Economics for Dummies

I once knew an ignorant 18-year-old. He emphatically insisted that he’s against socialism. He called socialism “stupid”. When I asked him what he thought of the minimum wage, he said, “It should be $25, not $15.” How about Medicare for all? “Of course.” And student loan forgiveness and totally free college for all? “High school is free. Why not college too? And graduate school should be free too.” And of course he wanted a minimum guaranteed income. He thought AOC’s 90 percent tax rates were worth considering. The poor little fool. He didn’t believe he was a socialist, but he wanted an endless list of unbelievably socialist things.

I don’t see the older generation as much smarter. People who otherwise appear to endorse capitalism, tax cuts, and limited government intervention in the economy suddenly expect these transfer-of-wealth programs to work. They’re shocked that the SBA and other programs are crashing on arrival, in many locations. “The government promised these programs would work.” Already they’re screaming for trillions more. Where’s it supposed to come from? The federal government cannot get the first emergency programs up and running, in many cases, especially for small business.

We EXPECT this mentality of government magic from Democrats. But Republicans? Some of them blame Trump, even though they voted for him. But wait a minute. Isn’t government intervention in the economy a bad idea — according to these very same people just 3 weeks ago? Doesn’t socialism always fail, every time it’s tried? They USED to think that. Or claimed they did. Now they’re anxious, shocked and outraged that suddenly — just because of coronavirus — socialism doesn’t work.

They’re no smarter than the ignorant 18-year-old. They don’t think this is socialism, either. $4 trillion in spending that the government doesn’t have, and never will have. Mass incentives to keep businesses shut down, and to keep people unemployed. Conservatives and Republicans think this is a GOOD thing!? Wow. We live in interesting times.

P.S. Since most of us have had our businesses shut down and aren’t permitted to work for the foreseeable future, it’s a good time to read a magnificent, understandable book. It’s called “Economics in One Lesson”. By Henry Hazlitt. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. It will illuminate and inform, and perhaps provide a way out of our present, deepening disaster.


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