Donald Trump has been a godsend to the punditry. Articles from all angles have analyzed his appeal, from: he’s a demagogue who appeals to the worst impulses of his supporters; to: he gives an honest voice to deep angst about America’s politics, politicians, and government. Most of the analyses say more about the analyzer than the analyzed, and this article will not be another addition to the pile. Rather, the Trump phenomenon exemplifies a dangerous and destructive proclivity to ignore the obvious, to pump in intellectual fog to obscure what should be clear, and to turn the straightforward into an incomprehensible jumble of complexity.
Trump’s slogan is: “Make America Great Again.” That means that America is no longer great, which is simply the truth. The US has gone heavily into debt and faces a demographic and fiscal nightmare as the baby boom generation retires and demands the benefits it has promised itself. Robbing Peter to pay Paul has destroyed Paul’s ability to provide for himself, and eroded Peter’s incentives to produce. Never-ending wars on poverty, drugs, and terrorism have promoted social pathologies, the growth of violent gangs, and blowback chaos and mass migration without putting a dent in poverty, drug use, or terrorism. A string of military forays stretching back to the Korean war have wasted US treasure and lives and have been at best, inconclusive, and at worst, outright defeats. The government has become a massive honeypot for the politically astute and connected. Race relations have reached a fifty-year low during the tenure of the first black president. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. It has made matters far worse that the elite habitually lies about its incompetence and corruption.
Will Trump make America great again? Not a chance; his policies are more of the same statist snake oil that got us into this mess. However, unlike the mainstream Republican candidates favored by the party’s power brokers—or Hillary Clinton—he has not held public office, so he can claim that he does not share responsibility for making America not great. He has no viable solutions, but at least he isn’t perceived as part of the problem (although he has certainly benefited from munificences bestowed by various governments). This stance outside the existing power structure is the source of much of his, and the other outsiders’, appeal.
Now unfolding is a financial crisis that was foreordained when the world’s governments and central banks addressed the previous crisis—caused by debt expansion far in excess of economic growth, debt monetization, and interest rate suppression—with debt expansion far in excess of economic growth, debt monetization, and interest rate suppression. This crisis will be worse than the last one, because debt is larger and so-called remedies have already been virtually exhausted. It took no clairvoyance to foresee eventual failure, but Washington and Wall street, most of the economic priesthood, and financial market punters professed their faith (Don’t Fight the Fed!) and acted accordingly. How can anyone with a two-digit or better IQ believe that one agency of a government buying another agency of the government’s debt instruments with imaginary money will lead to anything but disaster? The kind of “economics” that embraces such nostrums is not akin to an abstruse branch of physics or mathematics, comprehensible only by those gifted with extraordinary intelligence; it’s a reprise of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
The belief that governments can make things all better by passing laws and forcing people to do things is simple-minded and ignores a simple truth. Governments are coercive, and humans, especially the most brilliant, inventive, original, and productive, flourish in an environment of freedom and incentives, not coercion. Force a stuck mechanism on a gadget and you usually end up breaking the gadget. When governments apply force for other than narrowly circumscribed purposes—the protection of life, liberty, property, and inalienable rights—they invariably make problems worse. Their solutions are incompatible with the nature of the humans they’re trying to force. With enough force, the government can “break” the country and its populace; countless governments have.
And so the candidates this election will propose solutions grounded in forcible interference and intervention to problems created by previous interference and intervention. Simply put, that makes voting a waste of time. A choice among the same evils is not a choice. As economic, political, and social structures of needless and counterproductive complexity collapse in on themselves, remember one simple truism: nobody but you is going to protect and sustain you and yours. If you believe complex and convoluted formulations and rationalizations to the contrary, you’ll deservedly end up as roadkill.
SIMPLY PUT, A GREAT BOOK