Are you a good rifle shot? How about a large caliber rifle? And I’m not talking some little 30-06 bean field gun or a modern 50 BMG which ports off all the recoil. I mean a great huge thunderer, an 11 pound double barreled elephant rifle in one of the those legendary African calibers that loosen teeth and separate retina. Something like the .585 Nyati, or the unbelievably massive .700 Nitro Express which launches a 1000 grain bullet, and which is so gi-normous and packed with so much cordite, that a single shell can cost you as much as a Yugoslavian car. How are you with one of those?
Except for a very small number of you the obvious answer is, you have no idea because you’ve never fired one. Oh I’m sure you can extrapolate a little from your existing skill with a rifle, but there are exceptions. My wife, who weighs in at an adorable 103 pounds soaking wet, can outshoot me with a .22 or a 30 caliber all day long, but I think it’s safe to assume that with one of these it would be a slightly different ballgame. However, without actually toeing up to the line and letting one rip, there is really no way to know. So my point is that with many things, unless you actually test your assumptions, there is really no way for you to know the outcome of your decisions.
Economics is like that too. It’s a complex discipline where there are lots and lots of varied feedback mechanisms, and that makes it difficult for anyone, even an expert, to have a clear understanding of all the effect of a policy change. And because that’s so, it’s my belief that leftist economic policies can only gain in popularity during times of continued economic success.
But don’t misread me or mistake cause and effect. I’m not claiming that leftist policies cause economic success, in fact there is tons of evidence to indicate the exact opposite is true. Rather, it’s my assertion that extended periods of economic success cause the rise of leftist economics, by providing an environment where short sighted or foolish ideas can go unchallenged by the harsh realities of life.
For example, suppose New Jersey decided to eliminate it’s state income tax, reduce it’s sales tax to 1%, and switch to a voucher based system for education, cutting property taxes by 60% across the board…assuming they also made corresponding cuts in spending, what do you imagine would happen? Probably not all that much in the near term because in New Jersey, the government giveth and the government taketh away… in other words, no one would believe it’s permanent. But if enough time passed and people began to believe it was really happening, it would cause one of the greatest local economic booms in measured history. Real estate values would soar, businesses would thrive, and the Holland Tunnel would be packed day and night struggling to accommodate all the business that would be moving across the river.
Then suppose the following year, one of the more childish and frivolous leftists in our state government, like my local Assemblyman Mike Panter, managed to get a bill through that he felt was important. Something along the lines of a law requiring that all ice cream stores must sell the same amount of chocolate and vanilla in order to ensure “diversity”. He would then track the total sale of ice cream, and the increase of the number of ice cream stores, and in a year he would be claiming that his policy obviously helped the ice cream sellers because there were so many more of them.
That’s silly of course. Because the economy was already screaming, all he did was fail to hurt the industry enough to make a dent. His frivolous nonsensical, irrational policy didn’t have anywhere near the effect it might because the success of the economy was so great that his idiocy was overwhelmed by other good news. Had he tried to implement that policy during a period where the ice cream sellers were barely making ends meet, his silly rule would push a few of them over the line into insolvency and substantially lower the profits of the rest. There would be no way for him to maintain the illusion that his nonsensical leftist mandate did anything but harm. This example is hyperbole of course, but only a little.
What’s really happening now is that we have an entire generation of college graduates who have never seen real economic hardship. They never had to fear communism, and don’t have any real experience with “national malaise”. They’ve never seen a time when the government tried to solve every problem, and how that basically left every problem unsolved or worsened. And they’ve been guided in their views by the member of academia who were raised themselves during a time of plenty, and spent their lives sheltered from economic realities by tenure, and research positions where failure was without consequences.
And since that’s so, they’ve bought into the empty promises of socialism en masse. They say foolish things about how immoral it would be for healthcare to be driven by profit, without realizing that if it’s driven by anything else then many more people will just have to go without. They say that taxes on “the rich” are a good idea without considering that “the rich” are far better at using their wealth to help others than the government who is going to take it from them. In short, they play right into the hands of those cynical politicians who are prepared to say anything to anyone to get as much power as they can.
Leftist thought is for the most part short sighted and frivolous. It’s about making the secondary and tertiary concerns of a society its highest priority because the business of survival is so effectively taken care of that it seems inevitable and unchanging. But it isn’t. The political pendulum doesn’t swing of it’s own accord; it’s pushed to the left by the liberty provided by abundance, and to the right by the necessity of dealing with hardship. But there’s no need to be disheartened. Thanks to the recent popularity of leftist economics, the hardship is most certainly on it’s way.