Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Policy Failures? So That's the Liberal Word for Total Screwup

Well, well. It looks like the liberals are getting worried. The New York Times has put out a piece on "The Middle Class Crunch," and Eric Levitz -- he's a New York magazine chappie -- has chimed in with a piece that says that
I’ve come to think that the decline of America’s middle class can be attributed to three distinct (though related) policy failures. Namely, the failures to sustain American labor’s bargaining power; to contain rent-seeking in the housing, health-care, and higher education sectors; and to update (and expand) the social welfare state for the 21st-century economy.
Notice the basic assumption with the notion of "policy failure." That means that we educated elitists need to rejigger our administrative state a bit. More resources needed for policy analysis, for a start, old chap. Maybe a bit more activism!

But let's go through his argument.

Labor's Bargaining Power The problem, apparently, is Reagan's PATCO strike-breaking and "monetary policy that continued to prioritize low inflation over full employment".  Hmm. I'd say that the biggie is the 1965 Immigration Act that increased immigration and therefore labor competition in the US. Plus, of course, the competition from industrializing countries from Japan to China. Oh, and don't forget the competition from "undocumented workers." Plus, of course, more women in the workforce.

Costs of Huusing, Health Care, Education Housing? "Restrictive zoning" is the problem that has allowed existing property owners to "extract a rising share of middle-class workers’ earnings." Well, yes. And who is responsible for that? Liberal activists who are the chaps behind the restrictive zoning and environmental game, not to mention oppressive regulation by administrative deep staters. Health care? Our premiums, says Levitz, are buying insurance company bureaucracies, Big Pharma profits, and "American doctors’ extraordinary salaries." Well, yes. And who is resonsible for that? The insurance scam is an unintended consequence of Ted Kennedy's push for "health maintenance organizations" and 3rd party payment systems back in the 1970s. Then there is political system's regulatory failure with medical education and licensing: of course it led to high prices. And Big Pharma profits? Well, I dare say that if the FDA weren't so scared of another Thalidomide scare that we could all happily become human guinea-pigs for all kinds of experimental drugs -- just like the AIDS activists managed to do for experimental AIDS drugs back in the day. Funny, isn't it, how liberal activists manage to make the system work when their needs are involved.

The problem is not "the costs of our government’s refusal to confront the health-care lobby." The problem is that every "policy failure" is a natural result of the way that liberals want to supervise and regulate everything. If we swept away all the regulations and cartelization and licensing and 3rd party payments, you'd be amazed what would happen.

And as for education. Liberals run that ship from stem to stern. If there is anything wrong with it -- anything at all -- it is because of liberals and their mania to reduce everything to a government program supervised by them. The problem is that once you reduce education to a government program you turn it into a loot-and-plunder operation rather than a social-cooperation operation.

Social Welfare Institutions Outdated The New Deal bargain, apparently, was that corporations would provide the equivalent of government social benefits, and a "family wage" would let mothers stay home. But corporations have gutted their benefits and replaced them with 401(k) contributions.

Corporations first. Sorry pal, my info is that corporate defined benefit pensions were and are unaffordable, because they put an impossible risk upon corporations planning for 30 years into the future.

And then there is women in the workforce. Liberal Levitz has to do quite a dance on that. On the one hand,
through political mobilization, women have secured greater autonomy and freedom in their economic lives, and have therefore drastically increased their participation in the workforce. But as the Times’ report suggests, this jump in women’s working hours wasn’t driven solely by female empowerment; the necessity of compensating for male wage stagnation or decline was also ostensibly a factor[.]
There's a cart and horse problem here. Was increased female labor force participation the cause of male wage stagnation or did women go into the workforce because of male wage stagnation? Good question. I think the policy analysts should go to work on that.

But certainly one of the problems is the high cost of housing. It has gone up for a number of reasons, one of which being that girls like big houses. Another reason is that government subsidies for home mortages and encouragement of low down payments and 30-year repaymenet schedules means that more people can compete for the available houses. Oh, and liberal activists making it hard to develop new housing. Supply and demand darling. So, because every woman wants as big a house as Suzie down the street, women have to go out to work to pay for the big, overpriced houses that liberal activism has given us.

Of course, the problem is bigger than Levitz is willing to admit. And it starts with the fact that goverment programs are not, and never will be "social welfare." They are loot and plunder paid to voters in exchange for their votes, according to my maxim that
Government is an armed minority, occupying territory, and taxing the inhabitants to reward their supporters.
If you want real "social welfare" it should be social, person to person, rather than politician to supporter. And the government with its loot-and-plunder mentality should be nowhere near it.

My Plan In my world income security would be provided by everyone contributing to their own wealth fund -- if you liberals want, contributions could be mandatory -- from which they could take monies when out of work, when starting a business, when sending the kids to college, and especiallt when retiring at age 60 -- as they do in Chile -- to give the young'uns a chance in the labor force.

In my world health care would be provided for the plebs by the healthcare equivalent of Walmart and its low prices always. Walmart?!? I can't believe he said that! Well, honey, you got a better idea? One of my favorite stories is from a cousin that had a kid in the 1930s. The baby was born using the lodge doctor at the local Masonic lodge (in an age when everyone belonged to the Masons or the Elks or something). Boy, said my cousin, what a deal! The lodge doctors were usually young guys just out of medical school. And they were cheap! Hey policy analysts! You payin' attention? Lodge doctors: you could look it up.

In my world education would be provided by the neighborhood women doing home-school together. Hey, 150 yeaars ago the average woiker was barely literate, but today everyone needs to be literate enough to use a smartphone (Yes, what do "studies say" about that?). For boys, they need to be literate enough to play video games; for girls they need to be literate enough to text and Instagram with all the other Mean Girls. I doubt if they can write essays and personal letters, but they sure know they need to be able to use smartphones.

Well, that's enough of that, for now. Back to regularly scheduled programming.

The trouble with the good old US and A, which is the best country in the world, is that our liberal educated class "literally knows nothing." And how could they, if they are educated in government schools and colleges and read The New York Times and watch CNN and MSNBC? They have built up a gigantic administrative state that takes about 35% GDP in taxes and who knows more in regulatory costs, and are shocked, shocked, that everything seems to be collapsing in ruins. How could this happen with all the best people advocating to bend the arc of history towards justice?

Hey, I got news for you, Mr. Writer Eric Levitz. Little bit of settled science, from the Maxims of Christopher Chantrill:
Socialism cannot work because it cannot compute prices (Mises). The administrative state cannot work because the Man in Washington does not have the bandwidth to run the economy (Hayek). Regulation does not work because "regulatory capture" (Stigler). Government programs cannot work because you can never reform them (Chantrill).
Do you understand, Eric, that the "policy failures" that you are complaining about are completely comprehended and understood by these four items of Settled Science?

If not, then you are certainly one of the corps of people identified by Ben Rhodes as people who "literally know nothing."

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