Thursday, July 16, 2020

Quickies: Economic Health

     I’ve only just come upon the following anti-Biden ad:

     It prompted an immediate quibble about phrasing.

     We’ve often heard about various politicians’ plans to “fix the economy.” There’s a terrible misconception buried in that phrase, one that’s at the root of a great deal of poor thinking about economic vibrancy. The guts of the misconception are expressed by the word fix.

     What do we speak of “fixing?” Broken machines, right? And what is a machine? A device designed and constructed to serve some specific purpose. If it fails to fulfill that purpose we deem it “broken,” and we set about trying to “fix” it. All right, Gentle Readers, enough with the preliminaries:

What is the “purpose” of “the economy?”

     Don’t all answer at once, now.

     “The economy” is not a machine. It was not conceived nor designed to fulfill some purpose. “The economy” is merely a shorthand term for the ongoing productive and commercial activities of the residents of these United States. Each individual has a purpose for his actions, no doubt, even if it’s just being able to meet the bills. But “the economy” has nothing of the sort.

     “The economy” is much more like a living creature than a machine. Only God has a “purpose” for a living creature. The creature itself merely strives to survive, flourish, and do we all.

     No one can “fix the economy.” No politician possesses a secret wisdom or a magical toolset by which he could tighten this “bolt,” loosen that “nut,” lubricate this “junction,” and somehow return “the economy” to the fulfillment of its nonexistent purpose! All politicians and governments can do for “the economy” is to get out of its way: i.e., to cease interfering with it through taxation, legislation, and regulation. Were they to do so, “the economy” could thereafter heal itself, returning to its full vibrancy through the natural actions of individuals and companies seeking to produce and trade with one another.

     But politicians almost never allow that “the economy” is better off without their meddling. Their egos will not permit that. If they don’t possess some sort of knowledge or skill the rest of us lack, why should we pay attention to them?

     Distrust anyone – no matter what the letter after his name – who claims to have a plan to “fix the economy.” Whatever he has in mind, it’s unlikely to be aimed at the greater good.


Paul Bonneau said...

You have probably run into these Thoreau quotes:

"Trade and commerce, if they were not made of India rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and, if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions, and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on the railroads."

"The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way."

Eaton Rapids Joe said...

I appreciate the balance of the ad. Half talks about Biden's deficiencies and half touts how Trump is different.

It ends on a positive, upbeat, winning note.