Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Burning Down the House: For What?

Why are so many people, at any time, so ready to burn the place down? Here in 2015 we have the socialist Bernie Sanders openly campaigning against the rich while Hillary Clinton is openly advocating new government interventions in the economy. Raising the minimum wage enjoys majority support, and Republican voters seem ready to burn down the party with the unreliable Donald Trump in order to send a message to their RINO party establishment.

Meanwhile in Spain, the established parties got a hammering in the latest election as voters express their anger over ten years of economic misery. Lots of them want to bash corporations and their employers, because. Here in NRO Jim Geraghty quotes Bryan Caplan on this theme:
So when we feel mistreated by a boss (or by co-workers the boss fails to control), we experience it as a serious affront. This in turn leads people to demonize employers as a class.

Once you demonize employers, it’s natural to (a) look to government for salvation from current ills, and (b) imagine that existing “pro-labor” laws explain why the demons in our lives don’t already treat us far worse.
Pretty soon you've got Marxism and all that that entails.

Actually I get it. It's the famous cornered rate syndrome. When you are cornered and facing death you have two options: submit or lash out. After all, if you do something then you never know, it might work.

Only there's a problem. Very few people in America in 2015 are truly "cornered." We are dissatisfied with out lot. We think that the economy has been bungled; we think that the boss is a fool; we think that the fellow behind the tree is a racist. But let's face it; if we are out of a job there is very little stopping us from getting another one, especially if we are willing to eat a little crow and take a job paying less than the last one.

The market economy deal is that you submit to the verdict of the market. If you don't like the verdict of the market then the thing to do is to change yourself: get more skills; work harder and better; move from California to Texas.

But that is hard. The easier thing to do is to blame the boss, blame overpaid CEOs, blame the system, change the market, and vote for the Bern or the Donald.

The problem for a politician bidding for votes is that you are not allowed to say to the voters: get on your bike and look for a job -- not if you want to get elected. So politicians say what the voters want to hear.

What I'd like to say is that the only way to live is to submit to the market. Even if you have a lousy boss and he fires you because he doesn't like you, just suck it in and go look for another job. Don't waste time thinking about how you could teach him a lesson.

Because the bottom line for all of us is that we are sitting on 200 years in which per-capita income has increased by 30 times, i.e., 3,000 percent. We are all sitting in an opulent mansion, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will benefit by burning it all down.

Can we thread the needle between the bomb-throwers and the pyromaniacs and elect a president that will restore as much of the market economy as he dares and inaugurate a new age of prosperity?

We'll see.

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