Saturday, September 7, 2019

Stop the president from managing the economy

  For the past two years, President Trump and his loyal army of Trumpistas have been trumpeting what they say is Trump’s fantastic management of the economy. The stock market is soaring and unemployment is down, they crow. This shows, they say, that President Trump has been a great manager of the economy.

  Now that presidential campaign season is kicking into gear, Trump and his Trumpistas are getting nervous because it seems like economic hard times might be looming on the horizon. Does this mean that Trump has actually mismanaged the economy, especially with his out-of-control federal spending and debt and his destructive trade war against China?

  Are you kidding? Of course not, at least not according to Trump and his Trumpistas. They are now saying that it’s all because of the Federal Reserve and its refusal to continue inflating the financial bubble it has been inflating since the 2008 economic crisis. Despite the fact that America’s central bank is supposed to be independent, Trump has been putting maximum pressure on the Fed to amplify its 10-year bubble-inflating policies (called “Quantitative Easing”) by returning to its policy of artificially lowering interest rates. Trump is hoping that one more inflationary injection by the Fed will get him past the election.

  Meanwhile, Trump’s leftist opponents are getting ready to go on the attack just in case the economy does in fact tank. Their line of attack? That Trump has actually proven to be a bad manager of the economy and needs to be replaced by a Democrat, who, they will say, will be a good manager of the economy.

  You can already see this phenomenon brewing within leftists in the mainstream press. They are increasingly criticizing Trump for his mismanagement of the economy and advising his Democratic presidential opponents to prepare themselves, just in case, to show how they would be better managers of the economy.

  Here are some libertarian questions for all these statists: Why should the president be managing the economy at all? Why shouldn’t people be free to manage their own economic affairs? Is it possible, just possible, that when a president or a government manages an economy, that’s what causes economic crises, chaos, and mayhem?

  Since we have all grown up under a centrally managed economy, hardly anyone (libertarians excepted) questions the notion of this type of economic system. After all, this is our “free enterprise” system, right? Isn’t that what we are taught from elementary school through college — that America has a “free-enterprise system”? Well, if that’s true, doesn’t it stand to reason that America’s centrally managed economy is part and parcel of that vaunted “free-enterprise system”?

  The problem, of course, is that a centrally planned economy is the opposite of a genuine free-enterprise system. A genuine free-enterprise system is one in which economic enterprise is free of government control and management.

  Both Republicans and Democrats are stuck in what can be called a statist box, one whose core economic principles include a centrally managed economy. It is a box that is filled with economic booms and busts arising from artificially inflated bubbles that burst from time to time. When the bubbles are inflating, the president — any president — takes credit. When they burst, the president blames it on any convenient scapegoat, like the Fed, or illegal immigrants, or maybe even Muslims. It is a box that is characterized by things like welfare, Social Security, Medicare, trade wars, wars on immigrants, income taxation, a central bank, fiat (i.e., paper) money, drug wars, foreign war, a giant military-intelligence establishment, a police state, militarism, forever foreign wars, and ongoing, never-ending crises, chaos, violence, death, suffering, and mayhem.

  Through it all, both Republicans and Democrats are convinced that all of this dysfunctional and destructive statism is “freedom and free enterprise.” It’s a classic case of the life of the lie, a life of delusion, one that is the result of indoctrination and propaganda, which begin in the first grade and continue through high school and college.

  That’s one big reason why statists dislike libertarians. We are like their therapists. We cause them to confront reality. We make them face their life of the lie and their life of delusion. Their statist system isn’t “freedom and free enterprise.” It’s the opposite of freedom and free enterprise. That’s not what they want to hear. They want to hear whatever supports the lies and myths that cloud their minds.

  After all, every self-respecting socialist in Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela will confirm that central planning is a core feature of the socialist paradigm. The fact that American statists convince themselves that American central planning is “freedom and free enterprise” is irrelevant. What matters is truth and reality. Socialist central planning is socialist central planning, even when people falsely convince themselves that it is “freedom and free enterprise.”

  A political ruler, including an American president, has no more business managing an economy than he does running churches or grocery stores. Whenever any government manages an economy, the results are going to be crisis, chaos, and mayhem. That’s because socialism is an inherently defective paradigm, even when it is called “freedom and free enterprise.”

  America needs a new economic paradigm, one that isn’t based on socialist central planning, either by the president or any other part of the government. It needs an economic paradigm that is based on freedom and free markets, one in which people are free to manage their own economic affairs. It is this paradigm of economic liberty that is the key to freedom, peace, prosperity, harmony, and higher standards of living.

  About the author: Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

  This article was published by The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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