tangled here in the last century that cause-and-effect is obvious only to those who read and grasp economic theory.  The American economy is supposed to be a free market economy, yet we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, our government micromanages businesses via stringent and destructive EPA, OSHA, and union entanglements.  The government now controls large parts of the auto industry, education, and healthcare. How is that a free market economy?

Adding more to the confusion, when government begins encroaching on business, business has only three options: 1. Quit, , 2. Move their business to another country, or 3. Get in bed with the regime.  Health insurance companies had little choice but to go along with Obamacare. Target could see the handwriting on the wall so it jumped out ahead on Obama’s bathroom decree. As capitalists we’d like to see corporations as the good guys, but when their lobbyists consort with government bullies, it’s hard to watch.

And we must realize that government schools are not going to teach economics in any way that isn’t flattering to government control of the economy. Duh. It’s no wonder that most folks don’t realize that economic “laws” are just as unavoidable as scientific law. The law of supply and demand is always true. If cost of production goes up, the price goes up as sure as the sun rises. Government can’t control the market any more than it can outlaw tornadoes or cockroaches. All government can do is slow down and strangle the natural processes of laissez faire economics.

We are now trapped in an Alice-in-Wonderland system so corrupted by cronyism and nonsensical over-regulation that we wouldn’t be shocked to see Michelle banging a croquet hedgehog around the White House lawn using a flamingo mallet. The administration, through its spokesperson, Josh Earnest (you can’t make this stuff up) insists that all’s well, it’s Bush’s fault, and all children should pee together. Certainly that will create jobs.

Just ask a man on the street and he’ll tell you that all things bad are Republican; he has no clue how the economy works, or what complications happen when government sticks its spoon in the stew, or how personal morality plays into the whole thing. It’s all too complicated and he’s been lied to so much that he has no idea which way is up.

The socialist half of this society has been pretending theirs is a winning option ever since Woodrow Wilson and the graduated income tax. They have been twisting and weaving and screwing the truth around until the web is large enough to capture and hold the goose, but not its golden eggs.