Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Candidates, Keep Your Hands to Yourselves

 
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Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech earlier this week, focused on Donald Trump’s credibility on economic issues. She warned that his policies and brash leadership would result in major economic problems. “Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the [nuclear] button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy,” she said. Clinton is right and correctly identified Trump’s economic strategy as potentially disastrous. Ricochet contributor James Pethokoukis recently wrote about Moody’s analysis of Trump’s plan, which predicts Trump’s high tariffs will trigger a recession lasting longer than the Great Recession. Taking all of Trump’s policies into consideration, Moody’s also forecasts large deficits, government borrowing, and labor shortages to contribute to the economic slump. A heavy handed protectionist agenda punishes businesses and consumers alike through high taxes, constrained trade, and restricted access to consumer goods. Ironically, the ostensibly nationalistic economic plan would be bad for American business and for the American people. Trump should not have his hands on the economy.

And neither, of course, should Clinton. Implementation of just one of her centrally-planned proposals – transitioning the entire supply of US residential electricity to solar energy – would be enough to send the economy into ruin. The plan would cost untold billions of dollars, money that neither the government nor the private sector has for an inferior energy technology. Worse than the financial cost, it would push the entire country onto an intermittent and unreliable energy source, such as solar, resulting in regular, widespread blackouts all across America. The ensuing economic disruptions would be so great it would be nearly impossible to quantify. Suffice it to say, every aspect of modern life — personal, professional, and everything in between — depends on access to reliable sources of electricity and energy. Economic policy that jeopardizes the existence of 21st century life as we know it is beyond absurd, it is horrifying.

What Clinton fails to realize is that it is not Trump’s much-criticized business failures or bankruptcies that would make him dangerous to run the economy, it is the idea that the economies should be “run” at all. Both Clinton and Trump would be dangers to America’s prosperity because they both seek to control it, in one form or another.

Alex Epstein, Director of the Center for Industrial Progress and author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, passionately debunked the merit of central planning during a recent appearance on the Adam Carolla podcast. While discussing political obstacles to progress, Carolla — a practical, libertarian-minded comedian — surmised that a system that gave economic control to an oligarchy of highly intelligent decision makers would make our society better off.

Epstein pushed back on this idealized notion of benevolent economic control:

That’s the worst idea imaginable… that’s basically the premise of socialism. Let’s go back thirty years and let’s say we want the best form of digital technology. Let’s take the top ten recognized best minds in digital technology in that time and give them authority to make decisions on what our phones would look like and what our computers would look like. What the hell would they have come up with? Nothing resembling what we have now.

The best way, the only way to get the most innovation is to have a free and competitive market… We need to get the government out of this. That’s not some simple minded thing. That’s what allows for the most sophistication. Instead of having ten random people who presume to know the future, you have millions of smart people competing and consumers decide.”

If the past thirty years of digital technology investment and development were decided by an authoritative committee of experts would we have laptops, iPhones, or smart TVs? How about the Internet? The free market is by no means perfect, but economic progress is a product of experimentation and risk-taking happening on a small scale, millions of times over. Neither bureaucratic councils nor presidents can accomplish that through mandate, no matter how smart they are.

The beauty of free economies is that they do not need politicians to dictate orders, apply red tape, or pick winners or losers. Absent government micromanagement, free people take better care of themselves than any government agency could. Historically speaking, individuals freely pursuing their own self interests have produced the strongest economies and nations in the world, most notably the United States of America.

The hand we want on the economy to ensure that there are more jobs, production, growth, and an improved standard of living belongs to no politician, but is The Invisible Hand, Adam Smith’s metaphor for the counter-intuitive spontaneous order found in free markets.

Clinton and Trump, however, should keep their hands to themselves.

There are 24 comments.

  1. tigerlily Member

    Nice article. Thanks.

    • #1
    • June 22, 2016, at 11:59 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. Drusus Coolidge

    Why has the presidential election process become so focused on things that the president literally has no control or authority over? I appreciate that Gary Johnson makes this point frequently when he is asked about personal positions that may not have mainstream popularity. I hope the response “I’ll answer your question, but it has no bearing on the role of the presidency” becomes something that the right takes up more enthusiastically going forward.

    Great article, by the way.

    • #2
    • June 22, 2016, at 9:58 PM PDT
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  3. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Well said. Agree with every word.

    • #3
    • June 23, 2016, at 3:10 AM PDT
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  4. kelsurprise, drama queen Member
    kelsurprise, drama queen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Matthew Roy: What Clinton fails to realize is that it is not Trump’s much-criticized business failures or bankruptcies that would make him dangerous to run the economy, it is the idea that the economies should be “run” at all.

    Exactly. Thank you.

    Matthew Roy: While discussing political obstacles to progress, Carolla, a practical, libertarian-minded comedian, surmised that a system that gave economic control to an oligarchy of highly intelligent decision makers would make our society better off.

    Adam fell off my feed for a while so I’m way behind but I’ve heard enough of his rants in the past about micro-managing bureaucrats and the hurdles they place in the way of the working man for that statement to really surprise me. I hope Epstein managed to bring him around.

    Great post, thanks.

    • #4
    • June 23, 2016, at 12:05 PM PDT
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  5. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Matthew Roy: The free market is by no means perfect, but economic progress is a product of experimentation and risk taking happening on a small scale, millions of times over.

    Perfect, of course not. Perfection is an ideal that is, by definition, static. What the free market is is far better than any known alternative.

    • #5
    • June 23, 2016, at 12:20 PM PDT
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  6. KiminWI Inactive

    Matthew Roy: Free people, absent government micromanagement, take better care of themselves than any government agency could.

    Do Americans not understand this idea? Or do they not believe that it’s possible in light of the heavy burden of government? OR do they simply not want to bear the responsibility? I fear it’s the last option because of the first 2 options. They don’t want to bear it because they don’t believe it’s possible.

    Can that be unwound?

    • #6
    • June 23, 2016, at 1:34 PM PDT
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  7. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Matthew Roy:The beauty of free economies is that they do not need politicians to dictate orders, apply red tape, or pick winners or losers. Absent absent government micromanagement, free people take better care of themselves than any government agency could. Historically speaking, individuals freely pursuing their own self interests have produced the strongest economies and nations in the world, most notably the United States of America.

    How dare you not tell other people how to live their lives! ;)

    • #7
    • June 24, 2016, at 6:21 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Matthew Roy: Likewise, we don’t need, nor can we afford, Clinton’s central planning. Implementation of just one of her proposals – transitioning the entire supply of US residential electricity to solar energy – would be enough to send the economy into ruin.

    This is simply madness and thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    Solar is an awesome technology with a lot of promise, but it’s just not the way to run an economy. Right now, I’ve got my iPhone charging from a 15W solar panel that’s in our window. On the one hand, it’s so cool to be getting electricity out of a magic black box. On the other, the damn thing’s been plugged in for about an hour and it’s charged about 10% and it’s sunny (in fairness, the window isn’t a great place).

    If you care about providing people with reliable, useful amounts of energy, solar is a lousy way to go. Get these people fossil fuel or — when they can afford it — nuclear plants.

    • #8
    • June 24, 2016, at 6:29 AM PDT
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  9. DocJay Inactive

    Which one is more willing to listen to reason and abandon ideological or protectionist central planning?

    • #9
    • June 24, 2016, at 6:57 AM PDT
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  10. Johnny Dubya Inactive

    Adam Carolla ought to read this.

    Ms. Rodham’s solar energy plan reminds me of Mao’s plan for backyard furnaces.

    • #10
    • June 24, 2016, at 7:11 AM PDT
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  11. Sash Member

    The thing is neither candidate is speaking the truth, so it matters not what they promise.

    This is the reality we face. Which lie do we choose?

    • #11
    • June 24, 2016, at 7:30 AM PDT
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  12. RightAngles Member

    kelsurprise:

    Matthew Roy: What Clinton fails to realize is that it is not Trump’s much-criticized business failures or bankruptcies that would make him dangerous to run the economy, it is the idea that the economies should be “run” at all.

    Exactly. Why can’t we get Trump to say it. People need to hear it expressed just this way. Very good article

    • #12
    • June 24, 2016, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • Like
  13. Eugene Kriegsmann Member

    Sash:The thing is neither candidate is speaking the truth, so it matters not what they promise.

    This is the reality we face. Which lie do we choose?

    This was my thought as well. Neither of these two are qualified to be President of the United States. Both are likely to be a total disaster for the economy and the Constitution. Like the Iran/Iraq War one can only hope that they both lose and the country wins.

    • #13
    • June 24, 2016, at 8:07 AM PDT
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  14. cdor Member
    cdor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DocJay:Which one is more willing to listen to reason and abandon ideological or protectionist central planning?

    Come on Doc, take a stand. Which one do you think? I say it’s Trump.

    • #14
    • June 24, 2016, at 8:24 AM PDT
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  15. RightAngles Member

    cdor:

    DocJay:Which one is more willing to listen to reason and abandon ideological or protectionist central planning?

    Come on Doc, take a stand. Which one do you think? I say it’s Trump.

    I agree. I think people are making too much of his “lifelong Democrat” thing. I don’t believe he ever was very ideological or ever gave it a thought. He was a New Yorker, where being a Democrat is the default, and he was a businessman who understood that making political contributions kept the wheels greased. I just don’t see a good reason for all the hysteria.

    • #15
    • June 24, 2016, at 8:30 AM PDT
    • Like
  16. Blue State Blues Member
    Blue State Blues Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Drusus:Why has the presidential election process become so focused on things that the president literally has no control or authority over? I appreciate that Gary Johnson makes this point frequently when he is asked about personal positions that may not have mainstream popularity. I hope the response “I’ll answer your question, but it has no bearing on the role of the presidency” becomes something that the right takes up more enthusiastically going forward.

    Great article, by the way.

    Many people, primarily but not exclusively on the left, would give you a blank look. They don’t realize that there is anything beyond the President’s control or authority. I’m not even sure Obama does (although he used to, or at least said so). This explains a lot of the way people vote as they do.

    • #16
    • June 24, 2016, at 9:38 AM PDT
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  17. RightAngles Member

    Blue State Blues:They don’t realize that there is anything beyond the President’s control or authority.

    Not when you have a pen and a phone!

    • #17
    • June 24, 2016, at 9:47 AM PDT
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  18. I Walton Member

    Good article. I wonder how much of it trump would understand because we know neither Hillary or any other Democrat could understand it.

    There is a way to address the clamor for protection, a vat allows border adjustment, and an across the board unification of tariffs at one low rate would reduce protectionist distortions while generating revenue and would be the equivalent of a devaluation. Since we are the only country that cannot devalue we can justify either before the WTO.

    • #18
    • June 24, 2016, at 10:12 AM PDT
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  19. KC Mulville Inactive

    Consider the difference between 40 musicians who are all competing to be the single instrument versus 40 musicians playing in harmony. The first will result in mere repetitions of the same sound, but the second is a symphony.

    The central planner wants to make all 40 musicians play the same way, with the same notes, using the same instruments. Harmony, on the other hand, encourages and exploits the differences between players.

    You might object that a central planner could “orchestrate” some differences, but liberal central planners also cherish “equality.” They won’t exploit differences because it goes against their commitment to equality. That’s why they always result in bland repetitions rather than the dynamic power of harmony.

    Almost by definition, you cannot have both equality and diversity. Liberals proclaim both at the same time, which reveals either their cognitive dissonance (i.e., stupidity) or their deception. A central planner is bad, but a liberal central planner is an oxymoron.

    • #19
    • June 24, 2016, at 10:45 AM PDT
    • Like
  20. Matthew Roy Member
    Matthew Roy

    kelsurprise:

    Matthew Roy: What Clinton fails to realize is that it is not Trump’s much-criticized business failures or bankruptcies that would make him dangerous to run the economy, it is the idea that the economies should be “run” at all.

    Exactly. Thank you.

    Matthew Roy: While discussing political obstacles to progress, Carolla, a practical, libertarian-minded comedian, surmised that a system that gave economic control to an oligarchy of highly intelligent decision makers would make our society better off.

    Adam fell off my feed for a while so I’m way behind but I’ve heard enough of his rants in the past about micro-managing bureaucrats and the hurdles they place in the way of the working man for that statement to really surprise me. I hope Epstein managed to bring him around.

    Great post, thanks.

    Carolla is great, in my opinion. I listen to his podcasts regularly and he always has something to rant about regarding big government or PC nonsense interfering with his everyday life. He’s not so overtly political in a Democrat vs Republican way. He’s concerned with what works vs what doesn’t, what makes sense vs what is a waste of time. Given that, he almost always lands on the side of the “right” when discussing politics. In this conversation, he was more complaining about dumb voters being led by the nose than advocating a centralized control. But yeah, Epstein took the opportunity to explain the error in that thinking.

    • #20
    • June 29, 2016, at 6:53 AM PDT
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  21. Matthew Roy Member
    Matthew Roy

    Instugator:

    Matthew Roy: The free market is by no means perfect, but economic progress is a product of experimentation and risk taking happening on a small scale, millions of times over.

    Perfect, of course not. Perfection is an ideal that is, by definition, static. What the free market is is far better than any known alternative.

    Good point. Given that the world is dynamic and perfection is static, it is never possible to achieve. Free market advocates understand this, but central planners seem not to.

    • #21
    • June 29, 2016, at 6:56 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Matthew Roy Member
    Matthew Roy

    KiminWI:

    Matthew Roy: Free people, absent government micromanagement, take better care of themselves than any government agency could.

    Do Americans not understand this idea? Or do they not believe that it’s possible in light of the heavy burden of government? OR do they simply not want to bear the responsibility? I fear it’s the last option because of the first 2 options. They don’t want to bear it because they don’t believe it’s possible.

    Can that be unwound?

    The notion that I am going to take better care of myself than anyone else is a truism. It doesn’t have to be said. I care more about my well being than bureaucrats in Washington and I know I will work harder and be more effective in solving my problems than they will.

    I think that some people genuinely lack the motivation or desire to be their own best advocate. Government can seem like the answer if you’re unwilling (or unable) to work hard/smart enough to better yourself. Some people probably hold such views not for their own sake, but for people that they assume can’t improve their lives without the advertised benefits of big government. Ennui and empathy makes the political messaging “the government will take care of you” attractive.

    • #22
    • June 29, 2016, at 7:30 AM PDT
    • Like
  23. Matthew Roy Member
    Matthew Roy

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Matthew Roy: Likewise, we don’t need, nor can we afford, Clinton’s central planning. Implementation of just one of her proposals – transitioning the entire supply of US residential electricity to solar energy – would be enough to send the economy into ruin.

    This is simply madness and thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    Solar is an awesome technology with a lot of promise, but it’s just not the way to run an economy. Right now, I’ve got my iPhone charging from a 15W solar panel that’s in our window. On the one hand, it’s so cool to be getting electricity out of a magic black box. On the other, the damn thing’s been plugged in for about an hour and it’s charged about 10% and it’s sunny (in fairness, the window isn’t a great place).

    If you care about providing people with reliable, useful amounts of energy, solar is a lousy way to go. Get these people fossil fuel or — when they can afford it — nuclear plants.

    Tom, I believe you said in another post that you read Epstein’s book, the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. I love Epstein’s thinking and clear argumentation in that book. You’re right, solar has great potential, but as it is now it could never work as power source for an industrial society. We need reliable, consistent energy and solar can’t provide that (at least not yet).

    • #23
    • June 29, 2016, at 7:36 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. RightAngles Member

    Matthew Roy:

    KiminWI:

    Do Americans not understand this idea? Or do they not believe that it’s possible in light of the heavy burden of government? OR do they simply not want to bear the responsibility? I fear it’s the last option because of the first 2 options. They don’t want to bear it because they don’t believe it’s possible.

    Can that be unwound?

    I think that some people genuinely lack the motivation or desire to be their own best advocate. Government can seem like the answer if you’re unwilling (or unable) to work hard/smart enough to better yourself. … Ennui and empathy makes the political messaging “the government will take care of you” attractive.

    I’m concerned that so many millennials aren’t buying cars (why should we, there’s Uber) or even considering buying a house or any other property. I’m afraid it’s due to not wanting responsibility, and if it continues, it doesn’t bode well for our society. When more voters have skin in the game, it alters the way they vote. In his book Radical Son, David Horowitz wrote that the American Communist Party, which owned the teacher’s union in the 1930s and onward, openly frowned upon members’ owning houses or even getting married. They knew that these behaviors cause a more conservative point of view.

    • #24
    • June 29, 2016, at 8:16 AM PDT
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